Into the free agent feeding frenzy, that is. We'll keep you updated throughout the day (more on our delusions and fantasies than the actual news; for that go to TSN) and post plenty of useful links.
Why not begin at the beginning, with the reason we have so much money to spend in the first place?
--My bold prediction? Marian Hossa becomes either an Oiler or a Blackhawk.
--Meanwhile, Brian Rolston has said he'll test the market. Good lad.
--Big Shooter's beloved Oilers (and really, who doesn't love the Oilers?) are making all kinds of moves today. They've picked up Erik Cole from the Carolina Hurricanes. Will they go after Hossa as well?
--The Penguins have signed Pascal Dupuis to a reasonable contract. There go any hopes that Little Kovalchuk would return to Atlanta.
--Rumor has it Markus Naslund will sign with the Pens. I think he'd be a fine fit there. Just a thought: why not try to land Naslund here? I know our top priority is Brian Campbell and another defenseman and hopefully a center, but if we have some money left over why not try to entice Nazzy? Monsieur Catalogues would welcome him.
--It's now 1:02 PM. No word on the Thrashers yet.
--Thank God for the NHL Network though.
--1:05. Don? Don?
--1:19. Apparently Hossa is officially NOT going to the Bruins. Har har. I advise him to try out the Western Conference. Ideally he'll play for the Edmonton Oilers or the Vancouver Canucks, but I can certainly see him playing for the Blackhawks. There are also rumors about Wade Redden signing with the 'Hawks. If they add Hossa and Redden to their younguns...
--1:23. Apparently Olaf Kolzig--Ollie the Goalie to you--is on the verge of signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Apparently Big Shooter called this a few days ago.
--1:36. I've been reading the Wild beat writer Michael Russo quite a bit in the last few days to find out about this Brian Rolston business. If you point your trusty browsers in the direction of his Wild blog, you'll read the following:
A player just told me Atlanta offered Brian Campbell a contract worth $60 million. Not sure of years, but I think EIGHT...
--2:02. Andrew Brunette to Wild. No word on the Thrash. While we're waiting, let's conduct a thought experiment:
Defense, goalies, etc.
--2:10. Allow me, for a moment, to sing the praises of Mike Green. As you've all probably heard he's signed a whopping contract with the Washington Capitals. What's interesting/laudable about this is Green's committment to his team: specifically, to his coach Bruce Boudreau and to his friends and comrades in the team's great nucleus of young talent: Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, and himself. These guys clearly love each other, and that's one of the reasons Ovie was able to lead the team into the playoffs last year. These guys are fiercely committed to the Caps, to Boudreau, and to winning. I think some call that "heart." So while the Lightning might have the more impressive roster at the end of this free agent hysteria, the Washington Capitals will still be number one in heart, passion, soul, whatever you want to call it. The question is: how do the Thrashers get an impressive roster AND heart? The Czar quite clearly has heart to go round, as do Kari and Moose...hopefully our newest additions will pick up on their infectious enthusiasm.
--3:09. Vancouver Canucks have offered Mats Sundin $10 million for next year, which would make him the highest-paid player in the NHL. Caps have acquired Jose Theodore, my sources say.
--3:13. Is the asking price of Brian Campbell really $70 million? We have to have SOME money left to pay the Czar.
--3:24. Ty Conklin has gone to Detroit, presumably to replace Hasek as the back-up goalie. I wonder where Cristobal Huet is going to go?
Update on the Sundin thing: He's been offered a 2 year, $20 million contract. $10 million each year. Gads.
--3:35. CUJO has finalized the deal with the Leafs: $700,000 for next year. CUJO will likely finish his career as a Maple Leaf. CUJO deserves better.
--3:41. The Bolt Empire has conquered quality defensive forward Adam Hall. Donald Waddell, where you at? Can I get a 20 on Donald Waddell? Donald Waddell where are you?
--3:47. Sacre bleu! Les Faucons Noirs de Chicago ont acquis Cristobal Huet! Tout qu'ils ont besoin est Wade Redden et Marian Hossa! Mais ont-ils l'argent?
I hope Huet agreed to this deal from a cafe terrace in Montmartre or a nude beach on the Cote d'Azur.
--4:01. Somehow I missed the Panthers signing Cory Stillman. Excellent way for the Panthers to achieve precisely nothing.
--4:05. On second thought, Stillman paired with Nathan Horton might do some damage. It's very hard to tell just what the Kitties are up to, where they're going, etc.
--4:07. Darcy Tucker is now an Av.
--4:11. This Naslund-to-the-Thrashers bee is officially in my bonnet. I think he should come play for us, but he ought to keep that awesome Canucks jersey. Or find a way to combine the Jolly Thrasher with Thomas the Whale. He could join our Swedish Contingent and have cook-outs with Moose, Toby, and Nicky.
--4:19. I just got an automated call from John Anderson on my cell phone. He seems awfully excited about "sharpshooter Ilya Kovalchuk, rookie phenom Toby Enstrom, and goaltender Kari Lehtonen."
--4:22. Patrick Marleau obviously isn't going anywhere. Rumors say the Sharks are interested in Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival.
--4:34. Tampa's deal with Kolzig has been finalized: $1.5 million for 1 year of service. Meanwhile, Ottawa have signed Alex Auld to a 2-year deal worth $1 million.
--5:00. NHL Network goes over to TSN feed. Thank God. Now the real fun begins.
--5:12. Bob McKenzie says that Brian Campbell has narrowed his choices down to three teams: the Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks, and the Atlanta Thrashers. That rules out teams like the Senators and the Rangers, which are closer to his friends and family around London, Ontario. Since that was reportedly a concern of Soupy's, it works in our favor that he's ruled out the Sens and the Rangers. Of the three teams he's consdiering, the closest to home is Chicago, seeing how it's a Great Lake city and all. But we have more money. More money.
--5:30. We're not in the running for Rolston. Scratch him, then. We go to Plan B:
Ilya Kovalchuk-Brendan Morrison-Markus Naslund. The West Coast Express meets the Trans-Siberian Railway.
--5:33. UFAs still available as of right now:
Folks Who Clearly Aren't Becoming Thrashers:
And then there's the possibility of a trade...
--5:39. Brian Campbell a Blackhawk. SDLAK;JKFSAL;KFJSA ;ODIFU34-8UTEP8GOIFJ;LKNCM/. X,SFK;VJAS;LKFJDSL