25 or so days and the 2009/2010 season will be upon us. Today, several rookie tournaments kick off which will give teams a look at the future of their franchises. I couldn't be happier that training camp is about kick off, as its been a long offseason and with all off-season changes that have taken place league-wide, everyone should be intrigued by what is to come over the next year.
The big news of yesterday was the Leafs spending a 2nd round pick in 2011 and a 3rd rounder in 2010 to re-acquire their own 2010 2nd round pick (which was originally traded to Montreal for Grabovski).
Speculation is that the Leafs are gearing up for an offer sheet on Kessel, but don't get too ahead of yourself. This move was done by Burke to put pressure on the Bruins to make a deal. While a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick would be great for the Bruins, losing Kessel for no immediate return is something they are trying to avoid. The Bruins are expected to compete for the Eastern title this year, and losing Kessel would be a huge obstacle for the team to overcome. The Leafs would love to work out a trade for Kessel, but failing that, an offer sheet isn't out of the question.
The other two big RFAs, Buffalo's Stafford and NYR's Dubinsky, remain unsigned as we head into training camp. Both of these players are expected to be large parts of their team this season, and both teams are hopeful that these players will be in their opening night lineup. However, as with Kessel, the closer we get to the puck dropping, the more tempted teams who lost out on UFA's are to drop an offer sheet.
The Zherdev question remains; Where will he play 09-10? The earlier reports of him going to the KHL were a little premature, and the NHL is still a possibility. The Thrashers are the team to watch, as they believe Zherdev would be a great help in getting Kovalchuk to sign long term. Kovalchuk is slated to become UFA #1 on July 1, 2010.
Luongo's 12 year deal, despite the similar terms, sits with me a million times better than DiPietro's 15 year deal. Sadly, their salaries are not that far off...
Mats Sundin, remember when we were told you'd make a decision in the next week? That was two and a half weeks ago. At least he's managed to stay out of the spot light for the majority of the Summer. I see him going to Vancouver or NYR, though I still believe a Toronto return is never out of the question.
Speaking of Toronto, still interested to see how the Jason Allison experiment 2.0 goes. Yes, he was slow, but his comeback wasn't all bad; he was nearly a point-a-game player. Other players on tryouts to watch:
Dan Cloutier in Detroit: Yes he's bad, but Howard and Osgood (another year older) don't exactly scream confidence. Still, Cloutier is a long shot to make a return to the NHL.
Mark Bell in Philly: I think he has a shot to crack this roster, he's got good size and can play the Flyers' game.
Dan Fritche in Atlanta: This guy still has potential, and its not like Atlanta has a whole lot else going for them at this point.
In final free agent news, Petr Sykora continues to talk to several teams, including the Minnesota Wild. Denis Seidenberg remains available, and I've heard the Canucks, Habs and Sharks have shown some interest in him. Mike Comrie may be the best player left on the market, and the Sens and Oilers are the two teams to watch.
Thats all for now, stay tuned to Hockeyleaks.com in the next few days for more training camp news, as well as news on the FIFTH annual Hockeyleaks Power Play Fantasy League.