It’s been a busy July for the NHL with respect to player movement, and that is expected to continue, as we get closer to the start of training camps. Most teams have already made their significant roster moves, but that’s not to say that GMs won’t continue to be active in tweaking their rosters heading into the 2011-12.
The Anaheim Ducks are still hoping that RW Teemu Selanne decides to return. If he does not, expect them to add a top 9 winger either via the UFA market or by making a trade.
Things are pretty much set for the Boston Bruins, although they are rumored to be looking to add some depth on the blueline. They are keeping a close eye on the negotiations between Chicago and Chris Campoli.
One of the teams well over the cap is the Buffalo Sabres. They are $2.4M north of the cap, which does not include Matt Ellis’ new contract and pending deals for Jhonas Enroth and Marc-Andre Gragnani. Expect the Sabres to unload D-man Shaone Morrisson and the same for one of Kotalik, Hecht, Gaustad or Boyes.
The Calgary Flames recently re-signed Brendan Morrison, which gives them 14 forwards on 1-way contracts, plus Mikael Backlund, and they are very close to the cap. They are rumored to be shopping Niklas Hagman, but the more likely scenario is arranging for him to play over in Europe.
All is quiet with the Carolina Hurricanes. GM Jim Rutherford seems content to enter the 2011-12 season with his current roster.
Having recently signed Sami Lepisto, the Chicago Blackhawks appear ready to part ways with RFA Chris Campoli. They feel his salary demands are too high, and right now they are expected to walk away from whatever the arbitrator awards Campoli.
The Colorado Avalanche are $2.85M away from the cap floor, and they currently have a full 23-man roster. However, they still need to sign RFA Kyle Cumiskey, and #2 overall pick Gabriel Landeskog has a very good chance of cracking the lineup. While that should be enough, in order to be safe, expect the Avs to make some kind of trade for a forward to take on some salary.
While the Columbus Blue Jackets have some open spots on their roster, they are expecting those holes to be filled with some of their top prospects. They are however in the market for a winger to play on their 2nd line, due to Kristian Huselius’ unfortunate injury. In the immediate future, expect them to sign a UFA to fill that void. A complete guess – it will either be JP Dumont or Cory Stillman.
Like the Hurricanes, the Dallas Stars are expected to be quiet for the remainder of the offseason. They will have some good competition at camp, as they have some NHL-ready prospects vying for roster spots.
With today’s signing of Ty Conklin to replace Chris Osgood, the Detroit Red Wings appear to be finished with their offseason roster moves. Take that with a grain of salt, because if the opportunity presents itself to trade Jiri Hudler in a package to acquire a better forward, Ken Holland will make it happen.
If the right deals come up, the Edmonton Oilers will not hesitate to pull the trigger on a trade involving Ales Hemsky or Tom Gilbert. Expect those 2 names to be prominent in trade rumors for the rest of the summer. Also, remember that the Oilers tried to deal Gilbert Brule earlier this offseason, so his future with the club is also in doubt.
The most active team by far this offseason was the Florida Panthers. They are comfortably over the floor with the recent signing of top prospect Erik Gudbranson and will add to their payroll once they agree to terms with Shawn Matthias. 2 interesting names to keep an eye on are Stephen Weiss and David Booth, because if either are made available for trade, plenty of teams would be interested in making a deal.
The only thing left for the LA Kings to do is re-sign RFA Drew Doughty. Once they get that done, their roster will be set and the team will be poised to be among the best in the West.
The Minnesota Wild seemed to have accepted the fact that they will not be contending for a playoff spot in the West this year. They do have some vacant roster spots but GM Chuck Fletcher wants some of his young prospects to get some playing time in the NHL – therefore they are pretty much done with their offseason activity.
An interesting team to monitor over the next few weeks is the Montreal Canadiens. They still have to re-sign RFA Josh Gorges, and I wouldn’t rule out the Habs looking to sign a #4 center and add a depth defenseman to play as a #5/#6. If I had it my way; I’d like to see GM Pierre Gauthier bring in Scott Hannan and Chris Drury on 1-year deals.
One of the 4 remaining teams below the cap floor is the Nashville Predators. They have to spend $7M, although the majority of that will be going to RFA Shea Weber. Once they get that done, they will make the decision as to whether they want to sign another UFA defenseman or promote one of their prospects to get to 7 D. On draft day, it was rumored that the Preds would deal Ryan Ellis if it could land them a top line forward. Those rumors could re-surface, depending on the term of Weber’s contract.
The New Jersey Devils are running out of cap space (approx $6M) but still need to sign Zach Parise and Matt Taormina. Once those deals get done, expect the Devils to unload either Brian Rolston or Dainius Zubrus in order to give themselves a little more breathing room under the cap.
Expect one of the most active teams over the next month to be the New York Islanders. They still need to add $10M in payroll to get comfortably over the cap floor. Even with new deals for Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey, and top prospect Nino Niederreiter expected to make the team, GM Garth Snow will still need to make a couple of moves to get over the floor. The Isles are known to be in the market for a top 4 defenseman; so perhaps they can kill two birds with one stone. Pure speculation – I could see them signing Bryan McCabe.
Sitting with over $10M in cap space, the New York Rangers appear to have no cap issues, but that could not be further from the truth. They are close to a deal with Steve Eminger, Tim Erixon is projected to make the team and they need to sign RFAs Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan to new deals. Assuming Dubinsky goes to arbitration as expected, Glen Sather will likely use the 48-hour buyout window after a hearing to rid himself of Wojtek Wolski’s contract. That move will in all likelihood make the Rangers cap compliant.
Top D prospects Jared Cowen and David Rundblad are both projected to crack the Ottawa Senators roster, which would give the Sens 8 NHL defensemen. GM Bryan Murray will continue to try to move Filip Kuba in a trade in order to clear the pending logjam on the blueline.
A $1.4M overage charge to the cap will likely force the Philadelphia Flyers to make some kind of roster move in the next month. This could mean they will have to trade goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, or perhaps they will look to deal one of Meszaros, Carle or Coburn. Keep in mind that Chris Pronger may not be ready to start the season and Ian Laperriere will be placed on LTIR, so it is possible that instead of making a trade now, they will wait until a month or 2 into the season to do so.
Other than re-signing RFAs Kyle Turris, Mikkel Boedker and Brett MacLean, the Phoenix Coyotes appear to be done for the offseason. They are currently a little below the cap floor but that should be resolved once the aforementioned players are signed.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are simply hoping for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to come to training camp fully healthy. Assuming both are, Ray Shero won’t be making any major tweaks to his roster. One thing to keep an eye on during training camp will be the play of Simon Despres. If he proves he is NHL ready, that would make one of their D expendable. If that’s how it plays out, Matt Niskanen could be on his way out.
One team that is still scouring the UFA market is the San Jose Sharks. They are set on D and in goal, but are looking for 1 or 2 more depth forwards to round out their roster. If they can’t find a UFA that fits the description of what they are looking for, the Sharks will look to make a minor trade.
What you see is what you get from the St. Louis Blues, as they won’t be signing any more players this offseason. An interesting training camp battle will be Ben Bishop vs. Brian Elliott for the backup goaltender position.
The Tampa Bay Lightning finished up their offseason moves by signing RFAs Steven Stamkos and Ted Purcell over the past 2 days. They have 11 forwards that are essentially guaranteed roster spots; meaning the final 2 will be filled from the following group: Blair Jones, Mattias Ritola, Tom Pyatt and rookie Carter Ashton.
With just over $5M in cap space and RFA Luke Schenn to get under contract, it would appear as if the Toronto Maple Leafs are just about done making moves. Of course, the GM of the Leafs is Brian Burke, and if he ever has a chance to make his team better, he will do it. Having acquired Liles and Franson recently, Toronto does have a surplus of defensemen, so a trade is not entirely out of the question. If they do go down that road, the most likely trade candidate is Mike Komisarek.
If the Vancouver Canucks do decide that they’d like to upgrade their roster, they have some quality trade bait that would attract a lot of attention. Backup goaltender Cory Schneider would fetch a big return, as would top forward prospect Cody Hodgson. If Mike Gillis goes down that route, expect one of the conditions of any trade to be that Keith Ballard must be included.
The Washington Capitals are a touch above the salary cap, but that will be rectified once Tom Poti goes on LTIR to start the season. There was a time I was sure Mike Green would be traded but I’m not anymore. I think George McPhee is prepared to start the 2011-12 season with what he has now, but if things go sour, Green’s name and Semin’s too, will immediately start popping up in trade rumors.
For a while, the Winnipeg Jets were below the cap floor but they will be comfortably above once Zach Bogosian is re-signed. If the Jets get a chance to add a top 6 forward, they will, but the likelihood of that happening at this point is slim.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.