Sunday, 4 September 2011

2011 Offseason Recap - Northwest Division

Vancouver Canucks - 1
Best Possible Finish - 1st in NHL
Projected Points Leader - Daniel Sedin, 38-60-98
July 25: RW Byron Bitz (FLA), one year, $700,000 cap hit
July 7: D Alexander Sulzer (FLA), one year, $700,000 cap hit
July 7: G Matt Climie (PHO), one year, $525,000 cap hit
July 3: RW Steve Pinizzotto (WAS), one year, $600,000 cap hit
July 2: D Nolan Baumgartner, one year $525,000 cap hit
July 1: C Andrew Ebbett (PHO), one year, $525,000 cap hit
July 1: LW Marco Sturm (WAS), one year, $2,250,000 cap hit
July 1: RW Mark Mancari (BUF), one year, $525,000 cap hit
July 1: LW Chris Higgins, two years, $3.8 million, $1,900,000 cap hit
July 1: D Sami Salo, one year, $2,000,000 cap hit
June 29: D Andrew Alberts, two years, $2.45 million, $1,225,000 cap hit
June 27: D Kevin Bieksa, five years, $23 million, $4,600,000 cap hit

July 9: RW Mike Duco from FLA for LW Sergei Shirokov
June 28: 4th round pick (2012) from NYI for D Christian Ehrhoff

LW Raffi Torres - PHO
LW Tanner Glass - WIN
LW Jeff Tambellini - Switzerland
C Alex Bolduc - PHO
C Rick Rypien - WIN
D Lee Sweatt - OTT

What to Expect
Vancouver remains one of the deepest teams in the league and they play in perhaps the worst division, so there shouldn't be a problem once again putting up more points than any other team in the West. There is just too much talent for there to be a significant playoff hangover. Still, you have to imagine, for a team that finished first in NHL standings (117 points), offense (3.15 goals per game), defense (2.20 goals-against average), power play (24.3%) and third in penalty kill (85.6%), there is nowhere to go but down. But despite shortcomings and criticisms in the playoffs, Roberto Luongo remains one of the top goalies in the league and he is aided by the conference's best group of blueliners, even without Christian Ehrhoff. The only major loss among forwards was Raffi Torres, but Vancouver is full of agitators so his role will be filled easily. His spot was filled by Marco Sturm who is looking to win the Stanley Cup and show he can still score 20 goals. The major enemy for the Canucks this year is themselves. As long as they don't let the Cup final loss affect their play, they can easily grab home ice throughout the playoff again. 

Colorado Avalanche - 9
Best Possible Finish - second in division, 7th in conference
Projected Points Leader - Paul Stastny, 27-54-81
July 13: D Shane O'Brien (NSH), one year, $1,100,000 cap hit
July 1: G Jean-Sabestien Giguere (TOR), two years, $2.5 million, $1,250,000 cap hit
July 1: RW Chuck Kobasew (MIN), two years, $2.5 million, $1,250,000 cap hit
July 1: D Jan Hejda (CLB), four years, $13 million, $3,250,000 cap hit
June 28: C Greg Mauldin, one year, $525,000 cap hit
May 11: RW Milan Hejduk, one year, $3,000,000 cap hit

July 1: G Semyon Varlamov from WAS for 1st round pick (2012), 2nd round pick (2012 or 2013)
June 24: 2nd round pick (2012) from TOR for D John-Michael Liles

G Brian Elliot: STL
LW Tomas Fleischmann - FLA
D Adam Foote - retirement
G Peter Budaj - MTL
C Philippe Dupuis - TOR
C Ben Walter - CAL

What to Expect
The NHL's worst defense did little to improve outside of goaltending. Semyon Varlamov will have his first opportunity to be an unquestioned number one and J-S Giguere wants to prove he can still be a quality stopper himself. Unfortunately Jan Hejda and Shane O'Brien won't be enough to improve the 23rd ranked team in shots against (31.8 per game), so the new goaltenders will have to be every bit on top of their game. They have a great collection of young forwards that are getting another injection of youthful exuberance in Gabriel Landeskog. Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly have the potential to be one of the best trio of centers in the NHL. Milan Hejduk is still good for 25 goals and David Jones has 37 goals in his past 100 games so he is capable of providing offense. If Peter Mueller can recover from his concussion then the Avs have a solid offense. They could get stellar performances in goal and make the playoffs, but I think there are just too many holes for that to happen. It won't be long though before the Avalanche are once again perennial playoff contenders. 

Minnesota Wild - 10
Best Possible Finish - 2nd in division, 7th in conference
Projected Points Leader - Mikko Koivu, 25-51-76
July 9: D Mike Lundin (TB), one year, $1,000,000 cap hit
July 6: LW Colton Gillies, two years, $1.25 million, $625,000 cap hit
July 5: C Darroll Powe, three years, $3.2 million, $1,066,667 cap hit
July 5: C Jeff Taffe CHI), one year, $600,000 cap hit
July 2: C Jed Ortmeyer, one year, $585,000 cap hit
July 1: G Josh Harding, one year, $750,000 cap hit

Aug. 7: 3rd round pick (2013) from SJ for C James Sheppard
July 3: LW Dany Heatley from SJ for RW Martin Havlat
June 27: C Darroll Powe from PHI for 3rd round pick (2013)
June 24: RW Devin Setoguchi, C Charlie Coyle, 1st round pick (2011, C Zack Phillips) from SJ for D Brent Burns, 2nd round pick (2012)
June 16: C David McIntyre from NJ for D Maxim Noreau

LW Andrew Brunette - CHI
G Jose Theodore - FLA
D Cam Barker - EDM
Rw Chuck Kobasew - COL

What to Expect
Dany Heatley and Devin Setogouchi gives the Wild two players capable of scorig 30 goals, something they haven't had in a while. I fully expect Setogouchi to produce more oints now that he is one of the main guys on offense, rather than just one of many options. How Heatley reacts to the trade is anyone's  guess, but they will have one of the best attacks in team history regardless. Losing Brent Burns as a result of the trades hurts though. Their defense was middling to begin with they will surely be knocked down a peg now. Niklas Backstrom is as stable a goaltender as there is in the NHL, only once in five seasons has his save percentage been below .915, so they will be once again receiving a strong effort in net. They are very similar to the Avalanche, but I feel just a step behind them. 

Calgary Flames - 12
Best Possible Finish - 3rd in division, 9th in conference
Projected Points Leader - Jarome Iginla, 36-39-75
Aug. 13: D Scott Hannan (WAS), one year, $1,000,000 cap hit
July 15: C Brendan Morrison, one year, $1,250,000 cap hit
July 13: D Derek Smith (OTT), one year, $700,000 cap hit
July 4: D Anton Babchuk, two years, $5 million, $2,500,000 cap hit
June 25: LW Alex Tanguay, five years, $17.5 million, $3,500,000 cap hit
June 20: G Henrik Karlsson, two years, $1.725 million, $862,500 cap hit
May 16: LW Curtis Glencross, four years, $10.2 million, $2,550,000 cap hit

Aug. 29: RW Lee Stempniak from PHO for C Daymond Langkow
July 12: LW Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond from NJ for 5th round pick (2012)
July 9: D Jordan Henry from FLA for D Keith Seabrook
June 25: D Chris Butler, C Paul Byron from BUF for D Robyn Regehr, RW Alex Kotalik, 2nd round pick (2012)
June 1: C Roman Horak, 2nd round pick (2011, C Markus Granlund), 2nd round pick (2011, D Tyler Wotherspoon) from NYR for D Tim Erixon, 5th round pick (2011, RW Shane McColgan)

D Adam Pardy - DAL
LW Fredrik Modin - retirement

What to Expect
Calgary addressed their need for help on the wing by trading for Lee Stempniak, but they are still thin on the forward lines after Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Rene Bourque. Yes, they were seventh in goals (2.94 per game) last season, but I don't see them reaching those totals again. Robyn Regehr, who has been a rock on the Flames blueline for 11 seasons, is now in Buffalo leaving a big hole to fill. That's a job that will be made easier if Jay Bouwmeester can step it up and Mark Giordano continues to develop as he has been. Cory Sarich is the only other proven defenseman. Miikka Kiprusoff is still among the elite goalies in the NHL, but he can't do everything by himself. Without Regehr clearing the way in front of him, he will likely face even more than the 1,935 shots he faced last season. Without a tested backup once again, that is a real possibility. 

Edmonton Oilers - 15
Best Possible Finish - 4th in division, 12th in conference
Projected Point Leader - Taylor Hall, 30-29-59
July 3: LW Josh Green (ANA), one year, $575,000 cap hit
July 1: D Corey Potter (PIT), one year, $525,000 cap hit
July 1: C Eric Belanger (PHO), three years, $5.25 million, $1,750,000 cap hit
July 1: D Cam Barker (MIN), one year, $2,250,000 cap hit
July 1: LW Darcy Hordichuk (FLA), one year, $825,000 cap hit
July 1: Ben Eager (SJ), three years, $3.3 million, $1,100,000 cap hit

July 12: 2nd round pick from ANA for C Andrew Cogliano
July 1: D Andy Sutton from ANA for D Kurtis Foster
June 26: LW Ryan Smyth from LA for C Colin Fraser, 7th round pick (2012)

LW Jean-Francois Jacques - ANA
D Jim Vandermeer - SJ
D Sheldon Souray - DAL
LW Steve MacIntyre - PIT
G Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers - ANA

What to Expect
It appears as though the Oilers finally are headed in the right direction. Now armed with first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers young offense also features Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Lunis Omark and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson. The only real question for Nugent Hopkins is when he will be on the rosters as there is no need to rush him into the NHL just yet. If the young guys don't offer enough excitement, having Ryan Smyth back in Edmonton will add a great storyline to the season. Last I checked, Ryan Whitney is still not 100% and he is their best D-man. Andy Sutton gives them a physical veteran and Cam Barker add another youthful element. The goaltending situation is one of the most unstable in the league. It appears as though Nikolai Khabibulin is past his prime and Devan Dubnyk hasn't yet reached his. The Oilers are hoping he can build on last year's .916 save percentage. The Oilers fans are going to see a hint of what the team is going to look like for the next decade. At best they will see the light out of the basement, but likely they will get another high draft pick again next year before starting to fulfill their potential. 

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