Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Northeast Division 2008 Free Agency Preview

It is time to turn our attention to the Northeast Division as we look at what July 1st has in store for teams in the NHL. This is always an intriguing division and I don't expect that to change in 2008-09. Between coaching changes, playoff disappointments, and fan expectations every team in the Northeast has something to get fired up about this summer.

Boston Bruins
Pending UFA's:
  • Alex Auld ($600,000)
  • Glen Metropolit ($500,000)
  • Bobby Allen ($500,000)
Pending RFA's:
  • Petteri Nokelainen ($984,000)
  • Mark Stuart ($942,000)
  • Dennis Wideman ($600,000)
Cap $$$ Committed: $43.5 million
Notes: The Bruins don't have many holes to fill and they will enter next season with more or less the same roster as last season. That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you ask. Getting Patrice Bergeron back should be a big boost for the Bruins. Looking beyond next season, the Bruins need to start coming up with a long term plan in net as Manny Fernandez and Tim Thomas are both going into the final years of their contracts.

Buffalo Sabres
Pending UFA's:
  • Teppo Numminen ($2,600,000)
  • Dmitri Kalinin ($2,250,000)
  • Jocelyn Thibault ($760,000)
  • Nolan Pratt ($550,000)
  • Michael Ryan ($475,000)
Pending RFA's:
  • Steve Bernier ($850,000)
  • Paul Gaustad ($750,000)
  • Dan Paille ($585,000)
Cap $$$ Committed: $37.8 million
Notes: The Sabres have a good group of young, talented forwards to work with, but their blue line is thin and they need to get Ryan Miller signed to a long term deal ASAP. John-Michael Liles would probably make a nice addition to their defensive corps and he could be had for less than what they offered Brian Campbell before they traded him to San Jose.

Montreal Canadiens
Pending UFA's:
  • Michael Ryder ($2,950,000)
  • Bryan Smolinski ($2,000,000)
  • Patrice Brisebois ($700,000)
  • Mark Streit ($600,000)
Pending RFA's:
  • Mikhail Grabovski ($700,000)
  • Andrei Kostitsyn ($612,000)
  • Ryan O'Byrne ($590,000)
  • Jaroslav Halak ($500,000)
  • Josh Gorges ($495,000)
Cap $$$ Committed: $32.5 million
Notes: Michael Ryder is a goner, let's get that out of the way right from the get go. Beyond that, they need to take care of locking up all of their RFA's and they would be wise to take care of Mark Streit as he was a big part of what made their league leading power play tick. They are also rumored to be going after Mats Sundin in a big way, which would only serve to fuel what is already one of the league's nastier rivalries.

Ottawa Senators
Pending UFA's:
  • Wade Redden ($6,500,000)
  • Martin Lapointe ($2,400,000)
  • Cory Stillman ($1,750,000)
  • Mike Commodore ($1,300,000)
  • Chris Kelly ($1,262,000)
  • Shean Donovan ($925,000)
  • Randy Robitaille ($625,000)
  • Luke Richardson ($500,000)
Pending RFA's:
  • Antoine Vermette ($1,075,000)
  • Andrej Meszaros ($984,000)
  • Brian McGrattan ($550,000)
Cap $$$ Committed: $28.8 million
Notes: In all likelihood the Ottawa Senators are going to be a very different looking team next season. They have a slew of UFA's and stand to lose most of them. Re-signing Chris Kelly should be a top priority for the Ottawa front office and they would be well served to bring back Stillman and Commodore if they can get them at the right price. Wade Redden is all but gone, but locking up Meszaros could help to ease that loss. Like seemingly every other team in the Northeast (except for the Habs) they need to come up with a plan in goal beyond 2008-09. Ray Emery will likely be bought out at any moment and Martin Gerber is too inconsistent to be a viable long term option for a team with realistic hopes of challenging for the Cup.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Pending UFA's:
  • Mats Sundin ($5,500,000)
  • Dominic Moore ($700,000)
  • John Pohl ($475,000)
Pending RFA's:
  • Matt Stajan ($950,000)
  • Kyle Wellwood ($950,000)
Cap $$$ Committed: $38.7 million
Notes: Like the Bruins the Leafs have most of last season's roster under contract, and like the Bruins that may not be great news. The big story will be what happens with Mats Sundin. The Leafs will undoubtedly do all they can to bring him back, but will he reverse his stance of wanting to remain a Leaf and head to Detroit or Montreal? The Leafs also have a lot of good buyout candidates in Darcy Tucker, Andrew Raycroft, and even Bryan McCabe. The Leafs may be forced to take a few steps back this offseason in order to begin the rebuilding process under new coach Ron Wilson.

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