Nick Brunker's Blog
Welcome to August...
August 8, 2012 | View Comments
Before we get to the hockey news of the week...I wanted to welcome Tin Roof as the official sponsor of my blog! In addition, they'll be an official postgame party spot for Cyclones. Tin Roof is located at The Banks and is just a short walk from U.S. Bank Arena! Really looking forward to hanging out there this year!
As we roll into August, this is when things really begin to take shape for the Cyclones (and all NHL, AHL, and ECHL teams for that matter). On Tuesday, the Clones added another pair of forwards - Mike Embach and Blake Gallagher. With those additions, Cincy has now announced five forwards and two defensemen. Undoubtedly, there will be plenty more signings in the coming weeks!
Here's how the roster looks at this point:
Holes to Fill
GM David Poile will be turning his attention to signing restricted free-agent Shea Weber to a long-term deal. If he can't, look for Poile to make the hard decision to deal Weber, who can become an unrestricted free agent next July. In the meantime, there's the no small task of filling the hole left by Suter's departure. The Preds still have an impressive corps of blueliners, assuming Weber is part of that mix. There's also the issue of offense, as Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov, the midnight cowboys whose late-night high jinks contributed to the Preds' second-round playoff loss to Phoenix, won't be part of the mix next season.
The NHLPA is expected to respond to the League's first proposal at some point this week...Among the most pressing issues are: salary givebacks, a decreased share and re-definition of hockey-related revenue, as well as a revenue-sharing system that is not regarded to be significantly different from the one currently in place.
Courtesy of our friends at FloridaPanthers.com, here a breakdown of changes for the Cyclones parent club down south...
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).
Other Additions: F George Parros, C/RW Casey Wellman, F Jean-Francois Jacques, C Andre Deveaux.
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.
Other Keeps: G Scott Clemmensen, G Brian Foster, D Michael Caruso, C James Wright, D Keaton Ellerby
Speaking of Florida...ESPN.com has ranked them the top "prospect pipeline" in the NHL...take a look...
1. Florida Panthers (Previous Ranking: 1)
The Panthers have elite prospects and plenty of them. The offensive-minded Huberdeau (Saint John-QMJHL) heads up a list of players who have a chance to make an impact in the near future. Fellow forwards Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw-WHL) and Nick Bjugstad (Minnesota-NCAA) are joined by defensemen Alex Petrovic (RD-WHL) and Michael Matheson (Dubuque-USHL) -- this year's first-round selection -- to form a quality group of up-and-coming talents.
I imagine Huberdeau will stick in the NHL this season, while the rest of this group will marinate for another season.
Sleeper Prospect: Alexander Delnov, LW, (RUS) (fourth round/2012) His effort is first-rate and his talent is better than the average fourth-rounder. I can see him being a steal down the line.
Wila Ford is back on the market...she and Mike Modano called it quits...
Former Nashville goalie Anders Lindback hopes to be Tampa Bay's savior in goal....
Rick Nash thanks Columbus fans with Full-Page Ad in the Columbus Dispatch....classy move by a guy who certainly had a rocky finish in C-Bus...
The New York Brooklyn Islanders? One builder hopes that it could become reality...
After spending all that cash on Shea Weber, could the Predators be a player in the Shane Doan Sweepstakes?? Apparently so...
Don't forget to join us THIS SATURDAY (August 11) for another week of Concrete Clones! We'll be hanging out at the Western Hills Meijer from 11a-1p for some FREE street hockey, John Morrell hot dogs, Sun Drop, and Hawaiian Punch! Coach Skalde and Assistant Coach MacDonald will be on hand with me to hang out as well. Hope to see you there! RSVP now on Facebook!