It's not quite like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but there's enough suspense and excitement hovering over the offseason to keep fans engaged for a summer.
After a season of pleasant surprises and heartbreak, dominance and underachievement, the offseason serves as the time for everyone -- from superstars to fringe players to fans -- to unwind, regroup and rededicate for the promise of a bigger and better season in the fall.
Sprinkled in between, however, are personnel moves that bring you from despair to elation (or vice versa) -- and that's the real thrill of the offseason. Where will your favorite player or rival decide to sign, and for how long? Will management pull the trigger on a trade that gets your team over the hump?
Questions will become answers soon, so NHL.com examines 10 offseason moves and their potential fantasy impact throughout the 2010-11 season:
Sergei Gonchar --
One of the most prolific offensive defensemen in the NHL will be contributing points for a new team this season, as the 36-year-old signed with the Ottawa Senators
on the first day of free agency. In the previous five seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins
, Gonchar put up 259 points in 322 games while averaging 153 shots and 35 power-play points in that span. Playing alongside Daniel Alfredsson
, Jason Spezza
and Alexei Kovalev
, Gonchar figures to continue producing at his normal pace.
Marty Turco --
The new man between the pipes for the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks
had six consecutive seasons with at least 30 wins and picked up 31 shutouts in that span. After struggling in 2008-09 and bouncing back somewhat in 2009-10 on a rebuilding Dallas team, Turco will get the chance to play behind one of the League's best defensive units and figures to return to form in the process.
Jiri Hudler --
From Russia with points! Hudler returns to the Red Wings this season after a one-year stint in the KHL -- and if you trust Wings coach Mike Babcock, big things are in store for the versatile winger, whose coach projects him to put up roughly 70 points this season. Hudler's numbers have never been jaw-dropping, but his production has steadily increased in points, assists and shots, as well as power-play production. Playing in a deep pool of forwards won't hurt Hudler, either.
Simon Gagne --
The two-time 40-goal scorer moved south for the winter. Gagne has joined sophomore sensation Steven Stamkos
, Vincent Lecavalier
, Martin St. Louis
and Ryan Malone
in Tampa Bay after a decade in Philadelphia. He's been hampered by injuries during the last few seasons, but is nearly a point-a-game player when he's healthy.
Mike Comrie --
Talk about potential value: Comrie signed a one-year, $500,000 deal with the Penguins and was immediately penciled in on a line with Evgeni Malkin
and top prospect Eric Tangradi
. When Jordan Staal
returns from injury, he will likely join Malkin and Comrie -- and the three can do damage together. Comrie has had his share of success in the League, though not recently. The 30-year-old is a two-time 30-goal scorer and has four 20-goal seasons. When on his game, Comrie can reach 200 shots and contribute on the power play.
Ray Whitney --
The man they call "The Wizard" is taking his magic wand to Phoenix. Whitney brings four-consecutive 20-plus goal seasons to the fantasy table, and has hit the 50-point mark in seven of the past eight seasons. Add in at least 200 shots and the chance to cash in on the power play, and Whitney can enjoy some of his greatest success in 2010-11. Linemates Shane Doan
and Wojtek Wolski
will only help Whitney produce.
Antti Niemi --
Last spring's Stanley Cup-winning goaltender will bring his ring to San Jose, where he joins an offensive and defensive juggernaut. In his first full season with the Blackhawks, Niemi posted a 26-7-4 record with a 2.25 GAA and .912 save percentage. He will replace Evgeni Nabokov
in San Jose and should post numbers at least that good while playing for one of the NHL's top teams.
Alex Frolov --
What goes up must go down -- but the New York Rangers
hope it goes up again. After entering the League with Los Angeles in 2002-03, Frolov's numbers climbed steadily until 2007 -- but they've now declined for three seasons in a row. But after signing a one-year deal with the Rangers during the summer, Frolov could be in for a big 2010 season, especially if he remains on a line with Marian Gaborik
Nathan Horton --
Boston could be a much-needed breath of fresh air for Horton, who's coming off two injury-plagued seasons in Florida. When healthy, Horton can put up 30 goals and 60 points, while 200 shots isn't a stretch. Playing for a contending team can allow Horton to reach unseen heights, and linemates Milan Lucic
and David Krejci
could help him reach the next level.
Alex Tanguay/Olli Jokinen --
Both are coming off disappointing seasons, but both have been solid producers in the past. Playing together and alongside Jarome Iginla
could be just what the doctor ordered. Tanguay scored 81 points in Calgary in 2006-07 and can score 60 points on an average season under the right circumstances. Meanwhile, Jokinen has is a four-time 30-goal scorer in the NHL -- the Flames hope he'll make it five.