NHL Trade Rumors: Will Your Team Be Buying or Selling This Summer?
With the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals complete, the focus of each NHL team has shifted to the types of player movements that will occur during the three months between now and the start of preseason.
Each team must first decide whether they will be "buyers" or "sellers" in order to make these moves.
The following overview will give fans an idea of what to expect this off-season from their favorite team's General Manager.
Note that the potential situations discussed assume the NHL salary cap is raised by approximately $3 million, as expected.
Anaheim Ducks: Buyers
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The Ducks' biggest concerns are Teemu Selanne and Jonas Hiller. Selanne may or may not retire after considering it the past few seasons.
Regardless, Selanne is a free agent and will need a new contract if he is to return. If he does not, Anaheim will have $4.5 million to spend on a replacement.
Along with Selanne's return, there is the question of whether or not goalie Jonas Hiller will be able to overcome vertigo and return between the pipes. If he is not ready to go, the Ducks will be left with Dan Ellis starting in the net if free agent Ray Emery is not re-signed.
Boston Bruins: Buyers
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There's no doubt that the defending Stanley Cup champions will look to return to the finals next season, which inevitably makes them "buyers."
Boston can run essentially the same lineup that won the cup, with a healthy Marc Savard taking over the retired Mark Recchi's spot. However, they will have to figure out a way to keep or replace unrestricted free agents Tomas Kaberle, Michael Ryder, and restricted free agent Brad Marchand.
If the salary cap increases as expected by approximately $3 million, Boston might be able to keep all three if they re-signed for their current salaries.
Unfortunately, Marchand will be looking for a raise from the $821,000 he earned this past season, having produced 41 points in the regular season and being a key contributor to the Bruins' championship.
Expect one of these players to end up elsewhere for the 2011-2012 season.
Buffalo Sabres: Buyers
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General Manager Darcy Regier will have to figure out a way to put another playoff-caliber team on the ice for next season.
Lineup regulars Tim Connolly, Steve Montador, Mike Grier, Rob Niedermayer, Cody McCormick are all unrestricted free agents. In addition to these five starters, Buffalo has restricted free agents Nathan Gerbe, Andrej Sekera, Chris Butler, and Mike Weber to consider.
Buffalo has approximately $17 million in cap space to spend on the above players. Their combined salaries totaled roughly $13 million last season.
New owner Terrence Pegula has brought a positive, winning attitude to the Sabres since buying the team in early February. Expect his passion for winning to nudge Regier into an off-season aimed at improving the Sabres' recent first-round playoff exits.
Calgary Flames: Sellers
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Calgary has no cap space left to work with to improve the team this off-season.
Even if they manage to re-sign Alex Tanguay, there is no guarantee that the 2011-2012 season will result any differently than their past two.
After consecutive non-playoff seasons, it might be time for the Flames to start unloading their overpaid, underachieving players and start building towards the future.
During next summer Daymond Langkow, Niklas Hagman, Olli Jokinen, and Cory Sarich will all be unrestricted free agents. It would benefit Calgary to make attempts at having these players waive their no-trade clauses in order to get something in return for them before they leave for free agency.
There is no reason to believe that this team is capable of winning the Stanley Cup as it is now, which is why the Flames need to consider rebuilding.
Carolina Hurricanes: Buyers
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The Carolina Hurricanes are in a peculiar position. Ten of their players are free agents this summer, and another eight are set to be free agents next summer.
However, the Hurricanes are a young team that finished just two points out of a playoff spot this past season.
Carolina could re-sign free agents such as Eric Cole, Jussi Jokinen, Brandon Sutter, and Joni Pitkanen. There is roughly $27 million in cap space to spend on them, which far more than enough.
The space left over, if used wisely, could certainly put the Hurricanes back in the playoffs.
Chicago Blackhawks: Buyers
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The 2010 Stanley Cup champions had a wild off-season last summer, losing players such as Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, Andrew Ladd, and goalie Antti Niemi.
However, Chicago still managed to put together a competitive team.
The Blackhawks took the President's Trophy winner and Stanley Cup finalist Vancouver Canucks to Game 7 in the first round and were one goal away from overcoming a 3-0 series defecit.
This summer, the Hawks will likely let Marty Turco leave for free agency and have Corey Crawford take over the starting job in the net.
Viktor Stalberg, Troy Brouwer, Tomas Kopecky, and Michael Frolik are also free agents. If these players are not re-signed, Chicago could likely call up prospects from the Rockford Ice Hogs to fill in the spots.
Look for Chicago to be creative with their limited cap space and maintain a winning team in the 2011-2012 season.
Colorado Avalance: Sellers
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Colorado's 68 points this past season ranked as the second-fewest in the NHL. The young squad is no doubt in a rebuilding process and far from being a contending team.
However, their two most sensible trading assets are both under no-trade clauses.
Veteran Milan Hejduk produced 56 points during this past season and would be a valuable asset to a competing team if the Avs are able to move him.
Additionally, at 30 years old, offensive defenseman John-Michael Liles has one year left on his contract. By the time Colorado develops into a competetive team, Liles will be on the downside of his career.
With the second and elevenths pick in the upcoming entry draft, along with young stars Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene, the Avalanche have the potential to become a very good team in the future.
If they are able to move Liles and Hejduk and receive useful items in return, they would be an even more promising franchise.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Sellers
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After finishing 13th out of 15 Western Conference teams this season, there is no reason to believe the Blue Jackets will be buying.
There have been rumors that the Philadelphia Flyers could trade Jeff Carter to Columbus for Jakub Voracek and a first-round draft pick.
That trade would make no sense for Columbus; they are far from being able to compete. Trading a young prospect and first round draft pick for an older player with a larger cap hit would be counterproductive at this point.
The Blue Jackets are not a team that can turn themselves around with the acquisition of just one player.
Columbus would be better off ridding themselves of its veterans and keeping its younger players.
Kristian Huselius, R.J. Umberger, Samuel Pahlsson and Fedor Tyutin are all going to be free agents after the 2011-2012 season, and Columbus should unload them now for prospects and draft picks in an effort to focus on the future.
Dallas Stars: Buyers
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Brad Richards will not be playing in Dallas next season.
That means the team that finished one win away from taking the eighth playoff spot from Chicago will be clear of his $8 million cap hit.
Despite Richards' 70+ points of production, losing him might help the Stars' chances of being a successful hockey team.
If Jamie Langenbrunner and Karlis Skrastins are re-signed for similar salaries, Dallas could have a 20-man roster and still have $17 million in cap space to add key players.
The Stars could legitimately add an entire first line to the roster and become a lock for the playoffs. For example, free agents Alex Tanguay, Ville Leino, and Tomas Kopecky combined for 164 points last season. All three could easily be signed with the $17 million in space Dallas would have.
Detroit Red Wings: Buyers
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The perennial powerhouse from Detroit will be a buying team during this summer.
With Nicklas Lidstrom now re-signed on a reported $6.2 million, 1-year contract, the Red Wings could fill out their 23-man roster and still have $8 million in cap space.
Don't be surprised if these Stanley Cup contenders use all of that space on free agents in an effort to win their fifth championship in 15 years.
Edmonton Oilers: Sellers
For the second consecutive season, Edmonton will pick first in the NHL entry draft.
The Oilers also have the 19th pick of the draft, which will further the rebuilding process that was highlighted by the trade of Dustin Penner to Los Angeles this past season.
Middle-aged forward Ales Hemsky will be a free agent after the upcoming season. Edmonton would be smart to unload him for either younger players or draft picks.
Florida Panthers: Sellers
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The Panthers have not made the playoffs in more than a decade and have finished last in their division in back-to-back seasons.
Florida wisely unloaded Brian McCabe this past season in a trade to the New York Rangers. Furthermore, free agent goaltender Tomas Vokoun will likely sign elsewhere this summer.
Despite having the most cap space of any team in the NHL, Florida will likely not be buying.
Although a ridiculous spending spree might improve the Panthers, the most logical assumption seems to be that the Miami-based team will simply look to build towards the future.
The Panthers' best option is to draft and wait for its young players to develop.
Los Angeles Kings: Buyers
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Tinseltown will need to find a way to keep restricted free agent Drew Doughty in a Kings uniform next season.
With Michael Handzus and Alexei Ponikarovsky (combined $7.2 million cap hit) being free agents, Los Angeles will have plenty of money to spend on the 21-year-old.
After signing Doughty, L.A. will have Wayne Simmonds to deal with, as well as the need to find players to fill the spots left by Handzus and Ponikarovsky if neither is re-signed.
Minnesota Wild: Sellers
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Minnesota is in a similar position to Calgary; the franchise has spent a lot of money and has little cap space with no success to show for it. In fact, none of the 11 organizations with higher payrolls than Calgary this past season failed to make the playoffs.
The Wild's effort to buy a winning team has not worked out. The expensive, older players must be dumped in order for Minnesota to find their way into the playoffs in later seasons. For example, veteran free agents John Madden and Andrew Brunette should be let go.
If the Wild could get Matt Cullen and Marek Zidlicky to waive their no-trade clauses, moving them would be helpful.
Goaltender Niklas Backstrom would also be a valuable trade asset if Minnesota could find a team to take on his $6 million salary. Currently 32 years of age, Backstrom may be too old by the time the Wild are ready to build a competitive franchise.
Montreal Canadiens: Buyers
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Four of Montreal's top 12 forwards and three of its top six defensemen are free agents this summer.
Jeff Halpern, Andrei Markov, Roman Hamrlik, James Wisniewski, Brent Sopel, Paul Mara and backup goalie Alex Auld are unrestricted free agents.
The team's restricted free agents include Ben Pouliot, David Desharnais, Tom Pyatt, Josh Gorges and Yannick Weber.
If the Canadiens choose not to re-sign 37-year-old Roman Hamrlik, it would open up $5.75 million in cap space.
Expect the team that was one goal away from eliminating the eventual Stanley Cup champions to prepare for another playoff run next season.
Nashville Predators: Buyers
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Norris trophy nominee and Nashville captain Shea Weber is a restricted free agent this offseason.
Luckily for Nashville, there is enough cap space left to give him any amount of money he desires.
Nashville has about $21 million to spread around on Weber and other free agents such as Steve Sullivan and Joel Ward.
New Jersey Devils: Buyers
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At the half-way point of this past season, the Devils had won just 10 games.
New Jersey then won 21 of 26 games between mid-January and mid-March.
Goalie Martin Brodeur is getting older and the Devils just missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons, but New Jersey should be a playoff contender once again next season.
Forward Zach Parise is a restricted free agent this summer, but the Devils can offer him a contract for up to $6 million and still fill the 23-man roster.
New York Islanders: Sellers
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The New York Islanders are a young team that is far from competing in the playoffs.
In order for the Islanders to become a force in the NHL's stacked Atlantic division, they will need to be patient and wait for their prospects to develop.
Trading defensemen Mark Streit and Mark Eaton for draft picks would be a wise move for the franchise's future.
Long Island already has plenty of youth. Waiting for it to develop is the key at this point.
New York Rangers: Buyers
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If the team rumored to be in the Brad Richards sweepstakes signs the star free agent, the Rangers will not be able to re-sign some of their own free agents such as Brian McCabe, Alex Frolov, Vinny Prospal, Todd White, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and Matt Gilroy.
Regardless, the blueshirts will not hesitate to use all available cap space in order to improve on last season's first-round playoff exit.
Ottawa Senators: Sellers
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When the Ottawa Senators disappointingly tanked from being a playoff team in 2010 to a cellar-dweller in 2011, the organization began rebuilding by trading away Mike Fisher, Alex Kovalev, Chris Kelly, and Jarkko Ruutu.
Plans for the future will continue to be executed. If the Senators can find takers for veterans Daniel Alfredsson, Sergei Gonchar, Filip Kuba, and Chris Phillips, they will certainly be on the move.
Philadelphia Flyers: Buyers
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The Philadelphia Flyers were one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup before they were swept in the second round.
With faulty goaltending an obvious contributor to the Flyers' early playoff exit, general manager Paul Holmgren will focus this offseason on acquiring a legitimate No. 1 goalie.
Holmgren has acquired the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes, and has stated he has every intention of signing him. Philadelphia will need to clear cap space, and the most likely options are allowing Ville Leino to leave the team through free agency, or trading Kris Versteeg, Matt Carle, or Jeff Carter.
Phoenix Coyotes: Buyers
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The Coyotes will have some work to do if they are to return to the playoffs next year.
Among their tasks are finding a replacement for Ilya Bryzgalov and re-signing Kyle Turris, Keith Yandle, and Ed Jovanovski.
Phoenix has plenty of cap space to work with; even if Turris and Yandle ask for $6 million or more per season, they will have over $7 million to spend on a replacement for Bryzgalov.
However, all Phoenix forwards that do not hit free agency this summer will be free agents after this season.
If the Coyotes are unable to put together a winning team, expect players like Shane Doan, Ray Whitney, Michal Rozsival, and Jovanovski (assuming he is signed this offseason) to be on the market near the trade deadline.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Buyers
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Despite playing without superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to make the playoffs last season and even managed to compete with the Philadelphia Flyers for the Atlantic Division title during the final week of the season.
With a healthy Crosby and Malkin in the lineup, Pittsburgh is sure to be a Stanley Cup contender again next season.
This summer, they will have to deal with notable free agents Alex Kovalev, Pascal Dupuis, Maxime Talbot, Mike Rupp, Arron Asham, and Tyler Kennedy.
Pittsburgh needs to fill five spots to maintain a 23-man roster, and has only $6 million to do it.
Kovalev is likely done unless he takes a significant pay cut.
San Jose Sharks: Buyers
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San Jose's list of free agents includes Devin Setoguchi and Ian White. The Sharks are likely not going to be able to resign White if Setoguchi stays.
Backup goaltender Antero Niittymaki might be traded in order to clear space. Niittymaki's cap hit of $2 million is quite hefty for a backup.
The underachieving San Jose team does not have much room to work with under the cap, but they are certainly looking to finally win the Stanley Cup after years of being a favorite to do so.
St. Louis Blues: Sellers
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St. Louis finished 11th in the Western Conference and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
The Blues signaled their status as a rebuilding team this season by trading captain Eric Brewer to the Tampa Bay Lightning for 19-year-old prospect Brock Beukeboom and a third-round draft pick.
The next move for St. Louis might be moving veteran forward Andy McDonald in order to continue the rebuilding process.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Buyers
Since taking over as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning last summer, Steve Yzerman has been quick in making his mark known.
He's made the Lightning one of the best teams in the NHL, putting Tampa Bay just one win from the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season.
In an effort to establish a winning tradition in style, Yzerman has also revamped the look of the organization with a new logo and matching uniforms. And in order to keep improving his team, Yzerman will need to find a way to re-sign superstar Steven Stamkos, who is a restricted free agent this summer.
Simon Gagne, Eric Brewer, Mike Smith, and Dwayne Roloson are also key free agents for whom Yzerman will need to find solutions.
Regardless of who stays and goes, the Lightning will be looking to bolster their roster with players that can take them a step closer to the cup.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Sellers
General Manager Brian Burke made a few trades this past season in hopes of rebuilding the Maple Leafs.
The highlights of those trades include Toronto giving up Francois Beauchemin, Kris Versteeg, and Tomas Kaberle for the young Joffrey Lupul, two first-round draft picks, and 21-year-old prospect Joe Colborne.
Among the Maple Leafs' offseason concerns this summer are free agents Tyler Bozak, Clarke MacArthur, Luke Schenn, Matt Lashoff, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Burke may do what he wants with his salary cap space, but the key to Toronto's success will be the draft.
Vancouver Canucks: Buyers
Vancouver was just one win away from the Stanley Cup. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the President's Trophy winner will look to improve upon the best season in franchise history.
Free agent concerns include Raffi Torres, Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo, and Christian Ehrhoff.
Washington Capitals: Buyers
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The 2009-2010 season's Presidents Trophy winner and this past season's No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference will undoubtedly look to translate regular season dominance into postseason success.
Semyon Varlamov is a restricted free agent this summer. If he proves to be too costly, the Caps could chose to let another team sign him and stick with Michal Neuvirth in the net.
Veteran forwards Jason Arnott, Michael Nylander, Marco Sturm, and defenseman Scott Hannan are also free agents.
Barring a salary dump, Washington has just under $9 million to spend on the final three players of its 23-man roster.
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In their final season, the Atlanta Thrashers finished 13 points away from a playoff spot and had the fourth-worst record in the eastern conference.
During this summer, the relocated franshise will have to re-sign young players Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Anthony Stewart, and Zach Bogosian.
Approximate salaries could be: Ladd at $4-5 million, Wheeler at $3-4 million, Stewart at $3-4 million, and Bogosian at $3-4 million.
Winnipeg should be able to re-sign the four players for between $13 million and $17 million total, leaving them another $8-12 million to spend through the free agent market or trades.
Atlanta may not be ready to make the playoffs, but is all the while a very young team. The rebuilding process is mostly complete.
All there is left to do now is wait for the franchise to develop into a winner.