NHL Free Agent News – March 8, 2012.

What impact could Mikhail Grabovski’s contract have upon Olli Jokinen’s contract negotiations? Could Jaroslav Spacek join the Bruins this summer?

Could Grabovski deal affect Jokinen's contract talks with Flames?

SPORTSNET’s Doug MacLean posted the following on Twitter: “The Graboski contract will bother Jay Feaster.. What does he have to pay Jokinen? Making 3 mill now.. Terrible UFA market for centers.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could have an impact, but Feaster can counter by saying the Maple Leafs were paying for potential, as Mikhail Grabovski is 28 and in his prime, while Jokinen is 33 and on the downside of his career. Jokinen may be willing to accept less than market value to remain in Calgary, where he and his family are happy, but it won’t be a “hometown discount”. In other words, it’s unlikely he’ll accept a modest raise, but could seek something between $4-$4.5 million per on a three-year deal. It’ll also depend on how well he finishes the season, if the Flames make the playoffs, and what direction Feaster wants to take the team if they don’t.

BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont recently reported the Bruins had made a pitch for Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaroslav Spacek prior to the trade deadline but the Hurricanes asking price was too expensive. A close friend of Spacek’s claims he’d love to play in Boston, and could get that chance if he becomes a UFA this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spacek is 38 and not a very physical defenseman now. If he were to sign with the Bruins, it’ll only be a one-year deal, and less than the $3.833 per season on his current contract.


  1. Or Feaster could tell Jokinen that Burke lost his mind and Grabovski wasn’t worth $5.5 X 5yrs. The way the Leafs are going to finish this year I wonder if Burke just wanted to get Grabo under contract to offer him up to that list of 10 teams this summer instead of loosing him as a UFA? Doubt it but being against the cap next year already with this tiny team doesn’t look good for Burke’s future.

  2. This whole idea of “comparable players” to establish market value on players is hogwash. Mikhail Grabovski and Olli Jokinen are two different players on two different teams in two different conferences. The fact that one signed a bloated contract doesn’t mean that the other needs to be offered a comparable deal.

    Feaster is a great GM who inherited several bad contracts and limited viable assets in Calgary. He will need time to reconstruct the Flames into a contender. While Brian Burke has made out well on a number of trades for the Leafs, he has also made a habit of overpaying for marginal-at-best players (Komisarek, Armstrong, Connolly and now Grabovski). I would trust Feaster to properly assess Jokinen’s value to the Flames and exercise some fiscal responsibility moving forward.

  3. Maybe Feaster should just walk away from Jokinen completely. At some point these middle of the road teams need to rebuild. If I were a Flames fan I think at this point I would be looking for management to start accumulating assets such as draft picks and prospects NOT re-signing over the hill players such as Jokinen. Their neighbors in Edmonton seem to be doing just that. As far as the rest of their team A.K.A Iginla, see yesterdays media frenzy with Peyton Manning. Cut the cord Jerome, do what’s right for you and the team and move on. Calgary will always love Iginla, if he allows a trade he allows the Flames to get younger and stock their cupboards and hopefully gives himself a chance for a cup ring.

  4. In reality Grabovski is only overpaid by market value by $1 million dollars he should have got $4.5 mill fo 3 years Yes $1 million is a lot of money especially when the team is at the cap and your strapped with terrible contracts and you need to add to you team in the off season ….but unfortunately all the players Burke wanted ar NOT avialable …Carter …Getzlaf …Parise…Ruttuu ….and so on …so in essence it was best to keep Grabo in the system and is more of a consistant player ….Burek had no other centers to get NONE!
    He cant even find a # 1 center that Grbovski might end up being if he cant work some magic in the off season ……if he lost Grabovski to Free Agency …there were NO ALTERNATIVES …Burke had to solidify a decent center for the team and Grabovksi was his only choice in the whole league at this point !!!

    One thing that plays well for Jokinen is this exact same scenario BUT also Calgary frees up a lot of cash this year with impending free agents …LOTS OF CASH….so they may be able to give Jokinen the $4 million for 2 year deal and ask for a hometown doscount so that they can also build around Iginila again ! Jokinen to me seems as if he will be reasoanable to this ….Feaster will have to test the waters to see what trades are available first with each team to asses what he does in the end.

    feaster is in a real dilema in my opinion …..there are very few good UFA s this year and he has very little in trade value (outside Iggy & Kipper) he may have to sign guys to jut shit the cap floor ……I dont see the Flames being very successful in the rebuild……If they are truly serious to rebuild you kepp Iggy and move Kipper for a whopper of a trade wth a top end NHL game ready goalie coming back with a players and propects …and go from there ….IMO ….its really the only way and Feaster could GO TO TOWN with a return for Kipper ….there is no Goalie of his caliber available in the league ….its his best option to move this team forward……& keep Iggy and be successful

  5. @Chris
    Obviously we both would have been fine with Burke blowing up the team trading Grabo, MacArthur, Schenn, Kulemin for first rounders and prospects, and trading Kessel for the right young future #1 center but that wasn’t to be. Instead we are saddled with a mediocre team of small guys and over paid under acheivers. While I love the fact Wilson is gone there is still much work to be done if this is the nucleus we are heading forward with.

  6. @BeerGoggles, lol, love the name. I think Burke made the right call in not trading Grabo & Schenn. At some point even if they could have say resigned grabo, you need to show commitment to your players. Schenn will be better under carlylye, you watch. He will be playing in a system more suited to his strengths. As for the rest well ya could have made some trades for sure, but Burke still may at the draft. If you wanna land that big name player, sometimes you need more then just picks and prospects to get it done.

  7. Burkes opprtunity was at the trade deadline ….its gone !!!!!….he was only 2 points out and in my opinion this moment should have been the finest in his career to bring in a FRANCHISE player and build around him ….if anything at all Steve OTT for Kulimen or Macarthur and a draft pick , just to add a spark when they were that close !!!

    Iam sorry but Schen after tradededline is not worth a 1 st rounder anymore……Sorry guys!!! ship has sailed

    This years draft is very deep ….if he had stayed the course 2 years ago collected 4 first rounders this year for players and played Colborne and Kadri built them up saved money he would be sitting pretty instead of signing Connoly he would still have saved money and created experience with both those players…. …for whatever reason Kadri has fallen down the depth charts into an abyss………they ruined this kid………..and watching Carter Ashton last night…… Kadri has more talent in his pinky finger than Ashton has all around….from first glance this was a very bad trade for kieth Aulie who loves to take the body as a d man …exactly what the leafs are looking for …baffles me to no end !!!

    the leafs are in serious trouble moving forward ( next year) and really need to look at the future …they are stuck in pergatory ……if they dont find a way to dump the contracts they cant sign ANYONE!!!!! to upgrade the team ……they need to bring up Colborne next year ….move out Luke Schenn for a return forward player (OTT) ….bring up Holzer next year ……….take Dion off the power play and put Franson there ……..move Jake Gardner up to the wing where he played his whole life as he is very defensive minded now and can play a 100 foot game and has great speed down the boards and goes to the net …trade for Steve Ott or Matt Cooke ….put kadri on the penalty kill to get him skating and hope that he gets you some shortys with his slick hands ….and go after a legit #1 goalie…….. I would target Halak …..hard !!!!……and hate to say this but would possibly look very hard at trying to get Luongo out of vancouver if Van wants to keep Schnieder …………..yeah I said it ……maybe a good option at this point !!! Not much choice out there !!!
    Van might be open to this next year …what the Leafs would have to give up beats me !!!

    Ok now off to the shooting gallery …go head guys LOL

  8. In spite of Luongo’s absurd contract, there would be takers if he were shopped. That’s all I have to say on it, Chris. He may be soft in key games, but he’ll consistently bring a team to the playoffs.

  9. @Chris, wow, you talk like picking up a franchise guy is as easy as 1-2-3, seriously, it isn’t. First off everything has to mesh perfectly and sometimes that is after the season. Your assements of Schenn and Ashton are way off IMO. Schenn is 22 whole yrs old and he is suddenly useless and washed up? As for your Kadri to Ashton comparasons, you do realize they play nowhere near the same type of game right? So comments like that are kinda pointless really. your frustration is understandable, but we need to be realistic. Trading those guys for all those picks would have been a major step backwards really.

  10. Who cares about the leafs?! (kidding, obviously everyone except me). But seriously, on Jokinen; I agree with Lyle’s assessment that he won’t earn Grabo money especially being an older player, but will deserve a raise. The problem as I see it, is that he is making 3 mil to begin with at a time when his value was at an all time low (I would have thought he’d be signed for 2-2.5 mil at the time). So instead of a raise getting him to 3-3.5, it gets him to 4-4.5 range. If we go by the market there are plenty of reasons to expect Feaster to have to overpay (Ruutu, Leino, Cole, etc.) So many guys are getting inflated deals now, makes you appreciate guys like Patrick Sharp or Dustin Brown, the Sedins (all good contracts for the caliber of player).

    On Spacek, to me this was an example of the problem with the deadline. It almost seemed like some GM’s wouldn’t take anything lowr than what they deemed the going rate even if it meant holding onto a guy who won’t help them now, and will almost certainly walk in the summer. I really don’t get it. Why not take a 3rd rounder for Spacek or Bryan Allenfor example, or a 4th for Campoli (not that I know the offers but just speculation)? Perhaps they actually do want to keep these guys, but it really surprised me that so many of these types were not moved.Seems like instead of benefiting both teams, they would prefer that neither team is benefited just so they don’t low-balled.

  11. There are reasons why fans need not know what other fans think because it is just silly, really. So I’ll agree, it makes so much sense to strip down a 3-4yr progress in a rebuild and start over again with those magical draft picks that somehow will turn this team into a contender. That’s smart.

    Also while we are at it, makes perfect sense to trade away a 22yr old defenseman because lets face it, if Schenn cant be a top pairing shutdown guy now after what, 3yrs playing on a shitty team, he will never be – trade the bum! You know, because there are so many good young defensemen at the age of 22-23 in the league, I’m sure we’ll be able to replace him.

  12. I remember when Grabovski signed for 2.9, everybody was up in arms. 5.5 seems like a lot now, but in 2-3 years it’ll be a bargain…watch. Number 2 centermen are getting paid a lot now. It’s misguided to compare his salary to a guy like Getzlaf. Getz was signed years ago, under a different salary cap, and before he really reached elite status. Ask yourself, what would Getzlaf get on a new contract now?
    As for the Leafs as a team, blowing this team up would be a big mistake. If they had say…Kipper in net, how good would they be? I’m not saying Calgary would ever trade Kipper, but it shows what our true problem is. It’s not Mac, Grabs, Kule, Schenn…it’s goaltending. Anything else (addressing size and/or a true number one center) can be dealt with later.

  13. Durt I think it’s more than just goaltending. This team is a mess defensively. Not necessarily the d men themselves, but the team defense. Maybe this is already being addressed with Carlyle, but up to this point I don’t think the best goalie in the world gets them in playoffs to be honest. Just my opinion though. They need to stop the run and gun hockey and play under a disciplined system.

  14. @Durt
    I think it’s the 5 yr term that everyone is up in arms about and less about the money. Like Chris said it’s really only $1.0M more so who cares with a $63M cap.
    As for blowing it up maybe that was to strong a word. I think a partial rebuild would have been in order. We all know defense take the longest to mature to the group we have now could be a real force in two or three years therefore a partial rebuild on the front end could have been an option by taking those 4 first rounders Burke talked about and transformed them into NHL ready prospects. Agreed on the goalie front. If we had Miller or Kipper this would be a totally different team except when playing the Bruins, we’d still get smashed around with this lineup.
    Chris was preaching about trading Kessel and a pick/prospect for Nash if that’s what it took so I believe that is what he was talking about when he said “bring in a franchise player”. Who knows if CLB would have even wanted Kessel in a deal for Nash but his point was for Burke to give it his best shot and stop pretending Kessel was a player to build a team around. I kind of agree from the point that Burke hasn’t built around Kessel or he would be surrounded by guys like Lucic, Hartnell, Marleau or anyone that has some size and grit. so either S@#$ or get off the pot with Kessel, so trade him or give him the proper teammates to help protect him and open up the ice against the bigger teams.

    A parting comment: Armstrong should never fight again… lol

  15. Didn’t Burke say when he took over the Leafs that he doesn’t give out NTC’s? I am sure I heard him say that in an interview.

  16. Kevin – Burke also said this year is a weak draft when most other hockey pundits would disagree. Not sure this guy can see beyond his own ego at this point. A good firing might bring him back to reality at this point.

    Also, not a leafs fan, but you don’t trade Schenn. You move the garbage contracts like Komi, Lombardi, Connelly, Phanuef, Armstrong. Thats about 23 million they could spend on better players.

    They wouldn’t have acquired 4 first round picks either, it’s more like 1, maybe two, for Grabovski and Schenn, and they would have been 20-30. You want to be in the top 10 this year of your drafting as the top six ( Yakupov, Grigorenko, Murray (sp), Forsberg, and Galyenchuk (sp)) are all blue chip studs. So if Torontos going to fail they may as well fail hard like my habs are.

  17. Oh and someone else said that no ones available in the summer. Zach Parise. Point per game player.

  18. Oops! Meant top five, not six. After the top 5 there’s some quality guys with size to be had.

    Lyle, we need a edit feature! Lol. At least I do. :)

  19. Diceman, watching as many Leaf games a year as I do, it’s apparent that strong goaltending could have easily won us 5-6 more games (probably in February alone, but I’m trying to be modest in my projection) that would put us right with Ottawa and Jersey. I agree with you that there is more then one hole to fill, but this team has enough skill to be a playoff team. Retinker the line up to get more grit, plus Carlyle’s new defensive system and we could go deep. But it all starts with goaltending. Without it, we’re picking top 5 in every draft.


    First off I want to set the record staright that I dont hate Kessel as a matter of fact I think the guy is a pure goal scorer and has more talent than 90% of people who play hockey in the world!!! TO SCORE GOALS!
    And one day he will sore 50 goals I hope that for him!

    What Iam trying to get across when talking about his placement on the leafs is……hes not aFranchise player ..hes not a guy you build a team upon …hes not a guy that you wnat to go to war with in a heated playoff match up, hes a compliment guy to a good line and a deep team who gets you the points to GET to the playoffs……..in saying that …..If guys like……. Nash ….Getzlaf …Ryan ….JVR ….Brad Richards ….steve Ott …Cory Schieder …are commanding such a HIGH return for them in a trade scenario…than Kessel is amongst those guys in value for his pure scoring ability alone to comlimeny an all ready good team i.e LA KINGS, Nashville predators …Ottawa Senators….. for example…….desperate for scoring !!!!

    My point is….. if all those guys are commanding that return……….
    Top 3 forward Player …prospect NHL ready player and 1 A propsect player and draft pick ….than kessel should fetch VERY close to that if traded …….SOOOOO……..If you do that you can shed $5 million off the books ask for a legit NHL ready Goalie #1 …top 6 forward with size ……and an NHL ready prospect ….which I M O should be a better direction to go ….IF I WERE BURKE …then shed the terribel Contracts as stated by SMIELMAN ABOVE $23million ……you can start a healthy rebuild …..bring up some talent from the marlies and work them into the system now when they are young …replace Schenn with Holzer…..and move Schenn out for a guy like Steve OTT …..and this gives you an OPPORTUNITY with the money you have available to go after a Legit franchise player for years to come …….

    For all the NO NASH TRADE GUYS …….Nash has more goals than all the players mentioned in the trade for him COMBINED since trade deadline ……..JUST SAYIN

  21. “Nash ….Getzlaf …Ryan ….JVR ….Brad Richards ….steve Ott …Cory Schieder …are commanding such a HIGH return for them in a trade scenario…than Kessel is amongst those guys in value for his pure scoring ability alone to comlimeny an all ready good team”

    You will notice that none of those players were traded. So if the asking price was that high for the franchise players like Nash, Getzlaf, Ryan etc and no body was willing to pay it, why would someone pay that or close to that for a non franchise player like you say Kessel is? We all like to play armchair GM but fact is. You are not going to get all these pieces without giving up alot of other pieces.

    Here is what will happen this off season. Burke will look for a Vet Goalie to go with Reimer, and he will make a hard play for Parise and will more than likely miss out. It won’t be because of cap space either.

    The reason why Burke did not take the offers for 1st rounders is two fold. One it would have meant 5 more years of rebuilding. Those picks would have fallen in the 18 to 30 range of the draft, which means your likely going to get many project players needing 2,3,4,5 years to develop so your looking at a long time with no playoffs and no guarantee it will pay off (look how many picks Edmonton has made and they still sit in the lottery area.) The second reason Burke did not do that is that it would have created too many holes in top end positions where you really do not want to through your young kids into with support. This could easily ruin their development.

    We all want our teams to make super deals and think that if our GM did all the things we think is a good idea our team would be much better off. The problem is we are probably wrong and/or that option is not actually available in the first place. Ie. Getting Steve Ott at the deadline. The Leafs might have been able to get him, but it would have cost them more than what Ott would have brought the other way which is why he stayed in Dallas.

  22. @Innovator

    So what your saying is that the leafs are closer than 1- 2 years of being a force or competeting with the NHLs elite …….???? With the present program !! At this point to bring in anyone Burke needs to move money out ……if he wants to bring in a ( Parise ) or player like hime he needs to move money out….!!!

    So in those two moves alone A new goalie or a player like Parise or ( Parise) he needs to move big money out ……a parise caliber player will command 7 million plus a new GOOD goalie will be 4 million plus as well or multiple players via aquistion……so what Iam saying is use Kessel to get back multiple players via one trade and one player and move out 5 million at the same time ….i.e Kessel & Scrivens for Dustin Brown and Bernier and a pick …….something along those lines ……Kessel Schenn and Riemer for Loui Erickson, Kari Leightonen Steve Ott and Sheldon Souray …..for example !!!

  23. I don’t see LA ever making that deal. Nor do I think Dallas trades their top scorer, starting Goalie and Ott. These are deals you might like to see. But they won’t ever happen.

    Burke does not have to move salary out in the same deal. If he were to talk Parise into signing all he would need to do is make a few calls and he could move salary out. While some of these guys carry heavy contracts they are not terrible players and can be moved if needed.

    Burke has been stocking the cupboards with kids already, and has some pieces. He has some holes to fill and big ones at that. But to reset in hopes that you become a contender by sucking and drafting high each year for the next decade won’t work either.

    If you move Kessel for multiple players your likely going to take most of his salary back just spread across more players all of which are 2nd or 3rd liners at best which will then cause everyone to complain Toronto has too many 2nd liners and not enought first liners.

  24. A few points:

    Not every young player develops along that nice smooth upward curve everyone assumes. True, the younger a player is, the more likely it is they can improve. The question is whether they do or not – it is a well-known phenomenon in other sports and holds true in hockey. Luke Schenn might be as good as he is ever going to be – or he might reach his potential or fall by the wayside. It happens much more frequently than people realize. I think the overall point is that an organization that cannot realistically assess their players and act accordingly is never likely to improve.

    Having just watched the Leafs against Pittsburgh, I have never seen a less responsible team defensively than the Leafs. In all three zones by all ranks. In fact, for all the scoring Kessel brings, he does nothing else and his maturation into a three zone player will be key to the future success of the Leafs or he will forever be a nice complimentary player. Same for Phaneuf – he was consistently out of position and made the wrong play most of the time. Granted, it was one game and everyone has a bad game, but in today’s NHL, players cannot ignore responsibilities.

    It seems that the Leafs have to overpay for free agents and even then, not every free agent will want to come to Toronto for whatever reason. A draft rebuild without the benefit of consecutive top 5 picks is a risky proposition (again, see my first point). Therefore, it appears Burke will have to trade his way out of the mess he made or give Carlyle a very long leash to re-shape the team into the image Burke wants.

  25. I think a big portion of the problem with Kessel and Phaneuf, was Wilson. Now I still don’t think he is a bad coach, I just didn’t think he was right for the Leafs. He made kessel have a certain degree of defensive awareness but not what it should have been, that will change. Phaneuf was gine more of a rover role IMO, he was allowed to jump in whenever he wanted or go look for the big hit etc. I think this was done in two parts one Phaneuf badly wants to be that guy and a game changer, Wilson wanted it too. However in doing so he was trying to do too much, this I think is his biggest problem. It is easy for all of us to sit here and judge, but really none of us know the pressure they are under.

  26. Burke’s signing of Grabo was desperation…period. There is really no “”top”” centres available this summer and those that are will not go to Toronto. Not because they dont want to play there but because Burke will not chase down the high end UFA’s give them long term deals with NTC etc that they want. As for the price he paid for Grabo was more than likely because of that ludercrious signing of Hemsky 3 weeks ago.

    As for Feaster and Calgary, I really do think that Calgary will land two top 6 forwards this summer and will re-sign Joker as well. he will then be able to fill part of the third line with guys like Comeau, Nemiz, Moss, Jones.