After a “Wild” July 4 that saw Zach Parise and Ryan Suter sign with Minnesota for 13 years each and a combined $196 million, teams all over the league are left scratching their heads wondering what happened and where to go from here. Minnesota came out like bandits by landing the top two free agents as well as re-signing their goalies last month. They have vaulted themselves to a contender in the West for many years to come. What led them to signing with the Wild? Parise is a Twin Cities native, as his father was an assistant coach with the former Minnesota North Stars. Suter is also from the upper Midwest, as he spent his youth and college hockey years in Wisconsin.
Other notable signings on July 4 include goalie Al Montoya leaving Long Island for Winnipeg, Steve Sullivan departing Pittsburgh for Phoenix, and defenseman Matt Carle heading south to Tampa Bay from Philadelphia.
Montoya Jets to Winnipeg
Things will come full circle for Montoya, who played 31 games for New York Islanders last season before having his season ended when he was ran over by now teammate Evander Kane in December. Prior to the concussion, he had a 9-11-5 record. The former sixth-overall pick of the Rangers in 2004 has spent time in his 57-game career with Phoenix in addition to New York Islanders. He is expected to backup Ondrej Pavelec, who signed a five-year, $19.5 million contract with the Jets last week.
Sullivan Heads West
Sullivan will celebrate his 38th birthday tomorrow and will celebrate it with a new contract from Phoenix. The Penguins did show interest in bringing back Sullivan but Sullivan decided to explore other options while the team was waiting on a decision from Parise. His contract from the Coyotes calls for a 1-year deal worth $1.85 million, and is his second straight one-year deal after he had 17 goals and 48 points for Pittsburgh this past season. He will help fill the void set when Ray Whitney departed for Dallas.
Yzerman Signs Carle
Another key free agent is off the market in Carle, who signed with Steve Yzerman’s Tampa Bay side after Suter went off the market. The defenseman will make a return to the Lightning after signing a deal worth a total of $33.5 million, with an average cap hit of $5.5 million. He previously played for the Bolts until fall 2008 when he was traded to the Flyers. He was productive on the blue line in Philadelphia as he recorded 40 and 38 points each of the last two seasons. At 27 years old, he has 32 goals and 170 assists for 202 points in 471 regular-season games. He has five goals and 30 assists for 35 points in 84 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
July 5 Signings
The day was largely quiet around the NHL. There was a few re-signings made among full-time NHL’ers while most of the 14 transactions made Thursday was among players who spent most of the season in the American Hockey League. Here’s a recap of notable transactions made Thursday:
Edmonton Keeps Depth Players Dubnyk, Petry
With starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin entering the final season of his current deal, the Oilers are starting to look to the future as they re-signed backup Devan Dubnyk to a two-year deal with a cap number of $3.5 million per season. The team is looking for him to see more action heading into this season with the potential to take over the starting job full time in 2013-14. Dubnyk went 20-20-3 in a career-high 47 games, finishing with a 2.67 goals-against average. Aside from Khabibulin suffering any long-term injury, look for the 26-year-old Dubnyk to see action in as many as 40-plus games this season.
Helping protect Khabibulin and Dubnyk is Jeff Petry, who also signed a two-year extension with the Oilers Thursday. Petry’s cap number is $1.75 million per season. The 24-year-old enjoyed his first full season in the NHL last season by recording 23 assists along with two goals in 73 games. One of his two goals occurred on the power play. He improved on the plus-minus rating from appearing in 35 games in 2010-11 when he had a -12 rating compared to -7 last season.
Fedotenko Leaves New York for Philadelphia
Ruslan Fedotenko, 33, signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia Thursday as the Flyers try to repair a roster that seen two key forwards and a key defenseman depart the team in the last two weeks. Terms weren’t released but it was reported by ESPN.com to be worth $1.75 million. The two-time Stanley Cup winner with the 2004 Lightning and 2009 Penguins had nine goals and 11 assists in 73 regular-season games with the Rangers last season in addition to two goals and five assists in 20 playoff games. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren was pleased to sign Fedotenko as he has attempted to sign him in recent years but wasn’t able to seal the deal. Look for him to attempt to sign another forward and defenseman to help replace the departed Jaromir Jagr, James van Riemsdyk, and Matt Carle. He already has signed defenseman Luke Schenn.