The Atlanta Thrashers announced this afternoon that the team has signed defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to a multi-year extension. The deal is a 5 year contract worth $26 million with a $5.2 million cap hit.
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.
Free Agency Buzz *The Atlanta Thrashers will be shopping for wingers this off-season. Contract talks with winger Maxim Afinogenov have gone nowhere and Colby Armstrong has already made his intentions known that he intends to test free agency. Afinogenov, 30, is coming off a breakout season scoring 24 goals and 61 points. Afinogenov is looking for a significant raise over his $800,000 salary from 2009-2010 but a stumbling block in talks with the Thrashers has been the term of the contract. Afinogenov is seeking a mult-year deal and Thrashers management doesn’t appear ready to commit beyond two years. Look for Alexei Ponikarovsky to be a target of the Thrashers. *Hurricanes winger Ray Whitney and Sabres winger Raffi Torres will test free agency. Both were primary targets of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the trade deadline. Whitney, 38, made $3.5 million last season. Torres made $2.75 million. *The market for defensemen willRead More »
Sunday’s NHL Rumor Mill The growing consensus last summer is that the Los Angeles Kings over-paid for defenseman Rob Scuderi who signed a 4 year deal worth $3.4 million per season. Nearly a year later, good luck finding a member of the Kings organization who believes that now. Scuderi has drawn rave reviews from the Kings organization and they believe he has been worth every penny as others now do. The Kings enter the off-season just a move or two away from making the jump among the elite teams in the West. Kevin Allen of the USA Today wrote weeks ago that “there is an expectation that the Kings will make a big splash in the free-agent marketplace.” The two big names being mentioned from the likes of Allen and Pierre LeBrun of ESPN is Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Marleau. There are doubts that the Kings will meet Kovalchuk’s demandsRead More »
The New Jersey Devils made their first splash of the NHL trade deadline, acquiring Atlanta Thrashers star winger Ilya Kovalchuk and Anssi Samela this evening. Kevin Allen of USAToday first reported the deal. The Thrashers received an underwhelming return, acquiring Devils defenseman Johnny Oduya, forward Niclas Bergfors, prospect Patrice Cormier and a first round pick.
According to reports, Atlanta Thrashers forward Ilya Kovalchuk won’t have to wait until March 3rd to find out where he will be heading. RDS.CA first reported this afternoon that Thrashers GM Don Waddell has informed Kovalchuk on Wednesday to expect a trade to another NHL team over the next few hours or days. Bob McKenzie of TSN.Ca reports Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings are among the teams in the mix. The Vancouver Canucks have been mentioned off-and-on from other outlets. Pittsburgh is not involved, let’s get that out of the way. Opinions vary on Philadelphia, Boston or Chicago being actively being involved in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes. I’ve been told Chicago is not considered a serious suitor at this time. Although, Los Angeles has been regarded as the favorite by many, their efforts have been on Ray Whitney of late.TheyRead More »
Latest Buzz from BOG Meetings Salary Cap could increase by $1.5-$2 million NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met with general managers and owners on Tuesday at the Board of Governors meetings and projections for next years salary cap has the cap in the $56.8 – $58.5 million range . The league does not expect a decrease and early projections show the possibility of even a $1.5-$2 million increase at the max. The projections now set the stage for general managers to begin preparations for next season. The Canadian franchises are the markets that carry the salary cap. They make up for teams like Phoenix, Florida and Atlanta which don’t bring in adequate revenues. It’s astounding that the league is against relocating a team like Phoenix to Canada. It’s time for the league to admit their mistake and do what’s best for the entire league. Cap projections set stage for Gonchar negotiationsRead More »
Post-Atlanta Thoughts Pittsburgh rebounded after their embarrassing performance Thursday night like championship teams do; winning their next game. Martin Skoula scored two goals and Marc Andre Fleury made 31 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 3-2 to snap a four game road losing streak. Head coach Dan Bylsma made the right move going back to Marc Andre Fleury who was chased from the net against the Senators. Fleury had great rebound control tonight and clearly has put Thursday nights performance behind. The signing of Martin Skoula is paying dividends for the Penguins but it can’t be overlooked that Skoula is reviving his career in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh (14-8-0) @ Atlanta (10-6-2) Pittsburgh in the midst of a four game road losing streak will stick with starter Marc Andre Fleury tonight. After Friday’s practice in Atlanta, Dan Bylsma was unsure as to who would start in net against the Thrashers. Fleury is 3-7 in his last 10 games and will look to bounce back from a subpar game Thursday night when he gave up 5 goals on 24 shots. The Atlanta Thrashers have not been the same old Thrashers this season. They are off to a 10-6-2 start and have the NHL’s 3rd ranked power play along with the 5th ranked penalty kill. Sidney Crosby will be re-united with Bill Guerin as Malkin and Crosby will be split up. *As expected Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik will return to the lineup after being sidelined for four games. Orpik is expected to be paired with Sergei Gonchar.
Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan Smyth could be on the move as the Av’s are currently in talks with the Kings and Thrashers about the 32 yr old winger. Discussions have centered Smyth going to either team with the Av’s flipping first round picks with the Kings or Thrashers. The Avalanche are struggling financially and ownership wants Smyth’s contract off the books. A deal with the Thrashers could be close but it is doubtful that Smyth will accept a trade to Altanta. Kari Lehtonen could also be apart of a potential deal with the Av’s and Thrashers. More Kings Rumors A trade for Smyth doesn’t appear close from the Kings standpoint because the Kings are currently in the running to acquire Dany Heatley and Ryan Clowe. If they miss out on both players before the draft begins, Smyth becomes a stronger possibility.