Tuesday, July 04, 2017 1:00 am
Older players waiting for teams to call them
STEPHEN WHYNO | Associated Press
A busy weekend to kick off NHL free agency has left a few prominent players still looking for landing spots, and teams still needing to fill some holes.
The leftover list is a who's who of stars from previous decades, notably Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla, while Montreal is working to bring back Andrei Markov. Now that Joe Thornton has returned to San Jose and Patrick Marleau has moved on to Toronto, much of the intrigue has been taken out of the offseason.
There are still a few big loose ends to address with two months left before training camp, though:
The most productive players remaining on the market are on the downside of their careers: Jagr at 45, Iginla at 40, Markov at 38 and Thomas Vanek at 33. Then there are 40-year-olds Shane Doan and Matt Cullen and 37-year-old Mike Fisher trying to decide whether to play another year.
Jagr won't be back with Florida, and Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said he won't consider signing him for a second tour in Philadelphia.
A couple of young players worth watching are Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko, who weren't given qualifying offers as restricted free agents. Yakupov and Grigorenko are 23, could come cheap on prove-it contracts and still contribute after rocky starts to their NHL careers.
July has become a popular time for significant trades because teams have more cap space to maneuver than at the deadline. Because the expansion draft froze player movement for almost a week in June, there has been plenty of chatter, and the deals are expected to continue.
Vegas has already flipped defensemen – Marc Methot to Dallas, Trevor van Riemsdyk to Carolina, Alexei Emelin to Nashville and David Schlemko to Montreal – and acquired center Marcus Kruger from Chicago. The Devils are still looking for a defenseman and could use their forward depth to acquire one.
And then there's Colorado center Matt Duchene, who was at the epicenter of trade talk in February and still hasn't been dealt.
New contracts signed already that kick in for the 2018-19 season include Canadiens goaltender Carey Price's $84 million over eight years, Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's $56 million over eight years and Sharks goaltender Martin Jones' $34.5 million over six years. Price's $10.5 million cap hit ties him with Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the highest in the league – for now.
That's because the Edmonton Oilers are expected to soon finalize a deal with 20-year-old captain and Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid that could be worth in the neighborhood of $12 or $13 million.