CanesCountry readers have spoken, and according to the latest poll the Florida Panthers will come in last place in the division this year! It was not an overwhelming majority as 38% of you voted for the Capitals, while 40% went for the Panthers. While I agree that the Capitals should be improved this year, I'm not sure that I agree that the Panthers will come in last. A lot depends upon newly acquired goalie Tomas Vokoun. Will he revert back to his 5.3 million dollar a year dependable self, or will he be the inconsistent, injury prone goalie that he has been much of the past 2 years? If he's the Tomas Vokoun of old, he could help put the Panthers as high as 2nd in the division. If not, they could very well finish last. I think that the conventional wisdom says the Capitals will be there once again, though. My pick? It wouldn't shock me to see the Thrashers in a free fall, right down to the bottom. I think they will have lost their "mojo" after being swept by the Rangers last year. They worked so hard all year to make the playoffs, and for what? It has to be disheartening. Now they have to start all over? Kari Lehtonen has lost his confidence, (thanks to Hartley), and two key components at year end last year, Keith Tkachuk and Eric Belanger are gone. If they start out slowly, watch for the free fall. That's my "off the wall", prediction!
The news has been pretty quiet this week, but yesterday there was an interesting trade made. Phoenix traded ex-Hurricane Kevyn Adams to Chicago for another ex-Hurricane, Radim Vrbata! Remember Vrbata? He's the sharp-shooting Czech who the Canes obtained from Colorado a few years ago in exchange for fan favorite, Bates Battaglia. At that time Bates was in a slump and Vrbata seemed like a rising star, so it looked like a pretty good trade. While Radim has a great shot and also has a very good move on the shoot out, the rest of his game is somewhat lacking and there was no room for him in Laviolette's, forechecking first system. The Canes ended up trading him to Chicago for a virtual bag of pucks, "future considerations". Of course everyone knows Adams, part 2 of the old "Adams Family", and one of the heroes of the Stanley Cup finals, especially when he blocked a shot and continued playing with a broken wrist. Adams was traded during the middle of last year for Dennis Seidenberg. The interesting thing about this trade is that Kevyn was put on waivers by Phoenix earlier this offseason, and no one picked him up. I thought he might be cut, but it looks like he is getting a "3rd chance" now. Since Chicago could have had Adams for nothing, I'm assuming they wanted to get rid of Vrbata as well. It's a bit of a weird trade, but at least both players get another chance. They are both great guys and I wish them the best of luck!!
Finally, Canes third line center Matt Cullen was the featured player of the day on the NHLPA website! There was a good article with a bit more inside information about how he was informed about the trade, as well as some other information. To check out the article, click here. I'm still working on my prospect information. I'll have it done shortly!