by Jeremy "Fasttalker" Bjornberg - 09/01/2005
The NHL small revenue teams have reacted to the new contract terms by being very aggressive on the free agent market. Players from Peter Forsberg to Andrew Brunette transferred teams. It was surprising to me that Forsberg would take a deal quickly, considering he is the top player in the game and didn't get much from the Philadelphia Flyers at a little over $5 million a year.
Pittsburgh has been painfully cash strapped for years and managed to land the top power play defensemen available in Sergei Gonchar. The Penguins may have had the best offseason in hockey, also adding Mark Recchi, John LeClair, Ziggy Palffy and goaltender Jocelyn Thibault. Besides that, the Penguins of course also landed teenage phenom Sidney Crosby. If Crosby can live up to the hype, the Penguins may not only have the best power play, but maybe the best team in hockey.
Many teams were too close to the cap to keep their current roster. The St. Louis Blues took a huge hit when they lost all world defenseman Chris Pronger in a trade to the Edmonton Oilers for forward Mike York. Pronger was the heart and soul of the team but does have a penchant for stupid penalties. Time will tell if he has enough left to restore the Oilers to their old glory.
The Flyers did add Forsberg and a couple of huge defenseman, but had to lose captain Jeremy Roenick to the Los Angeles Kings. After all the talking Roenick did during the lockout, I think the Flyers just wanted his big mouth out of town too. Philly does still have a few holes but Forsberg is one of the only players in the NHL who makes their team better, so maybe he can push them to the Stanley Cup Finals.
It is going to be hard for hockey fans to keep up with all the traffic going on. Another surprising aspect has to be the coaching debut of Wayne Gretzky. Not content being team president and part-owner, Gretzky is taking on the challenge of coaching the Phoenix Coyotes. The best player of all time deserves better than this roster of role players. The Coyotes did add net minder Curtis Joseph, but that won't be enough for even Gretzky to turn around the team.
Doc's will do a thorough review of all the trades and signings once the frenzy is over. Doc's will also be adding hockey picks and information on an up-to-date basis, giving everyone the opportunity to profit from the "new" NHL.