September 4, 2012

CBA uncertainty leaves plenty with local ties without deals

By Jesse Connolly

Mike Mottau (Avon, Mass.) is one of the many free agents waiting for the NHL and NHLPA to hammer out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. (Getty Images)

Technically we’re less than a dozen days away from the start of NHL training camps, but with CBA negotiations at a standstill, on-ice preparations for the 2012-13 campaign seem unlikely to begin on time.

After a wild spending spree in the first few weeks of free agency (see: Parise, Zach and Suter, Ryan if you need examples), new contracts have been few and far between. With talk of rollbacks, salary slashing and the cap shrinking abound, owners have inked a grand total of six free agents since Aug. 1. Of those six, only one has hit the million-dollar mark, as Scott Hannan will make $1 million on the nose in 2012-13.

Surely it’s no coincidence that negotiations with free agents have slowed to a crawl as the NHL and its Players’ Association seem farther apart than ever in their attempt to hammer out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

For a variety of reasons, which surely include the uncertain start time of the NHL season, some players have elected to play pro hockey over in Europe. For others who are less inclined to do so, the waiting game continues.

Making matters worse, when the CBA expires on Sept. 15, players without deals won’t be able to ink new ones until a new CBA is in place.

Here’s a list of noteworthy players with New England ties still in need of new contracts:

John Carlson (Marlborough, Mass.)
Washington Capitals – Defenseman

Bound to be the highest-paid player on this list, Carlson (pictured right) just completed his second full season with the Caps, scoring nine goals and adding 23 assists. The 23-year-old blueliner had 2-3-5 totals in 14 playoff contests. For his career, Carlson has 75 points in 186 NHL games.

"I'm just thinking about [how] everyone's going to get in here soon and we're all going to be back together," Carlson told NBC Washington when asked about the looming lockout. "That stuff, we obviously have to help, but hopefully that gets taken care of and we'll have the fun part."

Carlson carried a cap hit of $845,833 on his entry-level contract and will surely get a nice raise once the dust settles.

Ty Conklin (UNH)
Detroit Red Wings - Goalie

A true journeyman, Conklin has played in 215 games for six different clubs since breaking into the NHL in 2001-02 with Edmonton. Up until this past season in Detroit, he’d been highly effective over the last few years as a backup and spot-starter, including an 18-8-5 year in Pittsburgh in 2007-08 and a 25-11-2 mark the following year for the Wings.

He fell out of favor late in the 2011-12 season for Detroit and wound up in the AHL. Conklin, who turned 36 in March, carried a $750,000 cap hit this past year.

Matt Gilroy (BU)
Ottawa Senators – Defenseman

The 2009 winner of the Hobey Baker Award was dealt from Tampa to Ottawa after a strong start to his first year with the Lightning. He chipped in three points in 14 games down the stretch for the Sens and appeared in three playoff games. Gilroy has played in 194 games for the Rangers, Bolts and Senators in the span of three pro seasons, during which he has 10-36-46 totals. The 28-year-old defenseman earned $1 million in 2011-12.

Brad Mills (Yale University)
New Jersey Devils – Center

MAfter breaking into the NHL in 2010-11 and appearing in four games, Mills patrolled the Devils’ blueline for 27 tilts in 2011-12, recording an assist and posting a minus-10 rating for Peter DeBoer’s squad. In 49 tilts with their AHL affiliate in Albany, he had 22 points. The former Yale standout had an $80,000 salary in the AHL and an NHL cap hit of $525,000 in the NHL.

Dominic Moore (Harvard)
San Jose Sharks – Center

A role player who’s suited up for nine NHL teams since turning pro in 2004, Moore split the 2011-12 season between Tampa and San Jose. He scored a career-high 18 goals for the Bolts in 2010-11 but was dealt to the Sharks after tallying just four times in 56 contests. The former Harvard star had six points in 23 games for San Jose and appeared in three playoff tilts. Moore earned a $1.2 million salary in 2011-12.

Mike Mottau (Avon, Mass.)
Boston Bruins – Defenseman

Traded to his hometown team in February, Mottau appeared in six games for the B’s down the stretch and suited up for Game 6 and Game 7 of their first-round series against the Caps. A veteran of 313 NHL games (7-51-58 totals), the 2000 winner of the Hobey Baker Award caught up with CSNNE in early August and discussed his status as a free agent.

“I’m waiting things out for now,” said Mottau. “I think once the CBA is close to being squared away things will heat up for me. I’ve been contacted by a few teams in Europe, but ideally would like to stay here.”

Mottau carried a cap hit of $800,000 on his last contract, which he signed in the fall of 2010 with the Islanders.

Jay Pandolfo (Burlington, Mass.)
New York Islanders – Forward

Speaking of the Islanders, Pandolfo (pictured right) remains without a deal after one year on Long Island. An integral role player for the Devils for 14 years, Pandolfo appeared in 62 games for the Isles in 2011-12, posting 1-2-3 totals and a minus-14 rating. The 37-year-old veteran of 881 NHL games (and 131 playoff contests) carried a $1.4 million cap hit last year.

Dwayne Roloson (UMass-Lowell)
Tampa Bay Lightning – Goalie

After a superb finish to the regular season in 2010-11 and a spectacular playoff run that saw him backstop the Bolts to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, Roloson’s age appeared to catch up to him this past season. Set to turn 43 in October, the former UMass-Lowell star went 13-16-3 with a woeful 3.66 goals-against average.

Roloson hopes to give it one more shot, but there won’t be a ton of offers for the 16-year vet. He carried a cap hit of $3.5 million in 2011-12.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.