Monday, August 8, 2011

Off Season Report Card! East

1) Sorry folks. We originally intended to publish this post a couple of weeks ago. The trend since the new CBA was signed in 2005 is that teams opening day rosters are pretty much set by the end of July; after the draft, initial free agent signing frenzy is over and after all arbitration cases are settled. So aside from a few yet to be signed players (none of whom we believe could alter the balance of power) the off season's for all 30 teams is pretty much a done deal. With that in mind we will go through each of the 30 teams and discuss their off season and finally give them a grade. The grade will NOT be a prediction of 2011-2012 success,(that comes in October) but our opinion of how well they did or didn't do to upgrade their previous seasons roster. As you will see, we are tough graders! ; ) The list will be in alphabetical order. First here willl be The East, then soon to be published, the West.

  • Boston Bruins: Notable additions: Joe Corvo, Benoit Pouliot. Notable subtractions: Mark Recchi, Micheal Ryder, Tomas Kaberle. Not nearly as a devastating off season for this year's Cup champs as the one we saw with the near dismantling of the Black Hawks last summer. The B's did lose a couple of contributors from last season but have recouped with the new faces, and retain their core so they should be contenders once again. Grade C+

  • Buffalo Sabres: Notable additions: Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr, Ville Leino, Ales Kotalik. Notable subtractions: Steve Montador, Tim Connolly, Rob Niedermayer, Mike Grier, Craig Rivet. Ehrhoff and Regehr give the Sabres some pretty decent defensive depth to go along with a solid goaltending tandem in Miller and Enroth. Most importantly though new ownership appears committed to bring the Sabres back to contention. Nice start this summer! Grade B+

  • Carolina Hurricanes: Notable additions: Tim Brent, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Anthony Stewart, Tomas Kaberle, Brian Boucher, Notable subtractions: Erik Cole, Joe Corvo, Cory Stillman. The Canes solidified their defense with the Kaberle signing and the retaining of Joni Pitkanen, but they lost more than they gained with respect to offense. A sophmore slump by Skinner and or an injury to Staal could make things difficult in Raleigh. Grade C-

  • Florida Panthers: Notable Additions: Jose Theodore, Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski, Sean Bergenheim, Matt Bradley, Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall, Kris Versteeg, Marcel Goc. Notable subtractions: Tomas Vokoun, Rostislav Olesz Marty Reasoner, Steve Bernier, Sergei Samsonov, Niclas Bergfors. Huge roster turn over by Dale Tallon. Some of the contracts we have already blasted in previous posts. Panthers will be better offensively, but we hardly see them as a playoff contender (again) With the goalie tandem of Theodore and Clemmenson it could be a LONG season in FLA. This summer's moves are more like shuffling the Titanic deck chairs in Sunrise, FLA. Grade D+

  • Montreal Canadiens: Notable additions: Erik Cole, Peter Budaj. Notable Subtractions: James Wisniewski, Benoit Pouliot, Roman Hamrlik, Jeff Halpern, Alexandre Picard, Paul Mara, Alex Auld, Brent Sopel. The Habs got Cole but by and large are hoping their youngsters and existig roster can replace the departed players production. Cole is injury prone and not worth big $$ in our opinion, but having a healthy Markov on the back line should help them. Overall not much improvement. Grade C-

  • New Jersey Devils: Notable Additions: Eric Boulton, LW; Cam Janssen Notable Subtractions: Brian Rolston, Pierre Luc-Letourneau Leblond, Colin White, Anssi Salmela. Evidently Lou Lamarello thinks his farm team and current roster are good enough? A healthy Parise wil help, but their goalies are about 45 years old. Without the Gum Chewer (Lemaire) behind the bench we don't see the Devs back in the playoffs once again. Pete DeBoer's tenure will be brief, and like in Florida, not his fault. Grade D

  • NY Islanders: Notable additions: Marty Reasoner, Brian Rolston (Alex Yashin-?) Notable subtractions: Bruno Gervais, Trent Hunter, Radek Martinek, Doug Weight, Zenon Konopka. We like the Rolston addition to replace Weight, but Snow added little else and is probably hoping the healthy returns of Streit and Eaton will be enough to bolster them on defense, and a continuation of the maturation of their young forwards. Grade C-. (If Yashin signs, Grade D-)

  • NY Rangers: Notable Additions: Brad Richards, C; Michael Rupp. Notable Subtractions: Chris Drury, C; Vinny Prospal, C; Alex Frolov, LW; Matt Gilroy, D; Bryan McCabe. Yes, the Rangers got the best UFA available this summer in Richards, but in our opinion their best move(s) were the signings of RFA's Dubinsky/Callahan to cap friendly long term deals, and getting rid of Drury. They might not be Cup contenders, but certainly better on paper than last year. Grade B-

  • Ottawa Senators: Notable Additions: Zenon Konopka,; Alex Auld, Nikita Filatov,
    Notable Subtractions: Ryan Shannon. Evidently the Senators are hoping their next crop of young players can bolster the lineup and get them back to the post season. The wild card is Filatov, who has the tools but does he have the heart? A new surrounding could be the difference, but overall we're sceptical about the job Murray did this summer in improving the sens. Grade C-

  • Philadelphia Flyers: Noteable additions: Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Maxime Talbot, Andreas Lilja. Noteabe subtractions: Mike Richards, C; Jeff Carter, C; Ville Leino, LW; Nikolay Zherdev, RW; Darroll Powe, C; Kris Versteeg, RW; Daniel Carcillo, LW; Sean O'Donnell, D; Brian Boucher, G. By far the roster with the biggest turn over. Probably the biggest addition is Bryzgalov, although Jagr garnered the biggest press. It remains to be seen if the new look Flyers will be better. Holmgren gambled, but we give him credit by not taking the easy road and standing pat. Grade A-

  • Pittsburgh Penguins: Noteable Additions: Steve Sullivan, LW; Steve MacIntyre, LW; Alexandre Picard. Noteable Subtractions: Maxime Talbot, C; Michael Rupp, C/W; Chris Conner, RW; Alex Kovalev, RW; Eric Godard, RW; Mike Comrie, Why make a big splash when your team had 100 pts without Crosby and malkin for big portions of 2010-11? With both back they should be fine so Ray Shero might have been better off losing out on the Jagr sweepstaakes. Not to mention they have a pretty deep farm system and could have a couple of youngsters ready to contribute. Sullivan, if he stays healthy, could be a steal. Grade C

  • Tampa Bay Lightning: Notable Additions: Ryan Shannon, RW; Bruno Gervais, D; Matt Gilroy, D; Mathieu Garon. Notable Subtractions: Simon Gagne, LW; Sean Bergenheim, LW; Randy Jones, D; Mike Lundin, D; Mike Smith, G Biggest issues for the Bolts were getting their own players, most notably Stamkos, back under contract. The loss of Gagne won't hurt too much, but Bergenheim's playoff heroics priced him off The Bay, and it won't be easy to reproduce a 4th line like they had this past spring. The Lightning should be OK, but we're not happy with their goaltending with a 44 yr old having to play 50+ games? Grade C-

  • Toronto Maple Leafs: Notable Additions:Tim Connolly, Philippe Dupuis, Matthew Lombardi, Cody Franson, John-Michael Liles, Notable Subtractions: Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Tim Brent, Brett Lebda. Sorry if you don't count us as expecting Timmy Connoly to become a 1st line center. He and Kessel might mesh and produce but will/can Connolly finally play a full season? Probably not. Burke failed to significantly improve his team. Grade D+

  • Washington Capitals: Notable Additions: Tomas Vokoun, Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, Jeff Halpern, Roman Hamrlik, Notable subtractions: Semyon Varlamov, Jason Arnott, Eric Fehr, Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon, Marco Sturm, Tyler Sloan, Scott Hannan. We have to say we like the moves McPhee made here. On paper this might be the best team ever iced by the Caps. That said the biggest move is the one they didn't make. Bruce Boudreau is still behind the bench and that is still a problem. Grade B

  • Winnipeg Jets: Notable Additions: Eric Fehr, Tanner Glass, Rick Rypien, Aaron Gagnon, Randy Jones, Derek Meech. Notable Subtractions: Anthony Stewart, ; Eric Boulton, Freddy Meyer, Rob Schremp. No big moves (outside of the franchise itself!) but with a solid young core already assembled and a new front office this wasn't surprising. Grade C+

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