Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hurricanes Re-Sign Jokinen

And yet another top potential unrestricted free agent bites the dust with a new deal the day before... Jussi Jokinen re-signed with the Hurricanes, three years and $9 million, which works out to be a cool $3 million cap hit per year.  Jokinen was ranked 9th among my top 21 potential free agents a couple of weeks ago, but the Hurricanes knew they had to keep a player of his calibre around.

Jokinen finished the year in 82nd among all forwards in scoring, according to my rankings, with 19 goals and 33 assists in 70 games with the Hurricanes, which puts him into some pretty good company for secondary scoring.  If Jokinen was able to play all 82 games in the regular season, there was a good chance he would have cracked the 60-point plateau, making him around the top 50 in overall scoring.

Salary Cap
At a cap hit of only $3 million per, the Hurricanes have themselves quite a deal on their hands, bringing their projected annual totals up to $39.6 million for six forwards, six defense and a goaltending tandem, leaving them $8.7 million away from the cap floor for seven forwards and a defenseman, not to mention all the added room to the salary cap ceiling.  The Hurricanes are in great shape heading into Friday's signing free-for-all, so pay close attention to what they do.

Ehrhoff Signs Long-Term in Buffalo

The Buffalo Sabres are a much different team, financially, then they were only a year ago.  With new ownership, they have been able to flex some muscle and the free agent period hasn't even opened up officially yet.  On Thursday evening, the Sabres announced that they have signed unrestricted free agent-to-be defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, to a 10-year deal, reportedly worth $40 million, which doesn't need a genius to figure, a $4 million cap hit per season.  The deal itself is incredibly front-loaded, which likely made it very attractive.

Ehrhoff had a very impressive regular season with the Canucks, scoring 14 goals and 36 assists in 79 games with the Western Conference leaders, ranking 7th among all defensemen in scoring.

Ehrhoff was projected to be hitting cap hits of around $5 million per season, but the long-term structure and the amount paid up right away was obviously appealing to the German.

The Sabres are now looking to be among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference, with a signing like this, it can only make the rest of the offense that much better.

Thomas VanekChristian EhrhoffRyan Miller
Brad BoyesTyler Myers
Drew StaffordJordan Leopold
Jason PominvilleRobyn Regehr
Tyler EnnisShaone Morrisonn
Derek Roy
Nathan Gerbe
Paul Gaustad
Jochen Hecht
Patrick Kaleta
Ales Kotalik

Looking at the top four defensemen on this table, the Sabres now have an excellent blend of offensive, defensive and two-way defenders, which will make an incredible difference going forward.  The job in net may have just gotten a little bit easier for Ryan Miller.

Salary Cap
How does this all figure cap-wise?  The Sabres are quickly escalating their way to the top spenders of the NHL, now having 11 forwards, five defense and a goalie (plus a buyout) signed on for $57.3 million, which ranks 2nd among all teams in projected cap hits for the coming year.  The Sabres are never generally in last place every year, but they are definitely in the bottom-third, which makes this Summer more intriguing for the outsiders and very exciting for the Sabres faithful.

Montador Signs in Chicago

After acquiring his rights on Wednesday night, Thursday afternoon saw the official signing of Steve Montador by the Chicago Blackhawks. Montador reportedly signed a 4-year deal, worth $11 million, which works out to be a $2.75 million cap hit per season.  Montador was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday afternoon and with the Sabres acquiring defensemen that are arguably better, Montador easily became expendable, which led to getting a draft pick in return for his rights.

Arguably, Montador is a reasonable offensive defenseman, who probably doesn't put up enough points to be a true player of the sort, but his numbers are never really terrible to take him out of the argument. In 2011, Montador finished with 5 goals and 21 assists in 73 games with the Sabres, which was good enough for 61st among defensemen in scoring, which isn't great, but still pool worthy.

Jonathan ToewsBrent SeabrookCorey Crawford
Patrick KaneDuncan Keith
Patrick SharpSteve Montador
Marian HossaNiklas Hjalmarsson
Brian BickellJohn Scott
Dave Bolland
Rostislav Olesz

Salary CapAdding Montador to the roster moves the Blackhawks up the ranks in the projected cap hit standings, as they now stand 11th, according to my roster layouts, with 13 players signed on (seven forwards, five defense and a goalie) for $49.6 million, leaving them about $14.7 million for eight to ten players.

Dumont Bought Out of Nashville

The Nashville Predators have decided to buy out the remaining year on J-P Dumont's contract, after a season where he finished up as a healthy scratch on most nights. Dumont only played in 70 games for Nashville, scoring 10 goals and adding 9 assists. He is now an unrestricted free agent, free to go anywhere that wants him. His remaining cap hit is listed below.

J.P. Dumont buyout from
2011-12: $1,333,333
2012-13: $1,333,333

More Signings Before Free Agency Hits

The Avalanche avoided restricted free agency with defenseman Ryan O'Byrne on Thursday afternoon, signing him to a 2-year deal, reportedly worth $3.6 million, which works out to be a $1.8 million cap hit per season. O'Byrne finished the 2011 season as the 163rd ranked defenseman in scoring with 10 assists in 67 games.

On Thursday, the Oilers re-signed defenseman Ladislav Smid to a new 2-year deal, reportedly worth $4.5 million, which works out to be a $2.25 million cap hit per season. Smid ranked 162nd among all defensemen in the league in scoring with 10 points in 78 games. He isn't a really fantasy threat, but he may have a little more potential with a maturing Oilers offense.

The Penguins have re-signed gritty forward Arron Asham to a new 1-year deal, reportedly worth $775,000. Asham played in 44 games for the Penguins, scoring 5 goals and adding 6 assists. He was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday afternoon.

The Sharks have put Jamie McGinn back in the tank for another season, signing him to a 1-year deal, reportedly worth $680,000. McGinn was scheduled to become a restricted free agent on Friday. McGinn scored 1 goal and added 5 assists in 49 games for San Jose in 2011, which should earn him a great look in camp, if not a job to lose in camp.

Oshie Re-Signs in St. Louis

The St. Louis Blues have come to terms with forward T.J. Oshie, signing him to a 1-year deal, reportedly worth $2.35 million. Oshie was scheduled to become a restricted free agent on Friday afternoon, but the Blues made sure he wasn't going to be an offer sheet liability.

Oshie had an injury-shortened 2011 season, playing in only 49 games for the Blues, scoring 12 goals and adding 22 assists. That unfortunately put the small power forward out of the regular scoring ranks for the hockey pools, but when healthy, he is a pretty good scoring forward, one that may turn out to be a little bit of a sleeper in the drafts for the 2012 season.

More Rights Dealt on Wednesday Night

2010-2011 NHL StatisticsJuly 1st Status
To BuffaloPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Christian EhrhoffD29791436500UFA
To Long IslandPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
2012 4th Round Draft Pick

On Wednesday night, the Islanders were able to get back what they risked on trying to sign Christian Ehrhoff to a deal, by acquiring a 4th round pick from the Buffalo Sabres. The Islanders were unable to persuade Ehrhoff to sign, so they were able to deal his rights to a team that wants their own shot before unrestricted free agency hits. That's about all that is.

2010-2011 NHL StatisticsJuly 1st Status
To ChicagoPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Steve MontadorD29791436500UFA
To BuffaloPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Conditional 2012 Draft Pick

The Sabres already acquired Robyn Regehr, trying to sign Christian Ehrhoff, so that leaves Steve Montador available for the picking at the moment and the Chicago Blackhawks came calling, offering a conditional late round pick for the rights to the defenseman. If the Blackhawks are able to sign Montador, the pick will likely be a 7th rounder in 2012 or else it will be a 7th rounder in 2013.

Roloson Re-Signs in Tampa

The Lightning have taken Dwayne Roloson off the potential free agent market, signing the 41-year old netminder to a new 1-year deal, valued at $3.5 million. Roloson was the number two goalie on my list of potential unrestricted free agents, to which both number one and now number two have now signed new deals.

Roloson split 2011 between Long Island and Tampa Bay, winning 24 games, 4 by shutout and added 2 assists for 58 points in the pool, ranking him 21st among all goalies.  Roloson's season on the Island was not very good, but he was off the charts for the Lightning in both the end of the regular season and the playoffs.

Even at age 41, he should be a pretty good pick-up for the Lightning, giving the team time to develop some more goaltending behind him.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jackets Get Audience With Wisniewski

2010-2011 NHL StatisticsJuly 1st Status
To ColumbusPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
James WisniewskiD27751041510UFA
To MontrealPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Conditional 2012 Draft Pick

The Columbus Blue Jackets are going to try their hand at a last-minute negotiation with defenseman James Wisniewski, the best defenseman I had on my top 20 unrestricted free agents list. Wisniewski was either unable to secure a new deal or was just unwanted by the Canadiens, so his rights were traded away for something tangible.

The Blue Jackets have some space to move underneath the cap, but they may not get the audience with such a valuable free agent commodity like Wisniewski, especially when teams like the Red Wings come calling, so making this deal is almost a no-brainer.

Whether or not Wisniewski likes what he sees in the re-formatting of the Blue Jackets is another thing altogether.  The Jackets should have the cap space to fit the $5+ million deal in their budget, so money won't be an issue.  This will be the sticking point in the end.

More Roster Signings on Wednesday (June 29)

The Avalanche announced that they have re-signed forward David Jones to a new 1-year deal, reportedly worth $2.5 million. Jones was scheduled to become a restricted free agent on Friday afternoon, after scoring 27 goals and 18 assists in 77 games for the Avalanche in 2011. Jones should make for a good pick in next season's hockey pool draft, as he ranked 113th among all forwards last season.

Another blueline signing for the Canadiens, as Yannick Weber signed a new 2-year deal on Wednesday afternoon, reportedly worth $1.7 million, which works out to be an $850,000 cap hit per season. Weber was also scheduled to become a restricted free agent on Friday, after scoring 1 goal and 10 assists in 41 games for the Habs in 2011. He might be more of a pool pick half way through the 2012 season, depending on what kind of ice-time he receives.

The Canucks have re-signed defenseman Andrew Alberts to a new 2-year deal, which is reportedly worth $2.45 million over the duration of the agreement, which works out to be a $1.225 million cap hit per season. Alberts, 29, was scheduled to hit the unrestricted free agent market as a defensive defenseman, scoring only 1 goal and 6 assists in 46 games with the club in 2011. He isn't much of a fantasy player, but he does figure into quite a few games.

Pre-Free Agency Sixes in the Pacific Division

Corey PerryLoui ErikssonAnze KopitarShane DoanPatrick Marleau
Ryan GetzlafMike RibeiroMike RichardsRay WhitneyJoe Thornton
Bobby RyanBrendan MorrowDustin BrownLee StempniakJoe Pavelski
Lubomir VisnovskyAlex GoligoskiJack JohnsonAdrian AucoinDan Boyle
Cam FowlerStephane RobidasRob ScuderiMichal RozsivalBrent Burns
Jonas HillerKari LehtonenJonathan QuickJason LaBarberaAntti Niemi

Just so we know what we're looking at here... according to the points from last year, these are the top three forwards, two defense and goaltender signed on for each team in the division. There are going to be better players missing from this list, due to free agency, injuries last season or other miscellaneous reasons. I don't believe this is an accurate look at each team, just a snapshot for comparison purposes.

The Pacific Division already looks a little different from training camp a year ago and there should be some more sweeping changes when free agency hits.  The Ducks don't look too different, but adding Fowler to the mix was definitely an improvement.  Brad Richards out, Lehtonen assuming the number one job makes the Stars is a little worse than par for a difference.  The Kings look stronger with Mike Richards in the fold, but until Drew Doughty signs, they will be a little worse than par also.  The Coyotes have their own goaltending questions to answer, not to mention Keith Yandle's contract situation, they are much worse than last year.  The addition of Burns to the Sharks' blueline makes them just a bit better in their top six.

With the way the Pacific Division plays, I think these teams can beat up on each other at any given time, but I think there will be some definite favourites coming out of camp, but those who have fallen behind, should be able to reel themselves in a bit closer when free agency opens up.

If I were to project division standings from these sixes, which isn't wise, but I will anyways... San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Dallas and Phoenix.