NHL free agent preview: Northwest Division

TheHockeyNews Ryan Dixon
Share This Story


Calgary Flames

Cap Space – $6.8 million

UFAsCraig Conroy, C; Christopher Higgins, LW; Jamal Mayers, RW; Brian McGrattan, RW; Garth Murray, C; Eric Nystrom, C; Colin Stuart, LW; Vesa Toskala, G

RFAsKris Chucko, RW; Matt Keetley, G; Matt Pelech, D; Brett Sutter, LW; Ian White, D

Needs – Stop us when you’ve heard this before, but Jarome Iginla could really use a center to play with. If Jay Bouwmeester and Robyn Regehr bounce back, the blueline will be OK, but assuming Toskala walks, the search for a competent backup is back on in Calgary.

Ready for the big timeMikael Backlund played 23 games to close out the year and the young Swede found the net just once. Now that he’s got his feet wet, the Flames will expect Backlund to squeeze more offense out of his ample talent.

Colorado Avalanche

Cap Space – $29.4 million

UFAsBrett Clark, D; Chris Durno, LW; Matt Hendricks, RW; Ruslan Salei, D; Marek Svatos, LW; Darcy Tucker, LW; Brian Willsie, RW; Stephane Yelle, C

NHL free agency

NHL free agency
What's the latest on NHL free agency? We've got you covered.

RFAsPeter Mueller, LW; Wes O’Neill, D; Chris Stewart, RW; Derek Peltier, D; Kyle Quincey, D; Brandon Yip, RW

Needs – Defense. The stock of young players up front is impressive, but the strong play of goalie Craig Anderson – a great signing from last summer – often masked the fact Colorado’s ‘D’ core was too easily overwhelmed.

Ready for the big time – Despite some openings on the blueline, you have to think rearguard Kevin Shattenkirk will get some American League seasoning before making the jump. But one player with pro experience ready to make the leap full-time is left winger Ryan Stoa.

Edmonton Oilers

Cap Space – $15.1 million

UFAs – Dean Arsene, D; Mike Comrie, C; Aaron Johnson, D; Fernando Pisani, RW; Ryan Stone, LW; Jason Strudwick, D

RFAsGilbert Brule, RW; Andrew Cogliano, C; Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, G; Devan Dubnyk, G; Colin Fraser, C; Sam Gagner, C; Jean-Francois Jacques, LW; Ryan O’Marra, C; Theo Peckham, D; Ryan Potulny, C; Marc Pouliot, C; Liam Reddox, LW

Needs – The Oilers need size up front, as too many of their players are cut from the small-and-speedy mold. When you finish last overall, a lot of areas are begging for help, so a blueline upgrade would go a long way, too. Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid are decent puckmovers, but none of them make much of a physical impression.

Ready for the big time – Who else but the No. 1 overall pick in the draft? Taylor Hall is a dynamic goal-scorer who’s expected to lead Edmonton for years to come. He won’t be asked to shoulder the entire load in Year 1, but clearly some magic is expected from the only two-time Memorial Cup MVP in the tournament’s history.

Minnesota Wild

Cap Space – $11.5 million

UFAsDerek Boogaard, LW; Wade Dubielewicz, G; Andrew Ebbett, C; Shane Hnidy, D; Owen Nolan, RW; John Scott, D; Jaime Sifers, D; Nathan Smith, C; Petr Sykora, RW

RFAsJosh Harding, G; Guillaume Latendresse, LW; Anton Khudobin, G; Nate Prosser, D; Roman Voloshenko, LW

Needs – Minnesota remains a goal-starved region and if the open market doesn’t yield any more offense, the Wild will have to start thinking about parlaying its relative depth on the blueline into some forwards with touch.

Ready for the big timeColton Gillies…for real this time. The rugged left winger played 45 games with the Wild in 2008-09 before spending all of last year in the AHL with Houston after the new management regime decided it was better for his development. He’s not going to light it up, but he won’t take nights off, either.

Vancouver Canucks

Cap Space – $9.9 million

UFAsPavol Demitra, LW; Ryan Johnson, C; Brad Lukowich, D; Willie Mitchell, D; Lawrence Nycholat, D; Matt Pettinger, LW; Andrew Raycroft, G; Yan Stastny, LW; Kyle Wellwood, C

RFAs – Mike Funk, D; Tanner Glass, LW; Jannik Hansen, RW; Shane O’Brien, D; Mason Raymond, LW

Needs – The forward crew is solid, so the focus is on the back end. Even with the addition of Keith Ballard from Florida, Vancouver could use a boost on the blueline. It’s expected veteran Willie Mitchell will walk and he’s been a very steady presence when healthy the past few years.

Ready for the big time – Goalie Cory Schneider has been ready to make the jump for some time now, but big Roberto Luongo has been blocking the way. Luongo had some struggles in the playoffs last year, so you have to think the door is more open than ever for Schneider to steal some playing time.


Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

Tagged: Flames, Oilers, Avalanche, Canucks, Wild, Matt Pettinger, Ryan Johnson, Willie Mitchell, Andrew Raycroft, Yan Stastny, Ryan Whitney, Ian White, Ryan Potulny, Andrew Ebbett, Chris Stewart, Matt Pelech, Ryan Stone, Chris Durno, John Scott, Andrew Cogliano, Matt Keetley, Matt Hendricks, Ryan Stoa

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

Toews, Kane: Easy decision to resign with Blackhawks Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane say their decision to sign matching 8-year, $84M...

LA mayor 'F-bombs' Kings rally Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt