First things first. I would like to thank those readers in the United States a happy Independence Day. Be safe. Hopefully the Canadian readers are over their Canada Day hangovers at this point – or maybe they just kept partying all weekend.
Free Agency Frenzy still has not seen Ilya Kovalchuk ink his name with any team (NHL or KHL). Rumor has it that he is asking for a long term deal and wants $10 million per year. Not sure if that is going to happen but when/if it does I will be sure to bring that to you.
The Phoenix Coyotes for the most part stayed under the radar as names like Sergei Gonchar and Dan Ellis dominated the media.
The first Coyotes news of the free agent period was when after 5 seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek decided to sign a five-year $20 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Next to jump into the headlines was 27 year old Joel Perrault (who spent most of the season playing in the American
Hockey League with the San Antonio Rampage). Perrault decided to head north and join the Vancouver Canucks on a one year deal worth $510,000.
First deal of the Free Agent Frenzy for Phoenix to ink was when they resigned defenseman Derek Morris for $11 million on a four-year deal. The cap hit of 2.75 for each year of the contract. Morris , 31, played 18 games after returning to the
Coyotes from the Bruins. Playing in a combined 76 games he had 25 assist and 4 goals in the 2009-10 season. Morris
added another goal and 3 assist during the 7 game first round series against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Yotes went on to sign 38 year old Winger Ray Whitney to a two-year $6 million contract. Whitney who spent the
previous five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanesbrings in some veteran leadership to the team and knows what it
takes to get to that next level having won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006. Whitney played in 80 games last season and contributed 58 points (21 goals and 37 assist). In 1072 career games he has 324 goals and 545 assist for a total of 869 points to go along with his 395 penalty minutes.
On the second day Phoenix snagged 27 year old, Center Andrew Ebbett from the Minnesota Wild for 1 year. Ebbett had split the 2009-10 season between the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild, however, still
manged to play in 61 games and put up 9 goals and 6 assist (and only 8 penalty minutes).
Phoenix also resigned Restricted Free Agent Sami Lepistö, whom they acquired from the Washington Capitals in trade for a 5th round 2010 Draft pick last summer, to a one year contract worth $800,000. Lepisto, 25, played in 66 games during the 2009-10 season tallying 1 goal and 10 assist with 60 penalty minutes. Lepistö was also in all 7 games against the Detro
it Red Wings where he scored his first ever NHL play off goal. Lepistö won the bronze medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as part of Team Finland. In my opinion should of had at least SOME talk for Calder…. just saying…
…and Restricted Free Agent goalie Al Montoya inked a one year deal for $750,000. The 25 year old goalie from Glenview, Illinois is the first Cuban American to play in the NHL when he made his debut on April 1, 2009 with the Coyotes (he lead Phoenix to a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche). He has a 3-1 record for NHL appearances (all during the 2008-09 season with the Coyotes) with a .925 save percentage and a 2.08 goals against average. For the 2009-10 season he played for the San Antonio Rampage in which he played in 14 games and had a 4-7-0 record with a 2.65 goals against average and a .904 save percentage with 322 saves in the season.
The last two days have been quiet but I expect more to happen though out the summer. Phoenix made great strides last season and look to improve upon them this coming season.