Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Open the floodgate

The free agency period has started, and there have been almost too many moves to count. It seems every team has made a major trade, or signed a major free agent. I might post some more general thoughts later, but for now, I'm going to discuss the changes in the Pacific division in detail. There are just too many moves to really do a league-wide analysis justice while keeping it under 5000 words.

I did my best to get the gained/lost lists right, but I gleaned them by hand from the ESPN NHL transaction list. I can't use the team transaction pages because it doesn't have the players lost.

Anaheim Ducks - Upgrade
Lost: Joffrey Lupol, Ladislav Smid, Jeff Friesen, Ruslan Salei, draft picks
Gained: Chris Pronger
Seems like the Ducks lost a lot, but they gained more. Lupol and Salei were good players, but nowhere on the same level as Pronger. No doubt they got better. Their power play, with Niedermayer and Pronger on the point, will be fearsome to behold.

Dallas Stars - Downgrade
Lost: Jason Arnott, Bill Guerin, Willie Mitchell, Johan Hedberg, Niko Kapanen, 7th rounder
Gained: Darryl Sydor, Patrick Stefan, Jaroslav Modry, Jeff Halpern, Matthew Barnaby
Losing Arnott and Guerin hurts the Stars. They gained two good but not great defensemen in Sydor (who played in Dallas from 1996 through 2003) and Modry. Patrick Stefan may in fact be the worst #1 pick in the last 20 years. Maybe Alexander Daigle was worse, depends if you ask an Ottawa fan. I personally thought Willie Mitchell was one of the best trade deadline pickups of last season, and they let him go for nothing. Dallas will certainly not win the division next season.

Los Angeles Kings - Downgrade
Lost: Pavol Demitra, Jeremy Roenick, Joe Corvo, Mark Parrish
Gained: Brian Willsie, Alyn McAuley, Scott Thornton, Rob Blake, Patrick O'Sullivan
I only rate the Kings as a slight downgrade. They traded Demitra on draft day for O'Sullivan and draft picks (they got Jonathan Bernier with their first round pick, no relation to Steve). Blake will help on the power play, but he's 36- there's no way to predict how many games he'll play. Demitra was rickety too, so it's hard to say how many games were lost by trading him. Corvo and Parrish were pretty big hits, especially since Parrish went to a Western team. Roenick is barely a role player at this point.

Phoenix Coyotes - Upgrade
Lost: Paul Mara, picks
Gained: Ed Jovonovski, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Morrison, Nick Boynton, picks
The Boynton-for-Mara deal was another dumb trade for the Bruins. Mara has slightly more offensive upside, but Boynton is bigger, stronger, and a solid defensive plus player. Jovanovski was one of the biggest free agent signings so far. Roenick was probably a PR move more than anything else, but could end up being a nice surprise in the scoring department. The Coyotes will be much tougher on D this year, and could be a playoff threat.

San Jose Sharks - Push
Alyn McAuley, Scott Thornton
Gained: Mike Grier, Curtis Brown
The Havlat-Toskala deal died when the Senators managed to sign Martin Gerber from the Hurricanes, so the Sharks end up essentially standing pat for another offseason. We were in the Pronger sweepstakes apparently, but the Oilers didn't need a goalie since they re-signed Roloson. They wanted "three young players" which probably meant Bernier, Ehrhoff, Michalek, or Carle. I think the Sharks were wise in not giving them up. Right now our trade bait is Nabokov or Toskala- we shouldn't ditch the young core of the team. Signing Mike Grier was a good move, for essentially the same salary amount we gained by releasing Thornton. But the Sharks still need a decent left wing.

I'm not excited about facing Phoenix or Anaheim 8 times next season with the moves they made. But it ain't over yet. There are some free agents still out there that I think can add value for us.

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