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Category: Around the League

Checking in on the Washington Capitals

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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Worst GM in the NHL Award

Needs improvement

Needs improvement

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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Checking in on the Pittsburgh Penguins

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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Checking in on the Columbus Blue Jackets

Scott Hartnell should set the tone for the Blue Jackets

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 »

Checking in on the New Jersey Devils

The Devils’ major offseason acquisition: 32-year-old Mike Cammalleri

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 »

Checking in on the Philadelphia Flyers

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 open thread

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 agent frenzy: Rumor roundup before it all begins

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.

Ryan Kesler traded to Anaheim

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).

Ryan Callahan re-ups in Tampa, Rangers get 2015 2nd rounder

Ryan Callahan has re-upped in Tampa Bay on a deal that is 6 years and $5.8 million per year (basically a Dustin Brown contract, shocking). As a part of the trade with Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis, the Rangers will receive TB’s 2nd round pick in 2015, and the Rangers will send a 2015 7th rounder to Tampa Bay. To summarize the now completed trade:

  • To New York: Martin St. Louis, 2015 2nd round pick
  • To Tampa Bay: Ryan Callahan, 2014 1st round pick, 2015 1st round pick, 2015 7th round pick