: Ovechkin, who may very well play GM again in Columbus this year (
), is in agreement with the management staff that 07/08 should be the year the team returns to it’s mid-90s Poile-era form, or at least make a conscious effort. With Backstrom coming in, the Caps will look to acquire just a bit more depth up the middle. Expect them to get into the races for White, Handzus, and Stumpel early on, with Walz, Kozlov, and Nylander as contingencies. They may make a play for Yashin, but I would save that as a last resort (C-A-N-C-E-R). Defensively, the team doesn’t have a lot of room to work with, but they may still get in on the Great Preissing War. They’ll also look for a little more oomph on the wings, so look for them to go for Nolan, Blake, Orszagh, and if all else fails, Nils Ekman, who could be a solid addition if Glen Hanlon opts for three scoring lines and a checking line.
: With only eight players under contract, GM Jacques Martin can basically re-build this team from the ground up. And who wouldn’t want to play in a place like Miami? Maybe they’ll trade for Jagr, because I know he wants beaches and girls more than another Cup. All joking aside, Signor Martin has more options than any other GM in the NHL this summer, as he has, depending on the cap setting, as much as $32M in payroll that he can spend. Look for him to go for Blake and probably some second tier players like Amonte and Brad May to shore up things on the bottom end. Viktor Kozlov may make a return to Florida, and Ladislav Nagy may be a big target also. I suspect they will make a HUGE bid for Andy Sutton, and he’ll be eager to play there since he doesn’t have to move his family (or at least not far) and he’s a solid supplement to Jay Bouwmeester. Preissing and Markov will also be prime targets to shore up the second and third units of a lousy defense. On the wings, if they can’t bring back Gelinas, they’ll certainly go for Battaglia and Johnson, and they may take a chance on Nils Ekman returning to form. They’ll also likely invest in a big-name goaltender. Giguere is the best target if he hit’s the market, but they’ll otherwise give Aebischer a long look, along with Markkanen and Weekes, who will be seeking better minutes than their current roles and all three will be far more affordable than Giggy.
: To paraphrase David Poile, this is the segment I hate to write. The Thrashers had an absolutely dreadful season(speaking in terms of playoff performance and off-ice management) and Waddell didn’t help things by basically torching the team’s future. Kozlov, Sutton, and deVries all allegedly want out, so it’s not like FAs will be begging to sign there. They will have to go after second-tier talent up front, which is really all they need when they have Kovalchuk and Hossa. Jan Bulis and Alexei Yashin are good options up the middle, and Jeff Friesen, along with Radek Bonk (a former team-mate of Hossa’s) are sound choices on the wings. Defensively, dealing Braydon Coburn was, in hindsight, a pretty hefty mistake. The team will have to look at options like Janne Niinimaa and Brent Sopel (not exactly my first choices for anybody) as prime targets. Goaltending could use some help, I suppose, but it’s not like Hedberg and Lehtonen are necessarily below-average or just average.
: I expect them to do nothing unless they get a depth signing like Boginecki or May as pick-ups for the checking lines. They’ve got 20 players under contract and have over $40M in payroll. And the NHL08 cover boy. B)
: In a similar boat to Carolina, but with a bit less flexibility because of the “Big Four”- Lecavalier, St. Louis, Richards, Boyle (and no, they won’t move any of them). They certainly won’t be going after any marquee talent as they have enough of that for a couple of teams. They might make some trades on or before Draft Day, however, using some of their nine selections to acquire proven NHL talent and take a shot at a deep playoff run this year.
I agree with some of it, Panthers defense is not lousy, there young. They also have 9 defenders at NHL calibre potentially jostling for a position, so our defence does not need any changes whatsoever, unless it is trading one of them for a goaltender. As far as Nagy and Kozlov go, i guess they would be welcome, but it's going to take more than that to make the playoffs.
The only defensemen I ever hear about are Bouwmeester and Allen (is he even a D-man?), so that's what I based that off of. I'm not huge on the Southeast so I doubt a lot of my "intelligence" on the Panthers is accurate, but I went with what I had. There's never any media attention there. and West fans don't hear all that much about East teams in the media.
It will certainly take more than Nagy and Kozlov to make the playoffs, but I was just citing some general examples. I'd like to think they're a front-runner for Yashin because of the lack of NHL limelight. It would give him a chance to rebuild his image.
I know they're interested in getting a goaltender, and the Predators may be looking to move one of Vokoun and Mason, most likely Mason, and Florida is where I had him pegged in December when fans started talking about Draft Day deals. Pure speculation, but after the Timonen-Hartnell deal, you never know what's gonna happen.