There are a lot of things left to do this summer for some teams. A few still have not held their prospect camps. These camps do impact teams free agent movement, particularly for depth positions. Players who decide they will leave college early, or who might make the jump to the pros from juniors will impact signings from the NHL down through the AHL and ECHL as well.
3: Where do they all land? Big name bingo, will Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Jay Bouwmeester, and other of the rumored trade pieces actually be moved? Will the most notable injured players retire, return or linger in limbo? Even playing at a level reduced by age Chris Pronger would still be a big addition to the Flyers, Nathan Horton’s big body and heavy shot can do a lot to help the Boston Bruins powerplay, and Marian Hossa is an essential part of the Chicago Blackhawks. Then there are the free agents who will affect marketing, ticket sales, drafting, and of course winning and losing. Doan, Colaicavo, Semin, Selanne and the rest are each impact players who won’t cost anything but a contract and salary.
2: CBA In Play? The question of the new collective bargaining agreement is as currently positioned by both sides optimistic. As a fan, I’d feel more comfortable if they put together a formal agreement to continue for the next season with the current CBA even if they don’t reach a new one. What will the new agreement look like? Will it include some exceptions to the cap? Perhaps a catastrophic injury clause? Or the elimination of the +35 contract?
1: And now growth? With the Coyotes headed towards a final resolution in Glendale, and the Islanders looking like they might end up with an arena on Long Island, and the New Jersey Devils hoping to quash their financial drama, is it time to eye expansion? If expansion is the aim, and with teams like Carolina and and Nashville spending big in small markets, the time might be ripe, isn’t the iron hot now? Quebec City and Saskatchewan have expressed their desire to have teams north of the border. None of them would involve the nasty infighting among ownership that a second greater Toronto area team might. South of the border their are a lot of cities that make sense, the Houston, Tx area is the largest US metropolitan area without an NHL franchise, and with the Dallas market starting to produce NHL players and draftees a second team in a state with a population that compares to all of Canada’s, just make sense. Other much discussed locations include Seattle, Wa, Las Vegas, and Kansas City.