The Gooch re-signs, we like a bounceback... Deslauriers locked in intriguing battle... The Wiz signs & gets sent to the Island... Top 10 agitators of all time
NEW! The Sharks and RFA forward Devin Setoguchi came to an agreement on a one-year deal... his numbers plummeted last year from 65 to 36 points mostly due to being bumped off the top line but we think there's a good chance that he can bounceback as he should form a nice partnership with an emerging player like Joe Pavelski on the 2nd line and all he needs is chances as his shooting % remained around the 12% level that it was in '08/09 when he scored 31... so it's not like he's forgotten how to score, more like the 165 shots he put on net last year are way too low for a player of his ability.
NEW! The Oilers signed goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to a one-year deal... he's going to be in an interesting battle at training camp with Devan Dubnyk for either the back-up spot or if Khabibulin is injured and/or incarcerated, then they could be vying for the starting role. Neither can be sent down with passing through waivers so it should make for an interesting camp. We weren't really impressed with either goalie's performance last year but the fact that Edmonton was awful had a lot to do with that.
NEW! The Habs signed dman Alexandre Picard to a two-way deal, so he'll add a little depth to the organization and we wouldn't expect to see too much of him in the NHL unless they're ravaged by injuries in Montreal. He has some offensive ability but seems to have a hard time sticking with a team as this will be his fifth NHL organization over the past three years.
The Flames & Ian White avoided arbitration and agreed on a one-year deal... he had a breakout season last year with 38 points and he should see his fair share of PP time for the Flames this year so he'll have a chance to put up some decent numbers again.
The Ducks & James Wisniewski agreed on a one-year deal and then they immediately dealt him to the Islanders (cruel punishment) for a draft pick. It's a curious move as the Ducks are a little thin on D right now, so maybe another move (signing/trade?) is in the works or maybe they're just feeling really confident that youngsters like Luca Sbisa, Cam Fowler & Jake Newton can step in and play right away. The Wiz gets a downgrade heading to the Islanders in our opinion, he should see a little increase in his PP time but he goes from a talented team with an excellent PP to one of the weaker teams in the league with a crappy PP. As for the Islanders D-core, this hurts the fantasy value of guys like Jack Hillen & Bruno Gervais and makes it even more unlikely that prospects like Travis Hamonic & Calvin de Haan can crack the roster.
Chris Campoli re-signed with Ottawa for another year... with the addition of Gonchar and the emergence of Erik Karlsson, this guy is nothing more than a 3rd pairing/depth dman on the Senators and it would be hard to see him putting up much more than 20 points this year.
The Bruins accepted the $2.2M arbitration award given to Blake Wheeler, so he's got a one-year deal. He's averaged 20 goals & 42 points over his first two years in the league and we think it's only a matter of time before this guy pulls it all together and conjures up a breakout season. One thing we really like about his situation is that no matter which one of the top three lines he ends up on, he'll be playing with a solid center like Savard, Krejci, Bergeron and/or Seguin.
Habs prospect Louis Leblanc has decided to leave Harvard after one year, has signed a pro contract and will likely suit up for the Montreal Juniors in the Q next year... his freshmen season at Harvard was a bit of a disappointment as he only managed 23 points (in 31 games) but he was playing on a weak & low scoring team, so let's cut him some slack. He's ranked #113 in our Fantasy Prospect Rankings.
Tampa Bay signed UFA forward Dominic Moore to a two-year deal... he jumps into the #3C role but don't expect any fantasy worthy production.
RFA forward Peter Regin & the Senators agreed on a two-year deal... he only had 29 points last year but was a bit of a late season sensation with 7+5=12 in his last 16 games (regular & playoffs) while mostly playing on the top line. He's penciled in to play on one of the top two lines this coming year and is a candidate for a breakout season but we think there's others with better credentials... get our Breakout Bible (coming soon) for all the juicy details.
Arbitration awarded Tim Kennedy a one-year deal and the Sabres don't have the right to walk away so he's got himself a deal. He only had 26 points last year but the season has to be considered a success as he was a bit of a longshot to even make the team out of training camp and he ended up sticking in the NHL all season... we'd expect an increase in production this year but a breakout season would be a major stretch.
Kings dman Matt Greene is out for 3-4 months after shoulder surgery and while he doesn't have any fantasy value, this along with the departures of Sean O'Donnell & Randy Jones opens up a few spots for some young players to start out the season on the Kings blueline... guys like Slava Voinov, Thomas Hickey, Alec Martinez & Johan Fransson will all be queuing up for jobs... Martinez could be one to surprise out of that group.
The Sharks signed RFA dman Jason Demers to a two-year deal... he had a great start to the season last year with 10 assists in his first 15 games but then he slowed down and was on the shuttle between San Jose & Worcester the rest of the season. He's ranked #63 in our Fantasy Prospect Rankings and with Rob Blake retiring, Demers could be in line for a nice boost in PP time this coming season.
The Thrashers avoided arbitration by signing Andrew Ladd to a one-year deal... we don't care for this guy as he's been a huge disappointment for a 4th overall pick and while he could give you close to 20 goals & 50 points, we think he's proven after 4+ years in the NHL that this is his ceiling.
The CBJs & Anton Stralman avoided arbitration as he signed a one-year deal... smart move by Anton as he's in a great spot in Columbus as the #1 option on their PP. He had 34 points last year and don't forget that he's only 23, so he has some room to grow. While we're not big fans of new coach Scott Arniel, he certainly can't be worse than Ken Hitchcock, as Hitchy always had the PP & goals for near the bottom of the league.
Denis Grebeshkov has signed a two-year deal to play in the KHL... he could give you some points (had 39 with Edmonton in '08/09) but was pretty much a liability in every other category so you shouldn't miss him too much.
The Thrashers signed RFA Ben Eager to a new deal... he won't be doing much other than gooning it up in Atlanta this year, but if that's your kinda thing, then enjoy.
What shaped up to be a nasty arbitration hearing was avoided when the Islanders and Matt Moulson came to an agreement on a one-year deal on Tuesday. Yeah sure he did hit 30 goals last year but only 48 points and he only had 29 games of NHL experience prior to last year. In addition, he lived off a fast start last year with 15+10=25 in his first 35 games and then coasted with 12+8=20 in his next 44 before finishing with goals in each of his last three games (when the results didn't matter). We're betting that he has a hard time replicating those numbers this year. If we were the Islanders (scary thought) we're sure we could have beaten him down during the hearing... and we wouldn't have even mentioned that he's one of the weirder looking blokes in the league.
The Rangers made it official with Alex Frolov as they signed him to a one-year deal... as we mentioned below, while he can be lazy and streaky, he's still put up some decent points over the past few years and we like him to pick up the pace a little with a new team.
With the Kings losing Frolov, they quickly replaced him with Alexei Ponikarovsky. Poni is a notch below Frolov in terms of fantasy production but he should be good for 20 goals and around 45 points in LA. He was awful after being traded to the Penguins last year so there has to be concerns when he can't fit in as a winger playing with Crosby & Malkin.
The Caps & Tomas Fleischmann avoided arbitration as he signed a one-year deal... he had a nice breakout season last year with 23+28=51 in 69 games but his play tailed off down the stretch and in the playoffs. We like him as he's in a great spot with the high-powered Caps but he doesn't offer a lot in the peripheral categories so don't overrate him.
The Oilers re-signed Gilbert Brule to a two-year deal, he had what has to be considered a decent season by his standards with 37 points last year and is only 23 but we think there's plenty of guys out there with considerably greater breakout chances this year... speaking of which, our 3rd annual Breakout Bible is coming along and will be out in mid-August... please buy it, we're begging you.
Nick Leddy is leaving school and has signed with the Blackhawks, can't imagine he can crack the opening night roster as a 19-year old so he's headed for the AHL this season... we'll see how he looks down there as his freshman season at the UofMinn was a disappointment.
The Canucks reached a deal with RFA winger Mason Raymond on a two-year contract. He had a breakout season last year going from 23 to 53 points and turned himself into a nice secondary scoring option. We like Mase a lot but don't be expecting another big jump this year as it will be tough with the talent in front of him. He was 12th on the Canucks in PP time with 2:04 per game but managed a solid 18 PPP. The Sedin's, Samuelsson & Kesler aren't going anywhere so they'll be taking the big minutes and Cody Hodgson is on his way.
The NHLPA filed a grievance on behalf of Ilya Kovalchuk, so we'll see how long it takes them & the league to sort this all out... everyone seems to think that the league doesn't have legal ground to stand on, well that is unless the arbitrator uses common sense (which is a big ask). If I'm the league, I call Lou Lamoriello to the stand as he's the guy who supposedly structured the deal and then said at the press conference that the league shouldn't allow these types of deals... of course, that will never happen but we can dream.
You could see this coming from miles away... the Rangers are said to be interested in UFA winger Alexander Frolov... wouldn't he fit perfectly with Slats under-achieving squad? We're not actually as down on Fro as others are since the dude still puts up decent points, averaging 62 over the last four seasons, and he could be in for a nice bump in a new situation. LA is also rumoured to be talking to him, so it appears that there's NHL interest so the risk of him heading to the KHL seems somewhat remote (for now).
Speaking of heading to the KHL, Robert Nilsson made it official as he signed a two-year deal with Ufa... he was bought out earlier this summer by the Oilers after back-to-back sub 30 point seasons and we can't imagine he'll be missed although since he was a prospect of some note and a guy who we thought had some breakout potential, figured we should mention his departure.
The Lightning signed former Av, Chris Durno, to a two-way deal... try not to get too excited if you're a fan of the Bolts or in a fantasy hockey league.
What's distracting us this week?
- NEW! Sometimes you might forget how awesome Behind The Net is, today we remind you. Please Sir, can I have some more?
- Not many guys could pull off interviewing some Leafs with a laptop but somehow Steve Dangle manages to do it.
- Our buddy Down Goes Brown with his latest piece of hockey humour gold... tips for your day with the Stanley Cup... which is now up on the National Post website as Down Goes Brown has gone corporate. Well deserved. Congrats to DGB... or should we say Mr. McIndoe?
- The Hockey News with two names you might want to take a flier on... Brett Sterling and Keith Aucoin.
- Want to see Sidney Crosby and friends try to fire a puck through the uprights at Heinz Field? Well then click here. But trust us, it's much more boring than it sounds.
- We're loving these new 30 minute long episodes of the Top 10 on TSN. The new list is the Top 10 Agitators of All Time. We agree with most of the members of the list... but the order is bizarre. Steve Ott > Claude Lemieux? Whaaaat? Here's Part's 1 and 2:
- Interesting article by Jonathan Willis over at Hockey or Die regarding the top even-strength scorers over the past three seasons... mostly the usual suspects on the list but a few surprise names appear including Andrew Ladd???