Winner, Losers, and the Inbetweeners of the NHL Offseason.
By: Jonathan Goad
The biggest prize this offseason was getting to take John Tavares to the prom. He had several suitors. The highly coveted center would narrow his list, and then narrow it again before finally signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If that’s the only thing you heard about the NHL offseason, then you’re safe to assume that Leafs won the offseason. Adding a world-class talent as Tavares helps.
That was the headliner this summer, but there have been a ton of moving around as well. These are in no specific order outside of either winning, losing, or inbetweening.
Toronto lost some players, but also added John Tavares. That alone makes the Maple Leafs winners of the offseason.
The Tampa Bay Lightning resigned the essential guys, Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller, and Nikita Kucherov. Just that in itself is a win, but the team hasn’t improved overall. They’ll compete for a cup once again.
The L.A. Kings landed Ilya Kovalchuk and extended Drew Doughty for eight more years. I imagine Kovalchuk can still play in the NHL and Doughty is an elite defender. Consider the Kings older, but yet a threat out west.
The Arizona Coyotes have been one of the more active teams this off-season. The locked up d-man Oliver Ekman-Larsson for eight more years, which was a solid move.
The St. Louis Blues are one of the most improved teams. They’re also the highest paid team in the league currently. They’re all in.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) July 27, 2018
Key additions include Ryan O’Reilly in a trade with Buffalo, Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon, David Perron, and Chad Johnson. They also brought back RFAs Robby Fabbri, Joel Edmundson, Oskar Sundqvist, and Dmitrij Jaskin. The Blues sent Buffalo prospect Tage Thompson, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, and a couple of draft picks — well worth it if you ask me.
The Blues kept the blue line strong and added some much-needed offense. The Blues are definitely among the winners this offseason.
The Washington Capitals are still celebrating their Stanley Cup championship. Does this season even matter to them? Keep the party going!
This should make the Avalanche more well rounded this upcoming season. They already have a solid offense, so the focus was on defense.
For the Columbus Blue Jackets, the most significant thing they did was keep Artemi Panarin around. He was the center of trade rumors for quite some time, but his unwillingness to sign an extension anywhere has prevented teams from offering enough of a return.
They also added winger Anthony Duclair. He’s a young talent who scored 20 goals back in 2015-16 but hasn’t done much since. Columbus also kept Boone Jenner around. He won’t “wow” you, but he’s a solid contributor. He did score 30 goals back in 2015-16.
The Anaheim Ducks tried to impress people with their new jerseys but fell short. They did a little better with their acquisitions this offseason.
The Calgary Flames added James Neal to beef up their offense a bit. They brought in Noah Hanafin and Elias Lindholm from Carolina, but it cost them, Dougie Hamilton. Nothing extraordinary, but nothing too terrible.
I still can’t believe the Philadelphia Flyers took Jori Lehtera from the Blues for Brayden Schenn last offseason. Philly has yet to be shaking their heads at that one. They did add James van Riemsdyk this offseason. They’ll again be a bubble team.
The Vegas Golden Knights shocked the world last season. They won’t shock anyone this season. The significant losses include James Neal and David Perron. But they locked up Marc-Andre Fleury and also added Paul Stastny.
Expect Vegas to compete again next year.
Carolina added an excellent piece in Dougie Hamilton in a trade with the Flames. This should make them trend upward.
In Winnipeg, resigning Connor Hellebuyck and Jacob Trouba were probably priority 1-A and 1-B. They accomplished both. However, losing Paul Stastny will hurt more than they think. The Jets will still be pretty solid though.
The Florida Panthers added Mike Hoffman, who ended up getting traded twice this offseason. That’s about it though.
The Pittsburgh Penguins gave Jack Johnson a big deal. He used to be really good — the key being that he “used to be.” We’ll see if he can still contribute. Pittsburgh maintained the status quo this offseason.
Crosby and Malkin down the middle are still terrifying.
Right moves, but nothing flashy.
The Buffalo Sabres added just as much as anyone. However, they did lose Ryan O’Reilly. That hurts. Additions include Conor Sheary, prospect, Tage Thompson, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Carter Hutton, and drafted Rasmus Dahlin. Not a bad offseason for the perennial bottom dwellers.
The Minnesota Wild resigned the guys they wanted, Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker. Although, they needed more to get back into the playoff mix next season.
The Chicago Blackhawks seem to have lost more than they have gained. They added veteran net-minder Cam Ward to back up Corey Crawford. They also added a handful of players from the Coyotes, but none worth mentioning. It could be another long season for Blackhawks fans.
The Boston Bruins haven’t done much worth mentioning so let’s skip them.
The Montreal Canadiens did one thing worth noting, and it probably made them worse. They traded Alex Galchenyuk to the Coyotes for Max Domi. Domi is young but unproven. Maybe a change of scenery will jumpstart him.
The New Jersey Devils lost Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon and did nothing to replace them. Well, I hope they enjoyed their trip to the playoffs…
Without even looking to see what the New York Islanders did, they’re losers this offseason only because they couldn’t re-sign John Tavares. That one will sting for a while.
The Edmonton Oilers added Kyle Brodziak, who is a more significant acquisition than people might think. Other than that, they didn’t do much.
Nashville Predators…the offseason has begun.
Ottawa Senators…lost Hoffman, probably going to lose Erik Karlsson. Strap in tight fans. It’s going to be a long season.
Dallas Stars…see Nashville Predators
We’ll see how these moves pay off for each team, but it should be another exciting year of hockey.
Did I undersell a specific move? Am I too high on a team? Let me know!