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Darryl's Dispatch: 2010 Summer Preview

Darryl Houston Smith

Darryl is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and in 2011-12 won the Experts Fantasy Hockey League title. Find more of his work at or BlogTalkRadio. Follow him on Twitter at @dhoustonsmith.

The 2010 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Los Angeles this coming June 25-26. Once again I expect North American born players to dominate the first round of the draft I expect about six or seven European-born players tops to go in the first round (eight were drafted in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and only five in the prior season). This preview features seven players from the Western Hockey League and eight from the Ontario League. In the past three seasons the WHL has had 23 players chosen in the first round while the OHL has had a run of number one overall selections going back to Patrick Kane in 2007. These trends speak strongly of a steady preference among NHL managers to stock their teams with North American born players especially those trained in the WHL and the OHL.

For the second year in a row my Top 30 list features two United States high school players, Charlie Coyle from Massachusetts and Nick Bjugstad from Minnesota, and five players from the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) U-18 (up from three in 2009). Windsor (OHL)

With the current CBA extended to 2012 by the NHLPA; Teams will be faced with a �soft-cap� (allowing about 7.5% of bonuses to be paid above the cap) and a salary floor of $43.4 million. The good news for fans of the bigger clubs is that with the salary cap increased for the coming season ($59.4 million) there is a little more wiggle room for most of these teams to make decent qualifying bids to try and keep their own young players but mistakes on expensive veteran NHL free agents pickups must still be avoided. Look for teams to try to retain key players, make trades and use low cost prospects. Developing and keeping your own players, be they first round draft picks, later round picks or college free agent signings will continue to be as important as ever.

Here is how the 30 teams look in the days before the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and the opening of the free agent season on July 1.

Atlantic Division Priorities   Possible First Round and Free Agent Targets Free Agent Retention and Cap Issues Best homegrown prospects in the pipeline
New Jersey Defensemen   No first round pick due to Kovalchuk trade. "I'm going to do everything I possibly can (to re-sign Paul Martin)," said GM Lamoriello. D Paul Martin (UFA) D Andy Greene (RFA) LW Ilya Kovalchuk (UFA) D Mike Mottau (UFA) F David Clarkson (RFA) Kovalchuk basically has three options take a little less to remain in NJ, take a little more and move to LA, or cash in and return to Mother Russia. $41 million committed to 15 players C Jacob Josefson LW  Mattias Tedenby D Matt Corrente D Tyler Eckford D Alex Urbom �
New York Islanders Depth 5th Overall G Jack Campbell LW Brett Connolly C Jeff Skinner � With fiscal difficulties will not spend too much on pricey free agents. Still signing, Zbynek Michalek (UFA) would help solidify. � Concerns about Rick DiPietro linger. "Paying" Alexei Yashin $4.8 million this season hurts.� F Matt Moulson (RFA) G Martin Biron (UFA) F Trevor Smith (UFA) C Doug Weight (UFA) D Calvin de Haan D Travis Hamonic G Mikko Koskinen RW Kirill Petrov RW Rhett Rakhshani
New York Rangers Forwards 10th Overall C Mikael Granlund C Emerson Etem RW Vladimir Tarasenko � Signing NHL ready Euro Star Mats Zuccarello Aasen was a shrewd move. � D Dan Girardi (RFA) D Marc Staal (RFA) RW Mats Zuccarello Aasen  C Chris Kreider LW Evgeny Grachev C Derek Stepan D Ryan McDonagh
Philadelphia Depth No first round pick due to Pronger trade. � While their window to chase another Cup remains open its time to finally spend some real money on a goaltender.�Unfortunately, Evgeni Nabokov (UFA) will likely be too expensive.� D Dan Hamhuis (UFA) D Braydon Coburn (RFA) LW Daniel Carcillo (RFA) F Arron Asham (UFA) G Michael Leighton (UFA) G Ray Emery (UFA) � It's likely either Carcillo or Asham will go.�Flyers can't keep both. I expect some small deals to free up cap space. But I do not think Scott Hartnell, Simon Gagne, or Danny Briere will be moved. F Ville Leino G Joacim Eriksson LW Jon Kalinski RW David Laliberte D  Kevin Marshall
Pittsburgh Depth 20th Overall D Jarred Tinordi  D Jonathan Merrill RW Charlie Coyle� "Character is a big thing for us. There will be some guys that are rated in first round by central scouting, and they're not on our list, and we wouldn't take them in seven rounds" said GM Ray Shero. D Sergei Gonchar (UFA) F Bill Guerin (UFA) D Jordan Leopold (UFA) F Eric Tangradi D Simon Despres LW Dustin Jeffrey D Philip Samuelsson F Ben Hanowski
Northeast Division Priorities  Possible First Round and Free Agent Targets Free Agent Retention and Cap Issues Best homegrown prospects in the pipeline
Boston Depth 2nd Overall LW Taylor Hall C Tyler Seguin� Despite his NMC expect Tim Thomas to be shopped heavily.� D Mark Stuart (RFA) F Mark Recchi (UFA) F Miroslav Satan (UFA) F Blake Wheeler (RFA� For a team with few dollars to spare "paying" Glen Murray $1.4 million this coming season certainly hurts. Buying out Michael Ryder for another $1.4 million or so will hurt as well but could well be the Bruins best option for more cap relief. The Nathan Horton for Dennis Wideman trade gives both a chance at a fresh start.�Horton is just 25 and has the skill set to move to the wing and if healthy could become a 30 goal scorer again.  C Joe Colborne C Jordan Caron RW Brad Marchand C Zach Hamill D Yuri Alexandrov
Buffalo  Depth 23rd Overall C John McFarland C Joey Hishon D Patrik Nemeth � Captain Craig Rivet (left shoulder, double torn labrum) will miss the start of the 2011 season. F Tim Kennedy (RFA) D Henrik Tallinder (UFA) D Toni Lydman (UFA) C Tyler Ennis RW Zack Kassian G Jonas Enroth RW Nathan Gerbe D Brayden McNabb
Montreal  Forwards 27th �Overall C Riley Sheahan  C Petr Straka LW Johan Larsson � Andrei Markov (torn ACL) will miss at least the first two months the 2011 season. � G Carey Price (RFA)� D Marc-Andre Bergeron (UFA) G Cedric Desjardins (RFA) � Trading Jaroslav Halak should give Carey Price a huge boost in confidence. In the eyes of the organization if not always the fans - Price has always been the decided preference. Re-signing Plekanec was critical. D P.K. Subban G David Desharnais G Cedric Desjardins RW Danny Kristo F Lars Eller C Louis Leblanc RW James Wyman D Yannick Weber
Ottawa  Depth 16th Overall C Evgeny Kuznetsov C Tyler Toffoli D Mark Pysyk   Free Agent Target Zbynek Michalek (UFA) � D Anton Volchenkov (UFA) D Andy Sutton (UFA) F Ilya Zubov (RFA) � Only about $9 million left for another 6 players. D Jared Cowan D Patrick Wiercioch G Robin Lehner RW Andre Petersson F Louie Caporusso
Toronto  Forwards No first round pick due to Kessel trade. Toronto will seek to be active on draft day as GM Burke continues to shed dead wood. F Christian Hanson (RFA)� F Nikolai Kulemin (RFA) C Nazem Kadri C Tyler Bozak LW Viktor Stalberg D Carl Gunnarsson RW Christian Hanson RW Jerry D'Amigo LW Luca Caputi�
Southeast Division Priorities  Possible First Round and Free Agent Targets Free Agent Retention and Cap Issues Best homegrown prospects in the pipeline
Atlanta Depth 8th Overall LW Nino Niederreiter C Ryan Johansen C Alexander Burmistrov
  With the Chicago trade Atlanta takes another big step on the post-Kovalchuk rebuilding trail. If they are able to convince a free agent goalie to relocate to the Peachtree state; Atlanta could rejoin the teams in the hunt for a playoff berth quickly and even more importantly keep the franchise in Atlanta.
  Free Agent Targets Chris Mason (UFA) Dan Ellis (UFA) Marty Turco (UFA) Jose Theodore (UFA)    
RW Niclas Bergfors (RFA) F Ben Eager (RFA) F Bryan Little (RFA) G Ondrej Pavelec (RFA) G Johan Hedberg (UFA)
Plenty of cap space allowed new GM Rick Dudley to poach some valuable and marketable players from his old club.    
C Patrice Cormier RW Carl Klingberg D Arturs Kulda D Ivan Vishnevskiy F Akim Aliu  
Carolina  Depth 7th Overall
LW Nino Niederreiter C Ryan Johansen C Alexander Burmistrov
Would love to move up but will take best player available. With fiscal difficulties will not spend on pricey free agents.
F Ray Whitney (UFA) G Justin Peters (RFA) LW Zach Boychuk LW Drayson Bowman D James McBain C Zac Dalpe G Justin Peters
Florida Depth 3rd Overall
D Eric Gudbranson D Brandon Gormley D Cam Fowler
15th Overall C Evgeny Kuznetsov C Tyler Toffoli D Mark Pysyk
New GM Dale Tallon will be active on the free agent market but will stick to middle tier pickups.
None of note. Florida tends to trade their UFA's well before July 1st.  Trading for Dennis Wideman will give Florida more experience on the blue line but little else. The real prize is the 15th overall pick that game with him giving the Panthers two of the first 15 picks. G Jacob Markstrom D Keaton Ellerby C Shawn Matthias D Colby Robak G Alexander Salak RW Michal Repik
Tampa Bay Depth 6th Overall
RW  Brett Connolly C  Jeff Skinner G Jack Campbell  
"As much as I would love to have a big splash on July 1, I don't want to sign a player just to have a press conference." Said new GM Steve Yzerman. Yzerman went on to say "It has to make sense. That's the discipline we have to have."
Free Agent Targets Chris Mason (UFA) Dan Ellis (UFA) Marty Turco (UFA) Jose Theodore (UFA)  
RW Steve Downie (RFA) G Antero Niittymaki (UFA)     RW Carter Ashton G Dustin Tokarski RW Richard Panik LW Alex Hutchings F Dana Tyrell
Washington Depth 26th Overall
C Stanislav Galiev LW Brad Ross LW Ludvig Rensfeldt
Free Agent Targets Marty Turco (UFA) Chris Mason (UFA) Dan Ellis (UFA)  
C  Eric Belanger (UFA) F Tomas Fleischmann (RFA), D Jeff Schultz (RFA), F Eric Fehr (RFA) G Michal Neuvirth (RFA) D Joe Corvo (UFA) D John Carlson D Karl Alzner G Michal Neuvirth C Marcus Johansson RW Mathieu Perreault
Central Division Priorities  Possible First Round and Free Agent Targets Free Agent Retention and Cap Issues Best homegrown prospects in the pipeline
Chicago Depth 24th Overall
C Ryan Spooner G Calvin Pickard D Patrik Nemeth
30th Overall
LW Kirill Kabanov C Oscar Lindberg D Alexander Petrovic
G Antti Niemi (RFA) D Niklas Hjalmarsson (RFA) F Andrew Ladd (RFA) LW Bryan Bickell (RFA)
$56.7 million committed to 14 players. Wisely dealt some complimentary players; that Chicago could no longer afford to Atlanta for picks, Jeremy Morin and some cap relief ($4.3 million).   
F Kyle Beach D Nick Leddy D Dylan Olsen F Jack Skille F Jeremy Morin G Corey Crawford
Columbus Defensemen 4th Overall
D Eric Gudbranson D Brandon Gormley D Cam Fowler
F Jared Boll (RFA) D Anton Stralman (RFA) F Nikita Filatov D John Moore LW Matthew Calvert D David Savard D Cody Goloubef
Detroit Depth 21st Overall
D Justin Faulk C Brock Nelson C Calle Jarnkrok
F Justin Abdelkader (RFA) D Darren Helm (RFA) D Brendan Smith D Jakub Kindl LW Tomas Tatar G Thomas McCollum LW Gustav Nyquist G Daniel Larsson
Nashville Forwards 18th Overall
C Tyler Pitlick RW Charlie Coyle C Jaden Schwartz 
The Nashville budget is about $47 million, which should allow them to resign Hornqvist and add another affordable character-type forward.
RW Patric Hornqvist (RFA) Francis Bouillon (UFA)
Trading captain Jason Arnott helps with cap space turning leadership of the team officially over to Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
C Colin Wilson D Ryan Ellis G Chet Pickard D Jonathon Blum D Charles Olivier-Roussel F Zach Budish
St. Louis Forwards 14th Overall
C Nick Bjugstad LW Quinton Howden RW Beau Bennett
St. Louis will kick the tires on Kovalchuk and Gonchar but dollars will always be an issue in Missouri.
D Erik Johnson (RFA) Jaroslav Halak (RFA) T.J. Hensick (RFA)
Made qualifying offers to 11 potential free agents including newest acquisition G Jaroslav Halak and two other key players D Erik Johnson and T. J. Hensick  
D Alex Pietrangelo D David Rundblad D Ian Cole G Jake Allen D Brett Ponich D Jonas Junland  
Northwest Division Priorities  Possible First Round and Free Agent Targets Free Agent Retention and Cap Issues Best homegrown prospects in the pipeline
Calgary Forwards No first round pick due to Ollie Jokinen deal. Ability to make some draft day deals critical. Calgary needs to pick up some young talent for their pipeline especially forwards. Calgary will not be a big player in the free agent market but a backup goalie would help. D Matt Pelech (RFA) D Ian White (RFA)
Calgary could also face an unfavorable arbitration call on Ian White forcing them to move him. Little room in the budget for additions unless trades can be made.
D Tim Erixon C Greg Nemisz C Mikael Backlund G Leland Irving LW Ryan Howse
Colorado Defensemen 17th Overall
D Jarred Tinordi D Jonathan Merrill D Justin Faulk  
Has the money to make a bid for Kovalchuk. 
F Peter Mueller (RFA) F Kevin Porter (RFA) F Chris Stewart (RFA) F Brandon Yip (RFA) D Kyle Quincey (RFA) D Stefan Elliot D Kevin Shattenkirk F Ryan Stoa D Tyson Barrie D Colby Cohen
Edmonton   Depth 1st Overall
C Tyler Seguin LW Taylor Hall  
The Oilers would be happy to trade down and "settle" for Seguin. New coach Tom Renney and GM Steve Tambellini must continue the task of rebuilding the Oilers into a more youthful, swift and powerful offense-first type team. In the short term unlikely to find affordable help in goal, the Oilers must hope for a bounce back season from 37 year old Nikolai Khabibulin. A healthy Ales Hemsky is also crucial to any hopes for a quick turnaround.
Opening up more playing time for the youngsters is almost as important as clearing cap space. Deadwood such as Ethan Moreau, Robert Nilsson and Patrick O'Sullivan are holding back the rebuilding process. Expect to see a lot of new faces similar to Montreal's housecleaning from last summer. Adding Chicago's Colin Fraser was a good pickup. C Jordan Eberle LW Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson D Alex Plante C Riley Nash LW Linus Omark  
Minnesota Forwards 9th Overall
C Mikael Granlund C Emerson Etem RW Vladimir Tarasenko
C Mikko Koivu needs to have his contract extended.  
F Guillaume Latendresse (RFA) G Josh Harding (RFA)
Trading Harding is critical Minnesota needs top line forwards not two No. 1 goalies.
D Marco Scandella C Cody Almond G Matthew Hackett D Tyler Cuma G Anton Khudobin
Vancouver Depth 25th Overall
C Stanislav Galiev LW Brad Ross LW Ludvig Rensfeldt
Free Agent Target Anton Volchenkov (UFA)  
 F Mason Raymond (RFA) C Cody Hodgson G Corey Schneider RW Michael Grabner C  Jordan Schroeder LW Sergei Shirokov  
Pacific Division Priorities  Possible First Round and Free Agent Targets Free Agent Retention and Cap Issues Best homegrown prospects in the pipeline
Anaheim Depth 29th Overall
LW Johan Larsson LW Kirill Kabanov C Oscar Lindberg
Free Agent Target Anton Volchenkov (UFA)
F Bobby Ryan (RFA)
Losing D James Wisniewski via a big arbitration award would be bad enough. But D Scott Niedermayer's retirement will force a complete blueline overhaul.
D Luca Sbisa D Jake Gardiner RW Kyle Palmieri C Peter Holland C Brandon McMillan
Dallas Depth 11th Overall
D Derek Forbort RW Austin Watson D Dylan McIlrath
With fiscal difficulties will not spend on pricy free agents.
F James Neal (RFA) F Mike Modano (UFA) F Jere Lehtinen (UFA)
Will try to keep as many of their multiple free agents as possible but most of their qualify offers are defensive in nature.
F Scott Glennie F Alex Chiasson F Curtis McKenzie G Tyler Beskorowany D Philip Larsen
Los Angeles  Centers 19th Overall
C Tyler Pitlick C Calle Jarnkrok C Jaden Schwartz
Expect them to go hard after Kovalchuk.
F Marc-Andre Cliché (RFA) F Rich Clune (RFA) F Corey Elkins (RFA) F Trevor Lewis (RFA) F Brayden Schenn D Thomas Hickey G Jonathan Bernier D Colten Teubert C Andrei Loktionov
Phoenix  Depth 13th Overall
C Mikael Granlund C Emerson Etem RW Vladimir Tarasenko
22nd Overall
C Brock Nelson C John McFarland C Joey Hishon  
F Lee Stempniak (UFA) D Zbynek Michalek (UFA) D Derek Morris (UFA)
Lack of independent ownership hurts here the most. Too many free agents to re-sign coupled with a limited budget could reverse the gains made last season.
D Oliver Ekman-Larsson C Kyle Turris RW Mikkel Boedker D Max Goncharov LW Viktor Tikhonov  
San Jose  Depth 28th overall
G Calvin Pickard C Riley Sheahan  C Petr Straka
Replacing Rob Blake will be difficult. Replacing Evgeni Nabokov will be even tougher. Look for the Sharks to bring in a middle tier vet. If those options fail look for the Sharks to move forward with the tandem of Thomas Greiss and Alex Stalock.
F Manny Malhotra (UFA) F Scott Nichol (UFA) F Devin Setoguchi (RFA) D Derek Joslin (RFA) D Julien Demers (2008, 5th round, 146th) remains unsigned and is eligible to "re-enter" the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. C Logan Couture D Nick Petrecki D Derek Joslin D Julien Demers D Taylor Doherty G Alex Stalock
The Sharks and Ducks will compete against the three Western Canada teams in a round-robin tournament starting Sept. 12 in Penticton, British Columbia.