NHL Morning Rumor Mill – August 21, 2013.

A list of notable remaining unrestricted free agents, and an update on the Hurricanes.

SI.COM: Allan Muir listed several notable unsigned unrestricted and reasons why they remain unsigned. There’s speculation Ron Hainsey’s role with the NHLPA during the last lockout had led to his being blackballed, plus he’s not physical, lacks mobility and his offensive numbers have declined. Still, Muir expects Hainsey could get signed in September.  Brad Boyes played well last season with the Islanders but teams are now seeking bottom-six players. Like Hainsey, Boyes could be signed in September.

Where will Brenden Morrow play this coming season?

Where will Brenden Morrow play this coming season?

Age and injuries have hampered Brenden Morrow, but Muir speculates perhaps a young team (like the Oilers or Panthers) might benefit from his leadership. Injuries have hurt Ryan Whitney’s mobility but Muir speculates the Panthers, Hurricanes or Lightning could take a chance on the blueliner. Douglas Murray is also slow but the Canucks could have interest in him.

If winger Damien Brunner lowers his $3.5 million per season asking price, the Stars, Panthers or Predators could be interested. A team willing to bet on Mikhail Grabovski as a second line center (Vancouver, perhaps?) could sign him.

Muir also believes Ilya Bryzgalov will stay in Europe, while Jose Theodore’s poor numbers last season could keep him on the market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hainsey led the Jets in blocked shots and was second in ice time, so he still has value as a second- or third-pairing blueliner. The Hurricanes were rumored to be interested earlier this summer, and the defensively weak Avalanche could use him as an affordable ($1 million) option. I suspect Boyes will get a deal but it could come on a training camp tryout.

Morrow appears a shadow of his former self but his reputation as a well-respected leader should help him get a contract next month, perhaps with one of the clubs Muir listed. Whitney’s lack of foot speed could be compensated if he played a more physical game like Murray, but that’s not what he’s known for. He’s a puck-moving defenseman, and injuries have hampered him and his value.

Brunner will almost certainly have to lower his asking price (and accept a one-year deal) to stay in the NHL. While he had a promising debut last season, teams aren’t willing to pay as much as he’s seeking based on a lockout-shortened season. I believe there are teams willing to use Grabovski as a second-line center, but they’re unwilling to overpay. He’ll probably have to accept a one-year deal for half of the $5.5 million cap hit from his previous contract.

Theodore could get an NHL contract before Bryzgalov.

NEWOBSERVER.COM’s Chip Alexander recently reported via Twitter: “Rutherford said Canes are still talking to a “couple” of free agents. As for signing one, he said, “I don’t know which way we will go.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still expect the Hurricanes to add another veteran blueliner. They had interest in Ron Hainsey earlier in the summer, and if his asking price is as affordable as rumored ($1 million) he could  be an affordable option for the ‘Canes


  1. “There’s speculation Ron Hainsey’s role with the NHLPA during the last lockout had led to his being blackballed, plus he’s not physical, lacks mobility and his offensive numbers have declined.”

    I love this line! He was a real dick in negotiations, doesn’t hit, he’s slow, and doesn’t put up points…duh, no wonder why he is not signed. I personally am not a fan!

  2. @highpockets .. all true. the only thing i’ll add is that he eats tons of minutes, and while he doesn’t shoo a ton – he does hit the net often.. unlike our Maple Leafs hero Phaneuf. TOI isn’t typically viewed as an indicator or anything crazy positive, but no coach would play someone in a very important position if they didn’t think their winning chances improved by doing so. I think he was 3rd in Winnipag last year.

    • the typos on this site is just wild. shoo = shoot, winnipag… ha.

    • Rob, first of all I am not a big fan of Dion mainly because of his d-sive game however, Phaneuf misses shoots just like any other good o-sive d-men. For instance in 2012 Burns, Pietrangelo, Karlsson, Weber, Yandle, D.Boye, Edler among other big name o-sive d-men were ahead of Phaneuf in shoots missed category. Phaneufs career SPC is 6.7 which is pretty good imo. In 2011 it is almost the same list of players ahead of Dion in missing shoots category. I can go on…

      Great Al MacInnis career shooting % was 6.59. Of course, he did not have high and lows like Phaneuf but we are talking about Al MacInnis here. Dion had one season with Toronto when his % was under 3 which is average and one season when his % was under 4 which is also average.

      Just suggesting that you are looking at his stats wrong imho.

      • OMG… I’m so glad you brought stats up. There’s no better source for stats than stats.hockeyanalysis.com.

        I don’t care about how many times the puck goes in vs how many times you hit the net. As a shooting dman from the point, I want you to hit the net as often as possible to CREATE as many chances as possible. Shooting percentages are for snipers. I want to know how likely a dman is to hit the net, and create a chance. One example scenario.. let’s look at PP 5-on-4, which is the scenario most ppl favor the “big shot.”

        Per 60 mins, Dion hits the net 9.69 and attempts to 12.924. Franson hits the net 12.31 out of 14.267 attempts. Kostka 5.6 out of 7.69, Liles 7.94 out of 8.819. That’s 90% Liles, 86% Franson, 74% Phanono, 72% Kostka. That’s just the Leafs.

        League-wide, Dion is 30th with shots on net per 60 mins on the 5-on-4 PP. Not the worst, but there are better options.

        • And final thought do you get points for hitting the net? And if shooting percentage is for snipers and Dion has a very good (2nd best on d league wide last year) shooting percentage…what does that mean.?

          • it all comes down to the definition of shot. traditionally, it’s when the puck goes in the net, or would have gone in if it wasn’t for the goalie.

            the other definition is when the puck leaves the players’ stick, which was intended for the net. in this case, regardless of where that puck ends up, there is an impact to both teams.

            my thinking is that the greater the player’s shooting efficiency, the greater the chance his team has on winning. the higher “shooting percentage” as in the initial definition, has little relationship to winning period.

      • ps.. Dion’s scoring percentage was 20th in the league (dmen of course) at just under 1%.

        • Is it just me or does anyone else see the reasons that this is real stretch of an argument…so we should keep Liles and get rid of Franson and Phaneuf?

          • it’s just you.

        • Again, I think you are inaccurate, Dion was 9th in the league with points (last year) and 2nd best in shooting percentage behind only D.Boyle (if you look at top 10 scoring d-men) (among d-men of course).

          Last year he had a very good season too. Again, not that I like Phaneuf, imo he is very average on D.

      • I’m pretty sure that shooting percentage is there percentage of shots that hit the net and go in I could be wrong but I don’t think so

        • @Derek .. Their “shooting percentage” is goals divided by shots.” Your are correct. That specific stat is very misleading, and very limited.

          eg. If you take 20 shots and miss 12 times, hit someone’s shin pad twice, and score once… you have a 25% scoring percentage. In actuality, you’ve hit the net 20% of the time, and the other 80% you’ve given the other team a chance of turn-over.

          I’d rather a dman who’s scoring percentage is 5% and shots on net perecentage is 90 vs a dman with a 25% scoring percentage but a shots on net percentage of just 65. (using the sole scenario of the value of shooting from the point. Obviously defensive dman’s play in their own end isn’t factored here)

          Shots on net percentage, my argument, is a far more productive statistic. It more accurately protrays how valuable a dman on the point is with his “shot.”

          • Not really….

          • Your statistic shows Liles as our most productive D man…you think that is the case?

          • liles is the most efficient. i’m not saying keep him and move Phaneuf. I’m saying, Phaneuf is far far away from effecient at the point. that is all i’m saying.

          • “The “right” stats according to you shows Liles as the best choice so….”

            @schtiky.. my god. There’s more to defense than shooting from the point.

        • You could look at shots on goal

          • haha, you gotta read the posts before you comment, bro.
            taking a shots on goal IS already a commonality. it’s flawed. like I mentioned earlier, anyone who watches Leafs hockey, knows that Phaneuf has killed many a powerplay by simply tossin potatoes from the blueline missing the net and having it go around the boards back into his own end. That happens twice a powerplay with him on point. Taking shots on net only, removes the fact that he’s a very inefficient shooter. Using shots on net only means that you’re going to put someone on the point who isn’t necessarily the best choice. IMO, Franson is a FAR better option on the PP point than Phaneuf… and the right stats show it.

          • The “right” stats according to you shows Liles as the best choice so….

          • Seriously you can’t analyze phaneufs game till your blue in the face.. He’s a frustrating player to most because he has at times looked like a top d man and the goes on a streak where he makes you want to break your tv.. Bottom line he is a good defense man who logs a tonne of minutes for a team that at this point does not have a replacement.. Now co e the end of the year or next with the amount of young high end d prospects leafs have phaneuf could become expendable unless he lowers his salary…

          • I’m knocked a lot from my friends because I’m such a Phaneuf fan. If you want to just argue about reasons why he should not be traded, then focus on his strengths. His shooting from the point, isn’t one of them.

            @Jrd18, good point. he logs tons of ice time, and hits so hard you still feel it a year later. he’s not the best fighter, but well above average.. and his discipline is high. when a blue moon arises and he actually does hit the broad side of a barn door, the chances of it going it is high. He produces unreal bar-down one-timers. he’s a good leader, and has zero excuses – which probably is my favourite about him. he’s an awkward skater, but it works. he’s horrible in his own end without the puck. with the puck, he’s efficient. he’s easy to beat, but he is intimidating to play against. he takes risks.. and I love him for it. my favourite thing about him is that you know at any point in time that game, there’s a chance that someone is getting laid the eff out… and it will not be a head shot.

            .. but do not come at me w/ some silly BS that he has a high shooting percentage when the reality is he has zero clue where that puck is going..

  3. It really blows my mind that Boyes appears to be so under valued. The guy is a decent offensive player, I’ll agree not the strongest defensive player but not every player on the ice can be and he has heart and gives it his all. Other than his stint in Buffalo he has been an average to above average player everywhere else that he has played.

    Actually I think there is still a lot of talent on the market to improve teams and this stupid lowering of the cap for one season is putting people out of the job.

    UFA Forwards (I like no order): Brad Boyes, Damien Brunner, Mikhail Grabovski, Vinny Prospal, Kyle Wellwood, David Steckel, Brendan Morrow, Guil Latendresse, and Peter Mueller. (A couple solid top 6 forward guys, some depth, and some high upside gamble)

    UFA Defense (I like no order): Ron Hainsey, Ian White, Doug Murray, Wade Redden, Hal Gil, and Colten Teubert (mind you all depth guys so I can under why they haven’t been signed)

    Guess the point is that there is still a decent depth free agent market for clubs to improve their team with.

    PS – As a final thought if the Oilers could find away to shed a bit of cap, say demote Lander, Joensuu, Potter, it would be great to see them sign Steckel & Morrow. Steckel would be an excellent 4th line center giving them FO depth and a great PK guy and Morrow brings grit and leadership to the bottom 6.

    • JJB, in looking over the list there is maybe one guy I would want Bflo to sign – Morrow. Reason being would be that he brings leadership and a good work ethic. He’s also willing to go to the dirty places…….but I would have to look at the value that he brings vs. the salary that he is truely worth. I thought he played better with the Pens than Iginla, but he also has had injuries – so I would probably say he is a 3rd-4th line guy and if Bflo did sign him….who’s playing time is cut? Vanek, Ennis, Fogilino, or Larsson? Bflo has a number of youngsters that are going to be fighting for playing time and at this point I would rather have them get their shot at playing versus bringing in a Wellwood, Steckel or Mueller.

      Some of these guys will find jobs once training camp opens. Thing is, there are still quite a few RFA’s that haven’t been signed and teams that have limited cap space. So, things can still happen.

      • Morrow is solid.

    • There will undoubtably be some injuries during training camps (i.e. Souray and Giroux before their training camps even opened) or a few team prospects that show up out of shape and end up being demoted. Those two factors alone should increase the remaining free agents market values in a month or so.

  4. There is such a thing as over-analyzing the stats guys. Plus there’s the old adage, stats don’t lie but statisticians do. Too many stats can muddy the waters.

  5. The Avs don’t need any more 2-3 pairing D. I do, however, expect us to be looking for a #1 D by the trading deadline.

    • Could of drafted #1 d-men now you will be looking for #1 at the dead line?

      SInce when #1 d-men available at the dead line….. Got to be a joke.

  6. Interesting that Grabovski remains unsigned. There were a multitude of Leaf fans who thought he would be snapped up by any number of smart GM’s. Personally I felt that he’d be a fit in Washington. I wonder what the problem is.

  7. Wow. This thread had nothing to do with Phaneuf/Franson/any Leaf and still this thread got hijacked by the usual suspects. I was hoping to read discussion where some prominent UFAs would end up. My bad.
    (For the record Boyes-CAR. They desperately need a second line RW. Brunner-PHX. Not as desperate but Coyotes could use some more offensive skill in top 6. Hainsey-CAR. He’ll be 5-6 at best but will add experience and eat minutes.
    Whitney-TB. See Hainsey. Ian White-COL. Adds offensive skill and is an upgrade
    on point for PP. Cleary-VAN. Exactly what a timid playoff team can use come
    April. Morrow-NYI. Isles can use vet leadership and he can aid Tavares
    transition into being leader of young team. Grabovski-WSH. As gritty and
    versatile as Brooks Laich is, he’s miscast as Caps 2nd line centre. Theodore-NSH. Who’s Carter Hutton? Exactly. Mason Raymond-NJ. Devils need his speed badly.