Bill Guerin Signs in Pittsburgh

One valuable name that teams can now scratch off their free agent shopping list is two time Stanley Cup winner Bill Guerin. Even though this veteran forward may have lost a step or two due to age this 38 year-old who re-signed on Monday with the Pittsburgh Penguins played a pivotal role in helping them win their first Stanley Cup since 1992. This 18- year veteran who came to the Penguins from the New York Islanders last March at the trade deadline scored 12 points in 17 regular season games with the Pens. During the playoffs Guerin who agreed to a one year deal as opposed to testing free agency scored 15 points and drew heavy praise from linemate and captain Sidney Crosby. “We are excited to agree to terms with Billy on this one-year deal,” Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero said. “He made a tremendous impact on this team with his scoring ability, physical play and outstanding leadership and was a key factor in our drive to the Cup. I know our players, coaches and fans will be happy to have him back in Pittsburgh.” Drafted first round by the New Jersey Devils way back in 1989 Guerin who won his first Stanley Cup in 1995 with the Devils also has an Olympic silver medal from team USA back in the 2002 games. In his career Guerin has 408 goals and 811 points in 1,185 career games.

Jean Beliveau is Captian of Team Canada 2010

At nearly 78 years-old Hockey Hall of Fame legend Jean Beliveau will be getting his first taste of international hockey this coming February in Vancouver. Beliveau who spent his entire 18 -year career with the Montreal Canadiens and in the process won 10 Stanley Cups was on Monday officially named honorary captain of Canada’s Men’s 2010 Olympic Hockey Team. “It’s unbelievable to think of some of the players who never had the chance to represent Canada in international play,” says Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. “Today, we bring a new member onto the Team Canada roster. It’s about time we see the great Jean Beliveau in a Team Canada sweater.” Beliveau who scored an impressive 1,219 points in his NHL career which started in 1953/54 and went until 1970/71 never had the opportunity to play for Canada in international play. In Beliveau’s era the IIHF World Championship Federation didn’t allow professionals to participate for their respective country until 1977. Approximately a week after being honored at the NHL Awards ceremony with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Beliveau who off the ice is known for being a real gentleman found himself in the center spotlight in Montreal on Monday when he was honored at a press conference (Part of a Hockey Canada Foundation gala and golf fundraider). During this event Beliveau who will be 78 in August got a big surprise when the honouray chairmen of the 2009 Hockey Canada Foundation gala who happen to be another pair of ex Canadiens in Serge Savard and Yvan Cournoyer gave Beliveau a Team Canada jersey which obvioulsy consisted of his trademark number 4 on the back. Making Beliveau an honory captain is a classy move that has been long overdue.

Patrick Kane is EA Sports Top Guy

Patrick Kane was having trouble containing his boyish excitement over the fact that his childhood dream was actually coming true. This 20 year- old superstar who is a former 2007 first overall pick of the Chicago Blackhawks grew up playing EA Sports hockey games and dreamed of one day gracing the cover. Kane who scored 70 points this past season and is a key reason for the Blackhawks recent revival had that dream come true earlier this month when he was officially named as the second American ever (Joining John Vanbiesbrouck) to grace the cover for EA Sports’ NHL 10 coming out in September. “For Patrick, growing up and playing this game his whole life and then to be on the cover, he is so excited about this, it’s not funny,” Kane’s father Pat said. “And the greatest thing about it is that he’s a kid and the kid’s coming out of him on something like this.” This 2008 Calder Trophy winner who is only five foot 10 and 170 pounds also experienced his first taste of NHL playoff hockey this spring as he scored 14 points in 16 games.  “That’s all he did when he was younger in the summer, is go down (to the basement) and play a few games,” Donna (Patrick’s mom) said about how her son would always play EA hockey games. “This is great for him, because it’s something he cherished growing up and he still enjoys doing.” Kane who has been playing these EA hockey games since the age of 10 has enjoyed quite a few accomplishments such as throwing out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs baseball game last year and singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” with former Blackhawks coach Denis Savard. Still that doesn’t compare with this latest honor. “Obviously it’s only going to last a year but it’s something no one can ever take away from you,” Kane said of his cover duties. “Once you’re on the cover, they can’t take you off. So it’s a pretty cool feeling right now. I’m going to enjoy it and enjoy playing the game too. It’s pretty special for me to be on the cover. I remember looking back at guys like Iginla (“NHL 2003”) Forsberg (“NHL 98”), Pronger (“NHL 2000”), guys like that that you really looked up to and saw them on the cover.”

Roberto Luongo is Going Nowhere!

Vancouver Canuck fans can rejoice with the welcoming news that their All- Star goalie Roberto Luongo who is entering the final year of his contract doesn’t want to leave town. In an era where teams lose various superstars due to free agency Luongo who is a 10- year veteran is an elite goaltender who is looking for a five year deal from the Canucks worth at least 8 million a season. This 30 year old who signed with the Canucks in June 2006 is willing to take a discount if it will help the Canucks management construct a more competitive hockey team. Still this former New York Islanders 1997 first round pick who will make 7.5 million this coming season wants to be among the highest paid goalies. “The way Roberto wants to go, he doesn’t want to hit the jackpot, he wants to have a good team,” his agent Gilles Lupien said. “And by doing that, you have to work with the team. We’re looking for a bit more money, but nothing that would strangle the team. I think we’re going forward to have a deal done in the future.” This Montreal native who in 1997 won the Mike Bossy Trophy (Best Draft Prospect) has bounced around from the Islanders to the Florida Panthers and finally the Canucks. This past season Luongo had some groin issues, which sidelined him for 24 games. Still he dressed for 54 games and managed to win 33 while posting an impressive 2.34 GAA. In his career this butterfly goalie already has 230 wins.

Scott Niedermayer is Back with the Ducks

There won’t be any drawn out soap opera involving Anaheim Ducks veteran defenceman Scott Niedermayer and whether or not he will return for a 19th season. This four- time Stanley Cup winner who was chosen third overall by the New Jersey Devils back in 1991 made his decision on Thursday night which meant that his general manager Bob Murray who described Niedermayer as being “irreplaceable” had to be a little creative with the salary cap. With the soon to be 36 year-old in negotiations for another contract, Murray couldn’t afford to keep his other number one defenceman Chris Pronger and veteran goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere without going over the cap. Backed into a corner Murray came out swinging on Friday in making room for Niedermayer by trading Pronger in a deal that landed Anaheim a couple of high draft picks over the next couple of years along with scoring forward Joffrey Lupul and a prospect in Ladislav Smid. Even though at almost 36 he may have lost a step Steve Yzerman who has the title of executive director for Team Canada was thrilled about the prospects of including this Alberta native to the team that will represent Canada next February at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. “Obviously happy,” said Yzerman about this defenceman who scored 59 points last season. “I thought he had an excellent year, got stronger as the year went on and played outstanding in the playoffs. There’s going to be some younger players on the D so I think it’s important to have some of those veterans that have been there and he’s one of those.” With his Olympic Gold Medal from 2002 he would definitely be a perfect fit for what will be a much younger team. After winning his last Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy in 2007 with the Ducks Niedermayer couldn’t make up his mind during that off season whether to retire or not. The following season he didn’t report to camp and didn’t know if he still had the passion to play. He ended up coming back but was a step behind everyone who was in mid season form. After posting 25 points and a –2 rating he promised the team that if there is a next time he would make his decision in a certain amount of time and stick to it. That’s exactly what he did and be announcing early his intentions of coming back it didn’t handcuff the Ducks in terms of getting value for Pronger and budgeting to within the 56.8 million dollar cap space.

Calgary gets Jay Bouwmeester’s Rights

With only a handful of days remaining until the July 1 free agency frenzy begins the Florida Panthers have finally waved the white flag on attempting to sign their unrestricted free agent defenceman Jay Bouwmeester. This former 2002 first round Panthers pick who at 25 years old is just entering his prime is known for his smooth skating and big shot which played a huge part in this Alberta native coming off a 42 point campaign. Last season the Panthers on several occasions attempted to sign their stud defeneman but couldn’t get his name on a contract extension. At the trade deadline there were multiple trade rumors involving Bouwmeester but at the end of the day Florida who at the time were fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot decided to hang onto him and not give up in trying to sign him. On Saturday morning the Panthers finally ended the Bouwmeester era when they traded his rights to the Calgary Flames for Calgary’s third round pick (used to select Josh Birkholz) and the rights to negotiate with defenseman Jordan Leopold who like Bouwmeester is an unrestricted free agent. What this all means is that Florida has exclusive rights to try and sign Leopold and Calgary has exclusive rights to try and sign Bouwmeester until July 1 when at that time other teams can start negotiating to sign them. Bouwmeester who was voted the Canadian Major Junior-Top Draft Prospect in 2002 has shown flashes of elite play in his young career. Besides for playing in two All- Star Games (2006/07 and 2008/09) another big accomplishment was in 2007 when he registered a career best +23. If Calgary can sign him they will have a pretty lethal duo on the blue line with Bouwmeester and hard- hitting Dion Phaneuf. Meanwhile Leopold who is a little older at 28 can provide veteran leadership if he signs with Florida. He has played 355 NHL games and has 29 goals and 80 assists in his career along with a minus 15 rating.

Pronger to Philly, Perfect Fit!

After being rumored for weeks as being heavily involved in the Jay Bouwmeester sweepstakes the Philadelphia Flyers decided to take a difference route as they swung a huge deal on draft day in landing rugged blue liner Chris Pronger. As opposed to waiting until July 1 and trying to outbid a host of other teams for the 25 year-old free agent Bouwmeester Philly instead went for veteran grit and a physical presence in Pronger who has a Stanley Cup on his resume from 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks. Upon hearing the news of being traded Pronger who produced 48 points last season wasn’t overly surprised due to the constant rumors that have circulated over the past few weeks. “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised,” Pronger who is a 16 year NHL veteran said. “When you hear it once, you brush it off, you hear it twice, you brush it off, when you hear it persistently over and over again, you start to think it’s going to be a reality and you start planning and preparing yourself and family that you’re going to be moving.”

In landing the former Hart and Norris Trophy winner (in 1999-2000) along with minor league forward Ryan Dingle Philadelphia made a statement to their fans that they want to win now as they gave up quite a few draft choices. Anaheim who will in fact have defenseman Scott Niedermayer back next year obtained two first round picks along with a conditional third round pick in 2010 or 2011 with that trade. Also going to Anaheim are defenceman Luca Sbisa who is a former first round Philly pick from 2008 and scoring forward Joffrey Lupul. Progner who had a standout junior career with the Peterborough Petes was a projected superstar when he was chosen second overall in 1993 by the Hartford Whalers. After only two seasons this Dryden Ontario native who also has an Olympic Gold Medal from the 2002 games under his belt was traded to the St. Louis Blues where he emerged while playing with Hall of Famer Al MacInnis. After the 2005 lockout Pronger was traded to Western Canada where in his one year with the Edmonton Oilers he was instrumental in helping them reach the Stanley Cup finals. This 6’5 rear guard who spent three seasons in Anaheim will give Philadelphia not only some more physicality on the blue line but also some more scoring from the backend.