I’m going to admit something in this, my first article. While I consider myself to be a diehard hockey fan, I don’t know nearly enough about hockey’s biggest prospects. I don’t follow the results of junior teams (OHL, WHL, AHL, etc.) nearly enough. So, when the NHL Draft happened this past weekend, I focused on a different aspect of the excitement.
Draft day is a huge day for trading established NHL players. So I’m going to go over some of the trades that happened leading up to and during the draft.
Back in 2006 Alex Tanguay made news on draft day. Here he is again, leaving the team that acquired him those two short years ago. Tanguay is a good hockey player, no one can deny this fact. However, his $5 million salary wasn’t a good thing for the Flames.
Bringing in Mike Cammalleri from Los Angeles is a relatively smart replacement for Tanguay, given the players available for the taking. Cammalleri has the potential to put up the numbers Sutter and Keenan wanted from Tanguay. Unfortunately, the injury to Cammalleri last season will be in the back of many Flames fans minds.
Phoenix has a strong group of young players like Peter Mueller and Daniel Carcillo, and they’ve added some depth and experience with Olli Jokinen. My major concern with this draft weekend deal is the loss of two defensemen. The Coyotes improved by 16 points between the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons. Much of the improved performance was the result of lower goals against totals.
The Coyotes needs to take full advantage of the free agent pool to find decent replacements to protect Ilya Bryzgalov. I hear that Mark Streit and Andreas Lilja could be free agents – both could be good options if their performances last season don’t make them too pricy.
The Predators really like to move goalies around. Vokoun went to Florida to make room for Chris Mason, and now Mason is heading to St. Louis to make room for Dan Ellis. St. Louis is gaining a strong backup in Mason, and Nashville is cementing Ellis as their starter.
I watched Ellis down the stretch last season, and I like him a lot. He isn’t a flashy goalie, but he’s very solid and predictable, which is exactly what the Predators need if they’re going to become more than a first round contender.
The Senators didn’t make any big trades during the draft, but Brian Murray has made a big move by buying out Ray Emery. Watching the downfall of the Senators last season was not enjoyable for hockey fans – unless you cheer for Toronto or Pittsburgh.
Emery may not have been the reason for the fall from grace, but the speculation from pundits was enough to make Emery the villain. Buying out Emery is the first step in the rebuilding process for what is a very talented hockey club.
With Wade Redden on the way out as a free agent, Murray really needs to find some consistent goaltending. The free agent pool doesn’t have a wide variety of goalies, but there are a few options. If Martin Gerber can show some stability, Wade Dubielewicz could be a good fit.
Depending on what Pittsburgh does, Ty Conklin might be good for the way Ottawa switches goalies during the season. Whatever the case, Emery’s buy out opens the door for a better performance in 2008/09.
Montreal really, really wants to win a cup. Alex Tanguay is going to fit very well with the Habs’ style. I’m picturing a #1 Powerplay squad of Koivu, Kovalev and Tanguay – that scares me. If Bob Gainey can add Mats Sundin to that list, I won’t know how to react.
First, where is this salary cap room? Second, I can’t imagine that Michael Ryder can be signed if Sundin is added to the roster.
Part of me is hoping that Gainey works some magic to keep Ryder and add Sundin. If that happens, then look out – I’ll be writing up a storm.