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Bruins on outside as Atlantic teams make changes

by Dan Rosen

Salary-cap constraints have forced Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli to watch from the sidelines as the rest of the GMs in the Atlantic Division have made efforts to improve their rosters in an attempt to catch the Bruins.

Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay Lightning), Dave Nonis (Toronto Maple Leafs), Dale Tallon (Florida Panthers) and Tim Murray (Buffalo Sabres) have been among the busiest managers in the League since the market opened at noon ET on July 1, combining to sign or acquire via trade 18 players.

Marc Bergevin (Montreal Canadiens) and Bryan Murray (Ottawa Senators) most notably have been involved in some significant trades involving veteran players. Meanwhile, Ken Holland has struggled to find players willing to take the Detroit Red Wings' money.

The signings and trades have slowed since a wild first day, or rather first few hours of the free-agent frenzy, as GMs take stock in who they have acquired, what they still need and how much money they have left to spend. So let's do the same.

Here is a breakdown of what the eight Atlantic Division teams have done so far this offseason and how the additions or subtractions could affect their lineup for the 2014-15 season:

Note: The additions, re-signed players, still unsigned players and subtractions pertain only to the NHL roster. The money figures are according to or have been provided by the club.


Additions: none

Re-signed: none

Still unsigned: Torey Krug (RFA), Reilly Smith (RFA), Matt Bartkowski (RFA), Justin Florek (RFA), Jordan Caron (RFA), Corey Potter (UFA)

Subtractions: Jarome Iginla (Colorado Avalanche) Shawn Thornton (Florida Panthers), Chad Johnson (New York Islanders), Andrej Meszaros (Buffalo Sabres)

The $69 million salary cap is the specific reason why Iginla, Thornton and Johnson are gone. It has stymied Chiarelli, who still is negotiating new contracts for Krug, Smith, Bartkowski, Caron and Florek. Boston has to carry almost $4.8 million in bonus overages from last season onto their cap figure this season.

The Bruins plan to replace Iginla, Thornton and Johnson from within, but likely will make a trade or two because of their surplus of defensemen. They will have eight NHL defensemen once Krug and Bartkowski are re-signed.

Niklas Svedberg is expected to take over for Johnson as the No. 2 goalie behind Tuukka Rask. Loui Eriksson could step up from the third line to replace Iginla on the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Caron, Florek, Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser and Alexander Khokhlachev will also push for playing time.


Additions: Jason Garrison, Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, Evgeni Nabokov

Re-signed: Ryan Callahan, Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik

Still unsigned: Sami Salo (UFA), Tom Pyatt (UFA)

Subtractions: Anders Lindback (Dallas Stars), Nate Thompson (Anaheim Ducks), B.J. Crombeen (Arizona Coyotes), Michael Kostka (New York Rangers), Keith Aulie (Edmonton Oilers), Teddy Purcell (Edmonton Oilers), Ryan Malone (buyout)

The Lightning are in a better position to win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs now than they were 2 1/2 months ago, particularly because they have a deeper defense with Garrison and Stralman. Boyle gives them a presence in their bottom-six forward group and on the penalty kill. They should also have a more reliable backup goalie in Nabokov.

Yzerman also kept Callahan from becoming an unrestricted free agent by signing him to a six-year, $34.8 million contract. Johnson, Killorn and Palat all got new contracts after strong seasons.

In addition, Yzerman bought out Malone and traded Thompson, Purcell and Crombeen to clear cap space for the additions of Garrison, Stralman, Boyle and Nabokov. Jonathan Drouin, the third pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, is expected to play a big role this season.


Additions: PA Parenteau, Jiri Sekac, Manny Malhotra, Tom Gilbert

Re-signed: Andrei Markov, Mike Weaver, Lars Eller

Subtractions: Brian Gionta (Buffalo Sabres), Josh Gorges (Buffalo Sabres), Daniel Briere (Colorado Avalanche), Thomas Vanek (Minnesota Wild)

Still unsigned: P.K. Subban (RFA), Douglas Murray (UFA), Francis Bouillon (UFA), George Parros (UFA), Ryan White (UFA)

The biggest transaction in Montreal's offseason has yet to take place. Subban is expected to sign an expensive new contract that will keep him in Montreal for a long time. Negotiations likely are ongoing, but Bergevin doesn't discuss those publicly.

The biggest surprise of Montreal's offseason so far has been the trade of Gorges to Buffalo for a second-round draft pick in 2016. Gorges was a well-liked leader in the Canadiens dressing room, but Bergevin wanted to get rid of his $3.9 million salary-cap charge.

Montreal also is looking for a new captain with Gionta signing a three-year, $12.75 million contract with the Sabres. Vanek was not going to be part of Montreal's plans going forward after his unsuccessful postseason; he signed a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Wild.

Acquiring Parenteau and a 2015 fifth-round draft pick from Colorado for Briere was a no-brainer. Parenteau is 31 and had 33 points in 55 games last season while Briere will turn 37 at the start of this season. He didn't seem to fit in Montreal as he put up 25 points in 69 regular-season games.


Additions: none

Re-signed: Kyle Quincey, Jonas Gustavsson, Riley Sheahan

Still unsigned: Tomas Tatar (RFA), Danny DeKeyser (RFA), Daniel Alfredsson (UFA), Mikael Samuelsson (UFA), Todd Bertuzzi (UFA), Daniel Cleary (UFA)

Subtractions: Jordin Tootoo (buyout), David Legwand (Ottawa Senators)

The Red Wings so far have struck out this offseason, even with approximately $9.5 million in cap space to use and an obvious need for a right-handed defenseman.

They tried to get Dan Boyle, Matt Niskanen, Stephane Robidas, Stralman and Christian Ehrhoff but each signed elsewhere. The best the Red Wings have done since the free-agent market opened is re-sign Quincey.

They still want to add players through a signing or a trade and Alfredsson will either return to Detroit or retire. But the Red Wings right now appear to be the same team they were last season, minus some veterans whose roles depleted toward the end.

That may not be a terrible thing considering the emergence of Gustav Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan, Luke Glendenning and DeKeyser, plus the fact that they played half of last season without Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and still made the playoffs.


Additions: Alex Chiasson, David Legwand

Re-signed: Milan Michalek

Still unsigned: Robin Lehner (RFA), Matt Kassian (UFA)

Subtractions: Jason Spezza (Dallas Stars), Ales Hemsky (Dallas Stars)

The Senators got younger and cheaper, but losing Spezza and Hemsky means they're not any closer to making the playoffs than they were last season, when they finished fifth in the division and five points behind the Red Wings for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Chiasson will provide some offense, but he can't be counted on to fill Spezza's production. He's 23 years old and on the final year of his entry-level contract. He had 35 points in 79 games last season; Spezza had 66 points in 75 games.

Kyle Turris will have to step up in place of Spezza, just as he did during the 2012-13 season when he broke out with 29 points in 48 games as Spezza sat out with a back injury. Legwand, signed as a free agent, will be counted on to picck up some of the slack, and Mika Zibanejad will have to take on an expanded role. Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur and Michalek give Ottawa three reliable wings in the top-six forward group; Chiasson has to round it out.

Legwand offers more depth at center and could slot in on the second line if Zibanejad isn't ready.


Additions: Petri Kontiola, Leo Komarov, Matt Frattin, Stephane Robidas, Roman Polak, Mike Santorelli

Re-signed: Cody Franson

Still unsigned: James Reimer (RFA),  Jake Gardiner (RFA), Carter Ashton (RFA), Paul Ranger (UFA), Troy Bodie (UFA)

Subtractions: Carl Gunnarsson (St. Louis Blues), Mason Raymond (Calgary Flames), Nikolai Kulemin (New York Islanders), Dave Bolland (Florida Panthers), Jay McClement (Carolina Hurricanes), Jerry D'Amigo (Columbus Blue Jackets), Tim Gleason (buyout)

The Maple Leafs mined Europe for two of their bigger offseason additions, going to the Kontinental Hockey League for Komarov and Kontiola.

Komarov played 42 games for Toronto in 2012-13, scoring nine points and ranking fifth in the NHL with 176 hits. He had 34 points in 52 games with Dynamo Moscow last season. Kontiola brings more of an offensive punch and was signed to bolster Toronto's depth down the middle. The playmaking center had 112 assists and 175 points in 258 KHL games.

The Maple Leafs needed a center with Bolland departing for Florida on a five-year, $27.5 million contract. They now have Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Kontiola down the middle, but center remains a position of need for them.

Robidas and Polak, who was acquired in a trade for Gunnarsson, give Toronto more balance on the blue line with their right-handed shots. The Maple Leafs were loaded with lefties last season and Nonis didn't like the look of it. He wanted to address that this offseason.

For now it appears Reimer is staying in Toronto provided the two sides can get a contract worked out. But there still is a chance he is traded and Toronto looks to bring in a different goalie to play behind Jonathan Bernier.


Additions: Dave Bolland, Jussi Jokinen, Shawn Thornton, Derek MacKenzie, Willie Mitchell, Al Montoya, Aaron Ekblad

Re-signed: Erik Gudbranson, Dylan Olsen, Brandon Pirri

Still unsigned: Jimmy Hayes (RFA), Dmitry Kulikov (RFA), Scott Gomez (UFA), Krys Barch (UFA)

Subtractions: Ed Jovanovski (buyout), Tom Gilbert (Montreal Canadiens), Scott Clemmensen (New Jersey Devils)

The Panthers have a new coach in Gerard Gallant and a host of new veteran players that could make Florida a playoff contender again. Ekblad, though, is the most intriguing player who will be in training camp because he was the No. 1 pick of the 2014 NHL Draft.

Gallant has options for his lineup with Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov and Bolland likely slotted in as Florida's top-three centers. Jonathan Huberdeau, Brad Boyes, Tomas Fleischmann and Jokinen appear to be the leading candidates to round out the Panthers' top-six group of forwards.

Provided the Panthers re-sign Gudbranson, Kulikov and Olsen, their defense corps in front of goalie Roberto Luongo looks deep when you also factor in Brian Campbell, Mitchell and Ekblad.

These moves could wind up costing Florida only money without any results, but they could be a sign of things to come. The last time Tallon went diving this deep into the free-agency well was in 2011, and those Panthers went on to win the Southeast Division and make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.


Additions: Matt Moulson, Brian Gionta, Andrej Meszaros, Josh Gorges, Cody McCormick, Sam Reinhart, Zac Delpe, Andre Benoit

Re-signed: Marcus Foligno, Tyler Ennis, Chad Ruhwedel

Still unsigned: Zenon Konopka (UFA), Matt D'Agostini (UFA), Henrik Tallinder (UFA), Jamie McBain (UFA), Alexander Sulzer (UFA)

Subtractions: Christian Ehrhoff (buyout), Ville Leino (buyout), Cory Conacher (New York Islanders), John Scott (San Jose Sharks)

The plan remains to rebuild through the draft, but Tim Murray had to add veterans to his lineup in order to give the young players teammates who could point them in the right direction.

That's what July 1 was all about for Murray as he added $18.775 million onto the Sabres' salary cap by trading for Gorges and signing Gionta, Moulson, Meszaros and McCormick. The Sabres had to get to the salary-cap floor of $51 million and those moves made it happen.

Even with the signings and trade, Buffalo's rebuild is going to thrive or die based on the continued development of players like Reinhart, who was the second pick of the 2014 draft, along with Ennis, Foligno, Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen, Cody Hodgson, Tyler Myers, Jake McCabe, Nikita Zadorov, Mark Pysyk and whoever they draft next season.


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