Updates on the Coyotes, Canucks and Blue Jackets – May 28, 2011.

A look at Coyotes free agents Ilya Bryzgalov, Keith Yandle and Ed Jovanovski, Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa poised to cash in big, and the latest on Nikita Filatov.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Jim Gintonio reports there could be a domino effect forming involving their free agents that could determine the make of the Coyotes next season. The main domino is goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who’ll seek an expensive raise over the three-year, $12.75 million he earned on his last contract. If Bryzgalov is willing to accept a “hometown discount” to remain with the Coyotes it’ll give the club more options. GM Don Maloney however said he won’t break the bank on one player. RFA defenseman Keith Yandle will seek a considerable raise over the $1.2 million he made this season, and Maloney has steadfastly maintained Yandle will be re-signed. UFA blueliner Ed Jovanovski would need to take a substantial pay cut from the $6.5 million he made this season if he hopes to remain with the Coyotes. An unnamed NHL source believes Bryzgalov and Jovanovski aren’t likely to return. If Bryzgalov doesn’t appear likely to return, the Coyotes could gamble on Jason LaBarbara stepping up or trade Bryzgalov’s rights before July 1st, and seek a free agent replacement, like Florida’s Tomas Vokoun or Tampa Bay’s Mike Smith. With the available cap space they could also look toward the UFA market to replace Jovanovski, including Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff or Montreal’s James Wisniewski.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bryzgalov and Jovanovski aren’t re-signed, Maloney’s priority is to replace them with affordable talent, and use the remaining cap space to bolster his offense. The problem however will be finding free agents willing to gamble on the Coyotes remaining in their current market. Over the past two seasons the Coyotes have proven they’re capable of icing a competitive franchise, but their uncertain ownership could work against them. Currently they have less than $30 million invested in 13 players, and are likely to keep their payroll as close to the cap floor (expected to be at least $46 million) as possible.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Mike Boone reports Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa is set to cash in big this summer, either by the Canucks re-signing him to a significant raise over the $3.75 million he made this season, or with another club via the UFA market. Boone also expects the Montreal Canadiens to re-sign Andrei Markov, while James Wisniewski will likely be too expensive for the Habs to retain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bieksa’s post-season performance could see him earn upward of $6 million per season, especially if he hits the open market. I expect the Canucks will re-sign him, but don’t expect him to accept much of a “hometown discount”, if he accepts one at all.

YAHOO! SPORTS’ Dmitry Chesnokov recently“tweeted” Columbus Blue Jackets winger Nikita Filatov has denied all rumors he’s returning to the KHL this season and is determined to make the Blue Jackets this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’ll have to put in more of an effort than he did over the past couple of years.


  1. Typical AZ Republic columnist misspelling a Coyote’s name. LaBarbera isn’t likely to be the starter next season. The Coyotes have already found Jovo’s replacement by acquiring Klesla, but may still be re-sign, if he is willing to take a hometown discount. The budget that GM Dom Maloney has to work with is expected to be around $56 million. Don’t expect him to reach the maximum amount, so he can have some flexibility under the teams self-impose cap. The UFA market for top goalies this year’s off-season is very limited and maybe difficult for the Coyotes to find an adequate replacement for Bryzgalov.

  2. I”m doubtful Jovo and Bryz will be resigned. Bieksa will likely return to the Canucks; unless of course, he’s badly low balled by Mike Gillis. The Habs resigning Markov is likely but I sure wouldn’t do it as his injury history suggests he’s breaking down from the grind of it all which likely will mean James Wisniewski will become the odd man out in Montreal

  3. What if Bieksa’s hometown discount came in the form of a very long term deal? (6 – 5.5 – 5 – 4.5 – 4 – 3.5 – 3 – 2.5 – 2)……..9 year / 36 mil = 4 mil cap hit (could chisel it lower here and there maybe)
    What do you say Kevin, are you okay with that?

  4. There is no way Bieksa is worth $6 million. $4 million for a couple years. He is a very good defenseman to have on your team. But he’s not even close to elite status.

  5. Spector are u smokin something funny. Where is Vancouver gonna come up with that kind of money to sign Bieksa for 6 mill. Half of their roster is either UFA or RFA.

    As for Tuxedos’ idea, ya it sounds good but is Vancouver willing to tie up another player long term. He would be 38 when his contract ends. I feel some team out there will make him the deal of his life & he’ll jump ship