Thursday, October 20, 2011

Predictions: Tonights games (OCT 20/2011)

TOR @ BOS - TOR 5-2, gwg Kulemin
WAS @PHI - PHI 4-3 OT, gwg Jagr
MON @ PIT - PIT 4-1, gwg Dupuis
WPG @ OTT - WPG 3-0 gwg Antropov
NYI @ TB - TB 4-2 gwg Lecavalier
BUF @ FLA - FLA 3-2 SO, no gwg
CHI @ COL - CHI 3-1, gwg Hossa
NYR @ CAL - CAL 6-4 gwg Iginla
MIN @ EDM - MIN 3-2, gwg Heatley
NAS @ VAN - NAS 2-0, gwg Blum
LAK @ PHO - PHO 6-5 SO, no gwg

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Team to Beat in the East?

Some changes over the course of the summer have altered some teams. I really like the Washington Capitals right now, with Vokoun. I think that was an incredible addition for them. Also, consider how good New Jersey was from January on, really meeting their full ability and you have consider them a top team. Flyers without Richards and Carter kind of slip but Bryz is good and its still a good roster. Anyway's, here are my top 5 picks for the East (regular season standings)

Key injuries to factor in:
Pronger out until ?? Dec?
Malkin returning from torn ACL+MCL, will he be 100% all year?
Savard - I'm just gonna count him out

Here's the picks and some rough line ups -

1. Washington Capitals:

Ovechkin - Backstrom - Semin
Knuble - Laich - Johanssen
Brouwer - Ward - Chimera
Hendricks- Halpern - King/Beagle

Hamrilik - Green
Schultz - Wideman
Erskine - Poti


I really think the Caps are looking grittier this year with Ward and Brouwer in there. Halpern is a nice veteran depth move, and I really like Johanssen. He was excellent in the playoffs and could be poised for some kind of breakout year.

2. Boston Bruins

Lucic - Bergeron - Horton
Marchand - Krejci - Peverly
Pouliot - Seguin - Kelly
Paille - Campbell - Thornton

Chara - Seidenberg
Ferrence - Boychuk
Corvo - McQuiad


Pretty workman-like group of FWD's, but with Chara out there half the game and 2 time Vezina winning goalie Tim Thomas in goal, I still think this is a great team. Losing Ryder takes some zip from the offense but they still have enough guys who can chip away offensively. I think Marchand is a really solid player and could have a good year. Also look for Caron to make the team out of camp and stick.

3. Philadelphia Flyers

Hartnell - Briere - Giroux
Voracek - VanRiemsdyk - Jagr
Simmonds - Talbot - Schenn
Laperierre - Betts - Shelley/Nodl

*Pronger - Timmonen
Carle - Coburn
Meszaros - Lilja


Not as much star power as before, obviously. But JVR was outstanding in the playoffs and could be a big factor. Voracek and Simmonds could both be poised for a bit of a breakout and even if only 1 gets there, they're looking good. Jagr is a wild card, I'm going on a limb and predicting 25 goals, and up over 60 points. I know a lot of people seem to think he'll be in the 40-50 pt range and they could be right but we will see. Obviously the biggest offseason addition for Philly was Bryzgalov who should take the guess work out of who their starter is for the first time in about 12 years.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Neal - Crosby - Kunitz
Sullivan - Malkin - Dupuis
Kennedy - Staal - Letestu
Asham - Cooke - Adams/MacIntyre

Letang - Orpik
Michalek - Martin
Niskanen - Lovejoy


Take Crosby and Malkin out of the line up for 1/2 the games and its still a solid D, goaltending and hard working group of FWD's type of team. Their health is the biggest X-factor in the East. They could finish as high as 1st and as low as 10th or 11th in my opinion. Love the Sullivan addition he showed for Nashville in the playoffs last year that he can still play. I also think James Neal will have a really solid year overall.

5. New Jersey Devils:

Kovalchuk - Zajac - Parise
Elias - Zubrus - Tedenby
Hunter - Steckel - Clarkson
Janssen - Pelley - Boulton/Josefson

Volchenkov - Tallinder
Greene - Salvadore
Fraser - Corrente


The team doesn't seem as deep as last year's without Langenbrunner, Colin White, Rolston etc. But there are always a few good young players in the Devils' organization such as Matthias Tedenby who can fill in at an NHL level and sometimes even really surprise. The defense is solid and unspectacular and the goaltending is....old. But I like the star power and I think if the new coach isn't a dud it should be a solid enough group to fight for home ice and contend for a cup.

6-11 is tough but those are my top 5 as it stands right now. I think the next group of 6 in no particular order will include Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Toronto, New York Rangers, Montreal, and Carolina. Leaving the bottom 4 as Winnepeg, Florida, New York Islanders and Ottawa.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leafs Blog...

Okay! This is crazy. So many Leafs fans that I know and from what I've been reading across the internet and twitter are really upset at the fact that the Leafs never made that big splash this offseason and now are claiming to be pretty much done, save some minor signings before the season starts. Well I can definitely sympathize, and as a Leafs fan I can't say I didn't have my hopes set on Steve Stamkos as well (not so much Brad Richards but I wouldn't have complained). But I am going to tell you that I think the Leafs will be a playoff team this year and here's why...

First off I like the depth we have now. Ya, "depth" can sometimes be a buzz word that's used to describe mediocre teams, granted. But I look at some teams that have been succesful without having much star power in the line up, I consider the Nashville Predators mold, or the Buffalo Sabres (Pre-Pegulla) who were able to throw out 3 lines of balanced attack up front, solid defense and got timely goaltending and were able to be competitive teams. I am not claiming that the Leafs are cup contenders but they are looking like a playoff team.

Take a look at this line up, as it stands right now:

Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Nazem Kadri - Tyler Bozak - Colby Armstrong
Mike Brown - Phillipe Dupuis - Jay Rosehill

Dion Phaneuf - Cody Franson
John Michael Liles - Luke Schenn
Keith Aulie - Carl Gunnarsson/Mike Komisarek

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson

*IR Wildcards - Matthew Lombardi, Colton Orr
+ Joe Colborne, Matt Lashoff, Luca Caputi all have a good shot to make it along with a couple surprise underdogs at camp

Now, what I like about this line up is this - even with Brad Richards or Steve Stamkos in for Tim Connolly this is not a Stanley Cup contending team. More likely to make the playoffs? Absolutely, but still not a contender. So we didn't get "that guy" this summer. This is not a huge concern for me. What I really like about this line up is that management has left room on the roster for Kadri to get a significant role if he is able to play well enough to take it. If not, that role could be occupied by Colborne or another Leafs prospect. There is room for good young players to develop and get some playing time. If you listened to the comments made by Dave Nonis on July 1st, he said that the Leafs made some offers to 4 or 5 UFA's but they were not going to go out and sign a bunch of guys to long term deals at inflated rates and take ice time away from the young core they've put together. I have to agree with this because the team is so young and these guys need more time to gel, and to develop. Remember that there is no quick fix....

I'm gonna take you all back to about, 10-11 years ago, there was a time in Leaf Nation when Leafs fans were pissed off because we were a guaranteed playoff team each year but had no chance to compete for a cup against the likes of New Jersey, Detroit, Dallas, Colorado. Many Leafs fans were pissed off at the quick fix efforts put forth by Pat Quinn and his predecessors who traded away the following players:
Fred Modin, at the time a 30 goal man in Tampa,
Mike Johnson, the leading scorer of the Coyotes (60+ pts)
Steve Sullivan, 30 goal man with Chicago
Alym MacCauley, some Selke consideration and wore the 'A' in San Jose
Jason Smith, solid stay home d-man and captain for Edmonton
Brad Boyes, hot shot up and comer in the Sharks system

The list goes on to a lesser extent and I may be forgetting a couple other big ones, but the general concensus at this time is that if we had waited another year or two this group could have become a really good team, but we dealt them all away to make way for aging vets like Owen Nolan and Dmitri Khristich. Now Burke and co. are holding onto the young guns like Kadri, Kulemin (rumored in the Mike Richards would-be trade) and Leafs fans are not happy that we didn't bring in "that guy". Well I'm gonna tell you all that this is a good thing.

This is going to be a young line up again and were gonna see what kinds of strides they can take this season. I know a lot of people will say "its the same team that missed the playoffs last year". And if everyone was roughly 27-30 last year, then I would agree, this team will miss again. But all the key guys are here are 26 and under except for a couple, like Grabovski and Armstrong who are still both under 30. So keeping that in mind, I am of the mind that the majority of the players in this line up will only be better this season, and the additions of Connolly, Liles, Franson, and Lombardi, although not pocessing the sex appeal of Steven Stamkos are all quality NHL'ers which only make the team deeper and stronger. Really the biggest wild card here is James Reimer, and if he can even play close to the level that he played at last season with a certain amount of consistency (because its a lot to ask that he plays that good all year, we can expect some ups and downs or else he's winning the Vezina) then the Leafs should be a playoff team.

Again, if you take one point away from this blog, let it be that there are no quick fixes, let this group have another year together, then re-evaluate and improve on it some more next offseason. Then repeat that process and improve again in the following offseason. I expect the core players from this group to be Cup conteders within 3 years. Patience. I like this team, and so should you.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Philly.... better now? Even without Richards and Carter?

Its hard to say that a team is better after losing two centers as great as those guys... here is their line up right now:

Claude Giroux - Daniel Briere - Jaromir Jagr
Scott Hartnell - James VanRiemsdyk - Jakub Voracek
Wayne Simmonds - Max Talbot - Brayden Schenn
Jody Shelley - Blair Betts - Ian Laperriere/Adreas Nodl

Kimo Timmonen - Chris Pronger
Matt Carle - Brayden Coburn
Andrej Mezsaros - Matt Walker/Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

I don't know if Schenn would make the team, but I think he'll get a good look, if he can't make it then they'll have a good mix that can take on that role on the third line, Laperriere for sure. Anyways is this team better even though they lost Carter, Richards, and Leino? I mean, consider that Voracek put up 38, 50, and 46 points in his 3 seasons in the league. If he even puts up similar production that would be solid. JVR looks poised to take that next step, especially after how he looked in the playoffs (better than Richards and Carter). Jagr is a wild card, Simmonds and Talbot should be good role players, and Schenn is another wild card, if he can play at an NHL level and progress throughout the year this is a hell of a team. Defense is of course solid and deep, and best of all for Philly, goaltending no longer a concern.

Look at the Wild and Sharks after the 2 big trades

I like this trade for Minnesota. Marty Havlat is a solid player but not nearly the goal scorer that Heatley is. In the last 3 years Havlatt has stayed healthy and has scored a total of 69 goals (avg 23 per year), Dany Heatley during that same time has scored 104 goals (avg 35 per year). But I guess the Sharks wanted to free up some cap space and make a shake up trade at the same time.

As for the other trade, Setogucchi for Brent Burns, I like what the Sharks did there, but Minnesota did need a fwd so its a pretty solid trade for both sides.... Anyways heres a look at the two rosters as of right now (although more moves might be made)

Dany Heatley - Mikko Koivu - Devin Setogucchi
Kyle Brodziak - P.M. Bouchard - Giullaume Latendresse
Eric Nystrom - Matt Cullen - Cal Clutterbuck
Brad Staubitz - James Sheppard - Darryl Powe

Nick Schultz - Marek Zidlicky
Greg Zanon - Clayton Stoner
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding

- I don't know if it makes them a playoff team, I definitely like the Kaberle to Minnesota rumors. The Wild could definitely use another quality d-man but other than that I like their forwards a lot. I think the Havlat/Heatley upgrade and addition of Setogucchi up front helps to offset the loss of Brunette to the Hawks. Brunette was the 3rd top scorer on the team last season behind Koivu and Havlat.

And here's the Sharks:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Martin Havlat
Ryan Clowe - Joe Pavelski - Logan Couture
Torrey Mitchell - Michael Handzus - Jamie McGinn
John McCarthy - Ben Ferriero - Tommy Wingels

M.E. Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Justin Braun - Jim Vandermeer

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

I don't know about the depth up front for the Sharks. But if Couture builds on his rookie year they're looking pretty good. Still, I think the Heatley trade might be to free up a couple mil to replace role players lost like Ben Eager and Jamal Mayers. Also there is no rush for this team to get those players, they could add them at the deadline. But with Brent Burns in there, you have to love San Jose's defense.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

July 2nd: Top 50 remaining UFA's

Black Friday is over and Brad Richards signed this morning. Here is a list of remaining UFA's

CENTERS (Top 10)

Tim Connolly, 30 (TOR)
Jason Arnott, 36 (STL)
Vinny Prospal, 35
Chris Drury, 34
Brendan Morrison, 36

John Madden, 38
Rob Schremp, 25
Rob Niedermayer, 36 (EUROPE)
Kyle Wellwood, 28
Patrick O'Sullivan, 26

WINGERS (top 15)

Simon Gagne, 31 (LAK)
Teemu Selanne, 40
Jamie Langenbrunner, 35 (STL)
Nikolay Zherdev, 26
J.P. Dumont, 33

Alex Kovalev, 38
Alex Frolov, 29
Chris Clark, 35
Anti Miettenen, 30
Cory Stillman, 37

Sergei Samsonov, 32
Ethan Moreau, 35
Mike Grier, 36
Petr Prucha, 28
Wade Belak, 34

DEFENSE (top 15)

Tomas Kaberle, 32 (CAR)
Scott Hannan, 32
Bryan McCabe, 36
Niclas Wallin, 36
Anton Stralman, 24

Ian White, 27 (DET)
Shane O'Brien, 27
Steve Eminger, 27
Kent Huskins, 32
Anton Babchuk, 27 (CAL)

Radek Martinek, 34 (CBJ
Matt Gilroy, 27 (TBL)
Steve Staios, 37
Brent Sopel, 34
Craig Rivet, 36

GOALIES (top 10)

Tomas Vokoun, 34 (WAS)
Chris Osgood, 38
Marty Turco, 35
Ray Emery, 28
Pascal Leclair, 28

Ty Conklin, 35
Thomas Greiss, 25
Martin Gerber, 36
Joey MacDonald, 31
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, 27

Leafs current roster

Updated July 4....

Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Nazem Kadri - Matthew Lombardi - Colby Armstrong
Jay Rosehill - Tyler Bozak - Mike Brown

Dion Phaneuf - John-Michael Liles
Cody Franson - Luke Schenn
Carl Gunnarsson - Keith Aulie

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson

+ Colton Orr, Mike Komisarek, Matt Frattin, Matt Lashoff, Luca Caputi.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Leafs Making a play for Stamkos

This is obvious. Think about it. July 1st is almost over and Burke hasn't signed a single guy. He hasn't even re-signed his key RFA's like Luke Schenn, Tyler Bozak, Clarke MacArthur. He let Tim Brent walk away without even tendering him an offer. Burke wasn't even in Canada on July 1, he went to Kandahar for charity. He went because he knew there was nothing to do today except have his assistants make a pitch for Brad Richards and wait for the other teams to use up cap space. They're not wasting even a couple million on any minor signings, those can come later in the summer, right now Burke is getting ready for a huge offer sheet.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Early Trade Rumours leading up to the Draft

Every year at the draft there are a few bigger names being moved around (In the last few years we've seen Cammalleri, Tanguay, Jokinen, Ballard, Umberger, etc) here is some speculation I've compiled from various internet, newspaper, TV, and Radio reports I've been hearing:

Something is happening with Philly: All logic dictates that they'll address their situation in goal, but then again they haven't done anything about it for 15 years and if you listen to Philly management they continue to say that Bobrovsky could be the goalie of the future still, so who knows. I have to imagine they do something with their goaltending and there are rumours that they're interested in targeting Bryzgalov who could be headed to Russia. But a more interesting story in Philly is the relationship between captain Mike Richards and coach Laviolette. They aparently don't exactly get along and Laviolette was quoted as saying "they are working on their relationship" recently. Richards gets a ton of heat from Philly media, his leadership and ability as captain are questioned a lot and he apparently lost the dressing room to Chris Pronger. Richards has 1 year left before his NTC kicks in for the next decade so the Flyers will have to decide if they want to do something about their captain this summer, or sometime during the season. Another name floating around could be Jeff Carter who might be easier to move, who knows, keep an eye on that one.

San Jose Sharks? They've been to the final 4 for two straight seasons now but they bounced in 4 games last year and 5 this year. They obviously have a strong group but you have to wonder if they could make a change for the sake of change from their core? Thornton is their best player and is likely not moving, Heatley would be tough to move I would think. Just speculation on my part, but if I had to guess I'd say that Marleau could be on the block for the right price, but again this is just a fun rumour. I definitely think there will be changes in San Jose, but they might be smaller.

Red Wings will shop for defense: Mark my words. Their D looked really weak in the Sharks series, I wasn't surprised to hear that Rafalski had been playing with a torn ACL because he lost more than a step. Now he's retired, and Jonathan Ericsson was terrible in the playoffs for the Wings, and Salei will likely be let go or maybe re-signed as a cheap depth guy at this stage. That leaves a 41 year old legend in Lidstrom and 2 other reliable players to eat minutes in Kronwall and Stuart. After those three it gets really thin and Holland is not one to go into a season with uncertainty on the blueline. Maybe Kindl can step into a bigger role this year, but I definitely see the Wings getting at least 1 free agent d-man or making a trade or 2.

Jaromir Jagr - He was a beast at the world championships, looks like he could still step back into the NHL and score over 20 goals, maybe close to 30 and dominate down low and in the corners. He's a bit slower than he used to be but he could definitely be a quality addition somewhere and has said on a few occasions that he's considering a return. Honestly I can see him going to Pittsburgh, he's buddies with Mario and he would be a good fit there on a 1 year deal, especially if Sid can make a health return (Gino too for that matter).

New York Rangers - The Rags are gonna make a pitch for Richards, some sources even say they'll trade for his rights and then offer him a huge contract. Would this really surprise anyone? Another thing though is their cap space, they have to re-sign key RFA's Anisimov, Callahan, Dubinsky, and the big man Brian Boyle. Chances are one of them could go, or else something bigger like Gaborik being dumped off somewhere. Also there is a good chance we'll see Drury bought out or demoted (hopefully not though). Torts has already said he's not sure where Drury fits in with this team anymore, he's got a year left on his deal and if he is bought out I think he will find work as a 3rd-4th line center somewhere on a 1-2 year deal in around $1-2 million.

I'll add more to this as it comes

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Leafs Last 8 games, playoff hopes

8 games left for Toronto, and we're 5 points out of the playoffs. We have to pass Carolina and Buffalo, who both have a game in hand on us.

Here's some math for you:

If the Leafs go 6-2-0 in the last 8 games, starting tonight, that will be a really solid record and mean 88 points. To get into the playoffs we'd need the following records for the teams ahead of/right behind us:

Buffalo: 3-5-1 we're in. 4-6-0 we're out. ***Must beat Buffalo on Tuesday to have tie breaker
Carolina: 5-4-0 we're in. 5-3-1 we're out.
Atlanta: 8-2-0 we're in. 8-1-1 we're out.
New Jersey: 7-2-1 we're in. 8-2-0 we're out.

The way I see it, a 6-2-0 record will not be good enough unless Buffalo really falls apart. Atlanta would be eliminated because they're not going to turn it on now and post that kind of record, New Jersey probably the same deal, never know with them but 8-2-0 seems really unlikely. Carolina, its possible because their next 4 games are up against Washington, Montreal, and two with Tampa. All good teams, so I think Carolina will end up around 5-4-0 at best. But Buffalo is rolling right now, and you figure they will win 5 or 6 of their last 9 games. Five wins for Buffalo would force the leafs to go 7-0-1. Six wins for Buffalo mathematically eliminates the Leafs. Which is why it sucks to not control your own fate.

The next three games against Colorado, Detroit, and Buffalo will be key for the Leafs. If we can win all three of those, and get some help from (at least) 1 of Florida, NYR, or New Jersey, then by next Wednesday we could be within 3 points of the Sabres, each team having 5 games remaining. Then the math gets a bit easier. If Buffalo could possible lose to us, New Jersey AND New York, we could be 1 point out by Wendesday. Kind of a long shot but possible. Anyway's starting to rant now, I'll re-do the math if the Leafs win the next three.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Potential offseason targets for the Leafs (UFA)

FORWARDS ONLY (defense to follow)

This summer the free agent market might be pretty thin, but here are a few pending UFA's who could hit free agency on July 1st if their respective teams don't extend them first. I'm going to throw out some rough numbers of what it might cost to land each free agent, I have to speculate a bit here so its up for interpretation.

Ville Leino, PHI, age 27 - Leino is a perfect fit with this Leafs team. He is a good all around player. Good back checker, speedy, tenacious/gritty, good goal scorer around the net, versitile (C/W), and fits into a longer term plan given his age. I would go as high as 4 years and $15 million ($3.75 cap hit) or something in that vecinity to land Leino. There is a decent chance that he becomes a UFA, obviously Philly is trying to get something done to retain him but given their stacked team and limited cap space, Ville might be out of their price range. Leino had a staggering 21 points in 19 playoff games last year, if he comes close to matching that this year he will earn a ton on the open market, or else Philly will pay a premium to retain him.

Brooks Laich, WAS, age 28 - This guy has really come into his own over the last few seasons, he is big, tough, and can produce pretty consistant offense. He, like Leino can play an offensive or checking role and plays C/W, although he's better suited down the middle, where the Leafs are lacking serious depth. Laich could challenge Bozak for one of the top 2 center spots with the Leafs leaving a Laich-Grabo-Bozak tandem at center. For up around $3-4 million range on a 3-4 year deal, this guy could be a great addition. Given that Burke has signed and traded for players like Orr, Brown, and Armstrong, I would not be at all surprised to see him target a tough guy who can also play, and Laich fits the mold.

Marco Sturm, WAS, age 32 - A bit older, but I could see Sturm being someone who needs a comeback contract and could sign cheap. Sturm is coming off back to back years where he's battled through serious injuries but looks to be getting healthy now. He could potentially be had on a 1 year deal worth around $1-1.5 million to try to find his game and stay healthy. And at that price there is nothing wrong with playing him as a 3rd line energy guy who can step into a top 6 role when there are injuries. Good utility guy on the bench. Seems like a low risk, high reward scenario if it works out.

Simon Gagne, TB, age 31 - Maybe another guy who could come in on a 1 or 2 year deal and provide some offense. Gagne will score over 20 goals on a bad year if he's healthy, and if he's healthy he's probably the best available UFA after Brad Richards. Could come in on a 2 year deal worth around $7 million ($3.5 mil cap hit). This could be a gamble worth looking into for sure, as Gagne would really solidify our wingers.

Michael Ryder, BOS, age 31 - Streaky scorer brings size, speed and a heavy shot. Could be a big boost to a bad PP as Ryder is known for scoring goals both in the slot, and standing off to the side of the net. Knock on Ryder is consistancy, he'll be a 30 goal man one year and score 15 the next so he's not necessarily the best option out there but he would be an upgrade and welcome addition to the line up for the right price. I'd give him 2 years and $3 mil per at most, if he's seeking more then we need to look elsewhere.

Alex Kovalev, PIT, age 38 - I know that 'streaky' doesn't begin to describe Kovalev and he's aging, but he could be a great 1 year signing and give our PP a whole new look and is still a scary threat in 4 on 4 situations such as OT. His shot hasn't gone, and even if he only scores between 15-18 goals, if 7/8 of them are on the PP, and maybe get a couple OT goals and assists, on top of a few shootout goals, he could lead to 5-6 more points in the standings and be the difference between being a playoff or non-playoff team. 1 year at around $2 million, maybe $2.5 could be an interesting gamble.

Alex Tanguay, CGY, age 31 - Kind of a soft player, but with 54 pts so far this year he's playing well again. He's a purely offensive player, not sure he fits in with the team or Burke's plan, but I figure I'd mention him, because if a scenario arrives where Tanguay is unsigned later in the summer and could be had for less than market value, he could be a good spare part to have on the bench for $1.5 million, give or take.

Jussi Jokinen, CAR, age 28 - This is a guy who you could offer a multi year (3-4 year) deal to. Jokinen would give us another weapon at wing, and a great shootout player, plus he plays a strong two-way game. He's been a pretty safe bet for 60+ points the last couple years and would probably cost around $4 million per year on the open market.

Maxime Talbot, PIT, age 27 - Good gritty depth guy has been consistant for a while now as a 20-30 point scorer. He'd be a 3rd line center who would basically be an upgrade on a guy like a Darryl Boyce, if a legit top line (or at least 2nd line) center can't be acquired. Talbot on a 2 or 3 year deal at around $1.5 million (give or take) would be solid value and just bring quality NHL depth to the line up.

Zenon Konopka, NYI, age 29 - Picture a 4th line of Brown - Konopka - Orr, enough said. Konopka won't score much but he's a top end 4th liner, if such a thing exists. He would definitely fit in with the Burke mold if a guy like Timmy Brent leaves via UFA. This would not be a priority signing but rather an after thought, and I'd bring him in at around a mil.

Andrew Brunette, MIN, age 37 - Probably too old, like Kovalev to be on Burke's radar, but if he is looking for a veteran on a 1 year deal to help with a young team, then this guy would be perfect. Brunettes totals over the last 5 years range from 50 to 83 points on any given year and he's always in that range. This guy could provide some top line offense and could be a great addition for 1 year, especially if a deal isn't worked out with MacArthur. I would pay Brunette $4 mil for the season. Oh ya, and he's a great defensive player too thanks to years with Jacques Lemaire. Only concern is that it looks like age is starting to finally slow him down this year with just 16 goals so far, so he would still be a gamble.

Michael Handzus, LA, age 33 - He would be an interesting addition to address our depth at center issue. Handzus provides secondary scoring but more importantly he's 6'5" and plays a big game. He's a really good defensive center, penalty killer, faceoffs etc. Solid role player. I would sign him to a 1 or 2 year deal at around $3 mil per.

Brad Richards, DAL, age 31 - I have never been a big Richards fan but he is the top of the free agent list and he would fill a need. I would like to see the Leafs go after him on a 2-3 year deal but I don't want to see them go long term on a 5 or 6 year contract at big money. These are the types of deals we need to stay away from. Three years $18 million would be my top offer, if the Rangers wanna go 5 years $38 million, they can have him. If the Buds do something like that in the $7 mil + range, long term, it will be a mistake in the long run. Having said all that, it would be nice for the Leafs to land him and it would be huge news for Kessel and even Lupul.

Scottie Upshall, CBJ, age 27 - Very solid role player, can contribute with secondary scoring and provide an aggressive edge. Kind of like adding another Colby Armstrong type player. I could see him being someone Burke does target and at around $2.5 mil per year on a 2-3 year deal.

Tomas Fleischmann, COL, age 27 - Could a player who fits in with the long term plan of this team. Fleish was enjoying his best year after being dealt to the Avs before a season ending injury. He's a quality offensive player and a creative passer. He can also play C/W so he would give Wilson some options in the line up. I'd like to see the Leafs go after him, would probably have to commit 3-4 years and around $3-3.5 million range.

Eric Cole, CAR, age 32 - Used to be a 30 goal man but the power forwards' numbers have dipped to around 20 per year over the last 4 seasons. Still, a big body, pretty good all around player who could be an upgrade to our line up over players such as Crabb, Rosehill, etc. For around $2 mil per year on a 1 or 2 year deal I would sign this guy. If he's looking for more than that, we should move on.

Curtis Glencross, CGY, age 28 - Really been hyped up lately, and having a career year, Curtis Glencross is a gritty 3rd line winger (playing like a 2nd line winger, is it the real deal??) who does all the little things and scores those grinding goals. Some believe Glencross will earn upwards of $3.5-4 mil on the open market which is possible, and if so the Leafs should back away. But if he could be had for around $3 mil or less, he might be an interesting option. He'll probably look to cash in on his big season with a 3 or 4 year contract.

Tim Connolly, BUF, age 29 - Not sure he's the answer at center for us, but could be a good depth signing on a 1 or 2 year deal. This guy is not having a great contract year, with just 28 points so far, and for all his skill he never really reached his potential with his best year being last season at 65 points, and other than that he's posted around 55, 45 etc. Still he could come in and give us more options and depth down the middle and compliment Bozak and Grabo by taking some heat off of them. I'd give him a shot on a 1 year contract worth $2.5 million.

Pretty thin list of UFA forwards, I know, and in terms of building this team long term, really only Leino, Richards, Jokinen, or Laich, and possibly Fleischmann could be considered players of any real significance. But who knows, there could be a couple stop gap/bandaid UFA's in here who could make us a playoff team and kind of get a better handle on where we need to go moving forward.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Deadline/off-season players who could be on the block

Here are the most rumoured names, and some other names that have maybe just been mentioned here or there. I'll just put together a quick summary for you -

High End Talent:

- Brad Richards: Dallas probably has to keep this guy right now, they're fighting for the top of the west, but I could see him leaving as a UFA

- Jarome Iginla: I still doubt he'll be traded but it is possible if Calgary decides to really go through a rebuild that they'll move Jarome, but the return would have to be huge.

- Shea Weber: I would be really surprised if Nashville didn't pay up for once. On the other hand they have gotten by with letting players go. Weber is an RFA and if they could add some immediate help and high end prospects there is a chance that Weber could be moved. Another thing to consider is that Nashville has got some high end prospects on the blue line including Ryan Ellis.

- Patrick Elias: He's a minus player for the first time in his career as the Devils have this suprisingly bad season. But the consistant Elias is posting pretty solid numbers with 37 pts in 48 games right now. He has 2 years left at a $6 million cap hit, but could be moved to accomodate Zach Parise (who also might be available, although I'd say that's less likely).

- Brent Seabrook: Beast, 25 yr old d-man has 26 pts in 50 games this year, his best offensive year to along with his defensive game. Bowman shot down rumours that he could deal Seabrook, but you still can't count it out. Seabrook is due for a big raise from his $3.5 million salary and could earn in the $5-6 million range. He's an RFA so something will probably get done with the Hawks but don't be shocked if they can't come to terms and have to deal him in the offseason.

- Tomas Kaberle: His numbers have slipped this year and he's looked frustrated lately taking more penalties than usual, even some lazy one's when the team is down. If I had to guess I would say that Kaberle will definitely ask to be traded before the deadline, if he hasn't asked already. A change of teams for Kaberle, moving him to a winning environment could be exactly what Kaberle needs to regain form and could be a huge boost to a team looking for a playoff rental.

2nd tier players:

- Blake Wheeler: With 10 goals and 12 assists this year Wheeler is playing just okay. He's an RFA this summer and has been involved in trade rumours for over a year now. If he's not moved at the deadline it would not be surprising at all to see him moved in the offseason.

- Devin Setogucchi: This guy has been all over the rumours all year long. The Sharks might just keep him but they might want to move him, most reports are saying they would move him for help on the blueline. Devin is an RFA this summer, and has just 14 pts and a -13 rating in a miserable season. Still has some upside though and could be worth picking up for some team.

- Matt Moulson: If the Islanders don't feel that they can get him extended he might be moved at the deadline. There have been a lot of reports that suggest he'll be traded.

- Tuomo Ruutu: I have heard his name mentioned a bit, he's owed $4.4 million next year but his cap hit would only be $3.8 which is still kind of steep but not bad. With 12 Hurricanes skaters needing new contracts this offseason its possible they would move Ruutu to free up cap space to re-sign some of their other players, most notably Sutter, Cole, LaRose, Jokinen, Pitkanen, and White.

- Andrew Cogliano: He's been in the rumours a bit so I figure i'll mention him. Not sure what the Oilers would want, but he is an RFA this summer so its possible that he gets moved, maybe on draft day.

- Brad Boyes: His play has been on the decline and he would have been considered almost untouchable a few years ago, but now Boyes could be a guy for the Blues to consider moving as they consider locking up their young building blocks long term. Oshie, Berglund, Crombeen, Polak, and Sobatka are all RFA's due for raises this summer and David Backes extension kicks in at a $2 million raise for him. They also have to consider what to do with captain Eric Brewer who is a UFA on July 1st. Boyes has 1 year left at $4 million.

- James VanRiemsdyk: Long shot to be moved but the Flyers are built to win now and could flip JVR for someone who could put them over the top immediately. Again long shot, but his name has been floating around out there so I figure I'd mention him.

- Wayne Simmonds: The only reason he might get moved is because LA has been in the market for high end talent for about 2 years now and they could use Simmonds as a trading chip to add more of a star veteran player.

- Dustin Penner: Has been in the rumours on and off for about 2 years now, but its really picked up lately. Penner has 1 more year at a $4.25 million cap hit. The Oilers might choose to move him in the offseason if he doesn't fall into their long term plans.

- Ales Hemsky: I imagine the Oilers will try to retain him, but if contract talks for an extension don't go well in the offseason he could be moved in a "hockey deal" where he's moved out for other talent coming back. He has 1 year left at $4.1 million.

- Francois Beauchemin: Has 1 year left at $3.8 million and there have been lots of reports that he could be traded at the deadline.

- Mike Fisher: Has two years left and $4.2 million, he's been in the rumour mill for a couple month's now. He could definitely generate some interest and could be available if the Sens do decide to shake things up.

- Mike Ribeiro: Great set up guy, gets knocked for being a bit soft at times, but definitely has the talent and consistantly puts up solid offensive numbers. There were tons of rumours suggesting that Nieuwy was shopping Ribeiro in the offseason but no one would bite on his contract. Its believed that Ribeiro could be given away in a 'soft deal' but only if it means Brad Richards will extend long term. Ribeiro's cap hit is $5 mil for the next two years.

- Robyn Regehr: Maybe he should still be in the top end talent section, but anyway's if changes are coming in Calgary they could deal their shut down d-man. He's been in the rumour mill for a while now.

- Kyle Turris: 22 year old was the 3rd overall pick in 2007 but has had a tough time sticking with the big club and playing a big role. He's got 17 points in 44 games this year after playing all of last season in the minors. He's got talent and can't be considered a bust yet but its looking less and less likely that he'll be the superstar he was expected to be. Still he could be a good player and could be dealt from Phoenix for immediate help or prospects.

- Chris Phillips: Another Senator who could be shopped, he's a pending UFA and could be a playoff rental for a team looking for a veteran blueliner.

- Mike Samuelsson: 1 year left at $2.5 million cap hit, after a 30 goal season his numbers are way down to 9 in 49 games this year. There have been rumours that the Canucks would trade him.

Salary Dumps:

- Joffrey Lupul: Has been injured on and off for 2 years now in Anaheim. So far this year he's got just 4 goals in 24 games, and he still has 2 years left on his deal at a $4.25 million cap hit. Its possible that the Ducks would be willing to unload this salary, possibly in a soft deal.

-Jiri Hudler: Hudler is struggling with just 17 points and has a team worst -6 in Detroit. He earns $2.85 million next season and could be trade bait since he's basically a spare part in Detroit right now.

- Cam Barker: Former 3rd overall pick has really struggled in Minnesota. He's got just 1 goal and 4 assists with a -9 rating in 40 games with the Wild this year on top of just 1 goal and a -2 rating in 19 games last year with the Wild. He carries a year left on his deal worth about $3.1 million and there have been whispers that the Wild would like to dump him.

- Brian Rolston: Has cleared waivers, so I guess there is no one interested in his $5 million contract with a year remaining. The only way i could see New Jersey moving Rolston is if they take back some bad salary as well.

- Danius Zubrus: Still has two years left at $3.4 million and has not performed up to his contract. Zubrus had 40 pts in his first year with NJ, then 27 in 51 games last year and now has 17 in 48 games. He could probably be had for close to nothing.

- Chris Drury: $7 million cap hit on the final year of his deal but only actually owed $5 million. The Rangers could use the cap space and Drury has been shifted over to the wing and playing on the 4th line. The Rangers could use the cap space for next season and would probably move him for next to nothing. Because the actual dollars are a bit lower its possible that a few teams could be interested in Drury if the Rangers take some salary back.

- Filip Kuba: $3.7 million and 1 year left on his contract, he's been a healthy scratch in Ottawa, could be moved probably for a mid to late round pick. I think he can still play a little but only for a team with lots of cap space. Maybe a team like the Islanders could take a look at him in the offseason. On the other hand his 0 goals and 4 assists with a -18 rating in 32 games this year could make him a waiver claim, buyout, or even demoted to the minors.

- Alex Kovalev: He's on the last year of his contract, which could be his last NHL contract. He makes $5 mil this year, so even at the deadline there will be a healthy chunk left on his contract at the deadline. Alexei has gone from 65 pts down to 49 last season, and now hes got 18 pts in 44 games this year. He would not get much of a return at all, but for a playoff team with cap space he might be worth picking up as an insurance piece.

- Jean Sebastian Giguere: Could be a playoff rental and had for a late round pick. I'm sure Burke would move him if a playoff bound team could fit him into their roster and has the cap space.

** In other news the Capitals have signed Alex Semin to a 1 year extension worth $6.7 million taking him out of the trade rumours and off this summers free agent market.