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The 4th Line Banger Posted - 07/18/2011 : 13:49:36
It’s hard to believe that Boston was raising the Cup just 5 weeks ago. Even harder to believe is that in less than 7 weeks, most NHL teams will open up rookie camp. At close to the middle of the off-season, here are 10 thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head:

1 – The salary cap increasing again is awesome. There are some short sighted views out there who were saying the NHL is on its way back to monster contracts and overpaying free agents. However, if this year’s free agent crop is any indication; GM’s see this as an opportunity. Rather than having one or two monster salaries and putting all your eggs in one basket, the $64+ million salary cap means a team can have multiple (meaning 6-7) $5-$6 million players and still have the money to ice a quality team. The smart GM’s will take advantage of this. By the way, does anyone know what the penalty is for not hitting the salary basement?? COL and CAR might need to know.

2 – Doug Wilson is about as close to throwing his hands up as he can without physically doing it. Heatley for Havlet?? Overpayment for a lesser player. Setoguchi and high draft picks/prospects for Burns??? Overpayment for a lesser player. San Jose will still be a good team but those trades are simply foolish. Make me a fool out of me Wilson and finally win that Cup!!

3 – Calgary has 12 players with either No Trade Clauses, No Movement Clauses, or Limited Movement Clauses. What a great GM Sutter was!! Not a quality prospect in site, most of the team over the hill, and almost at the salary cap. I can’t believe that Feaster took that job. Total rebuild in Calgary at the 2012 trade deadline. That thing’s going to get bowed up good!

4 – Build through the draft. That’s Dale Tallon’s MO when building a team. He did it in Chicago and now is doing it in FLA. Give him time and some money and he will get that team to the top. Mark my words, FLA in 2015. Gudbranson and Huberdeau are both studs. Of course, Edmonton started the same program a year earlier so it will be Edmonton in 2013 and 2014 before Florida gets their shot.

5 – Brian Burke is not often the bride’s maid, but he was this year. As much as he will tell you that Brad Richards signed for too much money up front and he wasn’t willing to do it, Burke lost on this market and a chance at a #1 centre. He was poised to give the Leafs a huge step up. Unfortunately, he only gave them a slight step up. Although, a playoff spot will buy him more time. If the Leafs miss the playoffs this season, 2012-13 will be a must make playoff for Burke or he will get fired, err, step down.

6 – Washington has all the pieces one would assume they need to make it deep and potentially win the Cup. Vokoun is icing on the cake and trading Varlamov for draft picks was great. Too bad the Caps have a stellar GM and Mr. Magoo as a head coach. They need to trade Bruce Boudreau for a pylon and find a real coach or they will be out before the Conference Finals, again.

7 – Philly fans might get on the team this season if they falter after moving two huge pieces of that team. But in the long run, Philly is better off. I am still a little in shock that Holmgren had the stones to move his #1 and #1a centres on the same day. Those are career defining trades. Will it define him as a genius or a goat???

8 – I am not surprised that Parise has yet to sign as the Devils are still in a bit of turmoil, but what’s going on with Weber??? What about Stamkos?? What about Doughty?? What about Moller, Sheppard, Wilson, Boedker, Turris, Marchand, Gragnani, Gorges, Baily, Comeau, Callahan, Dubinsky, Purcell, Bogosian, Wheeler, et al?? There are still a number of outstanding RFA’s without deals that one would have expected to be signed or offered by now. Maybe this is a sign of the times?? I don’t know what it means yet, but it is definitely much different than the past RFA summers.

9 – I think this might finally be the year that Detroit takes a step back. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Lidstrom have to play 25+ minutes a game to get the Wings a W and it’s taking its toll on both Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Neither has played a full season in 3 years.

10 – Without knowing the goings on between now and the season opener, I am putting money on Chicago to win the Cup. They were the best team ousted in the 1st round last season and they got bigger and better with their signings this season. I would give a close #2 to Pittsburgh who would actually be my #1 pre-season choice if I knew that both Crosby and Malkin going into training camp healthy.

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