First Look at the Free Agency Frenzy: Northwest Division

VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 4: Goalie Henrik Karlsson #35 of the Calgary Flames makes a pad save while Jay Bouwmeester #4 of the Calgary Flames battles with Daniel Sedin #22 and Alexandre Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks in front of the net during the first period in NHL action on December 04, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Ah, June. The end of the playoffs, the NHL awards, and the draft all abound this month. Of course, the other exciting thing coming up at the end of the month is free agency. On July 1st, all the unrestricted free agents who haven't signed new contracts with their old teams will be allowed to start talking whatever other teams they please. Of course, with all the recent discussion about who to trade Roberto Luongo to, I found myself adventuring through CapGeek, looking at what each team is dealing with this summer. Since there was quite a bit of information in there, I have decided to share the interesting stuff here with you guys.

Division by division, I will be looking at each's teams UFAs and RFA's for this year, FAs for next year, and give a quick summary of their situation. Of course, I will also look at what players we could poach from those teams, whether through UFA negotiations or trades or offer sheets. If you want more info on a team's non-roster players, those are towards the bottom of the CapGeek pages for those teams. Through a randomizing scheme to determine the order in which I would do each division, I ended up doing our own division first, the Northwest.

Calgary Flames

Capgeek page, 2011-2012 individual stats

2012 RFAs: Blake Comeau, Mikael Backlund, Akim Aliu, Blair Jones

2012 UFAs: Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, David Moss, Tom Kostopoulos, Cory Sarich, Scott Hannan

2013 FAs: Jarome Iginla, Roman Cervenka, Jarome Iginla, Lance Bouma, Jarome Iginla, Anton Babchuk, Chris Butler, TJ Brodie, Henrik Karlsson, Jarome Iginla

What are they up to? No matter how often Jay Feaster says that they probably won’t blow up their team, they really don’t have much of a choice. They will definitely need to figure out their forward depth this season, with a bunch of their "better" forwards becoming UFAs. Basically, however, they need help with everything. Also of note is that Jarome Iginla is eligible to sign an extension starting July 1st, the same day that Miikka Kiprusoff's no-movement clause lifts.

Can Vancouver poach anyone? Normally, I’d be tempted at stealing good players from the Flames, our bitter division rivals. However, after accepting that there’s probably no way in hell we could possibly get either Kipper or Iggy, it's obvious that Calgary doesn’t have any decent enough players to make it worth it.

Colorado Avalanche

Capgeek page, 2011-2012 individual stats

2012 RFAs: Matt Duchene, Peter Mueller, Steve Downie, Ryan O`Reilly, Mark Olver, Kevin Porter, Jamie McGinn, Erik Johnson, Ryan Wilson

2012 UFAs: Jay McClement, Shane O`Brien

2013 FAs: Milan Hejduk, Chuck Kobasew, Ryan O`Byrne, Jean-Sebastien Giguere

What are they up to? As of when I typed this, Colorado only had 9 players signed on for next year. Over the last week, they have re-signed Cody McLeod, David Jones and Matt Hunwick to new contracts. They still have a lot to deal with, though. With 9 restricted free agents, quite a few of them being the young guns that are giving Colorado fans hope for the future of this team, they will have a lot to deal with this summer.

Can Vancouver poach anyone? Screw Calgary, here’s the division rival that the Canucks should poach from! Just imagine Gillis throwing an offer sheet at Duchene or O’Reilly. If successful, we can get a young star who will help bolster both our present and future, and piss off Colorado as well. If unsuccessful, Colorado would have to match whatever price we put on the player.

Edmonton Oilers

Capgeek page, 2011-2012 individual stats

2012 RFAs: Sam Gagner, Linus Omark, Chris VandeVelde, Cam Barker, Theo Peckham, Jeff Petry, Devan Dubnyk

2012 UFAs: Ryan Smyth, Lennart Petrell, Darcy Hordichuk

2013 FAs: Taylor Hall, Ryan Jones, Jordan Eberle, Teemu Hartikainen, Ladislav Smid, Andy Sutton, Colten Teubert, Nikolai Khabibulin

What are they up to? That is a total of 7 RFAs this year on their current roster. Edmonton won’t be able to give them too much money, though, because Hall and Eberle both have their entry-level contracts ending next year, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins the following year. This is also a team that needs some goaltending help, with the "Bulin Wall" probably approaching retirement.

Can Vancouver poach anyone? Just imagine poaching this team, it would be hilarious! Offer sheets would be the weapon of choice for pissing off Edmonton, with several options over the next two years. One possibility, should we trade Roberto Luongo, would be to grab Dubnyk as a backup for Cory Schneider.

Minnesota Wild

Capgeek page, 2011-2012 individual stats

2012 RFAs: Guillaume Latendresse, Nick Johnson, Chay Genoway, Justin Falk, Kris Fredheim

2012 UFAs: Erik Christensen, Jed Ortmeyer, Warren Peters, Stephane Veilleux, Matt Kassian, Kurtis Foster, Mike Lundin, Josh Harding

2013 FAs: Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Matt Cullen, Cal Clutterbuck, Steven Kampfer, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Niklas Backstrom

What are they up to? Looking at Minnesota's CapGeek page is a bit of a mess, with more than the usual amount of players there. Further investigation showed that only 3 skaters played all 82 games this year, with only 4 more playing at least 70, and another 10 players playing at least 40. On the NHL.com stats page, they have 39 skaters listed as playing at least 1 game in a Wild jersey this year! This obviously points to a very possible cause: injuries. Out of this year's 12 FA skaters, only 5 of them played at least 40 games. Meanwhile, Backstrom has had UFA Harding trying to take the starting job, and rookie Matt Hackett also making a few appearances.

Can Vancouver poach anyone? A few guys are tempting, but the obvious problem here is injuries. Latendresse and Bouchard would make great additions to our top 6, but they have both had rough seasons with concussion issues. Can we take the risk on those guys? If it's possible to somehow grab him, Clutterbuck would be good for some grit on our 4th line.

Vancouver Canucks

Capgeek page, 2011-2012 individual stats

2012 RFAs: Mason Raymond, Dale Weise, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Cory Schneider

2012 UFAs: Samuel Pahlsson, Byron Bitz, Aaron Volpatti, Andrew Ebbett, Sami Salo, Aaron Rome

2013 FAs: Manny Malhotra, Alexandre Burrows, Chris Higgins, Maxim Lapierre, Alexander Edler, Andrew Alberts, Chris Tanev

What are they we up to? I decided to include our own team here, so that we can compare our own situation to other teams, and to add perspective on what we need.
Our forward core is pretty good for another year, although we could use from help in both the top and bottom 6's: a really good winger for Ryan Kesler, and some better grit at the bottom. We should also keep in mind that Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin both have their contracts expiring in 2014. Our defense is of much concern, since aside from Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis, there are quite a few of expiring contracts there. I excluded Keith Ballard there, because everyone here has been mentioning him as the most likely trade bait this summer. I bet Gillis is going to work on extensions for a couple of Alex’s as soon as he can.
Obviously, the other big story is goaltending. Roberto Luongo has an albatross of a contract, and Cory Schneider is due for both a raise and a starting position. The majority of us are seeing the odds of keeping both for at least one more year is slim to none.

Come back tomorrow to see what division I look at next.

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