This is another huge blog of mine, similar to the one I did at the draft. This blog will discuss the winners and losers of the free agency period, wrapping around who signed where and who was traded where.
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What each time has done:
After an early first round exit from the playoffs, they let go of a slew of veteran forwards with salary in Brandon Pirri, Shawn Horcoff, Mike Santorelli, David Perron (STL), and Jamie McGinn (ARI); and depth in goaltending with Anton Khudobin (BOS) and Frederik Andersen (TOR). They brought in cheap acquisitions in Mason Raymond, Jared Boll, Nate Guenin, Jeff Schultz, and Antoine Vermette. The most intriguing move is acquiring a heavy cap hit in backup goalkeeper Jonathan Bernier from the Maple Leafs.
John Chayka is making his mark on his young team. By getting rid of guys with age and one year left on their contracts in Steve Downie, Nick Grossmann, Alex Tanguay, Kyle Chipchurra, Andres Lindback, and Boyd Gordon (PHI), he was able to get young players on this team. The Coyotes bring in Ryan White and Garett Ross to replace the grit lost up front; Jamie McBain to replace the depth on defense; and Justin Peters to replace the depth on goaltending. The Coyotes got a steal in their top six by adding Jamie McGinn to a three year deal to a cap friendly contract. He performs better when given a better role, and this situation could be beneficial for both sides. The Coyotes also manages to bring back Radim Vrbata to a $1 million dollar deal.
The Bruins lost a lot of depth players to other teams. Chris Kelly (OTT), Lee Stempinak (CAR), Matt Irwin (NSH), Max Talbot (KHL), and Loui Eriksson (VAN). The Bruins brought back Anton Khudobin and signed David Backes. These are big moves for the Bruins. Backes is a top six forward on any team in the league, and Khudobin is a major upgrade in the goaltending department.
Buffalo was able to let secondary players like David Legwand, Eric O'Dell, and Chad Johnson (CGY) go to the open market as they got better guys. They picked up a big fish with Kyle Okposo, and acquired Andres Nillson from St. Louis.
The Flames have bought out Mason Raymond (ANA) and let a slew of goaltenders walk away- Joonas Hiller, Kari Ramo, Nicklas Backstrom (FIN) , and Joni Ortio. Another major guy they let go include Joe Colbrone (COL), who was a top six guy for them last season. They were able to add veteran Troy Brouwer, a Stanley Cup winner with Chicago. They also added an underrated forward in Linden Vey, who had lots of potential in Los Angeles and Vancouver, but hasn't been able to perform up to it.
After being so close to the playoffs, they have managed to add veteran pieces to their roster without losing much at all. Losing Nathan Gerbe (NYR) will kill in terms of overall speed, and Reilly Nash (BOS) will loose them some depth. They added Lee Stempniak and Victor Stalberg.
A cap world can hurt any team, and that seemed to happen to the Hawks this year. They loose Andrew Ladd (NYI), Christian Ehrhoff, Thomas Fleschimann, Michael Rossizval, Jay Harrison, and Dale Weise (PHI). With lots of money spent on big players, they managed to bring back Brian Campbell to a one year deal. They also added Sam Carrick and Jordin Tootoo, who are fiesty bottom six guys.
Talk about interesting. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy have been rumored to move out most of their best players, but also made bizarre moves to shake up their depth guys. They gave up on young players with potential in Brandon Gromley, Taylor Beck (EDM) and Borna Rendulic (VAN). They also let deadline acquisitions in Mikkel Boedker (SJ) and Shawn Matthais (WPG) walk away. They also bought out veteran Brad Stuart. They added Patrick Wericoch; Fedor Tyutin; and Joe Colborne.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Staying tact is what this team has done for a while as they are right up against the cap. They let Rene Borque and Justin Falk (BUF) go; and didn't qualify Michael Chaput (VAN) and Michael Pialotta (VAN). They added undrafted center Dante Satiluro and Sam Gagner.
With their needs on the backend and goaltending, they have the same goalies and let some of their UFA defensemen go in Alex Gologski (ARI), Jason Demers (FLA), and Kris Russell. They did add Dan Hamhuis, who was willing to waive his no trade clause to go there at the trade deadline. With losing a veteran depth forward in Veron Fiddler, they add Adam Cracknell.
Detroit Red Wings
When a star like Pavel Datsyuk retires, a team is in a hole right away. Also losing veterans like Brad Richards (retired) and Kyle Quiency hurt. Adding scoring is what the Wings needed, and they believe they have done so by adding Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen. Vanek's best days are behind him after spending the prime of his career with Buffalo. Nielsen was in a great support role with the Islanders, but he went out to chase more money.
The expected happened: they added Milan Lucic. The Oilers are a team still in transition, and they have made changes to their overall system. They let Adam Clendenning (NYR), Eric Gryba, and Rob Klinkhammer walk. Besides Lucic, they added Jonas Gustavsson, Mark Fraser, and Taylor Beck.
Where to start in Florida? The Panthers and the Lightning have become the new battle to watch in hockey. California's three teams provide entertainment, but the Panthers made serious strides this summer. They added Keith Yandle, Jason Demers, and James Reimer. They lost Jiri Hudler, Brian Campbell (CHI), and Al Montaya (MTL).
Los Angeles Kings
With the retirement of Vincent Lecaliver, the buyout of Matt Greene, the loss of goalie Jhonas Enroth, and wingers Kris Versteg (EUR), Milan Lucic (EDM) , the Kings brought in veteran depth guys in defenseman Tom Gilbert, winger Teddy Purcell, and goalie Jeff Zatkoff.
With the buyout of Thomas Vanek and the departure of a heavy salary in David Jones, they were able to bring in a big name in Eric Staal; and were able to lure back a former Wild player in Chris Stewart. They also add veteran depth players in defenseman Victor Bartley and goalie Alex Stalock.
Adding Alex Radulov adds a valuable top six forward that is an unknown in the NHL who came back for the money. Losing an All Star in John Scott; and veteran depth in Tom Gilbert and Ben Scrivens, they add Al Montaya, Chris Terry, Bobby Farnham, and Zach Redmond.
Adding depth was the key to this team, and that was done. By getting rid of salaries in Paul Gaustad; Eric Nystrom; and Barrett Jackman; they add Matt Carle; Yannick Weber; and Matt Irwin.
New Jersey Devils
So many names they let go to change this team around- Patrik Elias; Tummo Ruutu; Jordin Tootoo (CHI); David Schlemko (SJ); Tyler Kennedy; Bobby Farnham (MTL); David Warsfosky (PIT); Yann Danis; Marc-Andre Gragnani; and Jiri Tlusty. They added a young former first rounder in Brandon Gromley; and added veterans Ben Lovejoy and Vernon Fiddler.
New York Islanders
Talk about an around transformation. With losing top six guys in Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo; a valuable enforcer in Matt Martin; and depth guys in Steve Bernier and Marek Zidlicky; they added Andrew Ladd; PA Parenteau; and Jason Chimera.
New York Rangers
The aging Rangers team needed speed, but were looking to add players in their prime. With Dan Boyle retiring and other guys like Dominic Moore; Eric Staal (MIN); and Victor Stalberg (CAR) leaving; they added Michael Grabner; Nathan Gerbe; Josh Jorris; and Adam Clendenning. The offseason trade of Mika Zibanejad for Derrick Brassard gets the Rangers you gets as well.
With Chris Phillips retiring and veterans Scott Gomez and Mike Kostka leaving; and the unsurprisingly surprising exit of Patrick Wericoch (COL); they added Chris Kelly and Mike Blunden. The trade of Zibanejad for Brassard puts the Senators ahead of their agenda.
Another team letting a good amount of guys go- Ray Emery; Jason LaBarbera (retired); Evgeny Mevdev (KHL); Ryan White (ARI), and Tim Brent (retired); they added TJ Brennan; Boyd Gordon; and Dale Weise.
After winning the Stanley Cup, there is not much a team can do. The biggest name they lost was Ben Lovejoy (NJD); but Matt Cullen is still out there. They added Stuart Percy and David Warsofsky to add young depth on defense.
San Jose Sharks
After making a Stanley Cup Final appearance, they know how close they are to winning the cup. They lost James Reimer (FLA); Roman Polak (TOR); Jeremy Morin (TBL); Nick Spaling (SWI); and veteran Dainius Zubrus; and added Mikkel Boedker and David Schlemko.
St. Louis Blues
After losing a slew of veterans in Andre Benoit; David Backes (BOS); Troy Brouwer (CGY); Chris Butler; Peter Harrold; and Steve Ott (DET); they added Carter Hutton and reacquired David Perron.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Managing to keep Steven Stamkos is a win. Extending Victor Hedman is a bonus. Holding onto Alex Kilorn long term is a plus. Giving up Jonathan Marchessault (FLA) was a shocker. Buying out Matt Carle was anticipated. Adding depth forwards in Michael Bournival; Jeremy Morin; Cory Conacher; and Gabriel Dumont keeps the Bolts young.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs let expiring contracts they couldn't trade at the deadline walk in PA Parenteau (NYI); Brad Boyes; TJ Brennan (PHI); Michael Grabner (NYR); Ben Smith; Alex Stalock (MIN); and Raffi Torres. They added grit in Matt Martin and Roman Polak.
With the loss of veteran star players in Dan Hamhius and Radim Vrbata; they went out and brought in a Sweede to play with the Sedins in Loui Eriksson. They also added young depth guys in Michael Chaput and Phillip Larsen.
After winning the President's Trophy, they let Mike Richards and Mike Weber walk to add Brett Connolly and Brad Malone.
With Grant Clitsome retiring and Matt Halischuk walking, they added veterans Brian Strait and Shawn Matthais.
My Personal Winners
The State of Florida
Both teams made great strides. One remains a Stanley Cup contender; the other made strides to become one. Keeping stars like Stamkos and Hedman around versus the arrival of depth on the backend in Yandle and Demers will be a competitive balance that Florida has not seen.
The State of Hockey got rid of one major salary and brought in big name players with less money. Even though Vanek will be missed, Staal can play both center and wing, which is what this team needs. They are a win now team, and they are doing what they can to do so.
The Sabres picked up Kyle Okposo, who was one of the biggest fish on the open market to play with Jack Eichel. They will both be scoring more, and his addition adds more balance to Buffalo's offense.
Matt Carle is an underrated pick by the Predators as he played under Laviolette's system in Philadelphia. The Preds also picked up other good veteran defensemen as they let their forwards get younger.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Sam Gagner may be the bargain of the summer behind Carle. Gagner is a middle six guy that comes in to solidify Columbus' soft spot down the middle.
My Personal Losers
Loui Eriksson is a good add, but this team is aging so fast and their young core isn't ready to compete with them yet. The Sedins are getting older. Their defense is mediocre. Ryan Miller is aging.
Letting deadline guys walk and young underrated gems depart could hurt this team down the road. They still have a solid top six and two pretty good defensemen, but that won't get them to the postseason.
Alex Radulov hasn't played a game yet, but Russians usually do not succeed in Montreal. Look at Alex Semin. Where's Alexi Emelin? Has Russian prospect Nikita Sherback played yet?
They have gotten slower and older with Milan Lucic. He may be able to help McDavid, but how much will he hurt Edmonton with that contract? Especially down the line.
What are your thoughts on the offseason so far?
More to come…
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