The NHL offseason is a key time for management to make significant changes to their squad. From the expansion draft, to the draft, to free agency, teams make decisions that will effect their team for extended amounts of time. Some teams land big on their acquisitions, while some end up signing David Clarkson to a 7 year $36 million deal. Here I will be breaking down each NHL team and grading them based on how they performed based on my opinion.
Vegas Golden Knights : D
I’m not going to list each player Vegas added in the expansion draft. They had the worst offseason in the Western Conference in my opinion. You had so much leverage over every team in the National Hockey League and you barely used it to your advantage. You could have had a top 4 defender in Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin but chose to sign Erik Haula? Cody Eakin? Deryk Engelland? Luca Sbisa? Alexei Emelin who you got just a draft pick for? David Schlemko who you only got a sixth round pick for?! I don’t understand why they made the picks they made. The only conclusion I can think of is they want to flip the guys they got for late round picks at the deadline. They did an excellent job drafting selecting Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, and Erik Brannstrom in the first round however. But did not do nearly enough in the expansion draft.
Chicago Blackhawks: D+
Additions : Brandon Saad, Connor Murphy, Laurent Dauphin, Anton Forsberg, JS Berube, Patrick Sharp, Lance Bouma, Tommy Wingles
Subtractions : Scott Darling, Artemi Panarin, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Tyler Motte, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Marian Hossa??
Extensions : Richard Panik
What in the honest to god hell are you doing? You had the BEST shutdown defenseman in the NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE and you traded him away for an unproven defenseman and prospect? Your cup window is closing fast and you managed to regress when you need to win now. You had two years of Hjalmarsson left which is probably about the time Seabrook will become Dan Girardi 2.0. This was one of Coach Q’s favorite weapons and Stan Bowman took him away. Connor Murphy is no where near replacement level to Hjalmarsson. If they really wanted to sell one of their defenseman, it should have been Seabrook. Which would probably have brought in an even lesser return, but you would at least get out from under that abomination of a contract.
I don’t hate the Saad trade. Forsberg could be a great goalie in the long run. Panarin is probably a little better than Saad, but his contract has more trade value than Panarin’s. Getting Sharp back on a deal for less than a million bucks is a very Stan Bowman thing to do. Losing Hossa on LTIR is also going to benefit the Hawks when they are free of his cap hit. The Panik extension is great for the Hawks and Panik. Who knows? Alex DeBrincat could even make the team this year. I am still just astounded by the lack of intelligence put into the Hjalmarsson trade. By the way, you still need another NHL defenseman.
Winnipeg Jets : C-
Additions : Dimitry Kulikov, Steve Mason, Matt Hendricks
Subtractions : Ondrej Pavelec, Chris Thorburn,
Extensions : Andrew Copp, Marko Dano, Ben Chiarot
Thank god you finally moved on from Pavelec. Hopefully Mason can come in and be at least league average for the Jets. The Kulikov contract is bad. He is coming off a terrible season in Buffalo to his defense. But where is he going to play on your blueline? You also had to give up your first round pick to Vegas so they would select Thorburn. Again not enough moves made by the Jets to make themselves a lock in playoff team.
Los Angeles Kings : C-
Additions : Mike Cammaleri, Christian Folin, Darcy Kuemper
Subtractions : Ben Bishop, Jarome Iginla, Brayden McNabb
Extensions : Tyler Toffoli
The Kings are in a very tough spot right now. They fired their coach and GM going into the offseason and are stuck with the dreadful Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown contracts. Drew Doughty is a UFA in two seasons and the time could not be worse for that. The Kings are in a downfall as they have too much money locked into players who are not contributing enough on the ice.
They only got three years out of Toffoli on an extension who they won’t be able to bring back when his contract is up unless they do something about the Brown and Gaborik contracts. They got Cammaleri on a low risk one year deal which I think will work out great for the Kings and Cammaleri. They also did this with Darcy Kuemper and Christian Folin. Losing Brayden McNabb to Vegas was an unfortunate loss for LA as well. Drafting Gabe Vilardi could be helpful down the long run however. I think it is safe to say LA is going to be stuck for a very long time.
San Jose Sharks : C
Subtractions : Patrick Marleau
Extensions : Joe Thornton, Martin Jones, Marc-Edouard Vlassic, Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi,
Not adding anyone when your older players are in decline and need to win now? At least you locked up Jones and Vlassic for awhile. After a first round exit you would think the Sharks would be looking to add big. Especially with older players like Thornton, Burns, Pavelski, and Couture isn’t getting any younger himself. Hopefully some of your younger guys jump into bigger roles this season.
Colorado Avalanche : C
Additions : Nail Yakupov, Jonathan Bernier, Colin Wilson
Subtractions : Francois Beauchemin, Calvin Pickard, John Mitchell, Patrick Weircoich, Mikhail Grigorenko, Cody Golubef
Well that was hilarious. 48 points? At least you’ll get a solid draft pick. Wait, you managed to LOSE the draft lottery after the worst season in the cap era? At least you finally draft a defenseman in Cale Makar at 4th overall. Good work letting most of your free agents walk as a fresh start is definitely in order. I like the Yakupov addition. Hopefully he can turn his career around in Colorado. Also not accepting that Duchene trade from the Islanders was a huge mistake. A 1st, a 2nd, and Hamonic? That is way lopsided in your favor. Now you are stuck with him because you value him way too highly. I don’t think his value will go up in that toxic environment of losing in Colorado. He needs out. It’s not possible for Colorado to get worse tho, right?
Minnesota Wild : B-
Additions : Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Kyle Quincey, Ryan Murphy, Matt Cullen
Subtractions : Erik Haula, Darcy Kuemper, Christian Folin, Martin Hanzal, Jason Pomminville, Marco Scandella
Extensions : Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter
Great job avoiding getting completely screwed by Vegas in the expansion draft and keeping Dumba, Brodin, and Staal. Good job moving Pomminville’s contract and good job getting some decent depth players in Cullen, Ennis, and Foligno. I do believe they will regret not giving Granlund a longer term as he has improved significantly over the past two seasons. The Niederreiter extension is excellent however. I don’t think any of these changes will be enough to put Minnesota over the edge of becoming an Elite team in the West. Suter and Parise are in decline and they need to push for a cup right now before it is too late and the back end of their contracts bite them.
Vancouver Canucks : B-
Additions : Michael Del Zotto, Sam Gagner, Alex Burmistrov, Patrick Wiercoich
Subtractions : Nikita Trymakin, Ryan Miller
Extensions : Erik Gudbranson, Ben Hutton
I hope you just signed those guys so you can flip them for draft picks at the deadline, but I am really never sure with this team. They are so confusing. They say they won’t rebuild in fairness to the Sedin’s, but they’re no where even close to contention. Picking up Elias Pettersson in the draft at 5th overall was a solid choice. But I don’t think Vancouver is destined for much more than a bottom 5 finish once again.
Anaheim Ducks : B
Additions : Ryan Miller, Francois Beauchemin
Subtractions : Shea Theodore, Clayton Stoner
Extensions : Patrick Eaves, Cam Fowler
Cam Fowler had an excellent season this year after being considered the odd man out on the Ducks d-corps. He broke out with 11 goals and 28 assists in 80 regular season games. He was also huge in the playoffs scoring 2 goals and 7 assists in 13 games. Signing him to a 8 year $52 million deal is a very high risk high reward deal as it will take him until he is 35 years old. Extending Patrick Eaves after a 30 goal season as this is also a very high risk high reward deal. Eaves is an excellent penalty killer but has never been such an impactful offensive player in his career. If the ducks can get 15-20 goals out of him consistently over the next three seasons, it’s an excellent deal for the ducks.
Ryan Miller and Francois Beauchemin are very low risk one year deals that don’t hold much consequence if they don’t work out. Miller will clearly be backup to Gibson while Beauchemin may not even be a regular on the excellent ducks blueline.
Losing Clayton Stoner to Vegas was huge. Having to give up Shea Theodore for it kinda sucks however. He had been very impressive in the AHL with San Diego and has been one of Anaheim’s top defensive prospects for the past couple seasons. Not a huge loss however as guys like Brandon Montour and Jacob Larsson behind him on the prospect chart.
I personally think the Ducks could use a larger second line scoring threat. Rickard Rakell is being paid as a second liner when he is clearly the Ducks largest scoring threat. But I still think they need another pure scorer for their second or third line. Cogliano, Silfverberg, and Eaves are solid but play more of defensive roles. Maybe Nick Ritchie can come up and be that guy for Anaheim
St. Louis Blues : B+
Additions : Brayden Schenn, Chris Thorburn, Beau Bennett, Oskar Sundqvist, Nate Prosser
Subtractions : Jori Lehtera, Ryan Reaves
Extensions : Colton Parayko
One of the dark horse winners of the offseason in my opinion. Lol you got a first round pick for Ryan Reaves. You got out from under Jori Lehtera’s rough deal. You added a solid second line center in Brayden Schenn. Getting Robby Fabbri back this season will also be a huge help. That Colton Parayko contract is a thing of beauty. I am a big Colton Prayko fan and he looks to be the anchor of that Blues blue line along with Alex Pietrangelo as he continues to grow. Jake Allen looked like an all-star towards the end of the season and during the playoffs. I believe St. Louis is a better team after the offseason.
Edmonton Oilers : B+
Additions : Jussi Jokinen, Ryan Strome
Subtractions : Griffin Reinhart, Jordan Eberle, Benoit Puliot
Extensions : Kris Russell, Zack Kassian, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl
Great job locking up Draisaitl and McDavid! The Kassian extension is solid, Jokinen is a good depth signing. Dumping off Jordan Eberle and his contract to the Islanders is questionable based on what you got in return, but it’s not a horrible deal. You only lost Griffin Reinhart to Vegas. You also landed Kailer Yamamoto in the draft! Pretty solid offseason so far! Wait, you signed Kris Russell to how long and for how much?! I don’t understand how Kris Russell is an NHL defenseman. I’ve already gone on a Kris Russell rant so I’ll leave it at that. But other than that, the Oilers did a pretty solid job this offseason.
Calgary Flames : B+
Additions : Travis Hamonic, Mike Smith, Eddie Lack, Spencer Foo
Subtractions : Deryk Engelland, Brian Elliot, Chad Johnson
Extensions : Michael Stone, Michael Ferland
Kudos to the Calgary Flames for going out and establishing one of the best blue lines in the NHL. They added Travis Hamonic to their d-corps which already contained the likes of Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton. This group definitely is fairly close to as good as the top 4 defenders in Nashville which has proven to be successful. Calgary’s biggest concerns are their goaltending and bottom 6 forwards. Brian Elliot was not the answer they were looking for as Chad Johnson out performed him for most of the season. Bringing in Mike Smith is a potential upgrade but a big gamble as well. Spencer Foo who singed out of college will hopefully be able to step into the lineup this year and be a depth scorer behind Monahan and Gaudreau.
Losing Deryk Engelland to the expansion draft as a UFA was also a gift from God to Calgary. The Michael Stone contract is rather concerning however as he is a bottom pair defender making $3.5 million over the next three seasons. Overall, I like the Hamonic and Smith Acquisitions.
Nashville Predators : A-
Additions : Alexei Emelin, Nick Bonino, Scott Hartnell
Subtractions : James Neal, Mike Fisher, Colin Wilson
Extensions : Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen, Pontus Aberg
You lost James Neal to Vegas. You lost Mike Fisher to retirement. Ouch. Luckily you happen to have one of the best prospect systems in the National Hockey League and will be able to replace them with the likes of Pontus Aberg or Vladislav Kamenev. You got Viktor Arvidsson to sign one of the best deals given this offseason making an AAV of $4.25 for the next 7 years. You overpaid for Johansen a bit, but you absolutely need him for your top line. Adding Nick Bonino to replace Fisher as your second or third line center. Having a center core of Johansen, Bonino, Sissions, and Jarnkrok is very solid all the way down. Adding Scott Hartnell on a low risk deal could be great for the Nashville depth scoring. Nashville took some big blows this offseason but still managed themselves very well. (What are they doing with Emelin tho?)
Dallas Stars : A
Additions : Alex Radulov, Martin Hanzal, Ben Bishop, Brian Flynn, Marc Methot
Subtractions : Cody Eakin, Antti Niemi
Extensions : Radek Faksa, Brett Ritchie, Esa Lindell, Jamie Oleksiak
Dallas had a very busy and rather successful offseason in my opinion. Adding Radulov to a line with Benn and Seguin could absolutely destroy the league. They replaced the brutal Cody Eakin with Martin Hanzal. They added Marc Methot after he was selected by Vegas in the expansion draft. He can hopefully bring more stability to their blueline. They also found a goaltender who can stop a puck in Ben Bishop.
Getting Cody Eakin off of their hands from Vegas was a gift. I don’t understand why Vegas would take him on but I’ll save that for later. They extended Radek Faksa, Brett Ritchie, and Esa Lindell to bridge deals which could come to bite them in a few years. The stars however are a “win now” team. Benn and Seguin are not getting any younger and they did an excellent job this offseason adding key contributors.
Arizona Coyotes : A
Additions : Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Niklas Hjalmarsson
Subtractions : Anthony DeAngelo, Connor Murphy, Laurent Dauphin, Peter Holland, Teemu Pulkkinen
Arizona finally has a legitimate first line center in Derek Stepan. It did cost them quite a bit in the seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft (Lias Andersson) and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo. But they also got Antti Raanta in return as well who will be their starting goalie this year. Raanta has been excellent during his time as a backup in the NHL and is looking to prove himself as a starter this season. He is only making a million bucks this season before becoming a UFA. Arizona almost singlehandedly won the offseason with this next trade however, acquiring Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Blackhawks in exchange for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin. I don’t understand what the Blackhawks were doing here. But we will get to that later. OEL now will have a legitimate defense partner who will cover for him when he is engaging in the offense. I love what Arizona has done this offseason and I believe they will make significant improvements this season.