Free Agent aquisitions, good or bad?

Here’s just a little outlook of what has occurred in the 2007 Off-Season and just how improved teams are now, heading into the 2007-08 NHL season:

Anaheim– J-S Giguere, Brad May, Sean O’Donnell, Kent Huskins, Shane Hnidy, Todd Bertuzzi, Mathieu Schneider, Eric Perrin– Didn’t improve but at the same time didn’t get worse. With the loss of both Niedermayer and Selanne, Brian Burke adjusted accordingly by signing Bertuzzi and Schneider. Another Cup shouldn’t be too far off for this team considering it’s the exact same team coming back with 2 big minuses and 2 less then equal replacements. My Ranking-1st
AtlantaEric Boulton, Pascal Dupuis, Slava Kozlov, Brad Larsen, Ken Klee, Todd White, Alexandre Giroux-Didn’t lose much of anything and managed to keep the same core of players as last season. With a play off trip under their belt, watch out for a strong coming from Atlanta. My Ranking-10
BostonShawn Thornton, Bobby Allen, Jeremy Reich, Peter Schaefer, Manny Fernandez– Same core of players as last year, but that’s where the problem lies. Vast improvement in goal going from Thomas to Fernandez. If defence holds up, goal scoring and goaltending shouldn’t be an issue. May not contend for another 2-3 years but improved they did. My Ranking-28
BuffaloAdam Mair, Teppo Numminen, Michael Ryan, Jocelyn Thibeault– Took a major step back when they lost Drury and Briere. No one really ready to replce them, which spells trouble for the Sabres. Picked up a great back up that can take the workload off of Miller’s shoulders. No real reason why they should miss the play offs but could be fighting til very end. My Ranking-12
CalgaryMarcus Nilson, Wayne Primeau, Brent Krahn, Anders Eriksson, Owen Nolan, Cory Sarich, Adrian Aucoin– A vast improvement on defence with Sarich, Eriksson and Aucoin. Hamrlik will be missed but shouldn’t really be much of a problem. Could have a lethal power play with Phaneuf and Aucoin anchoring the first unit. Locking up Iggy more then ensures that he has no outside distrctions that could possibly harm his on ice performance. Definitely a Division contender. My Ranking-9
CarolinaScott Walker, Jeff Hamilton, Wade Brookbank, Matt Cullen– Improved their 3rd and 4th lines a lot, though first 2 have holes. Might surprise most with a big run but more realistically, could battle it out for the bottom half of the play offs. Cam Ward must take his Conn Smythe form if success will ever return to Carolina. Eric Staal took huge strides back as he semed to endure a sophomore jinx in his 3rd NHL season. My Ranking-23
ChicagoPatrick Lalime, David Koci, Robert Lang, Yannick Perreault, Wade Flaherty, Sergei Samsonov, Andrei Zyuzin– Improved drastically and with Havlat having a healthy season, Chi-Town may surprise all by making play offs, but would need big years from Havlat, Lang, Perreault, Samsonov and Zyuzin. Took step back losing Aucoin on PP. Need big years from Seabrook and rest of defensive staff. Khabibulin should continue to help grow this team into an eventual contender. Lalime proved to be a capable back up last season. My Ranking-25
ColoradoTyler Arnason, Scott Parker, Ben Guite, Matt Hussey, Ryan Smyth, Scott Hannan, Eric Healey– Added a lot of character players. Ryan Smyth was brought in at a deep cost but Avs fans will get what is expected of him. Hannan solidfies the Avs D. Only question that remains is goaltending. Can Budaj come into his own or can Theodore return to his Hart and Vezina form of his Montreal days? My Ranking-17
ColumbusDerek Mackenzie, Dan Smith, Jan Hejda, Sheldon Brookbank, Jiri Novotny– Didn’t improve at all but hey, didn’t get any worse. Novotny and Hejda could turn into major steals if both pan out. Only way the Jackets can become a contender is if they can stop signing or trading for washed up veterans like Fedorov. Nash will continue to make the club exciting but only if he can stay healthy and find his scoring touch again. My Ranking-29
DallasBrad Winchester, Tobey Peterson, Todd Fedoruk– Dallas continued to preach fighting as shown by their 3 free agent aquisitions. Adding grit and toughness will only help the Stars to continue to rise through the standings. Only question mark is Marty Turco, who is a great regular season goalie and flops come play off time. Reminds most of Roman Cechmanek. My Ranking-11
DetroitMark Hartigan, Adam Berkhoel, Brad Ference, Dominik Hasek, Brian Rafalski, Mark Cullen, Dallas Drake, Garrett Stafford– Once again the Wings went after veteran help to solidify roster spots. Hasek will once again carry the goaltending duties but is turning 43 and how much can possibly still be in the tank? Rafalski will help the Wings blue line shut down opponents once again. Hasek will only go as far as his D takes him, if he continues to face 25 or less shots a game, he could play forever. My Ranking-5
EdmontonMathieu Garon, Sheldon Souray, Dick Tarnstrom, Geoff Sanderson, Joni Pitkanen– It’s a bit of a surprise that no one wants to come to Edmonton. They could be one of the deadliest teams on the PP with Souray and Pitkanen anchoring the first unit and Dick Tarnstrom and Matt Greene or Ladislav Smid on the 2nd unit. The Oilers could surprise many but it’s doubtful. Garon could emerge as the #1 by years end as Roloson has shown signs of aging. My Ranking-30
FloridaBrett McLean, Jozef Stumpel, Richard Zednik, Radek Dvorak, Cory Murphy, Tomas Voukoun– The Panthers finally addressed their goaltending issue and can finally be considered competitive. They haven’t had a good mix of offence, defence and goaltending since the 90’s and Beezer. Jokinen should finally be able to see post-season action if everything goes right, but it’s Florida. Zednik and Dvorak should, on paper, provide some much needed punch after the first line, but both have been inconsistent in recent years. My Ranking-24
Los AngelasBrad Stuart, Michal Handzus, Ladislav Nagy, Kyle Calder, Jaroslav Modry, Jeff Giuliano, Tom Preissing– The Kings addressed everything they needed except getting an insurance in net. The free agent period isn’t over yet and their are some capable goalies left, but as of this moment, they have Dan Cloutier and Jason LaBarbera. The Kings look promising and should stay competitive for the most part. Goaltending will either be the saving grace or the ultimate demise of the Kings this season. My Ranking-18
MinnesotaEric Belanger, Martin Skoula, Sean Hill, Nolan Schaefer, Steve Kelly– The Wild improved little this off-season but considering they are coached by all ex-Canadiens, they should still have that championship mentality. Bringing in Belanger will add 3rd line scoring but not a lot of it. Hill, once his suspension is over, will add much needed defensive depth along the blueline. Schaefer proved to be a reliable back-up 2 years ago and found himself in the numbers game in San Jose. Some believe he has the talent to challenge Backstrom for the #1 in Minny. My Ranking-11
MontrealRoman Hamrlik, Tom Kostopoulos, Jamie Rivers, Bryan Smolinski– The Habs improved little on paper this summer and ti
me will only tell if the Habs made mistakes or genious moves. Hamrlik will add much needed 5 on 5 depth and should help the younger guys along the Habs blueline. Smolinski will give you solid 3rd line numbers and not much more. He is an upgrade from Bonk and should mentorpossible rookie line mates. Kostopoulos will add depth on the 4th line and will add much needed grit. The year could go either way for this years Habs. Goaltending will determine whether or not the Habs amke the play offs. Huet must prove he can win more then 19 games before they can be considered contenders. My Ranking-15
NashvilleGreg De Vries, Shane Willis, Dan Ellis, Radek Bonk, Scott Nichol, Nolan Yonkman, Jed Ortmayer– The Preds should be a mess this year considering their owner elected to not spend any money. They will be a more defensive team and should stay relatively competitive throughout the year but expectations aren’t high. Bonk will thrive in the no-media environment and could return to his Ottawa days. My Ranking-21
New JerseyDanius Zubrus, Noah Clarke, Vitali Vishnevski, Johnny Oduya, Karel Rachunek, Kevin Weekes, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre– This may be the first year that the Devils aren’t Stanley Cup Favourites in Marty Brodeurs entire tenure as their #1 goalie. They lost just too much to be considered play off threats. The only highlight the Devils can say they got this summer is getting a reliable back up to give Marty some games off. Zubrus is an upgrade in size over Gomez but that’s it. Vishnevski and Rachunek combined can’t give NJ the punch Rafalski did, though they make the Devils defence a little deeper. Should be a fun year in the swamp. My Ranking-16
NYIslandersJon Sim, Joey MacDonald, Aaron Johnson, Darryl Bootland, Andy Hilbert, Mike Comrie, Bill Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko, Kip Brennan– The Isles got a lot more weaker this summer and it will show this season. Not only did they lose Smyth, but they lost Poti, Kozlov and Yashin, 3 reasons why they made the play offs. They will be fairly competitive but not much shouldmount from that. Comrie and Guerin add offence and Fedotenko adds 3rd line depth. Defence is still an issue on the Island. My Ranking-20
NY RangersChris Drury, Scott Gomez, Brendan Shanahan, Jason Strudwick, Andrew Hutchinson– Offence will be plenty at MSG. Either Drury or Gomez will centre Jagr and one of them just has to work with him. Their exists only 3 questions surrounding this years Rangers. One, will the defence be the demise of this offensive powerhouse? Two, will history repeat itself and will the Rangers spend all this money just to ice the highest paid non play off team? Three, will chemistry be the demise and the defence not? It’ll be interesting to watch this team. My Ranking-4
OttawaDean McAmmond, Chris Phillips, Niko Dimitrakos, Denis Hamel, Matt Carkner, Shean Donovan– The Sens have to deal with a lot of pressure this upcoming season. They took massive strides in just a short period of time during the second half of last season. Losing Comrie will hurt but the arrival of Donovan should make the SEns more defensive. Dimitrakos has the potential to score 20 goals and if given the right role, he will excel in Ottawa. Matt Carkner could shore up the tail end of the blueline and could become a surprise but, their are no expectations of him as of yet. Emery will have to prove that last year was not a fluke and must show that the Sens can win the big one. My Ranking-2
PhiladelphiaDaniel Briere, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen, Joffrey Lupul, Jason Smith– Philly vastly improved from last year but their are many questions surrounding this team. Will they do well, or bomb like they did last year? They finally have a player that will stay healthy and that is talented enough to play with Gagne, so the first line should be fine. Hartnell and Lupul will add secondary scoring, something that many teams lack. Timonen and Smith will be really well on 5 on 5 and on the PK. The PP is on question as the Flyers don’t have a proven blueline to play with Timonen. Coburn and Kukkonen will be given many chances and one of them has to emerge as a PP QB or set up man. Gagne will probably start as the Flyers PP QB but will be replaced by a defenceman sometime in the year. My Ranking-13
PhoenixMike York, Jon DiSalvatore, Tomas Surovy– Phoenix really didn’t do much of anything this summer. It’s obvious to see that they are going about their hockey operations like the Habs are doing, waiting for the young guns to carry the team. Mike York just might become what he once was, a decent 2nd line scorer. This is now Tellqvists team and its success depends on him and Shane Doan. Not much is expected of them this year. My Ranking-27
PittsburghDarryl Sydor, Petr Sykora, Jeff Taffe, Rob Scuderi, Dany Sabourin, Nathan Smith– Pittsburgh just got even more scary good. Sykora will add much needed 2nd line scoring and Sydor will anchor the PK and mentor the young defencemen. Crosby should continue to develop into a high scoring star and should start to play a more complete game, both offensively and defensively. Staal and Malkin will continue to mature and should duplicate last years totals with ease. Only concern is Marc-Andre Fleury and if he can finally come up big in BIG game situations. My Ranking-3
St. LouisPaul Kariya, Micki DuPont, Keith Tkachuk, Jean-Guy Trudel– The Blues are finally no longer the laughing stock of the NHL. They got more credibility when Kariya joined the staff. Look for the Blues to finally start looking like contenders. They should improve on what Andy Murray started in the second half of last year. DuPont could turn into a steal and could anchor the Blues PP with Eric Brewer. My Ranking-21
San JosePatrick Traverse– Didn’t get better. Didn’t get worse. Off ice problems may hurt the club as it has been openly documented that Doug Wilson blames Captain Patrick Marleau for last years 2nd round defeat. Thornton should continue to help Cheechoo to score goals. An explosive offence anchored by an equally good defence and finally a clear-cut #1 goalie. Only problem isthat their exists no reliable back up for Nabokov. My Ranking-6
Tampa BayJay Leach, Craig MacDonald, Dan Jancevski, Brad Lukowich, Michel Ouellet, Norm Milley, Jan Hlavac, Chris Gratton– A re-vamped Bolts squad. Still a high-octane team that will continue to feature Lecavalier, St. Louis and Richards. Now have a 2nd line winger to play with Richards in Ouellet. Gratton adds grit in his 3rd or 4th return to Tampa. Losing Sarich will hurt the Bolts depth wise but they did sign a few players who could potentially fill that void in Lukowich and Jancevski. Goaltending is still a major concern. Can Denis return to #1 status or has Torterella permantely hurt the under-rated goalies confidence too much? Can Holmqvist prove that last year wasn’t a fluke? My Ranking-19
TorontoScott Clemmenson, Jason Blake, Bates Battaglia, Simon Gamanche, David Ling, Mark Bell, Vesa Toskala– The Leafs once again sacrificed future for the here and now. Toskala was brought in to relieve Raycroft of his #1 status. Clemmenson was brought in as an insurance policy for when Raycroft is finally traded. Blake is a good move as he brings experience, grit and goal-scoring to an already decent offensive Leaf squad. Bell will play a 3rd line grinder role but expectations from management may see him play on the 2nd line. Battaglia returns to try and duplicate his success from last
year. On paper, this is a play off team but in reality, time will tell. My Ranking-15
VancouverByron Ritchie, Aaron Miller, Greg Classen, Brad Isbister, Curtis Sanford, Jeff Cowan, Brad Moran– The Canucks will continue to dominate their opponents with physical play and downright pure talent. The Sedins should anchor the offence for a 3rd consecutive season and Luongo should continue to progress as the Leagues most dominent goalie today. The defence is solid with the addition of Aaron Miller. Curtis Sanford should relieve Luongo so that he doesn’t once again play 70+ games and ends up running on empty come play off time. Byron Ritchie just adds to the Canucks grit, same with Isbister. Isbister could be this year’s Taylor Pyatt and Anson Carter, if he plays with the Sedins. My Ranking-7
WashingtonViktor Kozlov, Tom Poti, Michael Nylander, Josef Boumedienne, Jame Pollock- The Caps are finally doing something during the off-season as they added Nylander and Kozlov. Ovechkin and Semin finally have a good centre to pass them pucks. And the Caps should have some secondary scoring as Kozlov will help Sutherby and Clark to continue to score. Jame Pollock will be this years Jamie Heward. A top Canadian defenceman coming from the Canadian team that is iced for the Spengler Cup to the Caps. Pollock could be one of the most under-rated aquisitions this off-season if he happens to turn heads like he did in Switzerland. My Ranking-26

Now these rankings are just my opinion when I look at each teams depth chart. I believe that my assessment of each team is relatively fair. I also believe that this season will be a dog fight for most teams to make the play offs. I am honestly, truly looking forward to this season because I believe it will be the most exciting one in a long, long time.