The Hawks have announced that they will match the offer sheet to Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Just looking at older filed emails and I see that the date that I registered DobberHockey.com was October 7, 2005. At the time, it was just a simple web page provided by my IP. On November 5 I launched DobberHockey 1.0. Just thought I'd share. Closing in on five years.
Just because I like to beat a dead horse, I'll toss you another Kovalchuk update. It sounds like the KHL's SKA has left him with their final offer and he is mulling it over for a few days. With that offer in his back pocket, he has flown to Los Angeles to meet with Kings GM Dean Lombardi. It seems like he will either hammer something out with the Kings or he's gone.
According to CapGeek.com, only the Flyers and the Canucks are over the cap right now, with Toronto, Boston, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Minnesota, Chicago and Detroit having less than $4 million in cap space.
At the other end of the scale, the Islanders, Thrashers, Avalanche, Lightning and Blues each have over $20 million to play with capwise, though they'll have their own team-set cap. Talk about being in great shape though.
Chicago and Philadelphia still need to make moves. Trades, not just burying contracts. Huet to the minors won't cut it. It will help, but they'll need more if they're to sign Antti Niemi and/or match the offer sheet to Hjalmarsson. The Flyers will need to do more than just move Simon Gagne. Some interesting hockey stuff still ahead for these teams, can't wait to see how it all shakes out.
Here are the top unrestricted free agent wingers, in order, who I would go for were I an NHL GM - and we all know that I should be, but I would never give up DobberHockey for a job that actually requires work. Anyway, criteria is a mix of likely salary cost, potential for big dividends vs. risk of a bust:
1. Patrick O'Sullivan - three seasons ago he had 53 points as a rookie and was used in all situations - PP and PK. One mediocre and one horrible season later and he's written off? He's only 25. I'd go as high as two years, $3.3 million, or one year at $1.8 million.
2. Alexander Frolov - 71, 67, 59, 51. Yes, his points have been declining but he's still a lock for 50-plus and has upside for 70. He'd probably settle for something in high $3 million range, but I would offer two years, $5.8 million or $3.5 for one year.
3. Paul Karyia - he'll be 36 this year, but has enough gas in the tank for a couple of 65-point seasons. He just needs to stay healthy. I'd pay him the same number I stated for Frolov above.
4. Lee Stempniak - I know he's looking for a payday in his first UFA venture, or at least a raise. But it ain't happening based on his strong Phoenix numbers. He's a top third-line winger, nothing more. Three years, $8 million, or two years at $5.75 million or a one-year deal at $3 million.
5. Maxim Afinogenov - he should have stuck in Atlanta while he had the chance, and he still does have a chance. But outside of Atlanta, I wouldn't commit more than one year for him. He' deserves $2.5 million based on last year's rebound, but he's too risky to go further.
6. Alexei Ponikarovsky - who'd have thunk that a trade to Pittsburgh would KILL his contract outlook? He was a 55-point second liner in Toronto and he can be a 55-point second liner anywhere in the league. He's looking for a raise on his $2.5 million salary, but the fact is - that's about what he's worth. I'd pay him that per season and give him two, three or four years - whatever he wants. He had his 61-point season a year too early to cash in.
7. Raffi Torres - he hasn't been healthy in three years, but when healthy he's an energetic 40-point man. I wouldn't commit more than a year, due to his fragility, but I'd give him $2.75 million. That's what he made last year.
8. Robert Nilsson - dazzling skill, but only brings it to the rink every third game. He's worth a two-year investment for $2.5 million. He's only 25 and has first-line upside. All it takes is chemistry with a skilled pivot.
9. Marc Pouliot - a Band-Aid Boy who can kill penalties and give you 35 points from the third or fourth line. Worth signing for under a million - say one-year $700,000
10. Sean Bergenheim - I'll never forget the promise he showed at the end of the 2005-06 season. And how, after those final dozen games, he tried to pull a heavy with the contract negotiations. The Isles let him simmer in Europe until he came crawling back, but he was never the same player. I still think that on the right line he can be a 55-point, 100 PIM player. But he needs a real opportunity. I'd pay him $900,000 for one year, or $1.6 for two.