Rumor Roundup: Will Backes leave Blues next off-season?

Lyle Richardson
David Backes (Getty Images)

Scratch one big name from next summer’s list of top potential unrestricted free agents, as the Calgary Flames re-signed captain Mark Giordano on Tuesday to a six-year, 40.5-million extension. Still, a number of significant players remain eligible for UFA status next July.

Earlier this month, we listed the top players in the UFA class of 2016, citing Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Carolina’s Eric Staal among the notable. Even if all the players on that list are eventually re-signed, there could still be quality talent available. Here’s a look at some of them: Read more

Mark Giordano signs monster 6-year, $40.5 million extension. Is Norris Trophy next?

Jared Clinton
Mark Giordano (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames have locked up their captain and all-star defenseman to a long-term extension.

It was announced Tuesday afternoon that Mark Giordano has inked a six-year extension with the Flames that will keep him in Calgary until the 2021-22 season. According to multiple sources, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the six-year deal carries an average annual value of $6.75 million. How exactly the salary is broken down hasn’t yet been reported, however.

Initial details of Giordano’s extension talks said the veteran defenseman was looking for somewhere in the $9 million range on an extension, which would have made him one of the five highest-paid defensemen in the league. At $6.75 million — an outstanding price for the Calgary Flames — Giordano will come in as one of the 10-highest paid defensemen, edging out the likes of Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo.

Giordano, 31, has spent the past seven seasons with the Flames and has been the club’s captain since the 2013. His play over the past few seasons has been a blessing for Calgary, as he has turned the corner from consistent top-pairing defenseman to legitimate Norris Trophy candidate. With his ability, he would have been one of 2016’s top free agents were he to hit the open market. The six-year extension assures Giordano won’t be going anywhere, though. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Big names a part of rumor mill as season approaches

Lyle Richardson
Dustin Byfuglien. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Apart from the wheeling and dealing during the 2015 NHL Draft and the usual NHL free-agent signing frenzy of early-July, it’s been a fairly quiet summer in the rumor mill. However, with September and the start of training camp drawing near, speculation should increase over the next several weeks.

Here’s a look at several NHL players who could start popping up in training camp trade and free-agent rumors in September. Read more

Kings improve defense by landing Christian Ehrhoff on one-year, $1.5 million deal

Jared Clinton
Christian Ehrhoff (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Take one of the big names off the board, as the Los Angeles Kings have agreed to terms with defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.

The Orange County Register’s Rich Hammond reported Ehrhoff’s deal is a one-year pact worth $1.5 million, which leaves the Kings with nearly $5 million in cap space.

Ehrhoff is coming off of a three-goal, 14-point season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, though he missed more than 30 games due to concussion issues. While his health is a concern, Ehrhoff hadn’t missed much time in the past two seasons. Read more

The 20 best free agents who could hit the market in 2016

Jared Clinton
Steven Stamkos (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

Next July could be franchise-changing for the teams that have the cap space and the money to shell out big dollar to deals to some big-name free agents.

While the 2015 off-season hasn’t been one of big money contracts or jaw-dropping deals, the 2016 off-season is already setting up to be one that sees several perennial all-stars change locales. It’s not just one or two major names that will potentially be hitting the free agent market, either — we’re looking at potential for more than a dozen impact players finding new homes.

Some of the free agents listed below have the potential to sign long-term before free agency hits and several — including Anze Kopitar and Mark Giordano — have already reportedly been talking about new deals. But these are the top 25 free agents who could hit the market next off-season: Read more

Are the St. Louis Blues ‘buying into complete insanity’?

Jared Clinton
David Backes (Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)

David Backes expected big changes in St. Louis this off-season.

In June, more than a month after the Blues’ season had ended, Backes, the club’s captain, didn’t mince words when talking about what he expected for the future of the team.

“I do expect change as far as we didn’t get a job done and there needs to be some change or else you’re buying into complete insanity, which is doing the same thing and expecting different results,” Backes told Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I do expect change to happen. On what scale and what realms, that (GM Doug Armstrong’s) baby and that’s what his position does.

“I do expect that the same 23-25 faces won’t be back. In a typical year, that means it’s four or five guys (leaving). If it’s that number or maybe a couple more, that wouldn’t be surprising to me. Who that would be is speculative at best in my book.”

Backes definitely wasn’t the only one expecting changes, especially after the Blues finished their fourth straight season in the top two of the Central Division and had a third consecutive flameout in the first round of the post-season. For several players to be moved would have made sense and certainly wouldn’t have been shocking. But with the off-season inching ever-closer to an end, have the Blues really done enough — or anything — to snap their puzzling post-season drought? Read more

Veterans Havlat, Kennedy, Antropov looking for deals; Ehlers to Switzerland?

Jared Clinton
Nikolaj Ehlers

With a tight salary cap and uncertainty about where the upper limit will be heading in the future, this off-season hasn’t been an easy one for veteran free agents.

Top UFAs such as Cody Franson and Christian Ehrhoff remain unsigned, useful veterans such as Marek Zidlicky have yet to land deals and those looking to get their careers back on track, such as Martin Havlat and Tyler Kennedy, aren’t even sure if a deal is coming their way. It’s a tough set of circumstances for both Havlat and Kennedy, as they may not even be looking for solid NHL contracts, but rather the opportunity at a training camp tryout.

Already Sergei Gonchar and (reportedly) Devin Setoguchi are among those who have signed pro tryout agreements, but Havlat’s name might be the next added to that list. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported Wednesday that Havlat’s agent has been contacted about the 34-year-old right winger signing a PTO with the Senators. Read more

Marcus Kruger still without contract, but Blackhawks center isn’t stressed

Jared Clinton
Marcus Kruger (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

There’s patiently waiting for a new contract and then there’s Marcus Kruger.

The Chicago Blackhawks center became a restricted free agent on July 1, but still he is without a new deal. While it has been speculated that a new contract is coming soon for the 25-year-old, pen has yet to be put to paper and still, more than seven weeks later, Kruger remains unsigned.

Even though it has taken this long, though, Kruger is remaining calm about the ordeal and is seemingly remaining calm about his contract situation.

“I want to have it done,” Kruger told ESPN’s Scott Powers. “I think that’s for everyone. But I don’t feel too stressed out about it, yet at least. We have another month until training camp.” Read more