With the draft up tomorrow and free agency opening up right after the holiday (Independence Day), here are the stories I'm watching.
- What happens to Kris Letang? The Pens, for the time being, are better off with him. So would any team. In the long run, though, they may be worse for paying him $7m+ a year, especially since he already gets hurt annually, and as he gets older his injury problems could become more prominent.
- Who does Colorado trade away? So far, Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy have tried to deny that they'll trade away anyone--the report was that they'd move Ryan O'Reilly to wing to make space for Nathan MacKinnon at center, and I guess that puts Paul Stastny at 3C (remember that Matt Duchene has one center spot locked up). But Stastny only has a year left on his contract, with a cap hit of $6.6m. That's a lot of money for a 3C. But maybe they'll want to keep him and, instead, trade O'Reilly on the one-year anniversary of the offer sheet from Calgary. The other option would be to trade the #1 overall pick:
Starting to hear a little chatter from a few people that first pick may be in play for trade. Buckle up, could be a wild day
— adater (@adater) June 29, 2013
- Which player falls at the draft this year? In 2010, it was Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley, Brandon Saad, and three of the top four Russians, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Kirill Kabanov. In 2011, it was Sean Couturier. Last year, it was Filip Forsberg and Mikhail Grigorenko.
- Who makes the big first-round reach? Scott Reynolds has been doing a nice production comparables series, but it's not too kind to guys like Bo Horvat and Curtis Lazar (guys with tools but whose offense thus far is underwhelming for potential top-15 picks).
- How much do Vincent Lecavalier, Derek Roy, Stephen Weiss, and Mike Ribeiro--the 2Cs in this year's FA class--sign for, and where?
- Who wins the first trade between Colorado and Tampa Bay? Sakic vs Yzerman and all that.
- Where does Ales Hemsky go? Although very injury-prone, he's a highly skilled right-handed playmaker who, when healthy, can help most teams. GM Craig MacTavish has said he'd like to move Hemsky and defensive center Shawn Horcoff. (In my fantasy, the Caps land him as well as LW Magnus Paajarvi for a package involving Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, plus Marcus Johansson and maybe a pick. The asking price for Hemsky shouldn't be that high, and Paajarvi is the victim of a number's game--he'll never be a top-three wing on that team, since Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Nail Yakupov exist.)
- Does James Reimer move? Otherwise, I don't see why Toronto GM Dave Nonis went out and got Jonathan Bernier from Los Angeles.
- What moves do the Flyers make? Annual hilarity.
- What do the Capitals do at the draft? In 2008, they traded up to grab Anton Gustafsson (ugh). In 2009, they traded Sami Lepisto for a fifth-round pick. In 2010, they didn't do anything. In 2011, they traded their first-round pick for Troy Brouwer. In 2012, they acquired Mike Ribeiro for a second-round pick and center prospect Cody Eakin. I don't know whether the shorter time limit for draft selections this year--three minutes instead of five--will make GMs agree to trades more quickly, or whether they'll play it safe more often than not and say no.
- Does Patrik Elias stay in New Jersey? He's linked to the Devils, like Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne to Anaheim--it's unthinkable that they'd leave. But it seems like that's what it may come to.
- Where does Jaromir Jagr go? He can still play.
- How much money do RFAs Tuukka Rask, Alex Pietrangelo, Sam Gagner, Sergei Bobrovsky, Ryan McDonagh, and Karl Alzner get?
- Where does Roberto Luongo go, and what's the return? (If memory serves, Bob McKenzie said about a week ago that Luongo wouldn't be with Vancouver in ten days.)
- Where does Ryan Malone go? Overpaid and oft-injured, but still a half-decent wing.
- Who do the Caps sign in UFA? Hint: since they already have a full roster signed (if you add in the RFAs, who are almost certainly going to sign), no one.