Mid Summer Report: Dallas Stars

download (23)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Dallas Stars

Last Season’s Finish:  50-23-9 109 pts, 1st in the Central Division, lost in the second round of the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • D Dan Hamhuis (UFA)
  • D Andrew Bodnarchuk (UFA)
  • F Adam Cracknell (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • D Alex Goligoski (Arizona)
  • F Colton Sceviour (Florida)
  • F Vernon Fiddler (New Jersey)
  • D Jason Demers (Florida)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • D Jamie Oleksiak
  • D Patrik Nemeth
  • D Stephen Johns
  • F Brett Ritchie

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/14)

  • F Valeri Nichushkin

Current Cap Situation as of 8/14/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $66,415,833
  • Current salary cap space: $6,584,167

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Ales Hemsky, Cody Eakin, Antoine Roussel, Patrick Eaves, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Radek Faska, Mattias Janmark, Curtis McKenzie, Adam Cracknell
Defensemen
John Klingberg, Johnny Oduya, Dan Hamhuis, Jordie Benn, Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Stephen Johns
Goalies
Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi

 

Outlook:
Dallas was arguably the most entertaining team to watch in the NHL.  That will not change this season.  They boast the most potent offense in the league, leading the NHL with 267 goals last season.  But, they had the worst defense in the league among the teams that made the playoffs.  They set out this summer to improve on that, bringing in stay-at-home defenseman Dan Hamhuis to replace Alex Goligoski, who left in free agency.  Dallas is proving that you can win with an offense focused team in today’s nhl, and we should expect that they will make the playoffs fairly easy yet again this season.

Mid Summer Report: St. Louis Blues

download (22)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the St. Louis Blues

Last Season’s Finish:  49-24-9, 107 pts, 2nd in the Central Division, lost in the Western Conference Final

Key Arrivals:

  • F David Perron (UFA)
  • G Carter Hutton (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • F David Backes (Boston)
  • G Brian Elliott (Calgary)
  • F Troy Brouwer (Calgary)
  • F Steve Ott (Detroit)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Petteri Lindbohm
  • F Mackenzie MacEachern
  • D Jordan Schmaltz

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/14)

  • none

Current Cap Situation as of 8/14/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $69,679,582
  • Current salary cap space: $3,320,418

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Jori Lehtera, David Perron, Patrik Berglund, Ryan Reaves, Dmitrij Jaskin, Kyle Brodziak, Scottie Upshall, Robby Fabbri, Magnus Paajarvi
Defensemen
Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk, Carl Gunnarsson, Robert Bortuzzo, Joel Edmundson, Colton Parayko, Petteri Lindbohm
Goalies
Jake Allen, Carter Hutton

 

Outlook:

 

St. Louis had one of the best seasons in franchise history last season, first earning 107 points in the regular season, and then making it all the way to the conference final for just the second time since the NHL/WHA merger.  Unfortunately for them, they hit a salary cap wall this summer, and have had to sit idle as forwards David Backes and Troy Brouwer got plucked away in free agency.  Those two players represent 39 of St. Louis’ goals and 84 points last year.  They signed David Perron this summer, but his production was even less than Brouwer, never mind Backes.  So, St. Louis will need to find goals from some other sources that they already have.  Either way, St. Louis is still a strong team, and should make the playoffs again this season.  It just won’t be as easy for them this year.

Mid Summer Report: Chicago Blackhawks

download (21)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com

 

As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Chicago Blackhawks

Last Season’s Finish:  47-26-9, 103 pts, 3rd in the Central Division, lost in round 1 of the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • D Brian Campbell (UFA)
  • F Jordin Tootoo (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • F Teuvo Teravainen (Carolina)
  • F Bryan Bickell (Carolina)
  • F Andrew Shaw (Montreal)
  • F Andrew Ladd (NY Islanders)
  • F Dale Weise (Philadelphia)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Richard Panik
  • F Vincent Hinostroza
  • D Ville Pokka
  • F Nick Schmaltz
  • F Tyler Motte

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/14)

  • None

Current Cap Situation as of 8/14/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $70,601,794
  • Current salary cap space: $2,398,206

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Marcus Kruger, Richard Panik, Artemi Panarin, Andrew Desjardins, Jordin Tootoo, Vincent Hinostroza, Dennis Rasmussen, Brandon Mashinter
Defensemen
Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brian Campbell, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Michal Kempny, Erik Gustafsson, Michal Rozsival
Goalies
Corey Crawford, Scott Darling

 

Outlook:

 

Chicago is one of the best teams in the league, period.  In the last 8 years, they have won the Stanley Cup 3 times, lost in the Western Conference Final twice, and lost in the first round of the playoffs 3 times.  All of that extra hockey can be hell on the players, which is likely a factor why last year was one of their first round exits after playing 11 rounds of playoff hockey in the three years prior to that.  So, they should come into this season much more fresh, not that they need it.  They should have no trouble making the playoffs again this season.  They are arguably the most top heavy team in the league, which makes them vulnerable to injuries.  They have a lot of guys with big contracts, so they have no choice to fill the bottom two lines with guys that earn under $1 million per year.  But, no matter what, the Blackhawks can almost treat the regular season as their pre-season.  Once the playoffs begin in April, Chicago will again be the team to beat in the west.

Mid Summer Report: Nashville Predators

download (20)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Nashville Predators

Last Season’s Finish:  41-27-14, 96 pts, 4th in the Central Division, lost in the second round of the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • D P.K. Subban (Trade)
  • D Yannick Weber (UFA)
  • D Matt Carle (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • F Cody Hodgson (UFA)
  • F Gabriel Bourque (UFA)
  • F Eric Nystrom (UFA)
  • D Shea Weber (Montreal)
  • D Barret Jackman (UFA)
  • G Carter Hutton (St. Louis)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Colton Sissons
  • D Petter Granberg
  • D Anthony Bitetto

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/14)

  • None

Current Cap Situation as of 8/14/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $67,585,831
  • Current salary cap space: $5,414,169

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, Ryan Johansen, Colin Wilson, Mike Ribeiro, Calle Jarnkrok, Viktor Arvidsson, Colton Sissons, Cody Bass, Miikka Salomaki, Austin Watson
Defensemen
PK Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Matthew Carle, Petter Granberg, Anthony Bitetto, Yannick Weber
Goalies
Pekka Rinne, Marek Mazanec

 

Outlook:

Nashville made a huge splash this summer by being part of the trade of the year in the NHL.  Two days prior to free agency opened on July 1, the Predators traded defenseman Shea Weber for Montreal’s P.K. Subban.  It has been a very unpopular move so far with Montreal fans, as Subban was a fan favorite there, as well as their best defenseman by far.  Well, Weber now goes to Montreal and assumes the undisputed #1 defenseman role, but he is 4 years older than Subban.  Subban was a controversial figure in Montreal, as apparently, the upper brass with the team felt he was becoming bigger than the team, and there is no room for that.  Subban comes to Nashville, and his individuality will not only be accepted, but encouraged.  In a non-traditional hockey market like Nashville, Subban will singlehandedly put butts in the seats, not that they need help.  This team has been very strong for several years now, and fan support has been strong as a result.  They should continue to be a strong team this season, and with Subban on the team, they will be even more fun to watch.  The only thing left for Nashville to do is finally advance past the second round of the playoffs, which is something they have yet to accomplish.

 

Mid Summer Report: Minnesota Wild

download (19)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Minnesota Wild

Last Season’s Finish:  38-33-11, 87 pts, 5th in the Central Division, lost in 1st round of the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • F Eric Staal (UFA)
  • F Chris Stewart (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • F Thomas Vanek (Detroit)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Alex Tuch

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/13)

  • None

Current Cap Situation as of 8/13/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $70,831,087
  • Current salary cap space: $2,168,913

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Eric Staal, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker, Chris Stewart, Erik Haula, Jordan Schroeder, Zac Dalpe
Defensemen
Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, Matt Dumba, Christian Folin, Nate Prosser
Goalies
Devan Dubnyk, Darcy Kuemper

 

 

Outlook:

Minnesota made the playoffs for the 4th season in a row, but once again, got eliminated early, this time, losing in the first round.  The road will be difficult for them any year, as they will almost have to get past the Chicago Blackhawks if they are going to go deep in the playoffs.  That said, the Wild has been very quiet this summer outside of signing their restricted free agents.  They have had only one unrestricted free agent signing worth noting, as they brought in Eric Staal to essentially replace Thomas Vanek, who’s contract was bought out.  Other than that, this team will look very much like last year’s team.  This is a team that would easily make the playoffs in any other division than the Central Division.  But, in the Central Division, they will have to scratch and claw for every point they get.  They will surely be one of the teams that is right there in the last week of the season.  What side of the playoff cut line they end up on when the season ends will be up to them.

Mid Summer Report: Colorado Avalanche

download (18)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the

Last Season’s Finish:  39-39-4, 82 pts, 6th in the Central Division, missed the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • F Rocco Grimaldi (Trade)
  • F Turner Elson (UFA)
  • D Patrick Wiercioch (UFA)
  • F Joe Colborne (UFA)
  • D Fedor Tyutin (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • D Nick Holden (NY Rangers)
  • F Shawn Matthias (Winnipeg)
  • D Zach Redmond (Montreal)
  • F Mikkel Boedker (San Jose)
  • D Andrew Bodnarchuk (Dallas)
  • D Nate Guenin (Anaheim)
  • D Brandon Gormley (New Jersey)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Rocco Grimaldi
  • D Nikita Zadorov
  • D Chris Bigras

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/13)

  • None

Current Cap Situation as of 8/13/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $72,040,593
  • Current salary cap space: $959,407

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Jarome Iginla, Carl Soderberg, Joe Colborne, Blake Comeau, John Mitchell, Cody McLeod, Mikhail Grigorenko, Rocco Grimaldi, Andreas Martinsen, Turner Elson
Defensemen
Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Francois Beauchemin, Fedor Tyutin, Eric Gelinas, Nikita Zadorov, Chris Bigras, Patrick Wiercioch
Goalies
Semyon Varlamov, Calvin Pickard

 

Outlook:

 

Colorado’s summer had been relatively quiet.  Sure, their list of players coming and going is fairly long, but all of the changes were to the bottom two lines and their AHL affiliate in San Antonio.  But, on Thursday, August 11, their quiet summer became a wild summer, when Head Coach/VP of Player Operations,  Patrick Roy Suddenly resigned effective immediately.  Roy sited differences in the direction of the team that he and Ownership/Management had as the reason for his decision. This resignation leaves the team scrambling to find a coach when training camp is less than a month away.    Even without Roy’s resignation, it was going to be a difficult road ahead for the Avalanche this upcoming season.  Colorado finished out of the playoffs for the second consecutive season last season, and they effectively did nothing to improve the team through free agency.  Their top pick in this year’s draft, Tyson Jost, is just entering his freshman season at North Dakota, so his arrival in Colorado is years away.  So, this season looks to be a continuation of the rebuilding that has gone on in the last few years.

 

Mid Summer Report: Winnipeg Jets

download (17)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the

Last Season’s Finish:  35-39-8, 78 pts, 7th in the Central Division, missed the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • F Shawn Matthias (UFA)
  • F Quinton Howden (UFA)
  • D Brian Strait (UFA)
  • F Patrik Laine (Draft)

Key Departures:

  • None

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Patrik Laine
  • F Marco Dano
  • F Brandon Tanev
  • F JC Lipon

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/12)

  • D Jacob Trouba
  • F JC Lipon

Current Cap Situation as of 8/12/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $65,430,791
  • Current salary cap space: $7,569,209

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Drew Stafford, Mathieu Perreault, Shawn Matthias, Alexander Burmistrov, Chris Thorburn, Adam Lowry, Joel Armia, Patrik Laine, Andrew Copp, Marko Dano, Nikolaj Ehlers, Brandon Tanev, Anthony Peluso, Quinton Howden, JC Lipon
Defensemen
Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, Tyler Myers, Mark Stuart, Jacob Touba, Paul Postma, Ben Chiarot, Brian Strait
Goalies
Ondrej Pavelec, Michael Hutchinson

 

Outlook:

Winnipeg finished in last place in a very tough Central Division last year.  Fans in Winnipeg didn’t care.  They are still thrilled that they have a team in Winnipeg again.  Obviously, they want their team to be better, and they will be in a few seasons.  This team is building its foundation through the draft, as Winnipeg isn’t the largest market in the league.  The Jets’ biggest addition this summer was at the draft, when they took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick, right behind Auston Matthews, who went to Toronto.  All the experts say Laine is NHL ready now, and should make the Jets roster right away.  A few are even saying Laine was the best player in this year’s draft.  Time will tell on that one, but if he is ready, and some of the younger players take another step forward in their development, Winnipeg will make things interesting in the Central Division.  But it may not be enough.  With strong teams like Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville, and Minnesota in their division, making the playoffs will be a tall order.  Perhaps in a season or two they will.

Mid Summer Reports: Florida Panthers

downloadBy Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Florida Panthers

Last Season’s Finish:  47-26-9, 103 pts, 1st in the Atlantic Division, lost in the first round of the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • F Jaren McCann (Trade)
  • D Keith Yandle (Trade)
  • D Mark Pysyk (Trade)
  • G James Reimer (UFA)
  • F Colton Sceviour (UFA)
  • D Jason Demers (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • D Erik Gudbranson (Vancouver)
  • F Rocco Grimaldi (Colorado)
  • D Dmitri Kulikov (Buffalo)
  • D Brian Campbell (Chicago)
  • G Al Montoya (Montreal)
  • F Quinton Howden (Winnipeg)
  • F Teddy Purcell (Los Angeles)
  • D Willie Mitchell (retired)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Jared McCann
  • D Michael Matheson

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/12)

  • none

Current Cap Situation as of 8/12/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $69,283,332
  • Current salary cap space: $3,716,668

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Aleksander Barkov, Dave Bolland, Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad, Jaromir Jagr, Jussi Jokinen, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Huberdeau, Derek Mackenzie, Colton Sceviour, Jared McCann, Jonathan Marchessault, Greg McKegg, Shawn Thornton
Defensemen
Keith Yandle, Jason Demers, Jakub Kindl, Mark Pysyk, Alex Petrovic, Aaron Ekblad, Michael Matheson, Steven Kampfer
Goalies
Roberto Luongo, James Reimer, Reto Berra

 

Outlook:

 

Florida had their best regular season in franchise history last season, finishing with 103 points, and winning the Atlantic Division title.  They earned just their 5th playoff berth in their 22 year history.  Unfortunately, they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the New York Islanders.  But, it was a big step in the right direction for a team that has struggled with attendance issues during the last several years.  They have made a bunch of moves over the summer, but most of them involved role players and older veterans.  With the exception of Jaromir Jagr, Dave Bolland, and Jussi Jokinen, who are all returning this fall, this team’s core is made up of a bunch of guys under the age of 25.  This group was left intact from last season to this season, so it is reasonable to expect that the Panthers will continue to be one of the best teams in the Atlantic Division again this season.  In fact, fans in Florida should be excited as this team should remain competitive for years to come, as long as they can hang on to their core of young guns like Barkov, Trochek, Bjugstad, Smith, Huberdeau, and Ekblad.

Mid Summer Report: Tampa Bay Lightning

download (14)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Tampa Bay Lightning

Last Season’s Finish:  46-31-5, 97 pts, 2nd in the Atlantic Division, lost in the Eastern Conference Final

Key Arrivals:

  • D James Wisniewski (Pro tryout contract)

Key Departures:

  • D Matt Carle (Nashville)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Jonathan Drouin

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/12)

  • F Nikita Kucherov
  • D Nikita Nesterov

Current Cap Situation as of 8/12/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $66,408,333
  • Current salary cap space: $6,591,667

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Valtteri Filppula, Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Bryan Boyle, Vladislav Namestnikov, J.T. Brown, Erik Condra, Jonathan Drouin, Cedric Paquette, Nikita Kucherov
Defensemen
Jason Garrison, Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman, Brayden Coburn, Andrej Sustr, Nikita Nesterov, Matt Taormina
Goalies
Ben Bishop, Andrei Vasilevskiy

 

Outlook:
Tampa Bay is the most stable team in the NHL in terms of player turnover from the 2015-2016 season to the 2016-2017 season.  They wouldn’t have it any other way, either.  Last season, they went all the way to the Eastern Conference Final before bowing out to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  They only had one major question mark entering the summer, and that was what pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos would do.  It began to look like he was going to test free agency and possibly leave Tampa Bay, and rumors flew around the league at his possible destination.  There were about a dozen teams who were going to make an offer to land the free agent center.  Ultimately, to the disappointment of 29 fan bases, he decided to stay put in Tampa Bay, and he signed a 8-year deal worth $8.5M per year (average annual value).  Once Stamkos was signed, everything else fell into place.  Every other player on their roster that needed to be signed was a restricted free agent.  At the time of this posting, they still need to sign Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov, and with only about $6.5 million in cap space left, it could be tight, as Kucherov is a major part of the offense in Tampa Bay.  Assuming they eventually signs Kucherov, the Lightning will be a playoff team again this season, and they should be considered on of the Stanley Cup contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Mid Summer Report: Detroit Red Wings

download (13)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Detroit Red Wings

Last Season’s Finish:  41-30-11, 93 pts, 3rd in the Atlantic Division, lost in round 1 of playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • F Frans Nielsen (UFA)
  • F Thomas Vanek (UFA)
  • F Steve Ott (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • F Joakim Andersson (Sweden)
  • F Brad Richards (Retired)
  • F Pavel Datsyuk (Russia)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Andreas Athanasiou

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/12)

  • none

Current Cap Situation as of 8/12/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $77,867,042
  • Current salary cap space: $0 (OVER by $4,867,042)

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Henrik Zetterberg, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Tomas Tatar, Thomas Vanek, Riley Sheahan, Drew Miller, Dylan Larkin, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen, Steve Ott, Luke Clendening, Andreas Athanasiou, Johan Franzen (IR), Joe Vitale (IR)
Defensemen
Mike Green, Danny Dekeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Brendan Smith, Alexey Marchenko
Goalies
Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek

 

Outlook:

Detroit is a veteran team that is beginning to get themselves into cap hell.  As of the day this was written, they were actually over that salary cap maximum by almost $4.9 million.  That is ok, as long as Johan Franzen ($3.9M) and Joe Vitale ($1.1M) remain on IR.  But if those two players become healthy, they will need to free up enough space to fit them under the cap.  That’s something worth keeping an eye on.  As for the rest of the team, it will look very close to the team that squeaked into the playoffs last season.  The only major changes were at the forward position, where Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek were brought in to replace retiring Brad Richards and Pavel Datsuyk.  The defensemen and goaltenders remain the same as last year.  The Wings should continue to be a strong team in the east, and their streak of 25 consecutive playoff appearances should continue for a 26th season.

Mid Summer Report: Boston Bruins

download (12)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com
As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Boston Bruins

Last Season’s Finish:  42-31-9, 93 pts, 4th in the Atlantic Division, missed the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • F David Backes (UFA)
  • G Anton Khudobin (UFA)
  • F Riley Nash (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • F Max Talbot (KHL)
  • D Dennis Seidenberg (UFA)
  • F Loui Eriksson (Vancouver)
  • D Zach Trotman (Los Angeles)
  • G Jonas Gustavsson (Edmonton)
  • F Lee Stempniak (Carolina)
  • F Brett Connolly (Washington)
  • F Chris Kelly (Ottawa)
  • F Landon Ferraro (St Louis)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Frank Vatrano
  • F Noel Acciari
  • F Tyler Randell
  • D Joe Morrow
  • D Matt Grzelcyk

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/9)

  • none

Current Cap Situation as of 8/9/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $66,268,333
  • Current salary cap space: $6,731,667

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Brad Marchand, Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak, Riley Nash, Frank Vatrano, Noel Acciari, Tyler Randell
Defensemen
Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, John-Michael Liles, Colin Miller, Joe Morrow
Goalies
Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin

 

Outlook:

The Bruins are a team in transition.  After winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, then returning to the finals in 2013, they began to feel the salary cap pinch as a result of their success.  They had to start shedding some of their assets due to being unable to fit them under the cap.  Moved out were key members of the team, like Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, and Milan Lucic.  As a result of these moves, the Bruins came back down to earth.  While they still made the playoffs in 2014, they lost in the second round.  The fall continued in 2015 and 2016, as they failed to make the playoffs both years, although they ended up 9th both years.  So, having missed the playoffs two straight years, GM Don Sweeney set out to really turn hits team toward the future.  He started by buying out Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on June 30, then chose not to resign several veteran players who were headed for unrestricted free agency, including Loui Eriksson, Lee Stempniak, Brett Connolly, and Chris Kelly.  This effectively got the Bruins out of salary cap jail after having been there for the last several years.  Sweeney wasted no time using his newly found salary cap room, signing veteran forward David Backes.  There was a lot of talk out of Boston that the Bruins were also looking to add a free agent defenseman, but to date, they have yet to land a top-4 D-man.  So, at this time, it looks as though the Bruins will be heading into the 16-17 season relying on a lot of their youth. Good thing they have plenty of it.  Unfortunately, it looks like it is going to be a difficult season for Boston fans this season, unless some of their prospects perform much better than expected.  Most of the core of the 2011 team is still in Boston, so don’t count them out, but it looks like 16-17 will be a lot like the last couple seasons.

The Hockey Nuts Podcast: Season 1, Episode 2 is live!

The Hockey Nuts logo finalSeason 1, Episode 2, recorded Wednesday, August 3, 2016 has been released.  In episode 2, Wayne and Steve get you updated with what’s been going on around the NHL since the last episode.  They also start talking World Cup of Hockey, running down the newly released final rosters of all 8 teams, and giving their initial impressions of each team.  Subscribe to the show using your favorite podcatcher by adding the following rss feed:

The Hockey Nuts Podcast RSS Feed:

http://thehockeynuts.libsyn.com/rss

 

Here is a direct link to episode 2:

 

Mid Summer Report: Ottawa Senators

download (10)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com

As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Ottawa Senators

Last Season’s Finish:  38-35-9, 85 pts, 5th in the Atlantic Division, missed the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • F Chris Kelly (UFA)
  • F Derrick Brassard (Trade)

Key Departures:

  • D Chris Phillips (Retired)
  • F Alex Chiasson (Calgary)
  • F Mika Zibanejad (NY Rangers)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • D Thomas Chabot

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/8)

  • D Cody Ceci

Current Cap Situation as of 8/8/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $64,139,166
  • Current salary cap space: $8,860,834

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Bobby Ryan, Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard, Clarke MacArthur, Kyle Turris, Mark Stone, Zack Smith, Chris Neil, Jean Gabriel Pageau, Chris Kelly, Matt Puempel, Curtis Lazar, Ryan Dzingel, Nicholas Paul
Defensemen
Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Mark Borowiecki, Cody Ceci, Chris Wideman, Michael Kostka
Goalies
Craig Anderson, Andrew Hammond

 

Outlook:

Ottawa hasn’t done much so far this summer.  Their team is going to look a lot like it did last summer.  The only change at the top of the lineup was the trade with the Rangers, bringing in Derick Brassard, and shipping out Mika Zabanejad.  Brassard is an upgrade in the near term over Zabanejad, but in the long run, say, 3 or more seasons away, Mika Zabanejad will likely be the better player.  But this one move, which was basically the only one worth making a fuss over, is not going to improve the Sens enough to make them a contender in the east.  Sure, they will be right there near the playoff cut line at the end of the season, and they may end up grabbing a wildcard spot, but that will likely be as far as this team goes.

Mid Summer Report: Montreal Canadiens

download (9)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com

As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Montreal Canadiens

Last Season’s Finish:  38-38-6, 82 pts, 6th in the Atlantic Division, missed the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • D Shea Weber (Trade)
  • D Zach Redmond (UFA)
  • G Al Montoya (UFA)
  • F Andrew Shaw (Trade)
  • F Alexander Radulov (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • F Lars Eller (Washington)
  • D PK Subban (Nashville)
  • D Tom Gilbert (Los Angeles)
  • G Ben Scrivens (KHL)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Stefan Matteau
  • F Dan Carr

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/8)

  • none

Current Cap Situation as of 8/8/16 (source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $71,569,641
  • Current salary cap space: $1,430,359

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Tomas Plekanec, Alexander Radulov, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw, Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais, Alex Galchenyuk, Torrey Mitchell, Paul Byron, Brian Flynn, Phillip Danault, Daniel Carr, Sven Andrighetto, Stefan Matteau
Defensemen
Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, Jeff Petry, Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn, Mark Barberio, Zach Redmond
Goalies
Carey Price, Al Montoya

 

Outlook:

Montreal started the season last season white hot, winning their first 9 games of the season.  They were 19-4-3 and the best team in the NHL on December 1, but a few games prior, defending Hart Trophy winning goaltender Carey Price hurt his knee for the second time that season.  This time, he never came back, and Montreal began tumbling down the standings.  They won only 3 games in December, and by January 1, they had fallen to 5th in the East.  They won just 3 games in January as well, and by February 1, they had fallen to 12th in the East.  They played roughly .500 hockey the rest of the way, but by then, it was too late, and they finished the season 13th in the East and missed the playoffs.  Losing Price was a huge factor in the team’s plunge, but this summer, we found out that there was likely another big reason for the fall.  The hockey world shook on June 29, when Montreal traded PK Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber.  In the weeks following the trade, stories began to emerge that the Montreal locker room may not have been as cohesive as it needed to be, and Subban was being looked at as a possible cause of the rift in the room.  So, Montreal decided to move him in a blockbuster deal with Nashville.  But that wasn’t the only move Montreal made this summer.  Four days earlier, they traded a pair of second round picks to Chicago for forward Andrew Shaw, and on July 1, they signed Russian star forward Alexander Radulov to a 1 year contract.  They were smart to sign Radulov to just 1 year commitment, as he has a long history of being a malcontent everywhere he’s been, which includes two other stints in the NHL, both with Nashville.  Montreal is banking on the third time being the charm.  This team is a playoff caliber team, as long as Carey Price remains healthy.  Montreal signed goalie Al Montoya as insurance, showing they don’t feel Mike Condon can handle the starting job should Price get hurt.

Mid Summer Report: Buffalo Sabres

download (8)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com

As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Buffalo Sabres

Last Season’s Finish:  35-36-11, 81 pts, 7th in the Atlantic Division, missed the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • D Dmitri Kulikov (Trade)
  • F Kyle Okposo (UFA)
  • D Justin Falk (UFA)
  • G Anders Nilsson (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • D Mark Pysyk (Florida)
  • G Chad Johnson (Calgary)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Alexander Nylander

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/8)

  • F Zemgus Girgensons
  • D Rasmus Ristolainen

Current Cap Situation as of 8/8/16 (source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $63,312,022
  • Current salary cap space: $9,687,978

Expected active roster

Forwards
Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane, Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis, Brian Gionta, Marcus Foligno, Johan Larsson, Jack Eichel, Zemgus Girgensons, Sam Reinhart, Nicolas Deslauriers, Cal O’Reilly
Defensemen
Zach Bogosian, Dmitry Kulikov, Josh Gorges, Cody Franson, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen, Justin Falk
Goalies
Robin Lehner, Anders Nilsson

 

 

Outlook:

The Sabres are in a similar position as several teams in the NHL.  Similar to teams like Edmonton, Toronto, Phoenix, and Carolina, the Sabres are in the midst of a total rebuild from the ground up.  Developmentally, they are a season or two ahead of most of the above mentioned teams.  They made a ton of big moves last summer, and it resulted in an improvement of 12 wins and 27 points in the standings from the 14-15 season to the 15-16 season.  They also added 40 goals for and cut goals against by 52 goals.  This summer, the improvements continued with the adding of forward Kyle Okposo (UFA) and defenseman Dmitri Kulikov (Trade).  Those additions, combined with the continued maturation of several young players that they currently have should result in another step upward in the standings.  They should contend for a playoff spot, but they are probably not yet ready to contend for the Stanley Cup.  But, they are getting closer.

Mid Summer Report: Toronto Maple Leafs

download (7)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com

As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Toronto Maple Leafs

Last Season’s Finish:  29-42-11, 69 pts, 8th in the Atlantic Division, missed the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • G Frederik Andersen (Trade)
  • F Matt Martin (UFA)
  • D Roman Polak (UFA)
  • F Auston Matthews (Draft)

Key Departures:

  • F P-A Parenteau (NY Islanders)
  • F Michael Grabner (NY Rangers)
  • G Jonathan Bernier (Anaheim)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • F Auston Matthews
  • F Mitch Marner
  • F William Nylander
  • F Tobias Lindberg

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 8/8/16)

  • None

Current Cap Situation as of 8/8/16 (source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $72,944,084
  • Current salary cap space: $55,916

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri, Brooks Laich, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov, Colin Greening, Matt Martin, Peter Holland, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Tobias Lindberg, Byron Froese
Defensemen
Morgan Reilly, Jake Gardiner, Roman Polak, Martin Marincin, Matt Hunwick, Nikita Zaitsev, Frank Corrado
Goalies
Frederik Anderson, ???(TBA)

 

Outlook:

The Leafs are in the middle of a complete organizational rebuild.  It began at the end of the 2013-2014 season, when Brendan Shanahan left his job as NHL’s Senior Vice President to become the Leafs’ president and alternate governor.  Last summer, Shanahan brought on Lou Lamoriello to replace Dave Nonis at GM.  They also turned over the entire coaching staff, hiring Mike Babcock away from the Detroit Red Wings to be the head coach, then hiring several new assistants.  While Shanahan was busy rebuilding the front office from the ground up, he began turning over the team, letting older and/or ineffective players go, while restocking the proverbial cupboard with young prospects.  The results have not shown on the ice yet, but fans in Toronto are very excited for the future of the team.  Their biggest story of this off-season has been the drafting Auston Matthews with the first overall pick in the draft back in June.  Matthews is only 18, but he spent last season in the Swiss league, playing against full grown men.  The Arizona native scored 46 points in 36 games in that league, with 7 more points in 4 playoff games.  He followed that up with 9 points in 10 games for team USA in the World Championships, tying Dylan Larkin (Red Wings) for the team lead.  He led the team in goals, with 6.  With performances like that, it’s no wonder the fans in Toronto are excited.  He appears NHL ready now.  Even in the likely event Matthews makes the team, it’s unlikely the Leafs will make the playoffs this season.  They will, however, be a more difficult team to beat, and they will be more fun to watch.

 

Mid Summer Report: Anaheim Ducks

download (6)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com

As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Anaheim Ducks

Last Season’s Finish:  46-25-11, 103 pts, 1st in the Pacific Division, Lost in the first round of the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • F Mason Raymond (UFA)
  • F Jaren Boll (UFA)
  • G Jonathan Bernier (Trade)

Key Departures:

  • G Frederik Andersen (Toronto)
  • F Brandon Pirri (UFA)
  • F David Perron (St Louis)
  • G Anton Khudobin (Boston)
  • F Chris Stewart (Minnesota)
  • F Jamie McGinn (Arizona)
  • F Mike Santorelli (Switzerland)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • G Kevin Boyle
  • D Andy Welinski

 

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 7/31)

  • D Hampus Lindholm
  • F Rickard Rakell

Current Cap Situation as of 7/31 (source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $63,729,166
  • Current salary cap space: $9,270,834

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg, Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Garbutt, Nate Thompson, Jared Boll, Rickard Rackell, Mason Raymond, Chris Wagner
Defensemen
Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, Kevin Bieksa, Simon Despres, Clayton Stoner, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Korbinian Holzer
Goalies
Jonathan Bernier, John Gibson

 

 

Outlook:

 

The Ducks are a veteran squad that had a great regular season last year, finishing the year with a regular season division title.  Unfortunately, they lost yet another game 7 in the first round at home to Nashville, their 4th straight home loss in a game 7.  As a result, they decided to make changes, starting with the head coach.  They fired Bruce Boudreau, and re-hired the coach they fired 5 years ago, Randy Carlyle.  They also made a trade with Toronto, essentially trading goaltenders, sending Frederik Andersen to Toronto, and having Jonathan Bernier come to Anaheim.  Other than the goalies, the core of this team remains intact from a year ago, so their performance should be similar to the last several years.  They should make the playoffs fairly easily.  Once there, time will tell whether the coaching and goaltending changes will be enough to get them over their game 7 woes.

Mid Summer Report: Los Angeles Kings

download (5)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com

As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Los Angeles Kings

Last Season’s Finish:  48-28-6, 102 pts, 2nd in the Pacific Division, Lost in round 1 of the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • D Zach Trotman (UFA)
  • G Jeff Zatkoff (UFA)
  • F Michael Latta (UFA)
  • F Teddy Purcell

Key Departures:

  • F Vincent Lecavalier (retired)
  • F Milan Lucic (Edmonton)
  • D Jamie McBain (Arizona)
  • D Luke Schenn (Arizona)
  • F Kris Versteeg (Switzerland)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • None known

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 7/28)

  • none

Current Cap Situation as of 7/28/16
(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $72,970,227
  • Current salary cap space: $29,773

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik, Tyler Toffoli, Trevor Lewis, Dwight King, Kyle Clifford, Teddy Purcell, Tanner Pearson, Jordan Nolan, Nic Dowd, Nick Shore, Michael Latta, Andy Andreoff
Defensemen
Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene, Brayden McNabb, Tom Gilbert, Zach Trotman
Goalies
Jonathan Quick, Jeff Zatkoff

 

 

Outlook:

 

The Kings are stuck in salary cap hell, and it is beginning to affect them on the ice.  They were unable to keep Milan Lucic, Luke Schenn, Jamie McBain, and Kris Versteeg this summer, as the team’s payroll is right up against the cap.  They also don’t have a very deep group coming up through the system, as they have only picked once in the first round in the last 3 years.  So, for the next several years, or as long as they remain in cap hell, they will need to fill out their 3rd and 4th lines with bargain-basement players.  8 players on the current roster are consuming almost $47 million in cap space, and all of those contracts have at least 3 years remaining, forcing them to be a very top heavy team for the next several years.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as this core group remains healthy and productive.  The Kings are led by Anze Kopitar ($10M), Drew Doughty ($7M), Dustin Brown ($5.8M), and Jonathan Quick ($5.8M).  They also have strong players like Jeff Carter, Marion Gaborik, Tyler Toffoli, Jake Muzzin, and Alec Martinez.  This core group make the Kings as good as any team in the NHL in terms of top two 5-man units.  This group has made the Kings a contender nearly every year for several years now, and barring any long-term injuries to these key players, that should continue for several more years.

Mid Summer Report: San Jose Sharks

download (4)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com

As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the San Jose Sharks

Last Season’s Finish:  46-30-6, 75 pts, 3rd in the Pacific Division, lost in Stanley Cup Final

Key Arrivals:

  • D David Schlemko (UFA)
  • F Mikkel Boedker (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • G James Reimer (Florida)
  • D Roman Polak (Toronto)
  • D Matt Tennyson (Carolina)

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • D Mirco Mueller
  • F Marcus Sorensen
  • F Timo Meier
  • D Jeremy Roy

Unsigned RFAs (as of 7/29)

Current Cap Situation as of 7/29/16 (source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $72,004,164
  • Current salary cap space: $995,836

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Mikkel Boedker, Joel Ward, Tomas Hertl, Tommy Wingels, Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi, Matt Nieto, Chris Tierny, Michael Haley
Defensemen
Brent Burns, Paul Martin, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon, David Schlemko, Mirco Mueller, Dylan Demelo
Goalies
Martin Jones, Mantas Armalis

 

 

Outlook:

 

San Jose is coming off their best season in franchise history.  They went deeper in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than they ever had before, coming to within 2 wins from winning the Stanley Cup.  The good news is, the core of this team remains intact going into 2016-2017, so expect them to get yet another shot at their elusive first Stanley Cup.  The Sharks have been very quiet so far this summer, as all of their moves so far have only involved players that are well down the depth chart.  This is a veteran laden team, so the prospects they do have will have a tough time cracking the lineup.  One spot that is wide open on this team, however, is at the backup goalie position, which was previously held by James Reimer.  Reimer signed to be Roberto Luongo’s backup in Florida on July 1.  So far, San Jose has signed only 1 free agent goalie, Mantas Armalis, who played in Sweden last season.  They also have 2 other goalies signed in their system, Aaron Dell and Troy Grosenick.  All three will likely get a shot in training camp, but it looks like the job is Armalis’ to lose.  Martin Jones remains the clear #1 in San Jose, especially after his great run in the playoffs last season.  Ultimately, you will see basically the same Sharks team that you saw last spring.  The big question is, can they pick up where they left off, and can they sustain it for another long season after having a shorter summer than 28 other teams in the league?

Mid Summer Report: Arizona Coyotes

download (3)By Wayne Hallee @waynehallee9 at thehockeynuts.com

As we enter the dog days of summer, activity around the NHL slows down.  Most of the big-name free agents are off the board, and everyone is enjoying some much needed time off before everything heats up in the fall.  During this time, we are taking a look at all 30 teams to see where they are and what they still need to do.  Today, we look at the Arizona Coyotes

Last Season’s Finish:  35-39-8, 78 pts, 4th in the Pacific Division, missed the playoffs

Key Arrivals:

  • D Alex Goligoski (trade)
  • F Jamie McGinn (UFA)
  • D Jamie McBain (UFA)
  • G Justin Peters (UFA)
  • F Ryan White (UFA)
  • D Luke Schenn (UFA)

Key Departures:

  • F Boyd Gordon
  • F Viktor Tikhonov
  • F Kyle Chipchura

Breakthrough Candidates:

  • D Kyle Wood
  • G Adin Hill
  • F Dylan Strome

Unsigned RFA’s (as of 7/28)

  • F Tobias Reider

Current Cap Situation as of 7/28/16(source: generalfanager.com)

  • League salary ceiling: $73,000,000
  • League salary floor: $54,000,000
  • Current salary cap hit: $66,657,838
  • Current salary cap space: $6,342,162

 

Expected active roster

Forwards
Shane Doan, Antoine Vermette, Jamie McGinn, Martin Hanzal, Brad Richardson, Ryan White, Dylan Strome, Max Domi, Tobias Rieder, Anthony Duclair, Laurent Dauphin, Jordan Martinook
Defensemen
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Michael Stone, Connor Murphy, Zbynek Michalek, Luke Schenn, Kevin Connauton, Klas Dahlbeck, Jakob Chychrun 
Goalies
Mike Smith, Louis Domingue

 

Outlook:

 

The Coyotes have missed the playoffs 10 of the last 13 years.  They have had off and on ownership and arena issues during that time.  They have even been the subject of near constant relocation rumors.  With all of this adversity off the ice, it has been a struggle to get and keep good players in the desert, with the exception of Shane Doan, of course.  Their on-ice struggles have allowed them to stockpile draft picks, which translates to blue chip prospects.  We started to see the product of their rebuilding efforts (through the draft) last season, and it will continue this season.  Currently, their active roster contains no less than 12 players that are 26 or under.  Unlike some teams who have their young players populating the 3rd and 4th lines, the Coyotes are being led by their young stars.  Three of the top 4 scorers from last season are under 25.  The other was 38 year old veteran Shane Doan.  Oliver Ekman-Larsson, 24, Max Domi, 20, Doan, and Anthony Duclair, 20 led a balanced scoring Coyotes team that had 10 players with at least 30 points last season.  19 year old Dylan Strome is also expected to make the team in the fall, adding to the young talent they already have.  They finished with 9 players with double digit goal totals, and Strome should make that 10.  That makes Arizona a tough team to play against.  Expect the players under 25 to continue to develop.  If they do, Arizona will push closer to making the playoffs in 2017.