With an NHL lockout set to happen at midnight tonight, teams and players are having a contract signing frenzy. Some teams are hurrying to sign free agents that they’ve sought after for some time and other teams are simply locking up core players long term.
The whirlwind of signings started early yesterday morning when the Detroit Red Wings announced the signings of 29 year old defenseman, Carlo Colaiacovo and 25 year old forward, Justin Abdelkader. Colaiacovo adds much needed depth on the Red Wings blue line and at $5 million over two years he’s not too expensive. Abdelkader is grinder with some upside who plays with energy and is the type of player a team needs to grind out games and wins. The terms of his deal were not released.
Shortly after the Red Wings had announced those deals, the Dallas Stars announced a deal of their own. They had signed their 28 year old franchise goalie, Kari Lehtonen, to a five year, $29.5 million contract extension. Lehtonen had one year remaining on his current deal and was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2012-13 NHL season. He missed a good chunk of last season to a groin injury yet still posted the best numbers of his career. He had a 33-22-4 win, loss and overtime loss record in just 59 games. He also posted solid numbers with a 2.33 goals against average and a .922 save percentage, both totals ranked in the top 10 for goalies.
After Lehtonen signed with Dallas, the Washington Capitals finally locked up 22 year old restricted free agent defenseman, John Carlson, to a 6 year, $23.8 million contract. Last season for the Capitals Carlson played in all 82 games while tallying 9 goals and 23 assists. He was also second on the team last year in terms of ice time. Carlson is the first of a trio of young, talented restricted free agent defenseman to get a contact. PK Subban and Michael Del Zotto, the other two RFA defenseman currently remained unsigned, although they are currently in talks with their respective teams. Also, many experts believe once one of these guys signed, the others would be signed to similar contracts shortly. So be on the lookout for new deals for Subban and Del Zotto.
To end the day yesterday, the Shane Doan saga came to an end in a rather predictable fashion. Last night the 35 year old Phoenix Coyotes captain decided to stay in the desert for four more years and even though it took awhile, he had made it pretty clear he wanted to stay in Phoenix the whole time. However, Doan had also made it clear he wanted the Coyotes ownership situation stabilized before he would decide to stay with the team that drafted him in 1995 and that he’s played with for 16 seasons or sign somewhere else. While that process is still ongoing it looks as though Greg Jamison will be purchasing the team pending a resolution of the arena lease agreement and with the CBA set to expire Doan had to make a decision before it did. Although older now, Doan can still be counted on for 15-20 goals and his leadership is invaluable.
Fast forward to this morning and now the Boston Bruins have signed 24 year old power forward, Milan Lucic to a 3 year contract extension. Lucic is a rare blend of size, strength and skill and he fits the mold of a “Big Bad Bruin”. Lucic is part of a very young Bruins core that won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and he’s the third major signing for the Bruins this week. They also signed young forwards, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin to contract extensions earlier in the week.
That takes us up to now and I’d expect a few more players to sign before the current CBA expires tonight at midnight which leads to the players being locked out. I’d also expect some players to remain unsigned and they will most likely get new deals when a new CBA is agreed upon (whenever that may be).
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