NHL Free Agents 2011: Taking a Look at Recent NHL Rumors

Melissa Bauer-Herzog@mbauerherzogCorrespondent IJuly 20, 2011

NHL Free Agents 2011: Taking a Look at Recent NHL Rumors

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    With the free agent buzz starting to die down this season for those not going into arbitration, it's time to take a look at the rumors of who is going where. From switching teams to retirement to Russia, the rumors surrounding these free agents provide some entertainment and even some insight on the round and round world of a hockey player's career.

Nikolay Zherdev to Russia?

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    Is Nikolay Zherdev staying in the United States or going to Russia? According to Slava Malamud of Russia's Sport-Express, Zherdev is going to the KHL where he spent the 2009-2010 season before playing with the Flyers last year.

    "To noone's surprise, ex-#Flyers Nik Zherdev is returning to . Sport-Express reports he's very close to signing with a Moscow-area team," Slava Malamud tweeted.

    However, ESPN Rumors has a tweet from Dmitry Chesnokov saying "sources close to Zhredev" say he may not be signing with a KHL team.

    The only thing clear about this rumor is that Zherdev most likely won't be in a Flyers jersey again next year. Since he hasn't been signed with an NHL team yet, I'm guessing he'll be living in Russia next season.

Luke Schenn Looks to Be Back with the Leafs

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    Toronto Maple Leafs' Luke Schenn hasn't been resigned yet but it looks like he'll be back in the blue and white jersey next season.

    The Toronto Star reports that it looks like Schenn will be entering contract negotiations soon with the Leafs. Schenn is a restricted free agent this year but can't go to arbitration.

    I can't imagine Leafs general manager Brian Burke letting Schenn get away when he was once called "untouchable," so I expect we'll hear about a deal soon. The fact that the Leafs and Schenn's agent seem to be meeting in the near future furthers the idea of Schenn hanging out in Toronto for another year.

Steve Eminger Back to Rangers

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    While the New York Rangers are dealing with Brandon Dubinsky and arbitration today, it looks like they will be resigning Steve Eminger soon, the New York Post reports.

    However, it looks like Eminger will also be taking a pay cut in the deal from $1.1 million down to the range of $750,000 to $900,000.

    ESPN Rumors reported that the New York Rangers are looking for more defensemen so there may be even more changes to the roster in the coming weeks.

Mike Grier out of Buffalo?

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    While Mike Grier seemed to only want to play next season if he went back to the Buffalo Sabres, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

    ESPN Rumors reports via the Boston Globe that given the choice between retirement and playing with another team, Grier will choose almost any other team.

    It looks like Grier will be moving on from the Sabres and into another jersey as long as it's the right team. If not, he may not be seen on the ice or the bench next season.

Chris Campoli Leaving the Windy City

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    According to ESPNChicago, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has assured them Chris Campoli won't be back next season.

    So while we know we'll be seeing Campoli in another jersey next year, we have to wonder if he'll be traded or if the Blackhawks will just walk out of the arbitration hearing on Aug. 3 and never look back.

    ESPN Rumors does report that there are four teams interested in Campoli, including the New York Rangers (who are rumored to be looking for another defensive player), so the real rumor here seems to be where Campoli will end up when all of this is said and done.

    Will he been in the Western Conference—where both Columbus and Colorado seem to be interested in him—or will he end up in New York?

    Stay tuned.

Kris Draper off the Ice?

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    ESPN Rumors reports (via the Detroit News) that Kris Draper has laid out two options for next season. Either the Detroit Red Wings sign him or he hangs up his skates.

    He also has another message for the Red Wings organization: Sign him or he's not showing up to training camp.

    "I think I've proven myself to the Red Wings organization and Kenny knows what I'm all about after all these years," Draper told the Detroit News.

    Draper fits in the team salary-wise and has been on the Red Wings roster since 1993, but I'm guessing we'll see him in a suit role next season if he does anything with the Red Wings.

    The only thing for sure in this rumor is that we won't see Draper suiting up for any other team next season at a player level, as he's shot down all ideas of moving to another locker room.

Alexei Kovalev No Longer a Penguin

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins roster is set and Alexei Kovalev's name is missing, but that doesn't mean the 38-year-old is hanging up his skates.

    While he is obviously leaving Pittsburgh after only 20 games last season and 54 with the Ottawa Senators (he also played for the Penguins from 1998 to 2003), the rumor here is more where he'll end up.

    Sporting News reports that Kovalev has had some interest from other teams, and ESPN Rumors has thrown some team names into the hat that could use Kovalev, including the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators.