The first day of free agency is frequently an underwhelming proposition for the Canucks. They generally haven’t had much cap space and Mike Gillis, apart from his notorious $10-million offer to Mats Sundin, avoided targeting big names.
But now the situation is very different. Not only do the Canucks have a new GM, they have massive amounts of money available to spend after buying out David Booth and trading Ryan Kesler and Jason Garrison.
Who will they target? Paul Stastny to be the new second-line centre? Christian Ehrhoff to fix the power play? Ryan Miller to be the number one goaltender? Jarome Iginla to play with the Sedins? Who knows? But PITB will be here all day, not just blogging about free agency, but also blogging about TSN’s coverage of free agency. This is a meta-liveblog, see?
Keep refreshing throughout the day and comment as well, as your comments may make it into the liveblog itself.
2:56 PM (DW) – Still deals happening. Tampa Bay signs Evgeny Nabokov to a one-year deal, I assume to backup Ben Bishop. And Marcel Goc re-signs with Pittsburgh, 1 year, $1.2 million.
2:39 PM (DW) – Team USA’s Tim Howard is making a strong argument against Belgium that the Canucks signed the wrong American goalie.
2:29 PM (DW) – I noticed some Canucks fans wanting Brian Boyle yesterday, but they already have enough third-line players. Thankfully, he instead signs with Tampa Bay for three years, $2.3 million per year.
2:14 PM (DW) – Man, I miss Luongo.
— Strombone (@strombone1) July 1, 2014
2:09 PM (DW) – GeezMoney, in the comments:
I wonder how many people are offended that Eddie Lack isn’t the defacto number one because of his hilarious twitter account? In no way is he ready to be a number one.
I agree that he’s probably not ready this season. I do, however, think that he’s just one year away from being ready. He was very capable as a rookie backup last season and only stumbled when basically the entire team went all to hell. I personally felt that he was ready to be part of a tandem that split starts, giving him around 40 next season. Instead, he might end up limited to under 20 games and I don’t think that will be particularly good for his development.
2:00 PM (DW) – The Capitals added two defencemen today, Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, both on very expensive contracts and both former Penguins. The Orpik contract is awful as he is severely overrated, while Niskanen is a risk on a long-term deal as he has been very inconsistent throughout his career.
1:58 PM (DW) – Florida signs Willie Mitchell, who rejoins Roberto Luongo. His deal is apparently 2 years, $8.5 million.
1:56 PM (DW) – Biggest deal of the day comes towards the end, as Matt Niskanen signs with the Washington Capitals for seven years, $40.25 million.
1:42 PM (DW) – Richards is apparently signing for 1 year, $2 million, which is incredibly cheap. There will be some trade’s coming from the Blackhawks this summer as it puts them about $2.2 million over the cap.
The Western Conference is absolutely stacked down the middle. Meanwhile, the Canucks centres are Henrik, Bonino, Matthias, and Richardson, with Horvat in the wings. Like, not literally in the wings, he’s still a centre.
1:39 PM (DW) – Man, how much of a paycut is Richards taking to fit under the cap in Chicago? They’re already over the cap and already needed to shed salary this summer.
1:36 PM (DW) – So, Chicago’s going to be deeper than the Marianas Trench next season. Nah, that’s a lousy joke. Deeper than Socrates? Deeper than a stoner thinks a first-year Philosophy student is? In any case, the Blackhawks are signing Brad Richards.
Brad Richards going to Chicago as per source.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 1, 2014
1:33 PM (DW) – The Oilers bring back Luke Gazdic, for some reason. He’s kind of terrible. In the meantime, Belguim and USA are still knotted at nil-nil. These two facts are unrelated.
1:17 PM (DW) – Good point here:
Gotta love how the Canucks are using the money they saved with Booths buyout.
— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) July 1, 2014
If the Canucks aren’t going to use the capspace to go big on a scoring forward in free agency, but they’re still going to look for scoring help elsewhere, which might block a spot for a young player, why bother buying out Booth?
1:13 PM (DW) – Devan Dubnyk signs with the Arizona Coyotes. He’s an interesting guy to watch: he just had a terrible season, but could bounce back with the defensively sound Coyotes. Meanwhile, Ray Emery re-signs with the Flyers for one year, $1 million.
Meanwhile, I’m watching Belgium vs USA in the World Cup because the trade coverage on TSN is just press conferences now and the Canucks have already done their one for Miller. Still following all the action on Twitter and online, but it looks like things are dying down.
1:08 PM (DW) – According to Nick Kypreos, Ryan Miller’s modified no-trade clause means that he will list just 5 teams that he’s willing to go to. That is very limiting and will make it tough to trade him down the road, but not impossible. Would have been a lot better without the NTC, obviously, or with one that asked for a list of 10 teams.
1:06 PM (DW) – BREAKING NEWS: My TV is working again. Just in time to hear Brad Treliving talk about signing Mason Raymond to the Flames. There are apparently rumours that the Flames are interested in David Booth as well. Could be interesting to see the two of them face the Canucks next season.
12:55 PM (DW) – Benning talks about Miller acting as a mentor to Lack and says that you don’t necessarily know what you have in a goaltender until they’re “26 or 27 years old.” I suspect that Benning isn’t aware that LACK IS ALREADY 26!
12:49 PM (DW) – Benning insists at the press conference that he’s not done and will be looking at the secondary free agent market and other avenues to add scoring. One possibility we haven’t talked about much is offer sheeting an RFA, but that has been hampered by trading away their third round pick next season. They can’t give a big offer sheet to Ryan O’Reilly or Ryan Johansen without that pick.
12:39 PM (DW) – One good sign: Miller talked about wanting to constantly improve and about how he is willing to take instruction. I’m not sure how much a 33-year-old can change, but Rollie Melanson will surely try to get him to.
Miller even specifically says that he’s open to being coached by Melanson, noting that he’s stubborn and will push back, but will listen if something is explained.
12:34 PM (DW) – Jim Benning describes Ryan Miller as a “proven winner” and talks about how many wins he has. That’s not what people mean when they say “proven winner,” Jim. He’s got a silver medal and no Cup rings. Not that those are indicators of how good a goaltender is, but neither are wins, so…
12:20 PM (DW) – The Canucks could still target Radim Vrbata, Brad Richards, or Mikhail Grabovski, I suppose. Grabovski would be an interesting fit as a second line centre. Otherwise, they could sign no one at all and just run with prospects next season. That would mean plugging both Nicklas Jensen and Bo Horvat into the lineup:
Daniel – Henrik – Kassian
Higgins – Bonino – Jensen
Burrows – Horvat – Hansen
Richardson – Matthias – Dorsett
That looks really nice at the bottom of the lineup, but my goodness is that second line one massive, massive question mark. Like, the type of question mark the Riddler would use to decorate his secret hideout.
12:18 PM (DW) – What in the hell, Calgary? They sign Derek Engelland, for some reason, but it’s the cap hit that’s insane.
To be clear, Engelland’s AAV is $2.9M. That’s per year.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2014
12:12 PM (DW) – Harrison and I are having an argument on Yahoo Messenger about the Miller deal. He doesn’t mind it anywhere near as much as I do, basically arguing it’s harmless given the Canucks’ current position as a non-contender and with their room under the capspace. In other words, it’s not a good contract, but it won’t hurt the Canucks either.
12:01 PM (DW) – Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. $6 million and a no-trade clause, even a modified one? Ugh.
Ryan Miller gets modified NTC with VAN; $5M salary and $1M signing bonus each season.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 1, 2014
11:59 AM (DW) – Meanwhile, Tom Sestito knows who’s going to score all the Canucks’ goals this season:
@taj1944 probably snipe 45 this year
— Tom Sestito (@TomSestito23) July 1, 2014
11:57 AM (DW) – Roberto Luongo breaks the bad news to Ryan Miller about Vancouver weather:
11:54 AM (DW) – Things have quieted down a little bit here, which is good, because my TV still isn’t working. I’ve settled on listening to the Team 1040, that’s how bad I’ve got it.
11:37 AM (DW) – Bergberg in the comments with the counterpoint on Ryan Miller:
Seems like this wont be the popular opinion, but I love this move. 3 years is the perfect term to give Lack the time to come into his own as a bonafide NHL starter. I’d much rather they spend their money shoring up the goaltender situation for the short term then spend a bunch of money on overpriced older players that are going to take spots away from some of the younger players we need to get in the lineup. I realize we may not be the best team in the league next year, but I really like the overall direction.
The issue is that Lack is 26. By the time Miller’s deal ends, he’ll be 30. How much time does he need to come into his own?
To me, this seems exactly like spending a bunch of money on an overpriced older player that is taking a spot away from a younger player.
11:32 AM (DW) – Great, my TV picked right now to stop working for some reason. Thanks a lot, Telus.
In other news, Anton Stralman signs with the Tampa Bay Lightning for five years, $20 million. They have a pretty nice defence corps in Tampa Bay now.
And that Iginla deal with Colorado is three years, $16 million. Uh, that’s too much. I am now perfectly okay with the Canucks not signing him.
11:29 AM (DW) – Okay, this is great:
— Strombone (@strombone1) July 1, 2014
11:27 AM (DW) – I don’t mind the Sanguinetti signing, actually. It’s super-cheap and he’s put up good numbers in the AHL the last couple years. He didn’t score much for the Hurricanes in 37 games in 2012-13, but his underlying possession numbers were superb, albeit against weaker competition and starting mainly in the offensive zone.
Sanguinetti had a Corsi% of 57.3 last season (+7.0% CorsiRel) and had a PDO of just 956, so picking him up on a cheap contract is pretty smart. He’s decent defensive depth, at the very least.
11:23 AM (DW) – CANUCKS MAKE A DEAL!
VAN signs D Bobby Sanguinetti $600,000 if in NHL
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 1, 2014
11:22 AM (DW) – No Jarome Iginla with the Sedins. The sniper signs with the Colorado Avalanche. I honestly think the Avalanche are going to be terrible next season, but Iginla boosts their top-six and would be an interesting fit with Nathan MacKinnon.
11:20 AM (DW) – Okay, so he’s not as funny as Roberto Luongo, but Ryan Miller is on Twitter.
I’m so happy to join the @VanCanucks. What a great day! They keep telling me it’s always this sunny here.
— Ryan Miller (@RyanMiller3039) July 1, 2014
11:15 AM (DW) – kavi36 in the comments:
I would have been alright with this signing if they had spent less on him… Miller is a definite upgrade on Markstrom, but not at $6M per. And if they’re spending that much on him, he’s not going to be a backup; I have a hard time seeing him split starts with Lack for that money either.
Yeah, at that salary, he’s the number one guy, which stinks for Lack, who I really think is ready to play more games. We’ll see how Willie Desjardins and Rollie Melanson handle the situation. It will be very interesting if Miller falters at any point and Lack plays well.
11:13 AM (DW) – What the hell is happening on Sportsnet?
It’s “Wear a Crazy Suit Day” at SkyDome – pic.twitter.com/jHNvNMCgk6
— Sean Leahy (@Sean_Leahy) July 1, 2014
11:10 AM (DW) – In other sports news, amazing news for Milos Raonic at Wimbledon.
BOOM: 19-year-old Aussie wild card Nick Kyrgios stuns top-ranked Rafael Nadal 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3. Welcome to stardom, kid. #Wimbledon
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 1, 2014
Raonic avoids Nadal and faces a 19-year-old coming off the match of his life. Really good chance for Raonic to move on, especially considering he beat Kyrgios easily at the French Open.
11:09 AM (DW) – Lack = best.
— Eddie Lack (@eddielack) July 1, 2014
11:07 AM (DW) – Devils sign Martin Havlat for 1 year, $1.5 million. Decent gamble for New Jersey on a cheap contract. If he can stay healthy, he’ll provide good value. Hell, even if he misses half the season with an injury, he could provide good value.
11:04 AM (DW) – Matt Moulson signs with the Sabres. He’s not a guy I wanted for the Canucks, but he’s one of the few good goalscorers left on the market. Don’t know how he’ll fit in Buffalo, since they have no centres to feed him the puck.
11:03 AM (DW) – Time for another goaltending controversy! Good job, Benning and Linden, it’s just not the Canucks without one.
Lack: “Obviously i want the net as much as possible and I plan to battle for my playing time.” #Canucks
— Brad Ziemer (@BradZiemer) July 1, 2014
11:01 AM (DW) – Did I mention Stephane Robidas getting signed by Toronto? So much has happened that it’s hard to keep track.
Meanwhile, my wife and kids are heading out to a Canada Day lunch thing. I’m missing hanging out in the sun with my family to watch the Canucks overpay Ryan Miller and get no help for the top-six.
10:57 AM (DW) – TSN just showed a graphic with the biggest cap hits of the day so far. Miller is third highest. The more I think about this, the more I feel sick. Either that or my cough medicine is wearing off.
10:51 AM (DW) – I love Tanner Glass as a person. He’s not very good at hockey, though. He signs with the Rangers for three years and $1.45 million per year, which is an overpayment. They go from having Derek Dorsett, who’s a decent fourth-liner, to Glass, who isn’t.
10:42 AM (DW) – Looks like Thomas Vanek is heading to the Wild, as pretty much everyone expected.
10:36 AM (DW) – And Calgary signs Jonas Hiller for two years, $4.5 million per year. Ryan Miller signed for three years, $6 million per year. Sigh.
10:31 AM (DW) – Keith Aulie signs with Edmonton. Toronto trades to get Matt Frattin back. Matthieu Perrault signs with the Jets. There are too many things happening!
10:29 AM (DW) – Did Darren Dreger get raptured? There was a noise, then Gord Miller glanced over and Dreger’s chair was empty and spinning.
10:28 AM (DW) - Here’s Harrison’s take on the Ryan Miller deal.
10:23 AM (DW) – Brooks Orpik gets paid by Washington. 5 years, $27.5 million. He’s severely overrated and I can see the Capitals really hating this deal very soon.
10:20 AM (DW) – Mitch in the comments:
Could be worse. Could be Dave Bolland at 5.5 for 5.
So there’s always that.
The difference is that, for whatever reason, there was demand for Bolland. Florida had to overpay to get him because of that. There was no demand on the market for Miller, so paying $6 million per year seems silly. I suspect Benning’s past relationship with Miller (he was with Buffalo when they drafted him) played a role here: he didn’t want to play hardball.
10:18 AM (DW) – Curious to know if Ryan Miller’s deal comes with a no-trade clause. I could conceivably see Eddie Lack outplaying Miller as early as this season, so if Miller can be moved after one or two years once Lack is ready to be a number one, then that softens the blow of this deal considerably.
10:16 AM (DW) – Jarome Iginla and Mikhail Grabovski are still available, so there’s time for Jim Benning to bring in a top-six forward. I would love to see Iginla play with the Sedins for a couple years.
10:15 AM (DW) – Shawn Thornton signs with the Panthers, so thank God for small graces. At least we don’t have to deal with Thornton signing with the Canucks.
10:12 AM (DW) – Thomas Greiss, a guy the Canucks could have signed instead of Miller, signs with the Penguins to back up Marc-Andre Fleury. His deal: 1 year, $1 million. His save percentage last season: .920. Miller’s save percentage: .918.
10:07 AM (DW) – Giving Ryan Miller three years and $6 million per year is really, really dumb. You can get league-average goaltending for cheap, have him split starts with Eddie Lack, and spend the money somewhere else.
That said, at least it’s only three years. It won’t hamstring the team for years.
10:05 AM (DW) – And Ales Hemsky has signed with the Stars. So, the Canucks get a goaltender they don’t really need for $6 million per year and the top-six forwards are dropping like flies.
10:03 AM (DW) – Ryan Miller has reportedly signed with the Canucks for three years. Ugh. Waiting to hear how much money the Canucks are spending on him.
10:00 AM (DW) – Mike Weaver re-signs with the Canadiens, who also added Tom Gilbert earlier. Pretty good defence corps shaping up there.
9:57 AM (DW) – BREAKING NEWS: I just changed a dirty diaper.
9:51 AM (DW) – Holy crap.
Bolland 5 yrs at 5.5M
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 1, 2014
That’s a dumb deal.
9:50 AM (DW) – Yep.
The most Canadian thing to do on Canada Day is to ignore two world class sporting events to watch hockey players sign contracts. #guilty
— W. Ron Sweeney (@wronsweeney) July 1, 2014
But if the Canucks don’t sign anyone, I’m going to really regret ignoring the World Cup.
9:48 AM (DW) – And Chris the Curmudgeon is out of here.
And, there goes the only guy on the market that I really wanted (Stastny). See you all later then.
See ya, Chris! Happy Canada Day!
9:47 AM (DW) – So, uh, the Canucks are going to do something at some point, right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they didn’t go after Bolland or try to bring Raymond back, but I was expecting something at some point.
9:46 AM (DW) – Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans are cheering like crazy because the Florida Panthers have saved them from Dave Bolland. The centre signs in the Sunshine State.
9:45 AM (DW) – The Rangers needed a Boyle replacement with Bryan Boyle hitting free agency. They got it: Dan Boyle, 2 years, $4.5 million per year.
9:44 AM (DW) – Pierre McGuire just said that Raymond is a good replacement for Cammalleri and that is hilarious.
9:42 AM (DW) – Mason Raymond is coming back to the Western Conference!
Finishing touches on a 3 year deal for Mason Raymonf and Calgary Flames. $9.5 mil total.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 1, 2014
Considering how many goals he scored against Calgary, maybe playing in the Saddledome will turn him into a Rocket Richard candidate?
9:40 AM (DW) – Jussi Jokinen to the Panthers, Tom Gilbert to Montreal, Brad Malone to the Hurricanes. THINGS ARE HAPPENING WAY TOO QUICKLY, GET RID OF THE PRE-FREE AGENCY TALKING PERIOD!
9:39 AM (DW) – Now the Ducks have signed Clayton Stone. Finally, a western team getting worse.
9:37 AM (DW) – Cammalleri signs for five years, which will take him to 37. Tough term given the short-term deals that are going around right now.
9:36 AM (DW) – Mike Cammalleri to the New Jersey Devils and James Duthie is dancing with Jamie McLennan. What is going on?
9:34 AM (DW) – Blues beat the media as well.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) July 1, 2014
4 years, $7 million per year. That’s a pretty reasonable deal for the Blues.
9:31 AM (DW) – Incredible! A solid 7 seconds of James Duthie staring silently into the camera. He was ostensibly interviewing Christian Ehrhoff and, judging by his face, he could hear him, but we couldn’t. That was some of the most compelling dead air ever.
9:30 AM (DW) – Josh Gorges has apparently been traded to the Buffalo Sabres, according to Darren Dreger. That means he wouldn’t waive to go to Toronto, but would to Buffalo. Tough day for Toronto when a hockey player would rather play for a Buffalo team expected to finish last next season than in the centre of the universe.
9:28 AM (DW) – Ah! TSN is talking about corsi percentage!
Wait, mainstream media talking fancy stats, Islanders with good goaltending, Oilers signing guy with good underlying possession numbers…it’s the end of the world, isn’t it?
9:25 AM (DW) – The Senators have re-signed Milan Michalek for three years, $4 million per year. Pretty good deal for the Senators.
9:21 AM (DW) – The Islanders have signed goaltender Chad Johnson, who had a great year as a backup in Boston last season. Smart pickup by the Islanders.
Between Jaroslav Halak and Johnson, the Islanders goaltending might actually be really good next season, which will be very, very confusing.
9:19 AM (DW) – Ray Ferraro’s tie may not go with his suit at all, but it’s spectacular. Shiny gold paisley. That’s a tough tie: doesn’t really go with anything.
9:15 AM (DW) – 5 years, $20 million for Pouliot? That seems like a lot of money and term for someone whose career highs are 16 goals and 36 points. Lot of talk on TSN that he’s a character guy, but I’m more intrigued by his possession numbers.
9:14 AM (DW) – Pierre McGuire used the phrase “instantaneous leadership momentum for Manny Malhotra” and I don’t have the first clue what that’s supposed to mean.
9:13 AM (DW) – The Oilers official Twitter account beats the media to the punch:
#Oilers agree to terms with defenceman Mark Fayne on a four-year contract and winger Benoit Pouliot on a five-year contract.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) July 1, 2014
9:08 AM (DW) – That’s insanely cheap for Ehrhoff, who I guess doesn’t need the money after his massive buyout. He could have gotten a much bigger deal for longer term, but took a cheap contract hoping to win now with the Penguins.
Of course, it makes sense that he’d be desperate to win some hockey after several years in the wasteland of Buffalo.
9:07 AM (DW) – Dammit.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2014
9:06 AM (DW) – Bob McKenzie breaks the first deal of the day, because of course he does. Manny Malhotra signs with the Montreal Canadiens. Good for him.
9:05 AM (DW) – Gord Miller presents: Housekeeping. I hear he’s really good at dusting furniture and is hellacious with a vacuum.
But seriously, all he’s doing is talking about waivers and such.
9:02 AM (DW) – WHY HASN’T ANYONE SIGNED YET?!?!
9:00 AM (DW) – It’s noon eastern: free agency is open!
8:57 AM (DW) – There’s been a lot of talk that the Canucks will be signing Ryan Miller, to the point that it seems all-but certain. While my preference would be to spend less money on more unknown goaltender to split time with Eddie Lack, I can live with the Canucks signing Miller to a short-term deal for a reasonable amount of money.
Anything longer than three years would be a mistake and I’m hoping he’ll sign for under $5 million per year. If he’s willing to play briefly for the Canucks as they rebuild the team, then he won’t be a millstone.
What I would really like to see, of course, is for the Canucks to save their money for Christian Ehrhoff and Paul Stastny/Ales Hemsky.
8:48 AM (DW) – With teams having a period of time prior to the start of free agency to talk to players, things might be very different this year. Normally, TSN has nothing to talk about for the first several hours of their Free Agent Frenzy show, making it about as frenzied as a game of Bridge at a Senior’s Home.
We’re expecting things to happen a lot more quickly this year, so we won’t have as much awkwardness to talk about from TSN, but who knows?