July 1 has come and gone, and it truly is one of the quietest free agencies compared to recent years. Usually there will be several days of frenetic signings before things come to a quieter pause. Not this year. After the first two days, everything has flowed to a trickle.
The biggest anticipated signing in Ilya Kovalchuk is still on hold. Kovalchuk wants plenty of money that teams just don’t have any more since the institution of the salary cap. So at this point, Kovalchuk sits in limbo. The Los Angeles Kings are out of the running, that we know for sure, but does any other team in the NHL even have a chance of signing the seemingly delusional Russian sniper? $10 million a year is a lot of money and Kovalchuk is good, but not that good.
Lots of defensemen moved quickly, and some to inflated contracts. The Ducks remained relatively quiet and made two big signings and that was it.
The Ducks acquired Finnish defenseman, Toni Lydman, who has played the past few seasons with Buffalo. The 32 year old was signed to a three year contract worth $9 million overall. Lydman preferred the length of contract offered by Anaheim over the offer he received from the Sabres. Lydman is a solid shut-down defenseman who will help fill the huge hole left by the retirement of Scott Niedermayer.
Lydman will be able to converse in Finnish in the locker room as the Ducks also re-signed center Saku Koivu to a two year contract worth $5 million. Koivu came to California from Montreal on a one year contract and decided that both on and off the ice it was a good fit. He had expressed a desire to stay in Anaheim, although it took a while to get a new deal done. Koivu is a likely candidate to be wearing the Captain’s “C” when October rolls around, having done so with the Canadiens for many years.
Now that Koivu is signed, will yet another Finn, Teemu Selanne, return to the Ducks? Selanne has been working out, “just in case.” But still no contract or sign of interest. He still appears to be monitoring what the Ducks are doing before committing to another year. Selanne, who just turned 40 on Saturday, still has plenty left in his tank and would be a huge help to the Ducks.
One of the other question marks remaining is what about Bobby Ryan? A little bit of negotiations between GM Bob Murray and Ryan’s agent have trickled into the media and it isn’t pretty. Ryan has turned down five year and four year offers. Unknown is exactly what Ryan is looking for. Could it be a three year deal, which would allow him to be an unrestricted free agent at age 27? If so, is he wanting the same money he would get with a longer deal? Not being psychic, I can’t tell you the answer to that.
Ryan, thus far, has not received any offer sheets from other teams. Or if he has, none that he is interested in signing. Now that the Kings have lost out on Kovalchuk, will they look closer to home and present something to Ryan? As if the rivalry between the two teams isn’t nasty enough already. As training camp gets closer, there might be more desire by both parties to come to an agreement. For now, it is wait and see.
With the lack of exciting moves by any team, one hopes we will still be awake to see how it all ends up.