with Justin Karp.


Before I go on, I realize that I should probably introduce myself to my new readers. Hi. I'm Justin Karp. 21 years old. Born and raised in Santa Clara, CA, now residing in hot as hell Tempe, AZ and attending Arizona State University. A life long San Jose Sharks fan; been watching, playing, officiating and passionately following hockey since I was 6. Feel free to e-mail me questions, comments and complaints. Hopefully more of the first two than the last one though.

Enough about me though, back to what you really want to read about. Sorry for the interruption. On to the hockey talk.

God bless the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Under its new financial scheme, the NHL off-season has become one step short of a fantasy hockey draft. Every day, we wake up and see three or four mid-level to top tier players changing teams and chasing the extra $5 million that teams have to spend in 2006-07.

If, for some reason you might miss one of the biggest signings, you feel almost as behind the times when you ask to draft Nils Ekman in the 8th round of your pool, only to find out he's been gone for five rounds.

And while the landscape of the National Hockey League will not be as dramatically different as it was before last season, the last week has shown that next season just might be as unpredictable as 2005-06.

Since I don't quite know where to start breaking down the summer movement in the NHL, I'm going to give you a piece of my stream of consciousness about some of the better (and worse) moves so far.

The biggest winners of the off-season so far, in my opinion are the Boston Bruins and, surprisingly, the Vancouver Canucks. The Bruins unloaded two guys, Shawn McEachern and Travis Green, who only combined for 12 goals and 18 assists last year and did a better job of eating up valuable salary space than actually contributing on the ice. They then went and locked up two of the most coveted players on the market, Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard. Coupled with the hiring of Dave Lewis and the firing of GM Mike O'Connell, a team that looked completely uncommitted to winning looks may be a team that is building for a decent year ahead.

The Canucks took a necessary step forward by trading away Todd Bertuzzi, finally distancing themselves from the ugly 2004 Steve Moore incident. While I feel like Todd's career might get a kick start in Florida this year, the opportunity cost of picking up one of the top five goalies in the league in Roberto Luongo more than makes up for it. While Vancouver had many other deficiencies that kept them out of the playoffs this year, goaltending was far and away the biggest piece the Canucks lacked down the stretch. The team also re-upped the Sedin brothers which will further their development together. If they can add a bookend to take Bertuzzi's spot on the Naslund-Morrison line, the Canucks might be headed back to the postseason.

With all the recent additions it's teams have made, the Pacific Division might be the most defensively strong group in the NHL. After the most recent transactions by Anaheim and Phoenix, take a look at the goaltending and defensive status of each team:

Anaheim: Scott Niedermayer/Chris Pronger (D), J-S Giguere/Ilya Bryzgalov (G)
Dallas: Sergei Zubov/Martin Skoula/Phillippe Boucher (D), Marty Turco (G)
Los Angeles: Rob Blake/Mattias Norstrom/Tim Gleason (D), Dan Cloutier (G)
Phoenix: Ed Jovonovski/Zbynek Michalek/Keith Ballard (D), Curtis Joseph (G)
San Jose: Scott Hannan/Kyle McLaren/Matt Carle (D), Evgeni Nabokov/Vesa Toskala (G)

The only question mark (outside of San Jose and Anaheim) is where goal scoring will come from. While the Sharks and Ducks both bring back some of the NHL's top scorers in Selanne, Thornton and Cheechoo, the Stars, Kings and Coyotes don't have much to speak of on the offensive side; hence why L.A. and Phoenix didn't make the playoffs and Dallas got pasted by Colorado in five.

That's what I've got for you for now. Thanks for taking a look at my first column…and don't worry, there's more to come.

E-mail Justin at You can also listen to his weekly radio show, The Personal Foul, Mondays from 6-7 PM Pacific Time at

The opinions expressed on this page are of the author, and in no way reflect the views of the NHL, it teams or players. All material in From the Cheap Seats copyright (C) 2006 Spector's Hockey. Reproduction of this material in whole, or in part, without consent by the author or Spector's Hockey is prohibited.