Northern Exposure: There Is Never An Offseason In Canada!


Now that a majority the draft and free agency dust has settled, it is time to step back and take an overall view of what has happened since the on-ice season came to a conclusion.  This week Northern Exposure examines the important moves made by each Canadian franchises in terms of free agency period gains and losses, both through signings and trades.  I will begin in the East and head West.

OUT:  Benoit Pouliot, Roman Hamrlik, Alex Auld, Jeff Halpern, Tom Pyatt

IN:  Erik Cole, Peter Budaj, Brian Willsie

The Montreal Canadiens went into the offseason with a lot of work to do.  GM Pierre Gauthier meticulously went about his job and decided which players were priority and he got those players back into the fold.  Markov, Gill, Darche were re-upped, while Hamrlik, Pouliot, Sopel, Mara and Halpern were not.  Gauthier still has to sign RFA’s Ryan White and Josh Georges.  Former Hurricane Cole brings in speed, grit and experience and has the ability to play in Montreal’s top 6.  His contract is a little pricey, but that was the way the market went this summer.  Gauthier allowing some veteran to walk has made room for the likes of Alexei Yemelin and Lars Eller to play more prominent roles as the Canadiens get younger and more talented.


OUT:  Ryan Shannon, Curtis McElhinney, Ryan Potulny

IN: Paul MacLean (Head Coach) Nikita Filatov, Zenon Konopka, Mark Parrish, Alex Auld, Mike McKenna

The Ottawa Senators were in the position of not having to be active in the free agent market, with a lot of their roster spots accounted for from within.  The late season purge of players netted the Senators a number of quality prospects as well as a new starting point for salary structure.  Still not overly talented up front, the Senators will be offensively challenged again this season.  Other than Spezza, Alfredsson and (if he can find his game) Filatov, there are no pure scorers on the roster.  Bobby Butler remains the lone significant RFA on the roster, and could be among the top 6 forwards when he resigns.  Bryan Murray chose to sit out of the Free Agent insanity for the most part.  Konopka adds leadership, grit and toughness to the fourth line, and Auld is a known commodity brought in for 15-20 starts at the most.

OUT:  J.S. Giguere, Tim Brent, Brett Lebda, Christian Hanson

IN: Tim Connolly, John-Michael Liles, Cody Franson, Matthew Lombardi, Phillippe Dupuis

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke lost out on the Brad Richards sweepstakes, but give him a little bit of credit for avoiding the insanity that was his deal with the New York Rangers.  He did land his Plan ‘B’ in Tim Connolly, and a potential steal if Matt Lombardi can recover from post-concussion syndrome.  Lombardi was forced on the Leafs as a  salary dump from the Predators in the Cody Franson deal, but if he can be healty, Lombardi brings a top line presence.  The only RFA of consequence still to deal with is Luke Schenn, but that deal should get done with relative ease.With the additions of Liles and Franson, Mike Komisarek essentially becomes a 7th defenseman.  Already eating the horrible Jeff Finger contract, I think Burke will be looking for someone to dump Komisarek’s $4.5 M cap hit on.

OUT:  Radek Dvorak, Anthony Stewart

IN: Claude Noel (Head Coach), Tanner Glass, Rick Rypien, Randy Jones, Derek Meech, Eric Fehr

Everything will be new for the Winnipeg Jets this season.  The franchise will have the off-ice support in Winnipeg that they never had in Atlanta.  They have added some offensive punch from the blue line in Jones and Meech, the latter of whom never was able to crack the Detroit corps with any regularity.  Meech could be a nice surprise for the Jets.  The Jets also added local flavor in Eric Fehr and Rick Rypien (who played parts of 4 seasons with the AHL Manitoba Moose).  Management still has some work to do as Zach Bogosian and Blake Wheeler are two major components of the club that remain RFAs and need contracts.  The Jets could still make a major splash, as they need to add salary to get to the cap floor.

OUT: Adam Pardy, Robin Regehr, Ales Kotalik

IN: Jordan Henry, Chris Butler, Paul Byron

The Calgary Flames have been relatively quiet, preferring to wait it out and resign their own free agents that they deemed to be a part of the club going forward.  The trade of Regehr and unloading of Kotalik’s contract back to Buffalo netted the Flames a couple of young players while opening up some cap space.  Byron could be a steal, as he is small but underrated and if he gets a chance in Calgary, he could be a nice surprise.  GM Jay Feaster says he is not done, and rumours of trades involving big names have circulated for most of the early summer.

OUT: Sheldon Souray, Jim Vandermeer, J.F. Jacques, Colin Fraser, Zack Stortini, Kurtis Foster

IN:  Ryan Smyth, Eric Belanger, Darcy Hordichuk, Cam Barker, Ben Eager, Andy Sutton

Steve Tambellini remodeled the last place Edmonton Oilers, cutting ties with a number of disappointing players as well as losing some dead weight.  Bringing back Ryan Smyth is a coup that will only do good things on and off the ice.  Even if he isn’t the player he once was he can still give you 20+ goals and 45-50 pts.  Add that to the leadership and it is a winning formula for the Oilers.  Belanger brings a versatile presence and Eager and Hordichuk give protection to the Oilers’ young guns.  Cam Barker will be interesting to watch, as his career is beginning to get the “flop” tag.  He will be expected to provide the offense that Kurtis Foster was supposed to provide but left unfulfilled, hence the trade to the Ducks.  I will not use the “expert” joke for Sutton this time around, but he provides a defensive shutdown presence on the blue line.  A couple of RFAs, Andrew Cogliano and Taylor Chorney still need to be signed.  Cogliano lost some negotiating leverage with Belanger coming in, who essentially serves a similar purpose.

OUT:  Raffi Torres, Jeff Tambellini, Tanner Glass, Alex Bolduc, Rick Rypien

IN:  Marco Sturm, Mark Mancari, Alexander Sulzer, Andrew Ebbett

The Vancouver Canucks did some remodeling of their own, but it wasn’t quite as drastic.  Most of the losses were on the 3rd or 4th line, and the core players remain intact.  Sturm brings a competition for the 2nd line wingers, and insulates against the terrible freak injury suffered by Mason Raymond in the finals.  Mancari brings a combination of grit and unexpected touch.  Torres will be missed on the third line, but Mancari could fill that spot equally.

Come back next week for an overview of the activity of the Canadian NHL franchises, as they all ramp up to be the first Canadian-based team in 19 years to hoist the Stanley Cup.


Jared Crozier is also a contributing writer for SenShot on the Fansided Network.  He can be reached on twitter @alfieisgod or by email at