Sunday, July 18, 2010

NHL Badgers: Where Will They Be In 2010-2011?

Rene Bourque-Calgary
Rene put up his best season as an NHL'er in 09-10 and was rewarded with a new 6 year contract with Calgary. The deal has a cap hit of 3.33M and runs through the 2016 season. Bourque is again expected to be a top 6 forward for Calgary this season.

Adam Burish-Dallas
The maniac from Madison has taken his services to a new NHL franchise. After winning a championship with Chicago last season, Burish was a victim of the salary cap crunch. Burish is expected to have an expanded role with Dallas. Burish signed a 2 year deal with Dallas worth 1.15M per year.

Chris Chelios-Free Agent
The 48 year old just continues to amaze us all. This past season Chelios just couldn't hang up the skates. He accepted a role in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves so he could be closer to his family. The Wolves big club, Atlanta called up the ageless wonder for 7 games towards the end of the season. It's still unknown whether or not Chelios will be back for another season. This year Cheli will have two sons playing for Michigan State so it looks like it may be it for Chris.

Jake Dowell-Chicago

Like I mentioned the other day in a post focusing on Dowell, he is expected to be an NHL regular with Chicago next season. He's got a very cap freindly contract at just over $500,000 a season and fills a role that is lacking in Chicago due to the departures of many players. Dowell is expected to be the fourth line center on opening night.

Davis Drewiske-Los Angeles
Drewiske established himself as an NHL regular in the 09-10 season. After an injury, his playing time went down but it's expected that Davis will have an impact for the Kings in 10-11. Drewiske signed a 1 way contract which should keep him in the NHL for the next three seasons. The deal averages $616,667 and runs through the 2013 season.

Robbie Earl-Minnesota
The former Frozen Four MVP played 32 games with the big club last season and put up a respectable 6 goals. Earl was never used in a role that fits his style, averaging less than 9 minutes a game when he was with the Wild. In many games I saw, Earl looked explosive and should have been given a bigger role. He recently re-signed with Minnesota on a one year, two way deal. Minnesota is deep with forwards this season but I would expect Earl to spend 20-25 games in the show next year.

Brian Elliott-Ottawa
The former Hobey Baker finalist established himself as an NHL starter last season for Ottawa starting 55 regular season games for the Senators. Elliott will be a restricted free agent after the 2011 season so I would look for a huge year from him. Pascal Leclaire will give Elliott some competition but I would expect Brian to see at least 2/3 of the action again.

Blake Geoffrion-Nashville
Geoffrion is the proud owner of a new two year entry level contract with Nashville which will pay him just over $1M/year with bonuses. Most likely, Blake will start the season in the AHL with Milwaukee but I have no doubt that he'll be with the big club at some point this season.

Tom Gilbert-Edmonton
Tommy has fully entrenched himself as an NHL regular with the Oilers and is now a top pairing defenseman with a hefty contract. The Bloomington native carries a $4M/year price tag on a contract that runs through the 2014 hockey season. Gilbert's numbers were slightly down last season but he was playing on a brutal Oilers squad. The team should be much improved with the addition of #1 overall pick Taylor Hall as well as Jordan Eberle.

Cody Goloubef-Columbus
Goloubef is sporting a nice $875,000/year entry level contract but probably won't earn that this season. Columbus is pretty thick on defensemen and it's expected that Cody will spend the entire season in the AHL. Goloubef should make a push for a roster spot on the big club in 2011 when a few contracts come off the books.

Dany Heatley-San Jose
It's no secret that Dany Heatley is an NHL superstar at this point of his career. For the fifth time in his NHL career, Dany Heatley hit the 80 point mark for the season. The big Canadian carries a huge $7.5M/year contract that runs through the 2014 season. With Joe Thornton being an UFA after this season, the window for the Sharks winning a cup may be shortening. Expect a big season from Heater.

Jamie McBain-Carolina
The former WCHA Player of the Year got a taste of the big show last season playing in 14 games for the Hurricanes. Playing in all facets, the Edina native was able to put up 10 points during his first cup of coffee. McBain has two seasons left on his $850,000 entry level contract. McBain is expected to make the Hurricanes out of camp and his career should blossom from there. This season McBain will make a big impact for Carolina at the NHL level.

Ryan McDonagh-New York
McDonagh will be given an opportunity to win a roster spot out of camp and I think he will do just that. He's already better than Matt Gilroy and probably most of the Ranger defensemen. If the Rangers are smart, McDonagh shouldn't spend any time in the minor leagues. Kid is the real deal, he's ready.

Joe Pavelski-San Jose

The Big Pavelski got a big paycheck in the offseason inking a four year contract extension averaging $4M/year. Pavelski had one of the best post seasons of any player and is expected to carry that over into the 2010-2011 regular season. No longer "little Joe," Pavelski has an opportunity to prove that he's one of the elite centermen in the league with a big campaign this year.

Joe Piskula-Free Agent
Another former Badger who is a free agent is Joe Piskula. Piskula was rewarded when he signed his contract at the end of the 2007 season with 5 games in the NHL. Since then Skoolz has played three seasons at the AHL level. I would expect another AHL season out of Piskula this season.

Brian Rafalski-Detroit
The consummate veteran defenseman continues to get the job done for the Detroit Red Wings. Rafalski looked outstanding at the Vancouver Olympics for the USA and had another great season for Detroit. Rafalski is locked up for the next two seasons in Detroit at $6/year. He should be a great mentor for another Badger, Brendan Smith who should be with Detroit before Rafalski's contract expires.

Steven Reinprecht-Florida
Reino has really flown under the radar the past few seasons, mostly because he's played for some bad hockey teams. Reinprecht will be with Florida again this season and next on a contract paying him just over $2M/year. With the trade of Nathan Hortnon to Boston, Reinprecht is expected to get more minutes this season. Don't be surprised if he bests his career high of 51 points this year with the Panthers.

Jack Skille-Chicago

Many question marks have surrounded Skille since leaving the Badgers after a poor sophomore season. Skille never was given a real opportunity at the NHL level on a stacked Chicago squad. He'll get his chance this season as he took a significant pay cut to be an NHL regular. Skille will be paid $600,000 this season on a 1 year deal. He's hoping to prove that he's worthy of a long term contract. He'll be penciled in as a third line RW for the Hawks and will be looked upon as a scoring threat from the lower lines. Huge season for Jack.

Brendan Smith-Detroit
Recent news out of Red Wings prospect camp is that Smith slightly separated his shoulder but he should be more than fine once the season starts. Smith will start the season in Grand Rapids in the AHL but it wouldn't shock me to see him in the NHL at some point. His offensive skills are certainly ready, but it's up to the Detroit brass to determine if he's a liability on the defensive end.

Derek Stepan-New York
Ranger fans are sreaming for Stepan to make the team out of camp but that's not realistic in my opinion. While at times Stepan looked great for the Badgers, at others he seemed to disappear. He needs to get used to pro hockey before Sather throws him to the wolves at the NHL level. First line center duties in the AHL sounds about right for Stepan this season.

Ryan Suter-Nashville
Suter is another player like Rafalski who looked great at the winter Olympics. He's lived up to the hype of the Suter name and has been everything that was advertised. He's got two years left on a contract that will pay him $3.5M/year. Expect big things again for Suter again this season.

Kyle Turris-Phoenix
The poster child for leaving college too early. I really wish Derek Stepan would have evaluated the case of Kyle Turris before he made the decision he did. Turris had a solid season in the AHL with San Antonio but he didn't leave Wisconsin after his freshman year so he could be in San Antonio in two years. Turris will be in the NHL this season, lets hope he's there to stay.

Brad Winchester-St. Louis
Winchester is back for another season in St. Louis on a one year deal that will pay him $700,000 in 2010-2011. The punishing forward from Madison played in 64 games for the Blues last season and I think that's a reasonable projection for him again this season.

Andy Wozniewski-Free Agent
Woz had a really nice season last year in the AHL with Providence and was rewarded with a two game callup with the Bruins. Wozniewski is currently an unrestricted free agent. Keep an eye on him this offseason to see where he lands. Most likely will spend the season in the AHL somewhere with a possible cup of coffee.