Offseason Game Plan: Tampa Bay Lightning

June 12, 2011

 

Overview

Outlook

The hockey world is very high on the Tampa Bay Lightning right now, and well they should be.  Steve Yzerman, one of hockey’s golden boys, managed to come into the franchise and instantly make it respectable again.  Not only was he shrewd and effective behind the scenes, but he managed to send his team all the way to game seven of the Conference Finals.  It seems Yzerman was incapable of making a mistake during his first year.  He seemingly picked the perfect coach for his team in Guy Boucher.  He needed a goalie and Dwayne Roloson answered the call posting four shutouts in his first eleven games with the team.  He needed to add a little bit of everything to his defensive group, and Marc-Andre Bergeron and Eric Brewer slid in perfectly.  All the while Steven Stamkos was scoring like mad and looking every bit like a 1st overall selection. Read the rest of this entry »


Offseason Game Plan: New York Rangers

June 11, 2011

Heart and Soul of the Rangers (Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

Overview

Outlook

The Rangers have seen some success the last couple of seasons despite heading in a fairly new direction.  The club has, for the most part, avoided ridiculous free agent signings and have instead put their faith in young prospects.  Coach Tortorella has managed to get the most out this group with the help of star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.  Still, for two consecutive years scoring has been a bit of an issue for the Rangers.  They are a hard work team that scores goals the blue-collar way.  The addition of Marian Gaborik has done little to reverse that as the enigmatic winger has been hot and cold on Broadway.  There is no doubt the Rangers would love to add some scoring punch and star power to their roster, but they have other matters to deal with.  They need to sign a host of high quality restricted free agents, and they also need to add some depth and veterans to their rather depleted and young back-end.  There is a lot of work to be done in New York this summer. Read the rest of this entry »


Offseason Game Plan: Philadelphia Flyers

June 9, 2011

Overview

Outlook

The Flyers have an issue that they have been dealing with for what seems like forever.  They don’t have a number one goalie or anything resembling a true starter.  That was fine for a time.  After all, the trend in the NHL showed that you could be successful with second rate guys like Osgood, Niemi and even Michael Leighton.  This year though, the goalie musical chairs in the Stanley Cup playoffs became an enormous media distraction and a massive detriment to on-ice chemistry.  The problem became so obvious that it has essentially reached the point where enough is enough, and Holmgren will have to solve the actual problem.  The Flyers have enormous depth at forward and defence, and will likely have to move some salary out from both areas in order to make room for a prime time starting goalie with the experience necessary to get them over the hump.  It looks like Holmgren has decided Ilya Bryzgalov is the man to do the job, but rumours have already begun swirling that the Russian netminder will require a 7 year commitment at 7 million dollars annually. Read the rest of this entry »


Offseason Game Plan: Washington Capitals

June 6, 2011

Overview

Outlook

The Capitals are fast becoming the San Jose Sharks of the Eastern Conference.  Regular season supremacy just does not seem to translate to post season success.  This year the Caps took the words of R.J. Umberger to heart, and really cracked down on their high flying, carefree, shootout style hockey.  Bruce Boudreau had the team playing a tight checking game, and at times even a trap.  By the end of the season, the Caps preferred to win games 2-1 in a nail biting fashion.  They thought this forced-adversity would help them beyond the regular season, but the Tampa Bay Lightning put a stop to that.  Now, a team that seemed leaps and bounds ahead of the competition just a year ago finds itself with a ton of questions that need to be answered, and answered quickly. Read the rest of this entry »


Offseason Game Plan: St.Louis Blues

June 2, 2011

Overview

Outlook

The Blues spent the 2010/11 season absolutely crippled by injuries.  Newly inked RFA David Perron missed almost the entire season.  T.J. Oshie, Andy McDonald, Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo all missed significant time.  No one wants to use injuries as an excuse for a poor season, but the Blues had a disproportionate amount fall against them.    In fact, because of injuries, the Blues ended up having the lowest payroll in the league.  When you consider the strength of their division, and the performance they managed despite the situation, there is certainly reason to be excited about the coming season.  Many of their young players are coming along nicely.  That said, the Blues are walking a fine line moving forward.  Even though they are a young team, many of their players have experienced multiple losing seasons already.  At some point, the club is going to need to take a substantial step forward, and start winning some games after the regular season has ended.  Perhaps it is time the Blues take a risk and try to land a big fish either by trade or in free agency. Read the rest of this entry »


Offseason Game Plan: Los Angeles Kings

May 30, 2011

Overview

Outlook

                For years we’ve been hearing about how the Los Angeles Kings are doing things the right way, and building through the draft.  So far, we haven’t seen much of that translate to the on-ice product.  They finally cracked the playoffs last year, but were quickly ousted by a much better Vancouver team.  This year, things were looking more positive for the Kings rolling into March, but then Anze Kopitar broke his ankle just before the post-season could get underway.  The injury crippled the team as much as it did Kopitar.  Without their top center, the Kings gave a valiant effort, but ultimately lacked the punch necessary to defeat the San Jose Sharks.  Watching that series you got the sense that the Kings through everything they had at the Sharks, and it just wasn’t enough.  Still, the work ethic is a good sign of things to come.  The Kings will look to work talented rookie Brayden Schenn into next year’s roster, and also replace depth players like Alexei Ponikarovsky with better fits for the team.  Many experts suggest the Kings will once again try to be big players in free agency.  You have to wonder though, at what point will people realize that Dean Lombardi just is not going to get land the big fish that way.  He has failed in three consecutive years, and his priority right now is getting Drew Doughty locked up long term.  Regardless, the future looks good for the Kings. Read the rest of this entry »


Offseason Game Plan: Buffalo Sabres

May 28, 2011

Jason Pominville and Derek Roy - Buffalo Sabres v Ottawa Senators

Overview

Outlook

           Talk about turning over a new leaf.  The Buffalo Sabres are poised to become huge players in the free agent market and could be one of the most active teams in the league over the course of this summer.  Why?  Well, money changes everything, and Terry Pegula has boat loads of it. He is a serious fan who is serious about using his wealth to make Buffalo a premier hockey destination.  His letter to the fans currently posted on the Sabres official page pretty much says it all.  We’ve already seen glimpses of Pegula’s influence at the trade deadline and afterward.  In previous seasons, the Sabres have used picks to acquire expiring deals for players like Dominic Moore and Raffi Torres (hoping these players could put them into the post season).  Last year, they even had to dump Clarke MacArthur just to make such an acquisition financially feasible.  This year they went out and got Brad Boyes who is still under contract for another year at 4 million dollars.  The players responded, and went on a ridiculous tear for the final quarter of the season, even without their number one center Derek Roy.  Everything is coming up roses for the Sabres. Read the rest of this entry »