Kavan’s Crease: Western Conference Free Agency/Draft Recap

Welcome back, and thank you for checking out the second part of my Draft and Free Agency recap! Last time, we looked at the Eastern Conference; today, we’re going to have a gander at the West. So, same as last time, all recaps will be in this format:

Team Name,Winner/Loser/Lateral
Notable Ins: Player name, N/A
Notable Outs: Player name, N/A
In Limbo: Player name, N/A

Without further ado:
Anaheim Ducks, Lateral
In: Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen
Out: Bobby Ryan
Limbo: Teemu Selanne, Radek Dvorak, Toni Lydman, Dave Steckel, Matthew Lombardi

Bobby  RyanAfter 2 years of being pestered about his name in trade rumors, former 30-goal scorer and 2005 2nd overall draft pick Bobby Ryan was finally dealt by the Anaheim Ducks. The flashy, American winger was traded to the Ottawa Senators just hours after the free agent window opened last Friday. In exchange, the Ducks received Swedish rookie Jakob Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen and Ottawa’s first-round pick in the 2014 entry draft. Silfverberg is coming off a season in which he scored 10 goals in 48 games for the Senators. Over an 82-game season, that works out to 17 goals. Not awful for a rookie who is still trying to adapt to the North American style of play. Noesen was Ottawa’s first-round pick (21st overall) in 2011 and is a high-scoring prospect who has been tearing up the OHL in recent years. In the last 3 seasons, Noesen has played 182 games, scoring 97 goals and 135 assists for 232 points and should turn out to be a difference maker for the Ducks within the next 5 years. Teemu Selanne has yet to decide if he will return for another season and showed signs of slowing down last year. If he comes back, I doubt it will be with any team besides Anaheim.

Calgary Flames, Lateral
In:
Kari Ramo, Sean Monahan, Kris Russell, TJ Galiardi, David Jones, Shane O’Brien
Out:Miikka Kipprusoff, Anton Babchuk, Alex Tanguay, Cory Sarich Limbo: N/A

Kipper. (Photo: Scotmandu. flickr)
Kipper. (Photo: Scotmandu. flickr)

I put the Flames down as a lateral movement, but they easily could be classified as losers if it weren’t for Sean Monahan and Kari Ramo. Leading up to last season, Calgary had 3 things going good for them: Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester and Miikka Kiprusoff. However, Iginla and Bouwmeester were given away at the dead line, and Kipprusoff has expressed his intent to retire. Now, GM Jay “What the hell is going on in Calgary” Feaster has done his best to replace those departed players with younger, core players like Ramo and Monahan. There are a few issues with this plan. Problems A and B are that Ramo has had a hard time finding work in the NHL And will never be Kipprusoff, and Monahan is still a year or 2 away from being an impact player in the NHL. Problem C is that Bouwmeester was dealt and Babchuk was allowed to walk without any real replacements. Kris Russell is a lateral swap for Anton Babchuk with a slight offensive upside but won’t put up Bouwmeester’s minutes and Shane O’Brien is a younger, cheaper version of Cory Sarich. Having 3 first overall picks should have been Feaster’s opportunity to jump on a top defensive prospect like Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov or Josh Morissey, but instead he elected to take 3 forwards. I’m a fan of Monahan but the decision to, yet again, go off the board and select Emile Poirier is a decision not too many Flames fans were fond of, especially with Hunter Shinkaruk dropping so far. Either way, unless there are some big surprises coming from Calgary, it seems as though it will be another long season at the Saddledome.

Chicago Blackhawks, Losers
In: Nikolai Khabibulin
Out: Ray Emery, Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik, Rostislav Olesz, Steve Montador
Limbo: N/A
1-chicago-blackhawks-toews-hossa-2013-stanley-cup-playoffsOnce again, the post-Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks had a little bit of dismantling to do to their core. The last time the Hawks won the cup, numerous players such as Brian Campbell, Antti Niemi, Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kopecky, among others, were either traded or allowed to sign elsewhere due to cap constraints and player bonuses. This time around, the players that were sent packing were Ray Emery (Philadelphia), Michael Frolik (Winnipeg), Viktor Stalberg (Nashville) and Dave Bolland (Toronto). Other depth players are still un-signed but it is unlikely the Hawks will bring them back since they are already right up against the cap. With these players gone and no cap space, Chicago will have to continue to explore the trade market or fill their roster from within the organization.

Colorado Avalanche, Winners
In: Nathan MacKinnon, Cory Sarich, Alex Tanguay
Out: David Jones, Shane O’Brien, Milan Hejduk Limbo: N/A

Nathan MacKinnon (Photo: puckingopinion.flickr)
Nathan MacKinnon (Photo: puckingopinion.flickr)

As sad as it is to see the Avalanche walk away from Milan Hejduk, you can’t help but be excited for the future in Colorado. Adding Nathan MacKinnon to an already talented group of young forwards including Matt Duchene, captain Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly, makes September seem a lot more than 2 months away. Although the depth at centre is nice, one has to wonder whether they will all still be playing in Denver next season. Ryan O’Reilly struggled to find his game after a contract dispute last season and has already been involved in trade discussions, so he could be expendable if he starts the season slowly. The Avs could use some help on D so it would make sense to deal O’Reilly to fill that need. If not, you can bet on seeing some high-scoring games involving Colorado next year.

Dallas Stars, Winners
In: Tyler Seguin, Shawn Horcoff, Rich Peverley, Valeri Nichushkin, Dan Ellis
Out: Loui Eriksson, Richard Bachman, Eric Nystrom tyler

The Dallas Stars have failed to make the post-season 5 straight years now, and it appears as though GM Jim Nill and owner Tom Gaglardi have had just about enough of that trend. Knowing full well that changes needed to be made, Nill made arguably the biggest trade of the offseason, acquiring Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button from the Boston Bruins for Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser. He also brought in Shawn Horcoff from the Edmonton Oilers in a trade and signed G Dan Ellis and 10th overall draft pick Valeri Nichushkin. Signing Nichushkin means that Stars brass has faith that the kid will be able to crack the lineup at some point next season and provide offensively. Seeing Nichushkin on a line with Seguin and Jamie Benn gives me goosebumps. With Kari Lehtonen and Dan Ellis between the pipes, the defense core already in place (Goligoski, Daley, Robidas) and young guns Jordie Benn, Kevin Connauton and recently acquired Ryan Button waiting patiently for their shot, the Stars seem primed to be a playoff contender once again.

Edmonton Oilers, Lateral
In: Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, Jason LaBarbera, Jesse Joensuu, Richard Bachman, Darnell Nurse, David Perron
Out: Shawn Horcoff, Nikolai Khabibulin, Eric Belanger, Magnus Paajarvi Limbo: Theo Peckham, Colton Teubert, Ryan Whitney

Defence!! Finally, an Oilers GM who understands the importance of the defence position. After drafting nothing but forwards the last 4 or 5 years, Craig MacTavish selected Darnell Nurse with the 5th overall pick in hopes that he can step in next season or in 2014-15 and make a difference. Nurse is a nimble skater and makes a great first pass which is sure to help Edmonton’s speedy snipers find the twine. In addition to Nurse, MacT signed former Bruins defender Andrew Ference to a 4 year, $13 million contract hoping that he can finally bring some defensive stability to the Oilers’ blueline. Ference is a strong, mean defensive defenceman that will make it difficult for opposing threats like the Sedins or any one of the Colorado Avalanche centremen to make it to the net. Having Nathan MacKinnon added to their conference must have had something to do with the decision to bring in Ference. Additionally, MacTavish made a big splash in the hockey world by dealing under-achieving forward Magnus Paajarvi and a second round puck to the St. Louis Blues for winger David Perron. Perron immediately brings 20-25 goals to the 2nd line and is a great player to bring in to help continue development on young superstars Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Yakupov. Goaltending is a bit of a question mark, as Devan Dubnyk has yet to prove he has what it takes to be a number one goalie in the NHL. It is believed that the Oilers are trying to complete a deal for Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller, but if that doesn’t happen, it will be up to Dubnyk to try to carry this team into the playoffs.

Los Angeles Kings, Lateral
In: Jeff Schultz
Out: Rob Scuderi, Luke Richardson
Limbo: Dustin Penner
After bowing out in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual Cup winners in Chicago, the Kings seemed satisfied with their roster, opting to make minimal moves. Their only signing from the free agent market comes in the form of Jeff Schultz, who is older, but will do essentially the same thing Rob Scuderi did, for less coin. After re-signing defensemen Slava Voynov and Keaton Ellerbu, GM Dean Lombardi finally made Jonathan Bernier‘s request come to fruition by dealing him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens and a second round pick in either 2014 or 2015. Frattin will be a solid 3rd line scorer and is a nice depth addition; however, with Bernier gone in favor of Scrivens, the pressure is on Jonathan Quick to maintain his elite status and deal with the possibility of playing even more games.

Minnesota Wild, Losers
In: Matt Cooke, Nino Neiderreiter, Keith Ballard
Out: Devin Setoguchi, Matt Cullen, Justin Falk, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Call Cluttebuck, Tom Gilbert
Limbo: N/A

Last season the Minnesota Wild were the talk of the offseason, signing the 2 biggest names on the free agent market in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. This time around, not so much. The Wild either lost or traded some quality pieces from their club, and the replacements they brought in are not of the same caliber. First, GM Chuck Fletcher traded Cal Clutterbuck and a third round pick to the Islanders for prospect Nino Neiderreiter. Nino is a very skilled player with a ridiculous offensive upside, but never felt as though he was valued or would ever get a shot with the Isles. For that reason, he was obtained relatively inexpensively, but Clutterbuck plays a style that you can’t just replace with anybody. Just wait until you watch Matt Cooke’s first game in St. Paul. Cooke claims to have changed his ways from the guy who “accidentally” cut Erik Karlsson‘s Achilles tendon and nearly decapitated Marc Savard a few years back, effectively ending his career. Cooke has been suspended by the NHL 5 times and still, teams are paying this guy. Until he proves he can do something other than hurt people, Wild fans must be throwing up in their mouths a little knowing Matt Cooke will be on their teams starting roster. Also out are Justin Falk and Tom Gilbert. Now I’m not saying these guys are defensive stalwarts who should never be let go, but between the 2 of them, they’re better than Keith Ballard. There’s a reason he was bought out by a team lacking defense. After acquiring Niederreiter from New York, Fletcher then decided he had no more use for Devin Setoguchi, so he was shipped to Winnipeg for a second round draft pick. Really? A second round pick? He has had injury problems in the past, but this is a player who once scored 31 goals and 65 points. On top of that, he had two 20-plus goal seasons without even playing that whole season. And he was got for a second rounder. Well done Kevin Chevaldayoff.

Nashville Predators, Winners
In: Seth Jones, Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom, Matt Hendricks Out: Sergei Kostitsyn, Hal Gill
Limbo: Jonathon Blum

If there was a trophy for the best offseason, my vote would be for the Nashville Predators this year. GM David Poile was active at the draft and throughout free agency solidifying his roster, starting with Seth Jones. Poile didn’t have much to do with Jones slipping to fourth overall, but he is definitely not complaining. Expected to go first or, at very least, second overall to teams who need defense, Jones was snubbed not twice, but 3 times as Colorado selected MacKinnon, Florida selected Barkov and Tampa Bay chose Jonathan Drouin. Jones is a huge addition to an already stable Predators blueline, and is expected to make the team out of training camp. If he does and plays with Shea Weber, the chances of the puck ever going into Nashville’s net again are slim to none because if opposing teams can manage to get past Jones, Weber, Kevin Klein, Ryan Ellis or any other Preds’ d-men for that matter, they still have the near-impossible task of beating Pekka Rinne. On the offensive side of things, Poile’s biggest addition was recent cup-winner Viktor Stalberg. This is a great move for both player and team since Nashville is desperate for scoring and Stalberg, who is a natural scorer, was stifled in Chicago because of their offensive depth. Additionally, Matt Cullen will provide some offense and win a few draws, and Matt Hendricks will put his heart on the ice every shift. One interesting note is unsigned RFA D Jonathon Blum. At one point, Blum was expected to be a pivot in Nashville’s top 4 but now he won’t even be receiving a qualifying offer from the team. The kid is only 24 years old and still hasn’t had a chance to make a name for himself. Any team who can get Blum for a reasonable price will be making a huge steal.

Phoenix Coyotes, Winners
In: Mike Ribeiro, Thomas Greiss, Max Domi
Out: Boyd Gordon
Limbo: N/A 498

The Phoenix Coyotes are one of the teams who won by being relatively idle throughout the offseason so far. Their biggest accomplishment comes off the ice as there has been a deal put in place that will keep the Coyotes in Glendale for at least another 15 years. What this means is that the team, from the players to the ownership group, Renaissance Sports and Entertainment, can go forward focusing on solely their on-ice product. It’s about hockey in the desert now, and with ownership in place it gives the players the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and win some games. To start the new era of the Coyotes (soon to be re-named the Arizona Coyotes), GM Don Maloney drafted former Toronto Maple Leaf Tie Domi‘s son, Max, and signed free agent forward, Mike Ribeiro to a 4 year, $22 million deal. Even before being drafted, Max Domi had stated many times that his style of play is nothing like his father’s. Possessing great hockey smarts and incredible vision, Max has smooth hands and can put the puck on your tape in almost any situation. He should be ready to step in and help within 1-2 years. Having drafted a guy to get pucks in the opposition’s net, the next step was to keep them out of their own net. With the market for goaltenders drying up relatively quickly after Jon Bernier and Cory Schneider were traded, Maloney didn’t hesitate to throw cash at incumbent starter Mike Smith before another team had a chance to pounce. The deal is worth $34 million and will keep Smith in Arizona until 2019-2020.

San Jose Sharks, Lateral
In: Tyler Kennedy
Out: Thomas Greiss, Scott Gomez
Limbo: N/A

The Sharks were another Western team who were relatively inactive this summer, their 2 moves being rather minor ones. The first was a deal to bring in Tyler Kennedy from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2nd round pick. The second was sending TJ Galiardi to his hometown Calgary Flames for a fourth round pick. Kennedy is a slight upgrade from Galiardi and should provide decent secondary scoring.

St. Louis Blues,Lateral
In:
Derek Roy, Magnus Paajarvi, Maxim Lapierre, Keith Aucoin
Out: David Perron, Kris Russell, Andy McDonald, Jamie Langenbrunner Limbo: N/A

Initially, I had the Blues down as winners; that was until the Perron for Paajarvi trade was announced. If I’m GM Doug Armstrong, I can understand why you would need to trade Perron, since the Blues are mighty close to the salary cap; however, I personally don’t see Magnus Paajarvi and a second round pick as fair compensation. Paajarvi has struggled in Edmonton and has been back and forth between the Oilers and their AHL affiliate, the Okalahoma City Barons ever since being drafted. While he is definitely a talented and skilled player, until he can show that he can put those talents and skills to good use, I think Edmonton wins this trade. One move I thought was smart was to bring in C Derek Roy. Roy is a 10-year NHL veteran with playoff experience who can shoot, pass, skate and lead by example. He is a great guy to have in your dressing room and will be a great help bringing along youngsters like Vladimir Tarasenko, TJ Oshie and Patrick Berglund. The Blues have somewhat of a traffic jam in their crease, so expect a goaltender to be moved before the season starts as well. Jaroslav Halak has expressed his displeasure with coach Ken Hitchcock, so it is not unreasonable to believe he will be donning a new sweater come October.

Vancouver Canucks,Losers
In:
Luke Richardson, Yannick Weber
Out: Keith Ballard, Max Lapierre, Cory Schneider, Cam Barker
Limbo: Mason Raymond Roberto-Luongo-1024x777

Oh boy.. If I am the only who thinks the Canucks are heading in the wrong direction, please let me know. After 2 and a half years of drama, controversy and “sucky contract” talks surrounding Roberto Luongo, GM Mike Gillis made the genius decision of trading Cory Schneider instead, to New Jersey for the 9th overall pick in this year’s draft. They then chose Bo Horvat with that selection. So, Schneider straight up for Horvat. Wow. Now, I’m not knocking Horvat; he’s a talented kid and should score a few goals for the Canucks in the future, but one can’t help but think that the return could have been much larger had Gillis jumped on the deal the Maple Leafs had offered. At least that deal included roster players. However, hindsight is always 20/20, and what’s done has been done. Now, Luongo has to deal with the fact the he may very well have to play out the next 8 years of his wonderful contract in Vancouver. Hey, at least he’s starting again…. right? Furthermore, since someone decided David Booth and Alex Burrows are worth $4.25 million and $4.5 million, respectively, the team has little cap room to work with, leaving Mason Raymond without a job. Personally, I love Mason Raymond. I’m the furthest thing from a Canucks fan (despite living in Vancouver), but Raymond is a gritty forward who has hands and loves to to the net. The guy can shoot and has potential, but has always had to fight for a job with Daniel Sedin, David Booth and Chris Higgins ahead of him on the ‘Nucks depth chart. I’m perplexed at how he is still unemployed and will be had at a steal for any team willing to take a chance on him. Defensively, the Canucks are so clogged they are basically sending out flyers and coupons for every one of their blueliners not named Chris Tanev or Jason Garrison. Alex Edler carries a $5 million cap hit, and Kevin Bieksa‘s is $4.6 million so those 2 names are being actively shopped, assumedly for draft picks and prospects, since Vancouver can not really afford to take back any salary. So that’s a wrap on the Western Conference offseason recap. I want to know what you guys think, so leave a comment in the box below and let me know where I went wrong! Thanks for reading, come back soon, and don’t forget to follow me on twitter @younggunshockey!

Kavan’s Crease: Eastern Conference Free Agency Re-Cap

I’ve been away on vacation the last week so I didn’t have much time to get any writing in. It turns out that women really don’t like when you’re watching the draft and making notes in your hotel room in Whistler. Who knew?

Anyways, in the first part of this 2-part article, I’ll be re-capping the moves (or lack thereof) by the teams in the Eastern Conference. I’ll let you know notable additions, subtractions, who’s still available and which teams were winners, losers or made lateral movements.

Boston Bruins, Lateral:

Notable ins: Jarome Iginla, Louis Eriksson, Joe Morrow
Notable outs: Tyler Seguin, Andrew Ference, Rich Peverley, Nathan Horton, Anton Khudobin
In Limbo: Jaromir Jagr, Wade Redden, Kaspars Daugavins

tyler

 

 

The Bruins made headlines just days before the draft by sending 2010 2nd overall draft pick Tyler Seguin, along with Rich Peverley and Ryan Button, to Dallas in return for Louis Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser.

This deal didn’t exactly improve the Bruins’ hockey club, but ridding themselves of the distraction that was Tyler Seguin’s unprofessionalism and adding Louis Eriksson is definitely not a loss. There is little doubt that Seguin will be a great hockey player when he gets older, but apparently the Bruins just don’t have the patience to wait for him. Eriksson will excel on a line with Bergeron and Lucic.

Jaromir Jagr and Wade Redden will not have their services retained and Kaspars Daugavins may have to wait for a contract until the team signs Tuukka Rask.

 

Buffalo Sabres, Losers:

In: Jamie Mcbain, Henrik Tallinder
Out: Andrej Sekera, Nathan Gerbe
Limbo: N/A

There was a lot of talk about the Sabres moving some key pieces in order to “regroup” and add assets to make another run. However, after dealing Derek Roy to Dallas before the season and Jason Pominville to Minnesota at the deadline, GM Darcy Regier has still yet to make a decision on F Tomas Vanek and G Ryan Miller. If the Sabres are to improve to a playoff team again, it is almost necessary to move Vanek and Miller before the season because they will not be worth much the longer Regier waits. Jamie McBain is a good fit with Tyler Myers, but the forward depth on this team is abysmal and is in need of a serious upgrade.

Carolina Hurricanes, Lateral:

In: Anton Khudobin, Mike Komisarek, Elias Lindholm, Andrej Sekera.
Out: Jamie McBain, Dan Ellis.
Limbo: N/A

The Canes made some minor adjustments, but stayed the course for the mostpart. The McBain for Sekera trade makes sense, as it gives Carolina some defensive leadership and veteran presence on their back end.

The only small issue that may come up is the replacing of Dan Ellis with Anton Khudobin. Cam Ward has had injury trouble in the recent past and Ellis was solid in his absence; Khudobin, however, has only played a mere 21 NHL games and is a big question mark to take the starting role should Ward go down again.

Otherwise, the future looks bright in Carolina, and it will be fun to watch this young team develop.

Columbus Blue Jackets, Winners:

In: Nathan Horton
Out: N/A
Limbo: Vinny Prospal, Michael Leighton, Adrian Aucoin

bobrovsky-201213Bobrovsky!! Despite signing Nathan Horton to a 7-year, $37.1 million deal, the biggest accomplishment for GM Jarmo Kekalainen was signing G Sergei Bobrovsky. The kid is still young at only 24 years of age and signing him short-term is genius. Truthfully, yes, Bob had a Vezina-worthy season. Goaltenders, however, take much longer to mature than skaters do and, therefore, could mean that Bob is just a flash in the pan who could drop off the face of the Earth next season (like Vesa Toskala, who had 1 good season, was acquired for a first- and second-round pick and then disappeared). Only signing him to a 2-year deal also means he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the contract as opposed to an unrestricted free agent and give Columbus sole negotiating rights.

After dealing with Bobrovsky, the Jackets then went on to sign Nathan Horton long-term, creating a strong core and a seriously dangerous top line of Horton, Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik (assuming Gaborik’s glass shoulder/groin/knee all hold up).

Detroit Red Wings, Winners:

In: Stephen Weiss, Daniel Alfredsson
Out: Valteri Filppula, Carlo Colaiacovo
Limbo: Damien Brunner, Daniel Cleary, Ian White

daniel-alfredsson-7

 

Any team that adds Daniel Alfredsson to there roster cannot be considered a loser of free agency. After realizing the former Ottawa Senators captain and longest serving player was not going to re-sign, Ken Holland and the Red Wings pounced, inking Alfie to a one-year, $5.5 million contract. There is no question to what Alfredsson brings to the table. The Wings are getting one of the league’s longest-tenured captains, a capable point-producer, and a huge boost in leadership to help Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg bring along the youngins.

As well as Alfredsson, Detroit signed former Florida Panthers C Stephen Weiss to a 5 year, $24.5 million contract. Weiss will bring a consistent scoring touch, as he has scored 20 or more goals 4 times in the last 7 seasons.

 

 

Florida Panthers, Losers:

In: Alexsander Barkov
Out: Stephen Weiss, George Parros, Jack Skille
Limbo: Filip Kuba, Peter Mueller, Jose Theodore

Being in possession of the second-overall pick in, arguably, one of the deepest drafts in NHL history, many expected the Panthers to select either C Nathan MacKinnon, D Seth Jones or LW Jonathan Drouin. After Colorado picked MacKinnon first overall, everyone in the Prudential Center was left scratching their head as GM Dale Tallon announced the team was selecting Alexsander Barkov instead of Jones or Drouin; especially with a glaring need on defense and rival Tampa Bay sitting patiently in the third overall spot.

Despite passing on Drouin and Jones, Barkov makes a nice addition up front with the likes of Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau and future 25-goal scorer Nick Bjugstad in the Panthers’ current ranks.

Forgetting the draft for a minute, Florida needs to acquire a goaltender, and quickly. They were dead silent on July 5th with capable goalies like Ray Emery, Ilya Bryzgalov, Mike Smith and, apparently, Cory Schneider available. Could they not have made a better deal for Schneider than New Jersey did? Or were they just unwilling to give up the no. 2 pick? Regardless. this issue needs to be addressed.

Montreal Canadiens, Lateral:

In: Daniel Briere, George Parros
Out: Michael Ryder, Yannick Weber, Tomas Kaberle, Colby Armstrong, Jeff Halpern
Limbo: N/A

Les Habitants have not gotten worse since the entry draft, but also have not gotten much better. After letting Michael Ryder walk, GM Marc Bergevin replaced him with an older, less productive in recent years Danny Briere. Briere is a massive playoff producer, but if he can’t make it there healthily, he absolutely will not be worth the $4 million he will be getting paid (from the Canadiens, anyways). This is a calculated risk, however; if Briere doesn’t work out, he’s only signed on for 2 seasons at a tolerable salary, but f he stays healthy and puts up playoff numbers like he has in the past, he will be one of the steals of free agency.

Another addition made by the Habs was George Parros and, quite frankly, if someone can explain this to me, I would love to hear it. After going hard after Brandon Prust last year and paying him $2.5 million(!!!!), Bergevin brought in another enforcer to waste a roster spot that could be used for an up-and-coming prospect like Gabriel Dumont, Charles Hudon, Tim Bozon or Michael Bournival to gain some experience.

On the whole, Montreal’s biggest move may have been not making too many moves. The team made big strides last season and won’t need too much tweaking to continue progressing.

New Jersey Devils, Winners:

In: Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder, Cory Schneider
Out: David Clarkson, Johan Hedberg.
Limbo: Cam Janssen, Alexei Ponikarovaky, Marek Zidlicky

David+Clarkson+Calgary+Flames+v+New+Jersey+4gt5ewojFaJlThis offseason, there was a lot of talk around the Devils. Between David Clarkson and Martin Brodeur, there were a lot of question marks hanging over the organization.

That all changed, starting June 30th at the draft where, out of nowhere, Joisey acquired Cory Schneider straight up from the Vancouver Canucks for the 9th overall pick (Bo Horvat). Clarkson would go on to sign in Toronto (more on that later)

With Clarkson and Janssen not re-signing, Uncle Lou had to replace some of the sandpaper up front so he added Ryan Clowe to provide the dirty work as well as put in a few ugly goals here and there. Was he worth $4.85 mil a year? That remains to be seen at this point, but one can only assume that that is a slight overpayment, considering Vinny Lecavalier signed for $4.5 mil per and Stephen Weiss got $4.9 mil.

New York Islanders, Winners:

In: Cal Clutterbuck, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Peter Regin
Out: Nino Niederreiter, Rick DiPietro, Brad Boyes, Mark Streit
Limbo: N/A

Islanders GM Garth Snow should receive a vote for GM of the year next year. After reading the ins and outs, it may be difficult to understand why, but this is the reasoning:

Nino Niederreiter has a promising NHL career ahead of him and will be a star in the league; it just wasn’t happening in Long Island. A lack of ice-time and opportunity left a bad taste in Nino’s mouth and it was beginning to be a little too dramatic for Snow, so Nino was sent to the Minnesota Wild for Cal Clutterbuck and a 3rd round pick in 2014. Clutterbuck adds some needed toughness to the Islanders lineup and can put a few pucks in the net as well. He is a heart and soul player who leaves it all on the ice and should make the players around him better.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard has to be the most underrated signing this offseason so far. $2 mil for a guy who can put the puck right in John Tavares’ wheelhouse is a steal. He comes with almost 600 games of experience and can pass like nobody’s business. expect Tavares to score 10-15 more goals with Bouchard on his wing.

The rest of Garth Snow’s winning streak comes from addition by subtraction. Having Rick DiPietro off the roster and out of the organization has to be a huge sigh of relief for Snow and Isles’ owner Charles Wang. Evgeni Nabokov is no longer the goalie he used to be, but he is paid accordingly and has virtually no expectations.

Losing Mark Streit hurts, but there is little you can do with pending UFAs; you can either throw way too much money at them to stick around (cough Mike Smith cough) or you can do what Garth Snow did and trade his rights for a pick that may or may not amount to an NHL player. In this case, the latter is probably the better since Streit got more from Philly than Snow was willing to pay.

New York Rangers, Lateral:

In: Benoit Pouliot, Dominic Moore, Alain Vigneault
Out: Ryane Clowe
Limbo: Matt Gilroy, Roman Hamrlik

The Rangers have been one of the quieter teams in the NHL this offseason, after making their blockbuster moves during the season. Having the majority of their young core in place and bringing in Rick Nash during the season, Glen Sather essentially stood pat, letting Ryane Clowe sign across the river in New Jersey for too much money and signing depth forwards Dominc Moore and Benoit Pouliot.

The biggest change for the Rangers has come from behind the bench. With all the pieces in place to be a cup contender, John Tortorella just wasn’t getting through to his team anymore. So, he was kicked to the curb and Alain Vigneault was brought in. Vigneault knows how to coach young players and veterans alike and has playoff experience. His calm demeanour and ability to work with all types of players should provide the Rangers what they need to take the next step.

Bobby Ryan

 

 

Ottawa Senators, Winners:

In: Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur
Out: Daniel Alfredsson, Jakob Silfverberg, Peter Regin
Limbo: Guillaume Latendresse

Despite losing their captain and longest-tenured player to the Red Wings, Bryan Murray and the Senators wasted no time filling his spot, sending prospects Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen to Anaheim along with a 2014 first round pick for Bobby Ryan. Ryan is a former 30-goal scorer and putting him with Jason Spezza and a healthy Milan Michalek will bring an immediate threat to Ottawa’s top line and a boost to the NHL’s 20th ranked powerplay in 2013.

 

 

 

Philadelphia Flyers, Winners:

In: Vincent Lecavalier, Mark Streit, Ray Emery
Out: Danny Briere, Ilya Bryzgalov, Ruslan Fedotenko, Mike Knuble
Limbo: Simon Gagne, Andreas Lilja

Vincent LecavalierThe Flyers have a reputation of making splashes in the offseason, and GM Paul Holmgren did not disappoint. After making headlines in early June by buying out F Danny Briere and G Ilya Bryzgalov, Holmgren signed arguably the most sought-after free agent on this year’s market: Vincent Lecavalier. After being bought out by the Lightning for having an expensive contract, Lecavalier didn’t waste much time signing a new, overpaid long-term contract with the Flyers. He figures to play on the first or second line and should bring some extra offense.

Being famous for having a severely weak back-end, Holmgren addressed the need with what was available. Being $1 million over the salary cap doesn’t help, but the Flyers were able to acquire the rights to and sign former Islanders captain Mark Streit, as well as sign Stanley Cup Champion Ray Emery to a low-risk 1 year deal. Emery may not be the best goalie in the league, but he should bring a little more consistency and professionalism to the Flyers crease and serve as an apt replacement for Bryzgalov. Despite not playing a minute in the playoffs, it is not a stretch to say that the Blackhawks would not even have been there were it not for Emery.

Pittsburgh Penguins, Losers:

In: Rob Scuderi
Out: Tyler Kennedy, Jarome Iginla, Matt Cooke, Brendan Morrow
Limbo: Douglas Murray, Mark Eaton

(Photo: Dan4th. flickr)
(Photo: Dan4th. flickr)

 

 

After failing miserably in the conference finals to the Bruins, the Penguins had soul searching to do this offseason. After re-signing Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to extensions, the Pens are out of money and still have roster spots to fill. Re-acquiring Rob Scuderi is a good start to fixing the blueline, but it would have been beneficial for GM Ray Shero to do something about his goaltending situation, since it seems as though Marc-Andre Fleury has forgotten what his job was in the NHL.

Alas, the Penguins have made few moves so far and unless they sort out their salary cap conundrum, next season could be very interesting for Crosby and Co.

 

 

 

Tampa Bay Lightning, Winners:

In: Jonathan Drouin, Valteri Filppula
Out: Vincent Lecavalier, Benoit Pouliot
Limbo: N/A

Halifax Mooseheads v Shawinigan CataractesSteve Yzerman made news this offseason by unexpectedly buying out franchise forward Vincent Lecavalier and his 11-year, $85 million contract. The move was a little easier for Lightning brass to swallow knowing that within two weeks, they would be adding one of Nathan Mackinnon, Seth Jones, Jonathan Drouin or Alexsander Barkov. With MacKinnon going first and Barkov surprisingly going second, Drouin practically fell into Yzerman’s lap. If Drouin makes the big club next season, it won’t be long before Lightning fans are saying, “Vinny who?”

The Bolts also dipped into the free agent market by inking for Red Wing Valteri Filpulla to a 5-year deal. Besides Clowe in Jersey and Filppula’s replacement in Detroit, Weiss, this has to be one of the most overrated deals to be handed out this year. $5 million per season for a guy who has scores more than 20 goals and 50 points ONE TIME, in the same season for that matter, is ridiculous. The fact that he even got those goals and points could have a lot to do with playing with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Here’s hoping he can transition from playing with 2 Europeans to 2 Canadian boys.

Toronto Maple Leafs, Winners:

In: Jonathan Bernier, Dave Bolland, David Clarkson
Out: Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, Mike Komisarek, Mike Kostka, Tim Connolly, Ryan O’Byrne, Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens
Limbo: N/A

mikhail grabovskiThere are a lot of names on the “out” list in Toronto that must be bringing smiles to the faces of Leaf fans everywhere. Ridding the team of Komisarek, Connolly, O’Byrne and even Grabovski opens up some cap space and makes room for some youngsters like Morgan Rielly and Carter Ashton to step up.

Before the draft, Dave Nonis did what Brian Burke couldn’t and took care of the goaltending position. Despite placing his utmost confidence in James Reimer, the Leafs GM sent Matt Frattin and Ben Scriven to Los Angeles for long-time backup Jonathan Bernier. Bernier has some of the best numbers in the league the last 2 or 3 years (2.36 GAA, .916 SV%), despite being stuck behind incumbent starter Jon Quick. The battle for playing time will be fierce as James Reimer has stated publicly that he has no intention of giving up the net.

David Clarkson, one of the biggest names on the free agent market, is exactly the type of player Toronto needs, and should bring a huge character boost to the Leafs locker room. Raised in Toronto, Clarkson is the hard-nosed, gritty type of power forward the Buds have been looking for since Tie Domi left and, along with the addition of Dave Bolland, should make it awfully hard for teams to play against them.

Washington Capitals, Losers:

In: N/A
Out: Mike Ribeiro, Jeff Schultz, Matt Hendricks
Limbo: Tom Poti, Wojtek Wolski

Hello, George Mcphee? Oh! You guys ARE still a team! Where were the capitals this offseason? Apparently holding the door so all their free agents could walk. After losing 2 top 6 d-men and 2 top 6 forwards, you would think Washington had some backup plans when their backup plans didn’t work. Unless the Caps make some depth moves before the season starts, I wouldn’t expect them to be back in the playoffs come spring 2014.

So, that concludes my first free agency/offseason analysis! Let me know what you think and check back tomorrow for the Western Conference! Thanks for reading!