One question in Montreal: who will take Alexei Emelin's minutes during the blueliner's knee injury absence until November.
Photo: Jeanine Leech / Icon SMI
The summer is now in full swing and most of the off-season moves have been made by the 30 National Hockey League teams. However, unrestricted free agents remain un-signed, restricted free agents remain un-signed and teams still have holes to fill (and questions to answer). We take look at what each National Hockey League team faces 'Going Into Camp'. We begin with the Atlantic Division...
1. BOSTON BRUINS
The Bruins have taken care of the paperwork for the summer, with no restricted free agents left to sign. However, they're over the salary cap at present time and may move a body before camp opens. There figures to be strong competition in camp for jobs on the wings on Line 3, as well as a brewing battle for ice time along the blueline for the final 2-3 spots. There may also be a challenge for the backup goaltender job, where Chad Johnson
is the favorite. Rookies Niklas Svedberg
and Malcolm Subban
will give him a run for his money in September.
2. BUFFALO SABRES
It would appear the Sabres are ready to open training camp in September with veterans Ryan Miller
and Thomas Vanek
still on the roster (despite constant trade speculation and the fact both are entering the final year of their contracts). Agitator Steve Ott
is another Sabre in the same boat, though he is the most likely to be kept in the fold beyond 2013-14. One key restricted free agent remains un-signed: playmaking center Cody Hodgson
, projected to be the team's first-line center this season. Otherwise, the Sabres are ready for camp.
3. DETROIT RED WINGS
The Red Wings still have a little work to do before the start of training camp in September. Restricted free agent Gustav Nyquist
still needs a new contracts. He represents one third of what was a very effective third line in Detroit last season. Another member of that third unit in 2013--unrestricted free agent Damien Brunner
--is not expected back. One unrestricted free agent the Wings would love to have back is winger Dan Cleary
, but only if the price is right. Also, Detroit already have too many forwards so they would have to move someone out.
4. FLORIDA PANTHERS
The Cats made a recent addition in veteran playmaker Scott Gomez
, who will probably fill a depth role similar to what he did with the San Jose Sharks in 2013 (assuming Gomez makes the team). Florida is deep in center prospects, so the Gomez acquisition is insurance in case the likes of Nick Bjugstad
and Aleksander Barkov
aren't ready for prime time this preseason. Otherwise, the Panthers should be set for training camp. They're not expected to re-sign unrestricted free agents Peter Mueller
and Jose Theodore
at this time.
5. MONTREAL CANADIENS
The only un-signed restricted free agent of note for the Canadiens is potential third-string netminder Dustin Tokarski
, though Robert Mayer
should remain ahead of him on the depth chart regardless. A pair of unrestricted free-agent fourth-line centers, Jeff Halpern
and Petteri Nokelainen
, are not expected back. The main questions heading into camp for Montreal are: who will take Alexei Emelin
's minutes during the blueliner's injury absence, and how will the team fit five natural centers into the lineup every night. Stay tuned.
6. OTTAWA SENATORS
The Senators still need to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Jared Cowen
, who figures to be a prominent piece to the puzzle as a shutdown rearguard going forward. The other restricted free agent of note, center Stephane Da Costa
, recently signed a new one-year contract. The main unrestricted free agent left is winger Guillaume Latendresse
, but he's not expected back. There figures to be plenty of position battles when training camp opens up in September, most notably up front and for the roles of No. 6-7 defensemen.
7. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
The Bolts are not expected to make any major signings before training camp begins. Veteran netminder Mathieu Garon
remains un-signed but he's now redundant with both Ben Bishop
and Anders Lindback
ready to compete for the starting job. Tampa Bay also tried to sign Swiss winger Reto Suri
to a contract for 2014-15 but the deal was voided because Suri was unable to get out of his current deal with EV Zug of the Swiss National Liga A. Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman would like another shot at Suri next year.
8. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
The Maple Leafs recently inked restricted free agent defenseman Mark Fraser
to a one-year contract, but there is still work to do for GM Dave Nonis before the start of training camp. Defenseman Cody Franson
is next on the signing list for defensemen, and Nonis may once again attempt to ship out veteran rearguard John-Michael Liles
($3.875 million cap hit through 2015-16) but his no-trade clause and recent performance make him very hard to move. Once Nonis is done with his blueline, he'll also need to re-sign Nazem Kadri