On the eve of Free Agency Day, two Canadian teams were able to add at the expense of two teams out West. One in need on the back six, one in need up front. Kris Versteeg and Jim Vandermeer are the newest faces north of the border, although Canada’s teams shouldn’t be done yet. Watch out, or we’ll throw Jarome Iginla at you.
The Edmonton Oilers started their long off-season haul today by trading impending buy-out Patrick O’Sullivan to the Phoenix Coyotes for Jim Vandermeer. Both players had underwhelming season last year, but the Oilers need a guy like Vandermeer to help a very young D corps in Deadmonton. Sully has since been bought out by the Desert Team, and will hit the open market tomorrow afternoon.
News came tonight that Brian Burke started his off-season surge as General Manager by acquiring Kris Versteeg and Bill Sweatt for Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico, and Phillipe Paradis. The Leafs get a young piece to play alongside Phil Kessel, but it remains to be seen if he will succeed on a rebuilding team. The Hawks get three big, young prospects with good offensive upside. Stalberg could be a good replacement on the third line for Chicago. Chicago’s had an active off-season, likely to move out another forward and bring in a depth defenseman.
If there’s one thing we know, we should here a peep out of all Canadian teams tomorrow and beyond. Both the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators will be looking to add on D, with targets being Dan Hamhuis, Zbynek Michalek, and Anton Volchenkov for the Canucks. Both have similar salary cap money, and there are still players to be re-signed. Calgary is a question mark, whether they’re going to finally get a centre for Jarome Iginla is questionable. They’ll be likely looking to rebuild their offense after a disastrous season. An experienced backup for Miikka Kiprusoff is also needed in C-Town.
The biggest wildcard here should be the Montreal Canadiens. I would suspect them to be quiet, likely trying to find a valuable backup for Carey Price if they can’t sign Dan Ellis. However, we saw last season how one off-season can change a team. Pierre “the Ghost” Gauthier has the ability to make some noise here, but it would shock me if they did anything drastic.
Just to end off, here are a bit of my predictions. First, Vancouver will sign Dan Hamhuis, and Ottawa will sign Zbynek Michalek. Toronto will be very active tomorrow, and will sign Matthew Lombardi and Marek Svatos. Montreal will not sign Dan Ellis, and will instead sign ex-Senator/Flyer Ray Emery and Henrik Tallinder. Edmonton will not sign any major players, but will make some trades including Robert Nilsson and Fernando Pisani. The Flames will shock everyone and sign Colby Armstrong, Andy Sutton, and Chris Mason. As well, look for them to make a run at Fabian Brunnstrom.
Who do you think will teams up north will go after? Voice your opinion in the comments section!