Scratch these free agents off your wish list

While the 2010 free agent list was considered by some to be the deepest in years, that talent is shoring up quickly as teams lock in their core players for the long haul. In fact, four of the top free-agents-to-be are no longer available after Chicago and Boston both announced signings of key players this past week.

The Chicago Blackhawks kept their core in tact by signing forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (pictured) to identical five-year deals worth $31.5 million each. Both players were eligable to become restricted free agents after their initial three-year rookie contracts expire this coming July. Kane and Toews, both 21, helped lead Chicago back to the Eastern Conference finals last season. With the addition of Marian Hossa in the off-season, Chicago could be one of the most 0ffensively-talented programs for several years to come. The cap hit for each contract is expected to be in the neighborhood of $6.5 million a season.

nhl_g_kane_towes1_580Chicago also bolstered their blue line by keeping Duncan Keith around for the next 13 years. The team announced that Keith will recieve a whopping $72 million for his services. The 26-year-old defenseman is currently second in team points with 23, right behind Kane who has 26. The annual cap hit for Keith’s salary will be around $5.5 million per season.

These signings do put Chicago slightly over the salary cap, which means that payroll will need to be trimmed before the start of next season. The team may also have to contend with a lowered salary cap, as rumors continue to persist that the cap could go down next season. As it stands now, John Madden and Adam Burrish are both unrestricted free agents come season’s end. However, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager and Colin Fraser are all unrestricted free agents that could go elsewhere in July if Chicago can’t ante up. While these may not be coveted free agents, each of the players mentioned above provide Chicago with depth and experience and solid play from the third and fourth lines.

The Boston Bruins also locked up a key piece of their offense when they signed center Marc Savard to a seven-year extension this past Tuesday. Since coming to Boston as a free agent in 2006, the 32-year-old has been a vital asset to the team’s offense while solidifying himself as one of the league’s premier set-up men. Savard registered 60 or more assists in each of his three seasons with Boston. This season, Savard has five goals and 6 assists in 13 games.

Savard was by far the most critical – and expensive – asset for the team to retain. Boston should have no problem retaining most of their other free agents if they wish and may even find themselves with some wiggle room to bring in another free agent or two in the off-season.

While this dries up the talent pool of next summer’s free agent list, several big names are still available. Forward Ilya Kovalchuk still leads the pack and may not be close to signing an extension with Atlanta. Kovalchuk stated previously that he has no desire to negotiate during the season. Regardless, a big factor in his return may be the outcome of this season, as Kovalchuk wants to play for a winner and wants to see Atanta making strides in the right direction. The team currently sits sixth in the Eastern Conference with 31 points. Patrick Marleau, Paul Kariya, Olli Jokinen and Alexander Frolov are also on the list of potential free agent forwards.

Potential free agent defenseman include Niklas Lidstrom, Stephan Robidas and Sergie Gonchar.

Evgeni Nabokov and Marty Turco lead the pack of potential free agent goaltenders.


  1. The B’s need Kovalchuk.

    They don’t have the offensive firepower (nor the defensive discipline, at the moment) to make a Cup run. They can package a decent, yet ultimately expendable winger like Sturm or Ryder and a couple of those draft picks (Thanks, Toronto!) for Ilyayaya, and make it happen…

    If they do… CUP!

  2. Kane and Toews are BOTH only 21?? That’s scary….
    ….although they will only be 26 when these deals are up.

    And the ‘Hawks signed Keith to a 13 year deal? 13 years?? bloggers: You know I’m a fan and supporter so take this as it is intended- constructive criticism.
    Check your work or edit each other- the Blackhawks
    are in the Western Conference. Take your product
    up a notch to a higher level.

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