NHL free agency started on July 5, later than usual duo to fallout from the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season; and all the off-season moves were filtered through a $6-million (U.S.) reduction in the salary cap for 2013-14.
Still, that didn’t much affect the pace of change. When the dust settled, here is how the Canadian teams look (alphabetically) after a summer of upheaval:
New faces: Brian Burke, president of hockey operations, above; Karri Ramo, G; Reto Berra, G; Shane O’Brien, D; David Jones, F; T.J. Galiardi, F; Kris Russell, D
Going, going gone: Miikka Kiprusoff, G; Alex Tanguay, F; Cory Sarich, D; Roman Cervenka, F; Steve Begin, F
Synopsis: The major exodus out of Calgary occurred at the trading deadline, when Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester were sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues, respectively, signalling the start of what could be a challenging and time-consuming rebuild. Kiprusoff, the team’s long-serving No. 1 goalie, decided to retire Monday, rather than play out the final season of his contract. A long year is in the offing.
New faces: Craig MacTavish, general manager; Dallas Eakins, head coach, above; David Perron, F; Andrew Ference, D; Denis Grebeshkov, D; Boyd Gordon, F; Jason LaBarbera, G; Jesse Joensuu, F; Philip Larsen, D
Going, going gone: Shawn Horcoff, C; Ryan Whitney, D; Mark Fistric, D; Nikolai Khabibulin, G; Magnus Paajarvi, F; Theo Peckham, D
Synopsis: MacTavish promised bold moves to expedite the Oilers’ progression, but was unable to do more than just tweak the roster, after attempts to trade Ales Hemsky failed. Any strides the Oilers may eventually make hinges on how quickly their core of young players – Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – matures into front-line NHL players. Nugent-Hopkins is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, and the Oilers plan to go slow with him. Depth at centre could be an issue.
New faces: Daniel Brière, F, above; George Parros, F; Douglas Murray, D
Going, going, gone: Michael Ryder, F; Colby Armstrong, F; Tomas Kaberle, D; Yannick Weber, D
Synopsis: In Brière, the Canadiens added the primary small forward on the free-agent market to a team already considered a tad short and light. On the plus side, Parros should free up Brandon Prust to play more and fight less, while Murray is a brute on the back end, even if speed is not his strong suit. Unexpectedly getting Andrei Markov back for all 48 games last season, plus P.K. Subban’s emergence as a James Norris Memorial Trophy winner on the blueline, keyed Montreal’s surge. In the Canadiens’ scheme of things, they are close to irreplaceable.
New faces: Bobby Ryan, F; Clarke MacArthur, F; Joe Corvo, D
Going, going gone: Daniel Alfredsson, F; Sergei Gonchar, D; Jakob Silfverberg, F; Guillaume Latendresse, F; Andre Benoit, D, Peter Regin, F
Synopsis: Injuries – and how well they responded to them – was the primary storyline for the Senators last season, as they qualified for the playoffs against daunting odds. If any or all of Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek and Craig Anderson can limit their time in sick bay this year, the additions of Ryan and MacArthur should compensate for the losses of Alfredsson and Silfverberg up front. The 24 minutes of playing time per game Gonchar logged will be harder to replace.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
New faces: Jonathan Bernier, G; Dave Bolland, F; David Clarkson, F; T.J. Brennan, D; Paul Ranger, D
Going, going gone: Ben Scrivens, G; Mikhail Grabovski, F; Matt Frattin, F; Clarke MacArthur, F; Mike Komisarek, D; Leo Komarov, F
Synopsis: The Leafs primary off-season goals were to add grit and toughness and to stabilize goaltending. In Bernier, they have one of the premier, untested prospects in the game, who was second in the NHL in goals-against average last season (1.88), albeit playing behind a stingy Los Angeles Kings defence. Bolland is an agitating, if injury-prone winner/pest and Clarkson should provide a strong physical presence, with a decent scoring touch. A full year out of Joffrey Lupul (limited to 16 games by injury) will only enhance one of the league’s more prolific offensive teams. Free-agent winger Mason Raymond is in camp on a tryout.
New faces: John Tortorella, head coach; Brad Richardson, F; Mike Santorelli, F; Benn Ferriero, F; Yannick Weber, D; Eddie Lack, G
Going, going gone: Alain Vigneault, coach; Cory Schneider, G; Derek Roy, F; Mason Raymond, F; Cam Barker, D; Manny Malhotra, C; Andrew Alberts, D
Synopsis: It is difficult to assess which change will have the greater impact: Schneider’s departure, which leaves Roberto Luongo the undisputed No. 1 goalie, or Tortorella’s addition behind the bench, where he will change the tone significantly from the Vigneault era. Thinking he was on his way out of Vancouver, Luongo tweeted last season he would play for free to witness Tortorella’s press conferences. Instead, he will get to watch them, up-close-and-personal. With an aging core, the hope is there’s at least one final championship push.
New faces: Devin Setoguchi, F; Michal Frolik, F; Adam Pardy, D; Matt Halischuk, F
Going, going gone: Alexander Burmistrov, F; Nik Antropov, F; Derek Meech, F
Synopsis: With conference realignment, the Jets will not be able to break up the winter with multiple visits to Florida any more. The hope is last season’s 11th-hour push for a playoff spot is not an aberration, but a sign that they’re starting to mature as a team. The complexion of the team changed in the off-season, with Setoguchi and Frolik essentially replacing Burmistrov and Antropov, but the foundation of this team is its defence corps. The Jets desperately need to get full, healthy seasons out of Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian to pose a legitimate postseason threat.