Dowell, Elliott, Ford, Joudrey, and Piskula sign free agent contracts
The Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks shocked the world at the draft a little over a week ago when they completed a blockbuster trade that saw NHL stars Brent Burns and Devin Setoguchi trade homes along with prospect Charlie Coyle from Boston University and some draft picks. The Wild and Sharks were at it again over the holiday weekened when they swapped superstars Dany Heatley and Martin Havlat for each other.
A former Badger, Heatley is now on his fourth NHL franchise after being selected 2nd overall in the 2000 draft by Atlanta. In between stops with the Thrashers and Sharks Heatley spent four seasons with the Ottawa Senators. Since Heatley has joined the league, he's averaged over a point per game (689 points in 669 games). Heatley is 5th in total points in the NHL during his career and 3rd in goals scored.
Heatley, who played two college seasons at the University of Wisconsin under former head coach Jeff Sauer was a top 10 Hobey Baker finalist his sophomore season in 2001 and was named an All-American in both seasons as a Badger (second team as a freshman, first team as a sophomore). Despite playing only two seasons in Madison, the four time NHL All-Star is a member of the prestigious 100 point club at UW with 113 career points in only 77 career games.
More on a number of Badgers who signed NHL free agent contracts over the weekend after the jump.
Dowell is a Star
Jake Dowell who won a Stanley Cup ring with the Chicago Blackhawks 2 seasons ago is now a member of the Dallas Stars where he signed a free agent contract on Friday. A member of the 2006 Badger National Championship squad, Dowell signed a 1 year deal that will pay him $800,000. Dowell will rejoin former UW and Chicago teammate Adam Burish who signed a free agent deal with Dallas last off-season.
Dowell, who is from Eau Claire told his local TV station he's excited for the opportunity. "I'm ecstatic to be going down to Dallas, and then try to make a home for a while, but the thing is, I thought the same thing here in Chicago, here, and it didn't work out, but there's other teams that are always watching, they're always evaluating, so you never know who's out there watching. I didn't know I was on Dallas' radar, but I'm glad I was, obviously."
Elliott sings the Blues
With only sixty jobs in the entire league, being an NHL goaltender can be a tough gig. After struggling last season playing with two terrible teams in the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche, Elliott is fighting for one of those 60 spots. The Avalanche chose not to bring back Elliott and instead mortgaged the future of their franchise to acquire Semyon Varlamov from Washington for a first and second round pick.
Seeing the writing on the wall in Denver, Elliott signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Blues when free agency opened up on Friday. The deal is one year for $600,000 is Elliott is in the NHL and $105,000 if he's in the AHL. Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said in a release that Elliott was signed to compete with former Maine goalie Ben Bishop for the right to backup starter Jaroslav Halak.
Ford is a Capital
One player who was often overlooked during his tenure in Madison has seen his stock continue to rise since graduation. Matt Ford who was originally a Chicago Blackhawks draft pick signed a free agent deal with the Washington Capitals on Friday. Terms of the deal were not available at this time.
Ford, who will most likely spend the majority of his time next season with Washington's AHL affiliate in Hershey tallied a career high 26 goals last season with Lake Erie in the AHL, a Colorado Avalanche affiliate.
Joudrey to the Blue Jackets
Keeping with the theme of members of the 2006 National Championship roster changing teams, Andrew Joudrey now has a new home. The former Wisconsin captain signed a 2 year free agent deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets that will pay him $587,500 if he's in the NHL. Most likely Joudrey will spend the majority of his time with the Blue Jacket's AHL affiliate in Springfield where former Badger Cody Goloubef spent all of last season.
The 26 year old Joudrey has spent his entire pro hockey career with the Hershey Bears of the AHL in the Capitals system. Joudrey is a career plus/minus +45 in the AHL and has won multiple Calder Cup Championships with Hershey.
Piskula the Flame
After leaving the Badgers at the completion of his junior season, Antigo native Joe Piskula made his NHL debut with the Los Angeles Kings. After spending a few seasons with the Kings AHL affiliate in Manchester, Piskula signed with Abbotsford of the AHL last season. Friday the Calgary Flames who are the parent club of Abbotsford signed Piskula to a two-way contract. Piskula will make $525,000 if he's in the NHL.
Flames general manager Jay Feaster is excited to have Piskula in the system. "Joe had a very strong year in Abbotsford last season and we actually discussed putting him on an NHL two-way prior to the trade deadline as we were confident he could come up and fill-in for us on defense. He adds to our depth on the blue line and provides solid leadership in Abbotsford. We are very pleased to have him in the organization and look forward to him making a push for a spot in training camp."
More Badgers could be signing soon
There was a ton of action on Friday when the July 1st free agency period opened up but there are still some former Badgers who are free agents. Robbie Earl (Minnesota Wild), Brian Fahey (Washington Capitals), and Brad Winchester (Anaheim Ducks) are all unrestricted free agents and will be looking for full time opportunities at the NHL level. Nigel Williams (Anaheim Ducks) is also an unrestricted free agent.
In addition to Earl, Fahey, Winchester and Williams, former Badgers Kyle Turris (Phoenix Coyotes), and Kyle Klubertanz (Montreal Canadiens), are restricted free agents meaning that their respective NHL teams have the right to match any free agent contract offer that they may be given. The majority of restricted free agents stay with their current clubs although there are rumors that Klubertanz is heading back to Europe to play in Sweden next season.
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