Sunday, June 22, 2008

Off Season Plan: Atlantic Division

I know what you're thinking: "now that hockey is over Yinzer is finally going to stop posting about it!" Wrong. When it comes to the Yinzer, hockey is never over. There's a greater chance of Patrick Ewing not choking in the playoffs, and that is considering he is retired. However I am not one without compassion, therefore instead of posting one for every hockey division, which I assure you I do have, I shall only post the one on the Atlantic Division which pertains to the website theme.
So I give you a team by team breakdown of the Atlantic Division teams fo their status going into the off season and a plan of action.

(F)- forward
(D)- defenseman
(G)- goalie

Pittsburgh Penguins
UFA’s- Marian Hossa (F), Pascal Dupuis (F), Ryan Malone (F), Jarkko Ruutu (F), Georges Laraque (F), Gary Roberts (F), Adam Hall (F), Brooks Orpik (D), Ty Conklin (G)
RFA’s- Marc-Andre Fleury (G)
The Pens have a lot of free agents going into the summer, and aside from Adam Hall all would be felt if they lost them to one degree or another. Marc-Andre Fleury is a goalie who has silenced most of his critics with a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, and probably being the best player on his team through the playoffs.

What they should do:
The Pens could sign Hossa, but with what Crosby makes on his new deal and what Malkin will it would be much smarter to sign Malone and Orpik who could probably be had combined for Hossa’s price. Orpik is too important to lose and should be their first priority of the UFA’s. Fleury also needs to be signed before an offer sheet can be thrown at him, and while the Pens would match I’m sure they don’t want to pay that much. Roberts will probably retire and both Ruutu and Laraque are affordable and seem to like playing in Pittsburgh. Hall is a serviceable fourth liner, but ultimately replaceable. Pens will concentrate keeping their own, and sign maybe some spare parts, but don’t expect anyone significant to be signed this off season barring they lose all of their free agents.

New Jersey Devils
UFA’s- Sergei Brylin (F), Jay Pandolfo (F), Aaron Asham (F), Karel Rachunek (D), Bryce Salvador (D), Richard Matvichuk (D)
RFA’s- David Calrkson (F)
Everyone says how masterful Lou always is, yet many fail to realize his plan in the cap world is to give out long term deals to players so they take slightly less money. That slightly part is key there. He has quite a bit of money tied up in long term deals doing this, some good some bad. (I’m looking at you, Dainus Zubrus). Two defensive forwards in Brylin and Pandolfo are up for contract (the former has a club option) and it is not known if Lou will keep either. Though he only has $40mm tied up in the cap, New Jersey isn’t exactly the #1 attraction for free agents, especially ones who like scoring to go to. Still, expect Lou to give out another long term deal to someone undeserving in an attempt to bring an impact player in. Amazingly the Devils made the same mistake they made last year: playing Brodeur too much. Winning the division is nice, but it’s better to keep your aging starting goalie rested and not play him 70+ games and tire his out for the playoffs.

What they should do:
Seriously, if you can, trade Zubrus. He was never that good, only ever scored with Ovechkin (which anyone can really do) and was never that physical or good defensively as some pundits suggest. He’s worth about half his salary for half the term. They need scoring pure and simple so get someone in who can finish. And if you really want to go somewhere, play backup goalie Weekes more than a dozen times.

New York Rangers
UFA’s- Jaromir Jagr (F), Martin Straka (F), Brendan Shanahan (F), Sean Avery (F), Paul Mara (D), Michal Roszival (D), Marik Malik (D)
RFA’s- Nigel Dawes (F), Fredrik Sjostrom (F)
The Rangers will have a lot of cap room this off season with their free agents and I expect them to do a lot of tinkering this summer. Getting Jagr under contract is going to be a little tricky as since he arrived from Washington the Rangers have only paid half his salary, so that will probably create a rift in where the two sides want to meet. They will want him under contract so expect a casualty to be the likes of Straka. Malik is as good as gone (or at least off the books cause I think he was already in Europe), and Avery wants way more than he’s worth, and will probably go to the highest bidder (it is rumored he wants $3.5mm a year, and though valuable to the Rangers isn’t worth that kind of money). Shanahan is showing signs of age but look for him to sign for a little less. Mara will probably be let go and Roszival signed.

What they should do:
If they can get Jagr and Shanahan to sign incentive laden deals that are reasonable then do it. Giving Avery $3mm or more shouldn’t be considered, $2.5mm or less is what he should get. Roszival has blossomed since joining the team and with an up and coming defense with the likes of Tyutin, Staal and Girardi don’t expect Mara to stay. With the additional cap room though I fully expect GM Glenn Sather to seek out big name defenseman to stabilize the blue line some and have a shut down. I’m expecting to see Brian Campbell or Wade Redden in a Rangers uniform next year. A younger forward who can score is also needed as that is what the Rangers are lacking most with most their producing forwards being over 30. Still this is Glenn Sather so who knows which way he will go.

Philadelphia Flyers
UFA’s- Jim Dowd (F), Riley Cote (F), Jason Smith (D), Jaroslav Modry (D)
RFA’s- Jeff Carter (F), Randy Jones (D)
There seems to be a big deal made out of Philly’s off season with Carter needing new deals (I am not sure if the rumored Carter signing is true or not), but I think this is overblown. All their UFA’s save Cote for his cheap salary will be let go to free up space. With Mike Richards new deal kicking in next year Philly already has nearly $48mm committed of an expected cap of $56mm; the retirement of Sami Kapanen providing some relief though. Their off season moves will be limited, so expected some spare parts or maybe a decent support player but nothing more.

What they should do:
Obviously Carter was the priority and GM Paul Holmgren has already stated as much and if true has already signed him. There isn’t a whole lot Philly can do, so they don’t have many courses of action. Don’t expect them to be signing big names like they did last year, though they will probably pursue a cheaper puck moving defenseman, something they lacked enough of in the playoffs. Flyers will be back in the playoffs next year, but with so much cap tied up for so long don’t expect them to be spending big in the coming off seasons. Of course, they have been known to swing big deals, so don’t be surprised if a young forward to be dealt for a defenseman.

New York Islanders
UFA’s- Miroslav Satan (F), Ruslan Fedotenko (F), Josef Vasicek (F), Brian Berard (D), Wade Dubielewicz (G)
RFA’s- Sean Bergenheim (F), Bruno Gervais (D), Aaron Johnson (D)
The Islanders have a chance to trim some fat, and rumor is they’ve already told Satan and Fedotenko their going to be cut loose which is smart as the former has disappeared since coming to the Isles and the latter was worth a fraction of what they paid him. Vasicek was a pleasant surprise but he is rumored to be on the way out. Dubie, while liked by the fans is replaceable make no mistake. Look for the Isles/Fishsticks (it just doesn’t get old) to bring in young talent from the farm.

What they should do:
Outside of goaltender the Isles need to improve everywhere. They need a few wingers who can put the puck in the net as Trent Hunter is the only one who can really do that besides an aging Bill Guerin. Of course the defense isn’t a whole lot better when Brendan Witt and Andy Sutton are your two best stay at homes. Of the two though I would concentrate more on scoring as both the Pens and Rangers displayed you don’t need elite defenseman to go far (not that it doesn’t help). The free agent scoring pool is thin this year, especially for anyone under 35 so barring some young players stepping it up big time don’t look for much improvement from the Isles. Trading picks and/or prospects for established players though is a viable option at this point.


devo said...

The Devils need a Brian. Campbell or Rolston will do. Though both of these guys will probably be pursued by the Rangers too, among other teams, and there's really no good reason to go to the Devils over the Rangers.

Btw, how the hell do the Rangers sign Drury and Gomez and still have enough cap room to do anything besides resign Jagr?

The Yinzer said...

I think the Devils would need Rolston more than Campbell. Despite losing guys in recent years they still have talent on the blue line, but are lacking scoring punch.

The Rangers have a bunch of guys whoa re free agents they can cut looose if they want (and probably will). If they let those guys walk it would be more akin to a roster overhaul than just a tweak. I wont be surprised if you see six new faces on the Rangers.