It's the best time of year!
Posted by Ryan Porth Labels: 2011 Off-season, Atlantic Division, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins
Here in the last week of July, we’re handing out report cards for all 30 teams, division-by-division. Today we start with the Atlantic Division…
New Jersey Devils
It has been a rather inactive summer for GM Lou Lamoriello, much less than in 2010 when the Ilya Kovalchuk Saga dragged out until September. Other than signing two enforcers, Lamoriello’s biggest addition may have come through the draft, fourth-overall pick Adam Larsson, who most expect to be on the opening night roster. Two needs were filled in-house as the Devils re-signed blueliner Andy Greene and goaltender Johan Hedberg.
Lamoriello’s off-season is not complete yet, however, as Zach Parise is still a restricted free agent. The team filed for arbitration last month and the hearing is set for Aug. 3. A long-term deal is not expected to be signed prior to that date.
New York Islanders
Isles GM Garth Snow has also been pretty quiet this off-season, but things are apparently heating up with Alexei Yashin – the same Alexei Yashin whose bought-out contract from 2007 is still on the team’s payroll through 2015. It would be a shocking development if the former NHL cast-off indeed heads back to Long Island after a long stay in the KHL.
Snow did add Reasoner to the mix, who adds depth down the middle. After striking out on Christian Ehrhoff prior to the frenzy, Snow stayed conservative and reluctant to stray away from the youth movement.
New York Rangers
For the second time in three years, the Blueshirts signed the biggest free agent on the market. Richards and his nine-year contract will join the inconsistent Marian Gaborik on the top line in New York. If both play to their capabilities, it should be a formidable one-two punch. GM Glen Sather re-signed most of his important free agents, including RFA Brandon Dubinsky this past week. Future captain Ryan Callahan is the lone RFA remaining.
For the most part, it’s been a good summer for the Rangers. But they’ll need to bulk up on defense if they wish to compete for the top spot in the division.
It’s been an interesting summer, to say the least, in Philadelphia. Gone are Richards, Carter and Leino; in come Bryzgalov, Jagr and Voracek. GM Paul Holmgren has definitely rolled the dice with this major facelift to a team that won the Eastern Conference in 2010 and the Atlantic Division in 2011. The biggest question mark will be chemistry, something that was a problem late last year. How will Jagr and Bryzgalov fit in with, say, Chris Pronger and Scott Hartnell?
A nice coup for Holmgren was obtaining Schenn from L.A., and then Sean Couturier in the draft. Those two give Philly some young pieces to look forward to that it didn’t have before.
This is one of the hardest teams to gauge as the 2011-12 season approaches. It’s been a big summer of change and the jury is still out of whether all of the moves will work for the better.
Coming into the off-season, the Penguins had six key depth players that were unrestricted free agents. GM Ray Shero was able to keep four of them, only seeing Talbot and Rupp head elsewhere. While the depth was mostly kept intact, Shero took a medium risk on Sullivan; it could turn into a high reward if the veteran winger can stay healthy.
You knew the Pens weren’t going to do anything earth-shattering, certainly nothing like last summer when they revamped the blue-line. The best news of the off-season came last week when it was revealed that Sidney Crosby was back to skating. Also, whispers out of Russia suggest Evgeni Malkin is prepping for a big year coming off his ACL surgery.
Photo credit: New York Times
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