Corey Abbott

In The Crease

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East Free Agent Ratings

Thursday, July 05, 2012

New York Rangers


Added: Taylor Pyatt


Lost: Brandon Prust


The Rangers bid farewell to a number of depth players so far this off-season, but the loss of Brandon Prust to Montreal is the only one that will impact their roster going into next season.  Prust was a dependable penalty killer and a hard-working winger.  New York signed big bottom-six forward Taylor Pyatt to try to fill that hole and they added a physical presence in ex-Islander Michael Haley to help in that regard if necessary.   The Rangers are still working at prying Rick Nash out of Columbus as their big off-season move, so they have been relatively quiet on meaningful roster movement so far.


Grade: C



Ottawa Senators


Added: Guillaume Latendresse, Marc Methot, Mike Lundin


Lost: Filip Kuba, Nick Foligno, Matt Carkner, Zenon Konopka


Ottawa lost some grit with the departures of Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka, but neither of them played regularly in 2011-12.  The Senators made an early decision to not retain unrestricted free agent Filip Kuba and he signed a contract with Florida on July 1st.  General manager Bryan Murray addressed that hole on the blueline quickly though, by trading forward Nick Foligno to Columbus in exchange for steady stay-at-home defenseman Marc Methot.  The Ottawa native should get a chance to take Kuba's spot in the lineup next to Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson next season.  Mike Lundin was also added to supply the team with more depth.  Guillaume Latendresse has struggled mightily with injuries for most of his career and he dressed in just 27 games over the last two seasons with Minnesota.  He agreed to a one-year deal with the Senators and if he can stay, which is a fairly big "if," then he could be an intriguing sleeper in 2012-13. 


Grade: B



Philadelphia Flyers


Added: Michael Leighton


Lost: Jaromir Jagr, Matt Carle


The draft day deal of Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus in exchange for three picks has Michael Leighton penciled into the backup role for the Flyers next season.  Philadelphia re-signed him on July 1 to a one-year deal.  The Flyers made big offers to try to land highly-sought after free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, but came up empty in their attempts.  While they were trying to reel in the big fishes, veteran winger Jaromir Jagr and defenseman Matt Carle found new homes via free agency with Dallas and Tampa Bay, respectively.  The Flyers will likely be in the thick of trade talks for Anaheim's Bobby Ryan and Columbus' Rick Nash.  They will probably deal with their defense corps as well before the start of next year. 


Grade: C-   



Pittsburgh Penguins


Added: Tanner Glass


Lost: Steve Sullivan, Arron Asham


The Penguins' off-season moves have been a mixed bag thus far.  They started out well enough by acquiring and signing pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Tomas Vokoun well ahead of July 1st.  Being forced to trade Jordan Staal at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was a difficult situation that the team handled well.  The bad taste in the mouths of the Pens from that matter was quickly washed out with the announcement of Sidney Crosby's massive 12-year, $104.4 million contract extension.  Pittsburgh then lost Steve Sullivan to the Phoenix Coyotes and Arron Asham to the New York Rangers on the open market, but they did add Tanner Glass as a capable replacement for Asham.  The Penguins were among a number of teams that came up short in their efforts to sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, which may cause them to seek the trade route to obtain a winger to play alongside Crosby for next season. 


Grade: C



Tampa Bay Lightning


Added: Sami Salo, Matt Carle


Lost: Dwayne Roloson


Tampa Bay acquired Anders Lindback from Nashville last month, so they didn't hang onto veteran puck-stopper Dwayne Roloson.  Roloson is still looking for a team in the free agent market.  The Lightning have kept themselves busy in free agency, though, signing blueliners Sami Salo and Matt Carle to help bolster their defense corps.  Salo received a two-year deal and Carle got a six-year contract from the Bolts.  The two of them should draw into Tampa Bay's top four group.  Salo's booming shot will likely be utilized on the point during power play situations, if he can stay out of the club's sickbay, while Carle will see plenty of ice time in all situations.


Grade: B-



Toronto Maple Leafs


Added: Jay McClement


Lost: Colby Armstrong, Joey Crabb, Jonas Gustavsson


The Leafs chose not to participate in the free agent frenzy, but they did add size at center with the signing of Jay McClement to a two-year deal.  Toronto bought out the final season of Colby Armstrong's contract and he signed with the rival Montreal Canadiens.  Grinder Joey Crabb also left the organization on the open market to play in Washington, and Jonas Gustavsson, whose rights were traded to Winnipeg by Toronto, ended up signing with Detroit to serve as their backup.  The Maple Leafs are still looking to upgrade their talent level at center and between the pipes, which could lead to a trade down the road.  Toronto kicked the tires on Martin Brodeur when he was available as a UFA and they have been linked to Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, but nothing appears imminent. 

Grade: C


Washington Capitals


Added: Jack Hillen, Joey Crabb


Lost: Dennis Wideman


Washington traded the negotiation rights of defenseman Dennis Wideman to Calgary just before free agency begun.  They are also not expected to bring back unrestricted free agents Alexander Semin and Mike Knuble, who are all still available on the open market, and both of them could be fantasy assets under the right circumstances.  The Capitals acquired Mike Ribeiro from Dallas at the draft in exchange for Cody Eakin and a pick as their best off-season transaction.  They also brought Jack Hillen on board to serve as a depth option on the blueline and former Maple Leafs winger Joey Crabb will be heading for fourth-line work in Washington next year.  

Grade: C


Winnipeg Jets


Added: Olli Jokinen, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Al Montoya


Lost: Tanner Glass, Chris Mason


The Jets opened their checkbook to lure center Olli Jokinen onto their roster.  The 33-year-old center inked a two-year, $9 million contract with Winnipeg, where he should see top-line action.  The Jets added another forward with considerable size with the signing of Alexei Ponikarovsky to a one-year deal.  Perhaps being reunited with his old buddy from Toronto, Nik Antropov, can help coax offensive production from him.  Winnipeg also got Al Montoya to serve as Ondrej Pavelec's understudy after Chris Mason left via free agency to sign with Nashville.


Grade: C+


Corey Abbott is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him Twitter @CoreAbbott.
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