In less than six hours- well at least on the East coast, July 1 will finally arrive. What should be expected? By now, you know the drill. Expect the unexpected. Some mad team will overpay Dan Hamhuis, who at least won't have the dubious distinction of being Wade Redden. Best "first passer in the game" my ass. I hate you Slats! Tell ya one thing. Tinman better be off the roster this Fall. No ifs, ands or buts.
Mean time, those can toss darts on possible destinations for Ilya Kovalchuk. Picture logos involving the Devils, Leafs, Flames (yes, since they waived Dawes and bought out Ally), Kings along with half the KHL. No Rangers cause they're quite limited and must give bumps up to Marc Staal and Dan Girardi while searching for a backup goalie. Johan Hedberg is our wish. If Derek Stepan is signed, that also could be an encouraging sign for Wisconsin teammate Ryan McDonagh, who the club acquired a year ago today in the Scott Gomez deal. That would also mean taking our senile GM at his word along with Tort about giving kids a shot instead of following NYR tradition.
What will Lou Lamoriello decide? He's locked up David Clarkson for three more years at an average cap hit of 2.67 million. A good investment on the gritty do everything right wing. Tho the price could be classified overpayment. Clarkie must stay healthy which means less fights and continued increased offensive improvement. The real dilemma for the Devils is who they want back? Kovalchuk or D anchor Paul Martin? One won't cost a fortune but the other likely will be in the same market as Hamhuis, who's hoping someone gives him
The Devs bid adieu to Jay Pandolfo, who asked to be bought out so he could start fresh. The popular checking/PK forward had a superb career in New Jersey, helping the club win two Stanley Cups. That included a more prominent role in their most recent during '03 when Pando teamed with John Madden and Jamie Langenbrunner to form a dominant checking line that not only limited the opposition but also scored big goals that Spring. While it's true he's not what he once was, it's still sad to see a loyal teammate leave the only team he's known. Best of luck Jay.
What will the Islanders do? After surprisingly letting go of Sean Bergenheim, perhaps Garth Snow will look for more offense to help support John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. They did tender '09-10 revelation Matt Moulson along with Rob Schremp. Both again will be keys to the Islanders' success. However, much hinges on Tavares' improvement and whether Nino Niederreiter and D prospects Calvin de Haan and Travis Harmonic are ready. Captain Doug Weight returns along with youngsters Frans Nielsen, Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau. How much change will we see? Another scorer certainly couldn't hurt along with a bruising D to help protect the front of the net. Martin Biron likely departs with his former team Buffalo figuring to be in the mix. That could force Snow to go get another goalie. Especially with the continued uncertainty of Rick DiPietro. Possible targets are Alex Auld, Chris Mason and Patrick Lalime.
Meanwhile in Western New York, Darcy Regier is under the gun to re-sign Henrik Tallinder. Toni Lydman clearly was the weakest link and replaceable, which means Slats should be knocking down his door any minute. Are the Sabres bringing back Matt Ellis along with gritty vet Adam Mair? I probably would. Maybe Buffalo gets Ellis done and decides to go younger. Given what they saw from Tyler Ennis, figure the mini-dynamo to be a regular this Fall. Does Drew Stafford need a change? Can the Sabres contend with Derek Roy and Tim Connolly leading the charge? If Regier were smart, he'd get help for Thomas Vanek. And no. Not Raffi Torres. If they really wanted to cure their problems, they'd sign long-time killer Kovalchuk. But that's not in their budget and would tie up too much space. Perhaps someone under the radar like disappointment Patrick O' Sullivan might work. The 25 year-old went from a potential 30 goalscorer to being bought out by Phoenix after they acquired him from Edmonton for
So, what else is going on? Well, it looks like you can forget Evgeni Nabokov donning Halloween Flyers black and orange after they re-signed Michael Leighton for two years, $3.1 million. With Brian Boucher still around and prospect Johan Backlund waiting in the wings, the Flyers are all set. Likely destinations for Nabby are Washington or Atlanta. We think he'd prefer to play on a Cup contender, teaming with fellow Russians Alexander Ovechkin and Alex Semin. It would make sense. ... The Pens blueline could have a different look much of their corps on the market including vet anchor Sergei Gonchar. He showed some signs of slowing down last year and was nicked up. Committing long-term would be a mistake. The Pens also acquired Hamhuis' rights from rival Philly but the likelihood of it getting done are about the same chance you have of steering Megan Fox away from former 90210 star Brian Austin Green. She couldn't do better? ... In other news, the Preds acquired Sergei Kostitsyn from the Habs for Dan Ellis and Dustin Boyd. A deal that seems logical for both sides. Nashville needed scoring while Montreal a vet goalie who could help Carey Price. They still must sign Ellis. ... The Oilers let go of vet Ethan Moreau, who was quickly scooped up by Columbus, who'll assume the final year of a four-year contract at a cap hit of $2 million. The aging vet is a nice locker room presence who can serve as a fourth line energy guy. After a nice Oiler career, he moves to Ohio. ... Also of note, Mike Van Ryn announces that he will skip another season while Ottawa buys out Jonathan Cheechoo. In related news, crickets could be heard at their homes. ...
Finally, Rod Brind'Amour calls it a career moving into the Candy Canes' front office. Congrats to the classy 21-year vet pivot on an outstanding career that saw him finish with 452 goals and 732 assists for 1,184 points in 1,484 games. A tremendous worker who got the most out of his talent, developing into a two-way second line scoring pivot who finished his career with 28 shorthanded goals, winning consecutive Selkes in '05-06 and '06-07. Best remembered for the Keith Primeau deal, Brindy sure did well for himself in Raleigh helping turn Carolina into a Cup champ. While probably not a Hall Of Famer, he was easy to admire. Kudos to No.17. ... Meanwhile, Mike Modano just can't seem to make up his mind. A day after Dallas denied one more year for Mr. Star, they re-signed Krys Barch and Francis Wathier. Ouch. Maybe Modano will return to St. Paul where it all started. That'd be fitting. Personally, I feel he should retire a Star. Him in any other jersey wouldn't look right. No.9 will always forever be a Minnesota North Star/Dallas Star.