Thursday, June 28, 2007

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.

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