Updates on Boychuk, Cullen, Jokinen, more
Thought I'd pass on some updates on a few potential unrestricted free agents who might be a little under the radar:
Keep an eye on Johnny Boychuk. He's only 26 years old, but he qualifies as a Group 6 unrestricted free agent. He broke through last season with a solid second half and a very nice playoffs. He led all Bruins players with 39 blocked shots in 13 postseason games (Zdeno Chara was second with 24) and was second only to Chara in ice time per game in the playoffs (26:10) and shorthanded ice time per game (3:18).
Nice ręsumę to have as a potential UFA, but the blueliner wants to stay in Boston, and talks with the Bruins have gone well so far.
"We're hopeful. I think it's positive where we're at," said Boychuk's agent, Gerry Johansson, to ESPN.com on Wednesday. "You never know how it's going to end up, but our priority is to keep Johnny in Boston. It's a nice option to [being UFA], but it's certainly our intention to make it work with Boston. We've had good conversations."
• I can't tell you how many Penguins fans ask me about Matt Cooke. The veteran winger is UFA July 1, and at this point, it doesn't appear his re-signing is close.
"Currently, we're far apart," said his agent, Pat Morris, on Wednesday. "Matt would like to stay in Pittsburgh; both sides would like to get something done, but nothing is imminent."
• Morris also represents UFAs Andy Sutton and Matt Cullen, two current Senators who may hit the market. Sutton is an intriguing option: a traditional shut-down blueliner who was second among NHL defensemen this past season in blocked shots and eighth in hits.
"He'd like to stay in Ottawa, but talks with them have been slow as they try to sign [Anton] Volchenkov first," Morris said.
Cullen might stay in Ottawa, but he's also on the back burner as the Sens focus on Volchenkov.
"He can play the point on the power play and can play wing if need be on a deep team," Morris said. "Ottawa has a great deal of interest in him."
• Center Olli Jokinen, UFA July 1, appears to be headed to market and not staying with the Rangers.
"They have not talked to us. I do not expect them to at this point," said Jokinen's agent, Mark Gandler, to ESPN.com. "I thought he played well in New York. I think he has a lot of value in the league. I think a lot of teams could use him. He has a few good years ahead of him. He's healthy, he's got skill and ability."
The KHL isn't an option at this point. "He wants to play in the NHL," Gandler said.
• Pavol Demitra, 35, is almost surely leaving Vancouver, which isn't surprising given his constant place in coach Alain Vigneault's doghouse over the past few seasons. He didn't produce a whole lot with the Canucks; but on the flip side, he was named to the Olympic All-Star team after a standout performance with Slovakia in February. He will likely sign a lower-base salary with bonuses since he's over 35 years old, which makes him easier to take under the cap.
"He could be a very good value to a team that needs depth in the top six," said his agent Matt Keator to ESPN.com.