Gross Misconduct Hockey Thoughts from a drifter on the hockey landscape

07/19/2013

Summer report cards (Part 2)

Filed under: NHL — Joe Yerdon @ 11:21 AM

Seth JonesIf you missed Part 1, I am ashamed of you. Also you can just find that here. You’ll find Anaheim through Montreal there.

As for the rest of the teams…

Nashville: They made plenty of splashes this summer. American superhero kid Seth Jones fell into their lap at the draft and then they signed four free agents (Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Matt Hendricks, and Eric Nystrom). Sound and fury signifying nothing? Maybe not. Those players all strike me as prototypical Predators players. Is that a good thing? Maybe not, but jeez they’re going to be annoying to play against. (B-minus)

New Jersey: David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk leave town and take a good chunk of their offense with them. Sounds bad, right? Adding Ryane Clowe (on a bad contract), Michael Ryder, and Rostislav Olesz won’t make up for that loss. At least they figured out their “life after Marty” dealing for Cory Schneider. All things considered, it’s a terrible summer player and talent-wise but if it leads to the team being sold with hopes of better spending in the near future, it’s not all bad. It’s just business in Jersey. (B-minus)

NY Islanders: I’ll say it here and now: Garth Snow is pretty damn great at his job. The team is free of the hideous DiPietro contract, he dealt Mark Streit to Philly while signing Cal Clutterbuck, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin. Not to mention he re-signed Travis Hamonic and Josh Bailey. Only Bailey’s deal is worthy of cringing but he got John Tavares extended on a super sweetheart deal during the season. One thing he didn’t do? Improved team goaltending. That was the one thing that held them back against Pittsburgh in the playoffs and they brought the same old guy (Evgeni Nabokov) back in a summer that was teeming over with goaltending possibilities. You take the good with the bad, yada yada, the facts of life on Long Island. (B-minus)

NY Rangers: Their report card is still a tad incomplete. Getting Ryan McDonagh’s deal done was huge but Derek Stepan still awaits. Re-signing Carl Hagelin was a smooth move and bringing back Mats Zuccarello would be wise as well. Giving Brad Richards a chance to show what he’s got to Alain Vigneault was logical. If he stinks next season it’s buyout time. Aaron Johnson and Benoit Pouliot are depth filler for what should be a better team. (C for blandness)

Ottawa: An awkward and acrimonious good-bye with Daniel Alfredsson didn’t stop GM Bryan Murray. Dealing Jakob Silfverberg and more for Bobby Ryan while signing Clarke MacArthur (cheers) and Joe Corvo (groan) helped make sure the Sens didn’t lose much of anything offensively. Image-wise they lose the face of their team. Here’s to hoping they don’t mind embracing an American in Canada’s capital city. (A-minus)

Philadelphia: It’s never dull in Philly. Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov were bought out, Mark Streit was traded for, and Vinny Lecavalier and Ray Emery were signed as free agents. Meanwhile, the same questions that lingered around their defense are STILL there and the goalie situation may or may not improve. But hey, at least the offense will stay strong! In other words, it’s another year of the same ole’, same ole’ in the City of Liberty. (C-minus)

Phoenix: Mike Ribeiro’s arrival gives the Coyotes a playmaker the organization hasn’t seen since… The washed up husk of Craig Janney? Sure, why not. A team loaded with guys oozing with goal-scoring potential and power forwards needs someone that can get ’em the puck. Ribeiro is it. Swapping out Jason LaBarbera for Thomas Greiss is a lateral move. Landing Max Domi in the draft gives their prospect pipeline a real offensive threat for the first time since… Radim Vrbata? Mikkel Boedker? Take your pick. All this along with the franchise getting to put ownership questions away (for at least five years) makes it a great summer in the desert. (B-plus)

Pittsburgh: The Pens’ veteran “go for it all” lineup last year didn’t pay off and now most of the team sees a dramatic change. Out go Tyler Kennedy, Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray and Matt Cooke and in returns Rob Scuderi. Their biggest job was re-signing Pascal Dupuis and extending Kris Letang, the latter to a semi-dubious deal. They’re still going to have to ride it out with Marc-Andre Fleury and see if he snaps out of it. Good luck on that. They’ll also need to hope their prospects can jump in seamlessly. (C)

San Jose: They didn’t really have to do much. After their deadline chaff-cutting deals they figured their business out just fine. Acquiring Tyler Kennedy from Pittsburgh gives them better depth at forward and that’s maybe the one thing they really needed. Letting Thomas Greiss go in favor of giving Alex Stalock his shot at backing up Antti Niemi is just them giving the younger guy his opportunity.  (B)

St. Louis: Their summer was mostly about making sure no one poached their RFAs. With guys like Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Chris Stewart needed to be signed, that left a few possible bullseyes out there for poop-stirring GMs. Of course, no one has jumped at the chance (yet) but GM Doug Armstrong says they’ll match anything. Of course he did. And they probably will too so, just whatever. Anyhow, trading David Perron for Magnus Paajarvi is interesting and adding Derek Roy in free agency gives them a nice playmaker while Maxim Lapierre gives them yet another irritating player. Their possible three-headed goalie circus could cause problems if not fixed. (B-minus)

Tampa Bay: Essentially traded Vinny Lecavalier (buyout) for Valtteri Filppula (UFA) and didn’t do much else. Whatever Steve Yzerman is cooking up here had best center around first-round pick Jonathan Drouin and their AHL stars. Their defense still stinks and their goaltending is riddled with questions. Hey, wait, are they just Flyers of the south? Somehow they managed to do even less than they did. (D)

Toronto: Not a fan of buying out Mikhail Grabovski at all but if he’s not fitting in with the coach, you have to draw a line somewhere. Sadly for the Leafs, they picked the coach. Out goes Grabbo, in comes David Clarkson on a bloated deal that won’t end well and Tyler Bozak gets extended. Adding Jonathan Bernier to the goalie mix while buying out Mike Komisarek instead of say John-Michael Liles just piles on the question marks over what exactly Dave Nonis is doing. They needed defensive help and didn’t get any while adding tons of cash to the payroll. (D)

Vancouver: Dumping Cory Schneider to draft Bo Horvat is the move that makes me unable to give them a grade. How will Roberto Luongo handle having to stay in Vancouver after pining for an exit for two seasons? Adding Mike Santorelli as your one big signing while buying out Keith Ballard says John Tortorella will have a group of guys that know each other well to browbeat into a Cup-winning team.

Washington: They didn’t go hard after keeping Mike Ribeiro and let Matt Hendricks go without a fight. They bought out Jeff Schultz and signed Tyson Strachan for what amounts to a lateral move on defense. GM George McPhee has never been a big free agent guy and wisely stayed away from this year’s crop. Of course, deciding to go with Brooks Laich as your No. 2 center doesn’t sound like the move of a team “dying” to win a Stanley Cup. Much like Calgary, I’ll ask again here: Why aren’t they pursuing Grabovski? It makes too much sense. I agree with staying out of this free agent frenzy, I don’t agree with not (yet?) taking a shot on a guy who can make you better right away. (C-minus)

Winnipeg: They’re busy getting some RFAs signed including two top-line players in Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler. Throw in top defenseman Zach Bogosian and the Jets are busy taking care of their own… Unless that’s Alex Burmistrov who they let go to the KHL. Adding Michael Frolik and Devin Setoguchi helps make them deeper on the wings and a possible full season from Jacob Trouba makes them a bit deeper on defense. Things could be better and they shouldn’t play hardball with their RFAs the way they are. Bad free agent year I know, but not even checking in on say Rob Scuderi? C’mon now. Maybe they’re just playing it cheap to thank the boss (Gary Bettman) for getting them a team again. Owner David Thomson is loaded and yet they’ve got the lowest payroll in the league. At least Ondrej Pavelec is getting paid though, right? Yeesh. (D)

Summer report cards (Part 1)

Filed under: NHL — Joe Yerdon @ 8:08 AM

Report-Card-1It still feels like the season just ended. I guess it was just a few weeks ago so that’s fine, but free agency started with a super-sized bang and fizzled almost instantaneously so now we all feel like summer is still taking forever when in fact training camp is really just a few weeks away.

Great news, right? Well not unless your team spent the summer either farting around and doing nothing or spending their money like drunken fools.

With only a handful of good free agents still out there and my inability to predict trades, it’s safe to start assigning grades and blame to everyone. I’m anal so I’m doing it alphabetically. Also, I ramble so Anaheim to Montreal will be in this post. Nashville-Winnipeg in the one that comes later on. My grades are in parenthesis.

Anaheim: Dustin Penner is a nice pickup. No, really he is. Do you think a guy who gets top-six minutes is going to have single-digit shot percentages with a run-and-gun-like team in the Ducks the way he did with the grind ’em up Kings the last three seasons? Heck no. Now just re-sign Teemu and team him up with Jakob Silfverberg and get down to business with the rest of the kids. (B-minus)

Boston: Hoo boy, what a summer. They’ve dumped so many people this summer you’ll have to get a program opening night. Basically they’ve swapped out Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, Jaromir Jagr and Andrew Ference for Loui Eriksson, Jarome Iginla, and going with their kids on the blue line (Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski). That’s more than a facelift. Their AHL kids did well last season and having faith in them to do it at the NHL level next year says a lot. GM Peter Chiarelli has done enough to be trusted but he’s got to hope everyone else picks up the offensive slack. (C)

Buffalo: What should’ve happened is Ville Leino got bought out and they found ways to deal Thomas Vanek and/or Ryan Miller. Instead, Leino is recovering from surgery so he couldn’t be bought out and Nathan Gerbe was sent paid-packing and (as of now) neither superstar on the final year of their deal has a new address. Perfect! Swapping Andrej Sekera for Jamie McBain was a nice change-of-address deal but all the same issues and headaches from last season are still here. Buffalo? More like Barf-alo, am I right?!?!?! (F)

Calgary: Yuck. Why hasn’t this team signed Mikhail Grabovski yet? Karri Ramo is going to be their No. 1 goalie too? What a mess this team and organization is. (F-minus)

Carolina: Swinging a deal with Buffalo is worth… Something. Signing Mike Komisarek is interesting as a reclamation project. Parting ways with Chad LaRose seems odd as Carolina never really seems to let anyone go. Signing Anton Khudobin to backup Cam Ward is more than reasonable. They’re reportedly also sniffing around at Jaromir Jagr. Cool, I guess. They didn’t seem to improve so… (C-minus)

Chicago: Just like 2010 they won the Stanley Cup and then cleared the decks of heavy money. Out goes Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, Dan Carcillo and Ray Emery and in comes… Well… The kids? Nikolai Khabibulin returns to take Emery’s backup job but the other positions could be filled by AHL youngsters like blog-favorite Brandon Pirri (can’t spell “Pirri” without “RPI after all), re-committing to Marcus Kruger, and handing the annoyance keys off to Brandon Bollig. Keeping Bryan Bickell as comparatively reasonable money turned out looking smart in the end. Like Chiarelli, Stan Bowman has earned a pass on his decisions. (B)

Colorado: Drafting Nathan MacKinnon first overall will be debated for years to come. Bringing back all sorts of old Avs players for different roles (even Alex Tanguay to play) is nice for the whole nostalgia thing they’ve got going on. They’re going with their kids on defense but didn’t add to it and also locked up Matt Duchene. After playing hardball with him, giving him $6 million a season is a nice thank-you card. With Patrick Roy at the helm they were already going to be worth keeping an eye on. They could sneak in as a playoff team if Roy focuses them. If not… Get the popcorn ready because the fireworks will be awesome. Yes, Greg Sherman will bring the popcorn to your seat. (C)

Columbus: They set out to make one big splash and did inking Nathan Horton. Everything else they’ve done this summer is internal housekeeping. Horton’s deal doesn’t come without questions. Seven years and big money for a guy with injury problems and who won’t suit up until perhaps December thanks to shoulder surgery means Jarmo Kekalainen will hear about it if he doesn’t bounce back well. Life will be A LOT harder in their new division with the old Patrick Division pals. Are they good enough to slog it out with them all year? Hmm.. (B for “wow” factor, C for overall)

Dallas: Give it up to Jim Nill for doing some work as the new GM. Sending Eriksson out for Seguin and Peverley was ballsy and adding Shawn Horcoff helped make them stronger instantly up the middle. Their forwards needed more depth badly and that’s what he’s done. The D is young and Kari Lehtonen’s always tenuous injury situation made them go get Dan Ellis as a backup. Their grade hinges on whether or not Seguin can put the beer bong down long enough to score 30-40 goals. Hmm… (B-minus)

Detroit: Leave it to the Wings to go ahead and just lure away one team’s long-time captain and another’s should’ve-been captain. Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss help make it a great summer for Ken Holland. Letting Valtteri Filppula walk was a smart move as was buying out Carlo Colaiacovo. Like it or not, they’re going with kids on defense. They’ve still got a move (or two or three) left to make to thin out their forwards and re-sign key RFAs but Detroit appears more than ready to attack the East. (A-minus)

Edmonton: The Oilers frustrate me. I see all the talent on the roster and I instantly believe they should be a playoff team. I want to believe the few moves they made this summer will make that happen. Their defense needed help badly and Boyd Gordon will help with that amongst the forwards while Andrew Ference and Denis Grebeshkov can help the blue line figure themselves out. Devan Dubnyk is more than OK in goal. Dealing Magnus Paajarvi for David Perron is curious but for whatever reason the Oilers seemed to lose faith in him. C’est la vie. They’re not flashy moves but, God help me, I like them. (B)

Florida: So, uh, hey… Panthers. What’s happening? Oh right, nothing. Just building through the draft I see. They didn’t get anything going for Roberto Luongo and now they’re going to basically run with an insanely young team next season. Aleksander Barkov will be a star the same way Jonathan Huberdeau will. Erik Gudbranson came along late last year and I’m not selling out Jacob Markstrom as he’s still a freakin’ kid. That said, they didn’t do anything free agent or trade-wise of significance this summer. (D)

Los Angeles: Losing Rob Scuderi stinks for LA, but that’s why they have Robyn Regehr now. And added Jeff Schultz. And re-signed Keaton Ellerby, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin and anyone else who plays defense there. Losing Brad Richardson and Dustin Penner may hurt early on, but it seemed clear that Tyler Toffoli was going to get more ice time one way or another. This clears the decks a bit. Dan Carcillo will help give the Kings someone to make really bad decisions and someone for Darryl Sutter to point at. Hey, at least Jeff Carter and Mike Richards have a running buddy again. (C)

Minnesota: Another team with youth waiting in the wings that will get a chance to show what they have… Or else. Out went Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Matt Cullen, Cal Clutterbuck and Devin Setoguchi. Dany Heatley would’ve been bought out but had that late season injury and surgery preventing that. In comes Matt Cooke to draw the ire of opponents (and locals!) while killing penalties on the ice (NOT PEOPLE). If Wild fans didn’t get enough of a look at Charlie Coyle, Jeff Zucker, and Mikael Granlund last year, they’re going to get A LOT of them next season. Being tight against the cap sure is fun! (C)

Montreal: Adding George Parros to help make Brandon Prust’s life easier? Sounds stupid but it might actually work. Prust was far more important to his rookie linemates Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Gallagher as a physical force rather than a face-puncher. Daniel Briere is *thisclose* to being done as an offensive weapon in the league but he’ll do good PR in Quebec. None of these moves matter a lick if Carey Price can’t return to form and the Habs defense doesn’t reappear magically.  (C)

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