With the NHL season just around the corner, fans should expect a very interesting season. A lot of changes have gone on over the course of the offseason and teams look a lot different then they did before.
With free agents like Tomas Vokoun, Jaromir Jagr, Brad Richards, Christian Ehrhoff and Brooks Laich going to new teams, there are plenty of clubs who are hoping to improve in the upcoming season. Here is a look at six players who are going to have positive effects for their new teams this season.
I know that I did not include a lot of players in this article—keep that in mind if you comment on it. Enjoy.
Netminder Tomas Vokoun is one of the top goalies in the NHL. The Washington Capitals got a steal for Vokoun, signing him for a one-year, $1.5 million deal. Vokoun needs to keep playing like he did in Florida to be top-tier goalie. Over the past two seasons, Vokoun's goals against average has been a solid 2.55, and his save percentage has been an equally solid .925 and .922. Those stats helped him post 16 shutouts as well.
If Vokoun can't lead the Capitals to the playoffs this season, it will be doubtful that anyone can. Vokoun's playoff record is very shoddy, which is the downside of this great goalie. Hopefully being surrounded by a top-tier team will give Vokoun the ability to bring the Caps to the playoffs and maybe even a run at the Cup.
After an outstanding 2010-11 season in the KHL, Jaromir Jagr will be returning to the NHL as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Jagr has a long list of awards and is an outstanding hockey player. Jagr will be a very reliable player who will put away a solid number of points this season.
After deciding to take an entirely different approach to their team, the Flyers can expect Jagr to produce this season, which they are going to need. Last season for Avangard Omsk of the KHL, Jagr put away 19 goals and racked up 31 assists for 50 points. If Jagr puts up those same numbers this season, the Flyers are going to have a gotten their money back from Jagr in the form of production.
The New York Rangers won big after signing Brad Richards to a nine-year, $60 million deal. Although this price may be steep for a 31-year-old, Richards should spark the Rangers in a positive way. After Marion Gaborik had one of his most unproductive seasons in his career, the Rangers are going to look to Richards to reignite him.
Richards had a very good 2010-11 season, scoring 28 goals and 49 assists for 77 points. Richards should have no problem repeating this performance as he will be surrounded by better talent, and he will be dishing the puck to Gaborik, who should be reignited by his teammate.
Richards is a great passer and playmaker, which will make him very dangerous. He also should have no problem amping up the mediocre Ranger power play. Look for the top free agent to make a big splash with the Rangers this season.
Although Ray Emery is still currently a free agent, he recently was given a tryout with the Chicago Blackhawks. Emery is a solid goaltender who could provide some experience that the Blackhawks are currently lacking in the goalie position.
Emery would be a solid backup for the Blackhawks, providing veteran experience. Last season, Emery had a 2.28 goals against average and .926 save percentage over the 10-game period he played. Although it is doubtful that the Blackhawks will sign Emery, he may be an option for them.
Christian Ehrhoff has established himself as a top-level defensemen in the NHL. He is able to put in big minutes and do well in key situations for the Canuks. Last season, Ehrhoff scored 16 goals attributed 46 assists for 62 points.
Ehrhoff plays a physical game when he needs to, but he usually anticipates a play and uses his skating ability to make a play. Ehrhoff will also help the Sabres' power play through his passing and playmaking ability, which will only be helpful to the Sabres this season.
Look for Ehrhoff to have a productive season with the Buffalo Sabres, which should bring them back to the playoffs.
A big key to Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich is his durability. Laich has only missed a combined four games over the past four seasons. Laich is also a solid player point-wise, who will likely put up 40 to 50 points over the season. Laich works hard and is a solid two-way forward with a good set of offensive skills, which can make him a threat on the deeper lines.
Laich scored 16 goals and had 32 assists for 48 points last season with a 14 plus/minus rating. Laich is just another player that will strengthen the Capitals' offense this season, which is going to be very important to them over the course of the season.