Florida Panthers 2014- 2015 Season Preview

Connor Keith returns to the Down the Frozen River scene with this season preview of the Florida Panthers. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor when it came to posting things in a timely manner. But that shouldn’t make any of Connor’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

Florida Panthers (29-45-8, seventh in division & second to last in conference)

After the second straight year of missing the postseason since winning the division in 2011-‘12, Dale Tallon pulled the plug on almost the entire coaching staff. Since then, the Panthers have hired Gerard Gallant to replace Peter Horachek (who was on interim basis after the firing of Kevin Dineen). Mike Kelly, John Madden, & Mark Morris will serve as assistant coaches in addition to Robb Tallas as the Goaltending Coach & Paul Vincent coaching skating & skills.

Gerard Gallant’s only NHL head coaching experience came with Columbus from 2004-‘06. He was promoted from his position as assistant coach following Doug MacLean stepping down due to a miserable record of 9-21-4-3. Under Gallant’s leadership, the Jackets finished 25-45-8-4 (Gallant responsible for the Jackets going 16-24-4-1), failing to make the playoffs. The following seasons offered no new results, as Columbus went 35-43-4 in 2005-’06, again missing the playoffs. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a terrible opening 15 games for Gallant & the Jackets. They went 5-9-1 before MacLean pulled the plug on Gallant.

In the 2007-’08 season, Gallant joined the Islanders in an assistant coaching position before becoming the head coach of Saint John. In every season of his three year tenure at Saint John, the Sea Dogs made the playoffs, winning the President’s Cup twice & the Memorial Cup once. Following the 2011-’12 season, he was hired by Montreal as an assistant coach, a position he held until this summer.

The Panthers’ goaltending situation looks to be already in place. Although the goalie with the most games played & wins from last season, Tim Thomas (16-20-3), was traded to Dallas on March 5th, the Panthers had received Roberto Luongo in a trade with Vancouver the day before. Moving forward with Luongo (6-7-2), the Panthers found their goalie with the best save percentage (92.4%) & fewest goals against average (2.46) over the course of 14 games. I would be very surprised to see Luongo lose his starting position.

In addition to retaining Dan Ellis (0-5-0), who played six games with the Panthers last season, Florida also has Sam Brittain, Michael Houser, & Al Montoya within their organization. Brittain was drafted by Florida in 2010 & last played at the University of Denver, where he posted a 19-14-6 record in 39 games. A particularly striking stat he has to his name coming into this season is posting five shutouts & only allowing 2.22 goals per game last season in the NCHC. Al Montoya posted a 13-8-3 record last season in Winnipeg, saving 92% of all shots on his goal (leads new acquisitions) & only allowing an average of 2.3 goals per game. I expect him to take the backup role from Ellis with Sam Brittain getting the opportunity to develop in the AHL this season.

The Panthers come into the season having lost some important players, most notably Tom Gilbert (signed with Montreal) & Marcel Goc (traded to Pittsburgh).

They lost one of the top seven players with most regular season games with the Panthers last season in Tom Gilbert, who played 73 games last year. The Panthers are adding players that can play most of a regular season, though, in Jussi Jokinen (81, signed from Pittsburgh), Willie Mitchell (76, signed from Los Angeles), & Brett Olson (75, signed from Abbotsford).

Florida is not bringing back two of their top 10 shot takers this year as Marcel Goc (105) & Jesse Winchester (100, signed with Colorado) are not returning. These two players accounted for over eight percent of the Panthers’ shots last regular season. They’ve added Mackenzie Weegar (173, 2013 draft pick), Jussi Jokinen (172), & Brett Olson (150) to the present roster, who should produce more offensive opportunities.

Almost six percent of last season’s goals will not show up to training camp this season as Marcel Goc (11) is with the Penguins. The Panthers have added Aaron Ekblad (23, 2014 draft pick), Jussi Jokinen (21), Steven Hodges (21, 2012 draft pick), Brett Olson (17), Rocco Grimaldi (17, 2011 draft pick), & Mackenzie Weegar (12) to more than make up for the missing goals, provided they can acclimate to the NHL when they join the team.

One of the leading two assisters will not be with the Panthers this season as Tom Gilbert (25) is not returning. Florida has more than made up for this, as they have signed Mackenzie Weegar (47), Jussi Jokinen (36), Aaron Ekblad (30), Brett Olson (27), & Steven Hodges (26). These new additions will hopefully provide for more options on offense when the players get acclimated to the NHL.

One of the three positive +/- guys for the Panthers has been lost in Bobby Butler (one). Florida has made many excellent additions to build on a miserable season in this regard by adding Mackenzie Weegar (56), Steven Hodges (20), Willie Mitchell (14), Jussi Jokinen (12), Aaron Ekblad (nine), Brett Olson (eight), John McFarland (three, 2010 draft pick), Shawn Thornton (three, signed from Boston), & Connor Brickley (one, 2010 draft pick). The Panthers hope that these players can continue to be as efficient as they progress through the organization.
The Panthers lost one of their top two penalty minute earners in Krys Barch (99). Sadly, Florida picked up Mackenzie Weegar (97), Aaron Ekblad (97), Shawn Thornton (74), Steven Hodges (65), Willie Mitchell (58), Rocco Grimaldi (48), & Derek Mackenzie (47, signed from Columbus). New hire Jussi Jokinen only served 18 minutes in the sin bin last season, which averaged out to 13 1/3 seconds per game. This will be a huge asset to keep the Panthers from defending the power play.

Present roster consists of 26 forwards, 13 defensemen, & five goalies (44 men).

Minnesota Wild 2014- 2015 Season Preview

Colby Kephart joins Down the Frozen River as a contributing writer with his season preview for the Minnesota Wild. His short, but direct, writing style is sure to please those readers looking for something quick to cover all the bases. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor when it came to posting things in a timely manner. But that shouldn’t make any of Colby’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

Additions: LW Thomas Vanek, C Ryan Carter, D Stu Bickel.

Subtractions: LW Matt Moulson, C Cody McCormick, D Clayton Stonner, LW Mike Rupp, LW Dany Heatley, G Ilya Bryzgalov.

Expectation: After a good Playoff performance last year, I expect a similar season from the Wild. This year, however, one issue could be goaltending. Josh Harding’s suspended, Niklas Backstrom’s injury prone so that puts a lot of pressure on Darcy Kuemper. I would say defense could be an issue, but how can anyone say that when they have the almighty Ryan Suter. The offense should be really fun to watch this year. With the possible thought of reuniting old friends with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville on the same line equals goals on goals. If this team can stay healthy, I’m thinking a 4 or 5 seed in West and maybe eliminating a top contender for the Cup.

Buffalo Sabres 2014- 2015 Season Preview

Colby Kephart joins Down the Frozen River as a contributing writer with his season preview for the Buffalo Sabres. His short, but direct, writing style is sure to please those readers looking for something quick to cover all the bases. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor when it came to posting things in a timely manner. But that shouldn’t make any of Colby’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

Additions: D Josh Gorges, D Andrej Meszaros, D Andre Benoit, D Tyson Strachan, RW Brian Gionta, LW *Matt Moulson, C *Cody McCormick, C Sam Reinhart. *=Returned

Subtractions: D Henrik Tallinder, D Jamie McBain, D Christian Ehrhoff, D Alex Sulzer, LW Ville Leino , LW Linus Omark, RW Matt D’Agostini.

Expectation: The Sabres are very hopeful this season, the players are excited to start and I truly believe that they will try and push for the playoffs. This is contradictory to popular belief, because most people think they will tank again to have a chance for Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. The New additions of veteran leadership to a very young team could make them a contender for playoffs. I’m not suggesting “Look for the Cup”, but getting a 6th-8th seed could be possible. There’s only two options for the Sabres Playoffs or tank anywhere in between and this season was a failure.

Carolina Hurricanes 2014- 2015 Season Preview

Connor Keith continues to display his hockey sense and analytic insight with his preview of the Carolina Hurricanes. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season kind of came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor, posting things. But that shouldn’t make any of Connor’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

Carolina Hurricanes (36-35-11, seventh in division, 13th in conference)

After missing the playoffs for the seventh time since hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2005-‘06, Peter Karmanos and new GM Ron Francis, promoted by virtue of Jim Rutherford leaving the Hurricanes organization & being hired by Pittsburgh, pulled the plug on almost the entire coaching staff. Since then, the Canes have hired Bill Peters to replace Kirk Muller. Steve Smith has been signed as an assistant coach & David Marcoux as a goaltending coach, replacing assistant coaches John MacLean & Dave Lewis.

Bill Peters has yet to record a game in the NHL as a head coach, but he does have experience in head coaching. His first head coaching position was in the college ranks when he coached Lethbridge for three seasons (2002-’05). Spokane provided him his first professional head coaching job the following season, which he held for three seasons (2005-’08). In his first season with the Chiefs, he posted a 25-39-8 record, followed next season by a 36-28-8 record, worthy of a playoff spot in the WHL. The Chiefs fell in the first round to Everett, two games to four. His best season in Spokane was his last, as the Chiefs recorded a 50-15-7 record, a franchise record for wins in a season. This season witnessed the Chiefs hoisting both the Ed Chynoweth & Memorial Cups.

Following the 2007-’08 season, Peters joined Rockford, where he found immediate success. In his first two seasons, the IceHogs qualified for the playoffs twice, but were swept in the first round each time (Milwaukee & Texas, respectively). His final season in Rockford was a disappointment as his team amassed a record of 38-33-9 for last place in the division, t-12 in conference.

In 2011, Peters was hired by Detroit as an assistant coach, where he served for three seasons before being hired by Carolina.

Luckily for the maturing Canes, the goalie with the most starts last season is returning in Anton Khudobin (36). Cam Ward, who had the second-most games played last season (30), may also return pending his preseason success. The Canes have also acquired Daniel Altshuller and Drew MacIntyre, bringing their goalie count to four. Based on moves made so far, Khudobin & Ward are still Carolina’s lead pair. Khudobin had a save percentage of 92.6% for the regular season (led Carolina goalies last season), averaging 2.3 goals against per game (also led team). Last season, Ward saved 89.8% of all shots (worst on team), averaging 3.06 goals against (worst on team). He may have strong competition for the backup spot from the two new acquisitions, especially from Macintyre.

The Canes signed Drew Macintyre from the Toronto organization. He played in only two regular season games last year in the NHL for a 0-1-0 record. His save percentage in those games was 92.2% & he allowed 2.53 goals per game. He spent most of last season with the Marlies, who made it to the AHL playoffs. In the Marlies’ 14-game quest for the Calder Cup, he posted a 10-4 record, allowing only 2.08 goals a game with a save percentage of 94.1%. One-fifth (20%) of his playoff wins were shutouts.

In addition, the Canes also signed 2012 draft pick Daniel Altshuller. He spent the entire season with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, where he posted a 31-13-3 record in 52 games played. He recorded two shutouts (over 6% of wins were a result of a shutout) with a save percentage of 91.7%, allowing 2.56 goals per game. Oshawa made it to the playoffs, where Altshuller played 11 games for an 8-3 record. He only allowed 1.89 goals per playoff game for a save percentage of 93.1%, both greatly higher than his regular season numbers. This is the second time in three playoff seasons that he has been able to accomplish this feat, suggesting that he may perform well in the future under pressure.

The Canes come into the season having lost some big names, most notably Drayson Bowman (signed with Montreal), Manny Malhotra (signed with Montreal), Tuomo Ruutu (traded to New Jersey in March).

They lost two of the top 11 players with most regular season games with the Hurricanes last season in Drayson Bowman (70) & Manny Malhotra (69). The Canes are adding other players that can play most of a regular season, though, in Jay McClement (81, signed from Toronto), Victor Rask (76, 2011 draft pick), Justin Shugg (75, 2010 draft pick), Ben Holmstrom (75, signed from Philadelphia), Trevor Carrick (70, 2012 draft pick), Haydn Fleury (70, rookie), Michal Jordan (70, 2008 draft pick), & Brody Sutter (69, 2011 draft pick). These durable bodies should be able to create efficiency through consistent playing time together to continue to grow.

The Canes are not bringing back two of their top 14 shot takers this year as Drayson Bowman (80) & Tuomo Ruutu (79) are not returning. These two players accounted for over 6% of the Hurricanes’ shots last regular season. They have added many players who more than make up for these lost numbers in Ben Holmstrom (168), Victor Rask (160), Justin Shugg (160), Danny Biega (114, 2010 draft pick), Michal Jordan (94), & Brody Sutter (89).

Only 7% of last season’s goals will not show up to training camp this season as Manny Malhotra (seven) & Tuomo Ruutu (five) are with other teams. The Hurricanes have made a strong push for offense as they have hired multiple 10+ goal scorers from last season, including Brock McGinn (43, 2012 draft pick), Carter Sandlak (24, signed from Plymouth), Trevor Carrick (22), Victor Rask (16), Justin Shugg (16), Patrick Brown (15, undrafted free agent from Boston College), & Ben Holmstrom (13).

The 12th leading assister from last season, Tuomo Ruutu (11) will not be with the Hurricanes this season. To more than make up for this, the Canes have signed Brock McGinn (42), Haydn Fleury (38), Trevor Carrick (29), Carter Sandlak (24), Victor Rask (23), Justin Shugg (22), Michal Jordan (21), Brody Sutter (20), Ben Holmstrom (19), Patrick Brown (15), Danny Biega (15), and Greg Nemisz (12, signed from Calgary).

The only positive +/- player from last season not returning is Radek Dvorak (three, led defensemen, unsigned free agent). To improve upon both the loss and the fact that the Canes only had one player with a number greater than five, Carolina has acquired Brock McGinn (46), Haydn Fleury (15), & Greg Nemisz (nine).

The Hurricanes lost one of the top six penalty minute earners in Radek Dvorak (41). Sadly, the Canes picked up Ben Holmstrom (146), Trevor Carrick (117), Carter Sandlak (95), Rasmus Rissanen (91, 2009 draft pick), Keegan Lowe (86, 2011 draft pick), Haydn Fleury (46), & Brock McGinn (45). These players will need to continue to grow in their discipline to have a truly positive effect in Raleigh. New hire Greg Nemisz only served 13 minutes in the sin bin last season, which averaged out to almost 17 seconds per game. This will be a huge asset to keep the Canes from defending the power play.

Present roster consists of 24 forwards, 15 defensemen, & four goalies (42 men).

Anaheim Ducks 2014- 2015 Season Preview

The wonderful, Connor Keith, has joined the Down the Frozen River family, and shares his talented writing, insight, and analysis for everyone to enjoy. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season kind of came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor, posting things. But that shouldn’t make any of Connor’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

Anaheim Ducks (54-20-8, won conference)

After yet another early exit from the playoffs (fifth time kicked out in first or second round of playoffs since winning the Cup in the 2006-’07 season), Henry Samueli & reigning NHL General Manager of the Year Bob Murray intend to build on last year’s strong regular season & once again be the team to beat in Los Angeles. Although they’ve made many additions to stake this claim, the Ducks will need to circumvent the retirement of Saku Koivu & Teemu Selanne & find new leadership in the locker room.

The only front office news to come out of Anaheim this season was the four-year contract extension signed by Murray in May. He made quick work of the expressed confidence from Samueli by signing two trades. On June 27, he agreed to terms with the Vancouver Canucks that Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, & two draft picks were to be sent up I-5 in return for Ryan Kesler & a pick in next year’s draft. Three days later, he sent two picks in next year’s draft to Tampa Bay in return for Nate Thompson.

One of the major question marks for the Ducks is their goaltending. Jonas Hiller (29-13-7), who played in 50 regular season games last season (22 more than Frederik Andersen) between the pipes, is now playing for Calgary. Andersen (20-5-0) played in 28 games for the Ducks last, the most of the remaining goalies on the Anaheim staff (also lost Viktor Fasth to a trade in March with the Edmonton Oilers). The Ducks have since signed Ryan Faragher (20-9-4-1, played at St. Cloud State) to an entry-level contract, who played seven more games than Andersen last season, but in college. Based on all of this, I would assume that Andersen will be starting in the crease.

The Ducks come into the season having lost two big names in Nick Bonino & Daniel Winnik (signed with Toronto).

They lost only two of the top seven players with most regular season games with the Ducks last season in Nick Bonino (77) & Daniel Winnik (76) both playing 75+ regular season games last year. Additionally, they lost only two of the top 10 players with the most playoff games with the Ducks last season in Nick Bonino & Saku Koivu both playing in all 13 games. The Ducks are adding players that can play most of a regular season, though, in Nate Thompson (81), Louis Leblanc (78, signed from Montreal), & Ryan Kesler (77) who all played 77+ games last season.

The Ducks are only losing one of their top four shot takers this year as Nick Bonino (159) joins Vancouver. He alone accounted for over 6% of the Ducks’ shots last regular season. Looking at only postseason numbers, two of the top five shot-takers are not returning, as Teemu Selanne (24) & Nick Bonino (22) are not returning. These shooters accounted for over 13% of the shots taken in the postseason.

Over 15% of last season’s goals will not show up to training camp this season as Nick Bonino (22) & Mathieu Perrault (18) are with other teams. The Ducks have added Nick Ritchie (39), Ryan Kesler (25), & Shea Theodore (22) to more than make up for the missing goals.

Three of the leading six assisters will not be with the Ducks this season as Nick Bonino (27), Mathieu Perrault (25, signed with Winnipeg), & Daniel Winnik (24) are not returning. To take their vacant spots, the Ducks have signed Shea Theodore (57, drafted last season), Kenton Helgesen (41, drafted last season), & Nick Ritchie (35, drafted this season). These new additions have the potential to greatly exceed the numbers of the players they are replacing based on their stats from last season in lower leagues & could have a strong influence on the already potent Anaheim offense.

Only one of the top five +/- guys in the regular season have been lost in Dustin Penner (22, traded to Washington in March). With him, the Ducks also lost two of the positive +/- players during the playoffs. Nick Bonino (3) & Daniel Winnik (1) were two of only five Ducks to post a number higher than zero for the 13 playoff games. To make up for these lost numbers, Anaheim has signed Kenton Helgesen (31). His regular season statistics greatly exceed Penner’s, albeit in a lower league, & Anaheim hopes that he continues his growth in the Honda Center.

The Ducks lost two of their top seven penalty minute earners in Saku Koivu (46) & Luca Sbisa (43). Sadly, the Ducks picked up Nick Ritchie (136), John Kurtz (112, played in Norfolk last two seasons), Clayton Stoner (84, signed from Minnesota), Ryan Kesler (81), Andrew O’Brien (74, drafted in 2012), Christopher Wagner (68, drafted in 2010), Louis Leblanc (67), Kenton Helgesen (67), Joseph Cramarossa (59, drafted in 2011), & Max Friberg (55, drafted in 2011). This is one of the main spots where Anaheim lost a lot of ground. The new players, especially the young guys, will need to refine their discipline from taking so many penalty minutes, or Anaheim’s defense will be too exhausted to get back to the dressing rooms between periods.

Present roster consists of 27 forwards, 15 defensemen, & six goalies (48 men).

Colorado Avalanche 2014- 2015 Season Preview

2014 Offseason
Losses: (Free Agency) D Andre Benoit, F Bryan Lerg, D Matt Hunwick, F David Van Der Gulik, F Brad Malone, F Paul Stastny (Trades) F PA Parenteau (Retirement) G J.S. Giguere

Additions: (Free Agency) F Jesse Winchester, D Zach Redmond, F Ben Street, D Bruno Gervais F Jarome Iginla, D Brad Stuart (Trades) F Daniel Briere

The Colorado Avalanche certainly had a busy offseason, leaving some with mixed feelings. While the addition of Jarome Iginla seems great, it comes with the price of the subtraction of Paul Stastny- who had helped play a key role in the Av’s ultimate defeat to Minnesota in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nathan MacKinnon is ready to lead the second line as a center and the Calder Trophy winner is capable of putting up plenty of points this coming season, but how will he perform as the number two center alongside guys like Alex Tanguay, Iginla, Ryan O’Reilly, or Gabriel Landeskog? Head coach, Patrick Roy, has the flexibility to play around with his top six forwards for the first couple of months.Iggy is back in the Western Conference, something he may prefer, however, how must his game evolve given that a lot has changed in the Western Conference during his short time in the East with Pittsburgh and Boston- that and being on a younger team in general. The Daniel Briere for PA Parenteau trade with Montreal looks like it will be a solid in retrospect, however, Briere is nowhere near the scoring capability that he once was. Strength down the middle might concern the Av’s fourth line, but can be resolved with the addition of Jesse Winchester. Perhaps a bigger question of the Avalanche prospects regards Joey Hishon- is he finally ready for the NHL? If he is, is he the one that fits the missing piece to the puzzle on the third or fourth line? The only thing that concerns Av’s fans with regards to Iginla is whether or not they will be able to realistically make a deep Cup run within his three year contract. Let’s face it, Iginla is nearing the end of his career, and as of right now, Colorado appears to be at least three years out of a potential Stanley Cup.

On the blue line, the Av’s have a solidified defense in Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Brad Stuart, and Jan Hejda, but whether Nick Holden and Nate Guenin can successfully complete the top six defensemen remains to be seen. Despite the success of last season, there are plenty of question marks for the Colorado Avalanche in the 2014- 2015 season. The Av’s have a little flexibility with excess defenseman that could be utilized from Lake Erie, but their depth at the blue line remains shallow in comparison to other teams. However, given the fact that the Avalanche have rid themselves of the Matt Hunwick atrocity, significant gains have been made. A lot of questions will be asked of the Avalanche this season, but with good intentions. Nobody doubts Roy’s- Jack Adams winning- ability to coach, however some may recall the last time the Av’s made the playoffs and the subsequent years in between playoff runs. To get to the top of the league, this young, relatively inexperienced playoff roster must remain a consistent force in both making the playoffs and lasting for longer than a round or two. Failure to make it back into the playoffs this season and the Avalanche organization suddenly looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs (sorry Leafs fans). Consistent final bows in the first round and the Av’s will look like the San Jose Sharks (sorry Sharks fans). To win a Cup, a team has to go through a few losses first, but it cannot take forever to do so.

Semyon Varlamov looks to improve on his Vezina Trophy finalist season and will take on more minutes with Reto Berra as his new backup. Quick question, whatever happened to all of that hype about Calvin Pickard? Is he still just a few years off? Varlamov is a clear starter in Colorado, potentially erasing all recent memories of the roulette of goalies and struggles in the crease in the forms of Peter Budaj, Andrew Raycroft (interesting fact, I still have his rookie card somewhere), Brian Elliott (before he was good in St. Louis), Craig Anderson (not that he really struggled, just the team that was in front of him), and whatnot. No matter what anyone says, Berra is a weak backup until proven otherwise. Sure he had that impressive save last year in Calgary, but sometimes it just happens. Regardless, the Avalanche need another year or two of making it into the playoffs and getting to the second round. First of all, they have to avoid the Minnesota Wild; something tells me the playoffs are not kind to the Av’s when they play the Wild. Secondly, the have to see how they can pit themselves up against perennial powerhouses such as Chicago or Los Angeles. Only then will they be ready to take on a Western Conference Final battle and perhaps even a Stanley Cup Finals run. Their number one goal for 2014- 2015 season, though, must be to continue to improve and aim for the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Boston Bruins 2014- 2015 Season Preview

2014 Offseason
Losses: (Free Agency) F Jarome Iginla, F Shawn Thornton, G Chad Johnson, D Andrej Meszaros (Trades) D Johnny Boychuk

Additions: (Free Agency) G Jeremy Smith (Trades) No one

While the Boston Bruins knew they would lose Chad Johnson, Andrej Meszaros, and Shawn Thornton heading into free agency, the Bruins treaded uncharted waters on the Jarome Iginla front. Within hours of free agency opening, Iginla decided to jettison Boston for Colorado and thus opened a hole on Boston’s first line. GM Peter Chiarelli did not have that much to deal with given the relatively weak RW free agents available and looked around the trade market, to the dismay of Bruins fans, nothing was gained on the right side in the offseason. Iginla’s thirty goals will instead have to be split among several players in the Bruins 2014- 2015 lineup, which is likely to see its core (when healthy) perform on a regular basis.

The questions remain as to who will be the replacement on the third and fourth line right wings, with Loui Eriksson moving up to the first line centered by David Krejci and anchored on the left side by Milan Lucic, and the other first line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Reilly Smith still in tact (finally, after the lengthy holdout on resigning Smith and Torey Krug). Both Matt Fraser and Ryan Spooner have made their cases for a roster spot, given their time in Providence last year and this preseason, however, with the plethora of centers in Boston, it is likely that someone like Spooner will end up playing a role on the wing, similar to what Carl Soderberg is doing already. With Jordan Caron appearing to be on his way to Providence, the only wild card from within the Bruins organization is this year’s first round selection, David Pastrnak. Pastrnak has the option of playing in Providence or back in Sweden should he not make the team- where he plays would be a collaborative decision between him and the Bruins front office staff. Simon Gagne was signed to a professional tryout agreement and remains as the only wild card, outside of the organization, pertaining to the 2014- 2015 Bruins roster.

On defense, the Bruins remain to look solid, despite the heavy loss of Johnny Boychuk in a trade with the New York Islanders. A healthy Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid will ease the roles and implementation of young defensemen such as Matt Bartkowski, Kevan Miller, Krug, and in the event of injuries, David Warsofsky and Zach Trotman. Notice, I’m not saying the Bruins defense is perfect. Without Boychuk the Bruins are much weaker in that they now do not have a solid group of top four defensemen. In time, however, Chiarelli might prove otherwise and be able to pull off a move for a defenseman Bruins fans have been waiting to see every year on their team, Keith Yandle. The rest of the outlook for the Bruins defense yields caution for Bartkowski, who is likely to be under heavy scrutiny (like he isn’t already) with Miller and Warsofsky ready to take the sixth and seventh defensemen spots. Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton continue to look like the strong defensive pair that they are.

In goal, defending Vezina Trophy winner, Tuukka Rask looks to continue his stellar career and strong numbers, with Niklas Svedberg the expected backup goaltender. The overall season outlook for the Boston Bruins carries high expectations that demand none other than at least an Eastern Conference Finals journey. Anything short of that is reason enough to be pulling hair out of your head in Boston, with the Bruins looking to be the only successful team in the Hub for at least the next couple of seasons (we won’t talk about the Red Sox, Celtics, or Patriots, okay?)- and given last year’s frustrating series loss to the Montreal Canadiens. Although, it’s not so much about losing to their rivals that ruined the Bruins, it was a lack of compete level and complete amnesic short-term memory loss about how to play hockey in the 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinals. So with regards to Chiarelli’s moves (and lack thereof) this offseason, I will reference NHL 14’s Be a GM mode, where my owner once told me “[w]elcome back to the regular season. I’m surprised by your moves- or lack thereof- this offseason. I hope you know what you are doing…”

COMING SOON: 2014- 2015 Season Previews

The regular season is almost here and that means our writers have been hard at work crafting their 2014- 2015 season previews for all thirty National Hockey League teams. We will have some content packaged and ready to go starting tomorrow! While we may be the last of the hockey world to get our thoughts out there on the looming season, we’re still worth the read, so we hope you will enjoy our season previews. It’s been a long time since free agency started on July 1st, so we are ready to jog your memory with all the additions and losses of all thirty teams. We are also ready to welcome some new contributing writers to Down the Frozen River, and we think you are going to like their work. Until then, let’s all celebrate the beginning of a brand new hockey season and do what we all like to do, play couch (or armchair) GM!

2014 NHL Free Agency Recap

Recapping all of the signings from the entire day. Updated as necessary when newer deals are signed. Everything that is known is shown.

Christian Ehrhoff signed a 1 year deal worth $4 million with PIT.

Manny Malhotra signed a 1 year deal worth $850,000 with MTL.

Jori Lehtera signed a 2 year deal with STL.

Mark Fayne signed a 4 year deal worth $3.625 million a year with EDM.

Benoit Pouliot signed a 5 year deal worth $4 million a year with EDM.

Chad Johnson signed a 2 year deal worth $1.3 million a year with the NYI.

Milan Michalek signed a 3 year deal worth $4 million a year with OTT. (Resigned)

Petr Mrazek signed a 1 year deal with DET. (Resigned)

Paul Stastny signed a 4 year deal worth $7 million a year with STL.

Mike Camalleri signed a 5 year a deal worth $5 million a year with NJ.

Justin Peters signed a 2 year deal with WSH.

Tom Gilbert signed a 2 year deal worth $2.8 million a year with MTL.

Brad Malone signed a 2 year deal with CAR.

Jussi Jokinen signed a 4 year deal worth $4 million a year with FLA.

Mason Raymond signed a 3 year deal worth $3.167 million a year with CGY.

Dan Boyle signed a 2 year deal worth $4.5 a year with NYR.

Jiri Sekac signed a 2 year deal worth with MTL.

Dave Bolland signed a 5 year deal worth $5.5 million a year with FLA.

Clayton Stoner signed a 4 year deal worth $3.25 million a year with ANA.

Mike Weaver signed a 1 year deal worth $1.75 million with MTL. (Resigned)

Joe Vitale signed a 3 year deal worth $1.117 million a year with ARI.

Ryan Miller signed a 3 year deal worth $6 million a year with VAN.

Al Montoya signed a 2 year deal worth $1.050 million a year with FLA.

Anders Lindback signed a 1 year deal with DAL.

Ales Hemsky signed a 3 year deal worth $4 million a year with DAL.

Blake Comeau signed a 1 year deal worth $700K with PIT.

Thomas Greiss signed a 1 year deal worth $1 million with PIT.

Jeremy Gregoire signed a 3 year deal with MTL.

Brian Gionta signed a 3 year deal worth $4.25 million a year with BUF.

Brooks Orpik signed a 5 year deal worth $5.5 million a year with WSH.

Keith Aulie signed a 1 year deal worth $800,000 with EDM.

Mathieu Perreault signed a 3 year deal worth $3 million a year with WPG.

Shawn Thornton signed a 2 year deal worth $1.2 million a year with FLA.

Jonas Hiller signed a 2 year deal worth $4.5 million a year with CGY.

Adam Larsson signed a 1 year deal with NJ (Resigned).

Thomas Vanek signed a 3 year deal worth $6.5 million a year with MIN.

Stephane Robidas signed a 3 year deal worth $3 million a year with TOR.

Dominic Moore signed a 2 year deal worth $1.5 million a year with NYR. (Resigned)

Tanner Glass signed a 3 year deal worth $1.45 million a year with NYR.

Mike Kostka signed a deal with NYR.

Bruno Gervais signed a 1 year deal with COL.

Nick Holden signed a 3 year deal worth $1.65 million a year with COL. (Resigned)

Derek Mackenzie signed a deal with FLA.

Brett Sutter signed a two way deal with MIN.

Matt Moulson signed a 5 year deal worth $5 million a year with BUF.

Martin Havlat signed a 1 year deal worth $1.5 million with NJ.

Phil McRae signed a 1 year, two way, deal with STL.

Brett Regner signed a 1 year, two way, deal with STL.

Cody McCormick signed a 3 year deal worth $4.5 million with BUF. (Resigned)

Nick Drazenovic signed a 2 year deal worth $550K with PIT. (Resigned)

Marcus Foligno signed a 2 year deal with BUF. (Resigned)

Jarome Iginla signed a 3 year deal worth $5.333 million a year with COL.

Leo Komarov signed a 4 year, $2.95 million contract with TOR.

Jiri Tlusty signed a 1 year, $2.95 million deal with CAR. (Resigned)

Peter Regin signed a 1 year $650K deal with CHI.

Anton Stralman signed a 5 year deal worth $4.5 million per year with TB.

Steve Bernier signed a 1 year, $600K deal with NJ. (Resigned)

Mike Angelids signed a 1 year, two way, contract with TB. (Resigned)

Chris Mueller signed a deal with the NYR.

Deryk Engelland signed a 3 year deal, worth $2.9 million a year with CGY.

Cody Bass signed a 1 year contract with CHI.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie signed a 1 year deal with CHI.

Scott Darling signed a 1 year with CHI.

Steven Kampfer signed a two-way contract with the NYR.

Kevin Porter signed a two-way contract with DET.

Jesse Winchester signed a 2 year deal with COL.

Scott Clemmensen signed a 1 year, two-way, deal with NJ.

Mike Blunden signed a two-way deal, worth $600K, with TB.

Andrej Meszaros signed a 1 year, $4.125 million, contract with BUF.

Ray Emery signed a 1 year, $1 million, contract with PHI. (Resigned)

Ron Zepp signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with PHI.

Matt Hunwick signed a 1 year deal, worth $600K, with the NYR.

Devan Dubnyk signed a 1 year deal, worth $800K, with ARI.

Luke Gazdic signed a 2 year deal with EDM. (Resigned)

Adam Cracknell signed a 1 year contract with LA.

David Van Der Gulik signed a 1 year contract with LA.

Brad Richards signed a 1 year, $2 million, deal with CHI.

Cedrick Desjardins signed a contract with the NYR.

Matt Niskanen signed a 7 year contract worth $40.25 million ($5.75 million a year) with WSH.

Willie Mitchell signed a 2 year deal, worth $4.25 million a year, with FLA.

Patrick Eaves signed a 1 year deal with DAL.

Joey MacDonald signed a 1 year, two- way, contract with MTL.

Brian Boyle signed a 3 year contract, worth $2 million a year, with TB.

Jon Landry signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.

Mike Moore signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.

Chris Breen signed a 1 year, two-way, deal (worth $600K NHL/$175K AHL) with BOS.

Stu Bickel has signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with MIN.

Marcel Goc signed a 1 year, $1.2 million, deal with PIT. (Resigned)

Matt Frattin signed a 2 year deal with TOR. (Resigned)

Evgeny Nabokov signed a 1 year deal with TB.

Taylor Chorney signed a 1 year, two- way, contract with PIT.

Drew MacIntyre signed a 1 year, two-way, (worth $600K if in the NHL) contract with CAR.

Harry Zolnierczyk signed a 1 year, two-way, $600K deal with the NYI.

Guillaume Gelinas signed an entry level contract with MIN.

Cory Conacher signed a 1 year contract with the NYI.

Jason LaBarbera signed a 1 year contract with ANA.

Zach Redmond signed a 2 year deal with COL.

Ben Street signed a 2 year deal with COL.

Kyle Quincey signed a 2 year, $4.25 per year, deal with DET. (Resigned)

Jack Skille signed a two-way deal with the NYI.

Chris Conner signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.

For a complete and official list of Free Agent signings, check out this.

NHL Free Agency 2014

Be on the lookout for updates on our Twitter account (@DtFrozenRiver) and our analysis right here on Down the Frozen River!

Analysis:

Christian Ehrhoff signed a 1 year deal, worth $4 million, with the Pittsburgh Penguins and kicked things off for free agency this year. This is a great deal for both sides as Ehrhoff won’t be tied down to PIT, should things not improve, and PIT won’t be tied down to Ehrhoff in this, the salary cap world.

Paul Stastny signed a 4 year deal, worth $28 million ($7 million cap hit), with the St. Louis Blues. Stastny returns home to STL and becomes the third Stastny to play with STL (his brother Yan and his father Peter both played for St. Louis at one point in time). This is a lucrative deal for Stastny, who gets what he wants and the terms he wants it on, and for St. Louis, which adds strength down the middle in a solid veteran.

Dan Boyle signed a 2 year, $4.5 million per year, contract with the New York Rangers. Strength on the blue line continues for the blue shirts, however, with Rick Nash still on the team as a forward, this proves their offensive strength stills needs to be worked on.

Ryan Miller signed a 3 year, $6 million per, contract with the Vancouver Canucks today and led the charge for free agent goalies, both in the sense that he was the best available and in the fact that several goalies then followed and signed with many teams immediately after Miller’s announcement. The irony in Miller going to Vancouver, of course, is that 2010 wasn’t very kind to him in the Olympics that were held there. The fact that it is a short term deal does not surprise me, but rather makes a good point of if things don’t work out, VAN doesn’t have to hold on as long as they did with Roberto Luongo.

Brooks Orpik crossed enemy lines and went to the Pittsburgh Penguins rival, the Washington Capitals on a 5 year contract, worth $5.5 million a year. Just think, Brooks Orpik and Mike Green, well that’s just like Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang. Defensive defenseman with an offensive defenseman.

Thomas Vanek signed  a 3 year deal worth $6.5 million, per year, with Minnesota and reunites with Jason Pominville (like what everyone expected in the past). Look for many more wrist shots coming from Minnesota now.

Jarome Iginla went to Colorado on a 3 year, $16 million, deal and left better chances of winning the Cup with Boston for the Av’s who appear to be at least two to three years out of being a serious Cup contender- ironically the length of his contract. Or basically, Iginla said to the Bruins, “I like you, but I don’t like you, like you (again).”

Everyone has been waiting on what Matt Niskanen would do all afternoon, so it came as no surprise when a deal was announced. Niskanen and the Washington Capitals came to an agreement on a seven year contract worth $40.25 million and the Capitals bolstered their blue line. It is tough to choose from which is the bigger signing for the Capitals between Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, regardless, they should have no trouble at all getting used to one another in Washington and facing their rival, and former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins next season. If you asked me, though, and I were starting a team and could only pick one of them, I’d take Orpik.

Other big signings will appear shortly. Check out the newest post for a recap of all the deals.

Down the Frozen River(.com!)