Latest buzz on Emery, Kings, Fedorov, Blake and 2010 Olympic teams
DETROIT -- Hey, puckheads! Heck of a Cup finals we've got going here. I also took the time to check around the league this weekend and here are some of the things I've heard:
Emery to Philly
The Philadelphia Flyers could announce they've agreed to terms with free-agent goalie Ray Emery as early as this week, if not the week after (the actual official signing can't be done until July 1 because of CBA rules involving free agents coming from Europe). We're told he's going to sign a one-year deal for a fairly low salary as he attempts to re-energize his NHL career after spending last season in Russia.
We're told Emery had a meeting with Flyers owner Ed Snider, as well as coach John Stevens and GM Paul Holmgren. Emery underwent eight weeks of behavioral counseling last spring before heading off to the KHL, where he had an excellent season.
Now, what does this all mean for Martin Biron? The veteran goalie, an unrestricted free agent July 1, remains of interest to the Flyers, we are told. They'd love a 1-2 punch of Emery and Biron; but at his point, we're told the gap in salary talks between the Biron camp and the Flyers is quite large.
Kings search for a star
The Los Angeles Kings have been linked all spring to Tampa Bay star Vincent Lecavalier, but we're told those talks have cooled off for now. One Eastern Conference source told us Saturday the New York Rangers have made Scott Gomez available around the league, but we're not sure how interested the Kings are in him. It's a heck of a big contract.
For our money, we believe the guy the Kings covet the most is gritty and skilled winger Ryan Smyth of the Colorado Avalanche. He's got a big contact as well, but the word is Los Angeles might view him as a character guy who could help its young stars develop. Of course, it's not clear at this point whether Smyth, who has a no-movement clause, is even available.
That will probably depend greatly on what Joe Sakic decides to do about his playing future. If Sakic wants to come back for another season in Colorado, you have to think new GM Greg Sherman will want to keep the band together and delay the blow-up for a season. Stay tuned.
Blake and the Sharks
We exchanged text messages with Rob Blake on Friday and the veteran blueliner said he was leaning toward coming back to play another season. He's going to meet with San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson this week and we're told agent Pat Brisson has already been in talks with San Jose about a new deal. Blake, who is an unrestricted free agent July 1, looked far from done this past season, so we're not surprised to hear he wants to play again.
It appears veteran center Sergei Fedorov is leaning toward signing in the KHL, leaving behind an illustrious NHL career. He had held out hope that the Washington Capitals might still be an option, but his agent (Brisson) told us Saturday it looks more and more like the 39-year-old forward will sign with Magnitogorsk.
Fernandez and the Bruins
Goalie Manny Fernandez is an unrestricted free agent July 1, but he won't be staying in Boston. The Bruins believe it's time for Tuukka Rask to come up and back up Tim Thomas. Look for the Bruins to shop the rights to Fernandez and maybe move him at the NHL draft, giving a team exclusive negotiating rights before July 1. Fernandez was decent in Boston this past season and could be a cheaper option in goal for a team looking for veteran depth.
It was decided recently that countries have until Dec. 31 to submit their official rosters for the men's 2010 Olympic hockey tournament. That gives Team USA GM Brian Burke and Team Canada boss Steve Yzerman just under seven months to make up their minds. Team USA will have an orientation camp for prospective players Aug. 17-20 in Chicago, while Team Canada's camp goes Aug. 24-28 in Calgary, Alberta.
Panthers GM update
Doug MacLean, Neil Smith, Doug Risebrough, Les Jackson, Tom Lynn, Rick Dudley, Pierre McGuire and current Panthers assistant GM Randy Sexton are among the long list of names we've heard on the radar for the vacant Florida Panthers GM job. But we also heard the hiring might be delayed until the team is potentially sold.