Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Top 10 Poolie Unrestricted Free Agents of 2007

With the Free Agency Frenzy quickly coming upon us, the pool should know where some of it's top players are going to go. Some are much easier than others... and those others are going to be available to the highest bidder. This is according to my pool points list and shouldn't necessarily be considered as "wise hockey moves."

The Sabres will have to boogey to keep Daniel Briere about. He finished 12th in pool scoring with 95 points and was a big reason as to why the Sabres did what they did last year. I can't really imagine Briere working well without Lindy Ruff's system, unless he possibly moved to another team known for their team speed. With the cap budgets being what they are and what Briere will probably have offered to him, it will be tough to see him in some markets, but I think Buffalo will end up keeping him before it's all said and done. The Sabres are more Briere's team than Drury's team and if I was GM Darcy Regier, I would be keeping Briere.

Now, I understand that Selanne is teetering on the edge of retirement, with his shiny new Cup and all, and since the Ducks have re-signed Giguere already, it would seem rather difficult to see Selanne back at big money with the Ducks, unless one of their big defensemen were to retire. If Selanne chooses to stay in the league for another season, he may be a prime candidate as a free-agent pick-up. He finished 13th in pool scoring and has been in the Top 20 in back-to-back seasons... he may not be a difficult player to sign if the right team and the right offer came along... especially if he holds out his decision until late. If Selanne re-signs in Anaheim or moves on to somewhere else, he should be a first round selection in your pool.

The 42 year-old Dominik Hasek said he'll return to the game, which almost guarantees another round with the Detroit Red Wings. This is one of those easy picks in a column like this. Hasek managed to win 38 games last year and maybe it was more because of the efforts of the guys up front more than him, but in the pools... wins are wins. If you don't mind Hasek or are left with a late first round pick in your pool, then Hasek might be your guy early on. The age question remains, but if you're sold on Detroit doing well, maybe your second goalie pick should be the other Detroit keeper, Chris Osgood.

At 31st in pool scoring, Michael Nylander had a very good year. Quite possibly one of his best. He had great linemates and played pretty well also. Could the Rangers really afford to let Nylander go? Who would Jaromir Jagr's set-up guy be? I don't think he could get the same production out of a centre like Briere, Drury or Gomez... why should Sather tinker with his lines like that? The Rangers will be out to spend some dough this off-season and I don't think Nylander will be a priority when there are other players about. If the Rangers lose out on the big 3 centres of the Frenzy, then Nylander will be back in the fold. Nylander is a high pick in your pool if he remains with the Rangers and a much lower pick if he goes somewhere else.

At just under a point-per-game last season, it should be the belief that Vyacheslav Kozlov is another guy who did very well with a linemate who scored a bundle. Kozlov and Marian Hossa were quite the dynamic duo in the regular season and should be considered again to be that, if Atlanta is to re-sign him. Atlanta though is in a limbo of decision making... standing at the proverbial fork in the road. Which way are they going to go forward with? With Hossa only having one more year on his deal left, it may be worth the Thrashers' while to sign up Kozlov for one more year to see what happens. If not, some team is going to get a very talented centre who can play with your more dynamic forwards.

It's been a couple years since, but Paul Kariya is once again a Unrestricted Free Agent. The Nashville Predators have looking like a team who is vastly changing around the direction and/or hockey philosophy of late and it's hard to say if Kariya is a part of that. Hell, if Tomas Vokoun isn't, then who is? The way the Predators built around Kariya (to an extent) should make Kariya a sought after player on the market... and he most certainly is. I don't think you'll find a hockey market in the league, who could be a player in the Frenzy, who wouldn't want Kariya in their fold. Saying this... Kariya's production shouldn't be affected too much and his 76 points in 82 games is certainly nothing to sneeze at... in the second round of a pool. Watch where he goes in the Frenzy, his stock may climb... but it shouldn't fall at all.

Maybe a name you have or haven't come to expect on these sorts of lists, but Jason Blake has been a sought after name for quite a while for a lot of teams and he should be a sought out name in the hockey pool world as well. Blake's stock went up this past season when he scored a career-high 40 goals and he moved up to 58th in pool scoring. His previous high in the pools was 95th. Blake is finding his way in the new NHL and has now moved up into the top three rounds of a good pool and may find himself in a new town with a good centre that could possibly help him score 50. It's certainly not out of the question. The risk to reward ratio is about even... it's probably best to be safe with him and draft him about where he finished last season.

The second of the highly sought-after centres ranks eighth on this list, more or less because he missed five games in the season. Chris Drury is more sought-out for his leadership qualities and his playoff experience more than his actual scoring ability. That isn't to say he doesn't have great hands or skating ability, but you watch most shows and a lot of interviews and it's more Drury's character that is worth the big money. Sure his 37 goals in the regular season helps, but in the pool, there are 59 other guys that finished higher than him in points. The really big bonus on Chris Drury is... his stock continues to go up. This was his fifth straight season that he's gone up in the pool rankings and he's becoming a player that doesn't rely on his linemates. I wouldn't move him up too high on your list, but if you really want him late in the second round... this may be the year to do it.

Ninth on the list (possibly could be higher) is Ryan Smyth. There is no question the amount of character and leadership he brings to the table and in a healthy season, he could raise the roof of any season. Smyth lost 11 games to injury in the season and only managed 68 points. He's a guy you can almost count on for a point-a-game, so all things considered... you should be able to move him up on your lists. Smyth doesn't seem to want to return to Long Island or else he probably would have signed already and the inkling of GM Garth Snow shopping his rights isn't helping the case much. Where will he go then? Try not to count Edmonton into the mix. Smyth and Ales Hemsky aren't exactly a dynamic duo, so I don't think it'll happen for that much money. It'll be an Eastern team that misses out on a big centre or has a little extra room to move.

Finally, the list will conclude with Sheldon Souray of the Montreal Canadiens. Talk about a stock that moved... he went up a whopping 149 places in pool rankings going from 226 to 77th. When you thought of Sheldon Souray before, he was a very well ranked defenseman that hardly ever disappointed, ranking along the lines of a Brian Rafalski (also a UFA, by the way). Souray had himself a career year with 26 goals and 64 points, one of the top ranking defensemen in the pool. His point shot will be what attracts a lot of teams, as it will be a boost to any power play. 19 of his 26 goals came with the extra man, so we all know how valuable he is when the doors open to the opposition penalty box.

There's a lot of talent to be considered when it comes to UFA's, but these are the guys who could very well make more of an impact in your pool selections. It does matter what team these guys end up with for the sake of chemistry and overall personnel. Just because a Briere could end up in Los Angeles, doesn't mean he's going to be a better player.

Technorati Tags
, , , , ,

Will Tkachuk be Blue Again?

Tuesday evening saw the return (of the rights) of Keith Tkachuk to St. Louis in a trade that sent him back to the organization that dealt him away at the trade deadline. Tkachuk is set to be an Unrestricted Free Agent come Sunday and the Blues want first crack at signing him for a large sum of money. Tkachuk made $3.8 million last season and I wouldn't be surprised if he made somewhere around that again.

Overall, here's the deal that sent Tkachuck's right back to St. Louis (with no guarantee that he'd sign there, but he probably will)... Tkachuk and a conditional pick (4th round in 2008, but could move up to 3rd in 2009) for a conditional 1st round pick in 2008. The conditional 1st round pick is on the grounds that Tkachuk re-signs with the Blues.

Technorati Tags
, , , , ,

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Signings and Non-Signings

Yesterday was the deadline for teams to offer Restricted Free Agents a qualifying offer to keep their rights as Restricted Free Agents, otherwise they'll become Unrestricted on July 1. There was very little surprise to the process... except for one, possibly.

Winger Michel Ouellet was not offered a qualifying offer by the Penguins on Monday, which has made him an Unrestricted Free Agent on Monday. Ouellet, who scored 19 goals and 48 points last season, had only turned 25 in March and could provide a growing winger to a team in need of such a player at a reasonable rate. Ouellet only made $500,000 last season, but his raise could be somewhat significant, but he'll be a guy to keep your eye on. With 48 points last season, he finished 156th in pool scoring... a fifth to seventh round pick.

Another reason for the Predators to let Vokoun go was that they had talent coming up the ranks and they had signed their top goaltending prospect, Pekka Rinne, to a contract on Monday. Rinne will back-up Chris Mason and for much cheaper than Vokoun (if Vokoun was to lose the number one job in Nashville). Rinne signed a 2-year deal, worth just over $1 million.

Speaking of back-up goaltenders (and Tomas Vokoun), Vokoun's new back-up Craig Anderson was retained by the Florida Panthers on Monday. He also signed a 2-year deal as last year's back-up in Florida, Alex Auld, was not offered a qualifying offer and will become an Unrestricted Free Agent.

Technorati Tags
, , , , , , ,

Monday, June 25, 2007

The New Logos are Coming

The time of change is upon us... and with the new Reebok jerseys hitting the ice this coming September, the logos are also changing for a few teams around the league. I've already got some of my logos changed and will be right on top of it all... so there won't be any confusion!

With Boston adding serifs to the B in the spokes, the Blue Jackets using the logo on their 3rd jersey full time now and the Capitals going back to the past (and stylizing)... none of these new logos are a stretch.

Technorati Tags
, , , , ,

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Draft Day Deals

The Stanley Cup champions looked to Vancouver to see if they can improve their team in the offseason. The Ducks sent forward Ryan Shannon to the Canucks for the rights to negotiate with winger Jason King. Shannon had 11 points in 53 games last season for the Ducks and should provide a little bit of a spark to the line-up, while King has not played in the NHL in more than two years. Shannon will be playing next season, which makes him a possibilty for a pool and there is still some doubt whether or not King will be back. Ducks GM Brian Burke has had some relations with King previously, so he should be able to lure him back if possible.

Young forwards were dealt in this deal... the Ducks sending Tim Brent to Pittsburgh for Stephen Dixon. This deal may not affect the coming pool season, but with a season or two under each other's belts, you never know.

In another prospect deal, forward Jesse Schultz was sent from Vancouver to Atlanta for defenseman Jim Sharrow. Schultz has never turned into much of anything in the Canucks organization and is not highly regarded as much as when he was signed. Sharrow was a 4th rounder in 2003 and has a big frame that could be in need of a little bit more size. Otherwise, he'll be a defender worth looking at in the future.

Defenseman Chris Thorburn was sent to the Thrashers from the Penguins for a third round pick. Thorburn played 38 games last season and really isn't considered pool worthy and will possibly play only 38 games again and will not score that many more than his 5 points last season.

The Hurricanes acquired career-backup goaltender, Michael Leighton, from the Canadiens for a 7th round pick, which turned out to be a high school defenseman. Leighton really fell down the depth charts and Montreal and will go to Carolina to hold up the Ward/Grahame combination.

Technorati Tags
, , , , ,

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mock Draft to Real Draft

PickMy Mock DraftTSNESPNSportsnetResult
1st - CHIPatrick KaneKyle TurrisPatrick KanePatrick KanePatrick Kane
2nd - PHIKyle TurrisPatrick KaneJakub VoracekKyle TurrisJames VanRiemsdyk
3rd - PHOJakub VoracekJames VanRiemsdykSam GagnerKarl AlznerKyle Turris
4th - LOSJames VanRiemsdykAlexei CherepanovJames VanRiemsdykJames VanRiemsdykThomas Hickey
5th - WASKarl AlznerSam GagnerKarl AlznerSam GagnerKarl Alzner
6th - EDMSam GagnerJakub VoracekKyle TurrisAlexei CherepanovSam Gagner
7th - CBJLogan CoutureKarl AlznerNick PetreckiJakub VoracekJakub Voracek
8th - BOSAngelo EspositioKeaton EllerbyAngelo EspositioAngelo EspositioZach Hamill
9th - SANAlexei CherepanovBrandon SutterAlexei CherepanovZach HamillLogan Couture
10th - FLABrandon SutterLogan CoutureKeaton EllerbyLogan CoutureKeaton Ellerby
11th - CARKeaton EllerbyRyan McDonaghLogan CoutureKeaton EllerbyBrandon Sutter
12th - MTLMaxim MayorovAngelo EspositioBrandon SutterRyan McDonaghRyan McDonagh
13th - STL
Nick PetreckiMikael BacklundMikael BacklundMax PaciorettyLars Eller
14th - COLZach HamillKevin ShattenkirkRyan McDonaghMaxim MayorovKevin Shattenkirk
15th - EDMRyan McDonaghLars EllerMark KaticBrandon SutterAlex Plante
16th - MINColton GillesThomas HickeyMaxim MayorovNick PetreckiColton Gilles
17th - NYRKevin ShattenkirkColton GillesJonathon BlumIan ColeAlexei Cherepanov
18th - STLAlex PlanteOscar MollerColton GillesAlex PlanteIan Cole
19th - ANAJonathon BlumBill SweattThomas HickeyOscar MollerLogan MacMillan
20th - PITJoakim AnderssonBrett MacLeanBill SweattKevin ShattenkirkAngelo Espositio
21st - EDMMikael BacklundNick PetreckiKevin ShattenkirkBill SweattRiley Nash
22nd - MTLKeven VeilleuxZach HamillTommy CrossLars EllerMax Pacioretty
23rd - NASThomas HickeyDavid PerronZach HamillLogan MacMillanJonathon Blum
24th - CALOscar MollerJonathon BlumDavid PerronJoakim AnderssonMikael Backlund
25th - VANMichael RepikMaxim MayorovJames O'BrienJonathon BlumPatrick White
26th - STLMark KaticLogan MacMillanMax PaciorettyMark KaticDavid Perron
27th - DETBill SweattTommy CrossAkim AliuMikael BacklundBrendan Smith
28th - SANMax PaciorettyMax PaciorettyBrett MacLeanMichael RepikNick Petrecki
29th - OTTJoel GistedtBrendan SmithJoakim AnderssonColton GillesJames O'Brien
30th - EDMDavid PerronAlex PlanteZack TorquatoKeven VeilleuxNick Ross

Technorati Tags
, , , , ,

Rivet Remains a Shark

Craig Rivet signed a 4-year deal to remain with the Sharks after being acquired from Montreal at the trade deadline. Rivet, 32, was scheduled to be an Unrestricted Free Agent, but he'll keep his experience in San Jose for the time being.

Rivet is a regular pick amongst pools and having a training camp and a full season with the likes of Joe Thornton, Rivet could end up a little bit better than his normal numbers, but Rivet isn't necessarily going to spend a lot more time as an offensive defensive.

Rivet is a plus-player and should be considered to go a little bit higher than he normally might.

Technorati Tags
, , , , ,

Vokoun a Panther

The Florida Panthers have just become a little bit more believable as an NHL franchise with the acquistion of Tomas Vokoun from the Predators. Vokoun goes to Miami in exchange for three picks... an undetermined first rounder and two second round picks.

In Vokoun, the Panthers have their new number one goaltender for 2007/08. Both Ed Belfour and Alex Auld will become Unrestricted Free Agents on July 1 and with Vokoun in the mix, it'll be hard to believe that the Panthers will retain the services of at least one of them.

Vokoun won 27 games last season even after sitting out with a broken thumb. When he was out, Chris Mason took over as the starting goalie for the Predators and was somewhat of a standout... obviously enough so that he will be the number one keeper going into camp.

Vokoun's numbers are sure to go up next season with the increase of defense in Florida, plus the increase in games (barring injury), so he'll be a very good pick if you manage to sneak him in the second or even third round of your pool draft.

It is still undetermined, but if Florida has dealt their pick for this year, it'll be a 10th overall selection for the Predators in exchange and they could be in line for a player like Brandon Sutter, Logan Couture or Keaton Ellerby.

Technorati Tags
, , , , ,

McAmmond Stays in the Capital

Dean McAmmond will remain with the Ottawa Senators for another season. The gritty winger signed a multi-year deal with the club today, which should be for two seasons.

McAmmond was a key contributor to the Senators' playoff run and does provide some good grit and leadership on the club as well. He finished the regular season playing 81 games and scoring 14 goals and 29 points. He was believed to be a priority signing for the Sens this off-season and the managed to save him from Unrestricted Free Agency.

McAmmond finished in the top 300 in pool players last season and may not fall into the category of a great pool commodity, but again, depending how deep your draft goes, he could be well within your sights. His numbers will probably not climb much higher than 30 points, but you never know. Is he worth the gamble?

Technorati Tags
, , , , ,

Arnason Returns to Denver

In somewhat of a minor deal today, Tyler Arnason re-signed with the Avalanche for two years, financial terms were not disclosed. Arnason, 28, was scheduled to be an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1 before being snapped up. He played in all 82 games for the Avs scoring 16 goals and adding 33 assists. He finished the season in 151st place on the pool list, which could put him in the fifth, sixth or seventh rounds of a deep draft. Arnason did go as high as 70th spot in 2003/04 while in Chicago.

Technorati Tags
, , , , ,

Penguins Keep Their Experience

There's some good news in Pittsburgh on Draft Day and it has more to do with some veterans, rather than the prospects for which the day is named for. Both Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi signed 1-year deals reportedly worth $2.5 and $2 million each.

Gary Roberts was acquired at the trade deadline this past season and was leaned upon for leadership and veteran support. His presence will greatly help Sidney Crosby this coming year in learning how to be a captain and also provide some grit in the line-up. He did manage 42 points in 69 games last season, which would make him a good candidate for a late-round selection in your pool.

Mark Recchi did his part in support for the Penguins last season with his 68 points in all 82 games. Recchi came back to the Penguins after winning the Cup with Carolina in 2006 and he also provides some good veteran leadership and a good linemate for the youngsters on the team. It would be fair to assume that his numbers should stay relatively the same in the coming year.

Technorati Tags
, , , , , ,

D-man Swap

Adrian Aucoin and a 7th round pick go to Calgary for Andrei Zyuzin and prospect Steve Marr... a deal that was finalized this morning. A pair of defensemen get swapped in the deal and the Flames gain an experienced North American defenseman with a big $4 million contract for Zyuzin, a European defenseman that never seemed to fit in the Flames system.

Statistically, Aucoin managed to put up 16 points in an injury-filled season where he played only 59 games. A healthy Aucoin could be a big asset to the Flames power play, as he's known for having quite a big shot from the point. Zyuzin on the other hand only managed 6 points in 49 games.

Both players should do better in their new surroundings, hopefully seeing more games than what they did last season.

Technorati Tags
, , , , , , ,