Calgary signs free agent Czech defenseman Nakladal to one-year deal

Jared Clinton
Jakub Nakladal (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

One day after it was reported that free agent Czech defenseman Jakub Nakladal, 27, was intending on signing a deal in the NHL, the Calgary Flames announced they have come to terms on a one-year, entry-level deal with the sought-after blueliner.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Nakladal’s choices were down to Calgary, Carolina and Chicago, but landing with the Flames likely means Nakladal will have the chance to compete for a roster spot and potentially help a young team that is close to becoming a perennial playoff contender.

While Flames GM Brad Treliving wouldn’t confirm the signing of Nakladal necessarily means he’ll be on the roster next season, he did say the potential rewards for signing the one-time Czech Extraliga defenseman of the year heavily outweighs the risk. Read more

Good luck with the Maple Leafs, Mike Babcock, you’re going to need it

Mike Babcock Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

After all of Brendan Shanahan’s bluster about doing things the right way, about conducting a proper, methodical and ultimately successful rebuild, the Toronto Maple Leafs went out and were your father’s Toronto Maple Leafs. They got the big fish, won the press conference and made a larger splash than Kiska, the killer whale at Marineland.

For $6.25 million a year for the next eight years, they got Mike Babcock, the best coach and the most sought-after free agent coach in the game’s history. He’s also a man who has won one Stanley Cup in the last decade with an organization that strives for excellence, and who has won Olympic gold medals for the country that produces the best players on the planet and designates more resources to the game than all the other countries combined. He’s a coach whose teams have lost in the first round two of the past three seasons despite having Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the roster.

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Why Ottawa, not Andrew Hammond, wins Andrew Hammond’s new deal

Matt Larkin
Andrew Hammond. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Is Andrew Hammond a far richer man today than he ever imagined he’d be, even three months ago? Certainly.

But can we score May 20, 2015 as a big victory for the Ottawa Senators? Absolutely.

On Tuesday Ottawa announced the re-signing of pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Hammond, 27, to a three-year, $4.05-million contract. That amounts to a $1.35-million cap hit.

‘The Hamburgler’ went absolutely, er, bananas in the final months of the 2014-15 regular season, going 20-1-2 with a 1.79 goals-against average and .941 save percentage. Not bad for a guy who never posted better than a 2.47 GAA and .917 SP in his college days with Bowling Green or his AHL days with Binghamton. He almost singlehandedly delivered Ottawa to the playoffs. And yet, the concerns at season’s end were whether the sample size was too small to justify a big free agent deal and whether his insanely good play priced him out of Kanata.

Well, we can toss any of those concerns out the window now. Hammond’s $1.35-million AAV will rank him 34th among NHL goalies signed for 2015-16. The Sens did not overpay at all. He was the best starter in the game for two months, but he’ll make backup money for the next three-seasons. With such low financial risk, the three-year term isn’t a big deal. This contract is a coup for GM Bryan Murray and the Sens.

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Hurricanes, Flames, Blackhawks in running for Czech defenseman Jakub Nakladal

Jakub Nakladal (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Standout Czech defenseman Jakub Nakladal could be heading to North America next season and if he does, it appears he could be landing with the Hurricanes, Flames or Blackhawks.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nakladal is working on finalizing an NHL deal and Carolina, Calgary and Chicago are the three teams left in the running. While there haven’t been many reports on what exactly the 27-year-old blueliner is looking for in a destination, he certainly has his pick of destinations following a stellar campaign with TPS Turku of Finland’s SM-Liiga. Read more

Calgary or elsewhere, Karri Ramo’s future will be his to decide

Brian Costello
Karri Ramo (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

As he heads towards unrestricted free agency and the biggest contract of his career, Karri Ramo is saying all the right things. The question is will he get intercepted along the way by Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving.

Ramo isn’t the top goalie slated to become a UFA July 1 — that distinction belongs to Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk — but he will be in demand if he doesn’t come to contract terms with the Flames. And the Wild have made every indication they intend to re-sign Dubnyk, which will play in favor of Ramo if he’s still unsigned July 1. Read more

Sought after NCAA defenseman Mike Reilly to test free agent market

Jared Clinton
Mike Reilly (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Defenseman Mike Reilly could be the latest drafted college player to forego signing with the team that selected him to test unrestricted free agency.

According to a report from TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Reilly, 21, has officially informed the NHL and Columbus Blue Jackets that he intends to leave the University of Minnesota to turn professional. However, in addition to turning pro, Reilly has also informed the Blue Jackets that he won’t be signing with the club during the exclusive 30-day period Columbus has to negotiate with him.

Chosen by the Blue Jackets in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, 98th overall, Reilly testing the free agent market this off-season is similar to what happened with New York Rangers winger Kevin Hayes, who was a draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks but chose not to sign with the club, instead waiting for UFA eligibility and inking an entry-level contract with the Blueshirts.

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Reports say NCAA goalie of the year Zane McIntyre to sign with Bruins

Jared Clinton
Zane McIntyre (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Fear not, Bruins fans, as losing netminder Niklas Svedberg might not hurt that much after all. University of North Dakota goaltender Zane McIntyre is reportedly set to sign with Boston mere months after being named the Mike Richter Award winner as NCAA Division 1 hockey’s most outstanding goaltender.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, McIntyre, who was drafted by the Bruins in the sixth round, 165th overall, of the 2010 draft, is set to turn pro this off-season and would like to ink a deal with the team that drafted him. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Flames off-season about building around youth

Lyle Richardson
Karri Ramo (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Though the Calgary Flames were recently eliminated from the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, they can move into the off-season feeling a sense of accomplishment. In the second season of their rebuild, the Flames confounded the experts by not only clinching a playoff berth but also upsetting the veteran-laden Vancouver Canucks in the opening round.

With a roster comprised of rising young talent (Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, T.J. Brodie, Sam Bennett) and skilled veterans (Jiri Hudler, Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman), Flames GM Brad Treliving has a solid base upon which to continue the rebuild. With over $25 million in salary-cap space, Treliving also has the cash to add some experienced outside talent. Read more