One of the most exciting times for a hockey fan is the offseason. Players move, teams change and the NHL generally has a new look at the back end of it all.
We have a long season ahead of us before the next offseason. A lot of things will happen between now and then, and at the end of it all we will have crowned a new Stanley Cup champion. After that, we'll have the same draft, the same free agency and the same trade window. It's always riveting.
The 2012 free agency crop is a relatively thin one, but still includes names like Alexander Semin, Zach Parise, Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne. The summer will be exciting and, as mentioned, the NHL will come out with a new look.
It is impossible to predict what the NHL will look like this year, and it is even more madness to even begin to imagine the teams a year from now. Nevertheless, this is a wild guess.
Trade: Anaheim Ducks acquire C Riley Sheahan from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for RW Dan Sexton
The Ducks appear to be in a youth movement, and acquiring young prospect Riley Sheahan from the Wings would further that. There is not too much depth in the prospect pool down the middle, but the 21st overall pick in 2010 would change that.
Kristian Huselius comes in as the only significant free-agent signing. The Ducks will be looking to replace Teemu Selanne, and while Huselius is nowhere near that level, he'll definitely help carry the burden. He has proven he is an elite NHL scorer and will help the young stars on his line mature.
Peter Holland, Devante Smith-Pelly, Rikard Rakell, Sami Vatanen and Timo Pielmeier will all be ready to become full-time NHLers. As mentioned, this is a transitional period for the Ducks, built around the youth, but everything will look a lot brighter on the other side.
Greener pastures are ahead for the Anaheim Ducks.
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Kristian Huselius - Peter Holland - Emerson Etem
Devante Smith-Pelly - Andrew Cogliano - Rikard Rakell
Matt Beleskey - Brandon McMillan - George Parros
Cam Fowler - Lubomir Visnovsky
Sami Vatanen - Toni Lydman
Francois Beauchemin - Luca Sbisa
The Boston Bruins will inevitably have a re-modelled left wing. Pouliot was a good signing. He adds grit and scoring while he is still developing. Khokhlachev will make the team as a rookie. Cody McLeod is a potential signing who would add more fighting spirit to one of the best fourth lines in the league.
Tyler Seguin will be ready to step up and be the team's best player in this contract season. He will no longer be the fresh-faced rookie we know him as now. Dougie Hamilton joins Zdeno Chara to create one of the meanest defensive pairings in the NHL. Winger Jordan Caron is also ready for NHL action. He is Seguin's future winger, and is already a veteran of 23 NHL games.
Marc Savard may unfortunately never play again. The Bruins are going to have to take that into account as they move forward over the next few seasons. While they are out of "Toronto" picks, their key to success in the Stanley Cup Finals was a deep center corps. It is important they replenish that in the 2012 draft.
This season is likely the last season for Tim Thomas.
Milan Lucic - Tyler Seguin - Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot - David Krejci - Brad Marchand
Alex Khokhlachev - Patrice Bergeron - Jordan Caron
Cody McLeod - Rich Peverley - Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Johnny Boychuk - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid
Trade: Buffalo Sabres acquire C Tyler Bozak from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for LW Tyler Ennis
The Buffalo Sabres are rapidly growing into one of the NHL's most complete teams. Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr come in as two great signings, and Joel Armia will be ready for NHL duty. The team is so deep, in fact, that it is hard to find a place where they can improve.
That said, with the team's new-found depth at the wing position, Tyler Ennis may become expendable. Tyler Bozak would come in and become a top-tier center for them, while adding more size to the team. The 25-year-old is ready to become an elite player on an elite team in the NHL.
Some top prospects are ready to step in, including Armia, Mark Pysyk and Zack Kassian.
One question the Sabres are faced with is how long they can go on with Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford on the team. They have a lot of good young right wingers waiting for a chance, and we could see a trade involving one of those two players soon.
Thomas Vanek - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Ville Leino - Tyler Bozak - Joel Armia
Nathan Gerbe - Luke Adam - Drew Stafford
Matt Ellis - Paul Gaustad - Zack Kassian
Christian Ehrhoff - Tyler Myers
Mark Pysyk - Robyn Regehr
Andrej Sekera - Marc-Andre Gragnani
Trade: Calgary Flames acquire C Antoine Vermette from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for D Brett Carson and a 2013 Third-Round Pick.
The Calgary Flames are in a rebuilding phase, and they need to stick to it. Getting a player like Vermette gives you a good veteran to build around. Carson likely won't be in the team's long-term plans, and the Blue Jackets could use more defensemen.
The Flames have three great lines. Now the next step is to fill out the defense and replace the veterans. They will likely have a high pick in 2012, a year filled with good defenseman. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Flames finally pick up a replacement for Dion Phaneuf.
Top youngsters Sven Bärtschi and Greg Nemisz are ready to step up on the right wing. The Flames should now turn to filling out the left wing and center positions in the later rounds of the 2012 draft and hope for a gem.
Rene Bourque - Mikael Bäcklund - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Antoine Vermette - Lee Stempniak
Curtis Glencross - Matt Stajan - Sven Bärtschi
Tim Jackman - Bryan Cameron - Greg Nemisz
Jay Bouwmeester - Mark Giordano
Cory Sarich - Brendan Mikkelson
Chris Butler - Anton Babchuk
Trade: Carolina Hurricanes acquire RW Matt D'Agostini from the St Louis Blues in exchange for D Bobby Sanguinetti and a 2012 Third-Round Pick
The Carolina Hurricanes will likely be active in free agency. They will be looking for help on the wing and on defense. Kostitsyn is a good first- or second-line goalscoring winger, while Barret Jackman is a good leader and would be great as a complement and a mentor to one of the younger defensemen. Speaking of younger players, several 'Canes prospects will be ready for NHL duty, including top defensemen Ryan Murphy and Justin Faulk and center Zac Dalpe.
As for the trade, D'Agostini is a player on the rise and at least one of the youngsters will be expendable. At 24, D'Agostini is developing into a prime goalscorer in St. Louis. You give up a good young prospect and a decent pick, but the Ryan Murphy pick could well mean Sanguinetti drops further down the depth chart sooner than originally expected.
This Hurricanes team looks strong. They have good lines and a solid defense. They could surprise some people in 2012-13.
Jussi Jokinen - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Andrei Kostitsyn - Jeff Skinner - Matt D'Agostini
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Brett Sutter - Anthony Stewart
Jiri Tlusty - Zac Dalpe - Chad LaRose
Joni Pitkanen - Tomas Kaberle
Barret Jackman - Ryan Murphy
Justin Faulk - Bryan Allen
With a lot done in free agency this season, the Blackhawks are unlikely to be too active. That said, most of the signings were one-year contracts, so they have kept room for their prospects next season. It's obvious the 'Hawks are making an attempt to get tougher; it shows in the nature of those prospects they have picked up in the past few drafts.
It wouldn't be at all surprising to see four or five of their best youngsters on the team. Guys like Marcus Kruger, Mark McNeill and Brandon Saad should be around on the offense, with Dylan Olsen finally breaking through on the blue line. The Chicago Blackhawks have a treasure chest full off elite prospects ready for the NHL, and while the team might experience growing pains, it is only a matter of time before they are back on top of the world.
The top line will stay intact, while Michael Frolik will step into an increased role on the second line. Alexander Salak is the long-term backup goalie for the 'Hawks.
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Rostislav Olesz - Michael Frolik - Marian Hossa
Viktor Stålberg - Marcus Kruger - Bryan Bickell
Brandon Saad - Mark McNeill - Daniel Carcillo
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Nick Leddy
Sami Lepisto - Dylan Olsen
The Colorado Avalanche will continue to build their team through youth. Their top three lines have only two players over the age of 25, and only one defenseman is over 26. They possess one of the league's top prospects in Landeskog and arguably its best young goalie in Semyon Varlamov. This will be a difficult year for the Avs, but the future is bright. With a couple more good draft selections, the Stanley Cup could be on the horizon sooner rather than later.
The only place where they could realistically improve is on the bottom line, finding a grinding forward to complement the youngsters ahead. Blair Betts is a good Colorado-type player. Denver legend Milan Hejduk could leave the club in free agency in the hope of finding one last Stanley Cup.
Landeskog, Ryan Stoa, Duncan Siemens and Tyson Barrie should make an impact right away for Colorado. They have traded away their top pick in next year's draft, so the pressure on these players is high. They need to be able to handle it.
Gabriel Landeskog - Matt Duchene - Peter Mueller
TJ Galiardi - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Ryan Stoa - Joey Hishon - Ryan O'Reilly
Joakim Lindström - Blair Betts - Chuck Kobasew
Erik Johnson - Jan Hejda
Duncan Siemens - Matt Hunwick
Tyson Barrie - Ryan Wilson
Trade: Columbus Blue Jackets acquire Brett Carson and a 2013 Third-Round Pick from the Calgary Flames in exchange for Antoine Vermette
With Ryan Johansen coming into town, Antoine Vermette is not longer needed. Carson has good potential and the Jackets are in a rebuilding stage. Every pick makes a difference, especially for a team in the position that the Jackets are in.
Brad Boyes would be a good pick-up to create a good, fairly young first line. They would complement each other well and have the potential to become one of the league's elite lines. The Jackets also need someone to back up Steve Mason. Scott Clemmensen could spot duty in that position until a more permanent option is found. That should be in the 2012 draft. The team's prospect pool is well-rounded, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them sacrifice a high pick on a talented goalie.
Cam Atkinson, Tomas Kubalik and John Moore are ready for the NHL.
Rick Nash - Jeff Carter - Brad Boyes
Maksim Mayorov - Ryan Johansen - RJ Umberger
Matt Calvert - Derick Brassard - Cam Atkinson
Jared Boll - Samuel Påhlsson - Tomas Kubalik
James Wisniewski - John Moore
Fedor Tyutin - Marc Methot
Kris Russell - Brett Carson
The biggest news is that Scott Glennie should finally be ready for the NHL. He'll come in on a strong third line and grow into a role while some of the other more experienced players take the ice time. Fellow youngster Jack Campbell should start his big-league career as a backup. Jamie Oleksiak will also be ready, and should step straight into his new role alongside Alex Goligoski.
Jiri Hudler would be an interesting addition. He can still produce at the NHL level and could create a formidable second line alongside Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder. With the financial crisis in Dallas, it will be difficult for them to attract big-name players. They may have to make do and work with several small-name, productive players. Buffalo is a good example for them.
Unfortunately, the loss of Brad Richards leaves the Dallas team looking a little bit weak. Improvements are needed in the drafts ahead. A high pick could be around the corner for the NHL's Texas team.
Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Loui Eriksson
Jiri Hudler - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Vernon Fiddler - Scott Glennie
Krys Barch - Tom Wandell - Eric Godard
Jamie Oleksiak - Alex Goligoski
Nicklas Grossman - Trevor Daley
Adam Pardy - Stephane Robidas
Trade: Detroit Red Wings acquire RW Shane Doan from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for C Cory Emmerton and a 2012 Second-Round Pick
Trade: Detroit Red Wings acquire RW Dan Sexton from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for C Riley Sheahan
Shane Doan becomes a free agent at the end of the season, but it's not likely the Coyotes let him go for free. Emmerton is a good prospect, but Doan could bring the Wings closer to another Cup. He's a great leader, and would be a phenomenal complement to Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on the Wings' top line.
They also acquire 24-year-old winger Dan Sexton from the Ducks. The Minnesota native is a growing player and will be Doan's eventual replacement on the top line. You give up top prospect Riley Sheahan, but the young depth down the middle allows for the move.
Wouldn't be at all surprising to see the Wings sign Jonas Gustavsson. He's an elite goaltender and would be the best backup in the league behind Jimmy Howard.
Holding on to Niklas Kronwall will become the key offseason task for the Wings.
Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Shane Doan
Johan Franzen - Darren Helm - Dan Sexton
Calle Järnkrok - Valtteri Filppula - Tomas Jurco
Drew Miller - Justin Abdelkader - Patrick Eaves
Niklas Kronwall - Ian White
Jonathan Ericsson - Brendan Smith
Brad Stuart - Jakub Kindl
Trade: Edmonton Oilers acquire C Dustin Jeffrey, D Ben Lovejoy and a 2012 Second-Round Pick from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for RW Ales Hemsky
Trade: Edmonton Oilers acquire C Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for C Sam Gagner, D Jeff Petry and a 2013 First-Round Pick
Realistically, Ales Hemsky won't be around too much longer. At 28, he will leave to get a Stanley Cup chance. This is definitely a possible deadline-day trade, where the Oilers continue to build on their future with two good youngsters.
The other trade is another big one, with the Oilers creating a scary one-two punch down the middle. Spezza needs a fresh start, and while it costs a lot to get him, it will be well worth it.
David Moss would be the only offseason acquisition as the fourth liner the Oilers need.
This is the year the rebuild is no more. They are now on the fast track to a long playoff run.
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi - Jason Spezza - Shawn Horcoff
Ryan Smyth - Anton Lander - Linus Omark
Ben Eager - Dustin Jeffrey - David Moss
Ladislav Smid - Ryan Whitney
Oscar Klefbom - Ben Lovejoy
Martin Marincin - Theo Peckham
The Florida Panthers have an interesting roster. Rather than have some elite players and some grinders, they seemed to have built an offense with all second-rounders. It's a good tactic for them, though, as when some of these young players get older, they'll get better and could push the Panthers over the edge.
Michael Repik and Evgeny Dadonov will be ready to step up full time, but may be buried on the depth chart. Jakob Markström is the league's top prospect and will be ready to take it by storm. Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson are paired up for the first time. They will be arguably the league's best defensive pairing somewhere down the road.
Scott Hannan adds good depth on defense until some of the middling prospects are ready to play. He's the kind of veteran you like to have, and is a good player to help carry you through this rebuilding stage. The Panthers could bring him in on a one-year deal.
The team will be built around Jonathan Huberdeau.
Tomas Fleischmann - Jonathan Huberdeau - Kris Versteeg
David Booth - Stephen Weiss - Scottie Upshall
Sean Bergenheim - Mike Santorelli - Tomas Kopecky
Michael Repik - Marcel Goc - Evgeny Dadonov
Dmitry Kulikov - Erik Gudbranson
Ed Jovanovski - Brian Campbell
Keaton Ellerby - Scott Hannan
Trade: Los Angeles Kings acquire RW Alexander Semin and C Cody Eakin from the Washington Capitals in exchange for C Anze Kopitar and LW Kyle Clifford
The LA Kings find themselves at the center of the biggest blockbuster trade of the summer, sending first-line center Anze Kopitar and fourth liner Kyle Clifford to the Washington Capitals for the goalscorer they so badly need in Alexander Semin and top prospect Cody Eakin. While they give up a lot, they get one of the league's best players (when he's on) along with an underrated center who has a bright future. Semin joins Dustin Penner and Mike Richards to create a formidable first line.
Some prospects will be ready to step up, most notably, Tyler Toffoli. Cody Eakin will also win a spot out of training camp. This will be the last year they go with their two goalies. Wouldn't be surprising to see either Jonathan Bernier or Jonathan Quick traded between now and opening night next season.
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Alexander Semin
Justin Williams - Andrei Loktionov - Dustin Brown
Simon Gagne - Cody Eakin - Tyler Toffoli
Brad Richardson - Kevin Westgarth - Scott Parse
Drew Doughty - Jack Johnson
Matt Greene - Rob Scuderi
Alec Martinez - Slava Voynov
Trade: Minnesota Wild acquire D Dennis Wideman from the Washington Capitals in exchange for LW Johan Larsson and a 2012 Fourth-Round Pick
The acquisitions from San Jose will likely assume roles on either side of Mikko Koivu. It is not a great first line, but the Wild's key to success will be their depth and skill throughout.
Speaking of Koivu, super prospect Mikael Granlund will be allowed to grow in his shadow. Charlie Coyle and 2011 10th overall pick Jonas Brodin should make the jump to the NHL as well.
The one trade involves the Wild acquiring 28-year-old offensive defenseman Dennis Wideman for prospect Johan Larsson and a pick. Wideman is a great player and one to build around. He'd improve the defense a lot and, as he is a UFA, would come remarkably cheap. Would be a real steal for the Wild. Tough to lose highly touted prospect Johan Larsson, but the acquisition of Coyle from the Sharks and the drafting of Zack Phillips means he could be shipped away.
Dany Heatley - Mikko Koivu - Devin Setoguchi
Matt Cullen - Mikael Granlund - Cal Clutterbuck
Charlie Coyle - Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Guillaume Latendresse
Eric Nystrom - Darroll Powe - Brad Staubitz
Marek Zidlicky - Jonas Brodin
Dennis Wideman - Nick Schultz
Marco Scandella - Greg Zanon
Several top young players are ready to step up for the Habs. Louis Leblanc and Danny Kristo will be given roster spots among the forwards, while Lars Eller and David Desharnais will continue to develop. Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu should be ready on the back end.
It's unlikely they do too much to the team through trade or free agency as they don't have too many spots available. They do, however, need to add a lot of toughness to their bottom six. 91 penalty minute-man Adam Burish will add a little bit. The return of Max Pacioretty also strengthens the team a good bit.
As mentioned, the Montreal Canadiens will inevitably have a large group of prospects stepping into the NHL. That gives them a nice mix between veterans and youngsters. Will that be the formula for a Stanley Cup?
Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta
Max Pacioretty - Louis Leblanc - Erik Cole
Lars Eller - Scott Gomez - Danny Kristo
Travis Moen - David Desharnais - Adam Burish
Andrei Markov - PK Subban
Jaroslav Spacek - Jarred Tinordi
Nathan Beaulieu - Josh Gorges
Trade: Nashville Predators acquire LW Zach Parise from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for D Shea Weber
The Nashville Predators' need for a top-line scorer remains, and that need far overpowers the need for a top defenseman like Shea Weber. They ship him to New Jersey for former 92-point man Zach Parise. One unsettled player for another.
It wouldn't be surprising to see them take a run at a guy like Mikhail Grabovski, who is coming off a 29-goal, 29-assist season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have some great young centers ready to step up and he could become expendable. He would be a good partner for Parise, and putting Hörnqvist on the other side makes for a good combination.
Bringing back Pekka Rinne is a priority.
Zach Parise - Mikhail Grabovski - Patric Hörnqvist
Sergei Kostitysn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Austin Watson - Colin Wilson - Niclas Bergfors
Nick Spaling - David Legwand - Jerred Smithson
Ryan Ellis - Ryan Suter
Kevin Klein - Jonathon Blum
Francis Bouillon -
Trade: New Jersey Devils acquire D Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators in exchange for LW Zach Parise
Trade: New Jersey Devils acquire C Joe Pavelski from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for RW David Clarkson and a 2012 Second-Round Pick
With the high wage bill, it will be difficult for the New Jersey Devils to do too much over the next year. Getting Zach Parise back will be a priority, but he could become trade bait if at the right price. The Devils could do with a rebuild, and returning to their defensive roots and grabbing one of the league's best would be welcomed.
In a second trade, the Devils get a great center in Joe Pavelski. The price is steep, but he is still only 27 and would give the Devils a scary one-two-three punch down the middle.
Several top prospects are ready, including headliner Adam Larsson, but the big news is that Martin Brodeur is no longer the starting goalie. Unless he has a big turnaround this season, the Devils will look for a new guy in net.
Ilya Kovalchuk - Travis Zajac - Patrik Elias
Dainius Zubrus - Jacob Josefson - Nick Palmieri
Mattias Tedenby - Joe Pavelski - Vladimir Zharkov
Eric Boulton - Dave Steckel - Cam Janssen
Adam Larsson - Shea Weber
Anton Volchenkov - Andy Greene
Mark Fraser - Jon Merrill
Trade: New York Islanders acquire D Jeff Schultz from the Washington Capitals in exchange for RW PA Parenteau
Trade: New York Islanders acquire RW Chris Neil and a 2013 Third-Round Pick from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for D Andrew MacDonald
With some top-end talent approaching fast through the pipeline, the Isles will need to offload some of their older top-six guys. That starts with PA Parenteau, who heads to Washington for defenseman Jeff Schultz, a former league plus-minus winner with a need for a fresh start.
One mistake the Isles could make is the same as the Oilers, putting everything on the young guns. You need to complement them with some veterans. Chris Neil comes with a good pick for Andrew McDonald, freeing up some defensive space. Another good fit is Marco Sturm, who is one of the fastest players in the league and will be able to keep up with the youngster. Michal Roszival is also brought in to help mentor some of the bright defensive prospects.
Finally, this is the year the Isles realize they can't keep depending on Rick DiPietro's fitness for their goaltending. They bring in an established NHLer to compete with DiPietro and to provide good cover when the former is out injured.
Nino Niederreiter - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Matt Moulson - Ryan Strome - Michael Grabner
Marco Sturm - Josh Bailey - Blake Comeau
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Chris Neil
Mark Streit - Michal Roszival
Travis Hamonic - Jeff Schultz
Calvin de Haan - Mark Eaton
Trade: New York Rangers acquire D Johnny Oduya and C Jim Slater from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for C Brian Boyle and D Mike Sauer
In the trade, the Rangers get one of the NHL's most underrated players in Johnny Oduya. He would become a great complement to Dan Girardi and would give the team two top-tier defensive pairings. Jim Slater could become the solid fourth-line center that the team needs, and they'd be worth giving up Brian Boyle for that luxury.
Derek Stepan steps up to create an intimidating second line. They have the potential to score a lot of goals with a simple, gritty style. Kreider, Richards and Gaborik begin what could be a decade of dominance as the team's first line.
Jesper Fasth is a top talent and could be a dark horse.
Chris Kreider - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Christian Thomas - Artem Anisimov - Mats Zuccarello-Aasen
Brandon Prust - Jim Slater - Jesper Fasth
Marc Staal - Tim Erixon
Dan Girardi - Johnny Oduya
Michael Del Zotto - Dylan McIlrath
Trade: Ottawa Senators acquire C Sam Gagner, D Jeff Petry and a 2013 First-Round Pick from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for C Jason Spezza
Trade: Ottawa Senators acquire D Andrew MacDonald from the New York Islanders in exchange for RW Chris Neil and a 2013 Third-Round Pick
The Ottawa Senators are in the early stages of a rebuild, and Jason Spezza isn't one of the players they are planning on building around. To get a return like this would be a great deal for the Sens. Sam Gagner is one of the best young players in the league and is very much on the rise. He would be the team's future second-line center.
This is the year the Senators' future first line (built completely in the 2011 draft) takes shape. Matt Puempel, Mika Zibanejad and Stefan Noesen join forces for the first time and create a formidable line. Some other top prospects step up, with Rundblad and Lehner leading the group.
Milan Michalek - Sam Gagner - Daniel Alfredsson
Matt Puempel - Mika Zibanejad - Stefan Noesen
Nikita Filatov - Peter Regin - Stephane Da Costa
Nick Foligno - Zenon Konopka - Bobby Butler
Erik Karlsson - Jared Cowen
David Rundblad - Chris Phillips
Andrew McDonald - Patrick Wiercioch
Claude Giroux will likely move to right wing eventually with the top great young prospects in the Flyers' system. James Van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere join him on a strong first line. Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier will be ready to step up into full time NHL roles.
With the good young players, the Flyers need to find some good veterans to help them grow. Jason Blake is a 38-year-old NHL veteran (who could well retire) but he has shown his ability to produce offensively and he is one of the few veterans in the league who would be able to keep up.
It is unlikely the Flyers try too much through trade or free agency. Some good youngsters are ready to step up and the key to building a successful NHL team is to give the kids a roster spot and a chance to grow.
James Van Riemsdyk - Danny Breire - Claude Giroux
Jason Blake - Brayden Schenn - Jakub Voracek
Scott Hartnell - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds
Jody Shelley - Max Talbot - Jason Akeson
Kimmo Timonen - Chris Pronger
Matt Carle - Erik Gustafsson
Andrej Meszaros - Oskars Bartulis
Trade: Phoenix Coyotes acquire LW Mason Raymond and G Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks for LW Lauri Korpikoski, G Mark Visentin, and a 2013 2nd Round Pick
Trade: Phoenix Coyotes acquire C Cory Emmerton and a 2012 2nd Round Pick from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for RW Shane Doan
The Phoenix Coyotes solve all their goaltending problems for the next decade. They give up top prospect Mark Visentin, but Cory Schneider is the best back-up in the NHL and is more than capable of being a full time goalie. Mason Raymond is a good young player who is developing fast and could be a solid first liner as soon as next year.
The other trade sees the Coyotes acquire a 23-year-old veteran of three AHL seasons. Shane Doan almost certainly won't stay around longer than next year, and Emmerton could develop into a player of a similar role.
Veteran Vaclav Prospal is the one free agent signing. He is a top end veteran who would be a good presence around the young guys on his line.
Mason Raymond - Kyle Turris - Mikkel Boedker
Radim Vrbata - Martin Hanzal - Viktor Tikhonov
Vaclav Prospal - Daymond Langkow - Andy Miele
Raffi Torres - Cory Emmerton - Boyd Gordon
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Keith Yandle
Brandon Gormley - Rostislav Klesla
Derek Morris - Maxim Goncharov
Trade: Pittsburgh Penguins acquire RW Ales Hemsky from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for C Dustin Jeffrey, D Ben Lovejoy, and a 2012 3rd Round Pick
The Pittsburgh Penguins are now pushing for another Stanley Cup. You have to sacrifice your future somewhat to be able to win now. They do that in the trade. Trading away two top youngsters and a pick, the Pens finally bring in Sidney Crosby's elite winger. Ales Hemsky is one of the league's elite playmakers, and with Crosby's emergence as a premier goalscorer the partnership could be deadly. Malkin moves to the other wing to create the best line in the league.
You have to complement your youngsters with good, seasoned veterans. That is what Saku Koivu would do. The 36-year-old Finn has never won a Cup and would head to Pittsburgh for one last chance.
Prospects Beau Bennett, Eric Tangradi, and Simon Despres are ready to step up.
Evgeny Malkin - Sidney Crosby - Ales Hemsky
James Neal - Saku Koivu - Beau Bennett
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi - Mark Letestu - Arron Asham
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Simon Depsres - Deryk Engelland
Trade: San Jose Sharks acquire RW David Clarkson and a 2012 2nd Round Pick from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for C Joe Pavelski
The Sharks need to ease the logjam down the middle, and shipping Joe Pavelski to the Devils would certainly help. In return you get one of the league's best fourth liners and a good pick.
The deal makes sense because it has long been known the Sharks need to add some grit to their bottom lines. Jason Chimera also brings that as a free agent from the Caps. All of a sudden, the Sharks have a go-to-the-net, fighting, scoring fourth line.
Nick Petrecki and Thomas Greiss are welcomed to the big leagues permanently. Martin Havlat creates one of the best lines in the world with Thornton and Marleau, while Brent Burns does the same with Dan Boyle. The Sharks need to find an elite right winger from somewhere, and Hejduk will likely leave the Avalanche in search of one last Stanley Cup.
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Martin Havlat
Ryan Clowe - Logan Couture - Milan Hejduk
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Benn Ferriero
Jason Chimera - Torrey Mitchell - David Clarkson
Dan Boyle - Brent Burns
Douglas Murray - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Jason Demers - Nick Petrecki
Trade: St Louis Blues acquire D Bobby Sanguinetti and a 2012 3rd Round Pick from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for RW Matt D'Agostini
Trade: St Louis Blues acquire D Zach Bogosian from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for RW TJ Oshie
The St Louis Blues continue their defensive rebuild by acquiring top young defensemen Bobby Sanguinetti and Zach Bogosian. They have drafted extremely well at forward in recent seasons, but, with the expection of Alex Pietrangelo, the same can't be said on defense. TJ Oshie and Matt D'Agostini have been rumoured to be on the way out, and now those deals are completed to bring in two great youngsters.
Vladimir Tarasenko is ready to step up, and should become a big player right away. Dmitrij Jaskin and Stefan Della Rovere are also good prospects, and they could both see time coming straight out of training camp.
David Perron - David Backes - Vladimir Tarasenko
Alexander Steen - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Dmitrij Jaskin
Stefan Della Rovere - Scott Nichol - BJ Crombeen
Zach Bogosian - Alex Pietrangelo
Kevin Shattenkirk - Bobby Sanguinetti
Nikita Nikitin - Roman Polak
The future is bright for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but as mentioned countless times before without seasoned veterans you will get nowhere. Tomas Holmström is perfect for the Lightning. He would come in as a drive-the-net force on the first line, and would leave Steven Stamkos flanked by two Stanley Cup winning players. You would have to work hard to find better support.
One interesting possibility is an all prospect third line, as Carter Ashton, Slava Namestnikov, and Brett Connolly step up. These are future top six players for the Bolts, and to have them develop and get to know each other on the ice is a tantalizing prospect for the Bolts. They all come from successive drafts.
Dustin Tokarski will be given a chance to become the goalie of the future in Tampa.
Tomas Holmström - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Carter Ashton - Vladislav Namestnikov - Brett Connolly
Alexandre Picard - Nate Thompson - Steve Domnie
Victor Hedman - Mattias Ohlund
Marc-Andre Bergeron - Eric Brewer
Pavel Kubina - Matt Gilroy
Trade: Toronto Maple Leafs acquire LW Tyler Ennis from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for C Tyler Bozak
The Maple Leafs have constructed a good, young team, and they now set their sights on a return to the playoffs.
They have a lot of good centers in the team, so offloading one wouldn't hurt. They go get Buffalo winger Tyler Ennis, who is a big talent and a future first liner. Giving up Tyler Bozak hurts, but there are some good young centers in the pipeline ready to step up and fill the hole.
One of those is Nazem Kadri, who takes the first line spot for good. Some other good young players are ready for NHL duty, most notably Jake Gardiner and Jussi Rynnas.
Nikolai Kulemin - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel
Tyler Ennis - Tim Connolly - Joffrey Lupul
Clarke MacArthur - Matthew Lombardi - Colby Armstrong
Jay Rosehill - Philippe Dupuis - Colton Orr
Luke Schenn - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Keith Aulie - Jake Gardiner
Trade: Vancouver Canucks acquire LW Lauri Korpikoski, G Mark Visentin, and a 2013 2nd Round Pick from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for LW Mason Raymond and G Cory Schneider
The Canucks form half of the year's biggest 'hockey trade'. They give up Cory Schneider, but they get their goalie of the future in return with Mark Visentin. You could argue that Lauri Korpikoski is an improvement over Mason Raymond.
One of the main reasons the Canucks faltered in the 2011 Stanley Cup finally was that they were always outmatched when their fourth line went out. Simply put, they don't have one. They failed to address that this offseason, but that will be one of the key things for them. Pinizzotto would certainly bring the necessary grit to the fourth line. Gregory Campbell is the prefect candidate as well. he has emerged as one of the premier grinders in the game and is literally just what the 'Nucks are looking for.
Cody Hodgson should finally have a spot, along with Niklas Jensen, Sebastian Erixon, and Chris Tanev.
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mikael Samuelsson
Lauri Korpikoski - Cody Hodgson - Niklas Jensen
Gregory Campbell - Manny Malhotra - Steve Pinizzotto
Kevin Bieksa - Dan Hamhuis
Alexander Edler - Sebastian Erixon
Chris Tanev - Keith Ballard
Trade: Washington Capitals acquire C Anze Kopitar and LW Kyle Clifford from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for RW Alexander Semin and C Cody Eakin
Trade: Washington Capitals acquire RW PA Parenteau from the New York Islanders in exchange for D Jeff Schultz
Trade: Washington Capitals acquire LW Johan Larsson and a 2012 4th Round Pick from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for D Dennis Wideman
General Manager George McPhee has remained steadfast in that he will not trade Alexander Semin. You have to think, though, that if a trade comes along that blows his socks off he'll have to accept. He gets such an offer from the Los Angeles Kings. Giving up Semin and top young prospect Cody Eakin, the Caps get in return center Anze Kopitar and winger Kyle Clifford. Kopitar, 24, has established himself as one of the league's premier two-way centers and would be a brilliant complement to Nicklas Bäckström. Clifford, 20, is a fast developing grinder who will be a fix on the third or fourth line for a long time to come.
In the second trade, the Caps pick up a gritty goalscoring winger for a depth defenseman. He'll continue the Caps' recent trend of picking up good players who 'do the little things right'. Finally, the Caps ship defenseman Dennis Wideman to the Wild for a good prospect in Johan Larsson and continue to build on their stock for the 2012 draft with a fourth rounder.
McPhee makes one major splash in free agency, nabbing defenseman Brayden Coburn from the Flyers. The underrated 26-year-old becomes Mike Green's partner. Prospects Mattias Sjögren, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and Braden Holtby win spots.
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Bäckström - Troy Brouwer
Brooks Laich - Anze Kopitar - Evgeny Kuznetsov
Joel Ward - Marcus Johansson - PA Parenteau
Kyle Clifford - Mattias Sjögren - Matt Hendricks
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Brayden Coburn - Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov - Roman Hamrlik
Trade: Winnipeg Jets acquire RW TJ Oshie from the St Louis Blues in exchange for D Zach Bogosian
Trade: Winnipeg Jets acquire C Brian Boyle and D Mike Sauer from the New York Rangers in exchange for D Johnny Oduya and C Jim Slater
The Jets are in the center of two big trades, most notably bringing in right winger TJ Oshie from the Blues for unsettled defenseman Zach Bogosian. The 24-year-old comes in and solidifies what will be one of the league's premier lines for the next decade. The other trade sees them get top third-line center Brian Boyle and a solid defenseman for Johnny Oduya and Jim Slater.
In free agency, the Jets add a veteran D-man in Willie Mitchell. He'll come in and help mentor the Thrashers' best defensive prospect, Paul Postma. They'll also look to pick up a cheap backup goalie, that man being journeyman Alex Auld.
Carl Klingberg and Patrice Cormier will join Mark Scheifele as the team's rookies.
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - TJ Oshie
Andrew Ladd - Mark Scheifele - Eric Fehr
Carl Klingberg - Brian Boyle - Blake Wheeler
Tanner Glass - Patrice Cormier - Spencer Machacek
Dustin Byfuglien - Toby Enström
Ron Hainsey - Mike Sauer
Paul Postma - Willie Mitchell
FOLLOW JAKEY WARE ON TWITTER AT @JACOBWARE95