With Mats Sundin holding the NHL hostage (how do you say "you have one month or I'll sign Yanic Perreault" in Swedish?), news is still at a crawl, so I thought I'd follow up on last week's entry after taking a quick look at the goings-on in Duck world.
The OC Register continues to be virtually the only outlet reporting on Anaheim hockey during the off-season, as its coverage has really picked up over the last week with a plethora of postings
. Two posts in particular caught my eye, the first being a poll on who should be the Ducks captain
for this upcoming season. I personally agree with the vast majority of fans and was pleasantly surprised to see that last name in consideration, if only for the fact that it recognizes his contributions to the team that don't appear on stat sheets.
The post that really got my attention, though, was the news that former Duck Todd Bertuzzi complained about his ice time
last year during a Calgary press conference introducing the newest Flames. The fact that he grossly understated the amount of time Coach Randy Carlyle gave him is one thing, but the ungratefulness to GM Brian Burke for offering him a top-6 role on a Cup-capable team for much more than his true market value that such comments imply really bothered me. I haven't been the biggest Bertuzzi fan since "the incident," but I was at least willing to give him a chance. Now I see that I probably should have stuck to my initial instincts.
Last week we determined that Mathieu Schneider and Todd Marchant are likely the best options the Ducks have to move in order to free up cap space without seriously hurting the team's depth both now and in the future. While Marchant's possible destinations are a bit harder to determine, one thing that is almost certain is that he will not be packaged with Schnieds. While handcuffing him to the offensive blueliner may seem to make it easier to unload him, it would also mean the team receiving the pair would have to have over $8 million in cap space, since the Ducks would be looking for draft picks and/or prospects in return. Right now only eight teams have that kind of flexibility (no offense to Mathieu and Todd, but I just can't see any teams dumping salary in order to make room for both of them), and for one reason or another, I can't imagine any of them even thinking about making such a move.
Schneider, on the other hand, has reportedly garnered substantial interest around the league, with New Jersey and Montreal being the names thrown out there the most. Both clubs could certainly use the added defensive depth, as the Devils haven't had a true offensive threat from the back-end since Brian Rafalski left to win a Cup with his hometown Wings and the Streit-less Habs could use another quarterback for their lethal power play unit. Financially speaking, however, the Devils would have to clear more than $4.25 million to fit him in and the Canadiens would be just below the cap. Keep in mind, this doesn't even take into account how much each club's ownership group is willing to let it spend or what subsequent moves either team would make.
Looking purely at cap space, besides the Habs, thirteen teams currently have enough room in their payroll to add Schneider to their roster. Right away, we can eliminate the Kings and Coyotes, as I don't see the Ducks helping a division rival get better or either of the two helping their six-game opponent unload salary.
might see Mathieu as a stopgap in the event that they move Jay Bouwmeester before the season starts, but not only do I think that they'll hold onto J-Bo until the deadline, but they might even get a quality defenseman in return, anyway.
is also likely out of the picture, as they already have both veteran and general depth on their blueline, and seem to finally be rebuilding with youth.
Another unlikely option in Ontario is Ottawa
, who just received offensive D-man Filip Kuba (as well as another solid defender in Alex Picard) in return for Andrej Meszaros.
already has John-Michael Liles, Jordan Leopold and even some surprising point production from ex-Duck Ruslan Salei, though none of those three have shown that they can be consistently relied on for offensive contributions.
The defense in Carolina
is no different than the forwards in its generally offensive approach from players like Joe Corvo, Frantisek Kaberle and newly-acquired Joni Pitkanen, so I don't think the Canes are looking to add any more firepower from the back-end.
has an interesting mix of solid veterans and improving youngsters that could mean trouble if one of the older players sustains an injury or any of the younger guys isn't quite ready for a full NHL season, so there may be interest here.
could go either way with their young blueline, either seeing Schneids as a skilled mentor or a player who would only be taking away ice time from one of their developing defensemen.
is generally set with the likes of Hamhuis, Suter and Weber as the core of a great defensive corps for years to come.
could certainly use an offensive boost, but would they want it coming from the blueline when they already have Mattias Ohlund, Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo (when he's healthy)?
appear to already have their man in Mark Streit, but with little more punch from the defense beyond him, they might consider bringing Schneider back to his home state.
has already added Ron Hainsey to up-and-comers Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian, so the Thrashers would most likely pass on another point shot.
So, while technically all 29 other teams could find a way to fit Schneider into their lineups, only five destinations really make sense: New Jersey, Montreal, Buffalo, Columbus
and Long Island
. Fortunately, four of the five clubs are members of the Eastern Conference, and the Ducks play the Blue Jackets only four times next year, though they did put up quite a fight in those four matches last season.
Joining the Flock
This week we'll take a look at a player acquired back in mid-July, but only signed a few days ago...
W #38? - Joakim Lindstrom
Born in Skelleftea, SWE | Age 24
6'0" | 187 lbs. | Shoots Left
Originally drafted by CBJ in 2002 (2/41)
Acquired in a trade with CBJ on 7/15/08
Signed to a one-year contract on 8/27/08
08-09 Salary Cap Hit: N/A (was $525,000 in 07-08)
With Teemu Selanne still officially unsigned and a still-unproven Bobby Ryan sliding into the top-6, Burke sent a conditional draft pick to Columbus in exchange for a young winger with offensive potential.
Since being drafted by the Blue Jackets over six years ago, Lindstrom has yet to play a full season with the big club, splitting the last three seasons between Columbus and its AHL affiliate in Syracuse. The bad news is that he couldn't crack a lineup starving for offense. The good news is that he made a career-high number of appearances in NHL threads in 2007-08 (up from only nine in 2006-07 to 25 last year).
To be honest, I do not know much about Joakim, so I'll quote the analysis of his talent from Hockey's Future, which seems to stress the same point as every other piece I've read about him - the kid has skills:
"Lindstrom has great offensive skills. He doesn't mind playing physical, he has a nose of the net and can deliver fine passes as well. Lindstrom has also good on-ice vision and hockey sense.
But like all young players he can and should improve everything. He is a pretty strong player and should use his body to a greater extent. Lindstrom must also play more determined. He seems a bit stressed at times and should choose the easiest way to deliver the puck."
Lindstrom appears to be one of those players who stands above his peers in the minor pros, but has not been able to translate that AHL success into a NHL career. An encouraging sign is that his point totals in Syracuse have increased every year, from 8 to 43 to 48 to 60, good for 159 points in 179 games.
The word is still out on Joakim Lindstrom, but considering the fact that he's still only 24 and the Ducks merely gave up a draft pick with a value determined by where and how well he plays this season, he appears to be worth the chance Anaheim is taking on him.
Don't agree with my list of likely destinations for Schneider? Don't be afraid to speak up!
While I personally don't mind if you make comments in the section below, I've been posting a comment thread for each Duck Puck in HB's Duck forum. Not only does this allow you far greater freedom in what you post, but it's also easier for everyone to interact in a single location. The link for this week's thread, as usual, can be found just above (ironically enough) the comments section.
Also as usual, unless any major news breaks between now and next Sunday, I'll see you at the same Duck time, same Duck blog.
Keep on quacking!
---*-*-*--- Please make comments in the forum thread!