Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Division Notes

Free agency rears its ugly head today. As far as the Capitals, they are looking to keep as much in house as they can. But for the rest of the Division, it's a potpourri of needs and wants come the noon deadline. Let's take a quick gander at the Southeast Division.

Atlanta Thrashers - Obviously they are pretty disappointed about the outcome of last season's debacle. But they were able to move some hefty change from their cap by moving Marion Hossa. Now the dizzy birds are ready to spend some cash and pull in some much needed free agents. GM Don Waddell has his hands full with six roster players that are unrestricted free agents and a host of roster spots to fill.

"We're probably around $33 million-and-change committed," Waddell said Monday. First on his list, a veteran defenseman (stand in line). Plus he needs some goal support for Illya Kovalchuk, or a playmaker that can compliment him.

Carolina Hurricanes - If you had a team that desperatly needed a little help, it may be the Hurricanes. They couldn't finish their season out and fell out of the playoffs when they couldn't close out the Panthers in their last game of the year. But GM Jim Rutherford has some problems. One, he doesn't have much cash to lure many free agents. And two, they have 10 forwards fighting for spots.

"I don't think we'll be very active," Rutherford said. "Certainly there are some players there that we could consider, but I think in order to balance our team out to add the type of player we'd like to add on defense, it'd be more apt to be done through trade."

Florida Panthers - A team that made some moves, but not a lot of noise. The Panthers just freed up some cap space by sending Ollie Jokinen to Pheonix, but don't think they now have cash to spend. Jacques Martin has his hands full trying to keep the players he already has. Instead of being buyers, as you might think they would be, most likely they are in the same boat as the Capitals trying to keep the players they want in Panther jerseys.

"I don’t know at this point,'' Martin said. "Look at the people that we have. In order to get people we want, we would have to trade. It always depends."

Tampa Bay Lightning - By far the most active team in the off season in the league, not to mention the Division. They couldn't wait for the noon deadline to come around. Instead they traded picks to get the players they wanted and they seem ready to load up even more by lunch time. Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts were quick signs after getting their rights from Pittsburgh. Brian Rolston's rights were also traded from the Wild but the GM Jay Feaster has yet to get him under contract.

Team owner Oren Koules seemed to be the spokesman for the recent moves. "We made a lot of promises" to the Tampa Bay area and "we want to show we're keeping up our end of the bargain. … We want to show off."

Washington Capitals - Well you know. Green. Huet. Morrisonn. Gordon. Laich. Fehr. Possibly Fedorov if a compromise can be made. The Caps could be looking for help from free agents if they feel they can't get their RFA's and UFA's under contract. With all this talk, no one really has been talking about Matt Cooke and his plans. Eh, too much Green on our minds.

Happy Canada Day to our friends toward the north. Happy free agency day for the rest of us.

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