Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Off Season Report Card-East

1) Well, we still have a little over a month until the NHL restarts for 2007-08, but for all intents and purposes, rosters are pretty much set except for some window dressing of adding a depth forward/defenseman. With that in mind we thought it time to do off season grading. Many sites did this prematurely last month before the free agent/arbitration season had matured. Now, we feel it safe to determine who made moves to improve their team, and who did not.

2) We'll start in the East and go alphabetically:
  • Atlanta Thrashers: Basically stood pat. Significant losses- Viscnevski, Sim and Devries, Significant additions- Perrin, Todd White, Ken Klee. We don't see them particularly better. The playoff disappearance of Hossa and uneven goaltending of Leitonen puts the team into a bit of doubt this upcoming season. Grade C-

  • Boston Bruins- Significant losses-Hannu Toivonen, Shean Donovan. Significant additions- Manny Fernandez, Peter Schaefer, Shawn Thornton, Carl Soderberg. The key addition is Fernandez. Will he finally be the missing #1 goalie the B's have been without for so long? If so, it was a good offseason for Chirelli. Grade B

  • Buffalo Sabres- Significant additions-Jocelyn Thibeault Significant losses-Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Dainius Zubrus. probably the worst offseason of any team. The Sabres on paper go from Cup contendor to playoff bubble team. Still have a good group of youngsters, but can Vanek live up to his salary? Grade D

  • Carolina Hurricanes- Significant addition- Matt Cullen. Significant losses-none. Though they made only one significant addition, don't underestimate the help Cullen will provide. This team still has the tools to be back in the playoffs, and didn't need to do more. Grade B-

  • Florida Panthers- Significant additions-Tomas Vokoun, Richard Zednik, Radek Dvorak. Significant losses- Chris Gratton, Martin Gelinas, Alexei Semenov, Ed Belfour(probable) Others are impressed with their offseason changes, we are NOT! Vokoun will NOT be ahuge improvement over what belfour provided last year. Unless the kids step up, the Panthers will only be marginally better. Grade C

  • Montreal Canadians- Significant Additions-Roman Hamrlik, Patrice Brisebois, Bryan Smolinski. Significant Losses- Sheldon Souray, Alexander Perezhogin, Radek Bonk, David Aebischer, Sergei Samsonov. Another team spurned by the top FA's. Rumors were they went after Briere hard, but came up empty. Their overall summer filled holes by other departures. Don't see that they improved their lineup. Grade C

  • NJ Devils- Significant Additions- Dainius Zubrus, Karel Rachunek, Vitali Vishnevski, Kevin Weekes, Arron Asham, Ian Moran, coach Brent Sutter. Significant losses- Scott Gomez, Brian Rafalski, Brad Lukowich. The Devils lost significant offense in Rafalski and Gomez. Their additions are solid but are not going to replace the lost offense. Their kids(Parise) are going to have to step it up. Adding Sutter should mean they will be a hard working squad. Though it can't be forgotten that Brent is still a rookie coach! Grade B-

  • NY Islanders- Significant additions- Andy Sutton, Mike Comrie, Bill Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko , Jon Sim , Josef Vasicek. Significant losses- Alexei Yashin , Ryan Smyth, Jason Blake, Tom Poti, Viktor Kozlov, Richard Zednik, Arron Asham, Sean Hill. We can't recall a team undergoing so much off season change. Not for the good either. The team lacks a true first line. Nolan may get the most of his players, but if he gets this team in the playoffs he should get coach of the century! Grade D+

  • NY Rangers- Significant additions- Chris Drury (UFA, Buf), Scott Gomez. Significant losses- Michael Nylander, Jed Ortmeyer, Karel Rachunek Kevin Weekes, Matt Cullen. The Blueshirts made a huge UFA splash, but failed to address their biggest problem; their defense. They are hoping another Staal(Marc) can step up The free agent signings bumped them right against the cap limit, so they will have trouble adding during the season if need be. Grade B-

  • Ottawa Senators- Significant Additions-Shean Donovan (trade, Bos), Luke Richardson. Significant Losses- Tom Preissing, Mike Comrie, Oleg Saprykin. With the impending FA's of Heatley/Spezza looming next year, they couldn't spend any bucks this summer. We don't like Emery as a #1 goalie, so his signing is a negative in our opinion. Their overall lineup is still well above average. Grade C-

  • Philadelphia Flyers- Significant additions- Daniel Briere, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen, Jason Smith, Joffrey Lupul. Significant losses- Joni Pitkanen, Geoff Sanderson, Niko Dimitrakos, Todd Fedoruk, Mike York. Questions will be, will Briere and Hartnell live up to their inflated salaries, and can Biron be a #1 goalie? Team should be much improved, but there was no place to go but up. Grade A-

  • Pittsburgh Penguins- Significant additions- Darryl Sydor, Petr Sykora. Significant losses- Michel Ouellet, Jocelyn Thibault, Nils Ekman. Basicly stood pat. With the best group of young forwards in the game, why not? However, with the loss of Thibault, the pressure will now be on Fleury to step up and be a true #1 goalie. Biggest move was the Crosby extension. Grade C+

  • TB Lightning- Significant additions- Chris Gratton, Michel Ouellet, Brad Lukowich, Dan Jancevski, Jan Hlavac. Significant losses-Ruslan Fedotenko, Cory Sarich, Eric Perrin, Luke Richardson. Feaster sticking with his 'Big 3' strategy. Failing to address the teams need for better goaltending. Team no better/worse than last year. Grade C-

  • Toronto Maple Leafs-Significant Additions-Vesa Toskala, Jason Blake, Mark Bell. Significant losses- Yanic Perreault. The Leaf improved their goaltending as well as their offensive/defensive depth, without losing much of their existing roster. They may have pushed themselves over the hurdle as a likely playoff team. Grade B+

  • Washington Crapitals- Significant additions- Michael Nylander, Viktor Kozlov, Tom Poti, Nicklas Backstrom. Significant losses- None. The Caps seemd to have filled their glaring deficiency at center well with Nylander and Backstrom. Poti and Kozlov should help give depth to a previously thin offensive lineup. Grade B+


Shuck-A-Luck said...

Funny that you criticize other sites for jumping on the off season report cards so soon when there is still over a month of off season left!

Many teams don't have complete rosters and there are many free agents available that could change the complexion of a team.

Beyond that your ratings basically say you feel the eastern conference did a so/so job. You really don't have any winners (other than maybe a Flyer A-) and really no significant failures. So a great big faux fence sitting on this one!

Beyond that I will agree with your assessment of the Rangers. With 3.5 Million to cap max it is hard to see how they can fix their D problems without moving players off their roster.

As for the Sens, I think Emery proved last season he could be the number 1 goalie. But time will tell. As for signing him being the mistake, way off. He is a valuable asset that could be traded if the Sens wish to. There is plenty of demand for a goalie that has cup run experience. There are many teams without a bonafide experienced backup. Starter goes down Emery's trade value rockets!

Those are my thoughts not yours!

ps. moderation sux!

Sauce said...

Buffalo - the "worst offseason of any team"??? "Playoff bubble team"??? You're kidding, right? Everyone knew Buff had to lose at least one of their 2 captains. So you give them a D for essentially losing ONE player? They signed a significant RFA long-term and set themselves up cap-wise to do some damage at the trade deadline. I think you just might be jumping on the nay-sayers bandwagon on this one.

Carolina/Rangers - You give the Canes a B- for adding one player. So Cullen must be a good acquisition, right? But the Rangers LOST that player. And they lost Nylander too. And they locked up so much cap space on Gomez's scoring potential that they faile to lock their francise goaltender beyond one year and had to go to arbitration with Avery. Yet, you inexplicably give the Rangers the SAME GRADE, B-. Huh?

Florida - swapping Belfour for Vokoun only merits a C??? No improvement??? I suppose that's pretty evident by all the teams trying to sign old Eddie.

Devils - B minus for losing Gomez and Rafalski nad getting back Rachunek, Vishnevski and Zubrus??? (who cares about Weekes, Asham, et al.) Let's call Sutter a wash - he's unproven in the NHL. So the Devs are BETTER??? Huh?

Islanders - (how could I stay silent on this one?). First, it's not really fair to list Smyth as a player lost. They never really had him, and his contribution to last year's team was inconsequential. Next, most with knowledge of this team know that the Yashin exit is an absolute positive. So that means that the real comparison is Blake, Poti, Kozlov and Hill versus Sutton, Comrie, Guerin, Fedotenko, Sim and Vasicek. D-MINUS??? Even if you say that Sutton and Hill are a wash (very generous toward Hill), that still means that your way over-valuing 34 year-old Blake's career year last year and Kozlov's 1st EVER over-20 goal season. Coach of the CENTURY if Nolan leads these guys to the playoffs??? Well, then where were you in June when Nolan didn't even get an Adams NOMINATION???


1) Shuck: Some are already doing preseason predictions! Most did their report cards in July! Almost all teams' rosters are set by now. Some minor tweaking is all that will change for most this summer. Other than Forsberg, there aren't any FA's left that would change the complexion of any team.
2) No significant failures? See/re-read Buffalo/Islanders
3) Sauce: We gave them a D for not only losing both of their leaders(yes we agree losing one was a likelihood)but also not signing Vanek earlier and allowing him to be offer sheeted, thereby exacerbating their problems further.
4) Yes Carolina got a B for adding Cullen, but also not making any other rash moves. Sometimes less is more. The Rangers both improved their offense, resigned their important FA's which were plusses, BUT failed to improve their D. If they did both they'd get an A.
5) The Devils grade can be argued to be lower, agreed, but we feel the Sutter addition finally will give them coaching stability
6) Vokun will NOT be an improvement over Belfour. Ed's stats were very good. Tomas is over rated in our opinion
7) We were all over the NHL for NOT nominating Nolan. That was a huge slap!

Sauce said...

Continued comment moderation is gonna kill this blog. Just delete any non-hockey comments.


1)Not sure why comment moderation would be a huge issue for folks. We publish reader comments regularly. We received/have received about the same number/amount of comments from folks as we did before moderation was enacted
2) An annoyance yesterday posted the same long inane post over 25 times in less than 3 minutes.
3) Its to bad that such a immature moron exists to make things more difficult for you folks to enjoy, but for the time being anyway, it'll have to continue

Lloyd said...

I agree with Sauce's view that this moderation stuff sucks.
My buddy Seth ruined it for you guys. He's such an ass.

I also agree with what someone wrote about newjersey. They had a very bad summer. they lost their best offensive players. Zubrus is not gomez. Vischnevsky is not rafalski. Sutter doesn't play anymore. Coaches are over rated. They will play the same boring style they always do, but now they have fewer guys who can score.

Shuck-A-Luck said...

Unfortunately comment moderation sucks no matter how you spin it faux. Part of the fun of commenting comes from being able to read responses and comment back. Can't do that if comments only pop up a couple times a day.

Anyways, back to hockey!

To state that most rosters are complete is not looking at the entire picture. If that were the case then guys like Lindros, Carter, Vaananen, Markov, Sopel, Fitzpatrick, and Fukufuji will not be in the NHL next season?

Sure there are not a lot of diamonds left in the free agent pool, but things are surely not done yet.

Remember Perreault from last season? Late signing and next thing you know, ALL STAR appearance!

Several teams are waiting for camp to open to see how some players have progressed.

Shuck-A-Luck said...

I hate commenting then having to wait forever for that comment to appear. Wanting to comment on something someone said and having to wait forever. Having to revisit the page several times to check if my comment is up or not and if anyone has commented back. The whole process is annoying.

What is the guys beef with you? Just give him something to get him lost before he ruins this blog for everyone.

Out till further notice. This blows!

Sauce said...

Faux, this was your commentary for the Adams award when the award nominations came out this past May...

JACK ADAMS AWARD (outstanding coach): Lindy Ruff, Buffalo Sabres; Michel Therrien, Pittsburgh Penguins; Alain Vigneault, Vancouver Canucks. Hard choice. Ruff's inclusion is a head scratcher. he won last year, and this year's team improved only modestly. The other two coached teams that were not expected to win. Winner Vigneault. Got most of his team to win division.

Then, after the very first person to post a comment mentioned the injustice of leaving Nolan's name off of the list, you responded with...

1) The Nolan 'overlook' has merit we believe. Especially when you see where most prognosticators pegged where they thought the Isles should finish.

Wouldn't you think that it's a bit of an exaggeration to say you... "were all over the NHL for NOT nominating Nolan" ??? LOL.

And I still think you're possibly drinking from the NY Ranger cool-aid. They lost 2 centers (Nylander and Cullen) and signed 2 centers (Drury and Gomez). Certainly an improvement, but they also used up about 8 million in the process. You said you would've given them an "A" if they'd improved they're defense. But they had holes last year at 3rd and 4th line center, and they still have those same holes. Plus they're right up against the cap which gives little room to operate. An "A" for that?

Jibblescribbits said...

Comment moderation does suck, but at the same time,. so does sifting through some jackasses posts because he has a psychotic ax to grind.

I disagree with the Florida Rating. While I do agree that for next season they'll essentially be the same team, the Vokoun for Belfour is a great play for the future. It will pay much bigger dividends down the road, especially since the goalie market seems to be rather thin the next couple of seasons.


1) Shuck: Why would you assume the guy just wanted us to "give him something"?? Very curious way to appraoch a blog Spam/annoyance, wouldn't you say?


1) Sauce: If ya recall we were in agreement that it wasn't far fetched to say that Nolan was 'blacklisted' and that was the reason for his apparent snub. We may have commented more vociferously on some other blogs about the Nolan snub.
2) Time will tell of course on all our various evaluations. Rangers included. Its all open for discussion/opinion. Evidently it was successful in drumming up plenty of that. Which is why we're here

Sauce said...

Sorry for calling you out on the Nolan claim. I just figured you'd use your own blog for the things you fell most passionate about. You comment seemed to indicate that the Nolan snub fell in that category.


1) The increasing number of quality Islander blogs were very good at doing just that!


1) Ed Note: Look for the second half of our off season report cards(Western Conference edition) to be out sometime this weekend.
2) We're about 3 weeks before training camps open and a tad under 6 weeks till opening night!!
3) Preseason predictions will NOT be out until at least the 4th week of September!

Shuck-A-Luck said...

Faux, I am not sure what you are implying. I am simply referring to the repeated posts asking you to explain or give proof for things he was accusing you of. I didn't mean to imply more.

The fact that you have to moderate comments completely sucks and to me (not necessarily others) completely ruins the idea of a sports blog. Those are my thoughts, not yours, I know!


1) Shuck: People like 'him' wouldn't be satisfied with any answer(s) that were given. You see, its not about that, but about getting attention. His kind are usually very lonely, lost souls with nothing better to do in their sad pathetic lives
2) It would be much like giving in to a ransom by terrorists. It invites further terrorism. We have been dealing with this annoyance behind the scenes and in some ways are fighting fire with fire, but this is NOT the forum to get into this right now
3) We're glad our readers like yourself are so zealous about our blog, and want immediate responses, but comparatively to other hockey blogs we visit, even with moderation, we do a very credible job with allowing comments to be published and responded to in a timely fashion.

Lloyd said...

I don't care about moderation. I'd rather wait an hour or two to see my post than to have to see my buddy seth write 30 of the same crap
Here's a question for ya faux. Do you really think my Bruins helped themselves with adding Fernandez? Do you guys think he'll be the differnce and get us back into the playoffs?


1) Thanks Lloyd. Anyway, as for your questions about Boston. Fernandez IS a big improvement over what they had last year. The question will be is it enough?
2) Too soon for our preseason predictions so you're gonna have to wait on that. LOL

lombardi55@mlombardi55@mysportsradio.com said...

I wished that Faux wouldn't have gotten on the Isles Bashing bandwagon like the rest of the planet. I think that the Islanders rebounded unbelievably well after the first week. We have some good quality guys to fill in for 3 overachievers, a guy who didn't want to be here and a guy who will be suspended until New Years Day.


1) Lombardi, we have quite a few Isles fan/regulars. Though they know we're not Isles supporters, neither are we Isles bashers
2) Just because we are not predicting them to well, is not a gratuitous 'bash'. Certainly some of the odd moves that the team has made over the years warranted a jab from time to time
3) We were one of the few sites that actually said the DiPietro contract may be a stroke of genius after all, BEFORE last season!
4) Don't be so sensitive about your team. We call em', as we see em', and in our opinion the Isles are weaker now than when they last played in April. They will have 82 games to prove us wrong

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