The summer, even without hockey games being played, has certainly been a busy one so far in terms of new faces in new places and teams making big moves. Next year the Atlantic Division looks like it will continue to be what many consider to be the most competitive division in the NHL. Names like Jordan Staal, Zach Parise, and JVR have left the Atlantic Division through trade and free agency and players including Luke Schenn, Rick Nash, Tomas Vokoun, and countless others are imports into the Atlantic Division this upcoming season.
Here is a mid-summer review of the roster moves made by the teams in the Atlantic Division as well as noteworthy RFAs and UFAS that are still looking for new teams or new contracts. Join me after the jump to see who has gotten stronger and who is really, really bitter about their captain leaving for Minnesota...
In: Krys Barch, Harri Pesonen
Out: Zach Parise Alex Ponikarovsky, Matt Taormina, Eric Boulton (bought out)
FA of Interst: Petr Sykora
Now, let's take a closer look at some of the big moves and note some key discussion points for each team:
- Defense- Having Shea Weber so tantalizingly close to becoming a Flyer was torturous on Philly fans, especially because the team is almost certainly without the services of Chris Pronger who looks like he will be forced into early-retirement because of concussion problems. The Flyers dealt JVR to the Leafs for the equally promising and talented Luke Schenn. Steve Yzerman managed to lure Matt Carle away from the Flyers and Philly retaliated with signing Bruno Gervais (guess who won that trade-off).
- Offense- Jaromir Jagr is a Dallas Star and JVR is a Maple Leaf but it looks like the organization is confident about Jakub Voracek playing on the first line. The Flyers also have a glut of talented, young forwards that are all hungry for ice time and competing for any remaining roster spots.
- In Net- Al Montoya has left the revolving door of Islander goaltenders for greener pastures in Winnipeg. The Islanders still have Rick DiPietro and Evgeni Nabokov who will, one way or another, end up splitting most of the year between the pipes. The lack of stability, confidence, and consistency in the Isles' goal crease remains a big, ugly problem.
- New Fishsticks- Brad Boyes is hoping that a change of scenery will help him find his scoring touch, if that doesn't work he can always hope Tavares can make him look just as good as he made PA Parenteau look (only taller).
- A Team Without a Captain- You can't replace Zach Parise. Parise's departure for Minnesota puts the Devils in a hell of a spot (unintentional play on words), the team is going to look for for Travis Zajac to stay healthy and for Calder Trophy finalist Adam Henrique to have a strong sophomore season but... you can't replace Zach Parise.
- One More Year!- Aging netminders Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg have both decided to return to the organization for another year of service but many still are curious about who the heir to Marty's throne might be and when the Devils are going to go out and find him.
- Reset Button?- Jordan Staal was shipped to Carolina because he wouldn't sign a long-term deal to stay in Pittsburgh. Zbynek Michalek was dealt to the 'Yotes for Harrison Ruopp, Marc Cheverie, and a 3rd round pick but most are convinced it was to open up cap space to play in this year's free agent market... but the Penguins didn't land any big fish. A lot of people think that the Penguins were in the bidding for Parise, Suter, and the other big free agents but they seem to have missed out. The Penguins are certainly going to look a lot different from the team they have been the last few years without Michalek and Staal. One has to imagine the Penguins are going to make a few more moves before the puck drops on the regular season.
- Flower Challenged?- After an underwhelming postseason performance it looks like the Penguins were unsatisfied with their goaltending depth and wanted to invest in goaltending a little bit more. Enter Tomas Vokoun, who, despite some injury issues and debates over playing time, had a strong year in Washington last season. Perhaps the Penguins are hoping that the Czech veteran will push Fleury and bring out the best in him with a little bit of competition behind him, we'll have to see but it is still Fleury's job to lose.
- Bottom-Six Depth? Sure Why Not- With Fedotenko and Prust being lured away to other Eastern Conference teams the Rangers made early moves in the offseason to solidify the bottom-six by signing Asham, Pyatt, and Halpern as well as adding two gritty forwards that will almost certainly play in the AHL (Haley and Segal).
- Oh Yeah, Nash Happened- Apparently he's pretty good.
Sources: NHL.com, thehockeynews.com