LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Ryan Johansen, drafted fourth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets, poses on stage with team personnel during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Will he be the center the Jackets always hoped would help bring out the best in Rick Nash?(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
This is part three of a four part series in which we take a look at possible team needs and solutions for the coming free agent season. In Part One, we reviewed the bottom tier of the East. In Part Two, we looked at the top of the East. This week, we take a gander at the bottom feeders of the Western Conference. (With help from NHLNumbers.com).
15. Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers are in full rebuilding mode and most likely will not be hitting the free agent market with much gusto on July 1. While they might not be shopping for free agents, it certainly seems like they would be more than happy to drop a couple of players and insert them into the free agency market.
There have been a variety of reports indicating that Sheldon Souray, Patrick O`Sullivan, and/or Ethan Moreau could be on their way out, if anyone will have them. Would the Oilers go so far as to buy them out? We will see in a few days, but that seems unlikely.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets: The Jackets want to get back into the postseason and will strive to do so quickly. They have plenty of room under the salary cap, but not very much room on their roster. With 11 forwards already under contract, (including Filatov), and the possibility of Ryan Johansen making the team, there does not seem to be a significant change coming on offense.
Where they really could improve is by finding a good puck-moving blueliner who can score. Someone like Sergei Gonchar would really fit the bill, but more likely they would sign a Pavel Kubina, Joe Corvo, or Ruslan Salei. If Filatov stays in Russia and Johansen returns to junior, they need to add a midlevel forward, perhaps Chris Higgins?
13. Minnesota Wild: The Wild would love to add a center and it seems like Minnesota native Matt Cullen would be a perfect fit. But is that too logical? While Ottawa has indicated they want to keep Cullen, there is little doubt the former Hurricane will test the market and see what the Wild, as well as other teams, have to offer.
The club needs to add another forward or two as well, but they will give first round draft pick Michal Granlund every opportunity to make the team before they add another free agent.
12. Dallas Stars: The Stars are currently below the cap floor so they have more than plenty of cap space room to add players, and add players is exactly what they will do. This team will be very active in the market.
Last but not least, a natural right winger would be ideal along with a third line center. For wing, perhaps they might take a run at Pavol Demitra, Lee Stempniak, or Fernando Pisani? If they could sign him cheap, would they make an offer to Olli Jokinen?
11. Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks need to replace newly retired Scott Niedermayer so look for them to make a major push for an elite defenseman. I could see Paul Martin moving to California. Also, don't rule out a major trade. Will the Ducks make a move to bring in Tomas Kaberle from Toronto or submit an offer sheet for Marc Staal or Erik Johnson? They need a couple of bodies on the blueline and they need quality. They have the room on their cap to do something big.
The goaltending situation is fine with Hiller and McElhinney signed.
10. Calgary Flames: Calgary is one of those teams already pretty close to the cap. They need to sign a back up goalie for Kiprusoff, (but don't look for them to spend much money to do it.) They already have a lot of money tied up on the blueline and have seven bodies under contract, so I don't expect much change there.
They will be looking for a second or third line center and there are not a ton of those on the market. Matt Cullen, Eric Belanger, and Chris Higgins are possibilities. If the Hurricanes were to buy out Rod Brind`Amour, (which is possible due to their budget concerns), the Flames might want to take a flyer on him.
9. St. Louis Blues: The Blues are way under the cap floor but have a ton of RFA's to sign, including prize defenseman and golf cart driving extrordinaire, Erik Johnson. Once they sign "client" Jaroslav Halak, they are set in goal. (Ty Conklin is the back up.)
Perhaps they will re-sign ex-Leaf defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, and maybe they won't. But they will still need another warm body on the blueline one way or the other.
Don't expect Paul Kariya to return here next season, so the team will definitely be in the market for a strong left winger. Ray Whitney might be a fit or the Blues could make a major play for Alexander Frolov.