Saturday, July 30, 2011

Top Remaining UFAs, According to Pool Points

Teemu Selanne, forward
2011 points: 80, 17th overall, 8th among forwards
2011 cap hit: $3.25 million

Yes, we are still awaiting word as to whether or not Teemu Selanne will indeed return for another season.  That is about the only question left, when it comes to the Finnish Flash, because if he does decide to return for another season, it will only be with the Anaheim Ducks.  After such a fantastic 2011 season, I think most are hoping for one more year to say good-bye to the 41-year old veteran.

Sergei Samsonov, forward
2011 points: 40, 199th overall, 148th among forwards
2011 cap hit: $2.533 million

Samsonov is one of the last few forwards that would be considered pool-eligible by his scoring standards, as we're looking at about the top 160 for 20 teams in the draft next season.  The 32-year old Russian winger is spotty at best and turns into a pretty big gamble every season.  If he can find his game again, he might be a valuable player for an NHL team.  Then again, interest in him may have fallen to the wayside, so possibly a return to the Mother Land is in order.

Cory Stillman, forward
2011 points: 39, 209th overall, 153rd among forwards
2011 cap hit: $3.533 million

The last of the pool eligible forwards comes in the form of 37-year old Cory Stillman, who had a decent season between the Panthers and Hurricanes in 2011, but you can really see the quality of his production slip from year to year now.  If Stillman is to go anywhere, I would imagine he would be going to a team that is working with their youth to be better, needing some veteran leadership to get through the rocky early years.

Bryan McCabe, defense
2011 points: 28, 306th overall, 51st among defensemen
2011 cap hit: $5.75 million

With a cap hit like McCabe's in 2011, compared to his overall production in Florida and New York, he was not at all a bargain, rather quite the bust.  I can't say that I'm surprised that he hasn't signed yet, as those numbers have likely left a bad taste in a lot of mouths around the league.  A lot of teams have already filled out their blueline rosters for next season, so McCabe could come down as a training camp signing, before it is all said and done.

Chris Campoli, defense
2011 points: 21, 396th overall, 82nd among defensemen
2011 cap hit: $1.4 million

Technically on the outside looking in on qualifying as a fantasy defenseman in the draft (top 80), Campoli will make an appearance, just to round out the numbers here on the blog.  Campoli does have enough talent to jump into the top 80, but a rough season saw him drop out.  Campoli and the Blackhawks went to arbitration this Summer, to which the team walked away from their decision, making the now 27-year old defender an unrestricted free agent.

Kovalev and Sopel Head to Russia

There is a pretty good chance that we have now seen the last of Alex Kovalev in the NHL, as the 38-year old Russian winger has signed a 2-year deal in the KHL, which will take him to age 40.  Kovalev was spotty at best in the 2011 season, playing between Ottawa and Pittsburgh, scoring only 16 goals and having a cap hit of $5 million.  Those two bits of math didn't work out in his favour, so the twilight years will be spent at home.

The KHL also welcomed veteran defenseman Brent Sopel into their mix, as the 34-year old rearguard also signed a 2-year deal in Russia on Friday.  Sopel played for the Thrashers and Canadiens in 2011, picking up 7 points in 71 games, playing some pretty good minutes, right up into the playoffs.  Sopel was a roster player at best, but not really a fantasy player, even in his prime.

Parise Signs 1-year Deal

The New Jersey Devils likely didn't want to go to arbitration with Zach Parise, probably because they would have taken a pretty good beating, despite an injury-filled 2011 season. It has been said that Parise wants to stay in New Jersey, but with another long-term superstar contract already on the books, it is going to be a struggle to have two top end scorers being paid for the long-term and have it work out for the rest of the team. Well, to avoid arbitration, a small step in the bigger picture, the Devils and Parise agreed upon a 1-year deal, reportedly worth $6 million, for the 2012 season, working towards fitting in with a long-term deal.

A major knee injury was a major disappointment in Parise's 2011 season, limiting the scoring winger to only 13 games, 12 games at the beginning of the season, before the injury, returned for one game and then shut the season down with only four games left in a disappointing Devils year.  In the 13 games played, Parise picked up 3 goals and 3 assists, so his numbers going into the 2012 season can only get better from here.

In 2009, Parise picked up 94 points in all 82 games and in 2010, he was good for 82 points in 81 games, so he should expect to still be a 1st round pick or possibly an early 2nd round pick in most fantasy drafts.  The only question going into this season, much like last season, will both Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk co-exist together and help the team succeed?

Patrik EliasAndy GreeneMartin Brodeur
Ilya KovalchukHenrik TallinderJohan Hedberg
Travis ZajacMark Fayne
Dainius ZubrusAnton Volchenkov
Mattias TedenbyColin White
David Clarkson
Nick Palmieri
David Steckel
Eric Boulton
Rod Pelley
Zach Parise
Cam Janssen
Trent Hunter

The Devils are rounding into form about now, now having all of their top forwards signed on and possibly some work needed to structure their blueline.  Nevertheless, this is the bulk of what we should see in the 2012 season for the Devils.

Currently, I have the Devils working with 13 forwards, five defensemen, two goalies and two buyouts on their books for a projected annual total of $56.8 million against the cap, leaving them a shade over $7.5 million left for a couple of defensemen on their roster. The trade that sent Brian Rolston to Long Island went a long way to help settle their salary cap situation, giving the Devils all kinds of flexibility during the regular season.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Avs Sign Two 2011 1st Rounders

The Colorado Avalanche are hinting that some more youth will be infused into their roster come opening night of the 2012 season, scheduled for October. The Avalanche have signed both of their 1st round draft picks from June's entry draft, forward Gabriel Landeskog (2nd overall) and defenseman Duncan Siemens (11th overall), to their maximum 3-year entry-level deals on Thursday afternoon.

Landeskog, the more likely of the two to make the jump into the NHL, as he was touted as the most NHL-ready of all the forwards in the draft, bringing size and speed to the table.  Landeskog is as close to expected in the Avalanche line-up as one could be at the end of July, but with prospect camp and training camp to go through, you just never know where he could end up. The trick might be finding him some complimentary talent within the organization to help him flourish in a scoring role and if they can't find it right away, then another year down below certainly won't hurt him.

The Swedish forward will likely get the same deal that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins received, which will pay him a maximum salary of $925,000 and then will have performance bonuses, which would take his cap hit over the $3 million mark.

Siemens, one of the few mock draft picks I actually got right in June, was the perfect compliment to having already picked up an offensive forward in the draft... an offensive defenseman.  With the move of Kevin Shattenkirk to the Blues, the Avalanche were likely looking to replace him with someone of comparable talent.  The Avalanche didn't exactly rush Shattenkirk into an NHL jersey when he was coming through the system, so I don't suppose the team will rush to put Siemens through right away, the team does have some quality NHL depth on the blueline already, so I would expect him down in juniors before too long.

Being the 11th overall pick, Siemens bonuses won't likely be a staggering as Landeskog's, plus if he slides a year on his entry-level deal, his cap hit will take a slight hit as well.  Not a big deal in Colorado, cap space isn't quite an issue... yet.

Canucks Re-Sign Hansen

The year of avoiding arbitration hearings continued with Jannik Hansen and the Canucks avoiding their head-to-head meeting of the minds, signing a new 3-year deal on Thursday afternoon.  The deal is said to be worth $4.05 million, which works out to be a $1.35 million cap hit per season.  Hansen, 26, will have this deal take him into unrestricted free agency in the Summer of 2014.

Hansen, mainly a bottom six player for the Canucks in 2011 (and likely into 2012), played in all 82 games, scoring 9 goals and adding 20 assists, ranking him 215th among all forwards in scoring.  Another year under his belt, not to mention a good playoff run, may give him the experience necessary to boost those numbers, but any boost won't likely be too significant with players like Marco Sturm now in the fold to help fill some top six positions.

Salary CapWith Hansen on board for the Canucks, I currently have their projected roster with 11 forwards, seven defense, two goalies and a minuscule cap overage penalty coming out to $60 million, leaving them approximately $4.3 million to add a couple more forwards to the list, likely to come within the organization.  Additions of Mark Mancari, Andrew Ebbett, Aaron Volpatti, Byron Bitz and/or Cody Hodgson would definitely look to fit the bill and any pairing combination from those five would come well below the cap space allotted to them.

Rolston for Hunter

2010-2011 NHL StatisticsJuly 1st Status
To Long IslandPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Brian RolstonF38651420341$5.063 million
2012 Conditional Draft Pick
To New JerseyPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Trent HunterF31171342$2 million

The New Jersey Devils needed to exercise some more cap space with a big name yet to be signed, so last year's salary cap victim has been used again, this time in a trade, to open up cap space for the remainder of the Summer.

The Devils have dealt veteran forward Brian Rolston to the Islanders, with a conditional draft pick, for another veteran forward (albeit a younger one) in Trent Hunter, saving just over $3 million in cap space for the 2012 season.

In the 2011 season, Rolston was sent down to the minors to help alleviate some cap problems that the team was having after signing Ilya Kovalchuk to a massive deal last Summer.  Rolston did make it up for 65 games, but really didn't provide much of an impact, as the Devils still struggled all season long.  Now, with Zach Parise looking for a brand new deal this Summer, Rolston was again looked upon to help ease the burden of spending cap ceiling money.

The Islanders do get a solid veteran player, who should be able to provide some good secondary scoring for the team, while also helping the team's youth develop as dependable NHL stars.  Rolston should still be good for 20+ goals in the 2012 season, possibly helping a few of those who play around him to pick up some more points, but it won't be a drastic increase.

In Hunter, the Devils do get a good depth forward, likely to give the team some good bottom six minutes, more so on the 3rd line and some minimal penalty kill time.  Unfortunately, his 2011 season was cut short by a torn MCL in his left knee, which is why he was limited to only 17 games.  Hunter has some good size and is versatile enough to move up, when someone from the top six gets demoted for a game.

Salary CapWith the cap savings in place, the New Jersey Devils now have a projected roster of 18 players (11 forwards, five defensemen and two goalies), plus two buyouts, for a cap hit of $50 million. This leaves approximately $14.3 million for two forwards and two defensemen, including Parise, who will command some serious ducats.

For the Islanders, they were one team that could really use some more cap space being taken up, just to get to the ceiling.  The team from Long Island added over $3 million to their total, which now brings their projected annual total up to $40.1 million for 17 players (nine forwards, six defense and two goalies) and two buyouts.  Four forwards and a defenseman will be needed on their roster for $8.2 million, which doesn't seem too far-fetched as of today.  They might have to overpay someone to get there, but it's definitely possible.

I like this deal for both teams. If the Islanders can get 75+ games out of Rolston, I think they could definitely benefit, giving the team that extra little push for a playoff threat.  Rolston, despite his age, should be able to at least keep up with most of the team's youth, which will also be a big asset and a fresh start where he doesn't have a dark cloud hanging over top of him should be helpful to his game.

The Devils are developing a good number of top six players in their system, so an over-abundance of top six players needed to be addressed, so getting some solid bottom six help was a good way to solve that issue.  Hunter should be good with a guy like David Steckel in the depth roles.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rangers Re-Sign Callahan

The New York Rangers have signed the last of their restricted free agent forwards on Wednesday, giving forward Ryan Callahan a new 3-year deal, reportedly worth $12.825 million, a $4.275 million cap hit per season. Callahan, 26, was scheduled to go to arbitration, but that hearing was avoided with this new deal, a deal that will take him inside his unrestricted free agency years.

Callahan had a pretty good year in the Big Apple during the 2011 season, ranking 130th overall in pool scoring, 95th among all forwards, with 23 goals and 25 assists in only 60 games, giving him a very good scoring rate on the year.  If he is able to put together a full 82-game season together, Callahan could find himself in the top 50 overall, which would make him quite a bargain.

Salary CapThe cap hit is fairly reasonable for Callahan, which gives the Rangers that little bit of extra cap space at the ceiling, acting as some breathing space.  With this new signing, I have the Rangers in with 14 forwards, six defense, two goalies, a buyout and a cap overage penalty at $62.8 million, $1.5 million short of the ceiling.  When the season starts, I would imagine that there will only be 13 forwards up and seven defensemen on the roster, but that switch can be made fairly easy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rangers Re-Sign Eminger

The New York Rangers are rounding out their projected line-up quite well and fairly early, on Monday re-signing defenseman Steve Eminger to a 1-year deal, reportedly worth $800,000.

Eminger played in 65 games for the Rangers in 2011, scoring 2 goals and adding 4 assists.  Eminger currently fits in as the team's 6th defenseman, according to his scoring numbers, now making their projected line-up good enough to ice, if the team was to start today.

Salary CapThe Rangers currently have 13 forwards, six defensemen, two goalies, a buyout and a contract overage penalty on the books for a projected annual cap hit of $58.5 million.  In theory, the Rangers only need another defenseman to give them some depth going into the season and they currently have about $5.8 million to spend to do so.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Quick Positional Review of the Last Four Draft Seasons

Last year at about this time, I had a look at the positional drafting for the top three teams in the standings over the last few years.  I thought I would have another quick look at it today, see if there was any changes to the patterns over time.

The biggest difference in 2011 was the number of participants in the pool, which really spread out the wealth of talent that the NHL has to offer.  In 2008 through 2010, the pool only had 17 teams, but in 2011, we finally cracked 20 teams and there was an impressive amount of points collected in the year.

1st Place (Stuart)8203rd4th3rd
2nd Place (Clayton)8171st12th13th
3rd Place (Chris)7805th2nd7th
1st Place (Clayton)7871st16th4th
2nd Place (John B.)7695th6th9th
3rd Place (Peter)7697th7th3rd
1st Place (Leon)7795th4th3rd
2nd Place (Wayne)7731st8th6th
3rd Place (Dale B.)7639th10th2nd
1st Place (Allan)8092ndT-1st1st
2nd Place (Kristy and Don)7157th4th6th
3rd Place (Chris)70810th6th4th

Well, Allan really ran away with the 2011 pool, just having the right combination of players in every position, which led to the near 100-point cushion he had by the end of the season.  Tops in defense and goalies, not too far behind the leader in forwards, it really makes for a lopsided victory.

The placement of the 2nd and 3rd place teams in the 2011 looks actually quite average, because neither team actually finished in the top three in any of the positions, which gives you an indication how spread out the points were in the pool, beyond Allan.  There was a certain level of consistency in the top of half of the pool by the two teams, which is likely the only thing keeping them up where they were last year.

Here's hoping there are a couple more participants in the 2012 season and maybe a team that doesn't quite runaway with the whole thing, making it a little more interesting.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Off-Season Injury News (July 23)

It was announced this past week that Nashville Predators defenseman Francis Bouillon has suffered a setback, dealing with post-concussion symptoms from the 2011 season injury.  Bouillon suffered the concussion in late-January and was not able to continue playing through the remainder of the regular season and missed both playoff rounds in the Spring as well.  This setback is not good news for the 35-year old defender, who was limited to only 44 games.  His career may be in jeopardy, if these symptoms do not subside any time soon.

The Lightning have announced that forward Ryan Malone has undergone shoulder surgery this week.  There have been no explicit details released about the nature of the surgery or the injury itself, but they have said that Malone is scheduled to be fine for the opening of training camp in September, which is good news.  Malone is a solid fantasy player and he would be well served in the Lightning line-up, come October.

Jackets Sign Prospal

With some injury concerns already heading into the 2012 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets were proactive on Saturday afternoon, signing unrestricted free agent forward Vaclav Prospal to a new 1-year deal, worth $1.75 million (plus 35+ contract bonuses), which should help fill a top six spot and help their overall cap number for the year.

With Kristian Huselius scheduled to start the season on the Long-Term Injury Reserve, the Jackets needed a little bit more offensive flair and veteran leadership for the team and the addition of Prospal is likely to be a good one.

Prospal was hampered by a major knee injury to start the regular season with the Rangers, limiting his season to only the last 29 games of the year, scoring 9 goals and adding 14 assists for a very reasonable point production pace.  It's still rather unclear how the team will look when they hit the ice in October, but this addition does look good on them.

Jeff CarterJames WisniewskiSteve Mason
Rick NashFedor Tyutin
R.J. UmbergerKris Russell
Antoine VermetteGrant Clitsome
Derrick BrassardRadek Martinek
Kristian HuseliusMarc Methot
Derek MacKenzie
Vaclav Prospal
Matt Calvert
Sami Pahlsson
Derek Dorsett
Jared Boll

The Jackets are a much different looking team after this off-season, with the additions of Carter, Wisniewski, Martinek and Prospal to the team table.  Once Huselius is able to return to the line-up in January, the Jackets may have themselves most of the pieces in place to make a good run at a playoff spot.

Salary CapThe Jackets are in pretty good shape against the salary cap, as they have squeezed in 19 players (12 forwards, including Huselius, six defensemen and a goalie) in with two buyouts for $56.7 million.  Of course, with Huselius looking to hit the LTIR, there will be some significant savings for lost time.  Since the team is in the middle of the ceiling and floor, there are no worries to be had about having any cap issues through the 2012 season.

Habs Re-Sign Gorges

The Montreal Canadiens have re-signed defenseman Josh Gorges to a new 1-year deal, said to be worth $2.5 million for the 2012 season. Gorges was also scheduled to go to an arbitration hearing in the coming days, in his last year of restricted free agency, but it was avoided, like many others, with this deal on Friday evening.

Gorges' 2011 season was cut short in December, when he suffered a major knee injury, which forced him to miss the rest of the regular season and the team's only round in the playoffs in the Spring, but he is scheduled to make a full recovery for the 2012 season.  In 36 games played, Gorges scored 1 goal and added 6 assists, which forced him down to 192nd among all defensemen in scoring.

Gorges isn't really considered a very good fantasy defenseman, but if the Canadiens are to pick up the pace with their offense, that could mean some trickle down assists for the 26-year old rearguard.

Tomas PlekanecP.K. SubbanCarey Price
Erik ColeJaroslav SpacekPeter Budaj
Mike CammalleriYannick Weber
Brian GiontaHal Gill
Andrei KostitsynJosh Gorges
Scott GomezAndrei Markov
Mathieu Darche
Max Pacioretty
Lars Eller
Travis Moen

The Canadiens have not added very much to their team table in this off-season, which likely doesn't do great things for my confidence in them, but they should still be able to make the playoffs on the backs of Price and Plekanec, so that's a definite start.

Salary CapThe addition of Gorges to the team table now brings the Canadiens projected roster up to 19 players, 11 forwards, six defensemen and a goaltending pairing, which is almost ready for puck drop in the Fall. Taking into account one buyout on the books, the Canadiens have a projected annual cap hit of $57.5 million, nestled nicely between the ceiling and the floor, with only a couple more additions needing to be made.

Gorges was the last major restricted free agent left to be signed by the Canadiens and I would assume right now that they will be looking internally to fill some of their open roster spots.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Enroth Re-Signs in Buffalo

The Sabres have now locked up their back-up goaltender, as Jhonas Enroth, a restricted free agent this Summer, to a new multi-year deal on Thursday.  No financial terms have been disclosed as of yet, but with the Sabres cap situation being where it is, I would expect the dollar figures to be slightly lower than market value.

Enroth ended up becoming the back-up to starter Ryan Miller in the 2011 season, making trips down to the farm team when he wasn't getting his starts and then sitting on the bench for Miller during the 2011 playoffs.

During the regular season, Enroth picked up 9 wins and 1 shutout for 20 points for the hockey pools, ranking him 51st among goalies.  With a full season as back-up to Miller, the Sabres may be ready to put Enroth in for more starts, which makes him an attractive player for a late round back-up goalie.

Rangers Settle With Dubinsky

The New York Rangers and restricted free agent forward Brandon Dubinsky were on the verge of going to arbitration to work out a 1-year deal, but another hearing was avoided when a deal was struck in the 11th hour. The Rangers and Dubinsky agreed upon a 4-year deal, said to be worth $16.8 million, which works out to be a $4.2 million cap hit per season.

Dubinsky finished the 2011 season 96th in pool scoring, 70th among all forwards, with 54 points (24 goals and 30 assists) in 77 games with the club.  His season was somewhat inconsistent, to say it mildly, as he found spells of being both hot and cold during the year, which possibly made him fall short of some lofty expectations.

Nevertheless, with Brad Richards added to the fold for the 2012 season, it appears that a lot of the scoring pressure may have been taken off Dubinsky, which may ease the expectations on him as a 2nd line centre, instead of trying to work his "magic" with Marian Gaborik.  I think most would agree, Dubinsky is likely a much better 2nd line centre then he will ever be a 1st line centre.

Brad RichardsDan GirardiHenrik Lundqvist
Brandon DubinskyMarc StaalMartin Biron
Marian GaborikMichael Sauer
Derek StepanMichael Del Zotto
Artem AnisimovRyan McDonagh
Brian Boyle
Wojtek Wolski
Brandon Prust
Erik Christensen
Ruslan Fedotenko
Sean Avery
Mats Zuccarello
Mike Rupp

Salary Cap
With Dubinsky on the books, the Rangers now have 20 players (13 forwards, five defensemen and two goalies) on their team table above, with a buyout and a cap overage from the 2011 season, now sit at a projected cap number of $57.7 million.

The Rangers have only one more major restricted free agent to take care of in the off-season, forward Ryan Callahan, but the cap space should not be an issue, especially when they still need to add another defenseman or two to their table as well.

Off-Season Injury News

On Tuesday, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane underwent wrist surgery to repair a broken bone caused by his off-season workouts.  With the start of training camp still some time away, there is no worry that Kane will miss out on any time when camp opens.  Of course, sillier things have happened and he may not exactly be ready on time.

The Penguins had some injury news of their own, as defenseman Brooks Orpik underwent hernia surgery on Wednesday and is said to need 6-to-8 weeks to recover from this surgery.  That has a projected return date of September 14th, which would be the start of training camp, one week before the team's first pre-season game.