Greetings. It's an exciting day, obviously, which is why you are here.
It's because Gary Allen is playing tonight at Jam in the Valley, right?
No? Oh, it must be because you want to wish everyone in The True North a happy Canada Day.
No? Then it must be because you want to help me celebrate my 10th of a 10-day run of workdays?
No? It can't be because of hockey. Haven't you had enough of that in the last week?
No? I didn't think so.
Obviously, it's Christmas in July, with the NHL free agency period opening at noon. It should be fun. The Sabres typically spend the day in the office working the phones, but word is the office is a little less filled than usual. The team's official word is they will not say whether anyone is in the office or not because that would lead to speculation either way.
There have been a few moves already, with TSN reporting that Vancouver has re-signed Sami Salo (one year, $2 million), Patrick Eaves is staying in Detroit for three years and Columbus has signed defenseman James Wisniewski for six years and $33 million.
I've already heard Jeff Finger's name twice today. I ran into my longtime buddy Clint at the store, and John Wawrow of the Associated Press said it as soon as I walked into the office. As you remember, the Leafs gave the world the Finger a few years back, one of my highlights of signing day lunacy.
Well, I'm going to finish my Whopper (ah, the healthy eating of a journalist) and grab a drink (I'll save the stiff ones until at least 5 p.m.), and we'll be back at noon for what should be a wild day.
Noon: It's on. The Sabres have no info on a report that Cody McCormick has signed a three-year deal. And, no, they have not signed Brad Richards yet.
12:01 p.m.: TSN reports that Chris Higgins has signed a two-year deal with the Canucks for $1.9 million.
12:04 p.m.: The Penguins announced this morning they have withdrawn their offer to Jaromir Jagr.
12:07 p.m.: If Brad Richards had $1 for every time TSN (which is being simulcast on NHL Network) has said the Sabres and Terry Pegula, he'd already have enough cash for more than a few Whoppers. The Sabres are getting some TV love.
12:09 p.m.: Here is the list of free agents, courtesy of CapGeek.com.
12:21 p.m.: So, since it usually takes a little while for the signings to start rolling (except for goaltenders last year), let's look at the Sabres' defense. Robyn Regehr with Tyler Myers? Christian Ehrhoff with Mike Weber? Jordan Leopold with Andrej Sekera or Marc-Andre Gragnani? Looks pretty good to me. Not sure what the pairings will be, but that's not the worst start.
12:27 p.m.: The Sabres have confirmed their signing of McCormick. That gives them 12 forwards (a full lineup) under contract: Thomas Vanek-Derek Roy-Drew Stafford; Tyler Ennis-Brad Boyes-Jason Pominville; Nathan Gerbe-Jochen Hecht-Ales Kotalik; Cody McCormick-Paul Gaustad-Patrick Kaleta.
12:30 p.m. Area youth hockey coach Michael Peca -- and former Sabres captain -- is on the TSN panel.
12:36 p.m.: Drew Miller, brother of Ryan, staying in Michigan for two more seasons after deal with Detroit.
12:48 p.m.: The fall of July 1 could mirror its meteoric rise. With the number of long-term contracts out there, it's likely fewer and fewer star players will use today as their payday. It'll still be a day worth watching, of course, but I think trade deadline day has trumped it as far as attention.
12:52 p.m.: The Oilers have signed unstable forward Ben Eager for three years, while Chicago has agreed to a one-year deal with Jamal Mayers.
1:02 p.m.: I say sometime between now and 2 p.m. there will be a headline-worthy signing. We're due now.
1:04 p.m.: By the way, the Sabres are free to negotiate an extension with Tyler Myers, who is entering the final year of his entry-level deal. Don't expect anything today. "It’s something to wait to see where the team is at on that," Myers' agent, J.P. Barry, told The News this week. "We’re patient. I’m sure Darcy [Regier] wants to get through this week and into a little bit of free agency, and then it’s something that can take place afterward."
1:07 p.m.: It's Pardy time!!! Dallas signs Adam Pardy for two years at $2 million per year. Who's Pardy, you may ask? You're not the first one. He played a whole 30 games on defense for Calgary last year. That's worth $2 million a year? Finger would say, Heck yeah! Pardy!!
1:13 p.m.: Sean O'Donnelly to Chicago for less than $1 million, TSN reports. He's 39 and still playing. Think Ehrhoff will be? The Sabres have him under contract till right about then.
1:15 p.m.: Old friend Chris Butler has signed with Calgary, which acquired him from Buffalo in the Robyn Regehr deal, for $1.25 million per year.
1:20 p.m.: My buddy George Richards of the Miami Herald reports goaltender Jose Theodore has signed with Florida. TSN says the Panthers have also signed Scottie Upshall for four years and $14 million.
1:21 p.m.: And there is a big name -- Philadelphia announces it signs Jaromir Jagr to a deal. I envision him as a slacker, but it won't play in that room with Chris Pronger and Danny Briere, so he should have an OK year.
1:24 p.m.: TSN reports the Canucks have signed Sabres UFA Mark Mancari for one year, $525,000. Hopefully, he gets a chance to play. Not sure if he's NHL material, but he never had a chance in Buffalo.
1:25 p.m.: Mancari can replace Raffi Torres, who leaves Vancouver for Phoenix for two years, $3.5 million.
1:30 p.m.: Just got off the phone with Cody McCormick. He's excited about the team's direction (who wouldn't be?), and he's pleased that his days of one-year deals are over. He's proud to have earned a long-term deal. (It's reportedly three years, $3.6 million, but haven't gotten the official numbers yet.)
1:39 p.m.: TSN reports Jagr gets one year for $3.3 million. I can see that mullet in orange. He's gotta to come back with the mullet, right?
1:42 p.m.: Speaking of mullets, here ya go. Go kill some time on these images.
1:43 p.m.: The Panthers, who need to spend lots and lots and lots of money, have brought back Ed Jovanovski.
1:45 p.m.: TSN reports the Jovo deal is for four years. If I were the Panthers, I would have made a mockery of the salary cap floor by signing a player for one year at $15 million. That would take care of all the cash they had to spend and would still let them rebuild as they see fit. Now they have to spend a bunch of cash on marginal players.
2:01 p.m.: Chicago signs Andrew Brunette, while Philly gets Henrik Tallinder's buddy Andreas Lilja.
2:03 p.m.: Good friend and former Sabres beat partner Tim Graham just stopped by the Sports department to say hello. He says hello to you, too. Yes, you, right there at the keyboard. He's back at The News, and be sure to see Sunday's paper for his spine-tingling account of Brian Spencer, the former Sabre who stood trial for murder and was later killed.
2:07 p.m.: Washington has sent young goaltender Semyon Varlamov to Colorado for a draft pick.
2:11 p.m.: Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos is reporting that teams are offering Brad Richards contracts with $12.8 million in the each of the first two years. That's some serious dough.
2:15 p.m.: If you liked the mullets (and I sure did), here are some other bad 'dos.
2:25 p.m.: I was just looking back at the Sabres Edge blog from July 1, 2007, to see when guys signed. Graham got a message from Briere at 2:05 p.m., so things are moving a bit slower today for the marquee names.
2:35 p.m.: The Flyers keep moving, getting Maxime Talbot for five years, $9 million according to TSN.
2:38 p.m.: The News has learned the Toronto Maple Leafs are heavily interested in Tim Connolly, which would bring him back to Buffalo three times per season. Wherever he goes, if you think Briere, Chris Drury and Zdeno Chara get booed in HSBC Arena, you ain't heard nothin' yet.
2:52 p.m.: The best part of the day so far was just the potato chip chat I had with Wawrow and fellow Sabres writer Mike Harrington. Wawrow, a Canadian, saw me eating Dill Pickle Lay's and asked if they were available in the States now. I said yupper. From there we discussed the other Canadian flavors of All Dressed (a favorite in RC Land), Bacon and Sour Cream (a Wawrow fave) and Ketchup (a thumb's up in the Harrington household). Yup, can't beat the excitement of signing day.
2:56 p.m.: Carolina signs Jiri "Lusty" Tlusty. If you're not sure what that nickname means, sorry, I can't link it. You'll have to go research things on your own for that one.
2:58 p.m.: I've just received the official Cody McCormick numbers: $1.4 million this season, $1.2 million in 2012-13 and $1 million in 2013-14. That cap hit of $1.2 million gives the Sabres $9.2 million to play with.
3:01 p.m.: The Rangers sign tough guy Mike Rupp for three years, $4.5 million.
3:04 p.m.: Puck-moving goalie Mike Smith (yeah, you read that right) is off to Phoenix for two years at $4 million.
3:13 p.m.: Less than six hours till Gary Allen takes the stage in Varysburg. Thompson Square is at 5 and Kellie Pickler is at 7. No shot at the first one, slim chance at the second. I'd rather have it the other way around.
3:15 p.m.: Steve Sullivan heads to Pittsburgh for one year, according to TSN. The channel has delved into potato chip-type chats several times today.
3:16 p.m.: And as Tim Graham pointed out earlier, how bad is it that the NHL Network can't have its own show and has to simulcast TSN? Think NFL or MLB networks would stream ESPN? Nope.
3:17 p.m.: That said, I'm glad they do it because I wish we got TSN in the States all the time. It's stupid that we can't.
3:25 p.m.: Reports have Joel Ward going to Washington for four years and $12 million, while Marty Reasoner goes to the Islanders. I had to look up how old Reasoner is. I figured he'd be older than 34.
3:33 p.m.: The Montreal Canadiens bring Erik Cole to Quebec.
3:34 p.m.: Washington signs Roman Hamrlik, while TSN says Cole gets four years and $18 million.
3:37 p.m.: Take this for what it's worth (which could be a lot, which could be nothing), but Mike Harrington has just pointed out that Terry Pegula's daughter Jessie has said on Tw*tt%r, "So no Richards."
3:45 p.m.: Wawrow and Harrington say the Jessie Pegula post has been taken down.
3:50 p.m.: The latest from Jessie Pegula before I turn my chats back to potato chips, "Sorry guys I sat on my phone driving to a doctors appointment! I'm not at the arena so I don't know anything."
3:51 p.m.: Michael Ryder goes to Dallas for two years, $7 million.
3:55 p.m.: There are a lot of good butt-dialing jokes at the moment.
3:57 p.m.: Oilers get Darcy Hordichuk to stick up for the kiddie corps of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.
3:59 p.m.: I sat on my phone once. All that got sent was "sodighadoighotei hyoviyahv iadfoigaytoiav;"
4:01 p.m.: Kris Versteeg traded to Florida from Philly for a second-round and third-round pick. The Panthers should just change their name to Florida Chicagos.
4:14 P.M: HERE'S A BIG ONE: THE SABRES SIGN FLYERS LEFT WINGER VILLE LEINO. SIX YEARS, 27.5M. Leino scored the overtime winner in Game Six at HSBC. A great addition on the wing. He had 19 goals, 34 assists and 53 points and was plus-14 in 81 games.
4:19 p.m.: Thanks for Harrington for filling in as my computer blue-screened at the most inopportune time of the day. Leino's cap hit would give the Sabres just $4.7 million left in cap space, and that includes the 10 percent ($6.4 million) that teams are allowed to go over the cap in the summer.
4:22 p.m.: The Sabres have announced a 4:45 news conference at HSBC Arena to discuss the Leino signing.
4:26 p.m.: OK, with that signing and the pending news conference, that's it for the Live Blog. Thanks for joining us ... and see you at Gary Allen tonight!