Friday, July 31, 2009

Blues Add Bell

The St. Louis Blues added another piece to their puzzle on Friday, as they signed defenseman Brendan Bell to a deal, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Bell should come into St. Louis as one of the top six defensemen, as their crew was a little lacking in 2009.

Last season in Ottawa, Bell racked up 6 goals and 15 assists in 52 games, ranking him 86th among NHL defenders. If he can get a full year in St. Louis, he could very well turn out to be a top notch defender. Keep a fantasy eye on him.

Jurcina Accepts Arbitration

The Capitals and Milan Jurcina accepted the arbitration decision handed down this week and signed on for a 1-year deal worth $1.375 million. Jurcina, 26, was a restricted free agent with arbritration rights, which he chose to exercise this summer, thus getting himself a small raise from his 2009 salary and he'll now qualify for unrestricted free agency next summer.

In 2009, Jurcina scored 3 goals and added 10 assists in 72 games for Washington, ranking him 126th among NHL defenders when it came to scoring. He would be a pretty deep pool kind of player, fantasy-wise, but he should be worth while if you're picking that low.

Thrashers Sign Two

Two minor signings in Atlanta on Thursday, as they picked up both Josh Gratton and Michael Vernace off of the UFA wire. Both players were not qualified by their previous teams as RFAs, so they hit the UFA wire together on July 1st.

Gratton, 26, a gritty forward known more for his physical play than his scoring ability. In 2009, he only managed 3 points in 19 games for the Flyers.

Vernace, 23, came out of the Avalanche system as minor-league defenseman. In 2009, he played in 12 games, not registering a point.

Neither players carries too much fantasy value, except for Gratton and his PIM... if you have them in your fantasy league.

Flames Re-Sign Boyd

The Flames announced on Thursday that they re-signed forward Dustin Boyd to a new deal. Boyd's deal is reportedly a 1-year pact worth $650,000, according to Boyd, 23, was a restricted free agent this summer and will be again when his deal expires next summer.

In 2009, Boyd finished with 11 goals and 11 assists in 71 games, which were career-highs for the young forward. He'll now be entering his third full season with the Flames and will look to be a more prominent fixture in the line-up, which has seen some changes.

With his low cap number, Boyd doesn't hurt the Flames against the ceiling, keeping room for another few small contracts to earn their way into the line-up.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zubov Signs in Russia

Another veteran is off to Europe on Thursday, as Sergei Zubov has signed in Russia. The 39-year old defender only managed to play in 56 games last season for the Stars and has seen a quick drop in fantasy value over the last four seasons, but now that won't have to be worried about, as he won't be on anyone's list, come the fantasy drafts this season.

Wellwood Signs

The Canucks and Kyle Wellwood have put pen to paper after their arbitration hearing this week, inking a 1-year deal worth $1.2 million against the cap.

After a late start to his season, Wellwood still managed to have himself a great year with the Canucks, scoring 18 goals (career-high) and 9 assists in 74 games. Wellwood ranked 317th in the league in pool scoring, 219th among forwards.

Hudler Gone to Russia

The Red Wings and their cap troubles have finally caught up to them, as it looks like they have now officially lost Jiri Hudler to the KHL in Russia, as they couldn't drum up enough cap space to fit him in, as he is a restricted free agent looking for a brand new deal.

Hudler, 25, is now the highest ranking player to head to Europe this summer, as he finished with 57 points in 82 games with the Wings in 2009, putting him in 99th spot in pool rankings. You should strike him off of your player list going into your fantasy draft this Fall.

Coyotes Re-Sign Upshall

The Coyotes announced on Wednesday that they re-signed forward Scottie Upshall to a new 1-year deal, which has a cap hit of $1.5 million. Upshall was a restricted free agent this summer, but didn't have any arbitration rights.

Last season, Upshall had 15 goals and 19 assists in 74 games between Philadelphia and Phoenix. Upshall was dealt to Phoenix in March for Daniel Carcillo.

He should fit in a little bit better with the Coyotes, as their young, fast and skilled team is a little better suited to Upshall's size and skill. Upshall had 13 points in the 19 games he played in Phoenix last season. He could be in line for a breakout year.

The Coyotes also re-signed young goaltender Josh Tordjman to a new 1-year deal as well.

Harding Avoids Arbitration

The Minnesota Wild are now in line to have a three goalie system or just dual back-ups behind Niklas Backstrom, as they have re-signed Josh Harding to a new 1-year deal, worth $1.1 million. Harding, a restricted free agent this summer, is thought to be the odd-man out of the trio, along with Wade Dubielewicz, who signed on as an unrestricted free agent in this off-season.

Harding was to have his arbitration hearing this week, but has avoided that confrontational meeting by signing a brand new deal.

Last season, Harding went 3-9-1 in the season, earning himself 6 pool points. His GAA and Save Percentage has been good over the past few years, leading people to believe that he's becoming a candidate for a starting job on some other NHL team. Look for Harding to be trade bait this season.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Prospal Bought Out

The Lightning have informed Vaclav Prospal that they are beginning the motions to have the remaining three years of his contract bought out by placing him on unconditional waivers. Prospal will now become an unrestricted free agent once the paperwork is completed and the deadline is passed in his waiver period.

In 2009, Prospal played in 82 games, scoring 19 goals and adding 26 assists. His cap hit for the next three seasons was scheduled to be $3.5 million.

Canes Buy Out Kaberle

The Hurricanes have announced the contract buyout of defenseman, Frank Kaberle, who had one more year left on his current deal. Kaberle only featured in 30 games for Carolina in 2009, registering a meek 8 points. Kaberle was a consistent scratch from the line-up, only featuring in when injuries had occurred in the line-up. He now becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Flames and Leafs Swap

2008-2009 Statistics2010
To TorontoPosAgeGP/MINPointsCap Hit
Wayne Primeau F 33 24 4 1 year/$1.4 million
2011 2nd Round Pick

2008-2009 Statistics2010
To CalgaryPosAgeGP/MINPointsCap Hit
Colin Stuart F 27 33 8 1 year/$483,000
Anton Stralman D 23 38 13 1 year/$732,000
2012 7th Round Pick

A deal goes down on Monday seeing a couple necessities happen. The Maple Leafs managed to clear out one of their many defenders, while the Flames managed to clear out a little bit of cap space and add another defenseman to their roster. The Leafs are also keen on having another high round pick to their team name, even if it is two drafts from now.

Unrestricted Free Agents Remaining

We're three and a half weeks into the free agency season and it's been a very productive summer for most teams, snagging a lot of the prime talent already. Still though, there is still a few names left on the free agent list. I thought I would run down the top ten players still on the market, ranking them by their scoring production last season.

Jason Williams spent time between Atlanta and Columbus in 2009, scoring 19 goals and 28 assists in 80 games. He ranks number one on the list and at 29 years old, he's still got a number of years left to play.

Estimated salary cap value: $3 million per season

In the number two spot, it's Petr Sykora. Sykora scored 25 goals and 21 assists in 76 games with the Cup-winning Penguins in 2009. At 32, Sykora is a seasoned veteran who will likely earn himself a 1-year deal, but there are a limited amount of teams who are looking to fill a void with a veteran winger.

Estimated salary cap value: $3 million per season

Domenic Moore has been jumping around from team to team of late and he's available again to the highest bidder. Moore has been a good two-way centre, scoring 13 goals and 32 assists in 81 games between Toronto and Buffalo.

Estimated salary cap value: $2.75 million per season

Todd Bertuzzi remains on the UFA this summer, after a season where there was some injury concerns and he only played in 66 games for the Flames. When he was healthy, he did manage to score 15 goals and add 29 assists.

Estimated salary cap value: $2 million per season

Another surprising name still out on the market is Alex Tanguay, who did have a bit of an injury-plagued year, playing in only 50 games for the Habs in 2009. He finished the year with 16 goals and 25 assists, easily having one of the better points-per-game ratios on the market this year.

Estimated salary cap value: $4.5 million per season

It was a season-ending injury that claimed a good season for Robert Lang and made it sub-par, but the 38-year old centre is back on the market, looking for a new team. Lang had 18 goals and 21 assists in 50 games with Montreal before suffering a torn Achilles tendon, thus ending his year early. He would be a good addition to most teams who are looking for a number two centre.

Estimated salary cap value: $3 million per season

Miroslav Satan's fantasy stock is falling and that could be, not in the fantasy sense, the reason why he hasn't been picked up right away by another team. Satan finished last season in Pittsburgh, playing 65 games, scoring 17 goals and adding 19 assists. He's quickly becoming a third-line player, as he hasn't been able to score as much as he used to. Since there are six forwards ahead of him on this list, he will likely have to take less money to sign anywhere.

Estimated salary cap value: $1.75 million per season

An ever-improving Manny Malhotra is a UFA this summer and is still on the market as well. He finished with a career-high 35 points in 2009 while playing with the Blue Jackets. Malhotra, 29, would be a good signing as a quality third-line winger.

Estimated salary cap value: $1.5 million per season

It's been a rather rough go of it all for Manny Fernandez, who finds himself back on the free agent market this summer, after a sub-par year in Boston, where he played back-up for the better part of the season. Fernandez finished the year with 16 wins and a shutout (34 pool points), which ranked him 36th among goalies last season. His asking price is likely the big factor as to why he hasn't signed just yet.

Estimated salary cap value: $1.25 million per season

Sliding in at 10th is defenseman, Marc-Andre Bergeron, who has also had some troubles sticking around with one NHL club for too long. With Minnesota, Bergeron registered 14 goals and 18 assists in 72 games, ranking him 46th among all NHL defenders, which makes him a shoe-in for a fantasy spot next season. He should be able to bring some more puck movement to another team.

Estimated salary cap value: $3.25 million per season

The 2009 Top Four

Of course, it's already been a month since we saw John Tavares drafted by the Islanders, but now that we've seen his pictures at the youth development camps and saw that he has signed his first entry-level deal, we can now start talking about his emergence as a story heading into the 2010 season.

I don't think there is going to be much going against Tavares making the jump to the pro level right away, as the Islanders are going to be short on offense without him and he already carries the size and quite possibly the strength to succeed in the league right away. It will be very interesting to see who Tavares will line-up with, but you would have to assume that he'll get a young playmaker as his centre. This will be a big selling point to the fantasy season, especially if you can get both Tavares and his linemates. Personally, I would look to players like Josh Bailey, Doug Weight and/or Kyle Okposo to play with the number one overall pick.

Right now, I think Tavares' fantasy value is fairly high, even in the immediate future. I think he's better than Steven Stamkos, who was number one last summer, who finished with 46 points in 79 games, but I don't think he's quite the Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin type of impact player. Since Tavares will start on the island with little help, I wouldn't place too many high expectations on his total points, but I would say that he'd be good for about 60 to 70 points in 2010.

The Lightning decided to take the next best player in the Draft in defenseman, Victor Hedman. Hedman, a big strong defender, has plenty of upside to help the Lightning win games, but like Zdeno Chara, I think Hedman may be a bit slow out of the gates making an impact on the scoresheet and thus may not be the fantasy prospect everyone is waiting for from the blueline.

Hedman has stated his intentions to play in the NHL as soon as possible, but the Lightning have done all sorts of wheeling and dealing to house an already full blueline this summer, so it will be a true test of Hedman's ability to make the team right away. With Mattias Ohlund, Andrej Meszaros and Kurtis Foster already on the roster, Hedman will have both a challenge and some good mentors to learn from to help leap into the top six.

The big defenders are somewhat slow to become good point producers in the league of late, looking at Chara or even Jay Bouwmeester. I would go so far as to predict a very low year in points, just because his ice-time may be limited and his learning curve is going to be steep. So, as fantasy value, if he makes the team out of camp would only be about 10 points.

After a dismal season in Denver, the Avalanche will still be in somewhat of a transition period, especially since Joe Sakic has chosen to retire. Thankfully, they did manage to pick up a player who has drawn comparisons to Sakic and Steve Yzerman in Matt Duchene, touted as a complete centre with a lot of tools for the trade. Of course, it's way too easy to draw comparisons and put high expectations on a kid like this, but by the word of all the scouts, Duchene should be a good one.

Since the Avalanche are now without Sakic, this should open up the door opportunity door for Duchene to make the team straight out of camp. The Avalanche are building a good looking team around some of their key players, but a lot of their young players are in need of some seasoning and some more experience before they really start helping the team to win a lot of games. It's hard to tell where Duchene is going to fit right now, but I would expect him to be making quite the impact on his linemates, whoever they might be in October.

If I was to prognosticate a point total for Duchene in season one, I would keep it around the 30 to 40 range, just because of the uncertainty of the Avalanche organization at the moment.

The fourth overall selection at this summer's draft, Evander Kane, has also signed his first entry-level deal with the Thrashers and he will try and earn a spot with the team. Atlanta is slowly, but surely, building a young team that will compete with their rival teams in the Southeast Division and Kane's power forward like ability will go a long ways to help that dream become a reality. It's just hard to gauge when that will actually come to fruition, as he might still need another year to bulk up on his size and strength.

The Thrashers are not very deep at the forward position, which may give Kane ample opportunity to bring his game to the bigs right away, but they haven't been known to rush any of their prospects into the game, if they didn't have to. This really does go against his chances of hopping right into the NHL. Saying that, I'll probably hesitate adding any guesses to what he'll do next season until he makes the team.

Those are the top four picks in the 2009 Entry Draft and they all have signed their entry-level deals. Fortunately, if they don't play 10 games in the league this season, they won't lose a year on their deals, but I would imagine two, if not three, of the four will get a full season in. The fifth pick overall, Brayden Schenn, hasn't signed his deal yet, but he is at the Kings' youth camp this summer, which could indicate that his deal isn't too far away.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Blues Re-Sign Polak

The only remaining St. Louis Blues player left on the RFA wire was signed yesterday, not long after the team update came out... again. Roman Polak signed a 2-year deal, which will be worth $2.2 million for the duration, a $1.1 million cap hit each year.

In 69 games for the Blues, Polak scored 1 goal and 14 assists. He was ranked 124th among defensemen for pool points last season, so that's about how deep you would have to go before picking him up. I know my pool doesn't quite go that deep, but with a few more people it might.

The Blues also have signed defenseman, Bryce Lampman, do a new 1-year deal, according to He was playing over in Europe last season.

Winnik's Arbitration Decision

The Coyotes and Daniel Winnik have heard the arbitrators decision in this case and has awarded Winnik a 1-year deal worth $600,000. Winnik played in 49 games for the Coyotes, which does qualify him for my team update list, and had 7 points, which doesn't really qualify him to be ready for your fantasy team. He's a depth player at best and it would have to be a super-deep pool for him to get picked in.

Morris Signs in Boston

As it turns out, the deal that sent Aaron Ward out, Patrick Eaves in & waived to be bought out, was all a plan to get Derek Morris into the fold in Boston. Quite the cunning plan. Morris signed a 1-year deal worth $3.3 million on Friday and he is now a part of a very formidable defending crew.

Last season between the Coyotes and Rangers, Morris played in 75 games, scoring 5 goals and added 15 assists. He's known more as a puck-moving defenseman, but has struggled with offensive production over the past few seasons. He does remain a valuable asset on the blueline and it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the smooth skating Bruins.

Marc SavardZdeno CharaTim Thomas
David KrejciDennis WidemanDany Sabourin
Mark RecchiMatt Hunwick
Michael RyderDerek Morris
Blake WheelerMark Stuart
Chuck KobasewAndrew Ference
Milan Lucic

Patrice Bergeron

Steve Begin

Marco Sturm

Shawn Thornton

Not including the buyouts that the Bruins have on the books, they are looking at a cap hit of $53.8 million for 19 players, which could suffice for the time being, but they would need a bit more help to start the season.

Without including Eaves' buyout, the Bruins already have $1.9 million on the books from Peter Schaefer and Glen Murray, which doesn't help the team any. I would almost think that keeping Eaves is almost in their best interest, unless they could package him up in a deal somewhere.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Caps Replace Forwards

The last stop on the team update tour is Washington and they have been making some waves to keep their high-octane offense going at a good click this summer. The Caps picked up Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison from the free agent market after losing Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov to Russia. The addition of Knuble is a big benefit to the Capitals, as they really needed someone to muck it out in front of the net and could be a big help cleaning up Alex Ovechkin's point shot on the power play. I would expect a pretty big season from Knuble this year.

No new faces so far on the blueline or in goal for the Caps, although the goaltending question will be a big one when training camp finally arrives. Who is going to be the number one guy out of camp? I can't wait to see what the answer is, because that keeper will be a good one to draft in the fantasy leagues.

Alex OvechkinMike GreenJose Theodore
Nicklas BackstromShaone MorrisonnSimeon Varlamov
Alex SeminTom Poti
Brooks LaichJeff Schultz
Mike KnubleJohn Erskine
Tomas FleischmannBrian Pothier
Michael Nylander

Brendan Morrison

Eric Fehr

David Steckel

Boyd Gordon

Matt Bradley

Chris Clark

The Capitals are not going to struggle to fill their roster, especially since they are really close to doing so anyways. They already have 21 guys under contract for $55 million, which doesn't leave them with too much for the remaining two guys, but they won't necessarily need them or if they do, they'll fill them out with some young minor-league talent.

On the RFA list for the Caps, Milan Jurcina, who earned about $900,000 last season. He'll likely be up for a raise, if and when he does sign. That'll even fill up the last of the cap space, so no one else can join the club.