|Wheeling and Dealing: Eastern Conference Part Two||Tweet|
|Written by Tim Lucarelli|
|Monday, 16 July 2012 11:40|
Last week, we took our first look at the offseason moves on or around July 1st for the Eastern Conference teams, and what the residual fantasy implications might be. This week, we’re back with round two.
Ottawa Senators – Signed Erik Karlsson to a seven-year contract, signed Shane Price to an entry level (three-year) contract, signed Chris Neil to a three-year contract, signed Tyler Eckford to a two-year contract, signed Guillame Latendresse, Mike Lundin, Hugh Jessiman, and Andre Benoit to one-year contracts; Acquired Marc Methot for Nick Foligno. Lost Matt Carkner, Filip Kuba, Zenon Konopka to free agency.
In terms of point production, the next closest defenseman after Karlsson (78 pts) was a whopping 25 points down the chart (Brian Campbell and Dustin Byfuglien). Needless to say, Karlsson has proven himself to be an elite talent, and the Senators made sure to keep him in town for quite some time. With the departure of Carkner and Kuba, the top four looks to be Karlsson, Sergei Gonchar, Jared Cowen, and one of Chris Phillips or Matt Gilroy (still a UFA). Lundin and Methot round out the defense and while they do not provide much fantasy relevance, they are true defensive defensemen who can provide some stability on the back end. Craig Anderson and Ben Bishop will make for a talented enough tandem, but they might have to work a bit harder than most, due to the blue line in front of them. This team will likely miss the grit that leaves with Matt Carkner, Nick Foligno, and Zenon Konopka, but they are moving in a more skilled direction. The top six will feature Spezza, Alfredsson, Milan Michalek, Guillaume Latendresse, Kyle Turris, and one of Colin Greening, Bobby Butler, Jakob Silfverberg, Mika Zibanejad, or perhaps even Shane Prince or Mark Stone. While Latendresse has faced some injury issues, he is ready for a fresh start and if healthy, should provide some depth scoring. Depending on their development, the Ottawa prospects will give this team three dangerous scoring lines in the very near future. Almost all of their top end prospects have already signed their ELC’s too.
Philadelphia Flyers – Traded Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus for picks; Traded James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for Luke Schenn; Signed Bruno Gervais to a two-year contract; Signed Michael Leighton and Ruslan Fedotenko to one-year contracts. Lost Matt Carle, Jaromir Jagr to free agency.
Paul Holmgren is rarely a quiet man in the offseason, and this year was no different. The movement of Bobrovsky gives Ilya Bryzgalov a little more breathing room. With less pressure from a backup, Bryz should feel more comfortable and be primed for a bounce back season. Leighton, however, had a great year in the AHL last season and could still be a decent option when looking for depth goaltending in the late rounds. Philly also lost two big names from their forward mix in JVR and Jagr, which opens the door for guys like Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Matt Read, Wayne Simmonds, and Sean Couturier. Giroux’s production might dip slightly without Jagr in the dressing room, but he will still be an elite player. Voracek, who is an RFA that Holmgren is currently in negotiations with, could very well be Jagr’s replacement on the top line. That would leave Briere, B. Schenn, Simmonds, Couturier, Read, and Fedotenko rounding out the top nine. On the surface, it might look like the Flyers’ offense took a hit, but the same thing could have been said a year ago when Jeff Carter and Mike Richards left town. The difference this year is that the Flyers have $7.8M cap space available before signing Voracek (and that’s including Chris Pronger’s contract). If Pronger is unable to go – as many expect – the top four will be Timonen, Coburn, Meszaros, and Schenn, followed by Nick Grosmann, Bruno Gervais, Andreas Lilja, and Erik Gustafsson. Pronger’s absence would also free up almost $5M in cap space, which Holmgren would not be afraid to use in acquiring some veteran talent.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Traded Jordan Staal to Carolina for Brandon Sutter and Brian Dumoulin; Traded Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix for Marc Cheverie and Harrison Ruopp; Acquired Tomas Vokoun and signed him to a two-year contract; Signed Sidney Crosby to a 12-year extension; Signed Matt Niskanen, Jeff Zatkoff, and Tanner Glass to two-year contracts; Signed Benn Ferriero, Kevin Vellieux, Carl Sneep, Philippe Dupuis, Dylan Reese, Trevor Smith, Warren Peters, and Riley Holzapfel to one-year contracts. Lost Steve Sullivan to free agency.
While Jordan Staal made it clear he wanted out of Pittsburgh, the Penguins still managed to get a player they wanted badly in Brandon Sutter. After the dust settles, the top six in Pittsburgh will likely consist of Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, Sutter, and one of Tyler Kennedy, Pascal Dupuis, or Tanner Glass, and the third and fourth lines will look just about the same as they have in the past few years. The biggest difference in the Penguins’ offense this year is that they have less injury insurance in the lineup if Crosby goes down, simply because they lost two players who had established themselves more than their replacements (Staal and Sullivan versus Sutter and Glass). While the two newcomers might thrive with opportunity, the actual production is still a dice roll at this point. On defense, the Pens dumped Michalek and were rumored to be shopping Martin as well (both of their prized 2010 July 1st signings) to make room for Suter and/or Parise. After striking out on both, the Pens’ top four now consists of Letang, Martin, Niskanen, and one of Brooks Orpik or Simon Despres (if he can make the team), followed by Engelland and Ben Lovejoy. That defense isn’t all that strong outside of Letang, but the addition of Vokoun gives Pittsburgh one of the best goaltending tandems in the league. If they played to their potential, it could very well be the best tandem. Zatkoff is also a very promising goaltending prospect, which is never a bad thing to have. Overall, this team takes a bit of a hit at forward and defense from last season, but the good news is that their goaltending is more stabilized, which was a huge concern after their first-round defeat by Philadelphia.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Signed Matt Carle to a six-year contract; Signed Teddy Purcell to a three-year contract; Signed Sami Salo, Anders Lindback to two-year contracts; Signed Benoit Pouliot and Matt Taormina to one-year contracts. Acquired BJ Crombeen from St. Louis.
On offense, the Lightning brought back one of their top young forwards in Purcell, while also bringing in a player they feel will step into their top six in Pouliot. The line combos should look as follows: Martin St. Louis-Steven Stamkos-Purcell and Ryan Malone-Vincent Lecavalier-Pouliot. Brett Connolly might be able to crack into the top six at Pouliot’s expense, and Malone/Purcell may be interchangeable as well. Crombeen adds some toughness into the lineup and brings some veteran leadership into the locker room. On defense, Tampa swung for the fences bringing Carle and Salo into town, which gives the team some healthy competition for top four minutes. Players in the mix are Salo, Carle, Eric Brewer, Victor Hedman, Mattias Ohlund, and MA Bergeron. Guys like Lee and Mikkelson will be looking for depth minutes, but they may be hard to come by. With Mark Barberio from Norfolk pushing for a roster spot, this blue line is now very strong (assuming everyone stays healthy). The big news in goal is that Roloson does not have a contract anymore, and in his place Lindback received a $1.8M contract. That makes him the highest paid goalie in Tampa and the front-runner for the starting job. While he has the potential to be a very strong goalie, his NHL exposure is rather limited at this point. Not to worry though as he has a capable backup (or 1B) in Mathieu Garon, and a strong defensive core in front of him. The defense and goaltending should be fairly stable in Tampa and the offense could use a bit more depth, but they will have two strong scoring lines, as usual.
Toronto Maple Leafs - Traded Luke Schenn to Philadelphia for James van Riemsdyk; Traded Jonas Gustavsson to Winnipeg; Signed Jay McClement and Matt Frattin to two-year contracts; Signed Jussi Rynnas, Ryan Hamilton, Mike Kostka, and Korbinian Holzer to one-year contracts.
The Jonas Gustavsson era in Toronto has finally ended, and the team will move on with a healthy James Reimer as the starting goaltender, assuming of course that Brian Burke does not go after someone like Roberto Luongo, Jonathan Bernier, or Dominik Hasek. The scary thing for James Reimer though is that even though he is healthy, Burke still has to sign a goaltender or two to fill up his depth (currently only Reimer, Jussi Rynnas, and Mark Owuya are under contract for both the Leafs and the Marlies next season), and there have certainly been rumors linking Toronto to some of the more desirable goaltenders on the market. On defense, Schenn never did live up to expectations, making his trade a rather easy one. Now, the Leafs top four will boast Dion Phaneuf, JM Liles, Jake Gardiner, and one of Komisarek or Gunnarsson. With just under $12M in cap space available, Burke will likely look to add one more defenseman and one more goaltender, while deciding what to do with RFA’s Cody Franson and Nikolai Kulemin. If Kulemin is deemed expendable – which seems likely considering van Riemsdyk is now in town – the top six in Toronto will be Mikhail Grabovski, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, JVR, Clarke MacArthur, and one of Tim Connolly or Tyler Bozak. Looking at contracts, the job should be Connolly’s, but Bozak managed to outperform the veteran last year and may be able to do it again. If JVR sticks at center and Bozak takes a wing, Connolly could very well be looking at third-line minutes or even find himself playing elsewhere. The McClement addition is an underrated defensive move that will pay huge dividends for the Leafs. He plays a very similar game to Samuel Pahlsson, one of the key pieces of Burke’s 2007 Stanley Cup champion Ducks squad. He is strong on the faceoff circle, provides occasional offense, and is sound defensively, which will help shut down opposing threats. This will ultimately relieve pressure from both the offense and defense by keeping the goals against down and keeping games close.
Washington Capitals – Traded Tomas Vokoun to Pittsburgh; Traded Dennis Wideman to Calgary for Jordan Hendry; Acquired Mike Ribeiro for Cody Eakin; Signed Filip Forsberg to an entry-level contract; Signed Jay Beagle to a three-year contract; Signed Mathieu Perreault to a two-year contract; Signed Wojtek Wolski, Joey Crabb, Garrett Stafford, Kevin Marshall, Jack Hillen, Ryan Stoa, Zach Hamill, and Matt Clackson to one-year contracts.
The trading away of Vokoun signals that Washington is ready to proceed with Michal Neuvirth and Holtby as their top goaltenders. Since Neuvirth has battled some injuries, it has opened the door for Holtby to take over as the top goaltender. Since neither goalie has claimed the top position yet, it will be a battle in training camp to determine who will start out on top. Regardless, both are very talented, young goalies with fantasy relevance. On defense, the Caps still have a strong young mix in Mike Green (RFA), Carlson (RFA), Orlov, and Karl Alzner. Roman Hamrlik, Schultz, and Erskine bring some veteran leadership to the mix, with Hamrlik also occupying top four minutes from time to time. They might take a hit with Wideman gone, but they have enough talent to make up for it, just as long as everyone gets under contract and stays healthy. On offense, the Caps are almost certain to lose Semin, which drastically changes the makeup of this team. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Ribeiro, Brooks Laich, Wolski, and Marcus Johansson should make up the top six, with guys like Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, and Johansson fighting for time up there as well. Ribeiro certainly brings some skill into the mix, but this squad is starting to look more like a one-line team than it has in quite some time.
Winnipeg Jets - Signed Ondrej Pavelec to a five-year contract; Signed Olli Jokinen to a two-year contract; Signed Al Montoya, Mark Dekanich, Ben Maxwell, Alex Ponikarovsky, and Kyle Wellwood to one-year contracts.
The biggest priority for Winnipeg was to lock up Pavelec, and they did just that. Next in line was to secure some goaltending depth, which they did by signing Montoya and Dekanich, two very promising goaltenders. Montoya has the edge on Dekanich for the backup role, but Dekanich is eager to prove that last season’s injury riddled campaign was a fluke. The competition should ultimately produce a very solid backup for the Jets. At forward, the additions of Jokinen and Ponikarovsky give this team a growing list of players who have seen better days, but it is possible they could provide some depth scoring. Last season’s top line of Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler remains intact, and Jokinen will almost certainly center the second line, which may consist of some combination of Alexander Burmistrov, Evander Kane (RFA), Nik Antropov, and Ponikarovsky.
There are rumors that Kane does not want to return to Winnipeg, so it will be interesting to see how that process unfolds and what type of return they can get if the sides cannot reach an agreement. If Burmistrov can manage to stay in the top-six, he is primed for a breakout campaign, but if he stays on the third line, his production will continue to be limited. At defense, nothing changes from last season as Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, and Ron Hainsey occupy the top four, followed by Grant Clitsome and Stuart. Bogosian looked much more comfortable in Winnipeg than he ever did in Atlanta (evidenced by a career-high 30 points), and he will look to improve upon that performance. He has even gone on record showing his approval of Winnipeg’s offseason moves, something he never would have done in Atlanta. Perhaps he is finally ready to break out.
Got anything to add? As always, feel free to leave your comments below. You can also follow me on twitter @tlucarelli.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 09:26|