Despite the fact that essentially all of the big-name unrestricted free agents have been signed, there are still plenty of interesting sagas playing out during the NHL offseason.
Several teams are in negotiations with some pretty high-profile restricted free agents, and there is little doubt that they would love to get deals done sooner rather than later. No organization wants players unsigned heading into the preseason, so general managers will be working overtime to ensure that doesn't happen.
Here is some of the latest buzz in free agency that will continue to make headlines until these situations are ultimately resolved.
As one of the most dominant offensive defensemen in hockey, Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban is vital to the Habs' success. Subban has played at a bargain price for the past couple seasons, but he is looking for a more substantial contract as a restricted free agent.
According to CapGeek.com, Subban received a modest two-year deal worth an average of $2.875 million per season when he was a restricted free agent two years ago. There is no question that the 2013 Norris Trophy winner is in line for a huge payday now, however.
Subban took the Habs to arbitration, and the hearing took place on Friday. Unfortunately, the overarching feeling is that none of the parties involved felt particularly good about where negotiations stood, according to Chris Johnston of Rogers Sportsnet:
There is obviously time for cooler heads to prevail but none of the principles left the Subban hearing in good spirits.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) August 1, 2014
Although there is still time to work out a long-term contract, TSN's Bob McKenzie is reporting that the two sides will have to settle on a one-year deal if they don't agree on something more significant within 48 hours of the hearing:
Arbitrator must hand down ruling on Subban salary within 48 hours. Both sides requested one-year term, so that's what it will be.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) August 1, 2014
While it remains to be seen what type of contract Subban is looking for, Kosta Papoulias of CBC Radio is hearing that Subban turned down a deal that would have paid him over $7 million per season:
If that is accurate, then Subban is obviously looking for top-level money. Perhaps he deserves it, but he does have some deficiencies defensively that make him a risky signing. He is a 25-year-old blueliner coming off a 53-point season, though, so the Canadiens will likely do everything possible to lock him in before the deadline.
The Pittsburgh Penguins' roster appears to be largely in order entering the 2014-15 season, with one notable omission. The Pens are still trying to settle on a deal with restricted free agent center Brandon Sutter, who earned $2.7 million last year, per CapGeek.com.
Sutter isn't on the same level as the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz, but he is a key role player. He is particularly useful as a penalty-killer and chipped in 13 goals last season as well.
There is still time for the Penguins to get Sutter signed, and all indications point toward a resolution in the near future, according to Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Hearing that #Penguins making progress in talks with RFA Brandon Sutter.— Shelly Anderson (@pgshelly) July 29, 2014
In fact, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford suggested that it may not take more than a week for the two sides to finally reach an agreement, per Anderson:
GM Rutherford said talks with Brandon Sutter "moving in the right direction. By next week we might be able to get something done." #Penguins— Shelly Anderson (@pgshelly) July 31, 2014
Sutter may not stuff the state sheet, but there is no question that the Pens need him. Somebody needs to do the dirty work defensively and anchor the bottom six. Sutter does both of those things, and he will probably be compensated well for it.
The Penguins generally do a very good job of keeping their talent, and Sutter figures to be the latest in a long line of successful re-signings.
Almost everyone assumed that the 2013-14 season was Teemu Selanne's last as a professional hockey player. He had one final hurrah with the Anaheim Ducks and even won an Olympic bronze medal for Finland. As it turns out, though, Selanne may have another year left in him.
Which player's situation intrigues you most?
If he does play, though, it won't be with the Ducks, or any other NHL team for that matter. According to Sports.ru (h/t Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports), the Finnish Flash is considering playing for Jokerit of the KHL during the upcoming season.
"Of course, it would be nice to go back on the ice again. But not all so simple. In the next three weeks will take a decision," Selanne said.
Selanne played for Jokerit from 1987 through 1992 before netting 76 goals for the Winnipeg Jets as a rookie during the 1992-93 NHL campaign. That means returning to Jokerit would be a proper homecoming for the 44-year-old Finnish legend.
This possibility may come as a surprise to many, but Juha Hiitela of Finnish publication Urheilusanomat figured it was likely all along:
I've said for a long time that Selänne will be back for another year. If it's in KHL with Jokerit, don't expect him to play many road games.— Juha Hiitelä (@jhiitela) July 30, 2014
While NHL fans won't have the benefit of watching him up close and personal, Selanne winding down his career in Finland would make for a great story.
He's a future Hall of Famer and has earned the right to go out any way he chooses. If he does decide to make the move to Jokerit, then perhaps he could even end his illustrious career as a champion.
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