Free Agent frenzy opened with a bang on Sunday as dozens of players from around the National Hockey League found new homes. While the two biggest names on the market, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise haven't chosen their destinations yet, two former Badgers signed deals on the opening day of free agency.
The biggest name with Badger ties to sign on Sunday was former captain and Madison native Adam Burish. The former national champion agreed to terms on a four year contract with the San Jose Sharks. The deal is worth $7.2 million which will give him an average annual cap hit of $1.8 million.
Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson thinks that Burish brings some spark to a Sharks club that has been an annual disappointment in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Adam is rugged, aggressive and brings a physical presence night in and night out," said Wilson. "He has been on winning teams at every level of hockey and we feel that he brings versatility to our group of forwards"
The 29 year old Burish recorded a career high 19 points (6-13-19) in 65 games last season for the Dallas Stars. He was third on the club in penalty minutes with 76, and was +6 in the plus/minus category. Burish also won 55.8% of his faceoffs.
In joining the Sharks, Burish will be re-united with friend and former teammate Joe Pavelski. Along with Robbie Earl, Pavelski and Burish formed one of the most potent offensive lines in Wisconsin hockey history. The three helped lead Wisconsin to the 2006 National Championship.
It was also reported today that former Badger Ben Street had signed a two-way contract with the Calgary Flames. The deal was reported by Andy Strickland, but has yet to be confirmed by the Flames.
On a two-way contract, Street would make one salary if he's in the AHL, and a much more lucrative salary if he's in the NHL. That's opposed to a one way contract which pays you NHL money even if you're in the minors.
Street had his best season as a pro hockey player last year with the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins. The former Badger captain recorded 60 points (28-32-60) in 83 games for the Penguins.
Like Burish, Street was a member of that 2006 National Championship winning Wisconsin team. After being forced to miss an entire season with torn knee ligaments in 2008-09, Street was an important piece on the team that made a run to the 2010 National Championship before they eventually fell to Boston College.
Street likely will spend the start of next season with Calgary's AHL team in Abbotsford. There he'll be re-united with defenseman Joe Piskula, another member of that 06 title squad.
More Badgers will likely be in the news as the week progresses. Ryan Suter is the big name to follow, but guys like Jake Dowell, Brad Winchester, Steven Reinprecht, and Brian Fahey are also searching for NHL contracts.
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