Hurricanes great Ron Francis replaces Jim Rutherford as general manager
Last year: 36-35-11, seventh in the Metro Division. Missed the postseason by 10 points.
Key additions: Tim Gleason, Jay McClement, Brad Malone
Key subtractions: Andrei Loktionov, Justin Peters, Manny Malhotra, Drayson Bowman (likely), Radek Dvorak (likely), Mike Komisarek (likely), Joni Pitkanen (likely)
Franchise direction: Like the Penguins and Capitals, Carolina elected to oust its coach and general manager rather than overturn its roster. Bill Peters replaces Kirk Muller behind the bench and Hall of Famer Ron Francis will step in for Jim Rutherford as general manager. Those could be just the first of many sweeping changes in Carolina. The players on the current roster will obviously be given another shot this season before the Hurricanes make any dramatic moves, but don’t be surprised to see Francis unload key cogs if Carolina starts slow and decides to blow up its roster to begin a full rebuild.
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The five-year, $27.5 million deal that Washington completed with Brooks Orpik is a real head-scratcher
Last year: 38-30-14, fifth in the Metro Division. Missed the postseason by three points.
Key additions: Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Justin Peters
Key subtractions: Mikhail Grabovski, Jaroslav Halak, Michal Neuvirth, Dustin Penner (likely)
Franchise direction: Like the rival Penguins, Washington chose to make major changes in the front office over overhauling its roster. In for George McPhee is Brian MacLellan as General Manager while long-time Predators coach Barry Trotz replaces Adam Oates behind the bench. Trotz is one of the most respected men in the business, but he’s made his living as a defensive-minded coach and faces an entirely new challenge in the nation’s capital. Trotz was surely part of the inspiration for the team’s two big signings, Niskanen and Orpik. The Capitals needed a major upgrade on defense after finishing 21st in goals against, but lobbing $67.75 million at Niskanen and Orpik was a bit excessive, especially in Orpik’s case. The acquisitions certainly don’t say much for the team’s faith in its long-time top-three of John Carlson, Karl Alzner and Mike Green. Focusing on bringing in defensemen from outside the organization does make some sense given that Washington has several talented forward coming up through the organization.
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For several years now we have been nominating GMs around the league as the “worst GM in the NHL award”. Past nominees include Scott Howson, Pierre Gauthier, Greg Sherman, Paul Holmgren, and Darcy Regier to name a few. By the way, all have been fired or have lost their responsibilities. In other words, we may be on to something here.
Here’s how it works. We nominate the GMs (based on their risky trades, unspectacular drafts or financially unsound signings). You vote the winner. Got it? Good.
Here’s 2014 nominees:
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Former Portland Winterhawks coach Mike Johnston will replace Dan Bylsma behind the Penguins’ bench
Last year: 51-24-7, first in the Metro Division. Eliminated by the Rangers in the second round.
Key additions: Patric Hornqvist, Christian Ehrhoff, Nick Spaling, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau, Thomas Greiss
Key subtractions: James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Jussi Jokinen, Brooks Orpik, Lee Stempniak, Brian Gibbons, Deryk Engelland, Joe Vitale, Tanner Glass (just kidding) Taylor Pyatt (just kidding)
Franchise direction: The Penguins roster has been retooled, but the major news of their offseason was the firing of coach Dan Bylsma and GM Ray Shero. In their place are Mike Johnston and Jim Rutherford, respectively, but while Pittsburgh has had higher expectations than Bylsma and Shero have been able to meet in recent years, it’s hard to view the changes behind the bench and in the front office as an upgrade. Pittsburgh did improve its depth up front and cleared dead weight that should allow some youngsters to make an impact. But why was playoff goat Marc-Andre Fleury retained while sweeping changes were made in every other facet of the organization?
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Last year: 43-32-7, fourth in the Metro Division. Eliminated by the Penguins in the first round.
Key additions: Scott Hartnell, Brian Gibbons
Key subtractions: R.J. Umberger, Jack Skille, Derek MacKenzie, Blake Comeau, Nikita Nikitin
Franchise direction: The Jackets are happy as clams with the way things are going after they made a surprise postseason appearance and gave Pittsburgh all it could handle in the first round of the playoffs. Columbus had to let go of a few spare parts to provide flexibility and allow the team to lock up key long-term pillars like Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky, but the team has quality reinforcements. Read more »
Last year: 35-29-18, sixth in the Metro Division
Key additions: Mike Cammalleri, Martin Havlat, Scott Clemmensen
Key subtractions: Martin Brodeur, Mark Fayne, Anton Volchenkov, Ryan Carter (likely)
Franchise direction: The Devils have finally turned the page on the Brodeur era, but that doesn’t mean the team is any younger. New Jersey added the 32-year-old Cammalleri and 33-year-old Havlat to a group that already includes 34-year-old Michael Ryder, 36-year-old Dainius Zubrus, 37-year-old Marek Zidlicky, 38-year-old Bryce Salvador, 38-year-old Patrik Elias and 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr. The Devils are certainly not rebuilding, but their plan is a little puzzling. Read more »
R.J. Umberger was the lone major addition for the unusually inactive Flyers this offseason
Last year: 42-30-10, third in the division. Lost to the Rangers in the first round
Key additions: R.J. Umberger, Nick Schultz
Key subtractions: Scott Hartnell, Adam Hall (likely)
Franchise direction: I didn’t quite know what to think when Ron Hextall replaced Paul Holmgren, but so far the new general manager has demonstrated restraint uncharacteristic of this organization. Yes, the Hartnell/Umberger trade was a little bit of a head-scratcher and the rampant rumors that Philadelphia tried to move up to grab the No. 1 draft pick were interesting, but all in all this has been an unusually quiet offseason for the Flyers. Read more »
Free agency is upon us, and teams that were not allowed to talk specific contract details will find a way to work out extremely complicated contracts within minutes of free agency opening. The Rangers have four key guys headed to free agency, with three likely on their way out. We summarized those here. We will be live-blogging the free agency signings, with moves made by the Rangers in bold. Discuss anything you want, keep it civil.
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Free agency is upon us, and the Rangers will see four key players test out the market. Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman, and Benoit Pouliot all seem destined to cash in big elsewhere, while Dominic Moore is still hoping (along with the rest of us) to remain in New York. There are a lot of rumors out there, so let’s go through all of them before the click strikes twelve.
Considering the $69 million cap, I think Carter, Fayne or Tom Gilbert, and Mikhail Grabovski are the realistic targets that can fill holes, improve the team, and leave competition for kids.
The first shoe has dropped in the 2014 NHL offseason, as Ryan Kesler has been traded to the Anaheim Ducks. The Canucks will get Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, and 1st (#24) and 3rd (#84) round picks from Anaheim in exchange for Kesler and a 3rd round pick.
For those wanting the Rangers to trade for Kesler, the Rangers didn’t really have equal pieces there. They didn’t have the first rounder, and for players, it would be close to the equivalent of Carl Hagelin and John Moore.
Update: The Canucks have also dumped defenseman Jason Garrison’s contract, sending him to Tampa Bay with a 7th round pick and the rights to Jeff Costello in exchange for Tampa’s 2nd rounder (#50).