Thursday, 30 December 2010

Freaking THUNDER?! Are you kidding me?!

As it stands now, we are set to have by far the worst weather of any of the Winter Classics so far. After a month  of freezing temperatures in Pittsburgh, they are set to have a heat wave strike just in time for the New Years Day tilt between the Penguins and Washington Capitals. The forecast is now a high of 49 degrees, a 70% chance of rain, and thunder. Yeah, you read that correctly; I looked at the page on for several minutes to make sure I wasn't going mad. This had to happen eventually, its just too bad it has to happen during what may to the most anticipated Classic thus far. The weather will surely make for less than perfect ice conditions regardless of when the game is played which, as of now, looks like it will be better suited for early on January 2nd. The ice conditions are going to make for an interesting game. The game might just actually look like that commercial where Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are staring at each other during a monsoon (seriously, this has to be the most boring commercial for a hockey game I have ever seen).

The NHL has certainly been lucky with the weather in what has become a signature game for the league. The last two have been just about perfect, cloudy and near freezing. The cooler that makes the ice can keep it frozen in temperatures in the upper 50s, but that's not something the ice crew would really want to test. Boston had beautiful, calm weather last year while Chicago had frigid blasts of wind to deal with (though what else would you expect from the Windy City?). The weather in Buffalo was definitely interesting. The snow falling during the game added to the atmosphere and personality of the game, casting the fans into a real world snow globe. While the atmosphere was great and the fans loved it, it doesn't make for a good game when the Zambonis were on the ice just as much, if not more, than Crosby. The snow may have been annoying, but rain would be disastrous. As anybody who has participated in a pre-game skate after some jackass who has no idea what they are doing dumps too much water while cutting the ice can tell you, wet ice is shitty ice. Skating is difficult, equipment gets soaked and heavy, and the puck gets stuck to the ice like a suction cup.

Sunday looks like a good day to play, the forecast is 34 degrees and mostly cloudy, and I fully expect the game to be postponed a day. For the fourth year in a row, I'll be there, this time wearing my now famous Joe Sakic Quebec Nordiques jersey. I would love to be able to give live updates on here during the game, but I don't have a smart phone to be able to do that. However, I do have a new camera and will be posting pictures of the event on Facebook, so look for those at the end of the weekend. Whatever happens, this is sure to be an exciting game when it eventually gets underway. A few years ago, Ovechkin and Crosby both had hattricks in the same playoff game and one can only hope they, along with their talented supporting casts, give us another hard fought, exciting game in what has become the best player and team rivalry in the NHL.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Bad Nicknames, The Devils' Chances and Caps in the Final

  • Enough is enough, I've had it with NHL nicknames these days. The Hockey News website has a quote of the day on their page and in the most recent one, Christ Drury refers to Rangers teammate Derek Stepan as "Steps." Read the Getting To Know You features on the THN website and most of the nicknames are God-awful. Brandon Prust's is "Prusty," Chris Campoli's is "Camper," Todd Bertuzzi's is "Bert," Chris Niel's is "Neiler," Kevyn Adams' is "Ads," Adam Oates' is "Oatesy," and the list goes on. I think too many players are getting hit in the head too often for them to come up with anything more complex than adding an "s," "y," or "er" to the end of someone's name or even just shortening it all together and calling it a day. Head injuries must be an even bigger problem than anyone else thought if these are the best players can come up with. What the hell happened to the creativity of the old days? What happened to Walter "Turk" Broda, named after the fact he looked like a turkey egg because of his freckles when he was younger; Georges Vezina the "Chicoutimi Cucumber," named for his hometown and the fact he was cool under pressure; Yvan "The Roadrunner" Cournoyer; Ken Dryden, the "Thieving Giraffe;" Martin "The Eliminator" Gelinas; Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, the inventor of the slap shot named for the sound of his stick hitting the puck and the puck hitting the boards; Pat Verbeek, the "Little Ball of Hate" and don't forget the Rockets, Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Henri "Pocket Rocket" Richard, and Pavel "Russian Rocket" Bure. There are tons of other classic old nicknames, each infinitely better than the ones today. Even the ones that took part of their names showed some creativity. There was "Super Mario" Lemieux, Stu the "Grim Reaper" Grimson, Curtis "Cujo" Joseph, and "Burnaby Joe" Sakic just to name a few. A pretty good list of nicknames can be found here. And as a plea to all NHLers, the next time you're asked if you have a nickname and the best you can come up with is something to the effect of "Kaner" or "Prongs," just say no. 
  • The Devils have finally done the expected and fired John MacLean. He made it 33 games and and led (more like watched) the Devils to a 9-22-2 record, good for last overall in the NHL. Some growing pains should have been expected with the new look roster, but a drop in the standings like this would have been impossible to predict. Jacques Lemaire has re-taken over as head coach and has quite the uphill battle in front of him. The Devils remind me of the Carolina Hurricanes last year who, after 33 games, had a record of 8-19-6 mainly due to injuries, most notably Eric Staal and Cam Ward. They weren't able to turn things around and by game 41, they had a record of 11-23-7. They were able to turn things around and became one of the hottest teams during the second half of the season, but going 24-14-3 was only good enough to get them to 11th place and eight points out of a playoff spot. A survey on The Hockey News website asked if the Devils have a chance at making the playoffs but it appears highly unlikely. At this point the deficit is too great but they can still have a god second half to the season and begin preparing for next year. The search for a coach is going to be critical though, I don't know how long Lemaire will want to stay on as it seems he was enjoying his retirement. There are a lot of qualified coaches out there but I think Ken Hitchcock would be a good fit. He stresses defense which is how the Devils have always won, and is a great motivator. A good kick in the ass may be exactly what the Devils need. 
  • The fact the Capitals are the visiting team in this year's Winter Classic in Pittsburgh is a reason why they are struggling this season. If recent history is any indication, the Capitals are destined to make the Stanley Cup Final, an appearance that will ultimately end in a loss. In the inaugural Classic in 2008, the Pittsburgh Penguins made the trip up to Buffalo to face the Sabres in a snow globe-like atmosphere that saw Sidney Crosby pot the game winner against Ryan Miller (sound familiar?) in the shootout. The Penguins would go on to lose to the Detroit Red Wings in that season's Cup Final. The next year, those Red Wings would visit Chicago to take on the Black Hawks at Wrigley Field, a game they would take 6-4. The Wings would then lose in a rematch to the Penguins for the Stanley Cup. Last season's Classic involved the Philadelphia Flyers taking on the Boston Bruins in a physical battle in which the Bruins squeaked out a 2-1 overtime win. The Flyers said fine, take the Winter Classic, we'll take the epic playoff series comeback. They rode that momentum all the way to the Cup Final where the Black Hawks were inevitably too much to handle. This year the Caps will take the trip to Pittsburgh to take on the hated Penguins in hopes of continuing the trend of advancing to the Final. The Caps, while not playing bad, are not playing up to the lofty expectations they have set for themselves the past few years. Fortunately for them, each team goes through highs and lows and the Caps still have plenty of time to go on a hot streak. If things go right for them, it will happen in time for the playoffs. Captain Alex Ovechkin has the ability to go on fire for extended periods of time. Will this be the year that includes an extended run through the playoffs?

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Some Teams Prove Spending to the Cap Not Necessary

For whatever reason, it seems there are some GMs in the league that feel the need to spend as close to the cap as possible in order to make their team competitive. I was curious to see if spending to the max actually makes a team competitive and as it turns out, spending wisely is more important than spending generously. Just for fun, I took a look at the top and bottom 10 spending teams in the league. Here they are along with their records this season. All salary cap numbers are according to The team money is based on what they spend, not what their cap is and players are based on their cap hit, not salary.

Top Spending Teams
New Jersey Devils-$65,809,882 (15th in East, 33GP-9W-22L-2OTL-20PTS)
Calgary Flames-$63,348,520 (14th in West, 35-14-18-3-31)
Vancouver Canucks-$62,768,893 (3rd in West, 32-19-8-5-43)
Philadelphia Flyers-$59,945,049 (1st in East, 35-22-8-5-49)
Pittsburgh Penguins-$59,204,785 (4th in East, 35-23-10-2-48)
Boston Bruins-$59,011,472 (8th in East, 32-17-11-4-38)
Detroit Red Wings-$58,933,778 (1st in West, 33-21-8-4-46)
Montreal Canadiens-$58,434,472 (3rd in East, 34-19-13-2-40)
New York Rangers-$58,390,542 (7th in East, 35-20-14-1-41)
Minnesota Wild-$58,359,940 (13th in West, 32-15-13-4-34)
Combined Record: 336-179-125-32 Average Points: 39

Bottom Spending Teams
Atlanta Thrashers-$41,086,800 (6th in East, 36-19-12-5-43)
Colorado Avalanche-$42,974,086 (4th in West, 34-19-11-4-42)
New York Islanders-$43,077,879 (14th in East, 31-7-18-6-20)
Edmonton Oilers-$45,635,027 (15th in West, 32-12-15-5-29)
St. Louis Blues-$45,945,147 (12th in West, 33-16-12-5-37)
Tampa Bay Lightning-$48,850,554 (5th in East, 34-19-10-5-43)
Nashville Predators-$49,488,527 (7th in West, 33-17-10-6-40)
Carolina Hurricanes-$50,080,770 (9th in East, 32-15-13-4-34)
Phoenix Coyotes-$50,185,551 (10th in West, 32-15-10-7-37)
Florida Panthers-$50,754,990 (12th in East, 32-15-17-0-30)
Combined Record: 329-154-128-47 Average Points: 35.5

That makes seven teams in the top group and four in the bottom that are in playoff position. However, with the exception of the Islanders and Oilers who are either at or tied at the bottom of their respective conferences, three of the four other teams on the wrong side of 8th are within four points of jumping into playoff position. Don't let the Coyotes and Blues fool you, each are only three points out of a spot and five points from jumping to 4th in the ultra competitive Western Conference.

The teams spending the least amount of money are spending wisely, many going with the common trend of spending little money on goaltenders. The Thrashers have spent a combined $3 M on Chris Mason and Ondrej Pavelec, the Avs have spent $3,062,500 on Craig Anderson and Peter Budaj, the Oilers $4.550 M on Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk, the Lightning $3.7 M on Mike Smith and Dan Ellis, and the Predators $4.275 M on Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback. Only three of the bottom 10 teams, the Islanders, Hurricanes, and Panthers spend more than $6 M on goaltenders. On the contrary, six of the top 10 teams spend more than $6 M on goalies: the Devils, Flames, Canucks, Bruins, Rangers, and Wild. Only three have gone cheap with goaltending and they are among the top teams in the league. The Canadiens spend $3.750 M on Carey Price and Alex Auld, the Red Wings spend $2,133,333 on Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard, and the Flyers split $4.225 M between Sergei Bobrovsky Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton. Spending as little money as possible on goalies allows GMs to make the team in front of them deeper and more competitive. If the 18 position players on the ice are good enough than all they need is a goalie that won't lose them the game rather than one that needs to steal each one from the opposition.

When it comes to the positional players, it is probably better to have two $3 M players, rather than one $6 M player. Depth is key in today's NHL and having one player take up the majority of the cap space is likely to put teams into tight spots. Having a player who does well enough to earn upwards of $6 M is nice, but not when GMs can't afford to give them quality teammates. the exception here though would be the Penguins whose centers Crosby and Malkin each make $8.7 M and have the ability to won game by themselves. Of the top 10 teams, only the Wild are without at least one player making over $6 M leaving some teams, most notably the Devils and Flames, with weak teams that have cap problems. Quality players are nice, but over-paying them at the expense of team depth can kill a team. Not every team in the bottom 10 are sure things to make the playoffs, but all have room for improvement thanks to smart spending.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

If you can pay, you can boo

I was the the Flyers-Panthers game last night and witnessed the Flyers do their best New Jersey Devils impersonation against a middling team they should be able to handle easily. The crowd was obviously unhappy with the effort (or rather lack thereof) set forth by the orange and black and it showed; a noticeable amount of fans didn't come back for the third period, and most left after it became 5-0 halfway through the final stanza. Another aspect of the game was the booing. At several points and especially the final moments of the game the crowd showed their appreciation for the team with a chorus of boos.

I thought about earlier this season when Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke criticized Leafs fans for booing the team, most notably captain Dion Phaneuf. Sure, booing is usually reserved for hated opponents but sometimes the home team needs to be made aware they are not performing up to expectations. Burke called Leafs fans "disgraceful," but they should be able to act however they want when it is they who are being disgraced. Sometimes it takes a kick in the ass from the crowd to get a team going. Though if the Devils are any indication this season, that may not always work.

Look at the Flyers last year. Three hundred and sixty-four days prior to last night's game, the Flyers played played another lackluster game against those same Panthers, only this time they had lost 14 of their previous 17 games, including that one. they were booed off the ice and the players felt embarrassed, not only for that game but for the way the season in general had been going to that point. After that, they went on a tear, getting points in 19 of their next 26 games and saving the season. The players were no doubt disappointed in themselves but the booing from the Flyers faithful must have stung them extra deep. Fans pay for way over-priced tickets and beer to watch way over-payed players play a game, the least they can do is to show a little effort. Expecting them to win every game is foolish but they can at least try.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Anybody for a glass of whine?

We Americans live in a strange culture. Despite the fact we all know that not every person will get ahead and not everyone will win everything, we do our best to make sure that version of reality is as skewed as possible, especially at a young age. No one fails, no scores are kept, and everyone gets a trophy. My brother's girlfriend Beth teaches young kids and told me over Thanksgiving break that she is not allowed to give her students a grade lower than a 50 or fail them. Even if all they write for an assignment is "Hey teach, you suck," they still can't get lower than half credit and they will pass that class. It seems every youth league either declares every game a tie or just simply doesn't keep score. Well you know what folks, these kids are going to fail at something sometime in their lives. Their high school team won't make it to the championship game, that girl they like won't want to date them, and they will not get that job they want (anyone wanna tell me what that's like? I have no idea). It is definitely better to have them understand this aspect of life early so they can get used to it and learn how to cope with defeat when they get older. Or not.

See, I thought this nonsense was limited to children and that the adults in this country were able to handle disappointment themselves. I was wrong. After an embarrassing 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a loss that in the dying seconds of a game in which the away team won the crowd was in a frenzy, the Columbus Blue Jackets management threw a hissy fit and instituted a dress code for fans of opposing teams who come to see the games. Apparently, the real travesty here was Penguins fans riding the Zamboni but you have to think they just didn't want their opponents to be cheered, especially after an embarrassing loss. The Blue Jackets have some of the worst attendance numbers in the league, they should just be happy people showed up and not worry that half were there to see the greatest player in the world. Worry about trying to find a center to play with Rick Nash, something they haven't come close to doing yet.

This scenario reminds me a lot of the New England Patriots during their (almost) perfect season a few years ago. So many teams complained about the Pats running up the score on them. Well, if you really don't want them to score, stop them. Quit your bitching, man up to your mistakes, and make sure it doesn't happen again. The Titans did then and the Blue Jackets should now. So here's an idea, instead of wasting their breath trying to keep opposing fans from cheering on their teams, something they have every right to do once they purchase their ticket, try putting a team together that won't lose such an embarrassing game on home ice. Defenses could have shut their mouths and put their energy into stopping Brady and Co., Blue Jackets management should do the same thing here.

So, to the Blue Jackets, get over yourselves and let the fans have their fun. They paid for the over priced tickets and not letting fans (most of which are kids anyway) ride the zamboni because of the sweater they are wearing only teaches them things that are different are bad and you should always get your way.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Surprises and thanks

Only one team, Detroit, has played fewer than 20 games. Here are some thoughts on the season so far:
  • Some growing pains should have been expected, but a season as bad as this one is a total shock. The Devils haven't won three games in a row in almost a year and are looking less and less like the team that frustrated me and every other Flyers fans for years. Does anybody else think Martin Brodeur should go back to his old style mask? For years, the Devils were all about the team, now it seems they are thinking more on individual terms. A player like Ilya Kovalchuk would never have been signed by the Devils a decade ago and for the past three years it seems their main focus has been getting Martin Brodeur his records. If there's one thing that shows this transition, its Marty's mask. It used to feature half the logo because he wasn't sure if he was good enough to make the team when he was younger. Now it says MB 30, like he just wants to promote himself, again, something that would not have happened a decade ago. 
  • Henrik and Daniel Sedin lead the Canucks with an identical 26 points in 21 games. Three other Canucks are tied with 14 points. The difference between the two brothers is that Daniel has 13 goals while Henrik, last season's Hart Trophy winner, has two. For those too lazy to do the math, that is a pace of eight over an entire season. That's right, stylistically, I am not allowed to write the projected goal totals of last season's Hart Trophy winner numerically, I must write it out. Does that seem wrong to anyone else?
  • The Buffalo Sabres are in 12th place in the East and the Devils sit in 14th while the Rangers and Thrashers occupy the 7th and 8th spots. In the West, the Blue Jackets are in 4th, the Blackhawks are in 7th, and San Jose sits in 9th place and out of playoff position. I know its early, but if you thought any of those teams would be where they are (not counting fans of those teams), maybe you should be interning for The Hockey News instead of me (but not really).
There's plenty to be thankful for, both in hockey and in life. I am thankful:
  • for Danny Briere's fist pump on one knee after each goal.
  • for Ryan Miller's spectacular performance during the Olympics that had many non-hockey fans coming up to me and talking about hockey in the weeks after the Games. 
  • I get to watch the Ovechkin/Crosby rivalry from start to finish, whenever that may be.
  • for Jeremy Roenick and the three years he spent in Philadelphia. Few are as passionate about hockey as he is and unlike many players, he is never afraid to show a little emotion. We need more of that in today's game.
  • for being able to witness history twice last year: the Flyers completing the greatest comeback in sports history after being down 3-0 (twice) and the Blackhawks winning their first Cup since Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull were a couple of young guns in 1961.
  • Ray Bourque's Avalanche beat the Devils in 2001 in a series that marked my official beginning as a hockey fanatic.
  • for Eric Lindros, John LeClair, Eric Desjardins, Keith Primeau, Mark Recchi, Rod Brind'Amour, Brian Boucher, Simon Gagne and all the other Flyers I watched when I was younger.
  • for playoffs beards and those who can't really grow them but try anyway.
  • for my Mom winning a trip to the Olympics which led to my chance meeting with Ken Campbell in what what was beyond the greatest trip I could have ever dreamed.
  • I live in a place where I will be able to spend my life talking about a game I have loved since I was six.
  • for my parents loving hockey as much as I do and taking me to all of those games.
  • my Mom did everything in her power to make my high school somewhat tolerable and got it a hockey team.
  • for my Dad's willingness to drive for several days to watch a hockey game that means nothing to us as Flyers fans but everything to us as hockey fans.
  • my brother loves sports in a fashion other than 'my team rules and your team sucks because I say so' and that it rubbed off on me (eventually).
  • my sister makes an effort to like sports and even when she doesn't for the uncanny ability to make me laugh.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Steven Stamkos' Sizzling Season

During last year's playoffs, the NHL ran an ad campaign that featured the phrase "History Will Be Made." It sure was as there were many memorable stories in the playoffs including the Flyers' comeback against Boston after being down 3-0 (twice) and the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years. They should have kept that slogan for this season as well, at the very least just for Steven Stamkos. With his hat-trick against the Flyers in a wild game on Thursday, Stamkos now has 19 goals in 19 games to start the season. If he is able to keep up this pace, Stamkos will join the exclusive 50 in 50 club, a group whose emebers include Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull, and well...thats it. From what I hear, those guys were pretty good at hockey so thats not a bad group to join. It's still early in the season, but since the halfway mark of his rookie season, Stamkos has been the best goal scorer in the league.

This is the second best start to a season since the lockout. Even Alex Ovechkin hasn't scored this many goals through 19 games; the most he has had was 17 last year when he finished with 50 goals. When he scored 65 in 2007-08, he only had 13 through the first 19. The best start so far has been Simon Gagne in 2005-06 when he scored 20 goals in the first 19 games, though a large part of that was the play of Peter Forsberg (remember him?) who had 30 assists in the first 19 games. Gagne would finish the season with 47 goals in 72 games.

The last two seasons, Martin St-Louis has played the Forsberg to Stamkos's Gagne as evidenced by his career high 65 assists last season and career pace of 18 in 19 games, a pace of 78 over a full season. Since the 2002-03 season, St. Louis has been by far the most consistent and important member of the Lightning. Its no coincidence whenever a player in Tampa Bay has a career, they see the tenacious winger on their right side the majority of the time. When Lecavalier won the Richard Trophy with 52 goals, St. Louis was right there with him the whole season, adding a then career high of 59 assists. St. Louis is a very crafty player with a strong chemistry with Stamkos and should be able to consistently set him up.

Stamkos has a lot more going for him than just a great linemate. His shot is easily one of the best in the league. Having already proven his one-timer from the left circle is money (seriously, how do teams keep letting him get open?) he has shown to be as accurate as anybody. He can put the puck where ever he wants from where ever he is on the ice, even from his butt. He is also durable having only missed three game thus far in his career and those were due to being healthy scratch by Coach Melrose. He is a strong skater and while he is always in the play, does not play with the kamikaze style of an Ovechkin or, to a lesser extent, a Crosby. There's no telling what may happen over the course of the next 31 games. He has quite a pace to maintain, one the NHL hasn't seen since 1991-92 when Brett Hull did it. Fortunately, Stamkos is smart as well as skilled and should be able to find new ways to score on the off chance teams remember to pay attention when he drifts towards the stick-side faceoff circle on the power-play. As was proved last Spring, it is really exciting to watching long-standing barriers and records broken or matched. On January 23, the Thrashers visit the Lightning, tune in to see if Stamkos pumps his fists for the 50th time this season.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

It's been a while. Let's get started shall we...

  • I was watching the Bruins-Canadiens game last night when Jeff Halpern had a goal waved off because he kicked the puck into the net. According to NHL rules,  a goal can be allowed off of a skate as long as there is no distinct kicking motion. Is it just me, or does that allow for too much grey area? For those who didn't see the disallowed goal, Halpern was going hard to the net, took a pass off his skate, and the puck bounced into the net before he could get his stick on it. This is where the grey area comes in. When watching the replay, it can easily be argued that Halpern was simply trying to stop in front of the net, rather than run over Tuukka Rask. The key to situations such as these, is the leg must be going in a pendulum motion for the goal to be disallowed, something rather hard to see in a game where players' legs churn as quickly as in hockey. It is just too hard to judge just what it is the player in question was intending to do. Here is what I would recommend: allow a goal that is kicked in as long as the puck is not in the crease at the time. It is a simple, black and white rule that can be easily judged by the refs calling the game. At least if this were the rule, one inconsistency in the game (and there are plenty of others) will be taken away.
  • With the exception of Steven Stamkos, if the season ended today there would be a chance that all three finalists for the Hart Trophy would be goaltenders. As of November 12, five goaltenders have a GAA under 2.0: Mathieu Garon (1.28), Tim Thomas (1.39), Jonathan Quick (1.58), Jaroslav Halak (1.79) and Antero Niittymaki (1.80). Sure, its early in the season, but these goaltenders are playing out of this world. Each of them has their team in a position well ahead of what was expected of them; the only exception is Niittymaki's Sharks who currently sit in 12th place in the Western Conference, though that is largely do to the play of last year's Stanley Cup winning goalie Antti Niemi who cannot seem to find his groove in San Jose with his 3.91 GAA and .870 save percentage. Garon is definitely the most surprising name among those. The career backup has been exceptional, keeping former rookie of the year Steve Mason on the bench while he is leading the Blue Jackets into playoff position for just the second time. One of the feel good stories of the year so far, Thomas has regained his Vezina Trophy winning form from two seasons ago. This is a player who has had to fight and scrap for years in order to get into the NHL and even then many though he would be out of the league n a few years. He remains undefeated and went six games this season before giving up more than one goal in a game. The Bruins have full confidence in Thomas and it is east to tell the team is more relaxed when he is in goal as compared to Tuukka Rask. Quick and Halak are both leading their teams to surprising starts. Quick's Kings are at the top of the Western Conference and the Blues are tied with the Red Wings for the top spot in the Central Division. Both teams were expected, by me at least, to have good seasons this year, but stingy goaltending has transformed them into two of the most dominate teams in the league. Of course, it would be ridiculous to expect these goalies to keep up this pace for an entire season, but few players are more instrumental in their teams' success than these players. There hasn't been a Hart Trophy winning goalie since Jose Theodore in 2001-02; how Miller didn't win it last year I can't figure out. Goaltending may be the most important position in sports, these guys deserve more respect and credit for their teams' success.
  • This year's All-Star Game will feature a new format for selecting teams, and in tern, eliminating the East vs. West format altogether. Two captains will choose the teams, with the fans voting in the starting line-up. The list of players eligible to be picked can be found here. It will be interesting to see who are picked to be the captains. I know to East-West format is officially gone, but I think a fair way to do this every year, if this format becomes the norm, would be to have the captains of the previous year's Stanley Cup Final do the picking. Other than a fan vote, which would probably produce Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as captains every year, this seems the fairest way to pick the captains. If that is the case, it will be fun to watch Mike Richards and Jonathan Toews square up against each other again. In terns of who is on the ballot, it seems every year the players eligible to be selected are picked before the season even begins. It will be just as interesting to see who is picked last as the All-Star game is becoming gym class all over again. Every year there are snubs and players on the ballot that do not deserve to be there. I understand the NHL wants a representative from each team, but does anyone on the Devils really deserve to be there? Zach Parise is injured and Ilya Kovalchuk and Martin Brodeur are in the middle of the worst season in each of their careers. Among other players on the ballot who aren't having All-Star caliber seasons are Boston's Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci (2 goals in 13 and 11 games respectively), Calgary's Jarome Iginla (2 goals and 8 points in 15 games), Montreal captain Brian Gionta (3 goals and 6 points in 16 games), New York Rangers' Marina Gaborik (2 assists in 4 games), San Jose's Antti Niemi (.872 save %, 3.91 GAA), and Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf (4 assists and a -6 in 11 games), just to name a few. All have been great players in the past, but are simply not getting it done this year. They may be the big names that could possibly draw in audiences (I think I get the point now, actually) but are in the place of more deserving players like Colorado's Chris Stewart (10 goals, 18 points in 15 games), Chicago's Patrick Sharp (10 goals, 17 points in 17 games), New York Rangers' Brandon Dubinsky (10 goals, 15 points in 16 games), Philadelphia's Sergei Bobrovsky (9-2-1 record, .931 save %, 2.09 GAA), and Washington's Alex Semin (12 goals, 21 points in 16 games), as well as plenty of others. One other thing they did was take away the Young Stars game. It was an interesting idea, highlighted by Kovalchuk's 6 goals in 2002, but players there give even less effort than the All-Star Game. Instead, 12 rookies will be invited to take place in the skills competition, though they won't make an appearance in the game itself. It seems its like this every year though, and I guess for an every where even the players don't put much effort into anyway, it won't make much of a difference. 

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Say It Ain't So Lappy

According to reports, Philadelphia Flyers grinder Ian Laperriere has been told to retire by at least two neurologists due to post concussion syndrome and nerve damage to his right eye.

If this doesn't prove that visors should be mandatory, than nothing will. It seems each year at least one player gets seriously injured in an incident that could have been avoided had the player been wearing a visor. Isn't that right, Al MacInnis? Or Bryan Berard, Steve Yzerman, Dany Heatley, or the host of other NHLers who had to almost go blind before smartening up and putting on a visor? Bill Masterton had to die before the NHL made helmets mandatory, what is it going to take before visors are mandatory as well?

Laperriere was named the toughest player in the NHL last season by The Hockey News for reasons such as this; that's right, he lost seven (7!) teeth and came back in the same game in November; and this. Keep in mind those block came from last season alone and it's no wonder why his nose looks like that.

The latter is highly unfortunate because it not only caused the major problems he is suffering now, but it came late in a game, and a series, the Flyers had essentially already won. You have to love his willingness to put his team first time and time again, but it is a shame such a classy person may have to retire this way.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Hockey News Internship

OK so, for those of you who don't know, the whole purpose of this blog is to get used to writing about hockey, mainly for the purpose of sending it to The Hockey News as I try and get an internship with them. About that...

So I sent Jason Kay (the editor of THN) an email last week and he responded by saying he would pass along my email to Edward Fraser. About a half hour later there was an email in my inbox that simply read:

Hey Tim. Glad to hear you’ll be joining the team. What exact date did you want to start and for how long?

So there you have it; the newest member of The Hockey News is yours truly.

I know its been a while since I posted anything, the crappy internet service at my school combined with all the work I have to get done for Thesis is making it rather difficult to find time to work on this. I still need to raise my GPA slightly (I have a 2.47 and need a 2.5) in order to be allowed to do this internship next semester. Its not much but I will be making absolutely sure there is nothing that will get in my way of this opportunity.

So, anyone who doesn't know the whole story, here is what happened. Lou Lamoriello, the GM of the New Jersey Devils, decided to show appreciation to the season ticket holders by offering prizes a few years ago. One of them was a trip to see a hockey game at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, which my mom won on the day of my 20th birthday. any one who knows me well would know that the one thing I have always wanted to do was see an Olympic hockey game in Canada, and here I am being handed this opportunity by a man whose purpose in life seemed to be to frustrate the hell out of Philadelphia Flyers fans.

So, after a year of trying to figure out what games we (my mom, dad, and brother Nick) wanted to go to, what other events to see, and preparing for a very cold week (which never came, seriously, Vancouver in the winter was nicer than Mass in March), there I am at the Olympics. We saw curling the first day, which was surprisingly entertaining by the way, then on the second day the hockey games started. The first game was Russia vs the Czech Republic, which to most was highlighted by Alex Ovechkin obliterating Jaromir Jagr. That was nothing compared to what happened during the fist intermission.

There I am, standing around just enjoying the atmosphere when I look to my left  and, after a double take, notice that Ken Campbell is standing right next me me. Now I saw plenty of famous people at these games, hell the pairs figure skating gold medalists stayed in the hotel room right next to me, and he is the one person I went and talked to. There was on way I was going to blow this chance to meet an established writer and get my name in the inner circle of the hockey world. I found out in an article he write a few days later that the only reason he was there was because one of his childhood friends just happened to be working the scoreboard that game.

Anyway, we're talking about hockey and I mention that I am looking for an internship and my dream job is to work for The Hockey News. He tells me to get in touch with Jason Kay and ask him about it. I don't think I have ever put more though into anything as I did in the letter I sent him, I must have revised it 10 times at least. I hear back from him and, as if that wasn't good enough, he asked me to send him some sample articles, which I did as soon as I got back to school (after watching the gold medal game of course). Fast forward a week or two to Spring Break.

I was expecting this, but it was still a shock when Jason Kay gave me a call one day. We talked for about 15 minutes; about the Olympics, my background in hockey, and what I would be doing if I happened to get this internship with them. He told me to get in contact with him again in the fall and that brings us to right now. I really wish I could describe to you all what this feels like, but those words just haven't been invented yet. Somehow, wicked stoked just doesn't quite cover it.

On a completely unrelated note, the Minnesota Wild's sellout streak has come to an end. Does this strike anyone else as odd? Do preseason games really count for that statistic? I don't think the streak should be stopped because of a meaningless exhibition game. Minnesota may be the State of Hockey, but I think Wild fans may have something better to do on a Wednesday night than watch a bunch a skaters who may not even be on the roster once the season begins and the games actually mean something. If they fail to sellout then, by all mean the streak is over, but for now one of the most passionate fanbases in all of sports still has a sellout streak of 409 games and counting.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

$6.66 M: The Number of the Beast...

...or at least the average cap hit on Kovalchuk's monster 15 year, $100 M contract that was finally approved on September 3.

There has been a lot of talk about the whole ordeal, whether or not this contract was really any worse than Marian Hossa's or Chris Pronger's. Here are Kovalchuk's thoughts on the contract situation. It seems for now that those three players, along with Roberto Luongo and Marc Savard, are safe from investigation for now. The loophole in the CBA was closed, but the issue will undoubtedly be brought up during the next negotiations. Scott Burnside of explains what this means for the salary cap hit:

Under the new guidelines, the salary cap hit of any deal five years or longer that takes a player into his 41st year is calculated on all the years leading up to the year in which the player turns 40. The remaining years, traditionally when the value of the contracts has fallen off the map, would act as their own separate cap hit.
The new ruling means we've seen the end of these so-called "cheat deals" that front-load contracts that take a player well into the retirement zone with payments falling completely off the map to drive down the average cap hit. The league had been warning GMs about those deals for a couple of years, and it finally drew a line in the sand this summer right outside the Prudential Center in Newark.
More information about how this contract will affect the rest of the league can be found on

But what exactly will this mean for New Jersey?

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is either losing his touch or is more of a genius than anyone thought. My vote is on the latter. For nearly two decades, the centerpiece of the team has been Martin Brodeur who is only under contract for two more seasons. He will not be around forever and when he leaves, the Devils will need to find a new identity. They have been a defense first team since they won the Stanley Cup in 1995, but that foundation has slowly been eroding for a few years now. Nevermind that they led the league in goals in 2000-01, they have always won through defense.

The exodus began after the 2001-02 season when grinding center Bobby Holik crossed the river to New York. After each of the next two seasons, major components to their defense would play their last game in Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens respectively. Scott Niedermayer would leave to join his brother in Anaheim once the lockout ended. Underrated plugger Sergei Brylin left for the KHL two seasons ago. One of the top defensive duos in John Madden and Jay Pandolfo was broken up when Madden wasn't resigned after 2008-09. Pandolfo will not be back in New Jersey next season.  Once Brodeur is gone, the Devils will need to be able to score goals if they want to win.

Enter Ilya Kovalchuk and his six consecutive seasons of at least 40 goals. He only had 10 in 27 games last season after being traded from Atlanta, a pace of 30 goals over 82 games. Should Lamoriello be able to sign Zach Parise long term too, the Devils should be able to roll out two scoring lines. Think about it, Parise had a down year and still scored 38 goals last season. He, along with Travis Zajac who is blossoming into a top points producer should form a formative duo for years to come. Jamie Langenbrunner is getting better with age and Patrick Elias should have a few more 60-70 point seasons in him. According to The Hockey News Yearbook, the Devils have a few strong offensive players waiting in the shadows. They include Mattias Tedenby from Jonkoping in Sweden and Adam Henrique who had 38 goals and 77 points in 54 games for Windsor in the OHL last season.

The Devils appear to be headed towards a new identity as a team, hopefully one that will actually bring fans to The Rock.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Offseason Recap-Pacific Division

The Sharks will continue to be the top team in the division. At least in the regular season.

San Jose Sharks - 3
Key Signings
7/1: G Antero Niittymaki (TB) 2 years
7/31: RW Devin Setoguchi (re-signed) 1 year
8/4: RW Jamal Mayers (CAL)
9/2:  Antti Niemi (CHI) 1 year, $2 M
6/21: 5th round draft pick (2010) from MIN for RW Brad Staubitz
6/24: D Mike Vernace, LW Brett Sterling, and 7th round draft pick (2010) from ATL for future considerations
G Evgeni Nabokov (KHL, SKA St. Petersburg)
D Rob Blake (retired)
C Manny Malhotra (VAN)
RW Jed Ortmeyer
What To Expect
Former captain Patrick Marleau and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov have taken the most amount of heat for the Sharks' playoff failures in the past. GM Doug Wilson opted to keep Marleau after a career high 44 goals last season and let Nabokov head back to Russia. HOwever, with the signings of Antero Niittymaki and Antti Niemi should give the Sharks solid goatending. Niittymaki plays better when the crease is being shared and Niemi brings his Stanley Cup winning experience to California. The Sharks did lose a few key players from last season, captain Rob Blake retired and faceoff ace Manny Malhotra headed to Vancouver. This is still a deep lineup and shouldn't slip too far from last season.

Los Angeles Kings - 5
Key Signings
7/17: C Brad Richardson (re-signed) 1 year
7/18: C Marc-Andre Cliche (re-signed) 1 year
7/18: C Trevor Lewis (re-signed) 1 year
7/18: LW Richard Clune (re-signed) 1 year
7/27: LW Alexei Ponikarovsky (PIT) 1 year
D Sean O'Donnell (PHI)
RW Raitis Ivanans (CAL)
LW Alexander Frolov (NYR)
D Randy Jones (TB)
LW Fredrik Modin
C Jeff Halpern
What To Expect
Other than Alexander Frolov and Sean O'Donnell, the Kings did not lose any significant players from last season. Alexei Ponikarovsky replaces Frolov and while his peak may not be as high, Ponikarovsky offers a much more consistent game. Jonathan Bernier is ready to step into the NHL full time and will challenge Jonathan Quick who set a franchise record for wins with 39 for the starting job. Drew Doughty appears to be ready to own the Norris Trophy for the foreseeable future.

Phoenix Coyotes - 6
Key Signings
7/1: D Derrek Morris (re-signed) 4 years, $11 M
7/1: LW Ray Whitney (CAR) 2 years, $6 M
7/2: C Andrew Ebbett (MIN)
7/26: LW Alexandre Picard (re-signed) 1 year
8/30: RW Lee Stempniak (re-signed) 2 years, $3.8 M
5/13: 5th round draft pick (2010) from CAR for RW Jared Staal
6/26: 4th round draft pick (2012) from COL for LW Daniel Winnik
6/30: C Patrick O'Sullivan from EDM for D Jim Vandermeer
D Zbynek Michalek (PIT)
C Joel Perrault (VAN)
LW Stefan Meyer (CAL)
RW Francis Lessard (OTT)
What To Expect
The man they called The Wizard in Carolina is in the desert and Ray Whitney should help improve the 24th ranked offense from last season. His was the only major addition to a team that will once again be scoring by committee. They lost shutdown specialist Zbynek Michalek to Pittsburgh but Vezina finalist Ilya Bryzgalov should be able to keep the damage minimal.

Anaheim Ducks - 9
Key Signings
7/1:D Toni Lydman (BUF) 3 years, $9 M
7/1: C Saku Koivu (re-signed) 2 years, $5 M
7/21: D Danny Syvret (PHI) 1 year
8/2: D Andy Sutton (OTT) 2 years
8/9: RW Teemu Selanne (re-signed) 1 year, $3.25 M
6/26: 5th round draft pick (2010) from TOR for RW Mike Brown
6/30: RW Jason Jaffray and 7th round draft pick (2013) from CAL for C Logan Man Millan and 7th round draft pick (2013)
7/9: LW Aaron Voros and LW Ryan Hillier from NYR for D Steve Eminger
7/19: LW Thomas Zuborsky from NYR for D Matt McCue
7/30: 3rd round draft pick (2011) from NYI for D James Wisniewski
D Scott Niedermayer (retired)
G Joey MacDonald (DET)
What To Expect
Defense used to be the power of Anaheim, now a team that was once led by Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, and Francois Beauchemin is now headed by Lubomir Visnovsky, James Wisniewski, and Toni Lydman. Jonas Hiller's job this year may be slightly more difficult than it was for Giguere the past few years. Not much has changed up front as the Ducks may struggle to score after their first line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry.

Dallas Stars - 13
Key Signings
7/1: RW Adam Burish (CHI) 2 years, $2.3 M
7/1: G Andrew Raycroft (VAN) 2 years
7/12: C Aaron Gagnon (re-signed) 1 year
7/16: D Brad Lukowich (VAN) 1 year
7/16: D Maxime Fortunus (re-signed) 1 year
7/16: RW Raymond Sawada (re-signed) 1 year
7/23: LW Fabian Brunnstrom (re-signed) 1 year, $675,000
8/26: Nicklas Grossman (re-signed) 2 years, $3.25 M
C Mike Modano (DET)
G Marty Turco (CHI)
What To Expect
The face of the franchise for 20 seasons, Mike Modano, was let go and headed home to Detroit. With goalie Marty gone as well, the team's chances lie in the hands of oft-injured Kari Lehtonen. GM Joe Nieuwendyk will have a tough time putting a good team together, especially under the tight budget he must adhere to. Whether or not they have a one line attack depends largely on the play of Mike Ribeiro, but even if he has a good season, expect this team to miss the playoffs again while it refinds its identity.

Sources: Free Agent TradeCentre, The Hockey News Yearbook

Friday, 3 September 2010

Offseason Recap-Central Division

Detroit will try to show the Blackhawks they are not yet the best team in the division. The Central Division has a chance to have a few teams make the playoffs next year.

Detroit Red Wings - 2
Key Signings
7/6: LW Drew Miller (re-signed) 1 year
7/7: Patrick Eaves (re-signed) 1 year
7/15: D Derek Meech (re-signed) 1 year
8/4: C Darren Helm (re-signed) 2 years, $1.825 M
8/5: Mike Modano (DAL) 1 year, $1.25 M
8/9: D Ruslan Salei (COL) 1 year
8/23: LW Justin Abdelkader (re-signed) 2 years
D Brett Lebda (TOR)
RW Jeremy Williams (NYR)
What To Expect
You know you have a good team when 101 points and a fifth place showing is considered an off year. Improved health is going to be the biggest factor this season, as evidence by the lack of any major signings. Jimmy Howard looks to be ready to take control of the crease in Detroit, but look for Chris Osgood to get some starts early as he looks for win number 400.

Chicago Blackhawks - 4
Key Signings
7/12: Nicklas Hjalmarsson (re-signed, offer sheet from SJ matched) 4 years, $14 M
7/28: RW Jack Skille (re-signed) 1 year
7/28: LW Bryan Bickell (re-signed) 3 years
8/2: G Marty Turco (DAL) 1 year, $1.3 M
8/4: C Evan Brophey (re-signed) 1 year
8/24: RW Fernando Pisani
6/23: 24th overall draft pick (2010), 2nd round draft pick (2010), C Marty Reasoner, LW Jeremy Morin, and RW Joey Crabb from ATL for LW Dustin Byfuglien, D Brent Sopel, LW Ben Eager, and RW Akim Aliu
6/24: 6th round draft pick (2010) from EDM for C Colin Fraser
6/26: RW Jimmy Hayes from TOR for 2nd round draft pick (2010)
6/30: LW Viktor Stalberg, C Phillipe Paradis, and C Chris Di Domenico from TOR for LW Kris Versteeg and LW Bill Sweatt
7/1: D Ivan Vishnevsky and 2nd round draft pick from ATL for LW Andrew Ladd
7/22: F Jeff Taffe from FLA for F Marty Reasoner
RW Adam Burish (DAL)
C John Madden (MIN)
What To Expect
GM Stan Bowman had as good an offseason as he could have hope for all things considering. He did lose quality players such as Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg, but he was at least able to get a return on almost every player he lost. They stocked up on draft picks, so they should be able to cheaply support the core that includes Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook supported for a while. There's no reason for the Hawks not to be as dangerous as ever this season.

St. Louis Blues - 8
Key Signings
7/1: C Alex Steen (re-signed)
7/1: C Vladimir Sobotka (BOS)
7/2: F Brad Winchester (re-signed)

7/6: G Jaroslav Halak (MON) 4 years, $14 M

7/6: RW Cam Janssen (re-signed) 1 year

7/6: D Carlo Colaiacovo (re-signed) 2 years

7/15: D Tyson Strachan (re-signed) 1 year

7/16: C T.J. Hensick (COL) 1 year

7/21: LW David Perron (re-signed) 2 years, $4.3 M

8/2: D Eric Johnson (re-signed) 2 years, $5.2 M

8/4: C Dave Scatchard (NAS) 1 year
6/17: G Jaroslav Halak from MON for F Lars Eller and RW Ian Schultz
6/17: C T.J. Hensick from COL for C Julian Talbot
6/25: 1st round draft pick (2010) from OTT for D David Bolland
6/26: C Vladimir Sobotka from BOS for D David Warsofsky
7/28: F Stefan Della Rouvere from WAS for F D.J. King
G Chris Mason (ATL)
C Keith Tkachuk
LW Paul Kariya
What To Expect
The Blues season last year should really be considered as growing pains. The youth movement is ready to pay off as the same core returns from last year, one year wiser and better. Add playoff hero Jaroslav Halak and this has the potential to be a dangerous group. There is no one superstar in this group, rather a whole lineup of solid players.

Nashville Predators - 11
Key Signings
7/26: D Rayn Parent (PHI) 2 years, $1.8 M
8/24: RW Patrick Hornqvist (re-signed) 3 years, $9.25 M
6/19: D Ryan Parent from PHI for D Dan Hamhuis and 7th round draft pick (2011)
6/19: RW Matt Halischuk and 2nd round draft pick (2011) from NJ for C Jason Arnott
6/29: LW Sergei Kostitsyn and future considerations from MON for C Dustin Boyd, G Dan Ellis, and future considerations
LW Triston Grant (FLA)
D Nolan Yonkman (PHO)
RW Hugh Jessiman (CHI)
C Dave Scatchard (STL)
What To Expect
With Jason Arnott headed back to New Jersey via trade, the Predators are left with few proven goal scorers in the fold. Thirty goal scorer Patrick Hornqvist is back and will need to at least match that amount again for the Predators to have any change of getting back in the playoffs. Ryan Parent comes back to the team that drafted him, bringing playoff experience with him this time. Its hard to believe this team, which finished 18th overall in offense last season, will produce enough goals to get into a playoff spot.

Columbus Blue Jackets - 12
Key Signings
7/1: C Derek MacKenzie (re-signed) 2 years
7/2: D Nathan Guenin (PIT) 1 year
7/13: RW Jared Boll (re-signed) 2 years
7/22: D Grant Clitsome (re-signed) 1 year
7/28: D Anton Stralman (re-signed) 1 year
8/10: RW Michael Blunden (re-signed) 1 year
8/18: RW Ben Guite (NAS) 1 year
D Nathan Paetsch (FLA)
D Mathieu Roy (TB)
What To Expect
If Steve Mason plays like he did when he was a rookie, the Blue Jackets may have a chance to sneak into the playoffs. Maybe. Like Philadelphia and goalies, Columbus cannot find a quality, long-term number one center. Antoine Vermette and Derek Brassard are good players, but neither can be considered a true number one. They added grit and leadership in Ethan Moreau, but made no other significant moves.

Sources: Free Agent TradeCentre, The Hockey News Yearbook

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Offseason Recap-Northwest Division

Beginning the Western Conference, here is a look at the Northwest Division.

Vancouver Canucks - 1
Key Signings
7/1: C Manny Malhotra (SJ) 3 years
7/1: C Joel Perrault (PHO) 1 year
7/1: LW Jeff Tambellini (NYI)
7/1: D Dan Hamhuis (NAS) 6 years
7/12: G Tyler Weiman (COL)
7/12: C Alexandre Bolduc (re-signed)
7/12: LW Tanner Glass (re-signed)
7/12: D Shane O'Brien (re-signed)
7/22: R Jannik Hansen (re-signed)
7/26: LW Mason Raymond (re-signed)
8/25: LW Raffi Torres (BUF)
6/25:D Keith Ballard and RW Victor Oreskovich from FLA for RW Steve Bernier, RW Michael Grabner, and 1st round draft pick (2010)
G Andrew Raycroft (DAL)
C Pavol Demitra (KHL, Yaroslavl)
D Willie Mitchell
C Kyle Wellwood
D Brad Lukowich
What To Expect
The city that saw gold last year will be expecting silver this season.Not much has changed on the front lines. Manny Malhotra and Raffi Torres will combine to add plenty of grit. An already solid defensive core was made stronger, despite the loss of shutdown specialist Willie Mitchell. Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard are new in town and combine with Christian Ehrhoff, Alexander Edler, Sami Salo, and Kevin Bieksa to form a solid defensive group. The move most likely to help the Canucks however, may be Dustin Byfuglien heading to the Eastern Conference and away from Luongo's crease.

Colorado Avalanche - 7
Key Signings
7/2: D Kyle Quincy (re-signed) 2 years
7/2: LW Daniel Winnik (PHO) 2 years
7/7: LW Brandon Yip (re-signed) 2 years
6/17: LW Julian Talbot from STL for C TJ Hensick
6/26: LW Daniel Winnik from PHO for 4th round draft pick (2012)
D Brett Clark (TB)
D Brian Fahey (WAS)
G Tyler Weiman (VAN)
RW Brian Willsie (WAS)
LW Chris Durno (TB)
D Ruslan Salei (DET)
RW Marek Svatos
C Stephane Yelle
LW Darcy Tucker
What To Expect
Its up to the young players now in Colorado. If second year players Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly can avoid the sophomore slump and Peter Mueller can get back to his rookie form which showed after being ntraded to Colorado from Phoenix last season, the Avalanche should be able to make the playoff two seasons in a row for the first time since the lockout. There were not many changes from the team that finished last season. Super pest Darcy Tucker and the uber-talented but ultra-frustrating Marek Svatos are gone,

Calgary Flames - 10
Key Signings
7/1: LW Alex Tanguay (TB) 1 year
7/1: C Olli Jokinen (NYR) 2 years $6 M
7/2: RW Tim Jackman (NYI) 2 years
7/2: LW Raitis Ivanans (LA) 2 years
7/17: RW Kris Chucko (re-signed)
7/18: D Matt Pelech (re-signed) 1 year
7/20: LW Brett Sutter (re-signed) 1 year
7/30: D Ian White (re-signed) 1 year
8/11: C Craig Conroy (re-signed) 1 year
6/30: C Logan MacMillan and 7th round draft pick (2013) from ANA for RW Jason Jaffray and 7th round draft pick (2013)
LW Eric Nystrom (MIN)
LW Chris Higgins (FLA)
D Brett Palin (NAS)
F Jamal Mayers (SJ)
LW Colin Stuart
LW Nigel Dawes
What To Expect
For a team that boasts one of the best forwards and goalies in the league, the Flames do not seem like a playoff team. GM Darryl Sutter brought Olli Jokinen back to Calgary after already making the right move and getting rid of him at the trade deadline last year. Alex Tanguay has had some of his best seasons in Calgary and with just a one year deal, thats not a bad signing. The defense is the same as it was at the end of last year when they tied for the fifth best goals against average. That really won't matter too much if they continue to struggle to score goals.

Minnesota Wild - 14
Key Signings
7/1: LW Guillaume Latendresse (re-signed) 2 years
7/1: C Matt Cullen (OTT)
7/1: LW Eric Nystrom (CAL) 3 years
7/2: D Drew Bagnall (LA) 1 year
7/2: C Warren Peters (DAL) 2 years
7/8: Robbie Earl (re-signed)
7/14: G Josh Harding (re-signed) 1 year
7/15: G Anton Khudobin (re-signed) 1 year
8/6: C John Madden (CHI) 1 year
6/21: RW Brad Staubitz from SJ for 5th round draft pick (2010)
LW Derek Boogaard (NYR)
D John Scott (CHI)
C Andrew Ebbett (PHO)
D Jamie Sifers (MIN)
C Andy Hilbert (NYI)
What To Expect
The new era of hockey in Minnesota didn;t really improve the team's success last season and it doesn;t look to be getting any better. Matt Cullen is a solid signing, he can flirt with 20 goals and play on the special teams, but it will not be nearly enough to help a team that finished in the bottom third in offense. Niklas Backstrom will be a workhorse once again behind a defense that didn't get any better. The State of Hockey looks to in for another long winter.

Edmonton Oilers - 15
Key Signings
7/1: D Kurtis Foster (TB) 2 years, $3.6 M
7/1: C Colin Fraser (CHI) 2 years
7/2: F Steve MacIntyre (FLA) 1 year
7/2: D Jason Strudwick (re-signed) 1 year
7/13: G Devan Dubnyk (re-signed)
7/14: LW J. F. Jacques (re-signed) 1 year
7/15: D Theo Peckham (re-signed) 1 year
7/27: C Gilbert Brule (re-signed) 2 years, $3.7 M
7/31: G Jeff Deslauriers (re-signed) 1 year
8/9: LW Liam Reddox (re-signed) 1 year
8/29: C Sam Gagner (re-signed) 2 years, $4.55 M
6/24: C Colin Fraser from CHI for 6th round draft pick (2010)
6/26: 2nd round draft pick (2010) from CAR for C Riley Nash
6/30: D Jim Vandermeer from PHO for C Patrick O-Sullivan
LW Chris Minard (DET)
LW Ethan Moreau (CLB)
RW Fernando Pisani (CHI)
What To Expect
There are benefits to being last overall as Edmonton was awarded the number one overall draft pick and the right to choose Taylor Hall. He will join a young group of forwards trying to prove themselves in the NHL. Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano needs to have breakout seasons and Duntin Penner must continue the upward trajectory he showed last season if they wish to improve their 27th ranked offense. Having Ales Hemsky for a full season will certainly help. Nikolai Khabibulin is healthy again as well but has his legal troubles to deal with before thinking about playing goal. Hopefully if the youth movement goes as planned, Edmonton be toiling in the basement much longer.

Sources: Free Agent TradeCentre, The Hockey News Yearbook

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

So Close To 50

I've had a busy last few days, packing for and going to school. I will continue on the the Western Conference offseason recaps tomorrow night. By the way, if anyone is having a problem with the Twitter Gadget, just right click on the link and open it in a new tab. I'll try and figure out how to fix it. Also, the internet is really slow here and keeps going in and out, hopefully that doesn't affect me too much. In the meantime:

  • Chris Chelios has finally retired after playing parts of 26 seasons in the NHL. At age 48, he ranks fourth all-time and first among defensemen with 1651 games played and will go down as one of the toughest, nastiest players to play the game. Since/when he first started playing
    • The NHL has gone from 21 teams to 30
    • Guy Lafleur and Mats Naslund were the leading scorers for the Canadiens
    • Gilbert Perreault was still a dangerous player for the Sabres
    • Wayne Gretzky was still beginning to captivate hockey fans
    • Mario Lemieux was obliterating records with the Laval Voisins in the QMJHL
    • The Islanders were still the powerhouse of the NHL, about to be overtaken by Edmonton
    • Scotty Bowman still had four Stanley Cups to win
    • Mario Lemieux, Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull, Patrick Roy, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, Pierre Turgeon, Branden Shanahan, Jeremy Roenick, Rob Blake, Tony Amonte, Pavel Bure, and Olie Kolzig among many others have all come and gone
  • Nikolai Khabibulin will appeal his jail sentence from his DUI charge. For the moment, he will be allowed to attend training camp while the appeal process goes through. It is a shame but it just reminds us they are people and make mistakes too. Hopefully this won't put too much of a damper on his season, as he is looking to rebound after suffering a back injury and missing most of last season. The Oilers need him on the ice and playing well if they have any chance of getting out of the basement in the Western Conference. 
  • The San Jose Sharks have finally nabbed the Stanley Cup caliber goalie they have been looking for as Antti Niemi signed a 1 year, $2 M contract today. It makes you wonder why he couldn't stay with the hawks as they had a similar offer for him. It goes to show that players these days, especially goalies, should probably take what they can get when its offered because that big payday they're looking for might not come. Along with Antero Niittymaki, the Sharks now have a solid 1a and 1b goaltending tandem. 

Monday, 30 August 2010

Offseason Recap-Southeast Division

Finishing up the Eastern Conference, here is a look at the Southeast Division. Expect a few teams other than the Capitals to make the playoff from the Southeast this season.

Washington Capitals - 1
Key Signings
7/2: G Dany Sabourin (BOS) 1 year
7/7: D Jeff Schultz (re-signed) 4 years
7/7: LW Kyle Greentree (CHI) 2 years
7/8: RW Eric Fehr (re-signed) 2 years
7/14: RW Brian Willsie (COL) 1 year
7/15: RW Andrew Gordon (re-signed) 1 year
7/15: D Patrick McNeill (re-signed) 1 year
7/27: LW Tomas Fleischmann (re-signed)
7/28: F D.J. King from STL for F Stefan Della Rouvere
D Milan Jurcina (NYI)
D Joe Corvo (CAR)
D Shaone Morrison (BUF)
C Brendan Morrison
G Jose Theodore
RW Scott Walker
C Eric Belanger
What To Expect
Not many changes were made this summer in Washington, a team that should once again take advantage of a weak division to help them finish on top of the conference. The Capitals have a great cast of support players to complement the likes of Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green and GM George McPhee spent the summer re-signing them. Major changes have all come in the form of subtractions, most notably veteran goalie Jose Theodore which will leave to door open for youngsters Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth to fight for the starting job. There really isn't much left to prove in the regular season, as the Capitals really need to focus all their attention to April and beyond.

Tampa Bay Lightning - 7
Key Signings
7/1: G Dan Ellis (NAS) 2 years
7/2: D Pavel Kubina (ATL) 2 years
7/5: D Brett Clark (COL) 2 years
7/6: RW Teddy Purcell (re-signed) 1 year
7/6: D Mike Lundin (re-signed) 1 year
7/15: C Blair Jones (re-signed)
7/16: C Paul Szczechura (re-signed) 1 year
7/16: C Nate Thompson (re-signed) 1 year
7/25: LW Chris Durno (COL) 1 year
7/29: D Mathieu Roy (CLB) 1 year
7/30: C Dominic Moore (MON) 2 years
8/11: LW Juraj Simek (re-signed) 1 year
8/17: LW Sean Bergenheim (NYI) 1 year
8/25: RW Steve Downie (re-signed) 2 years
8/25: D Randy Jones (LA) 1 year
7/1: 2nd round draft pick (2012) from PHI for D Andrej Meszaros
7/19: LW Simon Gagne from PHI for D Matt Walker and 4th round draft pick (2011)
8/16: G Cedrick Desjardins from MON for G Karri Ramo
8/27: F Alex Berry and F Stefano Giliati from TOR for D Matt Lashoff
LW Alex Tanguay (CAL)
G Antero Niittymaki (SJ)
D Kurtis Foster (EDM)
F Zenon Konopka (NYI)
D David Hale (OTT)
What To Expect
Rookie GM Steve Yzerman has had quite a summer in his first time away from Detroit. Stability in the front office combined with some key new faces should go a long way towards bringing Tampa Bay back into the playoff picture. The addition of Simon Gagne came relatively risk free, acquired for Matt Walker and with one year left on his contract. Should he stay healthy the Lightning will have two solid scoring lines. Dan Ellis will challenge Mike Smith for the starting job; the two former Stars should push each other and provide the team with solid goaltending. On defense Andrej Meszaros and Kurtis Foster are gone, replaced by Pavel Kubina, a member of their 2004 Stanley Cup team, and Brett Clark.

Carolina Hurricanes - 8
Key Signings
7/1: LW Jonathan Matsumoto (PHI) 2 years, two way, $1.025 M/$210,000
7/5: G Justin Peters (re-signed) 2 years, two way, $1.05 M/$210,000
7/7: D Joe Corvo (WAS) 2 years, $4.5 M
7/7: D Casey Borer (re-signed) 1 year, two way, $500,000/$65,000
7/12: C Nick Dodge (re-signed) 1 year, two way, $500,000/$55,000
7/15: D Bryan Rodney (re-signed) 1 year, two way, $525,000/$105,000
7/20: D Brett Carson (re-signed) 1 year, two way, $500,000/$105,000
5/13: RW Jared Staal from PHO for 5th round draft pick (2010)
6/26: C Riley Nash from EDM for 2nd round draft pick (2010)
6/26: D Bobby Sanguinetti from NYR for 6th round draft pick (2010) and 2nd round draft pick (2011)
6/26: C Jonathan Matsumoto from PHI for 7th round draft pick (2010)
LW Ray Whitney (PHO)
C Rod Brind'Amour
G Manny Legace
D Brian Pothier
What To Expect
The Hurricanes are going to benefit, more than anything else this season, from a healthy lineup. Injuries and a slow start (that's putting it lightly) were what caused Carolina to miss the playoffs last season. Heart and soul leader Rod Brind'Amour has retired and offensive linchpin Ray Whitney moved on to Phoenix making this 100% Eric Staal's team. Joe Corvo is back with the team after being traded to Washington during last season's trade deadline.

Atlanta Thrashers - 12
Key Signings
7/1: G Chris Mason (STL)
7/7: LW Eric Boullton (re-signed)
7/22: G Ondrej Pavelec (re-signed) 2 years
7/28: LW Ben Eager (CHI)
7/29: LW Andrew Ladd (CHI) 1 year, $2.35 M
8/19: D Freddy Meyer (NYI) 1 year
8/23: RW Bryan Little (re-signed)
6/23: LW Dustin Byfuglien, D Brent Sopel, LW Ben Eager, and RW Akim Aliu from CHI for 24th overall draft pick (2010), 2nd round draft pick (2010), C Marty Reasoner, LW Jeremy Morin, and RW Joey Crabb
6/24: Future Considerations from SJ for D Mike Vernace, LW Brett Sterling, and 7th round draft pick (2010)
7/1: Andrew Ladd from CHI for D Ivan Vishnevsky and 2nd round draft pick (2011)
8/2: F Patrick Rissmiller and LW Donald Brashear from NYR for C Todd White
RW Colby Armstrong (TOR)
G Johan Hedberg (NJ)
D Pavel Kubina (TB)
LW Vyacheslav Kozlov
LW Clarke MacArthur (TOR)
What To Expect
Many GMs try to take the style of the former Stanley Cup winner, Atlanta GM Rick Dudley just takes the players from them. Four players from the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks are now members of the Thrashers. Defenseman Brent Sopel will take a spot in place of Pavel Kubina who bolted back to Tampa Bay. Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, and Ben Eager combine to add depth throughout the forward lines. The signing of Chris Mason and the re-signing of Ondrej Pavelec should give the Thrashers stable goaltending, an upgrade over the injury plagued Kari Lehtonen who was traded to Dallas last season.

Florida Panthers - 14
Key Signings
7/2: Chris Higgins (CAL) 1 year
7/7: D Jason Garrison (re-signed) 2 years
7/7: D Nathan Paetsch (CLB) 1 year
8/3: D Mike Weaver (STL) 2 years
8/19: LW Andrew Peters (NJ) 1 year
6/22: D Dennis Wideman, 15th overall draft pick (2010), and 3rd round draft pick (2011) from BOS for RW Nathan Horton and C Gregory Campbell
6/25: RW Steve Bernier, RW Michael Grabner, and 1st round draft pick (2010) from VAN for D Keith Ballard and RW Victor Oreskovich
7/22: C Marty Reasoner from CHI for F Jeff Taffe
What To Expect
For a team that didn't lose anyone without a return, the Panthers did not get any better this season. Dennis Wideman replaces Keith Ballard and Chris Higgins replaces Nathan Horton, but otherwise the team remains largely the same. They will benefit from having David Booth on the ice, provided he keeps his head up when Mike Richards is around. Tomas Vokoun return as starting goalie, but he can only do so much. The rebuild continues.

Sources: Free Agent Trade Center, The Hockey News Yearbook

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Offseason Recap-Northeast Division

Continuing with the Eastern Conference, here is a look at the Northeast Division. I should be able to continue the Offseason Recaps once a day, with the possible exception of Wednesday as I have to drive back to school. Woo-hoo! (not)

Boston Bruins - 3
Key Signings
7/1: LW Daniel Paille (re-signed) 2 years
7/1: F Jeremy Reich (NYI) 1 year
7/9: D Mark Stuart (re-signed) 1 year
7/15: C Gregory Campbell (FLA) 2 years
7/30: RW Blake Wheeler (re-signed) 1 year, $2.2 M
6/22: RW Nathan Horton and C Gregory Campbell from FLA for D Dennis Wideman, 15th overall draft pick (2010), and 3rd round draft pick (2011)
6/26: D David Warsofsky from STL for C Vladimir Sabotka
RW Miroslav Satan
C Steve Begin
What To Expect
GM Peter Chiarelli didn't make too many moves this summer, opting instead to let the team benefit from a healthy core and experienced Tuukka Rask. The defense is largely the same except for the departure of Dennis Wideman who was shipped to Florida to bring in Nathan Horton. Horton brings 30 goal potential to the goal-starved Bruins and helps give them four solid forward lines. Marc Savard should be healthy after missing half of last season with a concussion and other various injuries. The Bruins are clearly a different team with him in the lineup.

Buffalo Sabres - 6
Key Signings
7/1: D Jordan Leopold (PIT) 3 years
7/2: C Cody McCormick (re-signed)
7/7: C Rob Niedermayer (NJ) 1 year
7/7: G Patrick Lalime (re-signed) 1 year
7/7: D Mike Weber (re-signed) 1 year
7/21: RW Patrick Kaleta (re-signed) 2 years
7/29: Tim Kennedy (re-signed) 1 year, $1 M
8/3: Shaone Morrison (WAS) 2 years
8/5: Marc-Andre Gragnani (re-signed) 1 year
8/26: Colin Stuart (CAL) 1 year
D Toni Lydman (ANA)
D Henrik Tallinder (NJ)
LW Raffi Torres
C Adam Mair
What To Expect
Not a whole lot has changed in Buffalo as most of GM Darcy Regier's moves were re-signings. Rob Niedermayer adds depth and toughness down the middle and Jordon Leopold was brought in to replace Henrik Tallinder who opted to go with the Devils. Unless Thomas Vanek regains his 40 goal form, they will once again live and die by Ryan Miller. Actually, come to think of it, they will anyway.

Montreal Canadiens - 9
Key Signings
7/1: G Alex Auld (NYR) 
7/13: RW Maxim Lapierre (re-signed) 1 year
7/13: Mathieu Carle (re-signed) 1 year
7/31: D Alexandre Picard (CAR) 1 year
6/17: C Lars Eller and RW Ian Schultz from STL for G Jaroslav Halak
6/29: C Dustin Boyd, G Dan Ellis, and future considerations from NAS for RW Sergei Kostitsyn and future considerations
8/16: G Karri Ramo from TB for G Cedrick Desjardins
C Dominik Moore (TB)
C Glen Metropolit 
D Marc-Andre Bergeron
What To Expect
Except for a surprising first place finish two seasons ago, they Canadiens are always a team  on the edge of the playoff race. GM Pierre Gauthier will fill holes from within the organization. The only major move was the trade of playoff hero Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis. That leaves Carey Price to finally live up to the expectations of being picked 5th overall in 2005. P.K. Subban showed plenty of potential in the playoffs last season and will get the chance to prove himself over the course of a full NHL season. He will most likely quarterback the powerplay, a position left available by the departure of Marc-Andre Bergeron. 

Ottawa Senators - 10
Key Signings
7/1: D Sergei Gonchar (PIT) 3 years, $16.5 M
7/1: C Jesse Winchester (re-signed)
7/13: D Derek Smith (re-signed) 1 year
7/21: LW Nick Foligno (re-signed) 2 years
7/29: C Peter Regin (re-signed) 2 years
7/30: D Chris Campoli (re-signed) 1 year
8/4: RW Francis Lessard (PHO) 1 year
8/4: D David Hale (TB) 1 year
6/25: D David Runbland from STL for 1st round draft pick (2010)
D Anton Volchenkov (NJ)
C Matt Cullen (MIN)
D Andy Sutton (ANA)
RW Jonathan Cheechoo
What To Expect
Standing pat seems to be the trend in the Northeast Division and GM Bryan Murray is no different. Unless Alexei Kovalev can revert to the form he showed in Montreal two seasons ago and Brian Elliot can continue his strong performance from last season while forgetting about the playoffs, this may be a long season in Canada's Capital. Defensive stalwart Anton Volchenkov is gone and was replaced by the aging Sergei Gonchar. He should help a powerplay that finished 20th overall last season but the shot blocking ability and physical intimidation provided by Volchenkov will be sorely missed. That will mean Elliot and Pascal Leclaire will have to be even sharper in goal.

Toronto Maple Leafs - 13
Key Signings
7/1: RW Colby Armstrong (ATL) 3 years, $9 M
7/2: F Nikolai Kulemin (re-signed) 2 years
7/7: Brett Lebda (DET) 2 years
8/28: LW Clarke MacArthur 1 year
6/26: RW Mike Brown from ANA for 5th round draft pick (2010)
6/26: 2nd round draft pick (2010) from CHI for RW Jimmy Hayes
6/30: LW Kris Versteeg and LW Bill Sweatt from CHI for LW Viktor Stalberg, C Phillipe Paradis, and C Chris DiDomenico
8/27: D Matt Lashoff from TB for F Alex Berry and F Stefano Giliati
C Wayne Primeau
D Garnet Exelby
C Jamie Lundmark
What To Expect
The pieces are starting to fall into place for the Leafs as last season GM Brian Burke acquired sniper Phil Kessel up front, Dion Phaneuf to anchor the defense, and J.S. Giguere to tend goal along with "The Monster" Jonas Gustavsson. Depth defenseman Brett Lebda helps shore up a solid, physical defensive core that will be difficult to score against. Kris Versteeg, who helped bring Chicago back to glory, and Colby Armstrong, who provides plenty of sandpaper and 20 goal potential will certainly help out an offense that finished tied for 25th overall. However, they are still a few pieces away from contending for a playoff spot. Nazem Kadri, the 7th overall draft pick in 2009,  will be given every opportunity to make the team out of training camp this season, but the team still lacks a bona fide top line center.

Sources: Free Agent TradeCentre, The Hockey News Yearbook

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Offseason Recap-Atlantic Division

There is still plenty of work to be done this offseason, but here is what has happened so far. I will be doing this by division, with teams in order I think they will finish with projected conference ranks included as well. I will look at signings, trades, departures while providing as much contractual information as I could find. Let's begin, shall we?

Pittsburgh Penguins - 2
Key Signings
7/1: D Zbynek Michalek (PHO) 5 years, $20 M
7/1: D Paul Martin (NJ) 5 years, $25 M
7/2: F Ryan Craig (TB) 1 year, $500,000/
7/3: LW Brett Sterling (SJ) 1 year, $500,000/
7/7: D Andrew Hutchinson (DAL) 1 year, $500,000/
8/20: RW Aaron Asham (PHI) 1 year, $700,000
6/25: D Dan Hamhuis from PHI for 3rd round draft pick (2011)
D Sergei Gonchar (OTT)
D Jordan Leopold (BUF)
D Mark Eaton (NYI)
LW Alexei Ponikarovsky (LA)
LW Ruslan Fedotenko
RW Bill Guerin
What To Expect
Its not an easy task to replace one of the top offensive defenseman of this generation in Sergei Gonchar, but GM Ray Sherro did the best he could in signing Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek. Martin's underrated offensive skills should help Pittsburgh's transition game and Michalek will be a step up in the defensive zone. A team that was already weak on the wing lost Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Bill Guerin. The signing of Aaron Asham brings grit and defensive responsibility to their forward lines while providing time and space for the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal.

New Jersey Devils - 4
Key Signings
6/30: RW David Clarkson (re-signed) 3 years, $8 M
7/1: D Henrik Tallinder (BUF) 4 years, $13.5 M
7/1: D Anton Volchenkov (OTT) 6 years, $25.5 M
7/1: G Johan Hedberg (ATL) 1 year
7/28: D Mark Fraser (re-signed) 1 year, $500,000
6/19: C Jason Arnott from NAS for RW Matt Halischuk and 2nd round draft pick (2011)
D Paul Martin (PIT)
C Rob Neidermayer (BUF)
LW Andrew Peters (FLA)
LW Jay Pandolfo
D Mike Mottau
C Dean McAmmond
G Yann Danis
What To Expect
The Devils probably aren't done this offseason, as they still have the Ilya Kovalchuk situation to deal with. With Paul Martin having signed with rival Pittsburgh and long-time grinder and fan-favorite Jay Pandolfo asking to leave, they have few, but important roles to fill. GM Lou Lamoriello brought in an old face in Jason Arnott who has already made his mark in Devils' history. Henrik Tallinder was brought in to replace Paul Martin and Anton Volchenkov gives the Devils the intimidating physical presence they haven't had since Scott Stevens retired.

Philadelphia Flyers - 5
Key Signings
6/30: G Michael Leighton (re-signed) 2 years, $3.1 M
7/1: Braydon Coburn (re-signed) 2 years, $6.4 M
7/1: Sean O'Donnell (LA) 1 year, $1 M
7/1: LW Jody Shelley (NYR)
7/9: Nikolai Zherdev (KHL) 1 year
7/13: Dan Carcillo (re-signed) 1 year
7/22: Darroll Powe (re-signed) 1 year, $700,000
7/22: David Laliberte (re-signed)
6/19: D Dan Hanhuis and 7th round draft pick (2011) from NAS for D Ryan Parent
6/25: 3rd round draft pick (2011) from PIT for D Dan Hamhuis
6/26: 7th round draft pick (2010) from CAR for F Jonathan Matsumoto
7/1: D Andrej Meszaros from TB for 2nd round pick (2012)
7/19: D Matt Walker and 4th round draft pick (2011) from TB for LW Simon Gagne
G Ray Emery
D Lukas Krajicek
RW Aaron Asham (PIT)
What To Expect
GM Paul Holmgren didn't waste time committing to Michael Leighton as the number one goalie, signing him the day before free agency started. With the team thats in front of them, Leighton and Brian Boucher probably won't have to steal many games for Philadelphia. Sean O'Donnell and Andrej Meszaros create a much improved third defensive pairing over last year when coach Peter Laviolette was wary about giving time to the combination of Ryan Parent, Oskars Bartulis, and Lukas Krajicek. Not much has changed on the forward line where Philadelphia is among the deepest in the league. Longest tenured Flyer Simon Gagne was traded for salary cap reasons and replaced by Nikolai Zherdev who spent last season with Mytishchi Atlant of the KHL.

New York Rangers - 11
Key Signings
7/1: Erik Christensen (re-signed)
7/1: Martin Biron (NYI) 2 years, $1.8 M
7/1: LW Derek Boogaard (MIN) 4 years, $6.4 M
7/1: C Vinny Prospal (re-signed) 1 year
7/2: F Brandon Prust (re-signed)
7/9: D Dan Girardi (re-signed)
7/12: RW Jeremy Williams (re-signed)
7/27: Alexander Frolov (LA)
5/25: D Jyri Niemi from NYI for 6th round draft pick (2010)
6/26: 6th round draft pick (2010) and 2nd round draft pick (2011) from CAR for D Bobby Sanguinetti
7/9: D Steve Eminger from ANA for LW Aaron Voros and LW Ryan Hillier
7/19: D Matt McCue from ANA for LW Thomas Zaborsky
8/2: F Todd White from ATL for F Patrick Rissmiller and F Donald Brashear
G Alex Auld (MON)
LW Jody Shelley (PHI)
C Olli Jokinen (CAL)
F P.A. Parenteau (NYI)
C Jamie Lundmark (NAS)
What To Expect
Not a whole lot has changed for the Rangers as GM Glen Sather has had an unusually quiet offseason. Martin Biron is a proven goalie but won't see much ice time behind Henrik Lundqvist who will likely reach 70 games played for the fifth consecutive season. Other than depth defenseman Steve Eminger being brought in, not much has changed on the back end. Alexander Frolov will try to find his niche in New York and take some of the offensive pressure off of Marian Gaborik. Letting Olli Jokinen go falls under the addition through subtraction category.

New York Islanders - 15
Key Signings
7/2: D Mark Eaton (PIT)
7/2: D Milan Jurcina (WAS)
7/2: P.A. Parenteau (NYR)
7/2: F Zenon Konopka (TB)
7/15: C Robbie Schremp (re-signed)
7/15: D Dustin Kohn (re-signed)
7/27: LW Matt Moulson (re-signed) 1 year, $2.45 M
8/3: LW Jon Sim (re-signed) 1 year
8/18: C Andy Hilbert (MIN) 1 year
6/25: 6th round draft pick (2010) from NYR for D Jyri Niemi
7/30: D James Wisniewski from ANA for 3rd round draft pick (2011)
G Martin Biron (NYR)
LW Jeff Tambellini (VAN)
LW Sean Bergenheim (TB)
D Freddy Meyer (ATL)
What To Expect
Neither New York team had busy offseasons as GM Garth Snow is either content to let the young players develop or New York is simply not an attractive place for free agents. They added toughness in the form of Zenon Konopka and P.A. Parenteau will be given a chance to see what he can do on the forward lines. Mark Eaton, Milan Jurcina, and James Wisniewski all help the defense but they simply won't be enough to lift the Islanders out of the conference basement.

Sources: free agency tradecentre