Hey Wilderness. This summer, I had done a recap of the first week of the free agency frenzy and I had promised a weekly or bi-weekly update. Turns out, I didn't deliver on that promise! I was way busier than I expected this summer, so as a form of redemption, and now that the off-season is over, Bryan and I will form a tag-team to talk about how the teams in the Northwest Division fared this off-season. Keep in mind this is our opinion and ours only. Our words aren't the law.
Transaction information comes from thehockeynews.com and cap information comes from capgeek.com, naturally.
Let's get started!
New acquisitions: Jean-Michel Daoust, Chad Rau, Matt Cullen, Brad Staubitz, Eric Nystrom, Joel Broda, Warren Peters, Drew Bagnall, Jarod Palmer, John Madden, Dennis Endras
Re-signings: Nate Prosser, Guillaume Latendresse, Mikko Koivu (extension), Josh Harding, Jon DiSalvatore, Robbie Earl, Jamie Fraser, James Sheppard, Clayton Stoner, Anton Khudobin, Matt Kassian.
Departures: Andrew Ebbett, Derek Boogaard, John Scott, Jaime Sifers, Andy Hilbert, Barry Brust, Nathan Smith, J.P. Testwuide
Still on the market: Wade Dubielewicz, Shane Hnidy, Danny Irmen, Ryan Lannon, Duncan Milroy, Owen Nolan, Brandon Rogers, Roman Voloshenko
Cap space: $2,347,305
JS: The Wild clearly improved their two-way game with their acquisitions, namely Matt Cullen, John Madden, Eric Nystrom and Brad Staubitz. It was a part of the Wild's game that had suffered immensely with the system change and we ended up over-playing our key players a lot of the time. Now, I have a feeling we'll come back to being near the top of the PK list in the league. We also can't underestimate the experience Matt Cullen and John Madden bring to the table, the pair being the only guys on the roster with championship rings. Locking Koivu and Latendresse up were also great moves, which about every Wild fan were hoping and praying for. If you've been here for a while, you know how we feel about Koivu's contract by now.
Bryan: The biggest pluses are the free agent signings. With the addition of the defensive forwards, the pressure to be the shut down guy should be off Koivu. He is not suddenly going to become a risk taker, but saving him the time on the PK should add at least a bit to his production. Bouchard and Burns looking to be healthy, Cam Barker with a fresh season, many players with something to prove. All pluses in my book.
JS: We weren't able to get a legitmate scorer on the first line, which was one of CF's goals. We can't blame him too much for that, because since top-flight goal scorers don't grow on trees, options were rather slim, as was our list of tradable assets. Contrary to what some people might think, not everyone wants Sheppard and Harding for their top line scorer. Another little thing is that we could stand to have more cap space in case of a rainy day or for late-season acquisitions, but again, this can't be entirely blamed on CF, because most of the team's contracts weren't his doing, and a quick fix isn't always available, nor is it always a good idea.
Bryan: The big minuses are the unknowns, the number of question marks. There are still a ton of "If _____ can rebound," and "if __________ can repeat his season" lines in all previews of the Wild. In other words, there are too many "ifs, ands, & buts" for anyone to be comfortable. There is confidence in camp, and the positives outweigh the negatives, but the questions remain.
New acquisitions: Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, Stefan Meyer, Ryan Stone, Raitis Ivanans, Tim Jackman, Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen, Logan MacMillan, Henrik Karlsson, Christopher Breen, Bryan Cameron.
Re-signings: Craig Conroy, Ian White, Matt Pelech, Gord Baldwin, Brett Sutter, Kris Chucko, Matt Keetley, J.D. Watt
Departures: Nigel Dawes, Colin Stuart, Jamal Mayers, Brett Palin, David Van Der Gulik, Christopher Higgins, Eric Nystrom, Jason Jaffray, Carsen Germyn
Still on the market: Brad Cole, Andy Delmore, Brian McGrattan, Garth Murray, Vesa Toskala
JS: They've gotten much tougher, signing Raitis Ivanans and Tim Jackman, so games against them may become scrappy. They're not really going to help offensively though.
Bryan: I see none. Honestly, I see none. Jarome Iginla is still there, so they have that going for them. Kipprusoff is always steady, just as long as his team plays well in front of him. Ian White was brought in from Toronto, and should be able to have a good season from the blue line.
JS: Olli Jokinen...'nuff said. Nah, actually, I'm thinking their top line of Tanguay, Iginla and Jokinen is going to be much like our top line of Koivu, Bruno and Miettinen; it doesn't look very good on paper, but if they have chemistry, they may be just fine. Signing Tanguay and Jokinen looked like a desperation move, trying to make lightning strike twice, but at least this time, they've been signed at bargain prices. The Jokinen signing, however, must've felt like a slap to the face for the fans though, especially since the GM's response sounded like ''everyone who matters liked this signing''. They've lost a couple of character players, like Dawes, Nystrom and Mayers. Also, they've got a pretty bad cap situation, especially for a team who will probably be on the outside looking in playoff-wise.
Bryan: JS already made the Jokinen joke, so I'll let it pass. To be honest, the Wild went after Olli pretty hard, and he could very well have been the second line guy, so I'll save judgment. However, the moves the Flames made this off-season were not good. They borught in players from their past who had no success the first time around, and made no major upgrades. Still, they find themselves over the cap. It's almost like HWSRN is involved.
New acquisitions: Julian Talbot, Ben Walter, Greg Mauldin, David Van Der Gulik, David Liffiton, Jason Bacashihua, Daniel Winnik.
Re-signings: John Grahame, Peter Mueller, Chris Stewart, Kyle Quincey, Ray Macias, Kevin Porter, Julien Talbot, Brandon Yip
Departures: Tom Preissing, Codey Burki, Ruslan Salei, Darren Haydar, Chris Durno, Brian Willsie, Tyler Weiman, Brian Fahey, Brett Clark, T.J. Hensick, Marty Sertich.
Still on the market: Matt Hendricks, Wes O'Neill, Derek Peltier, Brett Skinner, Marek Svatos, Darcy Tucker, Stephane Yelle
Cap Space: $18,920,833
JS: They've got tons of cap space, which is always good, even if you can't always use all of it. The young guns will be a year older, and if they don't lose some key players to injury like last season, they could be a force.
Bryan: Money, money, money, money. The Avs were a good team last year, and they have tons of space to add more pieces. Young players playing very big roles is exciting for this franchise, and they look to be a very good team for years to come.
JS: They did virtually nothing in the off-season, despite having oodles of money to spare. They also let a ton of d-men walk, which could prove to be very bad unless they have some moves planned, because on many nights, they relied way too heavily on Craig Anderson. Sure the guy's good, but facing 35-40 shots each night will make it harder and harder to maintain his A-game. Getting rid of all these d-men without actually signing any to replace them could spell trouble.
Bryan: No moves in the off season. Huge amount of money, and they made no play for anyone? They had the space to make a huge splash and did nothing. Nothing, people. Though I'm sure the fans at Pepsi Center will flock out to see David Winnik. Right?
New acquisitions: Martin Gerber, Gregory Stewart, Shawn Belle, Ben Ondrus, Brad Moran, Alexandre Giroux, Steve MacIntyre, Richard Petiot, Kurtis Foster, Jim Vandermeer, Colin Fraser
Re-signings: Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Gilbert Brule, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, Theo Peckham, Jean-Francois Jacques, Liam Reddox, Devan Dubnyk, Ryan O'Marra
Departures: Ryan Potulny, Mike Comrie, Aaron Johnson, Fernando Pisani, Dean Arsene, Robert Nilsson, Marc Pouliot, Viatcheslav Trukhno, Ryan Stone, Chris Minard, Ethan Moreau, Patrick O'Sullivan, Charles Linglet, Riley Nash
Still on the market: Josef Hrabal, Bryan Lerg, Matt Nickerson, Geoff Paukovich
Cap Space: $8,768,000
JS: They got rid of a TON of dead weight, which helped alleviate the cap pressure. They were also able to lock up Gagner, Cogliano and associates, which was a must if they hope to build around a core. Speaking of core, Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi... all will probably play, which could be very exciting. Finishing last has it's perks huh? It also looks like they will get rid of Souray, which will suddenly give them a whole lot of cap space.
Bryan: Taylor Hall and Kurtis Foster. That's it.
JS: The goaltending situation is a gigantic question mark. About 8 different one-two combos are perfectly possible, but none are particularly good. Their defense hasn't improved much either, so they'll be allowing a bunch of goals again this year. They will probably finish near the bottom again this year unless they go all Colorado on us, but without goaltending, they're going to draft high again and destroy us all in a few years.
Bryan: Where to begin? Their starting goalie has yet to resolve his DUI related immigration issues, their top defenseman is a cheater and a hack that got a strong case of verbal diarrhea and has ended up black listed, their top goal scorer (Dustin Penner) was so cold for the second half of the season that many wondered if he even played. The organization is in a mess, and no one on the inside is willing to admit it.
New acquisitions: Raffi Torres, Bill Sweatt, Tyler Weiman, Dan Hamhuis, Manny Malhotra, Joel Perrault, Jeff Tambellini, Keith Ballard, Victor Oreskovich, Lee Sweatt, Chris Tanev.
Re-signings: Ryan Kesler, Shane O'Brien, Mason Raymond, Jannik Hansen, Alexandre Bolduc, Tanner Glass, Mario Bliznak, Sean Zimmerman
Departures: Willie Mitchell, Matt Pettinger, Matt Pope, Pavol Demitra, Brad Lukowich, Nathan McIver, Andrew Raycroft, Yan Stastny, Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, Eric Walsky
Still on the market: Michael Funk, Ryan Johnson, Kyle Wellwood
Cap Space: $-3,148,333
JS: Obviously, they've made many big acquisitions, prompting many ''experts'' to believe they will win the Stanley Cup. Torres, Hamhuis, Malhotra, Ballard will all help them reach the promised land for sure. They were able to re-sign some key players and they didn't lose anyone too important, apart from Willie Mitchell, whose health is a bit of a question mark anyway. They've improved the most out of all the Northwest teams, but will they win the Cup?
Bryan: Big moves in the off-season have made them the heavy favorite in the NW. As JS said, some experts have them as contenders for the Stanley Cup. While that may be premature, their defense is hugely improved from last season which should help Roberto
LOLuongo Luongo. The captaincy has been pulled from Luongo,in what is likely the best move of the off season. This is an improved club, and they were already pretty good to begin with. As much as that makes us all want to puke.
JS: They've already got some names on the injured list, namely Alex Burrows and Sami Salo. Also, they're over the cap right now. All this will do really is slow them down a little bit, but they're practically a lock for tops in the division.
Bryan: They are still the Canucks, and they will still find a way to shoot themselves in the foot. This is a club with a history of over confidence, and with the talent they have on paper, there is no reason to think it won't happen again.
Well, there you have it, now you know a lot of what you need to know about the Northwest Division for at least the start of the 10-11 season. Will we be able to continue making Louuuuuu our bitch? Will Edmonton rise quicker than we thought? Will the Wild make the playoffs? We'll see. Keep in mind we don't necessarily have ALL the dirt on the other teams, we've just given you our perspective. Don't agree? Need satisfaction? Feel free to get a glove and challenge us to a duel of words!