Thursday, June 19, 2008

Atlantic Division 2008 Free Agency Preview

Well, it's time for the last stop on the incredible journey that has been the 2008 Free Agency Preview. This probably won't be the last time I touch on free agency between now and July 1st, but I'll probably take a step back and see if anything interesting goes down at this weekend's draft in Ottawa. In the meantime, let's break down how things look for the teams in the Atlantic Divsion.

New Jersey Devils
Pending UFA's:
  • Bryce Salvador ($1,500,000)
  • Karel Rachunek ($1,400,000)
  • Jay Pandolfo ($836,000)
  • Aaron Asham ($700,000)
Pending RFA's:
  • David Clarkson ($555,000)
  • Rod Pelley ($522,000)
  • Barry Tallackson ($475,000)
Cap $$$ Committed: $39.8 million
Notes: I don't expect much movement from the Devils. I'm sure they will continue to depend on Martin Brodeur and milk whatever offense they can out of their current roster. Having said that, Jay Pandolfo really deserves a raise. He is a very underrated player and probably deserves to at least double his salary from last season.

New York Islanders
Pending UFA's:
  • Miroslav Satan ($4,500,000)
  • Ruslan Fedotenko ($2,900,000)
  • Josef Vasicek ($750,000)
  • Bryan Berard ($725,000)
  • Rob Davison ($525,000)
  • Wade Dubielewicz ($500,000)
Pending RFA's:
  • Sean Bergenheim ($500,000)
  • Bruno Gervais ($475,000)
  • Aaron Johnson ($475,000)
Cap $$$ Committed: $31.3 million
Notes: The Isles are in a pretty good position to begin a rebuilding process with hopes of being competitive in a couple years. Vasicek and Berard have both been solid performers and probably deserve pay hikes, but the money they spent last season on Satan and Fedotenko could definitely be put to better use. They might want to make a run at one relatively young, big name free agent, but they need to come up with a plan for remaking most of their roster if they want to have a chance in the Atlantic. One can only wonder if GM Garth Snow is up to the task.

New York Rangers
Pending UFA's:
  • Jaromir Jagr ($8,360,000)
  • Martin Straka ($3,300,000)
  • Paul Mara ($3,000,000)
  • Brendan Shanahan ($2,500,000)
  • Marek Malik ($2,500,000)
  • Michal Rozsival ($2,300,000)
  • Sean Avery ($1,900,000)
  • Stephen Valiquette ($635,000)
  • Jason Strudwick ($500,000)
Pending RFA's:
  • Fredrik Sjostrom ($800,000)
  • Nigel Dawes ($475,000)
Cap $$$ Committed: $31.2 million
Notes: It will be real interesting to see what the Rangers do this offseason. They have some pretty big contracts on the books (see Gomez and Drury), but they also have a lot of UFA's who they could simply not bring back. That would give the Rangers a lot of cap room to work with and most of the buzz around this team seems to have them wanting to upgrade on the blue line. Could Glen Sather be getting a monster bid for Brian Campbell ready, or we he aim a little lower and go after someone like John-Michael Liles, Wade Redden, or Mark Streit? It will also be interesting to see what Sean Avery does as I'm sure he has not forgotten all the less than flattering things the Rangers had to say about him in arbitration last year.

Philadelphia Flyers
Pending UFA's:
  • Jason Smith ($1,976,000)
  • Jaroslav Modry ($1,200,000)
  • Jim Down ($500,000)
  • Riley Cote ($500,000)
Pending RFA's:
  • R.J. Umberger ($1,250,000)
  • Jeff Carter ($942,000)
  • Patrick Thoresen ($542,000)
  • Randy Jones ($525,000)
Cap $$$ Committed: $48.3 million
Notes: The Flyers are really in a bind against the cap. They spent big last offseason in an effort to turn their team around overnight, but now they are going to have a hard time keeping the young players they have developed themselves. The smart money says that either Carter or Umberger won't be back next season. Personally I wouldn't be shocked if other teams managed to snatch up Carter, Umberger, and Jones thanks to the Flyers lack of cap room.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Pending UFA's:
  • Marian Hossa ($7,000,000)
  • Gary Roberts ($2,500,000)
  • Mark Eaton ($1,600,000)
  • Ryan Malone ($1,450,000)
  • Georges Laraque ($1,300,000)
  • Jarkko Ruutu ($1,150,000)
  • Brooks Orpik ($1,075,000)
  • Pascal Dupuis ($880,000)
  • Kris Beech ($585,000)
  • Adam Hall ($525,000)
  • Ty Conklin ($500,000)
  • Jeff Taffe ($500,000)
Pending RFA's:
  • none
Cap $$$ Committed: $26.8 million
Notes: Where to begin here? The good news is that Marc-Andre Fleury was offered arbitration by the Penguins, so that will keep him from becoming a RFA and give the team a longer window to negotiate with him. Ryan Malone is gone. He is going to take the biggest offer he gets and that won't be from the Penguins. It is hard to blame Malone as his stock will likely never be higher. Signing Hossa and Orpik seem to be the top priorities and both players have gone on record that they would take less money for the chance to stay in Pittsburgh and get back to the Finals. I believe it from Orpik, but I'm just not sure I'm buying it from Hossa. Beyond them I think Ruutu, Laraque, Dupuis, and Hall will all be back. Dupuis may even want to think about signing a one-year deal and then trying to really cash in next July after spending a season on Sidney Crosby's wing. Gary Roberts could be back for one more go, but it will have to be at a cheaper price. This is shaping up to be the most interesting offseason in Penguins history, and I'm not even taking into account all the insane Evgeni Malkin trade rumors.

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