Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Team Breakdown for Summer 2005


MIGHTY DUCKS OF ANAHEIM
Top Newcomers: Ryan Getzlaf, C; Ilya Bryzgalov, G
Next in Line: Corey Perry, RW; Chris Kunitz, LW; Ladislav Smid, D
Possible Buyouts: Sergei Fedorov, C ($6.08M); Petr Sykora, RW ($3.116M)
Notable restricted free agents potentially not tendered: Ruslan Salei, D ($1.824M); Rob Niedermayer, C ($1.596M); Mike LeClerc, LW ($1.14M)
Needs: #1 defenceman; 3 top six forwards;
Projected cap position: $22M (14 players)
If Ozolinsh is not re-signed, the Ducks will need an offensive defenceman because none of the blueline returnees are particularly adept at quarterbacking the power play, though the Ducks will have some stay-at-home types like Keith Carney and Vitali Vishnevski to mind the store leaving Martin Skoula as the most offensive rearguard slated to return. Up front, it seems unlikely that Brian Burke can make the cash-costly decision to turn Fedorov loose, but the same can't necessarily be said for Sykora, leaving the Ducks in need of three more scorers (to join Fedorov, Rucchin and Lupul) on the top two lines. The Ducks might have even more cap room, depending on how many of their restricted free agents they decide to bring back.

ATLANTA THRASHERS
Top Newcomers: Kari Lehtonen, G; Braydon Coburn, D
Next in Line: Jim Slater, C; Tommi Santala, C; Derek MacKenzie, C
Possible restricted free agents poached by others: Dany Heatley, RW; Ilya Kovalchuk, LW
Needs: 1 defenceman; 2 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $24M (18 players)
As long as the Thrashers don't get raided via restricted free agency for up-and-coming stars Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk, then the organization should be in position to grow naturally, bringing up highly-touted rookie goaltender Kari Lehtonen and steady young blueliner Braydon Cobourn. A few additions might be worthwhile, however.; A veteran physical defenceman would help, as would a couple more complementary scorers. With as much cap room as they have, the Thrashers could make a dramatic free agent splash if they are so inclined, but it's more likely that they will add some solid veterans.

BOSTON BRUINS
Top Newcomers: Hannu Toivonen, G; Andy Hilbert, C; Brad Boyes, C; Mark Stuart, D
Next in Line: Milan Jurcina, D
Possible restricted free agents poached by others: Joe Thornton, C; Sergei Samsonov, LW
Needs: 3 defencemen; 3 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $23M (14 players)
While the Bruins appear to have a blank slate, there is the matter of signing their own restricted free agents, most notably Joe Thornton, but don't overlook the likes of Sergei Samsonov, Nick Boynton, Hal Gill and Andrew Raycroft, all of whom should eat into the B's cap space. Nevertheless, there will be plenty of opportunities for Boston to add top-flight free agents, both up front and on defence, and with so many NHL players coming from the Northeastern United States, don't be surprised to see some big names make the move to Beantown this summer.

BUFFALO SABRES
Top Newcomers: Thomas Vanek, LW
Next in Line: Ryan Miller, G; Jason Pominville, RW; Paul Gaustad, C
Notable restricted free agents possibly not tendered: Miroslav Satan, RW ($3.8M); Martin Biron, G ($2.12M); Jochen Hecht, LW ($1.596M), Mike Grier, LW ($1.364M);
Needs: 1 defenceman
Projected cap position: $23M (20 players)
Few teams have as many assets in hand as the Sabres, though Buffalo still might be planning on shedding a couple of salaries up front in an effort to tighten the budget. In any case, the addition of rookie sniper Thomas Vanek will help a team that has room to manoeuvre under the cap, making either a trade or prominent free agent signing possible.

CALGARY FLAMES
Top Newcomers: Dion Phaneuf, D
Next in Line: Eric Nystrom, LW; Brent Krahn, G
Possible restricted free agents poached by others: Jarome Iginla, RW
Needs: backup goalie; 2 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $30M (19 players)
Provided that the Flames can keep Iggy in the fold, preferably with a long-term deal, the Flames figure to have a similar team to the one that made it to the Cup final in 2004, with one notable additon: rookie defenceman Dion Phaneuf has earned much praise for his play in the Western Hockey League and with Canada's National Junior Team and now it's time for him to make his mark in the NHL with his hard-hitting ways. If the budget will allow it, some scoring help would still be most welcome.

CAROLINA HURRICANES
Top Newcomers: Cam Ward, G; Mike Zigomanis, C
Next in Line: Niklas Nordgren, LW
Possible buyouts: Rod Brind'Amour, C ($3.8M); Bret Hedican, D ($2.432M)
Notable restricted free agents possibly not tendered: Jeff O'Neill, RW ($2.812M);
Needs: 3 top four defencemen; 2 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $14M (13 players)
Should the 'Canes make the aggressive move to clear cap room by buying out the likes of Brind'Amour and Hedican, and not tendering veteran winger Jeff O'Neill, there will be a clean sheet, with loads of cap space to lure free agents. Considering the rest of the roster will be quite young, Carolina would likely not be in a position to max out against the cap, perhaps targeting less expensive, younger free agents who can grow with the team. On the other hand, if there is that much cap room, the Canes could even pluck a prime restricted free agent away from a team with cap troubles.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Top Newcomers: Anton Babchuk, D; Brent Seabrook, D
Next in Line: Cam Barker, D; Pavel Vorobiev, RW; Craig Anderson, G; Duncan Keith, D
Notable restricted free agents possibly not tendered: Stephane Robidas, D ($.738M)
Needs: 1 top four defencemen; 1 top six forward
Projected cap position: $19M (14 players)
A very young team that could be much improved, depending on how they handle their cap situation. There is plenty of room available for the Blackhawks to offer big money to a premier free agent -- or two -- and add them to a mix of promising forwards and defencemen. In a big market like Chicago, the Hawks will look for star power to help rejuvenate the franchise.

COLORADO AVALANCHE
Top Newcomers: Marek Svatos, RW; Phillipe Sauve, G
Next in Line: Peter Budaj, G; Brad Richardson, C
Possible buyouts: Joe Sakic, C ($6.65M); Rob Blake, D ($6.364M); Chris Gratton, C ($1.9M); Steve Konowalchuk, LW ($1.9M)
Possible restricted free agents poached by others: Milan Hejduk, RW ($4.332M); Alex Tanguay, LW ($3.23M)
Needs: 1 defenceman; 2 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $26M (17 players)
Jammed right up against the cap, the Avalanche will have to make hard decisions, whether it involves buying out Blake or -- gasp -- Sakic, losing Hejduk or Tanguay as restricted free agents, or losing Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote as unrestricted free agents. GM Pierre Lacroix will have to make some shrewd moves in order to keep the Avs among the elite teams in the league, but when one considers Lacroix's resume, shrewd moves are to be expected.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Top Newcomers: Pascal Leclaire, G; Dan Fritsche, RW; Aaron Johnson, D
Next in Line: Joakim Lindstrom, C; Jaroslav Balastik, RW
Possible buyouts: Geoff Sanderson, LW ($2.508M); Todd Marchant, C ($2.47M); Andrew Cassels, C ($2.318M); Luke Richardson, D ($2.09M); Scott Lachance, D ($1.52M)
Possible restricted free agents poached by others: Rick Nash, LWNeeds: 1 top four defenceman; 1 top six forward
Projected cap position: $24M (18 players)
With several veterans on medium-to-big ticket deals, the Jackets would be wise to cut a couple loose in order to free up more cap space. With GM Doug MacLean building a strong young nucleus, the Jackets need to guard against losing Rick Nash, and could also look for a playmaking centre to feed their star winger.

DALLAS STARS
Top Newcomers: Antti Miettenin, LW; Trevor Daley, DNext in Line: Shawn Belle, D; Jussi Jokinen, CPossible buyouts: Bill Guerin, RW ($6.738498M); Pierre Turgeon, C ($4.56M) Needs: backup goalie; 2 top four defencemen; 3 top six forwardsProjected cap position: $25M (15 players) Free agent losses, along with a couple of potential buyouts, will have the Stars seeking significant free agent help up front and on the blueline. If the Stars were to buy out Guerin and Turgeon and lose Sergei Zubov and Mike Modano as unrestricted free agents, for example, the team would be looking at bringing back only two of its top seven scorers from 2003-2004 (ie. restricted free agents Jason Arnott and Brendan Morrow). Considering the cost of his buy out, the Stars may have to keep Guerin around, which only makes it more likely that they won't be able to keep Modano and Zubov.

DETROIT RED WINGS
Top Newcomers: Niklas Kronwall, D; Jiri Hudler, C;
Next in Line: Valtteri Filppula, C; Stefan Liv, G
Possible buyouts: Derian Hatcher, D ($4.94M); Brendan Shanahan, LW ($2.28M); Ray Whitney, LW ($2.66M); Darren McCarty, RW ($1.71M)
Possible restricted free agents poached by others: Pavel Datsyuk, CNeeds: Goalie; 1 defenceman; 1 top six forward
Projected cap position: $30M (15 players)
In an extremely difficult cap position, the Wings may need to bite the bullet on Derian Hatcher's contract just to free up enough room to move under the cap. If the Wings don't create that room under the cap, they could find themselves in an untenable position with restricted free agents like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, both of whom could land offers elsewhere that are worth more money than the Wings would be able to match.

EDMONTON OILERS
Top Newcomers: Jeff Woywitka, D
Next in Line: Jani Rita, LW; Rob Schremp, C; Marc-Antoine Pouliot, C
Needs: backup goalie; 1 top four defenceman; 1 top six forward
Projected cap position: $25M (20 players)
In a very good financial position entering free agency, with much of the lineup set, the Oilers should be able to land one, perhaps even two, big free agent fish in order to bolster their young lineup, in addition to re-signing restricted free agents like Ryan Smyth and Eric Brewer, among others.

FLORIDA PANTHERS
Top Newcomers: Filip Novak, D; Anthony Stewart, RW; Rostislav Olesz, C Next in Line: Vaclav Nedorost, C; Lucas Krajicek, DPossible buyouts: Mathieu Biron, D ($1.064M)Notable restricted free agents possibly not tendered: Kristian Huselius, LW ($1.216M) Possible restricted free agents poached by others: Roberto Luongo, G Needs: 3 top six forwards Projected cap position: $21M (20 players)Loaded with exciting young talent, the Panthers need to bring in some proven veterans up front to aid in the development of Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss and Anthony Stewart et al. Provided the Panthers can keep Roberto Luongo in the fold, GM Mike Keenan has said that the Panthers will be aggressive in free agency even with an approximate $30M budget, so expect to see some big names land in Florida this summer.

LOS ANGELES KINGS
Top Newcomers: Denis Grebeshkov, D; Mike Cammalleri, RW
Next in Line: Yannick Lehoux, C; Jeff Tambellini, LW; Noah Clarke, LW
Possible buyouts: Aaron Miller, D ($2.66M)
Needs: backup goalie; 3 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $17M (16 players)
The Kings are in fine position, with plenty of room under the cap, and several young players ready to step in after strong seasons with Manchester in the AHL. RW Zigmund Palffy is an unrestricted free agent, so bringing him back could eat into the cap space, however there will be room for the Kings to spend money to bolster the forward units no matter which players they manage to retain.

MINNESOTA WILD
Top Newcomers: Mikko Koivu, C
Next in Line: Stephane Veilleux, LW; A.J. Thelen, D; Josh Harding, G
Needs: 1 top four defenceman; 2 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $23M (19 players)
With much of their lineup already in place, provided that most restricted free agents are brought back, the Wild don't have any huge needs, though the new rule changes make it likely that they won't be able to rely so much on the grind-it-out checking style that has worked well for them in the past. In order to compensate, the Wild could add some more scorers, though it would be out of character for them to break the bank to do so.

MONTREAL CANADIENS
Top Newcomers: Chris Higgins, LW; Marcel Hossa, RW; Ron Hainsey, D; Yann Danis, G
Next in Line: Alexander Perezhogin, RW; Tomas Plekanec, LW; Mark Streit, D
Possible buyouts: Patrice Brisebois, D ($3.42M); Craig Rivet, D ($2.66M)
Needs: 2 top four defencemen; 1 top six forward
Projected cap position: $25M (18 players)
Montreal is expecting several additions from the AHL squad this year, but that won't keep them from looking for help via free agency, particularly if the club decides that the contracts of Patrice Brisebois and Craig Rivet don't fit in the new salary structure. If that happens, the blueline will have to be the Habs' primary concern, but adding another scorer up front will be a priority as well.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Top Newcomers: Scott Upshall, RW; Ryan Suter, D
Next in Line: Andrew Hutchinson, D; Shea Weber, D
Needs: 1 top four defencemen; 1 top six forward
Projected cap position: $24M (22 players)
Not expected to push their budget too far, the Predators just need to focus on bringing back their restricted free agents, and possibly adding a forward and defenceman via free agency. Don't necessarily expect top-flight names, but a couple of proven veterans would undoubtedly help.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Top Newcomers: Zach Parise, C
Next in Line: Alexander Suglobov, RW; Tuomas Pihlman, LW
Possible buyouts: Sergei Brylin, C ($1.52M)
Notable restricted free agents possibly not tendered: Jeff Friesen, LW ($2.28M); Jan Hrdina, C ($1.824M); Viktor Kozlov, C ($1.748M); Colin White, D ($1.71M);;
Needs: 2 top four defencemen; 1 top six forward
Projected cap position: $23M (16 players)
The biggest concern for the Devils will be finding a way to keep at least one of blueliners Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski and Scott Stevens, all of whom are unrestricted free agents. The Devils should be in good shape up front, depending on which restricted free agents are brought back and assuming that star forward Patrik Elias can recover from Hepatitis A, which he contracted last winter.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Top Newcomers: Petteri Nokelainen, C; Bruno Gervais, D
Next in Line: Robert Nilsson, C; Jeremy Colliton, RW; Chris Campoli, D
Possible buyouts: Alexei Yashin, C ($7.6M)
Notable restricted free agents possibly not tendered: Kenny Jonsson, D ($2.394M);;
Needs: backup goalie; 3 top four defencemen
Projected cap position: $26M (15 players)
While the Isles might be best -- from a team perspective -- buying out Alexei Yashin's contract, there is just too much money owing (approximately $27M, even at the two-thirds buyout rate) to think that it will happen. So, they'll be hamstrung for several seasons by his overpriced deal, unless he miraculously turns into a top-flight player. So, assuming that Yashin stays on board, the Isles will have to turn their focus to rebuilding a defence corps that could lose Adrian Aucoin and Roman Hamrlik to unrestricted free agency while Kenny Jonsson could be staying home in Sweden.

NEW YORK RANGERS
Top Newcomers: Fedor Tyutin, D; Henrik Lundqvist, G; Maxim Kondratiev, D
Next in Line: Jozef Balej, RW
Possible buyouts: Bobby Holik, C ($6.726M); Darius Kasparaitis, D ($3.344)
Needs: backup goalie; 2 top four defencemen; 4 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $16M (11 players)
No longer able to throw money at every problem (that could be a good thing), the Rangers will likely free up cap room by buying out Holik and Kasparaitis, leaving essentially Jaromir Jagr, Michael Nylander and a handful of restricted free agents. So, starting from scratch, the Rangers need to find a way to lure probably half a dozen good free agents to town, though it would behoove the Blueshirts to try and look for some value on the free agent market as opposed to just breaking the bank for the biggest names out there.

OTTAWA SENATORS
Top Newcomers: Andrej Meszaros, D; Ray Emery, G
Next in Line: Patrick Eaves, RW; Brandon Bochenski, LW; Alexei Kaigorodov, C; Christoph Schubert, DPossible buyouts: Greg de Vries, D ($2.28M); Bryan Smolinski, C ($2.242M) Possible restricted free agents poached by others: Marian Hossa, RW; Jason Spezza, C; Martin Havlat, LW
Needs: 1 top six forward
Projected cap position: $35M (21 players)
One of the most talented rosters in the league leaves the Senators with very little wiggle room, particularly if any teams decide to make a play for restricted free agents Hossa, Spezza or Havlat by offering a rich free agent deal. Even without much cap room, the Sens are poised to be contenders based on the returning core of the team.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Top Newcomers: Jeff Carter, C; Mike Richards, C; Antero Niittymaki, G
Next in Line: Patrick Sharp, C; Dennis Seidenberg, D; R.J. Umberger, RW
Possible buyouts: John LeClair, LW ($6.84M); Tony Amonte, RW ($4.496M); Eric Desjardins, D ($2.28M); Donald Brashear ($1.748M)
Needs: 2 defencemen
Projected cap position: $32M (20 players)
Philadelphia might be in the best shape of any team heading into the new NHL, quickly releasing veterans LeClair and Amonte to create room to sign rookies and restricted free agents. Rookies Carter and Richards will inject life into the Flyers' forward ranks and the addition of a defenceman or two should have the Flyers ready to compete for a Cup. Should more veterans need to be axed, look for Donald Brashear and Eric Desjardins to join LeClair and Amonte as ex-Flyers.

PHOENIX COYOTES
Top Newcomers: Keith Ballard, D
Possible buyouts: Brian Savage, LW ($2.85M)
Needs: None Projected cap position: $32M (23 players)
The Desert Dogs probably have the most set roster in the league, with 21 players already under contract going forward, and some room under the cap if necessary. With all the additions Phoenix made last summer, they may want to see how all the new pieces fit together before making too many more moves.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Top Newcomers: Sidney Crosby, C; Evgeni Malkin, C; G Marc-Andre Fleury; Ryan Whitney, D Next in Line: Kris Beech, C; Colby Armstrong, RW;
Needs: 1 top four defenceman; 2 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $18M (18 players)
The rebuilding process has just been given a boost of rocket fuel with the Penguins winning the NHL Draft Lottery, securing the first pick that they will use to select phenom Sidney Crosby. From the sounds of things, Mario Lemieux may want the Penguins to invest a little more in the free agent market than initially planned, but it's understandable -- a few key free agent additions could have the Penguins right back in the playoffs.

SAN JOSE SHARKS
Top Newcomers: Marcel Goc, C; Milan Michalek, LW
Next in Line: Doug Murray, D
Needs: 1 top four defenceman; 1 top six forward
Projected cap position: $27M (23 players)
In excellent position financially, the Sharks do have room to acquire a premier free agent or two, and they might be in the market for a big blueliner if Mike Rathje leaves town as an unrestricted free agent. Up front, the Sharks have a speedy skilled group, and could surely find room for another proven goal-scorer.

ST. LOUIS BLUES
Top Newcomers: Marek Schwarz, G; Jay McClement, C
Next in Line: Dennis Wideman, D
Possible buyouts: Keith Tkachuk, LW ($7.6M); Doug Weight, C ($(5.7M); Eric Weinrich, D ($1.33M)
Possible restricted free agents poached by others: Chris Pronger, D ($7.22M)
Needs: 1 top four defenceman; 4 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $20M (16 players)
St. Louis is in a tough position because they have three players with huge contracts. It would stand to reason that, in order to provide the most flexibility under the cap, Tkachuk will be the first one let go. That move, all by itself, could give the Blues the room required to bring in a whole forward line of free agents, but would buying out Tkachuk and Weight create enough room to rebuild the top two lines entirely?; It might have to.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Top Newcomers: Mike Egener, D; Evgeny Artukhin, RW
Possible restricted free agents poached by others: Vincent Lecavalier, C; Martin St. Louis, LW
Needs: Starting goalie; 1 defencemen
Projected cap position: $30M (16 players)
Winning the Stanley Cup comes at a price, and for Tampa Bay, that price could be that they may lose some quality players. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin is an unrestricted free agent and the Lightning don't appear to have room under the cap for him, or if they do then they will likely lose Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier or Dan Boyle, who are restricted free agents.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Top Newcomers: Carlo Colaiacovo, D; Mikael Tellqvist, G; Kyle Wellwood, C
Next in Line: Alexander Steen, C; Staffan Kronwall, D; Ian White, D
Possible buyouts: Owen Nolan, RW ($5.627M); Ed Belfour, G ($4.56M); Bryan McCabe, D ($3.458M)
Notable restricted free agents possibly not tendered: Aki Berg, D ($1.064M); Nik Antropov, C ($1.007M);
Needs: 2 top four defencemen; 4 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $20M (9 players)
Getting in order with the league's new financial realities, the Leafs will have their work cut out for them, with little room to add big ticket free agents. While Nolan is going to be a contentious buyout, it remains to be seen if the Leafs would be prepared to unload Ed Belfour and Bryan McCabe as well. If those two get released, the Leafs will actually have plenty of room to deal under the cap. Under any circumstance though, with few players signed, Toronto will most assuredly have a new look by the time John Ferguson Jr. is finished remaking the Leafs' roster.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Top Newcomers: Ryan Kesler, C; Alex Auld, G
Next in Line: Jason King, LW; Kevin Bieksa, D; Kirill Koltsov, D; Tomas Mojzis
Notable restricted free agents possibly not tendered: Dan Cloutier, G ($2.318M);
Needs: 1 defenceman; 1 top six forward
Projected cap position: $27M (17 players)
A difficult off-season begins with the rumours that Todd Bertuzzi could be facing additional suspension time and may want to be traded. On top of that, Markus Naslund is an unrestricted free agent and should be in high demand, making it challenging for the Canucks to bring him back. If Naslund does leave, the Canucks will then have some financial flexibility to try and make up for the loss.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Top Newcomers: Alexander Ovechkin, RW; Maxime Ouellet, G; Boyd Gordon, C
Next in Line: Eric Fehr, RW
Needs: 3 defencemen; 4 top six forwards
Projected cap position: $19M (12 players)
In desperate need of a makeover, the Caps have little to build upon beyond Russian rookie Alexander Ovechkin, but they do have room to make some acquisitions this summer in an effort to improve the team's competitiveness. There are plenty of needs up front and on defence, so the Caps can simply focus on adding quality talent.
-Thanks to www.tsn.ca for report

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