Around the NHL
Through the first few days of free agency, the market developed slowly for winger Maxim Afinogenov who is coming off a 24 goal – 61 point season. Others, including wingers Alexander Frolov, Raffi Torres and Alexei Ponikarovsky have also seen a limited market.
However, six days into free agency, interest is begining to pick up for Afinogenov and his agent has been fielding a number of calls since the holiday weekend has passed.
“Several calls and discussions but nothing imminent, ” Don Meehan the agent for Afinogenov told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.com, shortly after 3:00 p.m today.
The last time I spoke with Meehan was late Friday afternoon. At the time there was no contact from the Penguins but that has now changed.
Meehan confirmed to me today that he has had contact with Penguins representatives in the past 48 hours.
It’s believed that the contact from Pittsburgh thus far is being regarded as just a “feeler”. On-or-off the record, Meehan would not discuss specifics, except confirming there’s been contact from Pittsburgh’s end.
Afinogenov, 30, is coming off a breakout season with the Atlanta Thrashers, scoring 24 goals – 37 assists for 61 points.
Word out of Atlanta is that Afinogenov’s camp is seeking a multi-year deal and a significant raise over his $800,000 a year salary from 2009-2010.
If Afinogenov wants that kind of commitment, indications are he will have to go play in the KHL.
League executives tell me that the sense around the league is interested teams want to see Afinogenov put together another highly productive season before making any kind of commitment beyond one year.
The Penguins face difficulties in making a strong play for Afinogenov due to their limited cap space. They can only offer Afinogenov a slight raise.
A team source told me over the weekend, the Penguins would be willing to go upwards of $1.5 million per season for the right player but there has been no indication to this point from those in the organization if Afinogenov is regarded as that “player.”
The Penguins are looking to spend about $1 million per season on another roster player, which would leave them $750k – $1 million in cap room to start the 2010-2011 season.
Afinogenov has skated on a line recently with Evgeni Malkin at the 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2010 World Championships.