An updated list of notable NHL unrestricted free agents, plus speculation over what the Los Angeles Kings will do with Slava Voynov.
Updated list of NHL UFAs.
NHL.com: Dan Rosen recently updated his list of notable NHL unrestricted free agents. The forwards include (in alphabetical order) Sean Bergenheim, Brad Boyes, Curtis Glencross, Lee Stempniak, Jiri Tlusty and Scottie Upshall. Defensemen include Christian Ehrhoff, Cody Franson, Tim Gleason, Andrej Meszaros, David Schlemko, Lubomir Visnovsky, Anton Volchenkov and Marek Zidlicky.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not a very deep list of available talent, with the blueliners being of better quality than the forwards. Ehrhoff has an low-ball, one-year offer on the table from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he’s reportedly speaking with other clubs. Franson claimed last month he spoke with the Boston Bruins and several other teams. He’s believed seeking a long-term deal, with various rumors claiming he seeks between $4.5 – $6 million annually. Visnovsky could be headed to the Czech Republic or Switzerland, while Zidlicky’s spoken with the Bruins and New York Islanders.
Other than early-July speculation of Tlusty returning to the Carolina Hurricanes, there’s been no reports linking the available forwards to any teams. As we saw with Jarret Stoll’s recent signing with the New York Rangers and Mike Santorelli inking a deal yesterday with the Anaheim Ducks, that doesn’t mean those players haven’t been in talks with NHL clubs.
Some of these UFAs, however, could still be unsigned when training camps open in mid-September. A few of them could end up signing professional tryout offers in hopes of earning a contract in training camp and preseason play.
Will the Kings cut ties with Slava Voynov?
NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough reports the biggest question facing the Los Angeles Kings heading into 2015-16 is what to do about defenseman Slava Voynov, who’s currently serving a 90-day jail sentence on a domestic violence charge. Brough noted there’s local media pressure on the Kings to cut ties with the blueliner, either via contract termination or trying to trade him. Given Voynov’s baggage, the latter option seems unlikely. Brough speculates the Kings could ultimately retain Voynov, given his value to their defense corps and the potential pressure the club could face to make the playoffs after missing the cut last season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming Voynov isn’t deported or receives a lengthy suspension by the league following his release from jail, it appears he’ll rejoin the Kings lineup for 2015-16 once he’s fully recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon. They could terminate his contract and try to replace him by signing a UFA like Cody Franson or Christian Ehrhoff, but the NHLPA filing a grievance against them for terminating Mike Richards’ contract could complicate their salary-cap situation. For the Kings to reach the playoffs, they can’t face another season overworking Drew Doughty. That’s why it’s expected Voynov will return to the lineup. I also doubt there’s an NHL team willing to risk the bad publicity of pursuing a trade for Voynov.