Now that the trading dust has settled, it is time to sit back and see what happened. There are several teams that look drastically different and I know you are just dying to hear my opinion of their moves. Here are three teams I think made the most drastic changes to their line-ups. These are the moves as of July 5th.
New York Rangers
Additions: Wade Redden, Markus Naslund, Aaron Voros, Patrick Rissmiller, Dmitri Kalinin, Nikolai Zherdev, and Dan Fritsche.
Departures: Jaromir Jagr, Sean Avery, Martin Straka, Fedor Tyutin, Christian Backman, and Brendan Shanahan.
At this point it is rumored that Paul Mara is resigning and that Straka and Shanahan will not be back. The additions of Zherdev, Naslund, and Fritsche make the Rangers much deeper in scoring up front.
The loss of their old guys club (Jagr, Straka, and Shanahan) does not hurt them as much as some people think because of how much better the younger guys on this team are going to be. Aaron Voros will fill the whole left by Sean Avery quite nicely as well.
Shipping out Backman and Tyutin leaves some space for Bobby Sanguinetti to try to crack the line-up. Redden adds a quarterback on the powerplay and role model for the young defense. My only concern about the Rangers team is that the defense might be too young in some spots and the entire team to me seems like a boom or bust team.
Redden does not apparently do well with pressure and New York spotlight will test that rumor. Nikolai Zherdev has talent to be a superstar and then some, but is some what of an enigma. Markus Naslund seems to be losing his potency, but a change in scenery could spark a resurgence.
There are a couple of other players on this team that have “but”s in their description. Depending on which players actually show up on game night the Rangers could be Atlantic champs or scrapping the bottom of the division with the Islanders.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Additions: Raffi Torres, Mike Commodore, Fedor Tyutin, Christian Backman, R.J. Umberger, and Kristian Huselius
Departures: Nikolai Zherdev, Dan Fritsche, Ron Hainsey, Gilbert Brule, and Duvie Westcott
The only question mark is Michael Peca. He seems to think he will be back, but I do not think the Blue Jackets need him and staying could even hurt the chances of some of their prospects getting a shot. The funny part is the Blue Jackets have two players in their system that could have edged Peca out of a spot even while he was in his prime.
Jakub Voracek and Derek Brassard are almost certainly going to make the roster next year and could even find 2nd line spots thanks to the departure of Zherdev, Fritsche, and Brule. The additions of Umberger and Torres fit perfectly into the new Jackets and it makes them very big and tough up front.
However, the Jackets’ forwards are dwarfed by the additions of big 6’5” Mike Commodore, 6’4” Backman, and 6’3” Tyutin. Add those three players to 6’3” Jan Hejda and 6’3” Rusty Klesla and you have a formula to a defense core that all contribute 20 or more points and will bring serious nastiness to the ice.
This new defense will help out raising star goaltender Pascal Leclaire. Kristian Huselius adds a third Swedish player and I predict will have some amazing chemistry on the top line with Rick Nash and either Freddy Modin or Umberger.
The rebuilding plan in Columbus has impressed me greatly and the sky is the limit for this young team (The sky being a symbol for two northern divisional opponents in Chicago and Detroit). Welcome to the playoffs Columbus, better late than never.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Additions: Olaf Kolzig, Ryan Malone, Radim Vrbata, Gary Roberts, Adam Hall, David Koci, Matt Carle, prospect Ty Wishart,Wyatt Smith, Janne Niskala, and Vaclav Prospal
Departures: Marc Denis, Brad Lukowich, and Dan Boyle
Turn your back on a team for one second and all the sudden they may not be completely terrible. The Lightning must have finally realized you can not win with just three really good players. Tampa Bay added lots and lots of depth to their team.
They got back Prospal who will help on offense along with Radim Vrbata. 1st overall draft pick Steven Stamkos could see some playing time on the 2nd or 3rd line. Ryan Malone will be an interesting addition and adds some power to the team.
Gary Roberts adds what every team acquires him for: leadership and experience. Adam Hall and David Koci add some grit. Their defense is still a little thin but trading Dan Boyle is not the end of the world because they got a very good defenseman in Matt Carle and a good prospect in Ty Wishart.
I still consider this team to be rebuilding but they have taken many steps to filling out their roster. Tampa Bay will not finish last this year and I give them a chance at making the playoffs.
They could be this year’s version of last year’s Philadelphia or they could fall flat on their face and all their work makes them this year’s version of last year’s L.A. Kings.