The free agent market is starting to slowly pick up and movement was seen last week on the winger front as Alexei Ponikarovsky and Alexander Frolov signed.
The next top winger to make a decision on his playing future for the 2010-2011 season will be 30 year old winger Maxim Afinogenov.
Afinogenov who is represented by prominent agent Don Meehan, will make a decision on his next destination by Friday evening of this week, a source close to Afinogenov tells Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
Afinogenov, 30, had a breakout season in 2009-2010 scoring 24 goals for 61 points at a salary of $800,000.
The winger though is weighing his options in the NHL and KHL. The Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Atlanta Thrashers, New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild are among the teams that have held what I’m told is being described as negotiations in the past week.
Afinogenov’s first choice is to remain in the NHL. Pittsburgh made initial contact early into free agency but as of late last week had yet to propose an offer. More details on his likely landing spot are expected to emerge in the next 24-48 hours I’m told.
More NHL Buzz
- The hearing between the NHL and Ilya Kovalchuk is set for Wednesday. The consensus is that the NHL is major underdogs in the case. The Devils, Kovalchuk are confident, the contract will be approved.
- The Chicago Blackhawks walked away from the contract of goaltender Antti Niemi. Due to cap reasons, the team went in another direction signing veteran Marty Turco to a one year deal worth $1.3 million. Niemi enters a free agent market that is significantly limited for goaltenders. Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals will not be a team that will emerge as a suitor. The Capitals will stick with their youngsters.
- The Anaheim Ducks are expected to be among the most busiest teams over the next 10-14 days. The team today signed veteran defenseman Andy Sutton to a two year deal and await word from Teemu Selanne. Anaheim is also engaged in talks with Maxime Afinogenov and Paul Kariya.
- Kariya appears to be the more likely bet as the Ducks are his first choice and talks between Ducks GM bob Murray and Don Baizley the agent for Kariya have intensified.