In Colorado, he gets essentially three more cracks to win and do a Ray Bourque; and while he’ll probably be a better player in Year 1 than in Years 2 or 3, the Avalanche should just continue to grow in each successive year. When Ryan Kesler was traded to the Anaheim Ducks, he made the point that not only does he want to play on a championship team, he also wanted to be a big part of contributing to that championship. Iginla does too.
THE RADIM VRBATA WATCH: The two-year, $10 million contract that Radim Vrbata earned from the Vancouver Canucks raised some eyebrows, largely because Vrbata has only ever had success with the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes. The last time he went on the free-agent market, signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning during the crazy days of the Len Barrie/Oren Koules ownership era, it didn’t work out at all. Only a return to Arizona helped Vrbata get his career back on the rails. But the Canucks took a leap of faith, that Vrbata could develop some chemistry with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and if he does, then the investment will pay off. It means they probably don’t imagine Alex Burrows returning to that spot, though Burrows may have something to say about that in training camp, after completing a discouraging injury-filled season. “It wasn't all about money. It was about the fit and Vancouver, with the way the Sedins play, I think it's the way I play,” Vrbata told The Arizona Republic. “They like those give-and-goes, and they like to beat the defence by passing and smarts, and that's something I think I'm good at."
THE ARBITRATION WARS: Twenty-players elected to go to salary arbitration; and most won’t make it there, with teams and players often discovering that they can negotiate a deal rather than go to war with each other in front of an arbitrator, which often results in irreparably damaging the relationship between the two. The most notables are clearly the Montreal Canadiens’ P.K. Subban, plus two Toronto Maple Leafs (James Reimer and Cody Franson), as well as three New York Rangers, Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello. Brassard’s value to the Rangers has been enhanced even further after they issued a compliance buyout to Brad Richards (who subsequently signed with Chicago and theoretically will replace Michal Handzus as the team’s No. 2 centre) and the Rangers will argue for short-term, medium-value contracts for both Kreider and Zuccarello on the grounds that both have really only one good NHL season under their respective belts… There was speculation in Detroit recently that the Red Wings would try and sweet talk the Buffalo Sabres out of Tyler Myers, on the grounds that they have some good young forwards coming but could really use one more blue-chip young defenceman in the mix. Detroit re-signed Kyle Quincey after failing to make any sort of free-agent dent. Myers is interesting because he is from the same draft class as Drew Doughty and Alex Pietrangelo among others and has intriguing upside. All the things they’re saying about Myers they used to say about Chris Pronger. The Sabres gave Myers a seven-year deal coming out of his entry-level contract – unlike Montreal with Subban, they didn’t insist he play on a bridge contract – and the bonuses mean about $18-million out of the $38.5-million in total have been burned off. So that’s an attractive contract attached to a player with potential. Hard to imagine the Sabres dealing him, but if they do, the Red Wings probably have the prospects to make it happen… With David Legwand signing a two-year, $6-million contract to essentially replace Spezza in Ottawa, it looks as if the last team left searching for help at centre is Legwand’s former team, the Predators. Nashville did sign Olli Jokinen to a one-year contract extension and have Mike Fisher there already, but they are one team that could take on Vincent Lecavalier from the Philadelphia Flyers, if Philly eats part of the contract… The man who drafted Myers in Buffalo, Darcy Regier, joined the Coyotes this past week, as the assistant to Don Maloney, essentially replacing Brad Treliving, who left the organization to become Calgary’s new GM at the end of last season. Maloney and Regier previously worked together in the New York Islanders’ organization and thus have a long history. Just before the Sabres dumped him, Regier made that great deal with the Islanders, landing a No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft from the Islanders to rent Thomas Vanek for part of a season.