by Justin Orlewicz (Sports Editor)
As expected Taylor Hall was selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL entry draft and Tyler Seguin was selected second overall by the Boston Bruins.
With youngsters like Hall, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagne and Andrew Cogliano, the Oilers are now starting to look like the Blackhawks did just a couple short years ago, before winning the Stanley Cup. The Oilers seem to have the right combo of youngsters and veteran players to really make an impact in the NHL next year. They even have the same goalie as the Blackhawks had when they made their final four run just one season ago.
The Oilers also lost over 600 man games to injury last season which is one of the main reasons for their poor finish and first overall draft pick. With guys like Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin
healthy next year, the Oilers could be the surprise team.
The Vancouver Canucks traded away their first round pick in the Keith Ballard deal so no one went to the Canucks in the first round. The only real surprise was that Cam Fowler went so low in the draft at the tenth spot to Anaheim.
The NHL free agency frenzy began on July 1 and the Canucks were busy again signing defenseman Dan Hamhuis and local boy Jeff Tambellini. As expected, the Chicago Blackhawks began dismantling their Stanley Cup team to remain under the salary cap.
The Blackhawks sent Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfluglien and Ben Eager to the Atlanta Thrashers and Kris Versteeg signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs also announced that they will be going back to the jerseys that they last won a Stanley Cup in. They also announced that Dion Phaneuf will be the Leafs new team captain. Both the Leafs and the Canucks now have great Defense and goaltending and should be two of the premiere teams in the NHL next season.
There are still some free agents that are yet to be signed by a team. The biggest name still out there is Ilya Kovalchuk, who will most likely return to New Jersey, but there is still nothing carved in stone. Brendan Morrisson is also still without a home, but there are rumors that Brian Burke wants to sign Morrison in Toronto. There are also rumors that the Vancouver Canucksare interested in bringing back the hometown Morrison, at a fraction of the price that he was making here before. Another notable event from the free agent frenzy was that the San Jose Sharks managed to re-sign forward Patrick Marleau.
With all the changes in the NHL in this off season, it really should be interesting to see who next year’s super powers of the league will be. I really don’t see a Blackhawks repeat next season considering all of the talent they lost. Who knows, maybe it will finally be Vancouver’s turn to claim the Holy Grail, especially with their new and improved blue line.
Until next season, stay classy UFV.