Buyout looms as Buffalo Sabres waive Cody Hodgson

Jared Clinton
Cody Hodgson (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Little more than two weeks ago, Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray went on local radio station WGR-550 and said the organization was considering a buyout for 25-year-old Cody Hodgson. As of Monday, the club has taken the first step in making a buyout a reality.

The Sabres placed Hodgson on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout Monday and, by Tuesday, Hodgson will likely have cleared waivers and be bought out, becoming an unrestricted free agent just two seasons after inking a six-year, $25.5 million extension with Buffalo. Read more

Dallas Stars going with a two-headed dragon next season

Ryan Kennedy
Antti Niemi (Francois Lacasse/Getty Images)

Conventional wisdom went out the window on the weekend when Dallas made a trade with San Jose for the rights to pending unrestricted free agent Antti Niemi. Now that the Stars have signed the starting goaltender to a three-year pact, the rationale on why a franchise that already has Kari Lehtonen between the pipes needed another goalie has been revealed.

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Mike Richards’ contract terminated by Kings after “material breach”

Jared Clinton
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHL)

The Mike Richards buyout saga has taken a strange turn and become the Mike Richards termination saga as the Los Angeles Kings announced Monday they have terminated the contract of the veteran center following a “material breach” of the deal.

The full statement from the Kings reads as follows:

“The Los Angeles Kings today have exercised the team’s right to terminate the contract of Mike Richards for a material breach of the requirements of his Standard Player’s Contract. We are not prepared to provide any more detail or to discuss the underlying grounds for the contract termination at this time.”

The contract termination came as a shock, as it was believed the Kings were instead planning to buyout Richards’ deal, making him an unrestricted free agent. Read more

Numbers show free agent frenzy lends itself to bad contracts

Dominik Luszczyszyn
David Clarkson (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL’s annual free agent frenzy begins Wednesday which means teams are loading up the metaphorical Brinks truck in preparation of overpaying a player you will likely grow to dislike in three years – maybe less.

Seriously, go through the past few frenzies and find all the players you’d welcome on your favorite team right now at their current cap hit. The list is likely very short, and considering this year’s offerings, that probably won’t change.

It’s pretty simple as to why that is: age. Player’s can become unrestricted free agents at 27 – although there are a lot of exceptions and complications to that rule – which is generally the beginning of a player’s decline. That doesn’t apply to all players, especially the really good ones, but it’s not wise to bank on exceptions to the rule. Read more

How advanced stats are changing NHL contract negotiations

Justin Williams. (Getty Images)

It started like any contract negotiation. 
Agent Allan Walsh, who represents Jonathan Drouin, David Perron and Antoine Vermette, among many others, sat across from an NHL GM and assistant GM. The group was hammering out a deal for one of Walsh’s clients. They spent 45 minutes discussing staple statistics like points per game, goals, assists and ice time. Walsh, though, wasn’t satisfied. He told the executives they were omitting a crucial criterion.

It just so happened, Walsh explained to them, the player in question was tops on the team in almost every major possession metric, including Corsi and Fenwick. Walsh had his own advanced stat booklet prepared. He fished out two copies.

“I saw them open the first page, and I saw the GM and the assistant GM lock eyes with each other,” Walsh said. “And the look on their faces was, ‘Oh s—, he knows.’ ”

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Ehrhoff’s agent confirms defenseman heading for free agency

Jared Clinton
Christian Ehrhoff (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

One season after signing a one-year, $4 million deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Christian Ehrhoff is ready to be an unrestricted free agent once again.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari, Ehrhoff’s agent, Rick Curran, confirmed that Ehroff will be testing the free agent waters once again this off-season.

It had been reported earlier that Ehrhoff would likely hit the open market, with Curran telling Mike Halford of Pro Hockey Talk that he, “would suggest (Ehrhoff will) be available come July 1.” The latest report, however, solidifies that the 32-year-old blueliner will be heading elsewhere for the 2015-16 season. Read more

UFA Decision Day looms for Mike ‘Motorcycle Gang’ Green

Stu Hackel
Mike Green (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mike Green (Washington Capitals Photography)Mike Green’s shock of dark hair – which has ranged from a Mohawk to a mop that pointed in all directions – has given way to a clean, stylized look. He’s moved from a two-story urban bachelor pad with a hot tub on the balcony to a spacious suburban home. His numerous tattoos run down his arms and onto his fingers, but since last summer, one of those fingers now wears a wedding ring.

And he’s no longer the run-and-gun, gambling defenseman labelled “mistake prone” in his own zone.

If maturity has transformed the Capitals two-time all-star, a bigger change could come this summer. Unless his Newport Sports representatives and Washington GM Brian MacLellan hammer out a new contract, Green will become the biggest name on the free agent market and perhaps pull another team’s jersey over his head.

The Capitals are the only NHL team Green, who turns 30 in October, has played for. He has literally grown into manhood in the D.C. area, even marrying a local girl, photographer Courtney Parrie, last summer, breaking hearts among those who swooned over his boyish good looks. He’s been a fan favorite since blossoming into a dynamic offensive force in 2007-08, his third NHL season, when Capitals TV voice Joe Beninati gave him the nickname ‘Game Over Green’ after a string of late game-winning tallies. Read more

Behind the scenes of NHL free agency: how deals get done

Mike Brophy
Sabres GM Tim Murray & Penguins GM Jim Rutherford (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The opening of free agency July 1 isn’t what it used to be, mainly because most of the league’s star players get signed to lucrative long-term extensions and never make it to market. If you look at the numbers – almost 100 players signed as free agents last July 1 – you might think all 30 teams’ front offices are a beehive of activity, and for some of them that may indeed be the case.

But a number of GMs insist that while July 1 is a big day on the hockey calendar, it’s not as frantic as some might expect. “Everyone has different needs, and you have to decide if free agency is the way to go or if you are you better off to make a trade,” said Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill. “We’re all locking up players, deciding what the core of the team is. The core is six to eight players, and we are locking them up to four-to-eight-year contracts.”

How active a team is when the free agency officially opens depends on a number of things. If a team thinks it can win the Stanley Cup, it may fine-tune its roster with a few moves. Or it could be a significant makeover, as Rangers GM Glen Sather did after a Cup final loss in 2014. New York led all teams with eight signings (seven from different organizations) July 1. Three others – the Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, and New York Islanders – signed six. Read more