Free Agency Preview: The New All-Over-The-East Division by @ToonsBrian - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Free Agency Preview: The New All-Over-The-East Division by @ToonsBrian

July 1st marks the beginning of NHL Free Agency and is akin to a national holiday for followers of hockey. Throughout the week, my Toons/ToonSports cohost, @ToonsJack, and I will be looking at each team from all four of the NHL's new divisions and providing a brief snippet of what to expect from those teams. 

Click the links below (as they become active) to jump to each specific division:
     The New Central Division
     The New All-Over-The-East Division
     The New Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins
2013 Record: 
          28-14-6, 62 pts
          2nd Place Northeast Division
          4th Seed Eastern Conference
2013 Team Leaders
          Goals: Brad Marchand (18)
          Assists: David Krecji (23)
          Points: Brad Marchand (36)
          Wins: Tuukka Rask (19)

2014 Salary Cap Space (Projected): $5,803,690
2013 Roster Free Agents:
                Unrestricted: F Jaromir Jagr ($4.55M), F Nathan Horton ($4M), D Andrew Ference ($2.25M), D Wade Redden ($1M), G Anton Khudobin ($875K), D Aaron Johnson ($650K), F Jay Pandolfo ($625K)
                Restricted: G Tuukka Rask ($3.5M), F Kaspars Daugavins ($635K)

2013 Draft Positions:
                Round 1 – None (Traded pick to Dallas for Jaromir Jagr)
                Round 2 – 60th
                Round 3 – 90th
                Round 4 – 120th
                Round 5 – 150th
                Round 6 – 180th
                Round ­7 – 210th

The Bruins are only two years removed from their last Stanley Cup. Yet, if you compare that roster to this year's Stanley Cup Finals roster, you'll find that only 8 of the current Bruins remain from that championship team. That speaks volumes about something, whether it's the on-ice leadership, the outstanding play of goaltender Tuukka Rask, or the hated system of defense known everywhere as bulls....well...the trap is anyone's guess. Two things are certain: the Bs will retain the services of Rask, no matter the cost, and Nathan Horton looks to earn a fat contract this time around. Whether or not they sign with the Eastern Conference Champions will be the big question for him.

Buffalo Sabres
2013 Record: 
          21-21-6, 48 pts
          5th Place Northeast Division
          Did Not Qualify for Playoffs
2013 Team Leaders
          Goals: Thomas Vanek (20)
          Assists: Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis (21)
          Points: Thomas Vanek (41)
          Wins: Ryan Miller (17)

2014 Salary Cap Space (Projected): $14,417,143
2013 Roster Free Agents:
                Unrestricted: D Adam Pardy ($2M), F Jochen Hecht ($1.25M), D Alexander Sulzer ($725K)
                Restricted: F Cody Hodgson ($1.67M), F Brian Flynn ($1.03M)

2013 Draft Positions:
                Round 1 – 8th, 16th (Traded Jason Pominville to Minnesota for pick)
                Round 2 – 38th, 52nd (Traded Jordan Leopold to St. Louis for pick)
                Round 3 – 69th
                Round 4 – None (Traded pick to Nashville for 2012 pick)
                Round 5 – 129th, 130th (Traded T.J. Brennan to Florida for pick), 143rd (Traded Jordan Leopold to St. Louis for pick)
                Round 6 – 159th
                Round ­7 – 189th

Lindy Ruff is gone. Let that sink in. The longest tenured coach in the NHL will no longer be at the helm of the Buffalo Sabres. That makes the team from upstate New York very difficult to get a read on. Luckily for new head coach Ron Rolston, the Sabres don't need many pieces to climb back into the playoff picture. It helps having re-signed defenseman Mike Weber to add a little protection for Team USA hero Ryan Miller. Look for the Sabres to add some speed to this team to take a little pressure of Tomas Vanek.

Detroit Red Wings
2013 Record:  
          24-16-8, 56 pts
          3rd Place Central Division
          7th Seed Western Conference
2013 Team Leaders
          Goals: Pavel Datsyuk (15)
          Assists: Henrik Zetterberg (37)
          Points: Pavel Datsyuk (49)
          Wins: Jimmy Howard (21)

2014 Salary Cap Space (Projected): $10,607,121
2013 Roster Free Agents:
                Unrestricted: F Valtteri Filipula ($3M), D Ian White ($2.88M), F Danny Cleary ($2.8M), F Damien Brunner ($1.35M)
                Restricted: D Jakub Kindl ($883K), F Joakim Andersson ($875K), D Brendan Smith ($875K), F Gustav Nyquist ($875K)

 2013 Draft Positions:
                Round 1– 18th
                Round 2 – 48th
                Round 3 – 79th
                Round 4 – 109th
                Round 5 – 139th
                Round 6 – 169th
                Round ­7 – 199th

The Detroit Red Wings don't make mistakes. Even changing conferences this year will not change that. This team relies on a mix of European and North American talent that keeps opposing defenses on their toes and on a stifling defense that remains heavily influenced by Niklas Lidstrom.  This year's free agency class for the Wings shows that mix. Expect Detroit to try to retain the services of Filipula and Cleary, but, given today's market, expect them to only succeed with keeping one.  What they do after that is anybody's guess, but one thing is for sure: they won't make any mistakes.

Florida Panthers
2013 Record: 
          Last Place Every Division
          Playoffs? Seriously?
2013 Team Leaders
          Goals: Tomas Kopecky (15)
          Assists: Tomas Fleischmann (23)
          Points: Tomas Fleischmann (35)
          Wins: Jacob Markstrom (8)

2014 Salary Cap Space (Projected): $17,069,625
2013 Roster Free Agents:
                Unrestricted: F Stephen Weiss ($3.1M), G Jose Theodore ($1.5M), D Tyson Strachan ($600K)
                Restricted: F Peter Mueller ($1.73M), G Jacob Markstrom ($875K), F Shawn Matthias ($851K), F Jack Skille ($825K),

2013 Draft Positions:
                Round 1 – 2nd
                Round 2 – 31st
                Round 3 – None (Traded pick to Rangers for Wojtek Wolski)
                Round 4 – 92nd, 97th (Traded Corban Knight to Calgary for pick), 98th (Traded Jerred Smithson to Edmonton for pick)
                Round 5 – 122nd
                Round 6 – 152nd
                Round ­7 – None (Traded pick to Dallas for 2012 pick)

If you were to write a comedy about a terrible hockey team, you would use the Florida Panthers as your template and it would score a zero on Rotten Tomatoes. They were terrible this past year and things don't look to get any better any time soon. Terrible. So terrible they couldn't even win the draft lottery. So terrible that they only had two skaters with a plus-minus rating of 0 or higher and those two skaters accounted for 7 total games played.  Outside of securing the Number 2 pick in the draft, their draft looks to be terrible. As far as signing any free agents this summer, look for them to lose a lot more than they gain and what they do gain, they'll have to overpay for. It turns out that even sunny South Florida only goes so far when it comes to signing players. Just. Terrible.

Montreal Canadiens
2013 Record: 
          29-14-5, 63 pts
          Northeast Division Champions
          2nd Seed Eastern Conference
2013 Team Leaders
          Goals: Max Pacioretty (15)
          Assists: P.K. Subban (27)
          Points: Max Pacioretty (39)
          Wins: Carey Price (21)

2014 Salary Cap Space (Projected): $9,024,167
2013 Roster Free Agents:
                Unrestricted: F Michael Ryder ($3.5M), F Colby Armstrong ($1M), F Jeff Halpern ($700K), F Petteri Nokelainen ($575K)
                Restricted: D Yannick Weber ($850K), F Ryan White ($687K)

2013 Draft Positions:
                Round 1 – 25th
                Round 2 – 34th (Traded Andrei Kostitsyn to Nashville for pick), 36th (Traded Michael Cammalleri to Calgary for pick), 55th
                Round 3 – 71st (Traded Erik Cole to Dallas for pick), 86th
                Round 4 – None (Traded pick to Islanders for James Wisniewski)
                Round 5 – None (Traded pick to Los Angeles for Davis Drewiske)
                Round 6 – 176th
                Round ­7 – 206th

Every Canadian-born player dreams of playing for the Habs. Who can blame them? Adding to this franchise's storied history, the Canadiens got to celebrate P.K. Subban's Norris Trophy. However, the Montreal defense could potentially suffer this upcoming season, depending on the recovery of key players from late season injuries. Also, the Habs used their final compliance buyout on Tomas Kaberle, freeing some cap space. Head coach Michel Therrien is known for his defense-first philosophy and the Canadiens have a lot of draft picks to possibly deal for players that would fit his mold. Making a move for Andrew Ference would surprise no one.

Ottawa Senators
2013 Record: 
          25-17-6, 56 pts
          4th Place Northeast Division
          7th Seed Eastern Conference
2013 Team Leaders
          Goals: Kyle Turris (12)
          Assists: Kyle Turris (17)
          Points: Kyle Turris (29)
          Wins: Craig Anderson (12)

2014 Salary Cap Space (Projected): $22,074,167
2013 Roster Free Agents:
                Unrestricted: F Daniel Alfredsson ($4.88M), F Guillaume Latendresse ($2M), D Mike Lundin ($1.15M), F Peter Regin ($800K), D Andre Benoit ($650K)
                Restricted: D Patrick Wiercioch ($875K), F Erik Condra ($625K)

2013 Draft Positions
                Round 1 – 17th
                Round 2 – None (Traded pick to St. Louis for Ben Bishop)
                Round 3 – 78th
                Round 4 – 102nd (Traded Ben Bishop to Tampa Bay for pick), 108th
                Round 5 – 138th
                Round 6 – 161st (Traded Sergei Gonchar to Dallas for pick), 168th
                Round ­7 – None (Traded pick to Chicago for Rob Klinkhammer)

This year's Ottawa Senators team surpassed all expectations. They battled injury after injury, advancing to the Stanley Cup playoffs as a seventh seed. No stars, aside from Craig Anderson, really stood out yet the team succeeded. With the departure of Sergei Gonchar, the Sens will focus on picking up a top 4 defenseman. Also look for the team to pick up a top 6 winger, possibly in the form of Brendan Morrow or a Dustin Penner. They've got some money to spend and with Anderson between the pipes and Daniel Alfredsson's career winding down, there may be no better time than the present for the Senators.

Tampa Bay Lightning
2013 Record:  
          18-26-4, 40 pts
          4th Place Southeast Division
          Did Not Qualify for Playoffs
2013 Team Leaders
          Goals: Steven Stamkos (29)
          Assists: Martin St. Louis (43)
          Points: Martin St. Louis (60)
          Wins: Anders Lindback (10)

2014 Salary Cap Space (Projected): $10,134,523
2013 Roster Free Agents
                Unrestricted: G Mathieu Garon ($1.3M), F Pierre-Cedric Labrie ($525K), D Mathieu Roy ($525K)
                Restricted: F Benoit Pouliot ($1.8M), D Keith Aulie ($578K)

2013 Draft Positions:
                Round 1 – 3rd
                Round 2 – 33rd
                Round 3 – None (Traded pick to Nashville for Anders Lindback)
                Round 4 – None (Traded pick to St. Louis for B.J. Crombeen)
                Round 5 – 124th
                Round 6 – 154th
                Round ­7 – 184th, 186th (Traded Marc-Andre Bergeron to Carolina for pick)

Vinny Lecavalier has been bought out. Somehow, the high-powered offense of the Lightning didn't seem to be enough. And Tampa Bay ended up using 4 different goaltenders throughout this season. 2013 was a strange season indeed. The Lightning really just need a spark (See what I did there?). They'll get one with whoever they pick at the number 3 spot in the draft. They got an unexpected one from Nashville in the form of Anders Lindback. Expect them to use free agency to help build a defense to ensure his continued growth and success. 
Toronto Maple Leafs
2013 Record:  
          26-17-5, 57 pts
          3rd Place Northeast Division
          7th Seed Eastern Conference
2013 Team Leaders
          Goals: Phil Kessel (20)
          Assists: Phil Kessel (32)
          Points: Phil Kessel (52)
          Wins: James Reimer (19)

2014 Salary Cap Space (Projected): $19,608,333
2013 Roster Free Agents
                Unrestricted: F Clarke MacArthur ($3.25M), D Ryan O'Byrne ($1.8M), F Tyler Bozak ($1.5M), D Mike Kostka ($600K)
                Restricted: F Nazem Kadri ($1.72M), D Carl Gunnarsson ($1.3M), G Jonathan Bernier ($1.25M), F Leo Komarov ($1.2M), D Cody Franson ($1.2M), F Joe Colborne ($1.1M), F Frazer McLaren ($630K), D Mark Fraser ($600K)

2013 Draft Positions:
                Round 1 – 21st
                Round 2 – 51st
                Round 3 – 82nd
                Round 4 – 117th (Traded Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim for pick)
                Round 5 – 142nd
                Round 6 – 172nd
                Round ­7 – 202nd

This may sound familiar, but Vinny Lecavalier has been bought out of his contract by the Tampa Bay Lightning. If talk over the past several years is any indication, no team would give as much for #4's services than the Toronto Maple Leafs. They'll have the money. They'll have the available forward slots. They'll have everything they need to lure him to the "mecca of hockey." Vinny will be a Leaf.

But before that happens, they still need to shore up their defense, with many rostered defensemen becoming either restricted or unrestricted free agents. Also, re-signing MacArthur will be of the utmost importance to this now playoff-caliber team.

All cap information, including projected amounts for players, are taken from

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