Roster Outlook… UFA:
Adam Mair RFA:
$52.17 million (17 under contract) Off-season Needs…
Backup goaltender Possible Trade Bait…
Dainius Zubrus Burning Questions with Carlos Figueiredo (Speaking of the Devils)… 1. What is GM Lou Lamoriello's top priority this summer?
While there are quite a few things that need to be addressed (hiring a coach being a big one), I think finding a defenseman who can move the puck might be one of the most important.
2. Who is the best fit as the next head coach?
I think the better question is what is the best fit. While I don't think you can go wrong with any of the rumored possibilities, there is no way this team can begin another season with a coach who might be gone in the blink of an eye. The Devils need to hire a coach not only for this season, but a guy who has experience and who can handle any situation... and who will be here for a few years, not a few games.
If I had to pick a coach, I'd probably go with the guy everyone else wants... Kirk Muller.
3. Tell us... what are the chances that Zach Parise is not a Devil next season?
Next season, I'd put the chance at 1% that he is not in New Jersey. He's a RFA and I just don't see any situation where if another team made an offer, the Devils wouldn't match it. I just can't bring myself to say there's a 0% chance because, well, this is the NHL.
I felt the Devils could have signed Parise to a long-term deal even under last season's salary cap. With the cap being rumored to go up by as much as $4 million, there's no reason the Devils won't look to sign him long-term.
4. The Devils have a rare top 5 pick in the draft. Who would you like to grab at No. 4?
Drafting one of the big puck-moving defenseman would certainly be a good way to solve one of the team's issues. I'd be surprised if the Devils didn't select Adam Larsson or Dougie Hamilton with the 4th pick (assuming one or both are still there). Of course, given the team's recent draft-day moves, I would not be surprised if the Devils weren't picking fourth on June 24th.
New York Islanders
Roster Outlook… UFA:
Doug Weight (retired) RFA:
$37.64 million (18 under contract) Off-season Needs…
Two bottom-six forwards
Top-four defenseman Possible Trade Bait…
Burning Questions with BD Gallof (Hockey Independent)… 1. What is GM Garth Snow's top priority this summer?
Many fans and armchair GM’s will cite that Garth Snow must go after a forward this summer. The big problem is that there will not be much available beyond Brad Richards, a center, whereas the Isles are chock full of centers. They will be reticent to sign a player to take a spot from a kid who is developing, like Nino Niederreiter, who should be on the team next season. Nino and other kids won't develop buried in the lines.
The real focus might be upgrading the defense via trade or free agency so they have added more than just band-aids to a lagging issue. This leaves the forwards to develop like we saw during the tail-end of last season.
2. Personnel wise, what needs to be done for the Isles to contend for a playoff spot?
They could use a veteran presence/grinder who has grit and solid play. Too often their fighters are one-dimensional. Though they seem to want to retain Trevor Gilles and Michael Haley, they'd be far better off with some more skills along with some pugilistic intentions. BUT to gain a playoff spot, they really need a key D-man behind Streit PLUS a key offensive weapon to take pressure off the kids. This could be done via trade, but Isles are reticent to deal any rebuild pieces thus far.
So expect small and key moves to improve D and draft picks/prospects to fill out coffers. Expect next season to be a lot like the latter half of last season of them developing on the ice.
3. Sitting at No. 5 in the draft, who is at the top of your wish list?
Top of my wish list is a far cry to what the Isles will do. Though the fan base keeps calling for a D-man, thinking position-specific, the Isles’ drafts have shown that has little to do with their choices. They take best player available according to their own system's variables. ALL picks have been forwards in the 1st round since 2006 when the system was put in place. (Recall the #12 pick of de Haan was after #1 Tavares was made)
So... chances are a forward will be taken. Which one? I personally like Jonathan Huberdeau. But Isles scouts seem to have been all over the under-17 Swedes this season. What do I expect? Anything. But don't be surprised when they take someone that many do not expect. Like Mika Zibanejad.
New York Rangers
Roster Outlook… UFA:
Vaclav Prospal RFA:
$40.98 million (13 under contract) Off-season Needs…
Depth defenseman Possible Trade Bait…
Burning Questions with Kevin DeLury (The New York Rangers Blog)… 1. What is GM Glen Sather's top priority this summer?
Sather's top priority this summer is scoring, scoring and oh yeah scoring. The Rangers need to address a major hole at center as well as bring in another scoring winger. Brad Richards is the obvious name out there who could vastly improve their offense. If Richards proves to be too expensive the Rangers could look to make a trade for a guy such as Florida's Stephen Weiss.
Having said that, the Blueshirts are in the middle of a youth movement, so Sather could opt to sit back, do nothing and hope that prospects step up and fill the need on offense. But we all know that's a very unlikely scenario with the Rangers GM.
The Rangers also have a number of RFA’s (Callahan, Dubinsky, Boyle, Anisimov and Sauer) to sign.
2. True or False: Brad Richards will be a New York Ranger.
Sadly I think the answer is true. The reason I say sadly is because it's going to take a high priced, long term contract to get Richards signed and every Rangers fan knows how well those usually work out for the Blueshirts.
3. Do UFA's Fedotenko, McCabe, or Prospal have a future with the Rangers?
I'll get McCabe out of the way real fast as there is no way he is being re-signed especially after the Rangers just traded for former Flames top draft pick D Tim Erixon.
As far as Fedotenko and Prospal go, I'd like the Rangers to sign just one of them. The Blueshirts have a very young team coming back, so veteran leadership will be a major plus. However, as I said earlier they are in the midst of a youth movement so bringing both back may keep a youngster from gaining valuable experience at the NHL level.
Prospal, 36, played just 29 games last season after undergoing knee surgery and I'd really hate the Rangers to spend $1 million to re-sign an injured, aging player.
Fedotenko, 32, was a pleasant surprise this past year and has playoff experience which is very important for a team still learning how to win.
So obviously, I'm hoping the Rangers lean towards signing Fedotenko over Prospal.
Roster Outlook… UFA:
Nikolai Zherdev RFA:
$58.97 million (18 under contract) Off-season Needs…
Starting goaltender Possible Trade Bait…
Burning Questions with Dave Strehle (NHL Hot Stove)… 1. What is GM Paul Holmgren's top priority this summer?
After watching Peter Laviolette juggle Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher, and Michael Leighton, goaltending continued to be one of the team's Achilles heels. Holmgren made a bold move to acquire the rights to pending UFA goalie Ilya Bryzgalov on Tuesday.
Even though it was not the sole reason for their shortened postseason run, the issue has haunted this team for nearly two decades, and may be one of the most important aspects of Philly's extended failure in their quest to bring Lord Stanley back to Philadelphia. Signing Bryzgalov is now one of Holmgren's primary focuses this summer.
2. With James van Riemsdyk's emergence in the playoffs, is Jeff Carter expendable if cap space is needed?
With van Riemsdyk's development, Carter may be on the move. As usual the Flyers are at the cap limit, and any move by Holmgren to sign an elite goaltender will come at the expense of another big contract being subtracted from the current roster. Carter ($5.27 million) is often mentioned in trade rumors and would be very marketable. Still only 26, he has been the club's leading goal scorer in each of the last three seasons (46, 33, 36).
The question is this: Can the Flyers – who struggled offensively for much of the second half and playoffs – afford to lose Carter's goal-scoring abilities?
3. What are the chances that Ville Leino is retained by the Flyers?
It appears extremely doubtful that the Flyers will re-sign Leino. Although he scored one of the team's biggest goals of the year - a Game 6 OT-winner in Buffalo in a game Philly had to win or be eliminated - Leino struggled at times during the season and playoffs. A vital piece on a line with Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere, it looks like Leino's asking price may make him a cap casualty - especially with what it will likely require to sign Bryzgalov to upgrade the crease.
Roster Outlook… UFA:
Max Talbot RFA:
$56.26 million (18 under contract) Off-season Needs…
Top-nine forward Possible Trade Bait…
Burning Questions with Mike Colligan (The Hockey Writers)… 1. What is GM Ray Shero's top priority this summer?
With defense and goaltending locked up, the easy and logical answer is forwards. Almost a dozen contracts are expiring up front and while most of them aren't vital parts of the Penguins, players like Max Talbot and Tyler Kennedy could be leaving Pittsburgh for the first time in their careers.
Regardless of what happens, Shero's real priority needs to be flexibility. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin coming off serious injury, Shero needs forwards that can play a number of roles if called upon.
2. A lot of depth forwards are free agents... who stays and who goes?
Free agents that will stay are Mike Rupp, Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Conner, and Pascal Dupuis. The rest will find new homes, with Mike Comrie and Alex Kovalev no longer in the NHL next season. The Penguins look to have a little roster turnover each year and it'll be good to get some fresh blood in the mix.
3. You can't talk Penguins without mentioning Crosby. How important is it for him not to have a setback?
Not only would a setback hurt the Penguins on the ice, but not having Crosby in the locker room and around the team would maybe have an even greater impact. Crosby is the heart of the franchise and without him no single player steps to the forefront as team leader. While the risk of a setback will certainly be the greatest in the first game he returns, unfortunately it's probably something will impact him in some shape or form for the rest of his career.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.