There has been a flurry of activity leading up to the draft, especially in the Atlantic Conference. First, the Flyers acquired the rights to Dan Hamhuis from Nashville in exchange for Ryan Parent, helping shore up their defense. Ironically, Parent was originally a Nashville first round pick in 2005. Hamhuis is coming off the final year of a four year, $8 million deal a contract that paid him $2.5 million last season. Assuming the Flyers sign Hamhuis, and re-sign restricted free agent Brayden Coburn, the Flyers will have one of the best defensive units in the NHL next season with Hamhuis, Coburn, Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timmonen, and Matt Carle.
With Hamhuis on the roster, many are speculating that Jeff Carter could be on his way out via trade. However, the Flyers have $8 million in cap space this year with 17 players under contract. Assuming the Flyers spend smartly on Hamhuis ($3.5 million is a rough estimate of market value), and leverage their RFA negotiating rights on Coburn, it appears they will be able to get all players under contract without trading Carter. As for 2011-2012, the Flyers have $21 million in cap space with 11 players under contract. Carter and Claude Giroux are their main free agents to sign that year (excluding an aging Simon Gagne). Again, it appears they will be just fine with cap space, which is bad news for the Rangers.
Meanwhile, the Devils re-acquired Jason Arnott in exchange for Matt Halischuk and a 2011 second round pick. Arnott is in the final year of a five year, $22.5 million contract, that will pay him $4.5 million (with equal cap hit) next season. Arnott gives the Devils some more depth at center in an attempt to provide Zach Parise with some support for one of the NHL's least potent offenses.
The Rangers have been standing pat thus far this offseason, which comes as no surprise, as most of Glen Sather's moves tend to come at or after the draft. While some will surely have issues with Sather standing pat as division rivals get stronger, personally, I have no problem with it. The Rangers are not a few moves away from contending for a Cup, like the Devils and Flyers. The Rangers need a few years to let prospects develop and to let contracts expire. Patience is the key here.
Salary cap information provided by CapGeek.