Overall this free agent class lacks depth, the left wing is perhaps the shallowest for top six pickings.

Vinny Prospal at 38 is had a productive year for the putting up .63ppg for Columbus after a stop in the Czech league. His numbers were pretty consistent through out the season. He clearly contributed to the Blue Jackets push towards the playoffs int he last half of the season. The 1993 entry draft 3rd round selection has 65 games of NHL playoff experience.

Victor Stalberg, with stops in the SHL (SEL) and KHL during the lockout, Stalberg may have played more professional hockey last year than any other NHL player with 72 regular season games, then 19 more in the playoffs for the Blackhawks. A middle or bottom six player on elite teams, Stalberg may just have the tools to play further up on some teams, at 27 there’s more tread on the tires than most of this UFA class of left wings posses.

Simon Gagne at 33 this injury prone but undeniably talented winger has played for Tampa Bay and Los Angeles while spending the bulk of his career with the Flyers. Any team looking for a potential impact player fairly inexpensively should look at Gagne, he might be this years Brad Boyes.

Nathan Gerbe is a one of the smallest players in the NHL, which has never stopped him from playing a physical game above his weight class. A depth forward who has played in all situations, he also has better playoff points per game than regular season. The former Boston College Eagle, and River City Lancer (USHL) may be a victim of Buffalo’s apparent clean sweep program.

Alexei Ponikarovsky is one of those wingers who played his best hockey early in his career and has bounced around the league trying to find his niche again.  Clearly there is something there other wise Lou Lamoriello wouldn’t have added him to the roster twice in the past few years, but maybe that something takes vacations from time to time.

Former St Louis Blue, Boston Bruin, Florida Panther, and Washington Capital Dennis Wideman is now and likely for the next five years a member of the Calgary Flames. On Wednesday he signed a five year deal contract worth $26.25million. Jay Feaster clearly felt that a mediocre skater who has never been on a team that made it past the second round, has been jettisoned by four teams, is a career -39, and who boasts just one goal in 44 playoff appearances is worth five and a quarter million in cap space each year. My opinion is that Seth Jones should get familiar with the Calgary real estate market.

Mathieu Darche has rejected a Habs offer of a a two way contract. The well traveled thirty six year old is also a member of the NHLPA negotiating team. The three time 30 goal scorer at the AHL level has never hit even 15 in the NHL topping out at twelve. Presumably he’ll be looking for a deal roughly equal to his most recent and potentially even a two year deal. No word on if he’ll attempt to sign in Boston as several past recovering Candiens have.

Boston Bruins development camp is starting on Thurday, prospects have been trickling including 6’2 Florida born forward Brian Ferlin:

Ferlin was taken in the fourth round in 2011 and attends Cornell University. The Indiana Ice alumni will find himself sharing a locker room with former and current Boston College Eagles, OHL champions, Texan Colton Hargrove, Brit Cody Payne and the rest of the hopefuls.

The Bruins released the their development camp roster today with some interesting additions to their own prospect pool.

Parker Milner who needs no introduction to college hockey fans is on the invite list. The Boston College Eagle goaltender will be joining former (and future) teammate Tommy Cross this week.

Justin Courtnall is a 215 lb forward who will help round out the roster. The British Columbia boy is another college product.

The blueline beef will feature another 215lber in defenseman Chris Castro.

Local boy Wayne Simpson will get to pull on the spoked-b.

Daniel Carr of Union College and Alberta, Colin Campbell of Lake Superior State University and Ontario, and Darik Angeli of Ohio State University and Lakewook Colorado round out the invitees.

Who are you most excited about?

The NHL Entry Draft is perhaps the most exciting day on the NHL schedule. July 1st as the start of Free Agency is fun, but not as good. The trade deadline is probably third, after opening day. The trades are just one of the things that make the day fun.

The New York Islanders made a savvy pickup relieving the Anaheim Ducks of Lubomir Visnovsky. The soon to be 36 year old is on the last year of his contract and will likely be in the dual roll of top defensemen and mentor to the young blueliners. Calvin de Hann will undoubtedly benefit from Visnovsky’s nearly 800 games of NHL experience, this years first round pick Reinhart may get some time riding shotgun as may Scott Mayfield. The Islanders gave up a 2nd round pick in next years draft

The Pittsburgh Penguins sent Zbynek Michalek to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Harrison Ruopp, Marc Cheverie and pick #81 (3rd round). This was the second trade of the night for the Penguins.

In the biggest trade of the day, the worlds best 3rd center Jordan Staal was relieved of that title and an address in Pittsburgh area. Instead he’ll be playing with elder brother and fellow Stanley Cup champion Eric Staal. There are a number of possibilities for how Jordan and Eric are deployed separately and together. Going back tot he steel city are, Brandon Sutter, this years 8th pick Derrick Pouliot, and Boston College alumni Brian Dumoulin. This is a win, win bigger trade. The Hurricanes overpaid, but got a player who wants to be there, will have chemistry with at least one other player, and yes is very highly talented.

The Washington Capitals grabbed Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars for Cody Eakin and the 54th pick. That second round pick will be deployed sometime saturday morning. This is a curious move for the Capitals who have had one or two questions about their commitment and character and Mike Ribeiro is well, Mike Ribeiro. On the other hand I not only haven’t figured out what method George Mcfee is using to shape the team, I haven’t figured out how he’s still employed.

Like most New Englanders there’s not a lot in the way of college sports in my life. I do try and remedy that by flicking on a game here or there. Tournaments always draw my attention. Tournaments that feature some prominent NHL prospects more so. New York Rangers prospect Chris Kreider, Chicago BlackHawks Sophomore Kevin Hayes, and Boston Bruins blueliner of the future Tommy Cross headlined for the counts of the Conte Forum.

The visitors from Umass Amherst were a little lighter on NHL prospects. The final count for NHL prospects on the rosters was nine for Boston College and one for UMass Amherst. Teamwork, good coaching, and heart are more important in hockey than in any other sport. In the the first two periods the Boston College dominated play, aided by a five minute major to Steven Guzzo of UMass in the early first period.

The best player of the game was not a however a player who had their name called in the NHL draft. It was wasn’t even a member of the Eagles. Manapalan New Jersey’s Kevin Boyle stood between the pipes for the Minutemen. He was all UMass needed to make it a game at 6 foot 1 he’s smaller than the current trend towards gigantic goalies in the NHL, but about the same size as the last three men to win the Vezina, Tim Thomas, Ryan Miller and Martin Broduer. With an average goalie the game would have been out of hand by the end of the first period as the Eagles kept UMass hemmed in for most of the major and then rest of the period as well.

The third period belonged to Boyle and two other UMass players. Don Cohoon took his best skaters and barred them from the bench. Michael Marcou and Joel Hanley probably put in over twelve minutes a piece in the third period, after taking regular shifts in the first and second. In their own zone they got to pucks first and got them out. In the offensive zone their passing and puck protection was key. With just a little more luck, or Guzzo not getting tossed for hitting from behind minutes into the game Boyle, Marcou and Hanley would have stood equal to or better than all the NHL prospects on the other side.

Final score Boston College Eagles 3 – UMass Amherst MinuteMen 2.

The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks may only play once or twice a year in the regular season, but don’t think you won’t know some of the players suiting up for the other team.

Chris Higgins, former Canadiens winger turned vagabond has settled into a role with the Canucks that see’s him playing in all situations. Among other fond memories for Bruins fans will be his saying the Habs would win because “we’re faster” during the 2008-09 playoffs. The Bruins swept that series.

Maxim Lappiere, like his former Montreal running mate Higgins this isn’t his first stop since leaving Quebec. Anaheim was a short term stop before he was shoveled out the door at the deadline. Playing on three teams this season he stacked up an impressive six goals, 12 points 81 penalty minute -14 and an untallied triple digit number of dives.

Andrew Alberts. The former BC Eagle is one of the three or four hundred guys to have suited up for the the defense of the Vancouver Canucks. He got into the linueup forty two times in the regular season and three in the postseason.

Cory Schnieder, another former BC Eagle is has not played for the Bruins but is a Marblehead native who went to Phillips Andover accademy and has better numbers this year in both regular season and playoffs in GAA and Sv% than the starter that Chicago fans refer to as “Lolongo”. Maybe when Bobby Lou said Schnieder was just as good as he was it was an understatement?

Milan Lucic grew up in Vancouver British Columbia, and is treated like a rockstar when he returns in part because of The Shift and won the Memorial Cup MVP.

Future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi is from Kaloomps about three and half hours outside Vancouver according to the GPS, or maybe two hours forty five minutes for most of my fellow Massholes.