Sunday, July 13, 2008

Free Agent Grades: The A-List

As is always the case with free agency, teams went nuts and threw money around like it was nothing, leaving many people to wonder if GM’s remember if there is a cap. But this happens every year and yet we remained amazed, but that’s another matter. Still, not all of the deals were bad, and some were downright awful. In this segment I will grade the deals on the A-list free agents- those whoa re the most prolific and were seeking the highest contracts (even if they aren’t the best players in the league). The B-list segment will cover the lower line players, bottom pairing defensemen and backup goalies. This does not include re-signings before the free agency period started, sans Ryan Malone who was dealt for then signed.



Forwards

Marian Hossa
Team: Detroit Red Wings
Contract: 1 year, $7.4mm
Grade: A+
Hossa shocked the hockey world by forgoing multiple million dollar offers for many years from the Penguins, Oilers and Canadiens to sign a single year with Detroit. Detroit, fresh off a cup win is still the favorite for next year able to keep most their team intact, and making themselves the favorites by signing the most sought after forward on the market. Hossa is counting on that for his cup.


Markus Naslund
Team: New York Rangers
Contract: 2 years, $8mm
Grade: C+
Naslund is fading, each year his point total dropping noticeably. Part of that may be lack of a true scoring center in Vancouver, and Drury or Gomez may be what Naslund needs. But with the trend going on three years now, I don’t see him all of a sudden resurrecting. He’s no Jagr which is who he is meant to replace and I think the Rangers will be a bit disappointed in him.


Kristian Huselius
Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Contract: 4 years, $19mm
Grade: B-
Huselius has emerged in recent years with the Flames, but seemed to regress once more under the guise of Mike Keenan. Though always having the offensive skills needed he has lacked them in the defensive area, and now he goes to a system run defensive guru Ken Hitchcock. Columbus definitely needed offense and they will see how he plays with a guy like Nash and Umberger, so we’ll which Huselius the Jackets are getting. For the risk the price is high, but it can pay off.


Pavol Demitra
Team: Vancouver Canucks
Contract: 2 years, $8mm
Grade: B-
It’s not like this was a surprise as the rumors of Vancouver courting Demitra had been around since before the start of free agency, including him going for tours of the city. While younger than Naslund, Demitra isn’t as healthy and that makes it somewhat a risk. If he can stay healthy though, he can be a good addition as he still has his skills and he may more than make up for the departure of Naslund.


Radim Vrbata
Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
Contract: 3 years, $9mm
Grade: B
Paying for a guy that has only had one good year is always dangerous, but at least Vrbata is still young and he will be going to a now offensive laden team. His deal isn’t outrageous, plus I wouldn’t be surprised if he did bomb Phoenix would deal back for him. Manageable contract and still being young makes this a decent signing, but it could easily back fire if he’s a one year wonder.


Darcy Tucker
Team: Colorado Avalanche
Contract: 2 years, $4.5mm
Grade: A
After being bought out by the Leafs, I figured Tucker would take a little less, but this is a very good price for him. If he stays healthy and can get his scoring touch back after a sub par year, this will be a steal for the Avs. Worse comes to worse you're stuck with a good third liner for two years at a reasonable price.


Brian Rolston
Team: New Jersey Devils
Contract: 4 years, $20mm
Grade: B-
Rolston was always a good player, but he is one of the rare ones who gets better after the age of thirty. In his time with the Wild he emerged as not only a top scorer but also a leader. The reason the grade is so low is because Rolston is 35, meaning he counts against the cap, only removable if he is either dealt (which if you're trying to deal someone at that age you wont be able to) or if he is physically unable to play. Plus at 35, it’s that precarious age where one year can make a huge difference in playing ability.


Niklas Hagman
Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Contract: 4 years, $12mm
Grade: B-
Hagman is a streaky scorer who normally puts in 15-20 goals. So to no surprise he put in 27 in his contract year. He got paid accordingly, so the question is will he be able to keep that up or was it a big contract that motivated his play? At 28 he still has some time to improve, but would anyone really be surprised if he ended up like Jason Blake?



Sean Avery
Team: Dallas Stars
Contract: 4 years, $15.5mm
Grade: C-
Despite his antics and mouth Avery is actually a pretty good hockey player. But he isn’t a top line guy so there is no way he should be paid like one. Yeah he can score some, play some defense and give the team a boost, but when you’re dishing out almost $4mm a year you should be putting in at least twenty goals or playing some stellar defense, neither of which Avery does.


Michael Ryder
Team: Boston Bruins
Contract: 3 years, $12mm
Grade: C
A risky move by the Bruins, but they are banking on Ryder having the success he had in Montreal when their current coach, Claude Julien was behind the bench there. If he can return to his thirty goal form than it will be worth it. If not, it will be the Bruins new Glenn Murray contract because Ryder cant do much outside of scoring. But you have to scratch your head as to why a guy who had a major points drop got a larger contract…


Miroslav Satan
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Contract: 1 year, $3.5mm
Grade: B-
Satan is coming off his worst year in his career, netting only sixteen goals and looking uninterested most the time. Some say it’s because the Isles were nose diving, but some say it’s the normal Satan. Pittsburgh is hoping he regains his scoring touch with Crosby and can start putting in thirty or more a year like he was before last year. It’s a bit much, but if it works it can easily be worth it. Worse comes to worse, he is there for a year then let go, and the one year deal shows Shero is even kind of wary of him (though Satan did say to papers he wanted to play for the Pens so he targeted signing there).


Todd Bertuzzi
Team: Calgary Flames
Contract: 1 year, $1.95mm
Grade: B+
Bertuzzi is reunited with the man who thought he was worth Roberto Luongo in Mike Keenan. Bertuzzi hasn’t been the same since the Moore incident, and his bombing in Anaheim and subsequent buyout probably isn’t going to help. Still, less than two million for what he can contribute is practically a steal and it’s only a single year deal. That is if he can finally pull himself together again.


Brendan Morrison
Team: Anaheim Ducks
Contract: 1 year, $2.75mm
Grade: A-
Though coming off knee surgery Morrison is still a capable center, and can score with talented wingers. If that doesn’t pan out, at least they have a defensively responsible center who they can let go after a year. He’s not really the scoring forward they need, but he was better than the other options available.



Cory Stillman
Team: Florida Panthers
Contract: 3 years, $10.5mm
Grade: B+
Stillman still has jump left in him, and his veteran presence will help the young Panther players. He also helps make up for the loss of Jokinen with his scoring. It’s a pretty affordable deal and in a way it’s odd to see the Panthers sign someone who isn’t a spare part.



Ryan Malone
Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
Contract: 7 years, $31.5mm
Grade: C+
Don’t get me wrong, I like Malone, but worth this deal he isn’t. While some debate Crosby and Malkin inflated his points total, which may be true, Malone can still grind it out and is willing to take punishment to get things done (like returning ten minutes after a slapshot nearly exploded his face). He’s good for about twenty goals a year and has good intangibles. However the price, and length for him are both too steep.



Defensemen

Brian Campbell
Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Contract: 8 years, $56.8mm
Grade: B-
Yikes! Campbell is good, but not that good. There is something wrong with someone being paid akin to Nik Lidstrom that has yet to even be nominated for a Norris trophy. Campbell will definitely help Chicago’s blue line, but it is a steep price. But most importantly, it tells the people of Chicago, often maligning the team because of former owner Bill Wirtz, that they are serious about being good again. It may be overpayment, but it sends the kind of message Chicago needed to send.


Wade Redden
Team: New York Rangers
Contract: 6 years, $39.5mm
Grade: C+
Most thought, myself included, two sub par years would lessen Redden’s salary some. Leave it to the Rangers to ruin that theory. After losing out on Campbell, GM Glenn Sather still wanted a big name to anchor his defense and went out and matched Redden’s previous salary and gave it to him for six year. He’s already thirty one so the last year or so could make him a huge albatross, especially if he doesn’t regain his form of a few years ago (not to mention if he can get over having the crap beat out of him by Ryan Whitney which is absolutely humiliating).


Mark Streit
Team: New York Islanders
Contract: 4 years, $12mm
Grade: C
The Islanders didn’t have much punch from the point and they addressed that with Streit. One must wonder how well Streit will fair though, as he was on the best power play in the league with Montreal. The question is how much was his contribution to that best power play? We’ll find out, but the Isles at least got something they needed.


Ron Hainsey
Team: Atlanta Thrashers
Contract: 5 years, $22.5mm
Grade: C-
There is a debate on how good Hainsey really is after being on a bad Columbus defense. Atlanta though, desperate to bring in defensemen and meet the cap floor was more than willing to dish out enough to Hainsey to make him forget he went to a bad team continuing its downward spiral. Time will show how good Hainsey is, but this is just too much for him plain and simple.


Brooks Orpik
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Contract: 6 years, $22.5mm
Grade: B+
Six years is a bit long, but after losing Hossa the Pens had the room to give Orpik what he wanted to stay. It’s a bit high, but in a few years can be a steal if he continues to improve, and has the playoff he did in coming years. To Orpik’s credit he was true to word of taking less to stay, leaving offers of more than $4mm a year from other teams on the table. With the rising price of defensemen every year, this may not look so bad in a few.


Mike Commodore
Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Contract: 5 years, $18.75mm
Grade: C-
Commodore is a good bottom pairing guy, decent second pairing guy but nothing more. And I am going to put this simply: the only reason he has the notoriety he does has nothing to do with his play, but instead his god awful playoff beard and fro he grows. Yes, I am serious about that. You never heard a damn thing about him until Calgary’s cup run when they kept showing pictures of him. And Columbus, looking to improve a weak defense paid him good second pairing money. It’s not that Commodore is bad, but it’s not his game he is known for and he wasn't paid accordingly.


Michael Roszival
Team: New York Rangers
Contract: 4 years, $20mm
Grade: C+
Roszival has emerged as a good two way defenseman since joining the Rangers. But he’s not a top flight defenseman so the Rangers shouldn’t have given in to his demands and paid him like he is one. I get blue liners where going for high prices, but I just don’t think it can justify what Roszival got. It was a move made out of fear by Sather.


Rob Blake
Team: San Jose Sharks
Contract: 1 year, $5mm
Grade: B
San Jose was looking to replace the loss of Campbell and in return signed Blake away from the Kings. Though the price is high, they have no intention of trading him, wanting his leadership and experience for another playoff run (that will probably end in the second round, again). They were forced to deal Craig Rivet in order to fit him in their cap, but pairing him with their acquisition of Dan Boyle gives them a strong defense.


Jason Smith
Team: San Ottawa Senators
Contract: 2 years, $5.2mm
Grade: A
This is surprising. Seeing as what others were going for I’m surprised Smith got this little. Though aging and probably wearing down from the punishment his body has taken over the years, Smith at this price is a steal and he will add a lot of grit and leadership to the Sens defense. One of the best signings this off season.


Goaltenders

Jose Theodore
Team: Washington Capitals
Contract: 2 years, $9mm
Grade: D
Theodore did do much better this year, but it was after three dismal years where he looked like a backup goalie. Yes he did good against Minnesota in the playoffs, but he followed it up by not giving the Avs a chance against the Red Wings and being pulled multiple times. Plus let’s not forget he was playing for a new contract this year. I think this is a terrible move, paying money to a goalie who’s really only had a few good years. The Caps would have been wiser to ante up some more for Huet, and I think this deal will be a big mistake.


Cristobal Huet
Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Contract: 4 years, $22.5mm
Grade: B+
Got to give some credit to Dale Talon signing another starting goalie while keeping one of the highest paid goalies in the league on his roster. Granted he’ll move Khabibulin the first chance he gets but he smart in not passing up the chance to land a goalie for years to come once Khabibulin moves on (latest after this year). A bit high, but that’s a bidding war for you.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Free Agent Predictions

With free agency fast approaching some big names will be heading to the market. Like always there will be bidding wars and many will get more than they are actually worth, but that’s supply and demand for you. But let’s take a look of who is available, what their new salary may be and where they may go. For the sake of brevity (and many internet problems over the last week) I am only going to list the most well known players.



Forwards
The crop of forwards is pretty good, but it’s aging. Many are getting past their prime in their mid thirties which is why their respective teams are letting them hit the market. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t good players to be had. I guess I should be thanking Tampa Bay and its new owners some for making this a bit easier for me by dealing for Malone and signing him (really overpaying in the process) and Rolston who is most likely going to be signed.


Marian Hossa
Estimated Yearly Contract: $7.5
Predicted Destination: Pittsburgh Penguins
Even though all signs point to him leaving, I just have a feeling he is going to end up staying with his deadline team. Hossa seemed to enjoy Pittsburgh, and was close to winning the cup so it may be enough to keep him. Though with his brother being cut loose by Phoenix I won’t be surprised if Marian forces a package deal of him and his brother by whatever team comes calling. Call this one a gut feeling.



Mats Sundin
Estimated Yearly Contract: $6.0
Predicted Destination: Montreal Canadiens
Sundin and the Leafs are seeming more and more indifferent towards each other, and the fact they’ve let the Canadiens openly talk to him shows how little interest there seems to be left. It’s hard to blame Sundin as he has watched the past few months as the team has been completely dismantled. There seems to be quite a bit going on behind the scenes with the Canadiens and its not that far from Toronto where he has played his entire career.




Pavol Demitra
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.25
Predicted Destination: Vancouver Canucks
Demitra was oft injured with the Wild, but he still managed to put up the points. If the Canucks let both Morrison and Naslund go, signing Demitra who can play either wing or center will help fill the void.




Markus Naslund
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.5
Predicted Destination: Minnesota Wild
Naslund is winding down in his career, as evidenced by the Canucks not showing the kind of effort one would expect from their best player in the past decade. But the Canucks are looking elsewhere, and I think the Wild are going to want to try and offset the losses of Rolston and Demitra by signing Naslund. While not the point producer he was, he can still contribute and can stay healthy.



Brian Rolston
Estimated Yearly Contract: $4.0
Predicted Destination: Tampa Bay Lightning
Rolston has emerged as a leader and first line forward since arriving in Minnesota and was a boon for the team when Marian Gaborik went down with injury (again). But he and the Wild have different ideas of the monetary compensation of those qualities. He was traded to Tampa Bay over the weekend and given the new owners willingness to spend is going to sign with the team with a figure to his liking.



Brendan Morrison
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.5
Predicted Destination: Atlanta Thrashers
Its not a good market for scoring centers under the age of 33 this year, and Morrison is one of the few. Though more defensive than offensive he is capable of adding some offense though a bit streaky. Atlanta needs a center for Kovulchuk and with the departure of Holik have the money already freed up to sign a key player. Morrison’s two way abilities will also help the defensive starved team.


Kristen Huselius
Estimated Yearly Contract: $4.25
Predicted Destination: Columbus Blue Jackets
Huselius has pretty much been run out of town the past two cities he played in, and to no coincidence Mike Keenan was their both times. Regardless he is entering the prime of his career after having a few good seasons. The Jackets really wanted Malone who was signed by Tampa and I think they still want a scoring winger who will be around for a while, so Huselius will be their man.



Jaromir Jagr
Estimated Yearly Contract: $5.5
Predicted Destination: New York Rangers
Jagr loves New York and he showed flashes of his dominant self during the playoffs. The two are fit for each other and I think they know it, which is why Jagr won’t be going anywhere. The deal may be incentive laden but Jagr needs to realize he isn’t getting top end salary from the NHL anymore.



Todd Bertuzzi
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.5
Predicted Destination: New York Islanders
Bertuzzi will have always have a chip on his shoulder for the Moore incident and it will make teams reluctant to sign him. Being bought out by his biggest supporter in Brian Burke doesn’t help. Still he is a power forward. The Isles are looking for more firepower and need to get people to their team, not a favorite destination for free agents. I expect them to overpay Bertuzzi to land him, though after giving Fedotenko almost $3mm a year, it wont seem that bad.



Miroslav Satan
Estimated Yearly Contract: $2.25
Predicted Destination: Pittsburgh Penguins
With Malone gone and Hossa hitting the market the Pens desperately need a winger who can put the puck in the net. Yeah, Satan may not be that so much anymore, and he is pretty one dimensional, but at this point he will be cheap and all he has to do is take a pass from Crosby or Malkin. I see it being a late signing in free agency when the other big names are signed up, and our hopes for Satan playing for the Devils will be dashed yet again.



Radim Vrbata
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.5
Predicted Destination: Vancouver Canucks
Vrbata had a career year in Phoenix and wants to see what he can get in free agency. But being a one year wonder thus far teams will be reluctant to sign him up to a large or long term deal. The Canucks are looking for more offense, and while they have the cap room for a big name if they let Naslund and Morrison walk, they’ll probably want depth more and I think Vrbata will be a target.



Niklas Hagman
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.0
Predicted Destination: Boston Bruins
Hagman seems to have gotten lost in the mix of all the other free agents, but he is physical and can score 20 goals a year. Though flying under the radar he will be targeted by quite a few teams. I don’t think the Bruins can realistically fit Hossa into their cap like they want so they will go for someone who is more cap friendly, and Hagman will fit the bill.



Darcy Tucker
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.0
Predicted Destination: Phoenix Coyotes
Though bought out gritty forwards who can score aren’t the most frequent things to hit the market. Though age may be catching up Tucker is well known throughout the league (for better or worse) and he will be sought after. Phoenix’s addition of Bryzgalov last season and Jokinen this season is making Phoenix a playoff contender. Plus the need to replace the departing Varbata is necessary.



Michael Ryder
Estimated Yearly Contract: $2.75
Predicted Destination: New Jersey Devils
Ryder’s stock has dropped the past year, it being particularly dismal as he was benched many times in both the regular season and playoffs. He put up 25 and back to back 30 goal seasons his first three years and that means he does have the talent. He won’t get a big pay day but he’ll get a payday. I’m sure Lou will love to throw a long term deal to get him at a slightly discounted price on the Devils.




Sean Avery
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.75
Predicted Destination: New York Islanders
Avery is hated by most people, but can actually play if his antics aren’t getting in the way. Though an agitator first he can get you that key goal and that makes his value high. He isn’t worth what he is going to get, but someone will give it to him. And I think that someone is the Islanders who are looking for warm bodies.



Defensemen
The defensive crop this year is quite thin, with only two big names on the market in Campbell and Redden since the Avalanche resigned both Liles and Foote. Nothing against the remaining guys, but top pairing men they aren’t.


Brian Campbell
Estimated Yearly Contract: $6.5
Predicted Destination: New York Rangers
Campbell will more than likely be going to the highest bidder this year unless somehow the Sharks get him under contract in the next few days. The Rangers will be clearing plenty of space by letting guys go. They will want a stabilizing force on their blue line which is young and upcoming, and Sather has always been known to make the big splash.


Wade Redden
Estimated Yearly Contract: $5.5
Predicted Destination: San Jose Sharks
The past two years have been lackluster for the Sens blue liner, and it will cost him going into free agency. Despite that he is still reliable in both ends and will command top pairing money. If Campbell walks from the Sharks they will probably make Redden their first target (and it was rumored they were the ones trying to deal for him over the summer).



Mark Streit
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.25
Predicted Destination: Philadelphia Flyers
There doesn’t seem to be much interest to resign Streit from the Canadiens so he will be hitting the market. There are teams looking for puck moving defensemen (Streit also played some forward) and as a mid-grade defenseman Streit will still get plenty of calls. Philly doesn’t have a whole lot of room but their inability to move the puck from the defense to the forwards let the Penguins pick them off in the Eastern Conference Finals. He is affordable and fits the Flyers needs.



Jason Smith
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.0
Predicted Destination: Columbus Blue Jackets
Smith is being let go by the Flyers who don’t want to pay for the gritty defenseman who is wearing down, partly because they disagree on his value and partially because the Flyers don’t have much cap space. Still teams love a stay at home who hits, and Smith certainly does that. The Jackets need to get to the cap floor, plus are getting quite desperate to make the playoffs and I see them going after Smith is who much like Adam Foote that they dealt away at the deadline.



Ron Hainsey
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.5
Predicted Destination: LA Kings
Since being claimed off waivers from Montreal Hainsey has developed into a steady blue liner. Nothing flashy but he gets the job done, and that was on a bad Columbus team. He managed to put up a good amount of points and is entering the prime of his career. LA Has cap space to spare and being under thirty they are willing to target him, especially after dealing Vishnovsky to the Oilers.



Brooks Orpik
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.5
Predicted Destination: Pittsburgh Penguins
Orpik had a breakout year and was an unsung hero in the playoffs until the finals where he got noticed, and that always feeds the hype machine. A defender who is good in his own end, mobile and hits doesn’t come along often, so if he hits the market he is going to get a good payday. But I don’t see the Pens letting it go that far.



Brad Stuart
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.0
Predicted Destination: Detroit Red Wings
After forgettable stings in Boston, Calgary and LA Stuart was dealt to the Wings at the deadline and was a factor in their winning the cup. I don’t think other teams will be as willing to sign him to a larger contract, not to mention he would be playing for the cup champions. I think he will hit the market, but go to Detroit when he sees the fields aren’t greener on the other side.


Michal Roszival
Estimated Yearly Contract: $3.5
Predicted Destination: New York Rangers
Roszival has developed into a steady blue liner since coming to the Rangers, being reliable in both ends. I don’t expect him to be going anywhere as he has been key for the Rangers and he knows it.



Goaltenders
To put it simply, the free agent goalie pool sucks. Huet is the only capable starter amongst the group and the others are either aging starters no longer fit for the role or career backups. Don’t look for much to happen with goalies this off season.


Cristobal Huet
Estimated Yearly Contract: $4.25
Predicted Destination: Washington Capitals
I expect the Caps to bite the bullet and give Huet the money he is seeking as the goalie market is paper thin this year. If Huet were to hit the market he will be easily the most sought after. My guess then would be the Avs to pick him up as Budaj and Theodore were lackluster at best in the playoffs.


Olaf Kolzig
Estimated Yearly Contract: $1.5
Predicted Destination: Tampa Bay Lightning
Kolzig only has a few years left, and feeling spurned by the dealing for Huet has caused him to break from the only NHL team he has ever known. A starting role is pretty much out of the question at this point, but some team is going to be looking for an experienced backup. My guess is he will end up in Tampa where he will be a backup plan in case new goalie Mike Smith cant handle the spotlight, and it will give Karri Ramo another year to prepare for the jump to the NHL.



Jose Theodore
Estimated Yearly Contract: $2.5
Predicted Destination: Colorado Avalanche
Theodore will most likely be staying with the Avs, but at a much reduced rate. To be frank I think the only reason they are doing this is because the goalie market is so weak because in the playoffs Theodore just couldn’t get it done. Though him and the Avs aren’t talking, I think they will have little choice but to bring him back.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Draft Day Deals

In what was one of the more exciting drafts in recent memory, fans were greeted with a bevy of trades to start and throughout. Though I cant help but think of the football draft some with how many teams traded up or down, and what they gave up to do so, but its not like its uncommon. For the sake of brevity, I’m only going to cover the deals that involve players. There were a few surprises, and some that were expected, but on to the trades.



3 Way Deal:
To Calgary: Mike Cammelleri
To Los Angeles: #12 pick
To Anaheim: #17, #28


Calgary gets a young forward in Cammalleri who is capable of putting up big numbers, but has been hampered by injuries in recent years. He can play either wing, and a scoring winger is something Calgary needs with the likely departure of Kristian Huselius and Alex Tanguay (mentioned below).

LA gets a higher pick so they continue to rebuild their roster and prospect system, and things are going to be looking bright for them. As they already have the 2nd over all pick, they will have a good chance at landing two impact players in the first round.

Anaheim gets two first round picks, and while they aren’t really in need of adding a lot of assets, they are up at the cap and unless Scott Niedermayer retires they wont be getting much relief. Still two first round picks in a good draft is always good.

Winner: Calgary
I am giving it to the Flames for the sole reason they got an established young player that can contribute, while picks are always crapshoots no matter how good the prospect is. Of course time will tell.



To Montreal: Alex Tanguay
To Calgary: #25 pick

Calgary was looking to offload some salary, and Tanguay carried a $5mm price tag. With the addition of Cammalleri earlier it made him expendable.

Montreal gets the scoring winger they have been seeking. It was rumored they were going to make a pitch for Marian Hossa in free agency but it seems he will be signing with the Penguins, who beat out Montreal to obtain him in the deadline deal. I’ve never been a fan of Tanguay, feeling his success is too dependent on the team around him. He has talent no doubt, but I don’t think he is as good as his hype. Still Montreal now doesn’t need to get into bidding wars with other teams so it was a savvy move to get what they needed.

Winner: Calgary
It’s a deep draft and as I said, I am not high on Tanguay and I think $5mm a year for him is high. Yeah he looked good in Colorado, but so would I if I always played with Sakic and Forseberg…


To Phoenix: Olli Jokinen
To Florida: Keith Ballard, Nick Boynton, #49 pick

The much rumored Jokinen deal finally happened, which is good because the rumor mongers will finally shut up (well at least for a few weeks until we start hearing Phoenix isn’t pleased with Jokinen and on the block again). I am honestly not surprised Phoenix jumped in on this. I felt a dark horse would end up with a player like Jokinen (if he was truly available) as Phoenix is looking to increase their profile, and an all star forward is a way to go. He will definitely help the Coyotes offense which has been looking for scoring for years.

Florida, well, they got hosed. Again. Ballard is good and will definitely help their team. Boynton though was on waivers a year ago so any team could have had him for free. No one bit. That means it was a salary dump for Phoenix.

Winner: Phoenix
Not as bad as the Luongo trade, but not much better. Florida handed Phoenix their best player and a player with large salary they wanted to get rid of and got a good young defenseman and a second round pick. However, they failed to replace Jokinen’s scoring to any extent in the deal and something tells me a big free agent forward in free agency isn’t coming. Rick Dudley made bad trades. Mike Keenan made awful trades. Jacques Martin hasn’t done much better. Maybe there’s something in that state that turns gm’s into idiots.



To Columbus: RJ Umberger, #119 pick
To Philly: #19 pick, #67 pick


Columbus gets a much needed center, and Umberger fits the bill. He had a good year and excellent playoffs that really raised his stock. He was a former first round pick by Vancouver, but their attempts to lowball him caused him to leave and sign with the Flyers.

Philadelphia gets a first round pick and a third round pick to further bolster their young talent. With their cap near the limit the likeliness of them being able to sign Umberger and having any room left was not good.

Winner: Philadelphia
I’m started to think when he goes to make a deal, Paul Holmgren literally puts a gun to the other GM’s head. It seems he gets away with robbery nearly every time. Not that Umberger won’t develop into something, but it seems a bit steep a price for a guy that’s probably won’t be a first line center.


And since I haven't had time to post these pre-draft deals…


To St. Louis: 3rd round pick
To Toronto: Jamal Mayers

Toronto added some grit with Mayers, who can put up decent numbers. Rumor has it Toronto did this because they plan to buy out Tucker, but I’m not buying it. Mayers is an affordable $1.5mm and is the kind of player Toronto likes.

St. Louis did this to free up cap space. What are they spending that cap space on? Well…


To St. Louis: Chris Mason
To Nashville: 4th round pick
Nashville came to a contract agreement with Dan Ellis (surpsiginly only $3.5mm for two years) and so Mason and his $3mm was deemed expendable. Though Mason struggled last year, St. Louis is hoping he regains his form, and at the very least the competition between him and Manny Legace will push both to better play.

This was primarily a salary dump for Nashville, though a bit of a risk as Ellis has so little pro experience.




To Carolina: Darcy Hordichuk
To Nashville: 5th round pick

Hordichuk was expendable and easily replaceable. They already had a similar player in Jordin Tootoo and were probably looking to give him a little more ice time.

Carolina has never been a very tough team, and they traded for Hordichuk (his rights to be specific) to change that some. While he’s not really a fighter he’ll provide some big (and questionable) hits to help out the Canes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Firings, Hirings and Retirements

With the Stanley Cup finals over for almost a week now (Congrats to the Red Wings by they way), things haven't been all that quiet on the front. Teams are preparing for the entry draft in a few weeks but some things of note have happened.

Dominic Hasek Retires
What better way than to go out on top? Hasek is doing exactly that rather than coming back for another year and most likely playing second fiddle to Chris Osgood. Hasek has had a stellar career and earned his nickname “The Dominator” for a reason. In the past fifteen years he has been one of the most dominant (no pun intended) goalies along with Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur. He had a long career with many accomplishments so I think he can rest easy knowing he can be proud of what he did.


Toronto hires Ron Wilson as their new coach
The Maple Leafs keeping things in hockey a secret from the media in their home town is pretty much an exercise in futility. Before Wilson even got on a plane back home to contemplate his offer it was all over the news he had been made an offer. It wasn't any surprise either he accepted. Wilson is a pretty good coach who takes a hard line stance, but isn’t that big on the media, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts in Toronto. My prediction is he will make the Leafs a better team, but how far he will take them is another matter. His playoff success has been rather limited, and he failed to take multiple talented Sharks teams beyond the second round all but once. It was pretty much the same story with the Caps before he joined San Jose. I think you will see some improvement in Toronto, just don’t expect a deep run.


Trevor Linden Retires
The long time Canuck is ready to hang them up once and for all. Joining the team in a front office capacity, Linden has had a successful career and been the heart of many Vancouver teams. While many in Vancouver will be sad to no longer see him on the ice, it was time to hang them up.


Los Angeles Kings fire head coach Marc Crawford
After two seasons of dwelling near the Western Conference basement, Kings GM Dean Lombardi fired Marc Crawford. The move wasn't totally unexpected given that the Kings failed to improve at all under him, even after Lombardi acquired multiple players in free agency. After his failure to take the Canucks very far and his failure to do anything with the Kings, I wouldn’t expect teams to be lining up for his services as a head coach. Plus, there is something to be said for a guy who thinks you can go far with Dan Cloutier in net…




San Jose Sharks hire Todd McLellan as head coach
To no surprise the Red Wings dominance of the playoffs has led to a team taking one of their own. San Jose took assistant McLellan as their head coach in hopes he can bring a successful system and better playoff attitude to the Sharks, who have perennially exited in the second round in recent years. McLellan has coached in the minors, but the Sharks are banking on what he learned from the Red Wings organization, filled with great hockey minds will translate into a winning formula for their team.



Ottawa Senators hire Craig Hartsburg as coach
Instead of going with an NHL experienced coach Brian Murray opted instead to go with a face from the junior leagues. Hartsburg foes have NHL head and assistant coaching experience, but has spent the past few years in juniors including the Canadian world junior team where he has met with success.



Panthers hire Peter DeBoer as head coach
Another team has gone for a juniors coach in DeBoer, something that isn’t totaling surprising. It seems that teams are becoming reluctant to hire an established coach who has had either limited or only regular season success. DeBoer, like Hartsburg has had an accomplished junior career, and his working with young players will come in handy when coaching a young Panthers team.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What to do now: North East Division

Continuing the “What they should do now” series, I’ll take a look at the North East division.

(F)- forward
(D)- defenseman
(G)- goalie


Montreal Canadiens
UFA’s- Michael Ryder (F), Bryan Smolinski (F), Patrice Brisbois (D), Mark Streit (D)
RFA’s- Andrei Kostitsyn (F), Maxim Lapierre (F), Josh Gorges (D), Ryan O’Byrne (D)
Analysis:
Montreal was the top seed in the east going into the playoffs but future star goaltender Carey Price never gave them much of a chance to win having a poor performance in the playoffs that doomed the team. For the most part Streit is the only significant unrestricted free agent they have, Ryder being the only other but his salary demands and inconsistency will prevent Montreal from signing him. They still need some secondary scoring and their failed attempt to land Hossa at the deadline shows Gainey is well aware of it.

What they should do:
Streit may want more than Montreal can offer, but they should try and keep him anyways. With Ryder, Smolinksi and Brisbois gone Gainey will have almost $5.5mm to work with, but some of this money will go to resigning the RFA’s they have, all of which I see them keeping. Add in the cap expected to rise almost $5mm you can expect Montreal to land at least a second line scoring winger, possibly two with the departure of Ryder in the off season.



Ottawa Senators
UFA’s- Chris Kelly (F), Shean Donovan (F), Randy Robataille (F), Cory Stillman (F), Wade Redden (D), Luke Richardson (D), Mike Commodore (D)
RFA’s- Antoine Vermette (F), Brian McGratton (F), Andrej Meszaros (D)
Analysis:
Easily the hottest team the first half of the year, the Sens were one of the coldest the second half as if the glue that held them together just disappeared. Not even a coaching change or trades helped them get out of their funk and they were swept in the first round. Murray has already locked up his two young stars in Heatley and Spezza long term and Alfredsson is under contract for another few years. His big decision will be which of the UFA’s he wants to keep because two of his restricted free agents in Meszaros and Vermette are too important to let go. There is also the situation with goalie ray Emery who has seemingly worn out his welcome less than a year after being a playoff hero.


What they should do:
Like I said, Meszaros and Vermette need to be kept. Stillman seemed to enjoy playing there and if he is willing to accept a reasonable deal to stay than keep him. Redden has already stated he is gone, so Murray should put that $6.5mm towards finding another defenseman or two, a puck mover a definite need as trading Joe Corvo had more impact than they thought it would. Emery will probably be bought out but a lot of space will be going to signing restricted free agents and the increases to Spezza and Heatley, who will be making a combined $14.5 the next six years.



Boston Bruins
UFA’s- Glen Metropolit (F)
RFA’s- Marc Stuart (D), Dennis Wideman (D)
Analysis:
The Bruins made a surprise visit to the post season despite injuries to their starting goaltender Fernandez and best scoring forward Bergeron, give a lot of credit to coach Claude Julien for that. Chiarelli has already gotten a head start on the off season, signing defense Aaron War and forward Chuck Kobasew to multi-year deals. There are few free agents this year of note but next year will have some more, but ones the Bruins may not miss if they depart.

What they should do:
Chiarelli has already done the smart thing by keeping Ward and Kobasew, and if Fernandez and Bergeron cant return healthy next year this team is already in pretty good shape. Both Stuart and Wideman are keepers and should get decent raises, as will Metropolit who had a good comeback year. Expect the Bruins to add maybe another scoring forward or defenseman of the second line/pairing caliber, and despite the rumors of them pursuing the likes of Hossa I don’t see them really landing someone this year, but rather next year when both Fernandez and Murray’s deals finish. Still I wouldn’t be surprised if they just signed one big name as Chiarelli has been shown to do such things in the past.



Buffalo Sabres
UFA’s- Dimitri Kalinin (D), Teppo Numminen (D), Jocelyn Thibault (G)
RFA’s- Paul Gaustad (F), Dan Paille (F),
Analysis:
Not wanting to lose him for nothing the Sabres dealt defenseman Brian Campbell at the deadline in order to get something for him. The ownerships unwillingness to spend, plus their now defunct habit of not negotiating during the season has turned this team from cup favorite to borderline playoff team within only a few years. It’s hard to say if they will spend any money, but they definitely need to in order to be a contender again.


What they should do:
What they should do is resign Kalinin and definitely get Gaustad under contract as he is a guy many teams would want. Paille showed promise too. Numminen is aging and having heart problems again so they shouldn’t resign him, and Thibault is easily replaceable. They have a good young forward corps (though I still shake my head at giving the oft injured Connolly $3mm a year) but could definitely use another finisher, plus Vanek and Afinighenov need to step up their games. They’ll need a defenseman or two to replace just Campbell, three if they let Kalinin walk. I don’t have much faith the Sabres will do much else than sign their restricted guys then some spare parts UFA’s to fill out the roster though.


Toronto Maple Leafs
UFA’s- Mats Sundin (F), Dominic Moore (F)
RFA’s- Matt Stajan (F), Kyle Welwood
Analysis:
Ah Toronto. How many years now have people been doing a “how to fix the Leafs” analysis? This team is in so much disarray from the trades and signing past GM’s Pat Quinn and John Ferguson Jr. have done that they fired the latter before the year was even out and hired interim GM Chuck Fletcher to clean house. This saw Hal Gill, Chad Kilger and Wade Belak moved at the deadline, and the only reason more didn’t move was because of no trade or movement clauses. Look for them to continue to dump players via trade or buyout this summer.


What they should do:
Sundin will probably take less than the $5.5mm to free up some space. If they can deal Kubina during the month window his no trade clause isn’t in effect, do it because he isn’t worth his contract. Neither is Blake who said publicly he probably wouldn’t mind a trade, but at 34 and four more years on his deal don’t look for many takers. If they can find a taker for Raycroft and his $2.2mm do it, but I’d say let him finish the year rather than buying him out. They need to keep their young players even if they arent that great, and if there are any young free agents they need to target them because their prospect system is poor. They also need to not spend big money on free agents that are either aging or not worth it, especially giving out no trade clauses because that has put the team in the situation it is in right now.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What To Do Now- Northwest Division

Continuing the “What they should do now” series, I’ll take a look at the North West division.

(F)- forward
(D)- defenseman
(G)- goalie


Minnesota Wild
UFA’s- Pavol Demitra (F), Brian Rolston (F), Chris Simon (F), Keith Carney (D), Sean Hill (D), Petteri Nummelen (D)
RFA’s- PM Bouchard (F), Kurtis Foster (D)
Analysis:
The Wild had a disappointing first round, but they also saw little production from two of their big guns: Gaborik and Demitra. The latter is a UFA along with Rolston who has emerged as a true leader. The defense has mostly aging blue liners up for contract but is anchored by two young players in Burns and Schultz signed long term. The good news is that the Wild are a relatively young team with some young guns that will only get better, so there is definitely hope.

What they should do:
Rolston needs to kept pure and simple; he was the heart of the team. Demitra constantly seems indifferent and paired with his age the Wild should seek other options. All three of the UFA defenders are aging and would free up over $4mm, which can be put to better use for a scoring forward or better and younger defenseman.
The two RFA’s in Bouchard and Foster can be a central part of the Wild team for years to come so they should be retained. GM Risbrough got a bit of a head start this year by already signing Nick Schultz and Bret Burns to long term deals. Also keep an eye on Gaborik. With his constant injuries and lack of playoff production, he is only one year away from being an UFA and the Wild may be tempted to deal him for some other players.



Colorado Avalanche
UFA’s- Joe Sakic (F), Peter Forsberg (F), Andrew Brunette (F), Scott Parker (F), John-Michael Liles (D), Adam Foote (F), Kurt Sauer (D), Jose Theodore (G)
RFA’s- Marek Svatos (F), Wojtek Wolski (F),
Analysis:
It’s a bit hard to judge how successful the Avs really were as they were so injury riddled by the halfway mark of the Detroit series they had no chance to really keep up. Still, they have many big name UFA’s, but most are past their prime already. Giguere has an interesting off season ahead of him.

What they should do:
Kick Forsberg to the curb: they don’t need his drama. It’s not worth the few games he can even play. Sakic wont put on another uniform and he will return so they can hold off on signing him, but hopefully at a reduced deal to free up more space. Foote too is aging and should only be retained if at a much cheaper price than his current $4mm tag, but judging from his inability to get a deal with the blue Jackets done that’s not going to happen. Liles seems rather intent on testing free agency and is really the one UFA they should keep. Theodore was horrible in the playoffs and there is no need to even reconsider offering him a new deal. If Brunette and Sauer are willing to take relatively the same pay, keep them. If the Avs can get Wolski and Svatos signed to decent deals than they should be able to add another impact player, or at the very least some good depth players, but save room because Paul Stastny will need a big raise the next year.


Calgary Flames
UFA’s- Craig Conroy (F), Owen Nolan (F), Daymond Langkow (F), Kristen Huselius (F), Stephane Yelle (F), David Hale (D), Jim Vandermeer (D), Curtis Joseph (G)
RFA’s- none
Analysis:
Daryl Sutter has already locked up Iginla, Phaneuf and Kiprusoff long term, so the core of the team is set. Pretty much everyone up for a new deal is a contributor in some way save for Vandermeer, a deadline acquisition. Still Sutter will be busier than most other GM’s trying to decide which of these guys is most important to keep.

What they should do:
Hale, Vandermeer and Joseph are all replaceable so not much worry should be put to them. Yelle is aging as is Conroy who seems to only succeed in Calgary. Nolan can be let go with little recourse so the real tossup is between Langkow and Huselius. Of the two Langkow has shown more consistency through his career (yikes!) so he would be the better option. If Huselius can’t find any takers and can be kept at a decent price than go for him, but its unlikely. I still maintain dealing for Aucoin and his $4mm salary was a mistake. Regardless, don’t expect anything but a resigning for depth signing from the Flames this year.


Edmonton Oilers
UFA’s- Geoff Sanderson (F), Marty Reasoner (F)
RFA’s- Jarret Stoll (F), Marc Pouliot (F), Joni Pitkanen (D)
Analysis:
Edmonton has fallen far from when they came within a game of winning the cup, but sadly it is all GM Kevin Lowe’s doing as he quickly gave the good playoff performers deals they weren’t worth (Fernando Pisani and Dwayne Roloson come to mind). Pronger’s demand to be dealt after one season has seemed to have scared away potential free agents which has forced Lowe to give out offer sheets to RFA’s.

What they should do:
Pitkanen, Stoll and Pouliot can be staples for the future so Lowe should do what he can to get them signed long term. Reasoner is a reliable, and affordable third liner that should be easy to resign. Sanderson is winding down so the Oilers may want to look elsewhere for a replacement. A goalie is also needed as Roloson looked every bit his age this year and there were no takers for his contract. Don’t look for them to be big spenders, but they’ll probably be after a second tier free agent, unrestricted or otherwise.


Vancouver Canucks
UFA’s- Markus Naslund (F), Brednan Morrison (F), Trevor Linden (F), Aaron Miller (D), Curtis Sanford (G)
RFA’s- Ryan Shannon (F)
Analysis:
The Canucks hit a wall with injuries, though ownership decided to blame it on GM Dave Nonis and give him the boot instead. It’s a shame because the upcoming off season would have been a true test for him with the free agents he had which gave him the ability to give the team a good nudge in the right direction. Long time players Naslund and Morrison are both up for contract with a combined $9mm in cap space devoted to them. Aging defenseman Miller is very replaceable and Linden, long time Canuck fan favorite needs to finally hang them up. Cutting the latter two will free up almost $3.5mm.


What they should do:
All those guys I mentioned? Cut them loose. Naslund is fading and Morrison is a decent two way center, but nothing more and not worth what he will be asking. If new Gm Gilles can put that freed up money towards some replacements, including some scoring depth because frankly someone other than the Sedin twins need to score. The defense is locked up long term and if injury free is one of the better defenses in the league, and arguably the best goalie in Roberto Luongo mans the pipes. In other words: get some scoring forwards, it’s what’s holding this team back.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

What to do Now: South East Division

Though the quest for the cup continues, for all but two of the teams the season is finished and it is time to look towards the summer. Every team will need to evaluate their roster, budget and see which UFA’s to try and keep, sign and get any important RFA’s under contract. With the entirety of the South East division gone from the playoffs, my first look will be at them. For the sake of ease I will only look at the more significant players (guys on two ways won’t be mentioned).

(F)- forward
(D)- defenseman
(G)- goalie


Washington Capitals
UFA’s- Sergei Federov (F), Matt Cooke (F), Matt Bradley (F), Olaf Kolzig (G), Crisotbal Huet (G)
RFA’s- Mike Green (D), Shaun Morrison (D), Steve Eminger (D)
Analysis:
The Caps surprisingly made the playoffs by taking over the division, but granted winning the South East division is about as hard as beating the French in battle. Deadline acquisitions of Federov and Huet especially helped the team, but alas they couldn’t make it happen in the post season. If Federov can be retained for cheap, around $1mm or less, then he should be signed for a year, but no more since age is catching up to him. Huet is younger and a legitimate starter and should be resigned as long time Capitals goalie Kolzig has announced he won’t return to the team.
The biggest problem facing the caps is that they will already have almost a $10mm increase in just the new deals for Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin alone so they won’t have much to spend. With Huet an UFA and defenseman Greene who will seek a healthy raise there won’t be much room to bring in free agents even with Kolzig’s salary off the books.

What they should do:
Huet and Greene should be the Caps top priorities bar none. Huet’s intentions aren’t known but being able to test free agency for the first time may prove too luring. Greene will be susceptible to an offer sheet should the Caps fail to sign him before then, and some team will probably take a chance on him that way. I don’t think you will see any big spending this year, so try and retain guys like Morrison, Eminger and Cooke who while not top players can contribute. They’re still young and getting better.



Carolina Hurricanes
UFA’s- Brett Hedican (D), Glenn Wesley (D)
RFA’s- Tuomo Ruutu (F), Ben Eaves (F), Tim Gleason (D),
Analysis:
Once again Carolina failed to make the playoffs, offering up injuries as a reason for the second year in a row. Not that injuries aren’t a legit reason, and they have had quite a bit, but it should tell you something: sign people that don’t have injury problems. They already have $38.5mm tied up for next year, but luckily it includes their significant players.

What they should do:
Both Hedican and Wesley are aging and between them make about $4mm. The Canes would be better off spending that on a defender or two who can stay healthy, but they’ll need both an offensive and defensive guy. Unfortunately that money won’t get you anything more than a second pairing guy at best, so going for one impact defenseman may be a better option if you’re willing to spend a few million more. Ruutu, Eaves and Gleason are all young and should be signed as they can be a steady part of the Canes lineup for years. If they can manage to bring in a young forward via trade or free agency (which there aren’t a lot of this year) then they should do so as much of their core is aging, and that Stanley Cup win is becoming a distant memory more every day.


Florida Panthers
UFA’s- Branislav Mezei (D), Jassen Cullimore (D), Steve Montador (D)
RFA’s- Ratislav Olesz (F), Greg Campbell (F), Jay Bouwmeester (D)
Analysis:
Florida has been a mess for years, and Mike Keenan didn’t help much a few years back trading away one of the best goalies in the league for nothing, and before that Rick Dudley wasn't much better. They always have a few good players but nothing surrounding them, though the past few years that has changed with some young players coming into their own. Florida needs to stop what I call “futility signings” which are over the hill or average players known for one good year five years ago as their big signings. They add little to nothing and money is spent better elsewhere.

What they should do:
Absolutely the Panthers cannot afford to lose blue line stud Bouwmeester; his signing should be top priority. Olesz can be valuable and should also be signed. Mezei, Cullimore and Montador while aren’t bad aren’t great either. Mezei and Montador can do half decent but Cullimore is fading. More than anything though the Panthers need some more scoring, so a winger or two would be nice. They have $37mm already used for next year and will probably spend mid 40’s, so an impact winger should be targeted.



Atlanta Thrashers
UFA’s- Bobby Holik (F), Steve Rucchin (F), Marc Recchi (F), Johan Hedberg (G)
RFA’s- Kari Lehtonen (G)
Analysis:
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the Thrashers cannot succeed with Don Waddell as GM. Constantly overpaying aging free agents, not addressing a pitiful defense and poor drafting have kept this team from being good. Only once have they made the playoffs and the Rangers had to put forth more effort to take a crap than to beat them. Unless Waddell is gone, there is no hope, and the rumor that Marian Hossa refused to sign with the team because he didn’t like their direction should give some credence to that.
All the unrestricted free agents can afford to be let go as save for Hedberg are reaching the end of their careers. In Rucchin’s case it is over due to injury. Hedberg is a good backup so he should be considered, and Holik only if he takes a significant pay cut from his $4.25mm.

What they should do:
Well first, fire Waddell. With a crappy prospect system, one further depleted by deadline deals the previous year (including a defenseman they sorely needed in Braydon Coburn for the aging Alexei Zhitnik) so you cant count on anyone other than Erik Christiansen and Colby Armstrong, the two players acquired from the Pens in the Hossa deal to step it up and help.
Next, let go everyone who is a UFA, all are replaceable and you will have about $6mm to spend right there. Go out and get some defensemen. This team has lacked anything akin to a good defenseman since they came into the league. It’s sad when Andy Sutton is one of your best known franchise blue liners. They need both stay at homes and puck moving ones.
The Thrashers also lack forwards after Kovulchuk and Kozlov. Christensen can help at center but wings are desperately needed. However with the losing culture in Atlanta free agents will be hard to lure.
Lehtonen is the goalie of the future, but has had injury and consistency problems. Regardless he is too young to give up on and needs to be retained.



Tampa Bay Lightning
UFA’s- Chris Gratton (F)
RFA’s- Ryan Craig (F), Alexandre Picard (D)
Analysis:
Sadly the Lightning are just like the Thrashers: plagued by a GM who overpays and can’t draft worth a damn. They were forced to trade Brad Richards and his large deal in order to get better depth, which despite what many think I feel was a pretty good trade as they got a decent scoring winger, two way center and a young goalie. Unfortunately he went and spent most the money he saved by vastly over paying Dan Boyle, who now makes more than Scott Niedermayer. Like the Thrashers, until Jay Feaster is gone the Lightning aren’t going anywhere.

What they should do:
For the love of god, fire Feaster. In three short seasons since the Lightning won the cup he has made them bottom dwellers. If he isn’t fired, pack it in and take the high pick. The Lightning will be better because of some young players having another year under their belts plus the guys they got from the Richards deal. Still they need another good defenseman to help out plus outside of Lecavalier and St. Louis have close to zero scoring depth. It’s hard to say which area needs more help, but I’m going to say go for the forward because they have at least some young defensemen that may be good.