The Hockey News Free Agency Day 1 Tracker

Let the frenzy begin.

A holiday in Canada, July 1 is anything but in the NHL as GMs work the phones, agents table their demands and players wait to find out which uniform they’ll be wearing for at least next season and, in many cases, the foreseeable future.

From the moment the bidding begins at noon EST Wednesday through to midnight, has you covered with the latest, up-to-the-minute analysis on each significant signing and what it means for both team and player. Following the first 12-hour fury, keep track of each signing on our A-to-Z free agent list, daily transaction log and team reports.

And, of course, don’t forget to let us know what you think of the day’s events by leaving a comment and voting on who you think overpaid, who you think made a good deal and who has work to do to improve their chances for next season.

While you wait for the deals to be made, check out’s breakdown of each division’s off-season – what each team needs, who they have in the prospect pipeline, which players are becoming free agents and more.

Click for the run-downs from the Atlantic, Northeast, Southeast, Pacific, Central and Northwest Divisions.

11:20 EST
Vancouver Canucks
DANIEL AND HENRIK SEDIN, LW/C, 28 TERM: $6.1 million per/5 years

ANALYSIS: The Sedin scuttlebutt from the moment the Vancouver Canucks were knocked out of the playoffs was that Daniel and Henrik wanted matching 12-year deals. Canucks GM Mike Gillis, ignoring a recent, perhaps troubling NHL trend, dug in and refused to turnover such ludicrous term.

By inking the Sedins to five-year deals worth an average of $6.1 million annually, Gillis has a much more flexible salary structure going forward, despite the inclusion of no-movement clauses in the pacts.

Signing his two best offensive players also has to bode well for Gillis in negotiations with the real franchise cornerstone, goalie Roberto Luongo. Word is the two sides are working on extending Luongo’s current deal, which expires at this time next year. Luongo has said over and over again that winning a Cup is priority No. 1 for him and Gillis has certainly demonstrated he’s serious about keeping a competitive team together in Vancouver.

He’s also shown the gumption not to give in to the extravagant demands of two star players, something that could serve as a good precedent for people in his line of work league-wide. -RD

Did the Canucks overpay? VOTE

12:39 EST
Tampa Bay Lightning
MATTIAS OHLUND, D, 32 TERM: $3.5 million per/7 years

ANALYSIS: In an interview with The Hockey News last summer, Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton defended the caliber of the Lightning’s defense corps – one that another GM said was, if not the league’s worst collection of D-men, then certainly its second-worst – with an admirable amount of vigor.

One year later, Lawton has learned his lesson – and his drastic remaking of the Bolts’ back line continued Wednesday with the signing of unrestricted free agent defenseman Mattias Ohlund to a seven-year, $24.5-million contract that almost certainly will be the last of the 32-year-old former Vancouver Canuck’s career.

Combined with the second-overall drafting of Victor Hedman, Lawton has deftly added a young Swedish star and a solid, if unspectacular Swedish veteran to serve as a mentor, all in the past four days. Lawton also still has cap room to use, but given the ownership showdown between Oren Koules and Len Barrie, he may be forced to limit any other maneuvers this off-season to those concerning depth roles.

That’s OK. The Lightning may not yet have the defensive weapons to compare with the likes of a Philadelphia, but a top four of Hedman, Ohlund, Andrej Meszaros and Paul Ranger is nothing to sneer at.

It is worlds better than it was 365 days ago – and when you haven’t drained any of your resources at forward to do so, you’re doing something right. -AP

Did the Lightning overpay? VOTE

1:11 EST
Florida Panthers
RADEK DVORAK, RW, 32 TERM: $1.2 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: It wasn’t the 15-goal scorer Florida fans were hoping to retain, but Radek Dvorak is back in the Panthers fold.

Dvorak scored as many times as the recently departed Jay Bouwmeester last season, but that fact isn’t exactly going to take the sting out of the young defenseman leaving.

Basically, this two-year deal worth $1.7 million annually represents the status quo for the Panthers and 32-year-old Dvorak, whose goal-scoring output last year was his highest total in the post-lockout era. -RD

Did the Panthers overpay? VOTE

1:19 EST
Toronto Maple Leafs
COLTON ORR, RW, 27 TERM: $1 million per/4 years

ANALYSIS: The Toronto Maple Leafs began their long-promised truculence transplant with the signing of former New York Rangers enforcer Colton Orr to a four-year, $4-million contract.

Brian Burke, the attending surgeon involved in the procedure, either was impressed by the fact Orr has met or surpassed the one-goal plateau not once, but three times in parts of four NHL seasons, or he was sold when he saw the 28-year-old average nearly 160 minutes in punching-related penalties over the past three seasons.

The Winnipeg native will appeal to the traditional component of Leafs fans who value tenaciousness and heart over skill and a quiet calm, but it is highly unlikely he will have any effect on the score from night to night. -AP

Did the Maple Leafs overpay? VOTE

1:48 EST
Florida Panthers
DAVID BOOTH, LW, 24 TERM: $4.25 million per/6 years

ANALYSIS: The Florida Panthers are banking on continued progress from David Booth.

After posting 22 goals in 73 games in 2007-08, Booth jumped to 31 while playing 72 games last season.

Basically, the Panthers just locked up a 24-year-old player who looks capable of scoring 35-plus goals a season for six years at $4.25 million annually. Those are all favorable numbers for the franchise. If Booth can kick in five more goals and five more assists next year, he’ll be a 70-point player entering the prime of his career on a very reasonable contract.

Booth is also a good, easygoing presence in the locker room and is sure to push hard for a spot on Team USA’s Olympic roster next February. -RD

Did the Panthers overpay? VOTE

2:05 EST
Colorado Avalanche
CRAIG ANDERSON, G, 28 TERM: $1.8 million per /2 years

ANALYSIS: Very quietly, goaltender Craig Anderson put up a banner season last year as Tomas Vokoun’s backup with the Florida Panthers.

Now that he’s chosen to sign with the Colorado Avalanche – it’s a two-year deal for $3.6 million – Anderson will find the spotlight his to lose.

Peter Budaj will return to the Avs next season, but management is unprepared to go into another year with him as the starter. So Anderson, who posted a 15-7-5 record and .924 save percentage – the third-best save percentage in the league last year – will be afforded every opportunity to earn himself the No. 1 job.

The price for his services is definitely right, especially for a cash-squeezed Avs organization. However, it’s doubtful the signing would influence Joe Sakic to re-sign with the team rather than retire.

Indeed, Anderson’s signing may be another signal Avs management is looking at the team’s return to respectability in terms of years, not months. That’s not to say Anderson is a stop-gap measure, but at age 28, he’s much closer to being Tim Thomas than he is Cam Ward or Marc-Andre Fleury; Colorado likely understands Anderson may not be around once Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny are in their prime. -AP

Did the Avalanche overpay? VOTE

2:10 EST
Chicago Blackhawks
MARIAN HOSSA, RW, 30 TERM: $5.2 million per/12 years

ANALYSIS: Chicago Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon’s most recent important phone call was obviously to Marian Hossa or his agent. Maybe his next one should be to Montreal GM Bob Gainey.

Gainey graciously relieved Rangers GM Glen Sather of Scott Gomez’s hefty contract, so perhaps he’d be interested in taking one of the two long-term deals currently burdening the Blackhawks; those belonging to defenseman Brian Campbell and goalie Cristobal Huet.

OK, even Gainey probably couldn’t be talked into either one of those, but signing Hossa for 12 years at a yearly cap hit of $5.2 million certainly triggers an interesting domino effect in Chicago.

Last season, Tallon was overanxious in inking Campbell and Huet to big-money deals. Really, getting Hossa at the cap hit he did was a strong move for Tallon. The only question is, who will he have to move to clear out space if the cap – as predicted by many – falls drastically for the 2010-11 season.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are both entering the final year of their cap-friendly entry level deals. Depending on how things go this year, they’ll both be demanding well north of $6 million a year next summer as RFAs. Duncan Keith, who’s rapidly becoming one of the NHL’s elite blueliners, is on the last year of a deal that pays him roughly $1.4 million per season. Clearly, he’s in line for a significant raise.

Even with goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and right winger Martin Havlat presumably coming off the books, Tallon has some figures to sort if he wants to keep his young core of talent together.

For now, Hossa’s presence makes a team that advanced all the way to the West final this year that much stronger for the coming season. -RD

Did the Blackhawks overpay? VOTE

2:14 EST
Tampa Bay Lightning
MATT WALKER, D, 29 TERM: $1.7 million per/4 years

ANALYSIS: The rebuilding of the Lightning blueline continues with the acquisition of Matt Walker who spent last season with the Blackhawks.

Walker will give Tampa depth at their weakest position and comes at a reasonable price to play in their 5-6 pair behind Hedman-Ohlund and Meszaros-Ranger. GM Brian Lawton deserves credit for his first two moves of July 1, especially in light of the ownership madness that surrounds him. –EF

Did the Lightning overpay? VOTE

2:14 EST
St. Louis Blues
TY CONKLIN, G, 33 TERM: $1.3 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: Well-traveled goaltender Ty Conklin joined his fifth team in as many years when he agreed to a two-year, $2.6-million contract with the St. Louis Blues.

Conklin, who went 25-11-2 in 40 games with Detroit last season, will be expected to backup Blues starter Chris Mason and play 20-25 games.

The signing of Conklin means Ben Bishop, the Blues’ goaltender of the future, will spend a full season with the team’s American League affiliate in Peoria. -AP

Did the Blues overpay? VOTE

2:27 EST
New York Islanders
DWAYNE ROLOSON, G, 39 TERM: $2.5 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: New York’s inking of 39-year-old Dwayne Roloson answers some questions on the Island and opens up some new ones in the City of Champions.

For the Islanders, this provides a security blanket for the inevitability of Rick DiPietro going down with injury and at $2.5 million per season doesn’t break the bank (which really doesn’t matter, anyway, since the Isles are in no danger of hitting the ceiling any time soon). Roloson is coming off a season in which he put up solid numbers with the Oilers and was one of, if not the sole reason Edmonton was in the chase for a playoff spot as long as they were. A platoon-style set up of Rick and Roli might be exactly what each of these two tender ‘tenders needs.

In Edmonton, the question is now who the heck’s going to play goal? Are the Oilers really ready to turn over the reins to 25-year-old Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers? Probably not. So now GM Steve Tambellini is charged with finding a new No. 1. Does anyone have Nikolai Khabibulin’s number? –EF

Did the Islanders overpay? VOTE

2:31 EST
Chicago Blackhawks
TOMAS KOPECKY, RW, 27 TERM: $1.2 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: The Chicago Blackhawks continued their raid on the roster of the Detroit Red Wings, following the signing of Marian Hossa with a deal for now-former Detroit right winger Tomas Kopecky to a two-year, $2.4-million deal.

The 27-year-old Kopecky averaged just 10:24 of ice time per game on a stacked Detroit team last season, but the 6-foot-3 Slovak will see increased time – although, with the likes of young stars Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Sharp and now Hossa on board, he ought to expect to see third-line time before aspiring to more lofty contributions. -AP

2:47 EST
Buffalo Sabres
STEVE MONTADOR, D, 329 TERM: $1.55 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: Steve Montador provides another body on the back end of a Buffalo defense corps that could soon be in need of soldiers.

With Jaroslav Spacek and Teppo Numminen (who turns 41 on Friday) both UFAs, the Sabres are likely to see some turnover on the blueline.

There’s nothing glamorous about Montador’s game, but at least he provides some veteran NHL savvy and the experience of having made the Stanley Cup final with Calgary back in 2004. -RD

2:56 EST
Washington Capitals
MIKE KNUBLE, RW, 36 TERM: $2.8 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: The Washington Capitals said goodbye to one veteran NHLer last week when Sergei Fedorov signed to play in the Kontinental League. They replaced him Wednesday – and at a significantly cheaper salary – with former Flyers winger Mike Knuble.

Knuble, who scored 27 times for Philadelphia in 2008-09 and has netted at least 20 goals in each of the past six seasons, comes to the Capitals on a two-year, $5.6-million deal. The Toronto native, who turns 37 on Saturday and brings maturity and leadership to the Caps, likely will start the year on Washington’s second line and should be on the first power play unit.

Knuble’s addition not only makes the Capitals stronger, it also significantly hurts the right wing depth of one of Washington’s biggest conference rivals. -AP

Did the Capitals overpay? VOTE

2:58 EST
New York Rangers
DONALD BRASHEAR, LW, 37 TERM: $1.4 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: With Colton Orr’s departure to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Rangers found themselves with a hole in the pugilist department. That vacancy was short lived, however, as GM Glen Sather found himself a big, bad man in Donald Brashear. There’s not much secret about what you get with Brashear, but at 37 there are large question marks about his effectiveness as an enforcer and his ability to play day in and day out. Why Slats would hand out a two-year deal is beyond comprehension. –EF

3:12 EST
Anaheim Ducks
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER, D, 35 TERM: $6 million/1 year

ANALYSIS: To nobody’s surprise, Scott Niedermayer is back with the Anaheim Ducks.

Niedermayer, who turns 36 Aug. 31, has decided to play at least one more NHL season. Based on the three goals and 10 points he put up in 13 playoff games this year, Niedermayer still has a ton in the tank.

Anaheim has shown all along it coveted Niedermayer over fellow blueline stud Chris Pronger, who was dealt to Philadelphia at the draft.

With Niedermayer, Ryan Whitney and young Luca Sbisa – who came over in the Pronger deal – the Ducks have one of the most fluid defense corps in the league.

Losing Pronger definitely cuts into their nasty factor, but puck-movement will not be a problem and Niedermayer is a huge part of that. -RD

Did the Ducks overpay? VOTE

3:22 EST
Nashville Predators
JOEL WARD, W, 28 TERM: $1.5 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: Fortunately for Predators fans, Joel Ward’s breakout year won’t be followed by a breakup with Nashville.

In his first full NHL season, Ward surprised many to finish the year tied for third in Preds goal-scoring (with 17). Nashville management rewarded him for it Wednesday with a two-year, $3-million contract that represents a tripling of his $500,000 salary in 2008-09.

The 28-year-old Toronto native now has the security to know he’ll be skating on one of Nashville’s bottom two lines, as well as patrolling the Preds’ effective penalty-killing unit (ranked 10th in the league last year). -AP

3:37 EST
Philadelphia Flyers
BRIAN BOUCHER, G, 32 TERM: $925,000 per/2 years

ANALYSIS: Philadelphia found its 1A.

It would be folly to bank on Ray Emery playing like a true No. 1 goalie one year after a season in Russia’s KHL. The Flyers, hedging their bets, found a cheap and familiar alternative in Brian Boucher.

Boucher had terrific numbers for San Jose last year, posting a 2.18 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 22 games.

Presumably, he can pencil himself in for about the same amount of games next year in Philly, the team that drafted him 22nd overall in 1995. If Boucher ends next year with numbers that look similar to the ones he racked up this year, the Flyers will be a very happy team. -RD

3:52 EST
Montreal Canadiens
JAROSLAV SPACEK, D, 35 TERM: $3.83 million per/3 years

ANALYSIS: Montreal Canadiens fans uninspired by the hiring of head coach Jacques Martin and the acquisition of former Rangers center Scott Gomez probably aren’t going to be swayed toward optimism by the Habs’ signing of veteran defenseman Jaroslav Spacek to a three-year contract worth $11.5 million.

That’s not to imply the 35-year-old blueliner, who spent the past three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, doesn’t have anything left to offer. At his best, Spacek can provide a degree of puck-movement normally left solely to Andrei Markov, his new teammate in Montreal.

Yet nobody ever will mistake Spacek for Chris Pronger – and on a team that was in dire need of grit to begin with, he is far from what the Habs needed most. -AP

4:08 EST
Carolina Hurricanes
ERIK COLE, W, 30 TERM: $2.9 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: Erik Cole’s goal production has slipped in each of the past three seasons and he went goalless for the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2009 post-season. But that didn’t stop the Canes from bringing the franchise favorite back to the fold on a two-year, $5.8-million contract.

Cole began the 2008-09 campaign with Edmonton, after Carolina traded him on July 1, 2008 for Joni Pitkanen. He never quite fit in with the Oilers – and at the trade deadline in March, Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford re-acquired Cole in a three-way swap that included the Los Angeles Kings, Patrick O’Sullivan and Justin Williams.

The move paid off at first, as Cole had 13 assists and 15 points in 17 regular season games in his second tour of duty with the Canes. His playoff performance (only five assists and a minus-five in 18 games) was not ideal, but Carolina management believes the 30-year-old is a positive, professional influence on the team’s younger players; almost as importantly, at an average of $2.9 million a year, he fits into the Canes’ budget. -AP

Did the Hurricanes overpay? VOTE

4:08 EST
Edmonton Oilers
NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN, G, 36 TERM: $3.75 million per/4 years

ANALYSIS: As it turns out, the Edmonton Oilers are willing to pay for an old goalie.

The Oilers let Dwayne Roloson go because he will be 41 in the second season of the two-year deal he eventually got from the Islanders after Edmonton balked.

Now, the Oil bring in Nikolai Khabibulin on a four-year deal that will see him through his 40th birthday.

Not a lot to choose there, really.

Khabibulin, of course, has a much better resume than Roloson. The problem is he hasn’t exactly been the most durable guy in the league over the course of his time in Chicago. Khabibulin is coming off a strong season, perhaps because he was motivated by being put on waivers earlier in the year after the Hawks brought in Cristobal Huet last summer.

The Oilers were left in a lurch after Roloson bolted for Long Island and Khabibulin, at his best, is a nice upgrade – especially at a reasonable $3.75 per season. Edmonton just has to hope Khabibulin is sufficiently inspired and healthy enough to turn out top-notch goaltending in what is likely to be his final NHL stop. -RD

Did the Oilers overpay? VOTE

4:34 EST
Florida Panthers
SCOTT CLEMMENSEN, G, 31 TERM: $1.2 million per/3 years

ANALYSIS: What a year for Scott Clemmensen.

Who would have thought that, when he signed a deal one year ago to be Martin Brodeur’s backup, Clemmensen would be in a position to bank a contract worth more than $3 million on the verge of his 32nd birthday later this month?

When Brodeur went down with injury, Clemmensen stepped up with a very solid season as New Jersey’s No. 1 guy.

Now he’s a great insurance policy for Florida, which has a solid starter in Tomas Vokoun.

Clemmensen is very capable of playing 15 to 20 quality games, perhaps most of them coming early in the year when Vokoun traditionally struggles. He’s also got an affable personality that’s well suited to the backup role. -RD

4:48 EST
Montreal Canadiens
HAL GILL, D, 34 TERM: $2.25 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: Let’s just hope, for his sake, Hal Gill doesn’t become the outlet on which the Montreal Canadiens target their inevitable, venomous frustrations.

It’s been a terrible 24 hours in Montreal and signing Gill won’t do anything to curb the downturn.

After giving up far, far too much to acquire Scott Gomez, the Habs inked 35-year-old Jaroslav Spacek and, now, Gill.

As a big but immobile blueliner, Gill was perfectly suited to playing a small role – like penalty-killing – on a high-level team. But by playing a more prominent role on a team that’s getting worse by the day, things could get ugly. -RD

4:49 EST
Philadelphia Flyers
IAN LAPERRIERE, RW, 35 TERM: $1.17 million per/3 years

ANALYSIS: If the Philadelphia Flyers bring in any more players with an edge this off-season, they might as well hire a beat-up ambulance to circle the Wachovia Center before and after their games.

Noted ornery types Ray Emery and Chris Pronger will now be joined in the Flyers’ lineup by former Avalanche winger Ian Laperriere, who signed a three-year, $3.5-million pact with Philly on Wednesday.

Laperriere will fill part of the hole at right wing created by the departure of Mike Knuble to Washington, but the 35-year-old Montreal native will be as aggressive – some might even say he’ll be pest-like – as anyone on Philly’s roster.

One thing is certain: with Emery, Pronger, Laperriere, Daniel Carcillo and Riley Cote in tow, the Flyers will have more fireworks at practice than many teams create during games. -AP

5:11 EST
San Jose Sharks
KENT HUSKINS, D, 30 TERM: $1.7 million/2 years

ANALYSIS: The San Jose Sharks liked what they didn’t see from Kent Huskins.

Despite the fact he was out with a broken foot, the Sharks scooped up Huskins from Anaheim at February’s trade deadline in the hopes he could make it back in the lineup. The fact San Jose only played six playoff games didn’t help Huskins’ cause and he never did end up pulling a teal jersey over his head.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson made a point to acquire a bunch of players with Stanley Cup rings dating back to last summer and he’s kept another in the fold with Huskins, who’s a capable depth defenseman. -RD

5:38 EST
Montreal Canadiens
MIKE CAMMALLERI, C, 27 TERM: $6 million per/5 years

ANALYSIS: At least this small player isn’t shy.

Signing Mike Cammalleri does nothing to address the Montreal Canadiens’ decade-long need for more size up front, but it does bring some skill into the mix. It’s highly unlikely Cammalleri will match the 39 goals he scored last year while playing alongside the likes of Jarome Iginla in Calgary.

But if he can find chemistry playing wing with Scott Gomez or Tomas Plekanec, he’s fully capable of hitting the 30-to-35 goal range in Montreal. At 5-foot-9, he won’t intimidate anybody, but he also doesn’t allow opponents to push him around.

Cammalleri is definitely an improvement over Alex Tanguay, a one-dimensional player who is likely on his way out as a UFA. This signing is cause for slight smiles in Montreal, but further extends a troubling and bizarre organizational commitment to slight players. -RD

Did the Canadiens overpay? VOTE

5:55 EST
VERNON FIDDLER, W/C, 29 TERM: $1.1 million per/2 year

ANALYSIS: How could the Predators allow this to happen?. It’s not that the 29-year-old was a key cog in any success the team has had lately, it’s just that a Fiddler in Nashville seemed a fit too perfect to be true. Alas, a honkey-tonk deal couldn’t be strung together (Ha!) and Fiddler is off to the desert…or Hamilton…or Kansas City…or Las Vegas… – EF

5:59 EST
GREG ZANON, D, 29 TERM: $1.93 million per/3 year

ANALYSIS: For those outside of Nashville, Greg Zanon may not be a well-known name, but the Predators will miss the sturdy defenseman, who is now a member of the Minnesota Wild. Zanon ranked third in the NHL with 237 blocked shots and second on the Preds with 153 hits last season.

He may not provide a lot of offense, but he is very responsible in his own end and had more takeways (40) than giveaways (31) in 2008-09. For a Minnesota team with a lack of snarl on the back end, Zanon is the perfect remedy and he can play more than 20 minutes per game to boot. – RK

6:01 EST – TRADE
Toronto Maple Leafs

Garnet Exelby, D; Colin Stuart, RW.

Atlanta Thrashers

Pavel Kubina, D; Tim Stapleton, C.

ANALYSIS: The trade that sent Pavel Kubina to Atlanta and Garnet Exelby to Toronto (as part of a larger deal that included Leafs winger Tim Stapleton and Thrashers forward Colin Stuart) was all about the present for the Thrashers – and the future for the Maple Leafs.

In Kubina, the Thrashers are getting a Stanley Cup-winning veteran who can take some of the puck-moving responsibilities off of Tobias Enstrom and help them get into the post-season right away.

In Exelby, Toronto brings in a serviceable, aggressive blueliner who not only will make $3.6 million less than Kubina next year – thus freeing up even more cap room for Leafs GM Brian Burke to use at his discretion – he’ll also be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2009-10 season.

With Toronto’s signing of unrestricted free agent blueliner Mike Komisarek, Burke has turned a soft-ish Leafs defense corps into one of the edgiest in the Eastern Conference. And that’s before the presumed trading away of Tomas Kaberle goes through. -AP

Who do you think came out on top? VOTE

6:01 EST
Toronto Maple Leafs
MIKE KOMISAREK, D, 27 TERM: $4.5 million per/5 years

ANALYSIS: In Brian Burke’s biggest move since becoming GM of the Maple Leafs, Toronto welcomed former Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek into the fold with a five-year, $22.5-million contract.

Once Jay Bouwmeester signed with Calgary, Komisarek was regarded by many to be the best defenseman available on the unrestricted free agent market. Although the West Islip, N.Y. native had a mediocre season with Montreal last year, his size (6-foot-4) and physical play (222 penalty minutes in the past two regular seasons) were appealing to the style of play favored by Burke.

The 27-year-old, along with Luke Schenn, Jeff Finger, Jonas Frogren and the newly acquired Garnet Exelby, will provide the Leafs with their most rugged defense corps in recent memory. And once Toronto mainstay Tomas Kaberle is traded for help at forward later this summer, young defensemen such as Phil Oreskovic and Jamie Sifers will add even more grit to that unit. -AP

Did the Maple Leafs overpay? VOTE

6:18 EST
Nashville Predators
STEVE SULLIVAN, LW, 35 TERM: $3.75 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: Sullivan’s heart is clearly in Nashville, where the Preds stuck by the gifted winger through thick and thin. This year’s Masterton Trophy winner for perseverance has already battled through a potentially career-ending back injury in the past few years, so battling through checkers is no big deal for the diminutive Sullivan.

For the Preds, they retain a top-six forward with scoring pop, something the lineup desperately needs and lacked last year. Alexander Radulov is not coming back from Russia and while Sullivan isn’t the answer by himself, he is an important piece.

With a cap hit less than $4 million, Sullivan also lines up nicely financially with Nashville’s other top forwards, such as Jason Arnott, J-P Dumont and David Legwand. For a franchise plagued by attendance woes and financial questions, this is another typically savvy move from GM David Poile, who is finding out that players who live in Nashville are generally loving the city itself and want to stick around. –RK

Did the Predators overpay? VOTE

6:37 EST
SAMUEL PAHLSSON, C, 31 TERM: $2.65 million per/3 years

ANALYSIS: The signing of ex-Chicago checking center Samuel Pahlsson by the Blue Jackets effectively ends the tenure of Manny Malhotra in Columbus. Malhotra, an unrestricted free agent, was believed to be seeking a deal closer to that of a first-line center due to his pairing with Rick Nash last season, though his skill set is more of a checking line pivot.

With Pahlsson in the fold, it’s all a moot point now. A Stanley Cup winner with Anaheim, the veteran is one of the best shutdown forwards in the league and will fit perfectly in Columbus’ defensively stifling system. Pahlsson also brings a little more playoff experience to a team that just made its first foray into the post-season this spring.

The Jackets still don’t have an elite scoring center, though R.J. Umberger and Antoine Vermette are good secondary options. Derick Brassard showed potential last year before a season-ending shoulder injury, but GM Scott Howson may not be finished with forwards just yet. –RK

Did the Blue Jackets overpay? VOTE

6:42 EST
STEVE BEGIN, W/C, 31 TERM: $850,000/1 year

ANALYSIS: Most recently a member of the Dallas Stars, but better known as a Montreal Canadien, Steve Begin is going to a Habs rival in the Boston Bruins.

Begin is a solid lunch-pail forward who will bring a lot of sandpaper to the third or fourth line. Considering the dire salary cap straits the B’s are in, this was likely a safety depth signing. While Begin certainly won’t be expected to replace Phil Kessel should the youngster depart, he could fill in for Stephane Yelle, the previous energy line center in Boston. –RK

7:35 EST
MATHIEU GARON, G, 31 TERM: $1.2 million per/2 years

ANALYSIS: With the ascent of Calder Trophy-winning goalie Steve Mason, the Columbus Blue Jackets had a relatively simple task at hand in net; get the young man a capable backup, preferably one with more NHL experience. In signing former Pittsburgh backup Mathieu Garon, consider GM Scott Howson’s mission accomplished.

Garon has been a journeyman NHLer for nearly a decade now, winning the latest Stanley Cup in the process. The Jackets can count on him for at least 25 starts, which is precisely what Mason needs in a running mate at this point.

In a worst-case scenario, Garon has been the starter twice in his career, so he can log big minutes if necessary, but this is clearly a move to keep Mason fresh and confident as the season wears on. –RK

8:25 EST
MARIAN GABORIK, RW, 27 TERM: $7.5 million per/5 years

ANALYSIS: It had to be the Rangers, didn’t it? With Marian Gaborik not likely to return to Minnesota, the Slovakian sometimes-superstar is taking his act to New York, where the scrutiny is just as heavy, but the price tag even higher now.

Gaborik will be making an average of $7.5 million for five years in the deal, which means Blueshirts GM Glen Sather got rid of one monster contract (Scott Gomez), only to take on another. When Gabbo is healthy, he is one of the purest offensive players in the game (he even hung five goals on the Rangers one night not so long ago), but ‘when’ is a huge maybe. Chronic groin and hip problems have limited the ex-Wild sniper to just 142 games in the past three seasons.

Problem No. 2, is whether coach John Tortorella can find a top-flight center who can create chemistry with his shiny new toy. The Rangers haven’t had a cogent duo since Michael Nylander and Jaromir Jagr and there has been a lot of big contracts since then. Chris Drury will naturally get the first crack with Gomez gone, but the next best option is Brandon Dubinsky; a great young talent, but not a first-liner just yet. Hope you like risk, New York fans. –RK

Did the Rangers overpay? VOTE

8:37 EST

ANALYSIS: A somewhat curious signing by Phoenix, it would seem the only place the Dogs didn’t need an upgrade was in net. Nonetheless, LaBarbera heads to the desert ostensibly as the backup to Ilya Bryzgalov after a pretty solid showing in Vancouver last year.

The Coyotes have a couple young netminding prospects in Al Montoya and Josh Tordjman, but clearly the feeling was the team needed two experienced keepers, lest one go down with a long-term injury.

LaBarbera can play starters’ minutes if need be, but in general, he is simply a solid backup. –RK

8:40 EST
FREDRIK SJOSTROM, LW/RW, 26 TERM: $750,000 per/2 years

ANALYSIS: A native of Sweden who played his junior hockey in the Flames’ backyard with the Western League’s Hitmen (the club he was drafted from by the Coyotes 11th overall in 2001), Sjostrom will bring some depth on Calgary’s latter lines, a job he did with success last season with the Rangers. He won’t provide much offense to a team that will need it after the departure of Mike Cammalleri, but at less than a million per, it’s a deal that can’t go wrong. –EF

8:45 EST
BRIAN GIONTA, RW, 30 TERM: $5 million per/5 years

ANALYSIS: Don’t know if the Habs are lowering the ceilings at the Bell Centre, but Gionta becomes the third forward coming to the Habs who is under 6-foot. The former New Jersey Devil is quite strong on his skates, however, which is why he has been a consistent NHL goal-scorer, tallying a franchise-record 48 for the Devs in 2005-06. The Habs can certainly use that type of firepower.

Gionta will already be familiar with Gomez in the dressing room, so perhaps Habs GM Bob Gainey is hoping to spark some good ol’ Devils Stanley Cup magic.

Either way, Gionta is a legitimate top-six forward and a very necessary acquisition for a Montreal team going through huge changes. Between the two ex-Devils and Mike Cammalleri, the forward corps is taking shape quite nicely, even if they are still on the small side, which was a problem last season.
Both term and dollar amount is very reasonable for a talent such as Gionta. –RK

Did the Canadiens overpay? VOTE

9:00 EST
CHRIS NEIL, RW, 30 TERM: $2 million per/4 years

ANALYSIS: The signing of tough guy and energy line stalwart Chris Neil back into the Ottawa Senators fold is great not only for the depth chart, but morale as well.

A fan favorite in Bytown, Neil can throw hits and chuck fists with the best, but also possesses a strong all-round game that saw him score in double figures in the two seasons after the lockout.

But for a franchise sinking faster than the Lusitania, bringing Neil back is a small coup for embattled GM Bryan Murray. Neil was initially unhappy with the offers he was getting from the Sens and threatened to bolt, but clearly settled down once the four-year $8-million deal came to pass. A popular player returns and fans in Canada’s capital can very, very briefly think about something other than the Dany Heatley mess. –RK

Did the Senators overpay? VOTE

9:20 EST
JOHN MADDEN, C, 36 TERM: $2.75 million/1 year

ANALYSIS: With the signing of long-time New Jersey Devils shutdown man John Madden, the Blackhawks add yet another puzzle piece to a franchise clearly looking at a Stanley Cup opportunity.

A former Selke winner and very key element to the success New Jersey had in its halcyon Stanley Cup days, Madden is a lockdown center who didn’t necessarily have that job last season under Brent Sutter.
Nevertheless, Madden is an excellent penalty killer and essentially re-fills the role Samuel Pahlsson had at the end of the season in Chicago last year.

The key to this deal is the fact it is only for one season. The Hawks will have a lot of big RFAs to sign next summer (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith), so this short-term deal gives GM Dale Tallon some flexibility, not to mention a successor in Dave Bolland is already developing quickly.
Madden and Marian Hossa add to an already intimidating forwards corps in Chi-town. –RK

Did the Blackhawks overpay? VOTE

11:08 EST
MARTIN HAVLAT, RW, 27 TERM: $5 million per/6 years

ANALYSIS: The arrival of Marian Hossa in Chicago meant the departure of star winger Martin Havlat, who will now join the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota, of course, just lost Marian Gaborik, so the stars are realigning themselves on the first day of free agency.

Havlat, of course, is coming off his best season in the NHL, a 77-point healthy campaign that helped the Hawks get to the Western Conference final. He’s a top-line talent who will replace Gabbo in Minnesota, so the next move for new Wild GM Chuck Fletcher is to surround the Czech national with some better talent. Mikko Koivu looks to be Havlat’s center right now on the top line, but after that the offense is quite thin.

From all appearances, Havlat wanted to stay in Chicago, but the cap space simply wasn’t there once Hossa came on board this afternoon. It seems like a player with such offensive upside could have fetched more than $5 million per, but the six-year term is a nice one and gives Havlat and the Wild some stability. –RK

Did the Wild overpay? VOTE