With injuries behind him, Owen Nolan will make his glorious return to the league with the Phoenix Coyotes. Generally considered a top 100 forward, Nolan will joined the re-vamped Coyotes on a 1-year deal paying him $1.25 million this season. There will be a lot of interest as to whether or not he can be the dominant player he once was or an injury-plagued veteran just trying to stay in the twilight of his career. Nolan will more than likely feature as a second line winger for the 'Yotes with other hard-luck injury-seekers, Jeremy Roenick and Mike Ricci. I think it would be fair to pin him down at around 65 points this season and anything more is going to be a bonus.
Number five overall pick, Phil Kessel will forego his years in University to join the Bruins for the coming season. Touted as the number one pick before the World Junior Championships last Christmas, Kessel's scoring ability has never really been in question. Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Johnathon Toews and Niklas Backstrom were all considered to be better franchise players, so they were taken before Kessel. With the pressure of making an impact this season, the Bruins will more than likely push the young American as hard as possible for results, especially since scoring rookies did so well last season.
Although Kessel with listed as a center, to envoke a little bit more scoring, he may be moved to the wing to accomodate a few of the other centers and fill out the line-up. That's my guess anyways. Here's my projection for the Bruins forwards come opening night. Not a fact, just a guess.
Glen Murray - Patrice Bergeron - Brad Boyes
Marco Sturm - Marc Savard - Phil Kessel
Petr Tenkrat - Alexei Zhamnov - P.J. Axelsson
Yan Statsny - Wayne Primeau - Shean Donovan
One trade occurred in the league this week seeing arbitration winner, Vitali Vishnevski get shipped from Anaheim to Atlanta for up & coming forward, Karl Stewart.
In Vishnevski, the Thrashers gain a top 4 defenseman for their line-up at a reasonable price. With the Ducks acquiring Chris Pronger and his giant salary, Vishnevski was expendable to the Ducks and the Thrashers were a team in need. A stay-at-home defenseman that won't get a great deal of points, but may help to keep the puck out of the net will attract a few more eyes to goaltending phenom, Kari Lehtonen (if and when he signs from being a Restricted Free Agent).
In Stewart, the Ducks get another younger prospect to bring up the ranks of the minors and into the fold. Really, this deal was something for nothing... a salary dump, if you will. Stewart, on a two-way contract, will primarily be used for injury call-ups, as he was in Atlanta. He would have to get by the likes of Stanislav Chistov and 2005 pick, Bobby Ryan, to make an impact with the big club this year.