Saturday, July 31, 2010

Habs Add Picard to Blueline

The Montreal Canadiens have added another blueline to their potential blueline for the 2011 season, as they have signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Alexandre Picard to a new 1-year, two-way deal on Saturday.  Picard split time between the Senators and the Hurricanes in 2010, scoring 4 goals and adding 11 assists in 51 games between the two clubs.  He has some potential to be the Canadiens' 5th or 6th defenseman this year, but will likely fall into the 7th spot, finding some time in the press box more often than not.

This is a pretty good depth move by the Canadiens, but I don't see it to be any more than that.  The Canadiens depth on defense is actually pretty good, especially with the likelihood of P.K. Subban jumping into the fold and Andrei Markov coming back at 100%, eventually.  Don't get too high on Picard, he won't show enough talent to knock Gorges or Gill out of the line-up, but he will be an adequate injury replacement, when (not if) the time comes.

Sharks Sign Setoguchi

The Sharks have agreed to a new 1-year deal for Devin Setoguchi on Saturday, which has been reported to be worth about $1.8 million.  Setoguchi was a restricted free agent this Summer for the Sharks and they seemed to have rewarded the 23-year old forward with a deal that he earned in 2010, more than what his potential could be for the 2011 season, unlike the way they paid Jonathan Cheechoo after his big scoring pay day.

In 2009, Setoguchi did well, scoring 31 goals and 34 assists in 81 games for the Sharks, but all of that took a huge hit in 2010, where he only picked up 20 goals and 16 assists in 70 games.  He went from 47th among forwards in the NHL down to 160th in a matter of one season.  Again, I think we can draw some comparisons to Cheechoo with Setoguchi's numbers, although they were as stellar at the top end, but nevertheless, there does seem to be the same kind of drop off nonetheless.

Now that the expectation bar has been lowered with a lower contract, I think the heavy pressure really comes off of Setoguchi, where the regular pressure to perform every night should still be there.  I would be looking to Setoguchi to score about 25 goals in 2011, making him a good player to pick up in the mid rounds of the pool.

Joe ThorntonDan BoyleAntero Niittymaki
Patrick MarleauKent HuskinsThomas Greiss
Dany HeatleyJason Demers
Ryane CloweDouglas Murray
Joe PavelskiMarc-Eduoard Vlasic
Devin SetoguchiNiclas Wallin
Scott Nichol
Torrey Mitchell

Salary CapThe Sharks are doing a reasonable job at building their team with a small change in philosophy. They've taken the goaltending budget down and are going to try and build around the core group of forwards they already have in place, which are a pretty good jumping off point. The Sharks have eight forwards, six defense and a goalie tandem signed on for $52.6 million, they have a small bonus penalty to deal with, but otherwise, they have over $6 million to play with to fill five forward and one defender spots, which they could do with some of their youth.  That's a pretty good position to be in.

I like the direction that the Sharks are going in this Summer. They will try to work the formula that you don't need a $5+ million goalie to win a lot of games (or even the Cup) these days. Their defense might not be as star-studded as some, but they should have enough scoring to compensate and go up against teams that have big defenses.  Antero Niittymaki will be a hot commodity in the hockey pool markets this year, as he has just been handed the keys to a strong team in front of him, I could see some huge points from him this year.  The Sharks should still be a good team for points this year, keep your eyes out for them at your draft.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Campoli Re-Ups With Ottawa

Boy, the end of July sure has been busy, eh? The Senators have now avoided both arbitration cases that were booked for them, the first being Peter Regin, and now Chris Campoli has avoided his Tuesday hearing with a 1-year, $1.4 million deal on Friday. Campoli struggled through the 2010 season with a reported hernia, but does have plenty of upside, to which the Senators are going to try and flip over in the 2011 season.

In 2010, Campoli took a bit of a hit in the rankings, dropping down to 101st among defensemen, down from 51st in 2009, tallying only 4 goals and 14 assists in 67 games.  There was quite a bit more expectation on the defender who came over to the Senators during the 2009 trading deadline, but injury really hampered his season and it just wasn't to be.

I'm expecting more of a bounce back season from Campoli in 2011, likely reaching the top 50 this year, especially if the Senators find some offense from up front in the year. He is a good skating defensemen with a lot of years left in him, so if he's coming to training camp healthy this year, I would be trying to sneak him out a little bit higher in my pool than some might... or at least try to get some sort of bargain out of him.

Ducks Immediately Move Wisniewski

2009-2010 NHL Statistics2011 Cap Info
To Long IslandPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
James WisniewskiDefense2669327301$3.25 million
To AnaheimPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
2011 3rd Round Draft Pick

Of course, as I'm polishing up the James Wisniewski signing post, the Ducks go ahead and trade him all the way across the country, landing him on Long Island. Now, earlier in the day, the Islanders placed Brendan Witt on unconditional waivers, which I didn't get a chance to write about, so this could easily be a replacement move by GM Garth Snow, having a little more cap space used by a possible buyout and a new contract, getting themselves closer to the cap floor.

Looking at the Islanders team, from where I am and not being posted here, the team is really stacked up with defensemen at the moment, even with the potential buyout of Witt coming up. At least with Wisniewski on the books, they can have a $3+ million defender that will pick up some points, as Witt really couldn't do that and wasn't making up for it with his defensive prowess.

The Ducks still have a rather thin blueline now that they have dealt Wisniewski and only getting a 3rd round pick suggests that they want to make some more room under the cap for something, be it a few players or to keep themselves under budget.  With the lack of movement on the blueline, the Ducks could be looking towards a transition season, likely giving 2010 1st rounder, Cam Fowler, a good run for a spot this year, among other bubble players.

Salary CapI was going to comment that the Ducks were still in pretty good shape when you added Wisniewski's new deal to the mix, but we can immediately call that off. The Ducks are in the bottom 3rd of the league in cap space committed, according to my own spreadsheet, which isn't as assuming as Right now, I have the Ducks with 16 players more than likely going to start with the team at a cap hit of $40.8 million (before buyouts), which is very low. Not as low as the Islanders though, who sit with 20 players, including Wisniewski, with an annual hit of $37.2 million, before buyouts. When both teams are so low, why worry about what's on the books and not on the ice?

I don't think it's unfair to call this a domino deal in the league, before anything else really falls. It is the second sign-and-trade set of circumstances we've seen this week, which suggests that the seats underneath general managers are getting warmer. The rumour mill should be moving a little faster now, as scuttlebutt about the Ducks should improve and rightly so. The Ducks are not deep on the blueline and there are options available, as the stories go.

Wisniewski Signs on the Dotted Line

The Ducks have avoided next week's arbitration hearing with James Wisniewski by signing him to a new 1-year deal worth $3.25 million on Friday. Wisniewski will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this deal, which will give the Ducks plenty of wiggle room next Summer, but for now, they have a pretty good defenseman back on their blueline for the 2011 season.

In 2010, Wisniewski scored 3 goals and added 27 assists in 69 games with the Ducks, ranking him 51st among all defensemen. He didn't score a lot of goals, which will make him less attractive in those pools that award more for defender goals, but if it's just a points pool like mine, his 30 points look good among the ranks.

Bolts Sign Dominic Moore

The Tampa Bay Lightning continued to add pieces to their 2011 line-up, as GM Steve Yzerman has now added Dominic Moore to the group of forwards, likely to take the 3rd line centre position, in more of a checking role. Moore was signed to a 2-year deal on Friday, but the salary numbers were not disclosed right away, so I won't be able to provide much insight there.

Moore played for both Florida and Montreal in 2010, being traded at the deadline, getting into 69 games and picking up 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points.  The defensive centre ranked 308th overall in pool scoring, 216th among forwards, so there is a small chance he could be moved up in the draft, but at age 30, there should be more young players on the tips of tongues then there are defensive veterans.

I'm curious to see what kind of plan the Lightning have for Moore in 2011, with checking forwards like Nate Thompson and Paul Szczechura already on the roster, but he could also step into a 2nd line role, if the circumstance was to present itself, I'm sure.

Bruins and Wheeler Accept Arbitration

The Bruins have decided to accept an arbitrators ruling by signing Blake Wheeler to the decision of 1-year at $2.2 million. Based on his 2010 numbers, 38 points in 82 games, some comparisons could have been made to Nikolai Kulemin, who is in the same age bracket, scored less points and makes a little more money. Not a bad deal for Wheeler, but could be a thorn in the side of Bruins management and the salary cap ceiling.

Wheeler's numbers were not too bad, as he ranked 203rd in pool scoring, 145th among forwards in 2010, which should make him a reasonable pick for the pools this year, possibly even getting a few boosts by theories that he might break out a little more.  He is a year older and possibly a year wiser, so there is good reason to think he could take the scoring up a notch or two.

Nathan HortonZdeno CharaTuukka Rask
Patrice BergeronDennis SeidenbergTim Thomas
David KrejciJohnny Boychuk
Mark RecchiMatt Hunwick
Blake WheelerAndrew Ference
Marco SturmMark Stuart
Michael Ryder
Marc Savard
Dan Paille
Milan Lucic
Gregory Campbell
Shawn Thornton

Before you go and make too many decisions now about the Bruins, you will have to pay close attention to who is going to play with who in the 2011 season, because there is plenty of flexibility as to who some of these new faces will line-up with and what kind of performance bonuses you may give to potential chemistry.

Salary CapThen, there is the ever-present issue of the salary cap and it's higher ceiling, which doesn't seem to stop some teams from making moves. The Bruins, with this signing, move up to number two among all teams and the tables I have filled in with their current salary cap number, which now stands at $62.2 million, with 20 players signed on, 2 buyouts and a bonus penalty from last season all tacked on.  This means the Bruins will have to start looking at ways to move some cap hits around and get the math to work out correctly.

Flames Sign White

The Calgary Flames have avoided their arbitration hearing this morning by signing Ian White to a new 1-year deal, which apparently has a salary and cap hit of $2,999,995, which of course, we'll just call $3 million. White, acquired from the Maple Leafs in the Dion Phaneuf deal during the year, was the last piece of the Flames Summer of Free Agency, but at what cost will his new deal cost the Flames?

Between being the top dog in Toronto for a good portion of the season and then moving to Calgary, White had a pretty good season on the scoresheet, picking up 13 goals and 25 assists in a league-leading 83 games in 2010, which was pretty good for the blueliner.  White finished 28th among blueliners in scoring and will now get paid like he will be able to do it all over again in the 2011 season.

Jarome IginlaIan WhiteMiikka Kiprusoff
Rene BourqueMarc GiordanoHenrik Karlsson
Matt StajanJay Bouwmeester
Olli JokinenRobyn Regehr
Niklas HagmanSteve Staios
Daymond LangkowAdam Pardy
Alex TanguayCory Sarich
Curtis Glencross
Ales Kotalik
David Moss
Mikael Backlund
Tim Jackman
Raitis Ivanans

Salary CapThe biggest concern about White's deal was always going to be how it fits against the salary cap ceiling and the term we're going to use here is going to be... "not well." The roster above looks fairly complete with 22 players and the buyout of Nigel Dawes and that leaves them with an annual cap hit of $62.3 million, $2.9 million over the ceiling, approximately.  Who stays and who goes to help relieve the cap situation, that'll be up to management, but I'm sure we'll all have a healthy go at that.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sharks Give Demers an Extension

The San Jose Sharks were not going to wait until restricted free agency to give Jason Demers a new deal, as they took advantage of the first opportunity to sign him to an extension, giving him a 2-year deal worth $2.5 million. Demers is still working on his entry-level deal, which he signed in 2008, but will play with a little bit of added security knowing that the Sharks will want him after this deal is done.

Demers turned into a pretty good fantasy defenseman, ranking 85th among blueliners with 4 goals and 17 assists in 51 games for the Sharks.  If he was able to play in more games, he would have been good for 30 to 35 points in the year, possibly getting into the top 50.  I am expecting him to go fairly high and get some pretty good ice-time with the Sharks in 2010, especially with the retirement of Rob Blake.

Regin Re-Signs With the Sens

The Senators managed to avoid an arbitration hearing with Peter Regin by signing the Dutch forward to a new 2-year deal worth $2 million, a $1 million cap hit for each season.

Regin was a pleasant surprise for the Senators in 2010, playing in 75 games for the club, scoring 13 goals and adding 16 assists, ranking him 295th in the league and 207th among forwards.  Regin showed a few flashes of some consistency in the season, which he can definitely build from and improve upon in 2011, but he'll still likely be a 3rd line player, so he'll have to make the best of his ice-time to really improve upon his 29 points.  I'll be looking for him to do about the same right now

Arbitrator Rules in Favour of Kennedy

An arbitrator ruling came down (finally, instead of all of these deals getting done before the hearings) on Thursday, which saw Tim Kennedy winning his case and earning a 1-year, $1 million deal. Since the CBA has a standard level of deal that teams cannot walk away from, the Sabres are forced to take this deal and Kennedy is signed for the 2011 season now at the ruling's cost.

In 2010, Kennedy played in 78 games for the Sabres, scoring 10 goals and adding 16 assists for 26 points. Those are decent enough numbers to be considered among the lower depths of pool worthy players and he has a little bit of growth in him yet. Being only 24, he should mature a little bit more and possibly give a little bit more in the 3rd line position, possibly earning some 2nd line minutes with injuries or just some good play. He might be a little ways off being a sleeper, but does have the potential to be a mid-season replacement player at the very least.

Kings to Miss Greene

News came down on Thursday afternoon that Kings defenseman Matt Greene underwent shoulder surgery recently, which is expected to have a rehabilitation time of three months. Greene, a roster player for the Kings, had 9 points in 75 games for the Kings in 2010, which doesn't exactly make him a good fantasy pick, but does weaken the defensive structure of the team a little bit. Three months from now suggests that Greene should be back for the end of October, which could be anywhere between 9 to 11 games away. If Greene can hit the 10-game mark, they could save a month's worth of cap hit from their books, although that's a silver lining to not having him in the line-up.

Thrashers Avoid Arbitration With Ladd

Of course, not long after Ben Eager gets his blog post, does Andrew Ladd follow suit in Atlanta, by avoiding arbitration and signing a 1-year deal with the Thrashers. Ladd, also acquired from Chicago in the fire sale, was supposed to have his arbitration hearing this morning, but the club and player got things done on a new deal that will pay him $2.35 million for the 2011 season.

Ladd was a pretty good pick-up by the Thrashers, since he was a good role player for the Blackhawks in their Cup year. In the regular season, Ladd finished with 38 points (17 goals and 21 assists) in 82 games, ranking him 205th overall and 147th among forwards, which is down from the 2009 season, but his role had changed a bit more and he was used primarily as a checking forward.

With the Thrashers, I would assume that he'll be trying to take on more of a scoring role, possibly as a second-line centre, behind Nikolai Antropov. I could definitely foresee some chemistry between Ladd and Evander Kane, which could be good for both sides, but I'll wait and see how that all pans out in training camp.

Nikolai AntropovTobias EnstromChris Mason
Rich PeverleyRon HainseyOndrej Pavelec
Andrew LaddZach Bogosian
Dustin ByfuglienJohnny Oduya
Evander KaneBrent Sopel
Todd WhiteBoris Valabik
Jim Slater
Ben Eager
Chris Thorburn
Eric Boulton

Salary CapThe Thrashers have walked away from an arbitration ruling for Clarke MacArthur already this year, leaving him to be an unrestricted free agent, leaving Niclas Bergfors and Bryan Little as their only big restricted free agents left to sign. Currently, I have the Thrashers sitting with 18 players on their team table at an annual cap hit of $39.9 million, leaving five more spots open to fill $3.5 million to get to the cap floor, which could be filled by Bergfors and Little alone, in theory.

I'm not completely sold on the group of forwards that the Thrashers have to go to battle with this year, but I do like their back end, especially in the Southeast Division, which will be a wide open one to play in.  The six defensemen that the Thrashers have on the table had 25 goals between them in the 2010 season, which is a pretty solid number, nowhere near tops, but still pretty good.  Chris Mason and Ondrej Pavelec will have their work cut out for them in 2011, but I think they should be up to the task most nights.

Eager Signs in Atlanta

The Atlanta Thrashers have avoided arbitration with forward Ben Eager, who was set to have his date next week. Eager, who was acquired from Chicago in their fire sale this Summer, signed a 1-year deal said to be worth $965,000. Thought to be more of a rough and tumble forward, Eager doesn't score a lot of points, rather picking up more penalty minutes than anything else. In 2010, Eager had 16 points in 60 games, while picking up 120 minutes in penalties. In the playoffs, he was an important role player for the Blackhawks, which really did some good for his overall value, but not his fantasy value. He will be a roster player in Atlanta, but don't look to him for much scoring.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

King for Della Rovere

2009-2010 NHL Statistics2011 Cap Info
To St. LouisPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Stefan Della RovereForward2000003$570,000
To WashingtonPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
D.J. KingForward26120002$638,000

In a rare sign-and-trade deal, the Blues signed tough guy forward D.J. King to a new 2-year deal worth $1.275 million and then went ahead and traded him to the Capitals for prospect forward, Stefan Della Rovere. Both players have had more than their fair share of injuries so far in their careers, but a new start and a new outlook for each might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

King, a known pugilist, my fill a need for the Capitals as the resident tough guy, as the Capitals may have some toughness on their team already, but they really don't have the enforcer that King would bring to this side.  He will have to get a clean bill of health and likely will have to be able to skate well with his linemates to get a regular turn on the ice, but I think we'll keep him off the roster right now, assuming he'll be a bit player for the time being.

Della Rovere is a speedy, physical player that is a little shorter in stature than most, which seems to fit in well with the plan there in St. Louis.  His numbers in junior were okay, in terms of scoring, but there's a much better chance he'll fit in as a solid 3rd or 4th liner, good for the forecheck, possibly picking up points here and there.  This is a good chemistry move by the Blues.

Ducks Sign Fowler

The Ducks have signed one of their prized 1st round picks in 2010, as the 12th overall pick, Cam Fowler, has signed his 3-year entry-level deal on Wednesday, giving himself the piece of paper he needs to suit up, if he is able to impress enough people at Ducks camp this Fall.  Fowler was ranked as high as 3rd behind both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin in this year's Entry Draft after having a pretty good junior year with the Windsor Spitfires and the US Junior team at the World Junior Tournament.  His puck-moving skills should be a real asset to the Ducks, whether it is right away in the 2011 season or later on down the line.  They have a good one by the looks of things.

If Fowler is to make the team in the first three years of this deal, his annual cap hit will be decided by his bonuses after his $900,000 salary each year.  I imagine he could have bonuses that could raise his cap hit to around the $3 million per season mark.  Stay tuned.

Devils Re-Sign Fraser

The Devils avoided arbitration with young defender Mark Fraser by signing him to a 1-year, one-way deal worth $500,000 for the 2011 season. Fraser played in 61 games for the Devils in 2010, picking up 3 goals and 3 assists for 6 points and it looks like it earned him a spot on the roster for him to lose in camp this year.  Fraser is listed now as the Devils' 7th defenseman for the coming year on my team table and will probably have the fantasy value of a 7th defenseman.

More European Signings

The word on the wire is that Brian Pothier has signed a 1-year deal in Switzerland, but according to most postings, he does have an out-clause to sign with an NHL team up until August 15th. The unrestricted free agent defenseman played 61 games between Washington and Carolina in 2010, scoring 5 goals and adding 10 assists. He ranked 118th among defensemen, which could have been good enough to be picked in some deep drafts, but it's probably ill-advised now.

Another defenseman on the way out is Denis Grebeshkov, who has signed a 2-year deal in the KHL. Grebeshkov, an unrestricted free agent defenseman, likely has priced himself out of the tight market there is for defensemen, even quality puck-moving defensemen such as himself.  Grebeshkov played games in both Edmonton and Nashville in 2010, picking up 21 points in 51 games between the two teams, ranking 80th among defenders.  He'll likely be missed in most pools, as he is good for points when he is healthy.

Finally, Viktor Tikhonov was likely going to be without guarantees of regular playing time with the Coyotes, so he will be using the final year of his entry-level deal in the KHL, where he should be getting some regular time with Cherepovets Severstal.  Tikhonov is a 2008 1st round pick of the Coyotes, but with some changes in coaching and philosophies, he hasn't been able to break through in Phoenix, which has to be somewhat frustrating.  He'll likely have a good year in Russia, coming back to compete for a job in 2012.