Free Agency Assessment - Phase 2

I just got back in town from a month long business trip, so I apologize for the lack of posts lately.  My brother and I will be ramping up the content significantly though as we start to get closer to the NHL season…Now enough of my whining about work.

We put up a post a few weeks ago about some of the things that new GM Steve Yzerman had done at the onset of Free Agency (Meszaros, Kubina, Dan Ellis, Martin St Louis).  We were a fan of everyone of those moves.  Phase 2 of Free Agency (after week 1 through about this time) is the tougher part for most of the GM’s in the league.  You’ve made your big splash move, and now is the time to fill out the roster with the 3rd and 4th line offensive guys as well as the 3rd line Dmen and maybe the 2 way contract players who will see some time for both Norfolk and the big club in 2010/2011.

Let’s take a look at those moves.

Bolts Trade Matt Walker and a 4th Round Pick to Philadelphia Flyers for Simon Gagne

UMMMMMMMMM…Hell yes.  The Bolts were in desperate need of a winger to play on the Vincent Lecavalier and Ryan Malone line, and a winger who wasn’t an awful sorry ass bum like Alex Tanguay.  They got that and more in Simon Gagne.  Other than being a bit injury prone (10 NHL seasons, 664 games played, 15.6 games missed per year) Gagne has been a monster.  His lowest goal total of any year in which he played more than 60 games, was 20 goals, and that was in 1999 when he was 19 years old.  He had a 47 goal season in 2005 and a 41 goal season in 2006 as well as a 34 goal season in 2008.  He only played in 58 games last year for the Flyers but managed to put in 17 goals in that frame.  Mr “I never got a real chance in Tampa” Tanguay had 10 goals in 80 games last year, primarily on a line with Vinny 4.

If Gagne can play more than 65 games, I would expect no less than a 75 point 30 goal season from him playing with Vinny and Bugs.

You can also cement in stone that if our top 6 are healthy, we have as good of a top two line top 6 as any team in the league.  Yup, any team.  All 6 guys could put up 75 points.  I know you might not think Steve Downie has that potential, but in his first full year of playing hockey for an NHL team, he had 46 points with 22 goals in 79 games.  As he gets more comfortable playing with the best scorer in the league in Steven Stamkos and Martin St Louis, his point production will only go up.

Lightning sign center Marc-Antoine Pouilot

Pouilot has been up and down between the NHL and the AHL over the past 5 seasons, but in his one prolonged stint with the Edmonton Oilers in 2008, he had 20 points and 8 goals in 63 games.  Since I like bashing on Alex Tanguay, thats no worse than Tanguays numbers last season.  I expect Pouilot will once again have to battle for a roster spot with James Wright and Dana Tyrell, but he has a chance to make the NHL club.

Lightning sign LW Chris Durno to a two way one year contract

Durno is not going to be a points producer for the Bolts if he were to make the club, but he is a big boy who can bang some bodies.  He has spent the majority of his career in the AHL and the ECHL but put up career highs last year in points, goals, assists and shots with the Avalanche in 41 games.  Durno is another guy who is going to have to battle some of our younger guys like Ashton Carter, Richard Panik and Blair Jones for a roster spot, but he like Pouilot has a chance to make the roster, or at least be one of those aforementioned guys who sees time with both the Norfolk and big club.

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Tags: Alex Tanguay Ashton Carter Blair Jones Chris Durno Dana Tyrell Marc-Andre Pouilot Martin St Louis Richard Panik Steve Downie Steven Stamkos Vincent Lecavalier

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