Breaking down the off-season moves (both through trades and free agency) for the Southeast Division.
The Southeast division will look much different this upcoming season thanks to a number of moves made in Free Agency and through trades this offseason. Every team in the division made moves to help bolster their teams and it should make for a more exciting season. Ahead is a breakdown of each team in the division and the moves they made.
2011-2012: 1st in Southeast Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference
Key Additions: While the Panthers were not as active in Free Agency as they were last season, they still managed to make some moves this offseason. The key acquisitions for the Panthers were forward Peter Mueller and defenseman Filip Kuba.
Mueller, an offensively gifted forward who has suffered through some injuries early on in his career, has played the past two years for the Colorado Avalanche. This past season Mueller played in 32 games and totaled 16 points (seven goals, nine assists). His best season in the NHL was in his first year with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2007-2008 when the former first rounder totaled 54 points in 81 games.
Kuba will be making a return to the team that drafted him. Kuba has played the last two seasons for the Ottawa Senators and last season he had one of his better years in the NHL, scoring 32 points (six goals, 26 assists) in 73 games as he helped fellow blueliner Erik Karlsson win the Norris Trophy (given to league's Best Defenseman).
Key Loss: The Panthers had a couple of big losses this offseason but no one more than the loss of defenseman Jason Garrison. Garrison will undoubtedly be missed as he had the highest player rating and had the most power play goals on the team last season. His heavy shot from the point, especially on the man advantage, earned him the most goals (16) by a defenseman in franchise history. The Panthers are hoping that Kuba can fill the void.
Other Losses: F Mikael Samuelsson, F Wojtek Wolski, D Krys Barch, F Bracken Kearns, F Jonathan Matsumoto
Key Keep: As bad as it was losing Garrison, re-signing F Kris Versteeg was a huge move in the right direction. Versteeg was second on the team with five game winning goals and 23 total goals. His career-high contributions were instrumental in the Panthers push for the playoffs and they will continue to see that for at least the next four seasons.
2011-2012: 2nd in Southeast Division, 7th in Eastern Conference
Key Additions: The Capitals weren’t extremely aggressive in Free Agency, but they did pull off a trade with the Dallas Stars for center Mike Ribeiro.
Ribeiro is a talented player who has scored at least 50 points in six consecutive seasons. Alex Ovechkin and Ribeiro should be a lethal combination for opposing defenses, especially when it comes to the power play.
The Capitals also signed forward Wojtek Wolski, who spent time with the Panthers last season. Wolski only scored nine points in 22 games. The Poland born player will be looking to revitalize his career with the Caps.
Other Additions: F Ryan Stoa, D Jack Hillen, F Joey Crabb, D Garrett Stafford.
Key Loss: The Capitals had a couple of key losses but the biggest one might be defenseman Dennis Wideman. The offensive defenseman played his first full season last year and accumulated 46 points (35 assists, 11 goals) on his way to being named an All-Star.
Other Losses: F Alexander Semin, G Tomas Vokoun, F Joel Rechlicz, F Jeff Halpern, F Christian Hanson, F Keith Aucoin.
Key Keep: The main player the Capitals locked up was D Mike Green. When healthy, Green can flat out score as he had back-to-back 70 point seasons in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. The Capitals are hoping Green can get back into top form next season.
Other Keeps: F Zach Hamill, F Jay Beagle, C Mathieu Perreault, D Kevin Marshall
Tampa Bay Lightning
2011-2012: 3rd in Southeast Division, 10th in Eastern Conference
Key Additions: With sharpshooter Steven Stamkos already on the team, the Lightning went defensive in their off-season moves by bringing in defenseman Matt Carle and goaltender Anders Lindback.
Carle has been a pretty solid player throughout his career. He has had at least 20 points in the past four seasons with the Flyers in addition to having one of his best seasons last year. He showed his durability by playing a full 82 game season and totaling 38 points.
Lindback has shown promise in his two years in the NHL and the Lightning are banking on that as they hope he can be their number one netminder. In 13 games last season for the Predators, Lindback had a 2.42 GAA and a 91.2 save percentage.
Other Additions: D Sami Salo, F Benoit Pouliot, F BJ Crombeen, D Matt Taormina
Key Loss: The biggest loss for Tampa Bay was blueliner Bruno Gervais, who is now a member of the Flyers. The defensive defenseman totaled 13 points in 50 games in his first and only season with the Lightning.
Other Losses: F Tim Wallace, F Brandon Segal, F Trevor Smith, D Mike Kostka
Key Keep: It was vital that the Lightning re-sign forward Teddy Purcell and they did just that. Purcell led the team in player rating at plus-nine and was third on the team in points with 65. Purcell is an important piece for the Lightning moving forward.
2011-2012: 4th in Southeast Division, 11th in Eastern Conference
Key Additions: The Jets almost made the playoffs in their return to the league last year, fighting to the final month for a playoff spot. With that they looked to upgrad the offense as they made a splash in Free Agency when they signed forwards Olli Jokinen and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Last season, the former Florida Panther had his best season since leaving Florida. Despite playing injured the majority of the season, Jokinen had 61 points, with 23 goals and 38 assists for the Calgary Flames. Jokinen has had 50 or more points the past nine seasons.
Ponikarovsky has bounced around the past few seasons. Between the Hurricanes and Devils last season, the Russian born player totaled 33 points in 82 games. The Jets are hoping for the Winger to get back to his Toronto days where the big forward had at least 35 points in each of his five seasons there.
Other Additions: G Mark Dekanich, G Al Montoya
Key Loss: The key loss for the Jets was goaltender Chris Mason. Last season, Mason had a 2.59 GAA and an 89.8 save percentage. While the numbers may not jump off the page, Mason was a solid backup for starting netminder Ondrej Pavelec.
Other Losses: F Tanner Glass, F Tim Stapleton, F Riley Holzapfel
Key Keep: Once Evander Kane signs a long term deal, the young power forward will be a key keep but getting back forward Kyle Wellwood was important for the Jets to accomplish this offseason. Wellwood was in the top five on the team in points (47) and had the best shooting percentage (19.4%) among skaters.
Other Keeps: F Maxime Macenauer, D Paul Postma, F Ben Maxwell.
2011-2012: 5th in Southeast Division, 12th in Eastern Conference
Key Additions: The Hurricanes made headlines all over hockey when they made a blockbuster trade to acquire center Jordan Staal from the Penguins at the NHL draft and then signed talented winger Alexander Semin late in July.
Staal is one of the best all-around players in the NHL and last season he had 50 points with a plus-eleven player rating and that was with playing behind all-world players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin at the center spot. He will bring much needed offense as he teams with his older brother Eric Staal to the anemic Hurricanes that finished last in the Southeast.
The Hurricanes also signed Semin from the Capitals. Semin has played his entire NHL career for Washington and has had a solid career. He totaled 54 points (21 goals, 33 assists) last season in 77 games. Semin will be looking to be a part of the resurgence of the franchise along with Staal.
Other Additions: F Tim Wallace, D Marc-Andre Gragnani
Key Loss: The main loss for the Hurricanes was C Brandon Sutter who was part of the trade for Staal. At some point, you have to make a tough decision if you want to acquire an elite player and that is what the Hurricanes did. The 23-year-old Sutter has a bright future in the NHL as a two-way forward as he has accumulated at least 29 points in three consecutive seasons.
Other Losses: D Derek Joslin, D Bryan Allen, D Brian Dumoulin
Key Keep: Backup goalie, Justin Peters was the best player the Hurricanes re-signed. In seven games last season, Peters had a 2.48 GAA and a 93.1 save percentage.
Other Keeps: F Zach Boychuk, F Drayson Bowman, F Jerome Samson, F Chris Terry, F Brett Sutter