NHL fans rejoice. The lockout is officially over.
Bob McKenzie of TSN wrote on Twitter a succinct overview of the situation:
NHL Lockout: Sept. 15, 2012 - Jan. 12, 2013. Now over. Officially. MOU signed by NHL and NHLPA.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 13, 2013
The NHL Players' Association released a statement. It started:
The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association today signed a Memorandum of Understanding reflecting the terms of a new, 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement. Team training camps will open on Sunday, and a 720-game regular-season schedule (48 games per team) will begin on Saturday, January 19.
The league has officially released the 48-game schedule. Here is the full slate for when the puck drops on January 19.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN wrote on Twitter how the lockout would affect transaction deadlines:
For this season only - trade deadline will be April 3 while free agency opens July 5— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 13, 2013
During the lockout, some free agents were frozen out. McKenzie wrote on Twitter around midnight that teams are free to negotiate with free agents and pursue other roster moves:
Trades and signings are now legally permitted in the NHL.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 13, 2013
Read on to see the latest regarding free agency, trades and other possible roster moves now that the lockout is over.
Yes, Tim Thomas will probably return to the NHL at some point. But according to NHL.com, it won't be this season:
Goaltender Tim Thomas still intends to sit out this season, but Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Sunday that the two-time Vezina Trophy winner told him he wants to play in 2013-14.
Chiarelli confirmed during a Sunday morning press conference at the opening of training camp that Thomas won’t attend camp or play this season, but said the 38-year-old goaltender wants to come back for next season.
As that article notes, the Bruins won't have to pay Thomas his salary, though he will still represent a $5 million cap hit for the team. Chiarelli also said he would suspend Thomas but the player would remain on the team's cap, unless he traded him.
This is a fairly bizarre situation, honestly. Then again, Thomas has always marched to the beat of his own drummer.
The Carolina Hurricanes have certainly been busy, with the latest move ensuring the team has a solid backup for starting goalkeeper Cam Ward.
The Canes announced Sunday they have signed goaltender Dan Ellis on a one-year contract that will pay him a prorated $650,000 for the 2012-13 season.
“Dan is an experienced netminder who has had good years in the NHL, and played well for Charlotte this season,” general manager Jim Rutherford said in a statement. “We feel it is important to have a veteran goalie to partner with Cam (Ward) during the compressed season.”
Ellis last played for the Anaheim Ducks.
The longest-tenured member of the Buffalo Sabres, Jochen Hecht, will be staying with the club for at least one more season.
As reported at Sabres.com, "Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier today announced that center Jochen Hecht has agreed to terms on a one-year contract."
As that story notes, "Hecht ranks 20th in franchise history in games played, goals and points" and "leads all active Sabres with a career plus/minus rating of plus-94, ranking him 23rd among all active NHL players."
Very quietly, Hecht has put together a solid career. For at least one more season, he'll continue putting on the Sabres sweater.
How would you like to be paid millions of dollars to sit on your couch until the summer? Because that's essentially what the Montreal Canadiens have instructed Scott Gomez to do.
Seriously. From Arpon Basu of LHN:
Bergevin says #Habs have sent Gomez home and will be bought out next summer— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) January 13, 2013
Okay, okay, we need more context. Joe Yerdon of Pro Hockey Talk, you're up:
GM Marc Bergevin addressed media this morning to say they were sending Gomez home for the season for the express purpose of buying him out this summer.
This is the safest route for teams to take with players they’re looking to use one of their compliance buyouts on as injured players aren’t allowed to be bought out. The downside is his $7.357 million cap hit sits on the books no matter what this season.
Apparently, the Habs weren't getting any takers on the trade market and decided to, quite literally, cut their losses this summer. After just 21 goals in three seasons during his stay in Montreal, I hardly doubt fans will miss Gomez this season.
The NHL Lockout is over! And hey, we've got a trade involving the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings!
The Hurricanes land a scrappy enforcer in Westgarth, while the Kings get a promising young player in Stewart, turning some heads with 39 points two years ago with the Atlanta Thrashers before regressing slightly last year, finishing with just 20 points.
The New York Islanders continued to improve their defensive unit this offseason, this time by signing veteran free agent Radek Martinek to a one-year deal, according to Katie Strang of ESPN New York:
#NYI Also, Islanders announce this morning that they have signed veteran D Radek Martinek to 1-year deal— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) January 13, 2013
While Martinek has dealt with injury issues throughout the latter stages of his career, the Islanders hope he can earn a spot on the team as a fifth- or sixth-defender.
The team could use all the veteran leadership it can get.
The Philadelphia Flyers continue to make moves now that the season is officially underway, and this one features a trade for veteran backup goaltender Brian Boucher, according to Anthony SanFilippo of PhiladelphiaFlyers.com:
This will be Boucher’s fourth time with the Flyers during his career in the NHL, and his presence in the locker room and on the bench is a comforting thought; this isn’t a veteran that gets rattled easily.
The Bouch is back!
The Philadelphia Flyers have been decimated by injuries to their defensive group already—veteran Chris Pronger continues to deal with post-concussion symptoms and Andrej Meszaros is returning from an Achilles injury—and it was clear a move had to be made.
The reported free-agent acquisition of former Minnesota Wild veteran defender Kurtis Foster (h/t Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly) addresses Philadelphia’s need for more talent and depth through the team’s defensive lineup:
As we reported last night, D Kurtis Foster is now a Flyer. CLub's website says he was signed to a 1-year deal at $950,000 this morning— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) January 13, 2013
This is a smart move by the Flyers, who locked up a veteran presence on the ice and in the locker room without overspending or sending one of the team’s promising young prospects away in a trade.
With plenty of offensive power coming from the New York Rangers this season—star forward Rick Nash’s offseason arrival will signal a change in the tempo the team plays with—the organization had to make a serious effort to keep the defensive unit intact.
The Rangers have an agreement in place to re-sign veteran Michael Del Zotto to a deal (h/t Bob McKenzie) that will keep him patrolling the blue line in New York City as the team transfers into an offense-first mindset:
Michael Del Zotto has agreed to tentative terms with NYR and is expected in camp today tho aspects of contract are still being worked on.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 13, 2013
New York needs to ensure they have all the consistent defenders they can find because, with an all-out offensive assault like the one the Rangers will use this season, there will times when Del Zotto must save the team using his defensive prowess.
This re-signing was a no-brainer.
Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette reported that defenseman P.K. Subban's agent, Donnie Meehan, dismissed rumors that his player was signing a four-year, $22 million deal.
Of the prospective deal being agreed to, Meehan is quoted as saying:
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said, laughing no longer. “And I capitalize all of that.”
Chris Stevenson of the Toronto Sun reported earlier in the week that Subban would be holding out for more money and years. He wrote:
New Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said Monday his goal was to have Subban signed and on the ice when training camp opened.
There was talk in Montreal on Tuesday the Subban camp could be looking for a deal similar to that signed by Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty, who landed an eight-year deal worth $56 million. That sounds like a pretty lofty demand.
The defenseman scored seven goals and recorded 29 assists last season.
Subban's ongoing contract situation will be something to watch in the coming days.
Center Ryan O'Reilly also remains a restricted free agent. He spent the lockout playing in Russia and remains there as his agent continues talking terms of a new deal with the Colorado Avalanche.
Mark Chambers of the Denver Post reported earlier in the week that the two sides were still going back and forth:
In a text message, O'Reilly's agent Mark Guy said: "All that I can say at this time is that we are having ongoing discussions."
Chambers also spoke with defenseman Shane O'Brien:
"Obviously he's a big part of our team here, just how he works on the ice, how hard he works off the ice, the way he plays every night, and there's not one guy in this room that wouldn't say he doesn't love Ryan O'Reilly," O'Brien said after Thursday's two-hour practice.
"Unfortunately, it's the contract side of the game that every fan just went through with the lockout. It's the ugly side of the game. But I know "Factor" wants to be here more than anybody and as far as I know they are talking and trying to get something done."
For now, Bob McKenzie of TSN speculated on Twitter as to how the Avalanche will move on without O'Reilly:
In the absence of Ryan O'Reilly, I suspect we'll see Matt Duchene between Gabriel Landeskog and P-A Parenteau.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 13, 2013
It's unlikely the negotiations will drag on too much.
Roberto Luongo's star has fallen quite far in Vancouver. Once one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, it appears his time with the Canucks is drawing to a close.
ESPN published an Associated Press report about the stage where a possible trade involving Luongo stands:
Luongo was displaced as Vancouver's No. 1 netminder by Cory Schneider in last year's playoffs. After the season, Luongo said he would waive his no-trade clause if asked, but general manager Mike Gillis couldn't swing a deal before the 113-day NHL lockout began in September.
"I told (Gillis) I was ready to go as long as it took," Luongo said. "Whether it's a couple days, next week, two weeks, at the end of the season, it's totally fine with me."
Luongo long has been rumored to be headed to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Trades are prohibited until players have ratified the proposed new collective bargaining agreement, which is expected to happen on Saturday. Training camps would then likely open on Sunday.
With the lockout lifted, the Canucks are officially free to discuss the terms of a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs or any other NHL team.