Thursday, June 29, 2006

Rear Guard Roulette

Bryan McCabe may have made his mind up, but for the rest of the NHL’s defensive corps, July 1st can’t come soon enough. Saturday is the magic day for those NHLers awaiting free agency, with a bump of five million in cap room this year, there may be quite a few offer calls backing up on player agent phones and Personal messangers.

Canadian teams seem to be taking the brunt of the big name D men who may be making a move. Vancouver is wondering where they stand with Ed Jovanovski as rumours continue to swirl that he’s thinking of a return to Florida as part of his NHL future. The Senators could possibly take a double hit on Saturday as both Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden could have multiple offers to ponder, with the Edmonton Oilers thinking of bringing Redden back to Alberta while Chara has them chomping at the bit in New York City. This leaves John Muckler to head to work and earn his pay. It’s said that the two are waiting to see what the Sens do about the always controversial goal position before they make a final call, a situation that has John Muckler apparently pounding out the numbers on his phone trying to swing a deal somewhere for someone!

Of course in Edmonton, the Chris Pronger soap opera will play itself out, if the Oilers are lucky it will come to and end this weekend as the different dominoes fall and those looking to bulk up on the blue line are left out of the loop. The latest on the Pronger plan is that he’d prefer a USA destination but would consider Toronto or Vancouver, with McCabe signed his chances of wearing the Maple Leaf are reduced not to mention the prospect of picking up another disatisfied customer, but if the Jovanovski situation turns bad he just may end up in Vancouver.

While the Defensive players are getting all the ink at the moment, Goaltenders may be on the move by Saturday as well, there is a large group of back ups that won’t be content to be second banana for another year and probably make too much for that status anyways. Look for Dan Cloutier, Martin Gerber and J. S. Giguere, to name a few to be in new locales before too long. All dependant on the cap room and their expectations for the long term.

While the draft day, Stanley Cup playoffs and NHL Awards show all are player dominated. July 1st will be the day of the number crunchers, one part GM one part CFO; together they’ll decide who goes where and for how much. One thing is certain though; some teams are going to be looking quite a bit different by the time the smoke clears from the Canada Day fireworks on July 1st!

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