Free Agents, Part 3

Part Three
Philadelphia Flyers
Free agency:
Right Wing – Arron Asham – Impressive in the playoffs and really did a nice job for the Flyers.  I would hold on to him if I were Philly.  If not, he will end up signing for around 1 mil. a year somewhere else.  Not sure if I would pursue him yet.

Not convinced, even though he was excellent against the Habs and Hawks.  Would bring in some needed grit and who know maybe he continues his progression to becoming a regular third liner and a future Grier replacement.
Defense – Lukas Krajicek – Solid bottom pairing man that is forced out of Philly because they already have so many other quality D-men.
Defense – Dan Hamhuis – Will he sign or will he go?  I believe he goes to Vancouver.
Goalie – Michael Leighton – The Cinderella performance of the 2010 playoffs might find a nice back-up role somewhere this off-season.

The former Sabre might be an option for the back-up spot in Buffalo, but I wouldn’t count on him being as reliable as he was for Philly for most of the year.  If Miller, God-forbid ever got injured, Leighton would be an interesting option now.  He will come quite cheap as well.
Carter will be looked at and it will be interesting to see if he is actually moved.  Buffalo does like him, but unless Miller is going back, I don’t see a deal.  Therefore I don’t see a deal lol!

Phoenix Coyotes

Free agency:
Center – Matt Lombardi – A great two-way youngster, who is about to enter the prime of his career.  Blazing speed makes him unstoppable at times.  His two-way game really shows us all that he gets it.  This kid can really play and I bet Calgary regrets ever letting him go.  He is what I wish Roy would be more like as a player. That statement is funny though, considering Roy has racked up more points than Lombardi by a good amount.

But to me it isn’t just about points. I want my players to be good all-around. Lombardi had a career high in points with 53, but only has cracked the 20 goal plateau once. He is getting better and better, while finding his way/niche in the NHL. The sky is the limit to this forward that is 28 years old and has played for 8 years now. It took him a while to be the player he is and know he will get around 3 mil. per year in a nice long-term deal this off-season.

One of the top four centers on the market now.
Right Wing – Lee Stempniak –Hometown kid, who had a very strong finish with the Coyotes last year.  He will probably go back to more of a hockey city once again though. The Sabres should look into Stempniak as a possibility, but in the end, I would rather pass on this hometown product simply because I think we can do better.

I also do believe he will get around the same contract.  Is he a second line winger though?  If not, I have trouble putting him on my third line.
Defense – Derek Morris – Just stay in Phoenix for goodness sake.
Defense – Zbynek Michalek – Another D-man who is known for his strong shot blocking abilities.  He and Anton are two of the rare European/Russian defensive defenseman.  He might want to sign with his brother in Ottawa.  If not, someone will give him a ton of money.  Probably looking in the 4 mil. range.  Might get a Beauchemin type of deal.  Is great and would replace Lydman, but I will take my chances with Weber who is cheaper, and younger.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Free agency:
Right Wing – Alexei Ponikarovsky – Russian forward with size.  No interest from the Sabres though.  No interest from me either.  I didn’t like him in Toronto and I don’t like him now either.  Nashville might sign him though.
Right Wing – Bill Guerin – Vet who still might have a year or two left in the tank.  He should really just stay in Pitt.  Still can put up 20 goals and 45 points.  We all know that those numbers are blown up because of Sid and Malkin.  Maybe, but we need more then the vet Guerin.  Is a nice piece though for a Cup team.
Left Wing – Ruslan Fedotenko – Still in the NHL?  Yes, but maybe not for too much longer.  Good defensively for a Russian.  Experience and clutch scoring might just keep him in the league.
Defense – Sergei Gonchar – PP qb that lacks a good defensive game.

Will fit in good with a team who can surround him with big names up front, similar to Pitt.  San Jose is a possibility.  His lack of defense turns me and the Buffalo Sabres away from consideration in the Gonchar sweepstakes.  Still played great in the playoffs though.  Wouldn’t be mad if we took a stab at him, maybe shocked though.
Defense – Mark Eaton – I like him a lot as a cheap depth pickup.  Maybe not for the Sabres, but for another team.  Good all-around.  Kind of like Mottau.

San Jose Sharks
Free agency:
Centers – Manny Malholtra and Scott Nichol – Third and fourth line centers.  Malholtra is an interesting option for the third line.  Would he give more though then Gaustad does?  Nichol isn’t coming back and thank goodness.  Good on face-offs, but a total jerk.
Defensemen – Niclas Wallin and Jay Leach – Solid depth, but nothing more.
Goalie – Evgeni Nabokov – Great goalie, who never seems to rise to the occasion.  I like what San Jose has done so far.  Let’s see if they can keep the good moves going.

St. Louis Blues

Free agency:
Left Wing – Paul Kariya – Veteran with experience.  On the decline, but still might be able to man your second line adding 40 points.  Not what Buffalo needs though, too fragile.  Maybe back to the Ducks?
Left Wing – Keith Tkachuk – Still solid and tough, but offensively declining for sure.  If we are desperate for a veteran left wing, then he will be an option.  Not what I want though.
Defenseman – Carlo Colaiacovo and Mike Weaver – Potential break through pp man? Maybe but doubtful.  Sekera is similar and better defensively.  Weaver is solid and if we need another D-man for cheap, then he would be a great quick fix.  A plus 10 with the Blues last year.
Goalie – Chris Mason – Top three goalie on the market.  Starter, looking for starter money.
David Backes, David Perron (RFA), and Brad Boyes will all garner some interest with Boyes being the most likely to be dealt.  I would love to get the first two.  Boyes is a tad bit pricey though for what he did this past season.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Free agency:
Left Wing – Alex Tanguay – Continues to decline every year.  Liked him in Colorado, but haven’t liked him since.  So inconsistent and truly makes your head hurt when you look at his stats.  NO THANK YOU.
Defenseman – David Hale and Kurtis Foster – I like Kurtis Foster a whole lot.  Over 40 points with 23 pp assists last season in a major comeback season after suffering a near-career ending injury.  I always liked him and wished we went after him last season.  We will have the opportunity to get him once again.  I will admit though that for 6’5, he is quite soft.  Hale isn’t bad but isn’t anything special either.
Goalie – Antero Niittymaki – NA, other options which are better for this team.
I would love to acquire Ryan Malone, but I don’t think they want to trade him yet.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Free agents:
No one worth talking about
No Kaberle for me

Vancouver Canucks
Free Agents:
Center/Wing – Pavol Demitra – Still quite versatile at 35 years old, but doesn’t give you what he used to.  Nice veteran player.  It all depends on what he is looking for, money wise.  Under 3 mil. and we might have a conversation?
Centers/Wingers – Kyle Wellwood and Ryan Johnson – Third and fourth line players that I would consider but probably look past in the end.  Wellwood has had a nice little career since leaving Toronto.
Defense – Willie Mitchell – Tough as nails D-man that is a born leader.  I would love to have him, but he will probably elect to re-sign elsewhere.
Defensemen – Shane O’Brien (26 years old) and Brad Lukowich – SOB is young/big and I would definitely see what he is asking for.  Lukowich won’t be on my radar though.
If only Ryan Kesler didn’t sign!  Kevin Bieksa might be available.  He is a terrific all-around D-man with great toughness.  Salary is near 4 mil. a year though and he’s signed only though next season.

Washington Capitals
Free Agents:
Centers – Eric Belanger and Brandon Morrison – I love Belanger’s game and I was one of the biggest supporters to acquire him at the deadline last year.  He brings a little of everything to the table and could be a quality third-line center who comes cheap.  Great on face-offs as well.  Morrison is a possibility but I would rather have his teammate.
Right Wing – Scott Walker – Not productive enough at this point in his career. PASS
Defensemen – Joe Corvo, Shaone Morrisonn, and Milan Jurcina – Corvo is a potential pp guy. But can he regain the form he had with Ottawa and Carolina for three seasons.

I like him and would like to see how much he is asking for.  Corvo can play big time minutes.  Morrisonn is a bigger D-man and might be considered for a defensive defenseman spot in the Buffalo line-up.  For no more than 2 mil. though imo. Jurcina had a nice little season playing in the Olympics, etc. but he’s still way too inconsistent.
Goalie – Jose Theodore – Will want to start, but will someone give him another chance.  Maybe a back role would suit him best though.  Sabres are a long shot because he would have to come cheap and at a significant drop-off from his last contract.
Semin or Fleischmann could be dealt.  I have always like David Steckel, Boyd Gordon, and Eric Fehr.  Fehr would be the best addition for the Sabres though.

It will be an interesting time no doubt.  Many border line 3rd liners and bottom pair D-men out there this year.  I am excited to see the Sabres finally come through for you guys.  We deserve it!!!!!!!
If you are as obsessed with the NHL as I am, print these out, and use it as your guide. On July 1st, cross-off the players who sign, etc.  Put the new teams next to them and then you will know where everyone ends up for the 2010-11 season and beyond.


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