Sunday, June 27, 2010

*Updated* My Top 10 Unrestricted Free Agents for 2010

With July 1st around the corner, your best 2010 NHL Free Agents are...

10. Alex Frolov - Los Angeles Kings

Age: 27 09-10 Salary: $2,900,000 81GP 19G 32A 51PTS 26PIM -1+/-

Note: The former 1st round pick could really boost a team's offense, especially considering he has scored at least 20 goals in every season minus his rookie campaign and last season's setback. In 08-09, he recorded 32 goals and is likely in need of a fresh start. Don't expect this 6' 2" and 204 lbs Russian to last long after July 1st.

9. Matthew Lombardi - Phoenix Coyotes

Age: 28 09-10 Salary: $1,816,666 78GP 19G 34A 53PTS 36PIM 8+/-

Note: The Montreal native saw a career high in points and assists last year as a member of the Coyotes. The former Flame has always shown great quickness and agility, making him another player many teams will look at. He will certainly be looking for a raise heading into free agency.

8. Pavel Kubina - Atlanta Thrashers

Age: 33 09-10 Salary: $5,000,000 76GP 6G 32A 38PTS 66PIM 0+/-

Note: The frightening 6' 4" and 250 lbs frame that Kubina bares would be something any team would love to have on their side. The former Stanley Cup Champion and powerplay quarterback has never dipped below 20 points in his career. The big defenseman has also recorded at least 40 points in two of his last three seasons.

7. Maxim Afinogenov - Atlanta Thrashers

Age: 30 09-10 Salary: $800,000 82GP 24G 37A 61PTS 46PIM -17+/-

Note: The oft-injured, long time Buffalo Sabre experienced a fabulous season last year, recording a career high goals. Known for his blinding speed, Afinogenov also managed to participate in every regular season game last year for the first time in his career. At just $0.8 million last season, he was steal for the Thrashers, however many teams will still be scared to take a chance with this guy.

6. Vaclav Prospal - New York Rangers

Age: 35 09-10 Salary: $1,100,000 75GP 20G 38A 58PTS 32PIM 8+/-

Note: The Czech winger has been a bit of a suitcase the last little while, playing for 6 different teams in the last 9 seasons. However, scoring 20 goals last season and netting 33 back in 07-08, makes this guy a great veteran to have on a team. After three stints with the Lightning, nobody really knows where he will be going. He will likely want to go to a contender though, as he has managed just 60 playoff games, compared to nearly 950 regular season contests.

5. Ray Whitney - Carolina Hurricanes

Age: 37 09-10 Salary: $3,550,000 80GP 21G 37A 58PTS 26PIM -6+/-

Note: When will this guy get the credit he deserves! The former Stanley Cup Winner and two time NHL All-Star is one of the most underrated players in the game. With 869 career points and 4 consecutive 20 goal performances, he just keeps producing. A hot commodity at the trade deadline, this small winger will also likely want to go to a contender, considering his age.

4. Anton Volchenkov - Ottawa Senators

Age: 28 09-10 Salary: $2,500,000 64GP 4G 10A 14PTS 38PIM 2+/-

Note: Another player that is often underrated because of his role on the team. He won't blow you away with fast skating or as a sniper, but can he ever block shots! He has always been atop the league in blocked shots and hits. He is considered to be one of the toughest players around the NHL. Also known to be an excellent shut-down defenseman and Sens fans will be said to see him leave, if that's the route he chooses.

3. Evgeni Nabokov - San Jose Sharks

Age: 34 09-10 Salary: $5,375,000 Record: 44-16-10 2.43GAA 0.915SV% 3SO

Note: After 3 consecutive 40 win seasons, Nabby is the best goaltender on the market. The Russian backstopper has played for the Sharks his entire career and also set a career high in SV% last season with a mark of .922. The former Calder Trophy winner and NHL All-Star may also go to a team looking for more scoring, after his powerplay goal against the Canucks in 2002. In all seriousness, for a team looking for solid netminding Nabokov will deliver, however the price may be scary.

2. Sergei Gonchar - Pittsburgh Penguins

Age: 36 09-10 Salary: $5,000,000 62GP 11G 39A 50PTS 49PIM -4+/-

The former Stanley Cup Champion and NHL All-Star is second among Russian defensemen in scoring with 684 points. Known for his hard shot and powerplay assets, he definitely won't last long on the free agent market. The aging Gonchar has managed to record at least 50 points in 9 of the last 10 seasons.

1. Ilya Kovalchuk - New Jersey Devils

Age: 27 09-10 Salary: $6,389,300 76GP 41G 44A 85PTS 53PIM 10+/-

Here's the big boy of the 2010 free agency period, no doubt. Clearly the best player to become available, he will almost certainly continue to put up big numbers. The former Rocket Richard winner has put up at least 40 lamplighters in his last 6 NHL seasons, two of which were 50 goal efforts. He has only dipped below the 40 goal mark for two seasons, both of them being his first in the league. One team is going to have a lot more firepower next year, but boy are they going to pay for it!

Who else belongs in the Top 10?


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Top 5 NHL 1st Overall Draft Pick Busts

Not saying Taylor Hall will turn out anything like these guys because I agree with him going first, but with all the draft buzz I thought it would be fun to look at some of the first overall failures!

5. Brian Lawton - 1983 by the Minnesota North Stars

483GP - 112G - 154A - 266PTS

Note: The North Stars were glad to take Lawton as the first US born player to go at #1, and so were the Red Wings who ended up with Stevie-Y.

Who they could have taken:

Pat LaFontaine: 3rd overall (865GP - 1013PTS)
Steve Yzerman: 4th overall (1514GP - 1755PTS)
Cam Neely: 9th overall (726GP - 694PTS)

4. Greg Joly - 1974 by the Washington Capitals

365GP - 21G - 76A - 97PTS

Note: The first overall pick led his Caps to a grand total of 19 wins in 160 games over his first two seasons.

Who they could have taken:

Wilf Paiement: 2nd overall (946GP - 814PTS)
Clarke Gillies: 4th overall (958 - 697PTS)
Bryan Trottier: 22nd overall (1279GP - 1425PTS)

3. Patrik Stefan - 1999 by the Atlanta Thrashers

455GP - 64G - 124A - 188PTS

Note: Just 7 years after being number 1, Stefan found himself in retirement, but I'd want to retire too after missing that empty net against the Oilers in 2007.

Who they could have taken:

Daniel Sedin: 2nd overall (705GP - 547PTS and counting)
Henrik Sedin: 3rd overall (728GP - 572PTS and counting)
Martin Havlat: 23rd overall (543GP - 450PTS and counting)

2. Alexandre Daigle - 1993 by the Ottawa Senators

616GP - 126G - 198A - 327PTS

Note: "I'm glad I got drafted first, because no one remembers number two"
- Alexandre Daigle after being picked #1 overall.
He deserves a kick in the mouth, I think we all remember Mr. Pronger a lot better than him.

Who they could have taken:

Chris Pronger: 2nd overall (1104GP - 661PTS and counting)
Paul Kariya: 4th overall (989GP - 989PTS and counting)
Jason Arnott: 7th overall (1099GP - 873GP and counting)

1. Gord Kluzak - 1982 by the Boston Bruins

299GP - 25G - 98A - 123PTS

Note: It was close, but eleven knee surgeries later here's your worst, just 299 games is the least by any 1st overall pick.

Who they could have taken:

Brian Bellows: 2nd overall (1188GP - 1022PTS)
Scott Stevens: 5th overall (1635GP - 908PTS)
Phil Housley: 6th overall (1495GP - 1232PTS)
Salt in the wound - Dave Andreychuk: 16th overall (1639GP - 1338PTS)

That's my opinion anyway, who have I missed?


Friday, June 25, 2010

Recchi Resigns; Hamhuis Moved (Again)

1-year deal at $1 million plus bonuses.

Hamhuis's rights are now with the Pens, in exchange for Pittsburgh's 3rd round pick on 2011. Philly couldn't agree on a contract with the free agent to be.

more later...

Leading the Way: Rob Blake

A few days back we saw one of the great leaders in the game call it quits after 20 hard fought NHL seasons.

Rob Blake grew up in Simcoe, Ontario playing for the local minor hockey association alongside current NHL goaltender Dwayne Roloson. The two would lead their hometown to two Ontario Minor Hockey Association Championships.

Soon after, Blake played Jr. B hockey in the Midwestern Ontario Jr. B league until he was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1986 OHL Priority Selection by the Sault Saint Maire Greyhounds. However, Blake never dressed in a game for the Greyhounds but instead opted to get an NCAA scholarship. This led to him signing with the Stratford Cullitons. Blake also played for the Bowling Green State University Falcons of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, after receiving a scholarship. Blake played three years at the college level, receiving an All-Star Team award in 1990.

In the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, the Los Angeles Kings selected Blake 70th overall. That 70th overall pick would go on to be a very valuable pick for the Kings squad. In his rookie year of 1990-91, he scored 12 times to accompany 34 assists for 46 points. He and a certain "Great One" would lead the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993. In 1996, he was named team captain and he would hold this title with the Kings until 2001. Amongst those years, he earned a Norris Trophy in 1998.

Before he could become an unrestricted free agent, Blake was traded to Colorado during the 2001 season. The impact of such a leader and competitor like Blake became evident, as that season he and the Avs would bring home the Stanley Cup. Not only did his size and hard-nosed style contribute to the effort, but he also put home 19 points in the 23 playoff games. Let's just remember, he was a defenseman!

Blake would resign in Colorado and remained with the club until 2006. That's when he was reunited with his Kings, signing on for 2 years. Realizing Blake's leadership abilities were still superb, the Kings renamed him team captain in 2007.

In 2008, Blake signed on with the San Jose Sharks and reached the 40 point mark for one final time, this time at the tender age of 39! That season saw him record 10 goals and add 35 assists for 45 points. After extending his contract for another year with the Sharks, it is no surprise that he was named the captain of this team as well! He held this title until his retirement on June 18th of this year.

Blake was also a mainstay on Team Canada at both the Olympics and World Hockey Championships. He was on Team Canada for the World Hockey Championships in 1991, 1994, 1997, 1998 and 1999. During these appearances he earned 3 golds and a silver medal. He won a silver at the World Cup of Hockey in 1996 as well. Team Canada also came knocking on Blake's door for many Olympics. He played in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics for his nation, capturing the gold in 2002!

Blake's points as a defenseman were quite remarkable, in a total of 1270 NHL games he tallied 240 goals and assisted on 537 more for 777 points! His best season was in 1994 where he scored 20 goals and added 48 assists for 68 points. However, looking throughout his stats he was always a consistent performer. As previously mentioned, his 6' 4" and 225 lbs frame was very solid on defense and quite intimidating. He was not a player you wanted to mess with, as shown by his 1679 PIMS. Internationally, he recorded 23 more points in 58 games. Blake truly was an killer combination of power, offense and leadership that any team would love to have.

Although he may not be quite as storied as the other "Number 4," not everybody gets to play alongside goaltender Justin Timberlake against the Leafs for the Stanley Cup! Stellar performance in "The Love Guru" too!

Does Rob Blake belong in the Hall of Fame? I think it's a YES!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sharks, Bruins and Coyotes Lock up Key Components

The San Jose Sharks took care of some much needed business today, locking up forward Patrick Marleau and playoff hero Joe Pavelski to long term deals.

The 6' 2" and 220 lbs Marleau has spent his whole career with the Sharks and recently helped Team Canada claim the gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Last season the 30-year-old was very successful, playing in all 82 games and recording 44 goals to accompany 39 assists, for an impressive total of 83 points. His 83 points marks his best total since the 2005-06 season, and his 44 goals were a career high in that respect. The 3-time NHL All-Star and franchise points leader lead his team to the Conference Finals this past season. His deal will see him earn $6.9 million per year for the next 4 seasons. He was set to become a free agent on July 1st.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Pavelski also signed a 4-year deal, his sees him make $4 million per season. Pavelski had another solid season as a member of the Sharks, he netted 25 goals and added 26 assists for 51 points in just 67 games. "Little Joe", as he may be called, was anything but "little" in the playoffs, where he managed 9 goals and 17 points in just 15 games. He was a crucial piece to San Jose in the playoffs, and also to Team U.S.A.'s silver medal effort in Vancouver. The 5' 11" and 194 lbs Pavelski has also spent his entire career as a member of the Sharks.

Also inking up key players recently were the Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes.

The Bruins reached a deal with playoff workhorse Johnny Boychuk for 2 more seasons, the contract totals $3.75 million. The 26-year-old defenseman had a great season with the Bruins and an even better playoffs. He was key to the Bruins upsetting 3rd seed Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs. Boychuk scored a total of 5 goals and 15 points in just 51 regular season games and added 6 more points in a mere 13 playoff contests. However, the 6' 2" and 225 lbs Boychuk was more noted for his defensive attributes and hard hitting style. He also logged a lot of minutes alongside Captain Zdeno Chara during the playoffs.

The Coyotes were the last to get in on the spending, resigning Polish forward Wojtek Wolski. Wolski was late season acquisition by the Coyotes, who acquired the 24-year-old from the Avalanche. His 2009-10 season totals included 23 goals and 42 assists for 65 points in 80 games, split between the two clubs. The 6' 3" and 210 lbs Wolski will $7.6 million over the next 2 seasons.

As both the Entry Draft and NHL Free Agency dates near, there will certainly be more teams looking to lock up players for next season. Teams will also be looking to free up cap space in the coming days, likely via trades. Stay tuned and enjoy the Draft!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Playoff Brute Byfuglien and Company on the Move?

To Atlanta: F Dustin Byfuglien, F Ben Eager, D Brent Sopel, F Akim Aliu

To Chicago: F Marty Reasoner, F Jeremy Morin, FJoey Crabb, 24th overall pick in 2010, 54th overall pick in 2010.

To get under the league limit of 50 contracts (which I was unaware of), the Thrashers sent F Brett Sterling, D Michael Vernace and a 7th round pick in this year's draft to San Jose, for future considerations.

As predicted, because of cap space the Hawks had to dump salary somehow. The deal just has to be confirmed by the NHL.

Also of importance for the coming weeks, the cap has been set at $59.4 million which is up $2.6 million from last season.

More info and updates later...


Latest Bruins Buzz

As reported, the Bruins recently acquired F Nathan Horton from the Panthers. Horton will have to bring some much needed offense to a Bruins squad that was at the bottom of the league in goal scoring. Last season the 6ft 2in and 230lbs, former 3rd overall pick in 2003 scored 20 goals and added 37 assists for 57 points in a mere 65 games. The 25-year-old Horton has scored at least 20 goals in each of his last 5 seasons, but has had some injury troubles lately, which has to be of concern of many Bruins fans. Their Bruins struggled all season keeping key players off of the injured list. The big forward has great shooting and skating abilities, especially considering his large frame. Horton has also never played in a single playoff game and was speculated to have wanted out of Florida.

Also coming to the Bruins is 6ft and 197lbs forward Gregory Campbell. The 26-year-old managed just 2 goals and 17 points last season, after recording 13 markers and 32 points the previous year. Son of the NHL's Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell, Gregory is a strong two-way player. He is useful on the penalty kill and has great speed to accompany his chippy style of play.

Besides the 3rd round pick in 2011 and 15th overall pick in this year's draft, which became expendable after acquiring the 2nd overall pick, the Bruins will lose D Dennis Wideman. The 6ft, 200lbs blueliner had a disappointing season, recording 6 goals and 30 points in 76 games. That is down considerably from his 08-09 totals, where he had 13 goals and racked up 50 points. The 27-year-old had some great moments in Beantown, but he also had his fair share of disappointments. Last season, he was "booed" off the ice by Bruins fans, do to questionable defensive play.

The deal became a viable option for Boston, considering they had 2 picks in the first round of the draft. Also, Horton and Wideman have very similar contracts, at around $4 million each. With the limited cap space the Bruins have, they had to be getting a player back that was equal to or less than what they were giving up in terms of salary. It should also be noted that with this pick, the Panthers have a very nice collection of picks early in this year's draft.

With Wideman leaving, there is a considerable hole on the Bruins blueline (Boychuk also still unsigned). Many rumors have been swirling that the Bruins have interest in the Leafs D Tomas Kaberle. As you may remember, a deal involving Kaberle was very close with the Bruins last season around this time. That deal involved Kessel gonig the other way at the time. This time around, the Bruins are apparently shopping F Marc Savard, who just this season resigned a long-term contract. The Bruins would also like to dump G Tim Thomas and his bloated salary, after he lost his starting job. However, with the plethora of goalies the Leafs currently have, they likely won't be interested in the former Vezina winner.

In my opinion, the Bruins will definitely need to find another defenseman or two before next season. However, dropping salary will be a must for that to happen. With offensive troubles as it is, I don't think moving Savard would be wise. If a team for some reason is interested in Thomas, that route would be much more logical.

The draft is getting closer and closer...who's Boston getting?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bruins acquire Horton; Plekanec resigns

To Boston: F Nathan Horton, F Gregory Campbell

To Florida: D Dennis Wideman, 1st round (15th overall) pick in 2010, 3rd round pick on 2011

F Tomas Plekanec has also resigned in Montreal for 6 more years, at $30 million.

More a little later...

My Top 20 Unrestricted Free Agents to be of 2010

Here are my top 20 unrestricted free agents and their previous teams:

20. Willie Mitchell - VAN

19. Paul Martin - NJ

18. Matt Cullen - OTT

17. Bill Guerin - PIT

16. Olli Jokinen - NYR

15. Pavol Demitra - VAN

14. Alex Frolov - LA

13. Alex Ponikarovsky - PIT

12. Matthew Lombardi - PHX

11. Pavel Kubina - ATL

10. Lee Stempniak - PHX

9. Vaclav Prospal - NYR

8. Anton Volchenkov - OTT

7. Ray Whitney - CAR

6. Tomas Plekanec - MTL Update: Resigns in Montreal, 6-years and $30 million

5. Evgeni Nabokov - SJ

4. Sergei Gonchar - PIT

3. Scott Niedermayer - ANA Update: Plans to retire

2. Patrick Marleau - SJ Update: Resigns in San Jose, 4 years and $27.6 million

1. Ilya Kovalchuk - NJ

Of course this is just my opinion, and besides, some of these players will likely resign before July 1st. Who have I missed or who would you have included?


Contract for Cooke

Recent rumblings say that Matt Cooke has agreed on a new contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins forward was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July first, but this deal will keep him in Pittsburgh for the next three years. Cooke recorded 15 goals and 15 assists in 79 games last season and also rattled off 106 PIMS. He added 4 goals and 2 more assists in 13 playoff games, after his Penguins were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Semi Finals.

Cooke was the center of attention around the league after his blindside head hit on Bruins forward Marc Savard. Cooke didn't get suspended, nor did he even recieve a minor penalty on the play. Savard would miss the remainder of the regular season and wouldn't return to action until the second round of the playoffs against the Flyers. He didn't have his affective play making abilities back however. The controversial hit brought up debate once again on whether these types of hits should be accepted in the NHL.

Personally, I think these hits cannot continue if we want to keep the great players of our game off of the injured reserve!

Update: The Canadiens have resigned Darche to a 1-year $0.55 million contract.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Music City Movements

Just a quick note on the barrage of moves made by the Nashville Predators recently.

The first of which involved the resigning of D Francis Bouillon. The deal covers the next two seasons, in the first year he will make $1.2 million and in the following the 34-year-old will earn $1.5 million. Despite being undersized at just 5ft 8in and 198lbs, Bouillon never shies away from the physical side of the game. The solid, hard hitting defenseman is the type of player every team needs, especially considering he only spent 50 minutes in the box last season. Quite disciplined for a player of his style. He averaged over 19 minutes per game last season and rattled off 162 hits.

Later, the Preds dealt the rights to defenseman Dan Hamhuis to the Eastern Conference Champion Flyers. The Predators also gave up a conditional pick in the 2011 draft. In return, Nashville will receive the rights to D Ryan Parent, who will soon become a restricted free agent. Parent is listed at 6ft 2in and 210lbs and made $0.9 million last season. The 23-year-old Parent was originally drafted by Nashville in 2005, but was later traded to the Flyers. He collected just 1 goal and 2 assists in a mere 48 games with the Flyers this season. The 2-time World Junior Champion is considered to be more of a defensive specialist. As for Hamhuis, he earned $2 million last season and will be getting a raise from the Flyers. He is however, still set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Hamhuis scored 5 goals and added 19 assists for 24 points last season and has never played less than 78 games in one season, over his 6-year NHL career. The 27-year-old is 6ft 1in and 203lbs.

The busy Preds weren't done there though, they also traded Captain Jason Arnott to the Devils for forward Matt Halischuk and a 2nd round pick in 2011. The former NHL All Star and Stanley Cup Champion Arnott, previously played with New Jersey from 1997 to 2002. Last season the 35-year-old potted 19 goals and assisted on 27 others for a total of 46 points in 63 games. The powerful 6ft 5in and 220 pound Arnott will cost the Devils $4.5 million in the 2010-11 season. Arnott is also noted for having scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in double OT of Game 6 in 2000, as a member of those Devils! Going the other way is Matt Halischuk, a 22-year-old who played 20 games with the Devils this year, recording 1 goal and adding an assist. He spent most of the season playing for the Devils' minor league team in Lowell, where he played 32 games and notched 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points. Halischuk is just 5ft 11in and 177lbs but makes up for his lacking size with his skating and hard work. He is also known to spend time on the penalty kill. Many may remember Halischuk when he scored the gold medal clinching goal in overtime for Canada at the 2008 World Juniors!

Predators GM David Poile cleared up some cap space with these moves and also brought in some younger players. No doubt with the cap space they now have they may be looking to make a bigger splash come July 1st. But for now, all eyes are on the draft where the Preds also have the 18th pick.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Turning Their Back to Halak

The Deal:
To St. Louis - Rights to G Jaroslav Halak
To Montreal: F Lars Eller, F Ian Schultz

What St. Louis gets:

A 25 year old Slovakian playoff hero. Halak is a calm, positional goalie despite his smallish frame at 5ft 11in and 179lbs. He has recently proved himself to be able to deal with extremely high amounts of pressure in Montreal. After nabbing the number one job from Carey Price he never looked back and managed to shut down two of the league's best in Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. He is currently an restricted free agent and will undoubtedly being looking for a considerable raise on his 0.8 million contract last year. However, with the Blues having nearly 30 million in cap space (2nd most in NHL), there should be no issues. A fan favourite for the underdog Canadiens throughout the playoffs he was finally able to prove himself over Price. A huge 53 save performance against the Capitals really backed that up. Late in 2010, Halak was also deservedly named the Molson Cup Player of the Year for Montreal. His solid play in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics can also not be forgotten, where he lead his underdog Slovaks to a respectable 4th place finish, that included wins against powerhouses Russia and Sweden, and a very close loss to champions Canada in the semis. As a result, Halak was able to clinch Slovakia's best ever finish at the Olympics. A clear competitor and now proven goalie, Halak promises to bring solid goaltending to a rising Blues squad.

09-10 Stats: Montreal (NHL) - 45GP 26W 13L 5SO 2.40GAA .924SV%

What Montreal gets:
A former first round pick, Danish forward Lars Eller. Aged 21, Eller brings adequate size at 6ft 1in and 198lbs and skates well. He scoring touch is very good but he is more noticed for his playmaking ability and vision on the ice. A great two-way forward at the AHL level, he will be looking to bring this style into the NHL very soon. Gathering 84PIM last season proves Eller isn't a pushover either.

09-10 Stats: Peoria (AHL) - 70GP 18G 39A 57PTS 84PIM
St. Louis (NHL) - 7GP 2G 0A 2PTS 4PIM

A hard-nosed 19 year old of the Calgary Hitmen named Ian Schultz. Schultz brings size at 6ft 3in and 208lbs. Schultz has a good offensive upside but is much better playing as a physical winger. He has the capability to become a power forward but would also make a great grinder. Players of Schultz's style are the type you are glad to have on your team, rather than be playing against.

09-10 Stats: Calgary (WHL) - 70GP 24G 31A 55PTS 150PIM

In conclusion it is easy to say that this deal was unexpected, after the solid performance of Halak down the stretch. Although there had much talk that Montreal would drop a goalie, it seemed as though Price was now the odd man out. This puts a lot of pressure on Price to produce, and new GM Gauthier. The Blues will be very happy to accept Halak into their organization after all of the playoff hype he stirred up. Montreal fans may be devastated at first glimpse, but Price is still young and both of these prospects are promising. It seems likely that Gauthier realized that it was going to be hard to resign Halak. Let the deal play out and it may work for both sides in the coming years, but at the time Blues fans have to be pleased!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Boston Bruins: Who's in and who's out

With Dennis Seidenberg and Shawn Thornton recently locked up for the next couple years, it's time to step back and look at who else should be back in Black and Gold next year. With 18 players already signed and just over 4.3 million left in cap space, there is not much room to fill holes. The likes of Rechhi, Begin, Satan and Boychuk headline the most notable unrestricted free agents as of July 1. Restricted free agents Wheeler, Stuart, Paille, Sobotka, McQuaid and Bodnarchuk are also big players moving forward.

But who stays and who goes?

As Mark Recchi continues to age, he continues to produce solid numbers and brings hard work to the line-up every night. His experience is a strong trait to a team that consists of many inexperienced players. His strong playoff performance (10 points in 13 games) also is a great reason to bring back the former cup winner.

Steve Begin was no doubt a top tier penalty killer and added some solid sandpaper to the line-up. Another great worker that wasn't afraid to drop the gloves either. He proved to be a great enforcer that knew his role well within the team.

Miro Satan was another solid performer in the Bruins playoff run, gathering 10 points as well. His chemistry with David Krejci was very noticeable and after Krejci went down to injury, so did Satan's productivity. Less than half a season isn't enough to prove what he can really bring to the table. His track record in Pittsburgh won't support him either. Although he seemed to be a great fit for the stretch run, is he really part of this team moving forward?

Johnny Boychuk really came through at the end of the season and proved to be a very important piece to the defence. His 15 points in just 56 regular season games and 6 playoff points also can't go unnoticed. He logged minutes in the high 20s often in the playoffs and really came through with solid defensive play. His hitting ability wasn't too shabby either. No doubt he would be great to have back, but he will certainly be looking for a raise from his 0.5 million he earned last season.

The collection of restricted free agents will be of concern as well. Wheeler has great size and speed, but should really have produced more last season. Mark Stuart proved he was solid when in the line-up, however keeping him off the injured list seemed a bit of a challenge. Paille had great speed and penalty killing abilities but bringing him back good prove difficult and Sobotka is still waiting for a breakout season. McQuaid and Bodnarchuk should really soon be able to make that next step up as well.

Who do you think Chiarelli should bring back?

With limited cap space, only some of these Bruins will be able to remain Bruins. GM Chiarelli will have work to do and spaces to fill. Trades may also be looked at to free up room to sign as many as the above as possible. However, it is likely that Bruins Nation may be more focused on the Draft than anything. Holding two first round picks can really stir up a lot of options. It will be very interesting to see what he decides to do with those two picks, if he opts to hold them both. However, with the Bruins depth down the middle, it seems like they would prefer Taylor over Tyler. Either way, all there is to do is sit back as the deadlines near and see who's in and who's out for next year.