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

Rumor Roundup: Voynov could be brought back by Kings

Slava Voynov (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The status of defenseman Slava Voynov remains an issue for the Los Angeles Kings in the coming season. The 25-year-old is currently serving a 90-day jail sentence on a misdemeanour domestic violence charge. NBC Sports’ Jason Brough reports there’s local media pressure upon the Kings to part ways with Voynov.

Assuming the Kings decide to sever ties with the Russian-born Voynov, and if he isn’t deported or suspended by the NHL, Brough suggests they could terminate the defenseman’s contract or try to trade him.

Brough considers a trade unlikely, noting the PR consequences for any team acquiring Voynov right now. As for a contract termination, the Kings went that route in June with center Mike Richards following an incident at the Canada-US border. However, Richards hasn’t been charged with anything and the NHLPA recently filed a grievance over his contract dissolution. There’s no word yet as to when that hearing will be held. Read more

NWHL rosters complete, but several players awaiting releases before announcing NWHL deals

Jared Clinton

Even if there has been a slight roadblock, the NWHL announced Monday that they’ve reached one of the first major goals as an upstart league.

The paid North American women’s league announced that the rosters for each of the league’s four teams has been filled. However, only 61 of the 72 players have been formally announced as member’s of the league. According to the NWHL, the league has, “agreed to not announce the remaining players’ intent to play in the league until they receive official releases from other leagues.”

One of the players whose contract has yet to be announced is Hilary Knight, the women’s hockey superstar and member of the CWHL’s Boston Blades in 2014-15.

Less than a week ago, Knight said that she would be joining the NWHL for the league’s inaugural season, but there has still yet to be word on which team she would be joining. In her interview with New York Magazine’s ‘The Cut,’ Knight only confirmed her participation in the league. Read more

Ducks sign Santorelli to one-year deal, continue to prepare for Cup run

Jared Clinton
Mike Santorelli (Scott Audette/Getty Images)

Were it not for a Game 7 loss at the Honda Center in the 2014-15 Western Conference final, the Anaheim Ducks could very well be celebrating the franchise’s second Stanley Cup this summer. But with yet another addition, the Ducks looked primed for the opportunity to celebrate another championship following the upcoming campaign.

The Ducks announced they have inked Mike Santorelli to a one-year, $875,000 contract, and Monday’s signing is yet another addition to a roster that already had a lot of promise for the 2015-16 season.

While Santorelli’s not the biggest name available — he’s not a Cody Franson or Christian Ehrhoff — adding the speedy pivot gives Anaheim a depth center option that can contribute both offensively and defensively. That’s not to mention Santorelli comes at a cheap enough price that should Ducks GM Bob Murray want or need to add another piece, he could do so seeing as Anaheim has nearly $7.5 million in open cap space, according to General Fanager. Read more