In his latest Rink Rats round up of small newsworthy blurbs, Andy Strickland of Truehockey.com writes:
Ottawa is having discussions on extending veteran Chris Neil who has a year left on his deal.Neil will be enter the 2012/13 season in the final year of the four-year, $8.0 million contract that he signed on July 1st, 2009. Last season, Neil had perhaps one of his most well-rounded seasons in a Senators jersey - tallying 13 goals (second highest mark in career), 15 assists, 28 points (tied for seconnd highest total in career) and 178 PIMS. He also finished tied for fifth in the NHL with 271 hits.
If true, it should be interesting to see what his extension's average annual value is. At 33 years of age, Neil's entrenched as part of the team's leadership core, but it's likely that his best hockey is behind him.
Qualifying Offer Results Are (Mostly) In
For the past few days, NHL organizations have been publicizing their lists of RFAs who did and did not receive qualifying offers from their respective teams. Players who did not receive qualifying offers become unrestricted free agents and as such, they are eligible to sign with other NHL teams at noon on July 1st.
While most of the names that weren't tendered qualifying offers aren't anything to salivate over --- Look! It's the ghost of Angelo Esposito! -- there are a few names that may pique the interest of some hockey executives.
At the top of that list may be former Avalanche and Coyotes forward Peter Mueller. Mueller was Phoenix's eighth overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and in 254 career games, he has put up some moderately impressive offensive totals - 55 goals and 143 points. Of course, the problem with Mueller is that for the Avalanche to have retained his rights, they would have had to make him a qualifying offer of $2.5 million. In consideration of the concussion problems that have plagued him for the bulk of the past two seasons, the inherent risk of Mueller being an unhealthy sunk asset was enough to deter Colorado from retaining his rights.
Other names of note could include: Benoit Pouliot; Eric Fehr; Kevin Porter; the New York Rangers' first round playoff villain Anton Stralman; former Minnesota Wild forwards Guillaume Latendresse and the All-Star Game's Young Star participant Nick Johnson; Gilbert Brule; and Vancouver defencemen Aaron Rome and Marc-Andre Gragnani.
Here's the full publicized list of those who didn't receive qualifying offers (if a team isn't represented, it's because I couldn't find information on their RFA offers):
Anaheim: Riley Holzopfel; Rick Schofield; Dale Mitchell; and Iiro Turkla.
Calgary: Ryley Grantham; Logan MacMillan; and Blake Comeau.
Carolina: Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll; Matt Pistilli; and Kyle Lawson.
Colorado: Peter Mueller; and Kevin Porter.
Columbus: Brent Regner; Taylor Ellington; and Shawn Hunwick.
Dallas: Angelo Esposito; Mikhail Stefanovich; Michael Neal; and Jake Hauswirth.
Detroit: Travis Ehrhardt; and Logan Pyett.
Edmonton: Cam Barker.
Florida: Wojtek Wolski; Ondrej Roman; Keith Seabrook; and Justin Bernhardt.
Los Angeles: Ray Kaunisto.
Minnesota: Kris Fredheim; Nick Johnson; Guillaume Latendresse.
Montreal: Robert Slaney; Andrew Conboy; Danny Masse; Michael Blunden; Mark Mitera; Hunter Bishop; Olivier Fortier; Ryan White; and Petteri Nokelainen.
Nashville Zack Stortini; Jack Hillen; and Brodie Dupont.
New Jersey: Timo Pielmeier; and Kory Nagy.
New York Islanders: Tyler McNeely; Tony Romano; Yannick Riendeau; and Yuri Alexandrov.
New York Rangers: Andreas Thuresson; Lee Baldwin; Francois Bouchard; Sam Klassen; Chris Chappell; Anton Stralman; Cam Talbot; and Chad Johnson.
Ottawa: Craig Schira.
Philadelphia: qualified all their RFAs.
Phoenix: Gilbert Brule.
Pittsburgh: Cal O'Reilly; Mattias Modig; Casey Pierro-Zabotel; Alexandre Picard; and Boris Valabik.
Tampa Bay: Benoit Pouliot; and Sebastien Piche.
Vancouver: Aaron Rome; Marc-Andre Gragnani; Victor Oreskovich; Mike Duco; Ryan Parent.
Winnipeg: Eric Fehr.
"was chris neil quoted as saying he's in negotiations for an extension? then it must be speculation"
Only reasons sens extend neil now is if he's willing to take a haircut on his salary or is hiding an injury from Sens. He earned his entire 2011 salary exacting revenge on Bruins being goons - I felt the Boychuk hit from the nosebleed section.
Would be alarmed if the deal was any longer than two years.
One day, someone will publish a study accounting for each headshot he's taken, every tooth he's lost and how much each fist to the face netted him.
That news about Neil is unexpected... I think the Senators are keen on keeping him around, but I'm not sure he's the kind of guy you target for a contract extension while there's still a year left on his deal--although it's a good idea for Neil and his representatives to get the discussions going early, since he's coming off his strongest year in recent memory. My best guess is that Neil will get a contract that's close to his previous one in value, although the team might want to make it even longer term to avoid signing a 35+ deal later on: Maybe five years with a total value of $10M, structured to give him more money today and a little less in the last two years of the deal? Who knows, really. But based on the fact they're already negotiating an extension, it's obvious the team wants to make him a career Senator.
Both Mueller and Pouliot are interesting possibilities, but I think they would have been more interesting two years ago when the Sens had a dearth of young talent up front. Now, with all the up-and-comers on Ottawa's roster, I'm not sure either of them are worth taking a shot on. Maybe Mueller, since there's upside, but he strikes me as too similar to Peter Regin to bother bringing in.
Also, I think Stralman did receive a qualifying offer, although there was some confusion: http://www.blueshirtbanter.com/2012/6/25/3116820/2012-free-agency-new-york-rangers-qualify-del-zotto-stralman-and
There's a great interview up on Sens Extra featuring a more mature looking Robin Lehner. It made me a lot more excited to see how this guy conducts himself over the coming months.
I think Ottawa should target the unqualified RFA's rather then jumping into the Free agent market (unless Parise and/or Suter want to come to Ottawa). Here's who I think Ottawa should go after:
Peter Mueller - good scoring forward with size, can play in our top 9. Offer a contract of 1-2 yrs at $2 million per may get him to sign here, give him a shot to rebuild his career.
Blake Comeau - can score some goals if put in the right situation. May be a stop gap solution rather then rushing some of our prospects into the NHL. Offer a contract of 1 yr for $1 million.
Benoit Pouliot - huge forward that can play in our top nine forward ranks. Can score a bit and use his huge frame. Might sign with Tampa, but if he doesn't, he could be a steal as he has scored 46 goals and 90 points in the last three seasons. May cost more than the rest, offer a contract of 2 yrs at $2.5 million per.
Cam Barker - a bust so far, but he has the tools to be an effective defenceman. A huge frame and a booming shot, he could be a good third pairing d-man with some time ont eh 2nd powerplay unit. If we could get him at $1.5 million for one yr, that would be a great move I think.
Marc-Andre Gragnani - a good offensive d-man that has put up a lot of points in the AHL. He has good size, and he could fit well on the third pairing. Offer a 1 yr, $800,000 contract and see if he can work his magic in the NHL.
Ryan Parent - a defensive defenceman with good size. Would not cost a lot. Could be a 6-7th d-man with pk time. Offer a 1 yr, $700,000 contract.
Shawn Hunwick - he's a undersized goalie that played very well in college. Here's his stat line: GM 87, WINS 54, LOSES 24, TIES 7, OTL 0, SHUTOUTS 10, GAA 2.06, SV % .928. I think he would be perfect behind Robin Lehner in the AHL. He can give a few quality starts, but he most likely won't steal the job from Lehner. Lehner could play 50 - 60 games and Hunwick could play in the 20 range. His AHL contract wouldn't be that much either. And it gives Ottawa another goalie in the system.
@T-Money I'm not remotely interested in Barker except on a two-way deal, if he'll sign that. Gragnani would be a good player to bring in, though, especially if we miss out on some of the more established offensive-oriented defencemen on the market.
@silversevensens @T-Money I think Barker's had more than enough chances to prove that he's a player since leaving Chicago. I'd pass there. Gragnani could be interesting but he's not without some defensive shortcomings. At the very least, it makes a somewhat weak free agent class a little more intriguing.
@T-Money I think Gragnani is worth making an offer to.