Giroux agrees to eight-year extension; Briere to Habs
FILE - In this April 11, 2012 file photo, Philadelphia Flyers' Danny Briere (48) sits on the bench during the third period in Game 1 of the opening-round of an NHL hockey playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh. A modest crop of NHL free agents got a boost when Vincent Lecavalier, Ilya Bryzgalov and Briere joined the market when their former employers decided to buy them out of their contracts. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
FILE - In this March 12, 2013 file photo, former Major League Baseball star Manny Ramirez poses for media wearing his new jersey after signing a short-term contract to play on the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan's professional baseball league, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The Texas Rangers have signed Ramirez to minor league contract. Ramirez spent three months playing in Taiwan before leaving the team on June 20. The Rangers made the announcement Wednesday, July 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Wally Santana, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2013 file photo, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (30) blocks a shot in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh. A modest crop of NHL free agents got a boost when Vincent Lecavalier, Bryzgalov and Danny Briere joined the market when their former employers decided to buy them out of their contracts. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Flyers captain Claude Giroux isn’t leaving Philadelphia any time soon, Danny Briere is heading home to his native Quebec and Patrik Elias is staying in New Jersey.
The list of high-profile free agents continued to shrink even before the official signing period begins at noon today. Briere and Elias became the latest to be taken off a market that’s already minus Vincent Lecavalier, who signed with Philadelphia on Tuesday.
The Flyers weren’t done making splashes either. A person familiar with negotiations told the Associated Press that Giroux had agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth over $64 million. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the contract has not been signed and the extension not revealed by the Flyers.
The deal comes as Giroux was entering the final year of his contract and with the Flyers in the midst of reshaping a team that missed the playoffs last season. A two-time 25-goal scorer, Giroux is the Flyers top play-making offensive threat. He had 13 goals and 35 assists for 48 points in 48 games last season.
Briere wasted little time finding a new team by signing a two-year, $8 million contract with the Montreal Canadiens. A person familiar with Briere’s contract revealed the value of the deal on the condition of anonymity because the Canadiens did not disclose that figure.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for the French Canadian, who grew up in Gatineau, Quebec, and spent his junior career in Drummondville. Briere, a seven-time 25-goal scorer, became a free agent after the Flyers bought out the two remaining years on his contract.
The Devils re-signed Elias to a three-year, $16.5 million deal, locking up the franchise’s career goals and points leader before he was eligible to test the market. He has spent his entire 15-year career with the Devils, during which he has amassed 375 goals, 555 assists and 930 points in 1,090 career games.
Elias has also led the Devils in points eight times, including this past season when he finished with 36 (14 goals, 22 assists) in 48 games.
New Jersey also re-signed veteran forward Dainius Zubrus to a three-year, $9.3 million contract. A second person familiar with the contract revealed the terms of Zubrus’s deal on the condition of anonymity because the Devils didn’t disclose those numbers.
Defenseman Keith Ballard didn’t wait long to find a new team. Not long after having the final two years of his contract bought out by Vancouver, Ballard agreed to a two-year deal with Minnesota yesterday.
Other teams were busy taking advantage of their final opportunity to free up salary cap space.
Toronto forward Mikhail Grabovski headed a list of five players that were placed on unconditional waivers with the intention of having their contracts bought out.
“It was not an easy decision to make as Mikhail made numerous contributions to our hockey club,” Toronto General Manager Dave Nonis said. “This is a roster move that will give us salary cap flexibility moving forward.”
The Maple Leafs’ decision to waive Grabovski came after they signed him to a five-year, $27.5 million contract in March.
New Jersey goalie Johan Hedberg, Colorado defenseman Greg Zanon, Nashville defenseman Hal Gill and Edmonton center Eric Belanger were also placed on unconditional waivers and are eligible to have their contracts bought out. The person who revealed Zubrus’s contract number provided the list of players on the condition of anonymity because the NHL does not release that list.
Players who have contracts bought out on compliance buyouts don’t count against the salary cap. They do receive two-thirds of their remaining salary spread out over double the years left on the deals.
Grabovski is a three-time 20-goal scorer, but he is coming off an inconsistent season in which he had nine goals and seven assists in 48 games. His best season came with Toronto in 2010-11 when he had 29 goals and 29 assists in 81 games.
The Maple Leafs’ decision to free up cap space is a clear sign they intend to be aggressive in free agency to continue improving a team coming off its first playoff appearance since 2004. The Leafs were knocked out by Boston in a seven-game, first-round series.
They’ll have to choose from a dwindling list of impact players, such as Mike Ribeiro, Nathan Horton, David Clarkson, and aging stars such as Jarome Iginla and Jaromir Jagr.
Hedberg’s release adds yet another veteran goalie to a growing list of free agents at that position.
It is a group that includes Tim Thomas, who is exploring the possibility of a comeback after taking a season off; Rick DiPietro, whose contract was bought out by the New York Islanders; and Ilya Bryzgalov, whose contract was bought out by the Flyers.
Then there’s a Buffalo Sabres team that is open to trading Ryan Miller, who is entering the final year of his contract.
Hedberg is a 12-year NHL veteran who has become expendable to the Devils. He is stuck behind Devils starter Martin Brodeur and Cory Schneider, who was acquired from Vancouver in a draft-day trade on Sunday.
Hedberg was set to make $1.4 million in the final year of his contract. He was 6-10-3 with one shutout last season.
The Winnipeg Jets re-signed backup goalie Al Montoya yesterday.