Wednesday, July 1, 2009

...And They're Off!

8:28 pm - So it looks as though Florida might be done, at least for tonight. This from Steve Gorten's blog regarding signing a top tier scoring forward. "Sexton said, "I'm not sure you ever have enough scoring, but we're real comfortable with our top three lines. Our top six of Booth, Weiss, Frolik, Stillman, Reinprecht, Horton, we think those guys can score. ...We're very comfortable offensively with those top six. I don't know that you can ever have enough, but I don't think it is the issue it was last year, at least in some people's minds."

So I guess we're going to count on a bunch of 20-25 goal scorers to have career years... again... next season. One would have thought that saving $9 million by not re-signing Jay Bouwmeester and Nick Boynton, there would have been room to sign a top tier guy. But we did sign David Booth long term. Found a quick, and possibly better, replacement for Craig Anderson. Signed a kid in Koistinen that is supposedly an offensive defenseman (who played half a season in his first 2 years in the NHL...). And... oh yea, Dvorak resigned. So I guess it's not an awful day. Then again, we have 4, FOUR, signed defensemen for next season, including Koistinen. Karlis Skrastins remains unsigned. Jordan Leopold remains unsigned. Get those 2 on the roster, and I'll feel a lot better about getting no help for our forwards. Until then... it could be a giant step back from the progress made last season.
5:43 pm - Apologies, I had to make an unexpected return trip to work and apparently missed out on some happenings. First, a replacement for Craig Anderson has been signed; Scott Clemmensen, who made a name for himself last season when Martin Brodeur went down for a lengthy stretch. Clemmensen will reportedly make $1.2 mil for the next 3 years as a Panther. While I have no doubt Clemmy(?) will serve his purpose, the money makes me nervous. We now have nearly $7.5 million in our two netminders. Only one can play at a time... Add to the fact that Clemmensen will no doubt be given a chance to earn the #1 spot, as Anderson was last season. "Play the winning hand," I believe is how Pete DeBoer phrased it. So what happens if Clemmensen continues where he left off last season? We have a $6 million man as a backup, with a no-trade clause? Yikes... Add to the fact that we drafted Swedish phenom Jakob Markstrom last summer, and he is expected to be in the Panthers' fold next season, and it's a scary situation. Although to be fair, not quite as scary as having a backup with zero experience, so I guess I'm happy with the lesser of the two evils. Kudos to Randy Sexton for getting one of the more sought after UFA goalies.

Also, Florida has signed Ville Koistinen, who played parts of the last 2 seasons in Nashville. Koistinen is...well...a defenceman, which brings Florida's tally up to 4 signed d-men for next season. Double yikes. Koistinen played just 38 games last season, and 48 his rookie year in '07-'08. I can only hope that he is being brought in as insurance, in case Jordan Leopold, Karlis Skrastins, and\or Steve Eminger do not return next season. Or if Keaton Ellerby and\or Jason Garrison are not quite ready come October.

More as it occurs...
1:49 pm - hearing reports now that Craig Anderson has signed with the Colorado Avalanche. Should that be true, the Cats are suddenly in the market for a #2 goalie. The Avs have 2 guys who were starters at some points, Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft. Does Sexton try to snag one of them for backup duty? Or do we just sit on our hands and do our anti-injury dance for Vokoun, hope that he stays healthy, use one of our AHL guys next season, and hope last summer's first draft pick, Jakob Markstrom, is ready for NHL duty next season? I would have to think that Sexton will be making phone calls this afternoon... nothing against Chris Beckford-Tseu or Tyler Plante...
1:39 pm - via Panthers twitter page: BREAKING NEWS: The Panthers have signed David Booth to a 6-yr contract extension. Booth led the team with 31 goals last season. More to come...

It seemed just a matter of time before this was announced, probably just hashing out the final money figure and length of contract. Booth had a breakout year last season and Florida looks like they are expecting more of the same from Booth. More 30 goal seasons and a couple playoff appearances and Booth could become the Panther.
12:46 pm - The Panthers have resigned Radek Dvorak to a 3 year deal, according to TSN. Does this mean Ville Peltonen is out? Dvorak was the younger of the two, and most productive. A good sign by Sexton.
12:01 pm - Happy Canada Day! Oh yea, and the "free agent frenzy" is officially underway. Any rumors or actual news that is relevant and\or interesting will be talked about here as soon as I hear about it. Stay tuned...

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