Saturday, June 30, 2007

Boston Gets a Proven Goalie For Nothing

Minnesota's depth at the goaltending position has allowed them to send their former starter Manny Fernandez to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Petr Kalus and a fourth round pick. Kalus was a 2nd round pick in 2005 and had 4 goals and 5 points in 9 games last season with the Bs. Clearly this was a case of Minnesota clearing some cap space and in doing so they have essentially announced that Josh Harding, a surprise sophomore from last season, will spend next season backing up last year's fantasy sleeper, and the man that almost single-handedly earned me a fantasy championship, Niklas Backstrom.

17 Hours and Counting

With the clock winding down on teams to make their last ditch efforts to secure their free agents and prevent the 32-team free for all that will be the next 48 hours, I'm left wondering who of the big free agents I'd go after first. Obviously it's about grabbing the right guy for your system and the player that best fills your need. For example, Pittsburgh really doesn't need another center with Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin and Crosby all commanding solid chunks of ice time. The best forward for them could be someone like Dainius Zubrus who could play the wing with Crosby and add the grit that they so desperately needed in the playoffs from anyone who's name isn't Gary Roberts. Though they would actually benefit more from someone like Bryan Rafalski but that's another topic entirely.

As for my pick of the top free agent, I'd say that Daniel Briere is my number one guy. Frankly, I'm surprised that Buffalo is letting him escape. I think they are going to find that their offense is very different next year without this guy and whoever grabs him and his enormous salary will most certainly reap the benefits of Buffalo's debacle. They had an opportunity to sign him last season to a deal that would have cost them roughly 2-3 million dollars LESS per year but their policy of never negotiating contracts during the season has ensured that he'll now line up on the opposite side of the ice. A real shame for Buffalo fans.

However, if you can get the Buffalo fans to silence their weeping for a moment you might hear Simone Gagne falling to his knees and sending prayer after prayer to the hockey gods asking them to help the Flyers land Briere. He's somewhat like a faster, slightly smaller, less physical, functional-foot having Peter Forsberg and we all know what that did for Gagne's point total. Speaking of Forsberg, he's one step closer to bionic feet after having another round of surgery.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Can You Afford Me Now?

With a 29% increase in the Salary Cap from 2 years ago these NHL teams have more leg room in their finances than United Air Lines offers in their First Class Cabin. With all the housekeeping going on around the league and the teams positioning themselves financially for Sunday's Easter Egg hunt ... an added $6 Million to the salary cap puts some teams in prime position for the free agents hitting the boards.

I have been reading all day long about Chris Drury all but inked into San Jose's roster for next year - however, knowing Doug Wilson and what he will do to get a player he wants ... I will wait patiently until I see Chris donning a teal jersey.

Now I read that Chicago is shopping Khabibulin, Teemu Selanne and Neid's from Anaheim are contemplating retirement ... there is going to be so much cash flying around I will be surprised if everyone can keep up with the transactions that take place over the next 32 days.

On the other side of the coin - with all this being said, I know there are going to be smart GM's and others who make emotional decisons. There is a fine line between collecting single players and creating a great team. I would like to see some teams focus on fan appreciation, fan generation, hockey introductions into the cities they live and play in. I would like to see this next season focus on introducing the NHL as a viable sport to watch. Sure Hockey has its followings - it has its fan base ... but I think its time to hit the marketing trail hard.

How has NASCAR grown year after year, its fan base has exploded over the last 5 years. It is not because the races are any more entertaining - its the introduction of the sport into mainstream media. The NHL needs to expand into markets that will carry its message to as many people as possible - of course, I am sure they know that, but maybe now they can afford to focus some of the attention outside of the locker room.

Cap Increases and the Free Agents Cheer

TSN is reporting that the cap will be increased by $6 million to $50.3 million for the coming season. This is a far cry from the $39 million cap that was used for the first season after the lockout and it sets a scary trend for the league long-term. However, it should also perpetuate some exciting action over the next few days for us since even the most cap-strapped teams now have some room to breathe.

A Great Summary of Each Team's Current State

Briere, Kariya and the Salary Cap


The NHL is going to announce the salary cap for the coming year and it is expected that it will rise. Of course, how much is the real question. Will this give teams likes Buffalo an extra $4 million to work with? If so, you may see quite a few deals get completed this afternoon or tomorrow as teams scramble to retain their players before Sunday's deadline.


TSN is reporting that Briere turned down a long-term contract from the Buffalo Sabres late yesterday. Apparently the deal was very similar to the one the team DIDN'T want to give him last year. I'm sure they are kicking, punching and biting themselves for not doing it when they had the chance. My guess is that Briere will end up in Philly or Montreal, though I'd secretly love to see him land in Washington with Alexander Ovechkin. Either way, I'm expecting him to sign a 4-6 year deal worth about $7 million per year.


In response to Bill's Kariya post apparently Dallas is on the list of possible destinations. Although Dallas is my hometown team I've always felt that the Stars are where great players go to die.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kariya going into free agency

With Nashville sinking it seems as if the players are scurrying around like rats trying to find the life boats. Who knows what will happen, however, with Vokoun, Timonen and Hartnell already gone ... Kariya is about to get snatched up quicker than a signed pardon in a maximum security prison.

It will be interesting to see who courts him starting on July 1st. Which teams out there have room for a player like Paul. San Jose just finished pruning and they have a HUGE pile of available cash ready for negotiating. Will it be Paul or Chris for the Sharks? Will it be both? I think either player would be a HUGE asset for the Sharks organization - however, with the new kids they picked up at the draft, I think that the Sharks will want to add to the maturity level in the locker room. Joe, Jonathan, Patrick are all great leaders (however, I dont see Patrick lasting much longer) - I believe that if push comes to shove and Doug Wilson has to choose between one or the other ...

Chris Drury will be wearing Teal next season!

Good Luck Paul ... maybe Anaheim will want to bring Teemu and Paul back together.

Balsillie Denied Again

The Predators owner has informed the NHL that he's found a different buyer for the team. According to, the Predators have been sold to William DelBiaggio, a businessman from California, for $50 million less than what Balsillie was offering. I see Balsillie as the Mark Cuban of the NHL and eventually he's going to end up with a team. Frankly, I can't wait. It'd be nice to have a somewhat erratic owner in the league who's passion frequently boils over.

The Free Agent Period in the New NHL

So we're mere days from the start of the free agent period and there are still some huge names being thrown around. Will Pitkanen end up in Edmonton via a 3-way deal with Carolina? Will the Buffalo Sabres be able to re-sign either Drury or Briere? Will Ryan Smyth end up playing for the Calgary Flames, a team that used to be his biggest rival. For me, this is the second best part of the season next to the playoffs. With the new salary cap structure and all of the young talent now in the league any team can make a huge turnaround in a single season just by making good decisions on July 1st. Speaking of turnarounds:


The comeback kids are in a good position to make a splash during free agency. The only player that it seems they may have lost is Ouellet, to whom they chose not to make a qualifying offer, which hopefully opened them up to sign a defensemen. The Penguins problem is certainly not offense. They need toughness and defense. They simply got out-hit by the Senators and looked a little soft in that series. And speaking of getting exposed by the Senators:


Most people know that they are in a tough position. Rumor has them making offers to both Briere and Drury but that puts them in a dangerous situation when it comes to their leading goal scorer Vanek, who is a restricted free agent. Buffalo has already made him a qualifying offer but many expect multiple teams to make a big offer to Vanek that Buffalo will pretty much have to match. Signing both Drury and Briere will put them at risk of losing Vanek since they may not have the cap to match a deal. Frankly, I like both Drury and Briere but I would keep Briere and trade the rights to Drury in the next couple of days. There have been quite a few rumors of Drury going to the Sharks...which would make Bill quite happy.


I just have to point out how surprised I was by the fact that the Edmonton Oilers traded their heart, their soul, their lungs, their kidneys and every other vital organ by sending Ryan Smyth out of town. There is also something exciting about the idea of him playing on the other side of the Battle for Alberta. I get giddy just thinking about that first game in Edmonton....of course the Islanders may make him a ridiculous deal.


So Atlanta trades Tkachuk and a conditional fourth round pick back to St. Louis for the conditional first round pick they initially gave to St. Louis for Tkachuk. How's that for a mulligan? That's the very definition of a rental.

So they trade one of their best defensemen and one of the best goalies in the league but they aren't hosting a fire sale.....right. Yes, they have Mason who is clearly a good goaltender but it's clear that they are cutting cap and sending people out of town. They should just move the team to Canada and call it a day......and they should swing by Chicago and move that team to Canada as well. You could move Chicago to Iowa and, with a new owner, they'd instantly be a better team.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Preparing for the 2007/2008 NHL Season!

Its to early to start a countdown - that would just depress us! However - Free Agency starts in 4 days ... July 1!!! Are YOU ready?