Ryan Dadoun

In The Crease

print article archives RSS

Southeast Division Preview

Friday, August 05, 2011


WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Roster Movement

The Capitals had an emotional and anti-climatic end to the 2010-11 season, which is nothing new for them. However, rather than give up on their more defensive style, their core players, or coach, the team has decided to stay the course in the hopes that doing so will eventually result in them winning the Stanley Cup.

Staying the course isn't the same thing as being stagnant. Although they resisted making any sweeping changes, they did make several significant moves this off-season. They allowed several depth players to walk away, including Tyler Sloan, Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon, Marco Sturm and Jason Arnott, and they traded away Eric Fehr for cap purposes. However, they more than replaced them with the signings of Roman Hamrlik, Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward, and the acquisition of Troy Brouwer.

The Capitals also traded away goaltender Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche for a first and second round pick. They then inked Tomas Vokoun to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

Projected Top Two Lines

Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Mike Knuble
Troy Brouwer-Brooks Laich-Alexander Semin

Battle For Jobs

Mattias Sjogren is making the transition from European to North American hockey this season and he'll be looking to earn on a spot on the Capitals' third or fourth line.

In terms of their defense, so much of it depends on Tom Poti. The Capitals are currently operating above the salary cap, but Poti might not be available for the start of the season due to a groin injury. If that's the case, the Caps can put him on the long-term injured reserve list, which would solve their remuneration issues. However, if he's healthy, then the Capitals' defensive situation gets somewhat complicated. The team has seven defensemen signed to one-way contracts and John Carlson – who should be considered a lock to make the team – inked to a two-way deal. With that in mind, if Poti is healthy, the Capitals will almost certainly trade a blueliner or send a veteran defenseman making $1.285 million or more down to the minors before the start of the regular season.

Key Injuries

As mentioned above, Poti could start the 2011-12 season on the long-term injured reserve list, although it might be a bit of a stretch to list him under the category of "Key" Injuries.

Player To Watch

Mike Green tried to be more responsible defensively last season, but it's hard to say how much that affected him offensively because he missed such a big chunk of the campaign. He ended up with eight goals and 24 points in 49 contests, but he also recorded 100 hits and 109 blocked shots. Green has two 70+ point seasons under his belt, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to reproduce those results given the Capitals' new playing style.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Roster Movement

The Lightning's summer has been defined by their ability to re-sign Steve Stamkos to a five-year, $37.5 million deal, but that's hardly all they've done during the off-season. Tampa Bay added Ryan Shannon, Tom Pyatt, Matt Gilroy, and backup goaltender Mathieu Garon via the free agent market. They also added a depth defenseman by acquiring Bruno Gervais from the New York Islanders. On the flip side, the Lightning also watched Simon Gagne, Randy Jones, Matt Smaby, Mike Lundin, Sean Bergenheim, and Mike Smith sign elsewhere.

Projected Top Two Lines

Ryan Malone-Steve Stamkos-Martin St. Louis
Teddy Purcell-Vincent Lecavalier-Steve Downie

Battle For Jobs

Although we're penciling in Downie as a second liner, he could easily end up on the third. Nate Thompson and Ryan Shannon are also expected to battle for a spot on one of the top two lines and either one of them could force Downie to fall on the depth charts.

Carter Ashton, who was taken with the 29th overall pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft, should compete for one of the Lightning's bottom-six forward spots, but we wouldn't be surprised if he starts the season in the minors.

Key Injuries

Pavel Kubina should be fine for the start of training camp after sustaining a concussion in game one of the Eastern Conference finals.

Player To Watch

Stamkos scored 38 goals and 67 points in 51 games before the All-Star break, but just seven goals and 24 points in 31 contests after it. In addition to that, Stamkos ranked fifth on the team in 2011 playoff points with 13 in 18 games. If Stamkos can shake off his 2010-11 second half struggles, then he should compete for the Rocket Richard and Art Ross Trophies next season.

CAROLINA HURRICANES

Carolina fell just short of the playoffs last season, but they didn't use that as motivation to do anything big this summer. Although they did make some noteworthy moves during the free agency period, the end result was that they basically treaded water.

Take their signing of free agent Tomas Kaberle to a three-year, $12.75 million contract. That's a pretty good deal for an offensive defenseman who is coming off back-to-back 45+ seasons, but the gain was mitigated by them trading blueliner Joe Corvo to Boston for just a fourth rounder. Carolina also added wingers Anthony Stewart and Alexei Ponikarovsky, but were unable to retain the services of Erik Cole.

Projected Top Two Lines

Jeff Skinner-Eric Staal- Jussi Jokinen
Tuomo Ruutu-Brandon Sutter-Anthony Stewart

Battle For Jobs

The Carolina Hurricanes' top two lines could look very different than what we projected when the season started. The loss of Erik Cole created a vacancy on the top line, which we think will end up getting filled by Jeff Skinner after his Calder Trophy winning rookie season. However, Tuomo Ruutu should also be regarded as a serious contender for that gig.

The second line is also not set in stone. Although Alexei Ponikarovsky had a disastrous season with the Los Angeles Kings in 2010-11, the Hurricanes might give him a chance to redeem himself. Zach Dalpe could also end up getting a chance to play on one of the top two lines, although he isn't a lock to make the team's opening game roster.

Key Injuries

The Carolina Hurricanes appear to be relatively healthy going into training camp.

Player To Watch

As mentioned above, Zac Dalpe could get top-six minutes if he's able to make the Hurricanes out of training camp. After recording 45 points in 39 NCAA games with Ohio State University in 2009-10, Dalpe scored 23 goals and 57 points in 61 AHL contests last season. Dalpe also got four points in 15 games with Carolina, but we wouldn't read too much into that, as he averaged just 7:56 minutes per contest.

WINNIPEG JETS

Roster Movement

The organization has undergone sweeping changes over the past several months. They changed owners, cities, General Managers, and coaching staffs. However, the one thing that True North Sports and Entertainment seemed interested in preserving is the young core the Atlanta Thrashers had assembled. The Jets locked up team captain Andrew Ladd to a five-year, $22 million deal and Blake Wheeler to a two-year, $5 million contract.

Beyond that, the Jets acquired Eric Fehr from the Capitals and signed Randy Jones and Tanner Glass. Radek Dvorak, Eric Boulton, and Anthony Stewart all walked away as free agents.

Projected Top Two Lines

Andrew Ladd-Nik Antropov-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Bryan Little-Eric Fehr

Battle For Jobs

Patrice Cormier has been a major disappointment over the past two years and it remains to be seen if he'll even be healthy for the start of the 2011-12 campaign. However, if he does recover from his concussion in time to participate in training camp, Cormier should compete for a roster spot. Carl Klingberg might also earn a bottom-six spot on the Jets' opening game roster, but he's more likely to start the season in the minors.

Eric Fehr (shoulder) is questionable for the start of the season, which may give Alexander Burmistrov or another young player a chance to show what they can do on the second line.

Key Injuries

As mentioned above, Fehr might miss the Jets' season opener after undergoing shoulder surgery in May.

Player To Watch

Kane had just 26 points in 66 games in his rookie season, but he took a significant step forward in 2010-11 with 19 goals and 24 assists in 73 contests. That's not a bad jump and he's capable of making a similar one in his third NHL season. He could be a big factor as the Jets attempt to make the playoffs in their first season since the relocation.

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Roster Movements

The Panthers changed so much during the off-season, but the place to start is fairly obvious. When the Panthers acquired Brian Campbell from the Chicago Blackhawks for Rostislav Olesz during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, they set the standard for all their other off-season moves. The Panthers needed to add an absurd amount of salary just to reach the salary cap floor, but with the acquisition of Campbell, they showed that they were looking to add veterans – some of whom are significant question marks going into the 2011-12 campaign – to long-term contracts, as opposed to inking a lot of one or two-year deals as stopgap measures until their farm players are able to take over.

After the acquisition of Campbell, the Florida Panthers went on to ink Scottie Upshall to a four-year, $14 million deal, Sean Bergenheim to a four-year, $11 million contract, Tomas Fleischmann to a four-year, $18 million deal, and Ed Jovanovski to a four-year, $16.5 million contract. The Florida Panthers also acquired Tomas Kopecky from the Chicago Blackhawks and inked him to a four-year,$12 million contract.

Beyond that, they also inked netminder Jose Theodore to replace Tomas Vokoun, who signed with the Washington Capitals.

Projected Top Two Lines

David Booth-Stephen Weiss-Jack Skille
Kris Versteeg-Tomas Fleischmann- Evgeny Dadonov

Battle For Jobs

Scottie Upshall will compete for a top-six spot and it might not take much for him to wrestle one away from Skille or Dadonov.

Blueliner Erik Gudbranson is worth keeping a close eye on during training camp. He might have made the Panthers last season, but his contract negotiations broke down before the start of the 2010-11 campaign. He inked an entry-level contract over the summer so that shouldn't be an issue this time around.

Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen should battle for the number one gig. Theodore has the inside track and will probably be the team's opening game starter. However, Clemmensen could end up overtaking him at some point during the season.

Key Injuries

At the time of writing, it looks like all of the Panthers' major players will be ready for training camp.

Player To Watch

There are a couple great choices on the Panthers, including Gudbranson, who we mentioned above. However, we'll go with Jack Skille. He has just 27 points in his first 92 NHL games, but he didn't get much playing time with the Chicago Blackhawks. Now that he's with the Florida Panthers, that should change.


Ryan Dadoun is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.
Email :Ryan Dadoun



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    RotoPat: Week 13 Rankings

    RotoPat: Week 13 Rankings
  •  
    Levitan: Thanksgiving options

    Levitan: Thanksgiving options
  •  
    Levitan: Week 13 start options

    Levitan: Week 13 start options
  •  
    Wednesday

    Wednesday's Fantasy Minute
  •  
    NBA 6-Pack: Tuesday

    NBA 6-Pack: Tuesday
  •  
    Levitan: Week 13 Waiver Wire

    Levitan: Week 13 Waiver Wire
  •  
    Tuesday

    Tuesday's Fantasy Minute
  •  
    Bales: Inside the Numbers

    Bales: Inside the Numbers