Many have speculated and this week starts the changing of the guard in the NHL. The LA’s, Chicago’s, and Boston have run into a huge obstacle… Namely the salary cap. With so many teams rebuilding, retooling and shifting gears this week promises to be the beginning of the most active off season in over a decade. So what can we expect?
Anaheim – One must consider Anaheim as the front runner for next season and with $15 m available for next season the Ducks are in a position of power. Aside from resigning Silverberg and maybe Beauchemin the Ducks roster is pretty much the same as it was in the division final. The Ducks however must be salivating over the players that may become available because of cap crunches. Look for Anaheim to stalk LW’s like Lucic. Anaheim is definitely buying.
Arizona – With their whole future murky in regards to its ownership, arena and sponsorship dollars the Coyotes are set to stay pat. Don’t expect much in the desert.
Boston – The Bruins have many hard decisions as a major retooling is likely under way. With up and coming stars in the development phase and being tight to the cap the Bruins will be looking to move some of their high priced talent out. The Bruins are looking to move 1 maybe 2 contracts and rumors suggest it could be Lucic, Eriksson, and or Seidenberg. A surprise move maybe to move Rask. NMC and NTC may make Boston’s task monumental.
Buffalo – Tim Murray is aggressive in his search for new talent. Buffalo will likely dominate the rumor mill when it comes to some of the bigger names being moved. Tim Murray is looking to add some older leadership but look for Murray to be zeroing in on younger talent. Murray will likely put offer sheets out on RFAs.
Calgary – Numerous reports have noted the most active GM, Brad Trevling, has been ridiculously busy on the phones. The Flames are looking for a big RW to compliment Gaudreau and Monahan in addition to finding a second pairing D-man to play with Wideman. Many rumors out there are about goaltending and it likely is true so look for the Flames to acquire a solid #1 goalie.
Carolina – Much of what is being played out in Carolina has been due to their poor performance on the ice with many screaming for a complete teardown of the team. Look for Semin to be bought out. Francis will be looking to make hockey moves with the whole idea of getting younger. I doubt Eric Staal gets moved but there will be many tire kickers. Centers of his caliber are hard to find and at 31 years old Staal is far from old.
Chicago – Much has been written of Chicago’s cap woes and they are definitely sellers. Look for one of either Patrick Sharp or Brian Bickel to be moved before July 1. Bowman will not jeopardize Saad’s signing. Come July if Seabrook cannot be signed to an extension look for Stan to move Brent. Yes Seabrook is likely one of the very best defensemen in the league but Bowman understands the money side as well and has traded Ladd, Buff, and many others to keep his team competitive.
Colorado – Ryan O’Rielly has dominated the headlines with great speculation. Signed or not look for Ryan O’Reilly to be traded. Colorado has a plethora of good young Centers that will cost far less money than Ryan. Look for Ryan to be traded in July or August for a first pairing defenseman. Any moves the Av’s make will involve acquiring D.
Columbus – The Blue Jackets could not buy any luck in the first two thirds of the season in regards to injuries. After a strong finish look for Columbus to acquire assets for their young team. If the Jackets can move Bourque and or Clarkson they will make the move but don’t be surprised if they stand pat. They know they have one of the very best goalies in the league in net. Look for the Blue Jackets to sign or trade for a better back-up to Bobrovsky.
Dallas – Offensively Dallas had an incredible year last year but the young defense core struggled to keep the opposition from scoring add to that Lehtonen struggled. The Stars will be looking for some experienced D men and either a stronger backup goalie like Talbot, Ramo or Lack or blow the doors off and go after a goalie like Rask.
Detroit – It is hard to pin down exactly what Ken Holland has up his sleeve. With a new head coach and plenty of cap space I will say to expect the unexpected. Holland will make moves maybe sign offer sheets but everyone will be shocked at the end of the day.
Edmonton – Stability has finally returned to Edmonton. With a coach and GM that will be there for years the identity of the Oilers will finally be clarified. Look for Edmonton to be in on every big named defenseman on the market. Add to that Chiarelli will be bringing in roll players for the bottom six. Don’t be surprised to see Ramo in Edmonton.
Flordia – The kettle in Flordia has been brewing for the last couple years and this next year will yield the benefits of patience. Dave Tallon has to be regarded as one of the most talented builders in the NHL. His combination of patience and drafting prowess makes Dave Flordia’s best asset. Signing Jagr to mentor these young guys was brilliant. Look for Dave to put offer sheets out on players like Brett Connolly.
LA – Oh what a difference a year makes. Lombardi will have his hands full this summer. Look for Richards to be bought out but that will still leave the kings in salary cap hell. Playoff stud Williams is abandoning ship. Stoll is likely right behind him so what next? Look for Dean Lombardi to retool his lineup. With few NTC and NMC I expect changes to the forwards lineup in LA. Carter, Gaborik, Brown could all be destined to be moved and replaced with younger cheaper talent.
Minnesota – The focus on the core issues in St. Louis has been very public but there are rumblings of the same issues in Minnesota. Look for changes to the top six forwards. It would not surprise me to see Vanek bought out to make room for younger guys. Minnesota is definitely looking for upgrades to the top 6 and if Eric Staal does become available don’t be surprised to see him in Minnesota.
Montreal – Bergevin has been waiting for a year like this to finally land himself that number 1 center. The only problem is he finds himself up to the cap. Look for Bergevin to move Markov and a third to fourth round draft pick for a bag of pucks so he can go after Ryan O’Rielly or Eric Staal.
Nashville – Since they are a financially restricted team don’t look for many big splashes. David Poile knows his situation and through economical signings and development he will put a quality team on the ice.
New Jersey – With Lou out of the GM’s chair it creates some interesting times in New Jersey. For the first time in over 20 years a different vision will be followed. Look for the rebuild and fire sale to start in earnest.
New Your Islanders – With Okposo’s name being bandied about you must know the organization is swinging for the fences in their first year in their new digs. With many prospects in their system, salary cap room to spare, and quality players throughout their lineup Snow is going to try and land the final couple pieces to get the Isles the cup. Look for names like Lucic, Gaborik, Rask, Quick to float around.
New York Rangers – Other than trading for a first line RW the NYR will be looking to add players through free agency. With a very strong defense core about to hit their prime and Lundqvist aging Sather knows it is now or never as this will likely be his last chance. Look for Talbot to move for a top 6 forward.
Ottawa – After the trials and tribulations in Ottawa for the last year with the resurgent Sens Bryan Murray finally sees the promise land ahead. The only problem is will he live to see it. With plenty of cap room and wanted goalies Bryan has an opportunity to get the Sens to the next level. Look for Murray to go after teams shedding contracts for players like Gaborik, Sharp and anybody else Bryan feels is an upgrade.
Philadelphia – Ron Hextal is doing a marvelous job in Philly trying to get the Flyers back on their feet. Ron’s mission this summer is to shed contracts. Look for Ron to try and move Lecavalier, Shenn, Grossman, Medvedev, and Shultz. If he is successful you could see Brayden Shenn being moved for some talent being shed in cap dumps from other clubs.
Pittsburgh – The cupboard for prospects is fairly bare and depth has become a serious problem for the Penguins. Don’t be surprised if Pitt put out an offer sheet on Kuznetsov, Saad or Toffoli. Pitt will be very busy signing free agents as there are many slots to fill but with 10 slots to fill and only 13 million in cap space it is going to be difficult to field a competitive team. The trade talk regarding Malkin is likely generated from this problem.
San Jose – With McClellan gone Wilson likely has 1 more season to turn things around in San Jose. It is likely that the Sharks would love to move Marleau and Thorton but the no trade clauses have the team stuck between rebuilds. Look for San Jose to take on some bad short term contracts with picks coming their way. Many suggest the Sharks will overpay on a goalie but the reality is the Sharks likely will go economical and maybe try to force Thorton and Marleau out by having a very poor team. Expect only moves that involve prospects and picks.
St. Louis – Changes are a coming. Much of the media has drove home the fact that there must be changes in the top six but a more likely retooling is on the Defense and in Net. Look for a Blues Panthers trade on draft day. Gudbranson is a name that rumbled at the trade deadline. As for a goaltender St. Louis will either make a move on Rask, Anderson, Bernier, Mike Smith, and or failing that will go to sign Ramo.
Tampa Bay – Yzerman has been deciding who his core is going to be moving forward. Expect players not deemed to be part of the core moved on draft day. Tampa has a lot of young talent waiting for the opportunity to be plugged into the line up so Steve will make decisive moves sooner rather than later. Come July if a deal can’t be hammered out quickly with Stamkos expect the bidding to begin. Yzerman like Ken Holland understands the economics of the game and if he can’t get a deal done that is affordable in his eyes he will move Steven.
Toronto – Shanny and company would love to clear the shelves entirely but we all know what is involved. Here is the most likely scenario. Toronto will move out Phaneuf (paying 30% of his salary), Bozak, Lupul, Gardiner and will acquire either Malkin, Staal, and/or Ryan O’Rielly for one very simple reason. They want to show Phil’s true capabilities to get maximum return. Expect Bernier to be signed then moved for prospects.
Vancouver – The Canucks are kind of stuck trying to win with a group management does not believe in. Though the defense was heavily blamed in the first round exit much of their issues lie in the choice of starting Eddie Lack and a lack luster performance by Vancouver’s offensive stars. Linden and co would love to move the Sedin’s on but are stuck trying to win with the same broken machine. Expect moves for youth as management bides its time.
Washington – Washington is poised very well to take advantage of players being shed for cap reasons. The Caps unlike other teams will be looking for players being shed that have mid level cap hits and can add depth to the team. After signing Brayden Holtby the largest issue is filling out the lineup with as much depth as they can achieve. I like Washinton’s chances of building a lineup to compete for the Stanley Cup next year.
Winnipeg – Expect Drew Stafford to sign with the Jets for next year after he gets a sense of what other teams are willing to pay for his services. Stafford was so excited to play on a team that was on the cusp of being great and the instant chemistry just adds to reasons why he will want to remain a Jet. Expect great hockey moves from Cheveldayoff. Unless it fits into his blueprint he will not make the move. Many are clamoring amount Winnipeg’s need on RW but if there is a team deeper in the minors than Calgary and Buffalo it is Winnipeg. If the right players become available to Cheveldayoff Winnipeg could become cup contenders next year.