It's the best time of year!
Posted by Ryan Porth Labels: 2011 Off-season, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Northwest Division, Vancouver Canucks
Here in the last week of July, we’re handing out report cards for all 30 teams, division-by-division. Today we continue with the Northwest Division…
Aside from the trade that saw Regehr and Kotalik go to Buffalo, a lot of the same crew is coming back to Calgary for the 2011-12 season. GM Jay Feaster, who struck out on a late charge in the Brad Richards sweepstakes, did a stand-up job re-signing the likes of Alex Tanguay, Brendan Morrison and Anton Babchuk. Did the Flames get better, though? It doesn’t appear so.
If there is one GM that has had people scratching their heads this calendar year, it’s Colorado’s Greg Sherman. After the puzzling deadline deal in which he gave up a pair of promising youngsters, Sherman surrendered two draft picks for the oft-injured Varlamov. That’s not to say Varlamov won’t live up to his potential in Colorado; but if the Avs don’t have a bounce-back season, they will have traded away a lottery pick to Washington.
This summer Sherman also signed former Cup winner Giguere to be the 1B/backup to Varlamov between the pipes. Hejda and O’Brien were under-the-radar signings to make a terrible blue-line less shoddy.
GM Steve Tambellini continues to piece together a team that is finally on an uptick. Because of that, the Oilers have watched a lot of players from the 2010-11 team leave via free agency or trade this summer. The biggest acquisition for Tambellini was Smyth, who was brought back after getting dealt away in 2007. Other new faces include Belanger, Barker and Sutton. Tambellini waved the white flag on Cogliano, dealing him to Anaheim for a pick. At some point, they’ll need to find an upgrade in goal.
The youth infusion gives the team some hope going forward, and veterans like Smyth and Belanger will help those players mature.
When you look at the subtraction list, it’s a pretty strong group of veterans/useful players. However, between the deals with San Jose and the hiring of Mike Yeo, there is reason for optimism in St. Paul.
In separate trades with San Jose, the Wild yielded Heatley and Setoguchi, as well as top prospect Charlie Coyle. While Havlat and Burns were tough to give up, Heatley and Setoguchi will add a much-needed spark to an otherwise-dull offense. Some others that left town – Brunette, Barker, Miettinen, etc. – will be replaced by younger players in Yeo’s system.
As the playoffs went along, Canucks fans were worried about the prospect of losing both Ehrhoff and Kevin Bieksa. GM Mike Gillis was able to bring back Bieksa, along with Chris Higgins and Sami Salo. Ehrhoff will be missed on the power play, but the beat will go on in Vancouver. Gillis also signed Sturm, who’ll add offensive depth to the lineup.
Last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners will look very similar heading into 2011-12.
Photo credit: Minnesota Wild
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