NHL Free Agent News – March 1, 2012.

The Trade Deadline is history, which means speculation about this summer’s pending free agents begins . Read on for the latest on Mikhail Grabovski, Tuukka Rask, Ryan Suter, Corey Schneider, Alexander Semin and more.

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance looked ahead to a “Summer of Intrigue” regarding not only Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash, but also pending free agents like Vancouver’s Corey Schneider (RFA), Nashville’s Ryan Suter (UFA) and Washington’s Alexander Semin (UFA).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a long way between March 1st and July 1st, meaning there’ll be plenty of speculation over what happens with those pending free agents. Best guess at this early stage: Schneider is traded and re-signed, Suter re-signs if Predators go deep in the playoffs, and Semin signs elsewhere this summer, perhaps with the Kings, Wild or another club in need of offense.

Could there be good news next week for the Leafs and Grabovski?

TSN’s Mark Masters recently posted on Twitter Mikhail Grabovski’s agent will be in Toronto next week, hinting he might have some news by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oooooo, goody-goody! That means a Grabovski re-signing, right? Right?? Don’t toy with the frayed nerves of Leafs fans, man!

CBS BOSTON: Bruins team president Cam Neely recently said the club continues to highly value goaltender Tuukka Rask, saying they never considered moving him at the trade deadline. Rask will be a restricted free agent this summer, but Neely expects he’ll be re-signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was rumored the Bruins might offer up Rask as part of a return for Rick Nash, but that was quickly dismissed. With Tim Thomas having one year left on his contract, it’s obvious the Bruins intend to transition Rask into Thomas’ role as their starter by the end of next season, if not before. Mull that one over, rumor fans!

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Ed Tait recently reported the Jets have shelved contract talks with their pending free agents until the end of the regular season, rather than risk them becoming a distraction.


  1. Vancouver why do you hate Toronto so bad? Let’s call a truce untill September, give us Schneider lol! He’s exactly what we need, but realistically this trade won’t happen. Us people in the financial capital of Canada have herpes as far as our brothers out west are concerned. Plan B, sign Emery (I said it a few months ago that we should trade for him at the deadline)
    Minny signing Semin makes sense.

  2. Burke should have taken the first rounder and what ever else was being offered for Grabo. To think he was going to make the playoffs the way the season had unfolded was a pipe dream on deadline day. Now he is stuck over paying another smallish player on an already small Leaf team. Don’t get me wrong I really like Grabovski if the rest of the team has some size but it’s the same situation with Kessel, if you don’t surround these good smaller players with bigger bodied tough players they end up getting taken out of the game by the bigger teams.

  3. I said that in the off season to sign Emery. And I’m a Hawks fan! But I figured after his playoff run last year that there was no way we would’ve gotten him for so cheap. I also thought TO would’ve taken a chance on him , he shown in Philly that his wild way in Ottawa was gone and he showed for the Ducks that he can still play.

    Would have been a low cost, high reward chance.

  4. Schenider resigns as Vancover falls in second round, Bobby loo booed out of town, ends up with lightening. Boston goes deep but trades Thomas and resigns Rask. Sutter resigns after Preds go to finals. Semin on first flight back to KHL. Grabovski to flames. Praise signs with wings along with Penner.

    And no Burke doesn’t fire Wilson cause Leafs are not really a playoff team yet.

  5. FireWilson, bang on brother. It just seems our top 6 play the same style, and after half the season, became relatively easy to shutdown. I’ve been pretty nuetral on whether to keep or trade/keep the Grabs line, but this month has shown the Leafs need a better cycling line. Some big bodied secondary scoring, that could make our attack more dynamic. JVR, Clowe come to mind, but who knows if they’re availible. I would like to see lines 2 and 3 retooled. My wish list for the off season is a big bodied 2nd line winger and possibly center (maybe next year trade Connolly at the deadline and pick up a more permanent replacement, or insert Colborne if he’s ready), a big/gritty shutdown 3rd line center, a grizzled veteran shotblocking defenceman with decent foot speed, and a goalie who can play stretches as a number 1 or back up (again, Emery fits this discription) all other parts who don’t fit can be moved.

  6. @DURT
    I agree especially re-tooling the 2nd and 3rd lines. I really don’t see any benefit of a guy like Lombardi.

    I would like to see Colborne get a shot next year if he’s ready as you have said. I have no idea if he is ready because I know nothing about player development but if the only reason he isn’t inserted next year is because Burke has Bozak, Grabovski, Steckle and Connelly under contract then I would quite upset. Burke proved this year he isn’t afraid to insert a rookie over an overpaid vet (ie Gardiner/ Komiserik) so I will assume Colborne will be in if he’s ready.

    I’m also a little worried about our top line. If the top line consisted of Lupul Kessel and a big tough scoring center I’d be fine. Not to knock Bozak again but he is non-physical, shys away from the rough stuff, and isn’t good at any type of cycling so I don’t see the fit with Kessel. With that said I think Bozak would be better suited centering two guys like Lupul who are more scrappy but can still score and aren’t afraid to mix it up in front. Two out of three guys on a line can’t be afraid to mix it up. IMO Burke needs to fix this situation. It’s a tall order…

  7. Guys I disagree abotu Grabo. I would not have taken a first rounder for him. Going back to 1990, nly 9% of 1st rd picks play 200 games in teh NHL. I wouldnt trade a legit #2 centre for a hope and prayer.

    Look around the league and he is one of hte better #2 centres (excluding teams who have two #1s like Pit and TB). He is a plus player, plays the toughest matchups each night, and is in the top-20 centremen for goals, is highly skilled, lots of speed, and rarely turns the puck over. His numbers would be much better if Kulemin had ANY luck this year.

    Let him go and what do you do? Replace him with tim Connoly on the 2nd line?

    I could only WISH the Ducks would upgrade Koivu to Grabo next year. In fact, I’m goin gto say a prayer for that tonight.

  8. NikK, you have a point, what I was trying to say (and I think FireWilson too) is that we have too many of the same forwards. So although letting Grabs go would hurt in the short term, we need more size in our top 6. If Grabs had chemistry with Kessel, then I wouldn’t be saying this. But our 2nd line looks an awefull lot like our 1st line and that needs to change. Other teams are picking us apart because we are not diverse enough. In an ideal world, our first line would be speed plus skill, and our second line would be dump and chase plus cycle….harder to defend against.

  9. Why does Vancouver hate Toronto? Well….you mix tobacco in your weed, for one.

    Anyway, you’re looking for a new half-roster. I think Grabovski is as good as you are gonna get, and you’ve heard my piece on Bozak. Of course I see the need for the big #1 center, but the more glaring need upfront is to replace some of the major shadows. I guess I am saying the same thing as you guys, but in reverse (there are a lot of similar guys, and battles aren’t being won). The guys who need to be replaced are MacArthur, Kulemin, Lombardi, Connelly, and Crabb. While you might want to wait to see if Kulemin turns out, you don’t really have the luxury – he’s hurting Grabovski’s offense and might be better as a center with real diggers beside him. I’m not obsessed with size quite as much FireWilson is, but certainly a David Clarkson type player would go a very long way with this team. The real asset of the team is speed, and they need to play to that strength (put Frattin with Grabovski).
    Last night was a heart-breaker, and while the goalie is obviously a joke, Wilson definitely deserves some serious blame. Anyway….my heart goes out lads. Real tough year, with so many bright spots, and yet so many inexcusable problems.

  10. @DurtMCHurt – we in Vancouver don’t hate you nearly as bad as it might come across. It’s a rivalry thing, you understand. Personally I’d like to see as many Canadian teams as possible make it to the playoffs.

    Who knows what’s in store for Schneider this summer. Odds on he gets traded prior to the draft, as Lyle surmised, but I think much will have to do with what happens in the playoffs and what comes from the new CBA.

  11. If Schneider is traded, dont expect for it to be more than what Montreal got for Halak. Basically a young roster player and a mid-level prospect.

  12. TO will sign Jordan Tootoo if the preds dont resign him.

  13. @Durt
    Yes that’s exactly what I’m saying too. We have similar view points on the team, my views probably more agressive then yours, but at the end of the day we agree we need to get bigger or more agressive.

    I usually say bigger bodies but I really just mean tougher. By saying “getting bigger” I just want guys that aren’t afraid to get involved in the mix no matter what size they are. Take a guy like Darcy Tucker when he was in his prime. I’d take him over 3/4 of the Leaf forwards right now (without some of his crazy antic’s although when he lost is nuttiness his game went with it).

    I agree with you as long as they find different forwards to play with Grabovski.

  14. Thomas will go Rask will sign and Bruins will take hard run at Parise and Suter. Leaf’s will make a splash they always do. Oilers should trade there top pick for a good D-man but they probably wont. Calgary will miss playoffs and will blow it up. Look for Toronto to take a run at Kipper. Vancouver will have to decide on Lu or Schnieds. Lidstrom will retire and Detroit will plenty of cap room. Habs will trade somebody and get 2 early pick’s to start rebuild maybe P.K. to Oilers.

  15. I was really surprised that Burke didn’t move guys that he was offered 1st rd picks for. Even if he had delt the second line away I think he could of swung two deals that would have replaced it right away. So here are my attempted moves (if I were Burke) coming up to the deadline. Hey I know there are guys out there that will look at this and say, “No way that happens! or What are you smoking?” but remember it is only my opinion.
    So I would have traded Grabs, Kuli and Mac for the rumored 1sts that were offered. Giving T.O. 4 1st rd picks in their pocket(including their own) as well as shedding 8.5 million in cap at the same time. I would have then attempted to turn these assets into trade packages.
    To LA — Aulie and a 1st
    To TOR — Brown
    TOR gets the big forward LA recoups a young dman and a pic at the same time reducing their cap by 3.2. if LA chooses to keep Aulie in the minors.
    Second Trade:
    To Columbus — 3 1st rd picks, Kadr, Gustavsson and Lombardi
    To TOR — Nash
    Toronto gets the superstar that they crave and Columbus gets the mega rebuild package that they desire with a salary dump. Cap wise Toronto sends out $13,350,000 and takes back $10,975,000 saving $2,375,000 in cap added to their already remaining cap space equals $3,866,175 of overall cap for calling up Colborne and Rynnas to fill out the roster.
    TOR 1st Line Lupul Bozak Kessel
    2nd Brown Colborne Nash
    3rd Frattin Connolly Armstrong
    4th Brown Steckel Crabb
    Defense stands as it is now. With Rynnas as backup.
    Not only do I think that this was plausable but it is actually very strong offers that might of been accepted. Hey Burke are you looking to ad to your brain trust!!! Ha! Ha!

  16. Suter plays for one of two teams next year its going to be either Detroit or Nashville … just my feeling.

  17. I predict Parise or Brown land in Buffalo.

  18. The trade for Halak didn’t really set the standard.

    The ongoing price might be a 1st rd + 2nd rd for a goaltender ready to be a starter, and you can replace those with a grade B or grade C prospect less than a year from going into the NHL.

    But it still depends on the highest bidder and how many of the type are out there. You really have to pick your moments to trade a goaltender, because if there are others, you can get what Montreal got, and if there aren’t any others, you can get what Washington fished out of Colorado. Colorado is lucky they’re in the playoff chase… if they had another bomb year, that would have been an unforgivable deal.

  19. I think if Boston does not get to the finals this year, or win altogether, they will trade Thomas for assets at the Draft, and install Rask as their number one.

    I doubt very much Schneider would ever find his way to the Leafs. It was rumoured that the Leafs had asked about Cody Hodgson at the dealine and were told he was not available. Turns out he was. In fairness, maybe he was “not available” for what the Leafs offered, but we will never know for sure.

    I think as long as Burke is in Toronto, and Gillis in Vancouver, the Leafs will be radioactive when it comes to having anything to do with the Canucks.

  20. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss MacArthur and Kulemin, either.
    Last season Kuli had around 30 goals, and macaruthur had 60+ pts.
    3 guys at 60+points is damn good for a 2nd line.
    And they are al good defensively and plus players.

  21. Parise will get big bucks Buffalo doesnt have room. Plus he has stated he wants to win and win for a long time. Only teams with cap room will make an offer. Detroit Boston are his top choices. If Devils have a great run then I could see him staying put. Once he is signed then the Teams on the so called short list will make a run at Nash. Detroit has nothing to offer because Zetter and Pavel are better then Nash and there going nowhere. The draft will be fun this year and so will be July 1st.

  22. I don’t really see Boston trading Thomas, given his age he’s not going to be a teams starter, too many teams need a starter for longer term than a year, maybe a team like Detroit if McDonald struggles in the playoffs, but even then it’s iffy.

    I would love to see Parise in Detroit, but don’t see it happening

  23. Hey NikK, if you think Schneider is going to go for what Halak went for you need to get off the crack pipe. Howson and Yzerman have loaded up on extra 1st rounders so they can bid against each other before the draft. When Schneider goes to Columbus, Nail Yakupov is going to look so good as a Canuck.

  24. Scotty B, that is like the pot calling the kettle black! Nail Yakupov (1st overall pick) will not be in play for Schnieder…maybe the other ones they receive from the Carter/Nash trades.

  25. I think you guys need to realize this. Vancouver doesn’t want a middle range to second/third line player in a deal for Schnider. If you look at the farm team for the Canucks there’s not a whole lot of blue chip prospects there. I think the Canucks would be more than happy to transfer the Schnider deal into one of two things. A top end, elite player (i dont really think they need it or can afford it but that’s a separate issue) or a couple of solid, young prospects/high draft picks that, in a few years will crack the NHL and be good players for many years to come.

    I Think the Leafs problem is not with the second line. Kulemin is having a brutal year. Last year I think he played the best that he will be. I wouldnt expect 30 from him every year, However I believe that the real Kulemin lies somewhere between last year and this year. 20 goals a year, 50+ points, a solid defensive and all around player. IMO worth 3.2m a year or something in that neighborhood. He’ll probably get a 1 year extension this year at the same rate to prove what he can bring. Grabo will get something in the neighborhood of 22.5m for 5 years. Bringing him in at around 4.5 a year, which is a pretty fair amount for a player who plays like Grabo does. I think next year you’re going to see Colbourne get alot of time with the big club as a regular. Komisarek’s contract will start to be burried in the minors and Conolley will be eating alot of popcorn in the press box.

  26. @Obe1: Buffalo is up against the cap this year…not next. They could squeeze Parise in without much trouble…plus he and Drew Stafford are best friends.

  27. Brown isn’t going anywhere.
    Kings will make a solid pitch for Parise but will likely loose out to NYR.

  28. I can see Boston trading Thomas in the offseason as his no trade clause expires.
    That will give Rask the starting job he wants and Boston the cap space for Parise.
    I can also see teams that need goaltending (Burke)to make offer sheets for Rask.
    Boston would have tons of cap space with Savard and Thomas off the books.
    I know Savard is on LTIR and will not be returning.

  29. dave: you’re the only person who sees Burke making an offer sheet for Rask. Burke HATES offer sheets with a passion. No way he makes an offer sheet to Rask or anyone else.

  30. Walter17 why I good god would you give up three first rounds picks for Nash go get a solid no 1 goalie a no1 center and some shut down dmen with those three picks remember one player doesn’t make a team

  31. I really hope that the Bruins or Rangers pick up Nash. The asking price would gut either team for a player I feel is very overrated.