February 26, 2006

Hockey: So Are They!

How the other half lives, now.

In the East:


Got It: Scoring, scoring, scoring. They’ll have 3 80+ point men by season’s end.
Need It: A point man – de Vries shouldn’t be your leading scorer – and a more consistent Lehtonen.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Buy. Atlanta has much to come, but no one who could really blast an accurate point shot.
Second Season: They’ve been moving in the wrong direction lately, but another good run could get them in.
Upcoming: After Garnett’s baptism of fire, he developed into a reliable stopper. They’ve committed a lot of salary to next year (though they have to sign Savard), so any change will probably come from within. Most of their young talent is already up.


Got It: Lots and lots of injuries and young forwards.
Need It: An organization that knew what it was doing.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. They may try to get in with two rookie goalies, or simply decide they won’t make it and start a fire sale of soon-to-be free agent defensemen, and Zhamnov, if they can move him. Samsonov is also ina budget crunch
Second Season: Six teams are playing for the last three spots in the East. What happens between here and March 9th will go a long way to seeing if they are going to buy or sell.
Upcoming: Defenseman Milan Jurcina will be up next year, and Mark Stuart might too if they lose a couple of NHL regulars off-season.


Got It: Youthful enthusiasm and rock solid goaltending (still).
Need It: Briere to come back soon (should be another week or so).
Buy, Sell or Rent: Why touch what works? They could use another finisher, but Briere will provide that, and Drury is a stud in big games.
Second Season: A lock to be in. Hot goaltenders can make all the difference in the playoffs, and they have two.
Upcoming: Lots of youth coming up, perhaps only Edmonton was happier with the implementation of a salary cap. Lots of salary cap space, they could use some younger defensemen in the system.


Got It: Multi-talented, deep forward lines.
Need It: A point man (but who doesn’t?) Tverdovsky isn’t providing the numbers they thought he would, and Kaberle not quite there.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. The trade for Weight cost a lot, and they won’t be willing to lose more.
Second Season: They’re in. If Gerber stays solid, they can do some real damage.
Upcoming: It’s odd to see a team this young have a shot at the President’s Trophy, but there is it. Not a lot of worry for the future, as this is a very young team and they can let talent develop.


Got It: Trouble, if the can’t re-sign Jokinen.
Need It: Someone, anyone to take some ice time from Luongo.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. Luongo, Jokinen, could go if not signed (they’ve already turned down deals), and many of the veterans would appeal to a playoff-bound team, especially Gelinas or Roberts.
Second Season: No chance. Sure, they’re only eight points out with 25 games left, but that eight points includes five teams to get past.
Upcoming: A transition year, Florida has to decide which veterans are best for the team and which to let go. Oddly, the biggest weakness is in goal; if Luongo doesn’t want to play there, there’s no one else to turn to.


Got It: The gift of sanity, as GM “Mad Mike” Milbury was finally fired.
Need It: A cattle prod for Yashin.
Buy, Sell or Rent: They won’t make the playoffs, but do they know that? They should be selling, but with scoring down players’ value won’t be great.
Second Season: No chance. Well, a slight chance, if DiPietro doesn’t explode.
Upcoming: You have to let any player named “Bruno” play, don’t you? Defenseman Gervais will be joining the big club next year.


Got It: Six Czechs, including Cy Young candidate Prucha (25 goals, 9 assists)
Need It: A scoring defenseman. Despite 189 team goals, the leading point getter on the blue line is Tyutin with 21.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Buy. With Staal at least one year away, they could use a puck moving defenseman.
Second Season: A lock. Lundqvist has certainly shown he can handle a one-game tourney, but can he stand up to the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Upcoming: Staal is a solid comer, as is goalie Al Montoya, but they will probably stay in the minors a couple of years. Immonen may get the call for a playoff run, and he should be up next year.


Got It: Goaltending, now and in the future.
Need It: Goals.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Oddly, for a team that is right on the border of making the playoffs, they are looking to sell their number one goaltender. They’d love to dump Bonk, too.
Second Season: If they can keep everyone healthy (if) then they’ll make the playoffs.
Upcoming: Ryder, Riberio and Huet all have contracts coming up, so any trades they make won’t be bringing back any salaries in return.


Got It: Brodeur in goal, Elias back and healthy, and “coach” Lamoriello. Good health has helped, too.
Need It: Another backup goalie.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. They have very little cap room this year or next.
Second Season: Tradition dictates that they make it, but they’ll have to keep improving to guarantee their place (see Boston).
Upcoming: Ahonen is as good a goalie as Clemmensen, but they didn’t want him backing up Brodeur because he’d only play ten games or so. He’ll be up next year.


Got It: Whatever “it” is, they’ve got it.
Need It: A much higher salary cap in coming years…
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent, maybe. They could use a second line centre, but they may already have one if Fisher grows into the role. Contracts may force a move.
Second Season: Oh, yes. Hasek got slightly injured in the Olympics, but not enough to keep him out of the playoffs. Ottawa has a history of cracking under Stanley Cup pressure, though, so we’ll see if Hasek is the confidence boost they needed.
Upcoming: Spezza, Chara and Redden all have contracts due this off season, and all of them will command a high price.


Got It: Strong minor league teams – the AHL Phantoms and the ECHL Titans both won league championships last year.
Need It: Enough luck to stay healthy the rest of the way.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. Their salary cap is used up, though they may want to squeeze in a veteran grinder at wing for the playoffs.
Second Season: Niittymaki has gained a huge boost of confidence by winning a silver medal as Finland’s number one. Esche, not so much for America.
Upcoming: Ruzicka will play left wing as soon as he’s consistent in the AHL, but the top priority for Philadelphia is signing Pitkanen. He and Johnsson are the only mobile defenseman they have.


Got It: A real shot at drafting Phil Kessel!
Need It: Stable ownership and about four years.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell.The playoffs are long gone, so there’s nothing to play for now but pride and player development. The young folks are staying put, but Recchi, Gonchar, and LeClair getting most of the attention.
Second Season: No chance. If they won every game left, they’d have 85 points, a total Carolina is almost at now.
Upcoming: Lots and lots, if they can just keep it together for a few more years. Thibault will have to go, but Caron has proven himself a reasonable backup to Fleury. Recchi would bring the best price if traded, but someone needs to teach the kids, and he should be made captain here.


Got It: Their health. No, really – these guys have been ridiculously healthy this year, like last season. Comes with youth, I guess.
Need It: Possibly motivation, though the chance of dropping out of the top eight seems to have scared them enough.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Buy, if anything. They may want stronger goaltending for the playoffs, and if they don’t think they can sign all their free agents, one may go.
Second Season: They should get in. Should (see Boston).
Upcoming: Lots of free agents next year, including Fedotenko, Richards, Kubina and Grahame, and all their top five prospects are defensemen. Andreychuk’s retirement will help with cap room, but it’s going to be tight.


Got It: Two of the top scoring defensemen in the league.
Need It: Health. No more major injuries, please.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Tough to say. They’re one of the six teams (see Boston), so they may chase a rental for the stretch run, but they’ve also got cap problems, like all the formerly big spending teams.
Second Season: No change here – as goes Belfour, so go the Leafs.
Upcoming: Got any duct tape? If 40-year old Belfour can hold on one more season, the Leafs have drafted the two best goalies at this year’s world juniors (Pogge and Rask).


Got It: Ovechkin, who has more points than the next two Washington scorers combined (69 to 57).
Need It: A better backup for Kolzig.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. This team is full of veterans who never quite lived up to expectations, but they could help someone short term. Witt also asked for a trade at the beginning of the year, and would get a nice return.
Second Season: Uh, no.
Upcoming: Most potential call ups have been called up, at least for a few games (Klepis, Green, Fleischmann, Willsie). The only genuine newcomer that may arrive could be Chris Bourque, who led team USA in scoring at the world juniors, and apparently has his dad’s vision, if not his size (5’7”, 175 lbs).

Some trades have already happened, and the salary cap is going to produce some hesitation right up until the deadline, but I think it’s going to be a busy day.


posted by Thursday at 11:18 pm


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