Saturday, July 4, 2009

NHL Free Agency... East Edition Pt. 1

On to the more interesting and usually more entertaining Eastern Conference.

I always wondered how different conferences get their own personalities. I can't speak for other sports, but in hockey, the East is the more skilled, scoring conference, while the west is the more smash-mouth, grind it out conference. How does that happen? Some things I'll never know.

Here we go.

Atlanta Thrashers

Thrashers are a franchise still searching for their first playoff win in their short history. The insanely good Kovulchuk is really the only player of note on this team. In free agency, they added the solid forward Nik Antropov to help Kovulchuk score goals, and a returning strong no-name back line should have this team fighting for a playoff spot. The big problem on the horizon is they have to convince Kovulchuk to resign next summer. He will demand HUGE numbers to stay in the Atlanta.

Why you should care:

Kovulchuk and Crosby have a little fued that started with this.

Boston Bruins

Over the last two years, the Bruins have returned to their old form, being a bad ass. They went after Hossa, but lost out on him to Chicago. They didn't do much in free agency but I don't think they needed too. They were close last year (conference semifinals), and they are maybe a trade or two away from getting over that hump this year. Definitely a top 3 seed again this year.

Why you should care:

Tim Thomas is old school. Who needs technique?

Buffalo Sabres

After losing Daniel Briere and Chris Drury a few years ago, the Sabres have been a team without any identity. Sure they have the 40 goal scorer Thomas Vanek and the solid goaltending of Ryan Miller, but nothing much after that. They lost a defensemen in Spacek, and gained a defensemen in Montador in free agency. Not much different than last year for the Sabres. They barely missed the playoffs last year, and will probably do the same this year.

Why you should care:

Worst uniform change in history.
From This: ( see the Buffalo AND the Sabres??)
To This:
Let me introduce you to the BuffleSlug
Carolina Hurricanes

The Canes came from the 6th seed last year all the way to the conference finals. Their goalie Cam Ward got hot at exactly the right time. In Free Agency they didn't do much except lock up some of their own important pieces to long term deals. The Canes will go as far as Eric Staal and Cam Ward can take them. 6,7,8 seed seems about right.

Why you should care:

Last year they earned the nickname the Cardiac Canes for this reason. Brodeur=STUNNED

Florida Panthers

The Panthers lost a HUGE piece with the loss of D-man David Boumeester. Panthers will let in at least 25 more goals this season. Mark it down. They did lock up the exciting David Booth to a long term deal after he emerged last year as a real goal scorer. They also signed Marty Brodeur's understudy Scott Clemmenson in goal who did a good job backing up when Marty went down last year. Florida is one of those teams that will always have a tough time. It's not really a free agent destination. They had to draft and trade well to compete. No playoffs again in Sunrise, Florida.

Why you should care:

Check out their Radio Announcer. Gauranteed LOLz. Personal fav 2:55

Montreal Canadiens

Le Bleu-Blanc-et-Rouge lost a lot this offseason. Alex Kovalev, captain Saku Koivu being the biggest names. But to counter that, they signed a lot as well. They acquired the highly overpaid small center Scott Gomez from the Rangers, and three forwards from New Jersey: Gionta, Pandolfo and Brylin. The Habs also got the 30 goal man Mike Camilleri from the Flames. On the defensive side, they added Jaroslav Spacek from the Sabres and the huge Hal Gill from the champion pens. Lots of new names, but lost of big names lost as well.

Montreal was looking for a identity change after a dissapointing 100-year celebration season. Change they got, but improvement? I'm not sure.

Why you should care:

In Montreal 1. Hockey 2. Everything Else.
Also they sing the HELL out of their national anthem. And it's ALWAYS televised. Some things are more important than another commercial. I wish America would follow suit on this one.

New Jersey Devils

Devils are about one man. Goalie Martin Brodeur. As much as I truly hate him, I have to respect him. The Devils ALWAYS make the playoffs because of him. They are slowly shedding their image of being a defensive, sleep-inducing team, and are becoming more of an offesive team. But this off-season the Devils lost a lot of peices and havent added anything yet. Still, when you have Brodeur, you're making the playoffs.

Why you should care:


New York Islanders

There is a bit of a buzz around the Islanders since they drafted John Tavares #1 in the draft. This kid broke Gretzky's records in junior hockey and should make an immediate impact. But will it be enough? I think not. Caps drafted Ovechkin, one year sucking ensued. Pens drafted Crosby, one year of sucking ensued. Islanders need to suck one more year to get another high draft pick to be a real playoff threat.

Why you should care?

Is this kid the real deal? Only thing we know now is he's not an exciting interview

23 down 7 left!

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