The DWSHL’s star-studded free agency period is starting to wind down. Even though many top players have already signed, tons of talent still remains. Simon Gagne, Scott Gomez, Shane Doan, Dany Heatley, and Markus Naslund, just to name a few, will find themselves in new uniforms next season. Whos going where? Whos still available? One of the top GM’s in the leagues history steps down. CBA and hall of fame news as well as DL, JL, and trade reports. Read about all of this in the latest edition of “The Trap.”
The Blizzard quite possibly had the best free agency of any team, signing wingers Scott Gomez and Shane Doan as well as defenseman Danny Markov to multi-year deals. The team hopes to add a backup goaltender for Jean-Sebastien Aubin with its remaining cap space. Also, GM Mike Osterloh told reporters that Blizzard fans can expect to see young stars Dustin Brown, Anthony Stewart, Ryan Suter, Teemu Laakso, and Ryan Kesler play more prominent roles with the team this season.
The Houston Hornets inked one of the biggest names in free agency, adding superstar Simon Gagne. Other key signings include defensive trio Jean-Micheal Liles, Derek Morris, and Tomas Kloucek. It is expected that top prospects Jonathon Toews and Phil Kessel will play alongside each other this season, once they sign their professional deals.
The Winnipeg T-Rex have finally committed to building around a young team. Ryley Weir doesn't expect his team to make the playoffs this year, but says it would be a huge bonus if they do. The T-Rex acquired key players Brendan Witt, Andrew Ference, Dany Heatley and Ryan Miller through free agency. They also had another solid draft, picking up Erik Johnson and many other great talents. The team is solid all around and next season, intends on winning the Big Canada division.
The Arizona Phantoms brought back captain Mats Sundin and add defenseman Mathieu Schneider via free agency. The signings came in the wake of dealing goaltender Martin Brodeur to the Icedogs, in exchange for Bobby Ryan and Jiri Hudler. The Phantoms had also traded Steve Yzerman to Kingston earlier in the offseason in exchange for top prospect Eric Fehr and a draft choice.
Markus Naslund signed a lucrative one-year deal with the Michigan Falcons in hopes of contending for another Drunks Cup. Randy Steffer has improved his team even further and is considered the favorite heading into season 9.
The Edmonton Racers resigned franchise player Marian Gaborik to a $48 million deal and abruptly garnered criticism from many around the league.
Breaking news out of Antwerp has star center Saku Koivu signing with the Icebats.
After a succesful transitional offseason where the IceDogs managed to resign super star Nick Lidstrom and put to rest their goaltending question by picking up Marty Brodeur, GM Brett Harvie says he may not be done.
The Montreal Chevaliers moves have seemingly flown under the radar, re-signing star Teemu Selanne while adding Mattias Ohlund via trade and Brendan Morrow through free agency.
Despite the signing of future starter Alex Auld, the Rams are still in the market for a goaltender this season. GM Jason Mazzei is less then thrilled with the idea of going with Jocelyn Thibault, but may have no choice. Along with Auld, the Rams were able to add winger Jochen Hecht to their lineup this offseason.
The Reno Riptide got their own extreme makeover this offseason adding a new coach and a slew of new players. With loads of cap space, the Riptide had plenty of room to manouver in FA and they did just that. They signed a wealth of free agents to complement the youth they got back in exchange for players they traded away. Expect Steve Davey to continue re-shaping the team by singing their prospects, adding more free agents, and seeing whats else is on the trade market.
In other free agency news, Hanover was able to lure back centers Vinny Lecavalier and Marc Savard with 4-year deals, the Wolves inked Jamie Langenbrunner for 4, and the Nighthawks locked up young stud defenseman Niklas Kronwall long term as well. The Bison, Storm, Piranhas, Brahmas, and Vikings have all been relatively quiet up until this point.
Derian Hatcher is reportedly considering reuniting with Chris Chugg in Long Beach. Other options for Hatcher appear to be staying in Toronto or heading to Michigan and the defending champion Falcons.
Milan Hejduk is among the top forwards remaining on the board but hasn't seen the quality of offers he had hoped for. One scenario has him heading to Long Beach where he spent part of last year.
To go along with Hatcher and Hejduk, top remaining UFA’s include the Battalion’s Brian Leetch and Sergei Samsonov, Alexei Kovalev of the Hornets, Jason Arnott of the Storm, and the Crunch’s Alexander Mogilny. The top RFA is defenseman Dion Phanuef of the Nighthawks. With this year's bulk free agent crop many players figure to be available up to and into the regular season as most major players have exerted their cap space.
On the trade front, the defensively rid Quebec Crunch appear close to making a shakeup on offense with Patrik Elias among those that could be dealt. Its rumored that Elias could be on his way to the Falcons in exchange for goaltender Marty Turco. Kingston has also been tied to major trade rumors with the Crunch.
Word out of Nashville has the Battalion adding a top line forward in the days to come, with Sergei Zubov to be used as a key trading chip.
Cannons GM Vinnie Villa has announced his intent to rebuild the franchise. Big names on the block are Manny Fernandez, Lubomir Visnovsky, Mike Knuble and Cale Hulse.
Sources close to Sergei Federov has him frustrated at the vast media coverage in New York and demands a trade before even playing a game.
The Houston Hornets are looking for a goalie, with possibilities including John Grahame from QC, or Jocelyn Thibault from the Rams.
The Antwerp Icebats are still looking to deal defenseman Mattias Norstrom. The asking price is a 2nd round draft choice.
Stockholm and Washington figure to be among the upcoming movers as both are flirting with the salary cap.
Rumors are swirling of a major shakeup amongst GMs with Jacksonville's Brian Pate vowing to depart and likely dragging Ottawa's Steve Sippert along. English fans continue in misery as GM Colin Budd has left the Blaze prior to icing his first team. Also, in Boston, Kyle Bender's time has expired and the Bandits will employ a new GM.
Falcons GM Randy Steffer and newly signed coach Marc Crawford have already been seen having arguments on the direction of the team. Could Crawford be out even before he steps in?
The Long Beach Brahmas and Ottawa Attack are among those who are still in the market for head coaches heading into DWSHL9.
Around the league
With the resurrection of the Toronto Skyleafs and the improvement of the Crunch the Big Canada could again be the toughest division in the DWSHL.
In Helsinki, the fans may finally have something to look forward as the Nighthawks have made some small but effective moves and may be able to contend for the eighth seed in the JD.
Expect the DWSHL to emphasize and enforce roster limit and salary cap space for DWSHL9.
Early indications have the Hall of Fame making great strides in DWSHL9 electing at least one and possibly two classes.
The formation of two groups to discuss the CBA is imminent and may come before the regular season.
Joffrey Lupul; Montreal Monarchs - His unlimited offensive potential gives him a great shot at saying goodbye to the DL and making the Chevaliers roster this season.
Steve Bernier; Sudbury Mosquitoes - GM Smith traded an old Mike Knuble to get a young one. Bernier is a great pickup and will help this team next season.
Robert Nilsson; Reno Gamblers - One of the top prospects in the Riptide organization, the flashy Nilsson hopes to make in impact for his new team in the near future.
Sasha Pokulok; Tampa Scarecrows - Defenseman with loads of talent, that will anchor the Scarecrows blueline for the next few seasons before making the transition to the pros.
The Selkirk Rush are looking to defend their title. The Rush already have 2 DWSDL championships and now look to pull a back-to back. It's going to be tough as they are losing marquee stars, who combined scored 447 points in the DL. They also will have a tough time facing the Hornets and Rams, as their projected rosters are amazing. The team does have help coming down in Andrew Ferrence, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and recent draftee's.
Players announced so far that are returning to their junior clubs are: John Armstrong (Broncos) Robin Lindqvist (Thunder) John Hughes (Broncos)
Keaton Turkiewicz (Broncos) Francois Chabot (Olympiques) David Zima (Knights)
To Skyleafs: Adam Hall, Steve Eminger, Anton Babchuk
To Racers: Pavel Kubina, Kyle Calder
Edmonton paid a lot to solidify their 2nd line defense. They gave up a huge prospect in Babchuk, and decent depth in Eminger and Hall. Kubina helps negate the loss of Derek Morris.
To Kings: Brian Rolston
To Icebats: 2010 2nd, 3rd
This deal seems to benefit both. Rolston was making close to 2 million and is on a 1 year deal and his talents were being wasted on the 3rd line. Still, Ommen could have moved Rolston to the right side, where he is lacking severely. The Kings appear to be using Rolston in the same role as he would have player with the Icebats, 3rd line.
To Cannons: Jan Bulis
To Crunch: 2010 4th
This deal was a steal for the Cannons. Bulis gives the team a good and reliable underrated Jan Bulis. The Crunch must have been drunk when this deal went on. Last I knew they needed quality centers, and they dealt a good one. Bulis was going to be their 2nd line center, now the team will replace the talented Bulis with washed up farm players. - (R.W.)
To Crunch: Shaonne Morrisonn
To Falcons 2011 3rd
Morrison hasn't met his potential for the Falcons, and his high salary got him the boot. The Crunch pick up a young defenseman, which they need badly. Morrison is a good addition to a weak defense, but still isnt worth of the top 2 lines.
To Vipers: Tim Connolly, Jason Blake
To Racers: Mike Comrie, 2010 4th, $750,000
Racers GM Umbi De Biasi and Tim Connolly reportedly had rocky contract negotiations which quickly led to his departure from Edmonton. The Vipers pick up two roster players for one and if GM Fiore can ink Connolly, this is looking like a solid deal for NY.
The DWSHL and its GM’s would like to thank Brian Pate for all he has done with our league. We wish him well and hope to one day see him return.