March 11, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner (53) checks Florida Panthers defenseman Keaton Ellerby (4) into the boards during the third period at the BankAtlantic Center. Panthers won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
[UPDATED] Alex Semin signs in Carolina for 1 year $7M. Yeah, had to be the day this went live...
I recently posted a model for the lifecycle that an NHL franchise goes through in the process from totally blown up (think Edmonton in 2008), to peak capability (LA Kings), to Death's Door (Calgary). I have attempted to break down each team to its core players, transitional players (important, but not yet or no longer core), geriatric stars, remaining cap space (under current CBA), and the team's position in the lifecycle. I then attempt some pithy analysis of where the team stands and what direction they are going.
Prior postings in this series:
Eastern Conference - Southeast Division
Carolina Hurricanes 2012-2013
Lifecycle Phase: Rebuilding
Analysis: Carolina is coming up. They were aggressive in landing Jordan Staal (giving them 3 out of a possible 4 Staals in the organization). Jeff Skinner is a stud. Otherwise, they are young and talented. At the moment, their NHL roster could use a couple of forwards and a defenseman. They have talent in their farm system, but the question is whether it is ready for NHL duty or not.
[UPDATED] Alex Semin has become one of those "couple of forwards" that they need. I still class them as Rebuilding since the contract is really a 1 year trial, but they will be much more dangerous this coming season and will be pushing for one of the bottom two playoff spots (or the third seed since this is the Southeast).
Florida Panthers 2012-2013
Geriatric Stars: Ed Jovanowski, Filip Kuba
Cap Space: $21.7M
Lifecycle Phase: Climax
Analysis: Just because a team has reached their peak doesn't mean they peak very high. This team was built out of free agency. Yes, they did take the eventual Eastern Conference champions to 7 games in the first round, but they did exit in the first round. Most core players are in their prime years. They have some old farts and a few youngsters, but not a lot of organizational depth. Quite simply, they've gone about as far as they can go with the talent they have, and the Panthers will be on a downhill slide as their core ages. The one thing they have going for them (again) is cap space. They can afford to take on other teams' bad contracts or troll for free agents to re-fill the talent pool.
Tampa Bay Lightning 2012-2013
Cap Space: $7.0M
Lifecycle Phase: Death's Door
Analysis: This team feels like Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos, and a bunch of old guys. This is a team that needs to blow it up and start over, building around the two young stars and maybe Anders Lindback. They finished 10th in the East which leaves them out of the playoffs, but not in a good drafting position. They're up against the salary cap with 23 players signed. Does anyone else see the skinny dude with the scythe?
Washington Capitals 2012-2013
Geriatric Stars: Mike Ribiero, Roman Hamrlik
Cap Space: $10.6M
Lifecycle Phase: Past Prime
Analysis: Their core is at their prime, but there's too much money invested in the top 3 or 4 players. Depth is a problem, particularly on defense. Their goalie situation is highly unsettled. There's lots of talent on this team, enough to get to the second round of the playoffs last season, but they did it playing a style that they are unsuited to, for a coach who was only there to finish off a troubled season. Bringing on Mike Ribiero finally gives them the 2nd line center they lacked for so long, but they may not have the forward talent to fill the rest of the line. Washington is close to the cap, so their ability to take on salary to fill the prospect pool is limited. They'll need to trade out of their NHL roster in order to upgrade and fill holes, or restock.
Winnipeg Jets 2012-2013
Transitional Players: Alex Burmistrov, Zach Bogosian
Geriatric Stars: Oli Jokinen, Alexi Ponikarovsky
Cap Space: $19.3M
Lifecycle Phase: Rebuilding
Analysis: This is a young team built from draft picks and the depth players from the Chicago Blackhawks Cup team that didn't end up in Florida. They have tons of cap space, which you'd expect with the number of RFA contracts, and no real stars. Management will be busy over the next 12 months signing lots of players as most of the roster turns over after the coming season. Does this remind Avalanche fans of anyone? Long term prospects for the Jets will depend upon their ability to keep their core together, and the development of players like Kane and Pavalec.