Hit or Miss for Every NHL Team's Biggest Move So Far in the 2014 Offseason
We are nearly two weeks beyond the start of free agency, and for some teams, the offseason began in April. Now seems like as good a time as any to begin judging each team's best offseason moves.
That photo of Patrick Kane embracing Jonathan Toews may suggest the pair receiving matching eight-year, $84 million contracts that begin in 2015-16 was the best move by the Chicago Blackhawks this summer. That could be the answer, but revealing it now would give the reader less incentive to click through the slideshow, so that answer won't be revealed here.
(Secret: It's not their best move.)
What can be revealed here is this list has the most notable moves for all 30 teams, although not every team made a great or even good move since the offseason began. That results in having to dig deep to find one that applies or taking a bad move and seeing the positive move in it.
In some cases, no moves are the best moves. But in any case, we'll tell you whether each move has been a hit or miss.
Make sure you click on every slide to see every team's best offseason move, and hopefully you will enjoy it. If not, feel free to express your derision in the comments, and we will work to serve you better in the future.
Anaheim Ducks: Hit
The Move: Acquiring Ryan Kesler from Vancouver
The Anaheim Ducks felt they were sorely lacking at the center position behind Ryan Getzlaf and made a strong move to fix it during the afternoon of this year's draft. They acquired Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for third-line center Nick Bonino, back-end defenseman Luca Sbisa and two high draft picks.
It's not as though the Ducks fleeced the Canucks, but they paid a very fair price to get bigger, stronger and better down the middle.
"I loved Nick Bonino and [Sbisa], but you're getting a top-flight guy that can give [Getzlaf] a rest every now and then," Boudreau said, via the team's website. "It gives you strength down the middle. I've never coached a team in the NHL that's had a second-line center that you're going to have with Ryan Kesler. It's a great [acquisition], and it gets you excited."
The 29-year-old Kesler had 25 goals in 77 games last season and gives the Ducks a better chance at beating the Los Angeles Kings, should the two meet in the 2015 postseason.
Arizona Coyotes: Miss
The Move: Changing Their Name to the Arizona Coyotes
While some franchises were at the draft looking to wheel and deal or select some of the best young talent, the Coyotes were focused on the most important aspect of success—branding.
After 17 seasons in the desert as the Phoenix Coyotes, the organization officially changed its name to the Arizona Coyotes, something that should go a long way toward making the team more popular and successful, and more importantly, a stronger brand.
Some teams will point to wins, attendance and revenue as indicators of success, but now the Coyotes won't have to focus on two straight years of missing the playoffs, finishing dead last in attendance last year or that the NHL has had to keep the franchise afloat with loans in the past. Because the problem wasn't poor ownership or poor play on the ice; it was a brand that wasn't connecting with casual fans beyond local revenue platform engagement streams.
So while other teams were addressing needs with trades and free-agent signings, the Coyotes did the prudent thing and put their effort into their brand. The wins and fans should immediately follow.
Boston Bruins: Miss
The Move: Allowing RW Shawn Thornton to Sign Elsewhere
Sure, it's a bold statement to say someone as important to the success of a franchise as Shawn Thornton was to the Boston Bruins departing via free agency is a positive. After all, he has earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Cam Neely, according to ESPN in a not-at-all sarcastic manner.
But it's true—Thornton had run his course in Boston. It was time for him to move on.
When Thornton arrived in Boston in 2007, the Bruins had missed the playoffs for two straight seasons. It's no coincidence—nope, totally not a coincidence in any way, shape or form—that the Bruins went to the playoffs in seven straight seasons with Thornton playing about nine minutes per night. It's no coincidence the Bruins won a Stanley Cup in 2011 and lost in the Final in 2013 with him on the roster.
The secret to their success was let out of the bag during the 2014 playoffs, when the Bruins rallied to beat the Canadiens in Game 2 of their second-round series only after Thornton told his teammates it would be good if they scored some goals, according to a separate, totally serious ESPN report.
On Saturday, the Bruins weren't hanging their heads on the bench, even with the possibility of going to Montreal down two games to none. To make sure, veteran Shawn Thornton had a message for his teammates after suffering an injury only 22 seconds into the third period.
As he was carried down the tunnel by team trainers, Thornton looked back at the bench and said to his teammates, "One goal at a time."
It worked, indeed. The Bruins, trailing 2-0 at the time, rallied for a 5-3 win. Sure, they lost the series in seven games, but it was likely because Thornton forgot to remind his teammates that they can only score one goal at a time.
Is it really coincidence the Bruins were 23rd in goals the season before Thornton joined the team and then finished third last season?
Thornton could only hold his teammates' hands for so long. He leaves town a hero, star, teacher and legend.
Buffalo Sabres: Hit
The Move: Signing LW Matt Moulson
The Buffalo Sabres were miles from the salary-cap floor at the start of free agency and could have easily been a contestant on Supermarket Sweep, drunk on excitement, running through the aisles and sweeping anything and everything into the shopping cart in order to achieve a hefty dollar amount.
No one is saying the Sabres are going from 30th to the playoffs in one season, but Matt Moulson for five years and $25 million is a nice contract for a three-time 30-goal scorer who is still just 30 years old. Dave Bolland signed a larger contract despite not being as good at hockey as Moulson is, while Michael Cammalleri received an identical contract from the New Jersey Devils despite being two years older.
As Extra Skater shows, Moulson had a positive Corsi relative number last season and throughout his career despite being matched against top competition for the most part. Will he ever touch 36 goals in a season again without John Tavares as his center? As Daniel Alfredsson once said, probably not, but he's a quality player on a team desperate for them.
Calgary Flames: Miss
The Move: Signing D/F Deryk Engelland
A lot of critics scoffed when the Flames gave Deryk Engelland three years and $8.9 million in free agency. The general thought from those so-called experts in the media was that Engelland is not good at hockey and paying someone who is not good at hockey nearly $9 million is poor roster and salary-cap management.
What no one has considered is general manager Brad Treliving didn't pay that money for one bad hockey player; he paid that money for two bad hockey players.
It's easy to look at his stats from last season—56 games, six goals, six assists, 43.8 percent Corsi—and think, "Man, this guy isn't worth all that money." But people forget he amassed those numbers playing both forward and defense, which makes him like the Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders of hockey, or something.
When you consider bad forward Tanner Glass received three years and $4.35 million and bad defenseman Tim Gleason received one year and $1.2 million, that's four years and $5.55 million for those players. Engelland required one fewer year and an extra $3.5 million, but that extra money is the price for signing a winner.
Engelland joined the Penguins in 2009, and the team went on to have four 100-point seasons and 72 points in 48 games in 2013. The Flames will lean on his winning experience and demeanor to get their franchise back on track.
Carolina Hurricanes: Miss
The Move: Signing C Jay McClement
After finishing 24th in the league last year, the Carolina Hurricanes knew they needed a major overhaul to the roster to get back into the playoffs. Like any responsible franchise, they went out and signed the only player who could transform the team into a winner.
At one year and $1 million, the Hurricanes not only got better but opened themselves to a tremendous marketing idea: McClement Weather Night. The Hurricanes can give away a McClement bobblehead and some inclement weather tools, like an umbrella or rain slicker. McClement Weather Night should be a big hit in Hurricane country.
And McClement should also play some hockey too. He only had four goals in 81 games last season, but his big contribution was to the Toronto Maple Leafs' penalty kill, which finished...oh wait, it finished 28th last year. Pay no mind, because individually, he was named the top penalty-killer in the league by The Hockey News in 2013.
Then again, that was a shortened season, and last year, the Leafs fell to nearly dead last after finishing second in 2013. So who knows?
Really, this has all been a deception built around the premise of a McClement weather joke. The Hurricanes signed Tim Gleason and Manny Malhotra. What do you want from me?
Chicago Blackhawks: Hit
The Move: Signing C Brad Richards
Like a man with a 7.625" head trying to wear a 7.25" fitted hat, the Blackhawks had zero cap space at one point this summer. As a Cup-contending team that needed to restock after losing to the Kings in the conference final, they coveted a No. 2 center but couldn't spend all that much to land one.
That's why signing Brad Richards for one year and $2 million to replace Michal Handzus as the team's No. 2 center (seriously, this team won a Cup and went three rounds last year with Handzus as its No. 2 center) was so important.
There's no denying that Richards is showing obvious signs of decline, as his past two seasons have been the worst of his career in terms of point production. But playing alongside Patrick Kane and/or Marian Hossa could make his numbers look a little better, even if Richards might be the one top-six center in the NHL who is slower than Handzus.
But even with his legs looking heavy at times last season, he still scored 20 goals in 82 games and was a positive possession player. What the Blackhawks do with him in the playoffs should they again cross paths with the Kings is a question, but they'll cross that bridge when they come to it.
Colorado Avalanche: Miss
The Move: The Team Announces Its 2014-15 Schedule
It was late in the afternoon on June 22 when it happened—the Colorado Avalanche website released a story about the 2014-15 schedule, and they executed the posting of the article perfectly.
The seven-paragraph testament to information-releasing contains the date for the Avs' first game and home opener and a clever use of quotes to denote Friday games are considered weekend games, of which 17 will take place in Denver next season.
Curious as to how many games the Avs play against the Eastern Conference? That's in there. Want to know the breakdown of games against the Pacific Division? That's in there. Intrigued about the number of back-to-back games the Avs have on their schedule? You guessed it—that's in there.
If you'd like to learn about the team's local broadcast schedule and when tickets will go on sale, that information is sadly not contained in the story. But seeing as how this is the best thing the Avs have done in the offseason, they let the readers know when they have that information, they will release it at a future date.
Kudos, Colorado. You've really done the team and fans proud with this one.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Miss
The Move: Offering Ryan Johansen a Bad Contract
Some teams treat restricted free agency like a first day in prison—find the biggest guy in the yard and punch him in the face. That teaches a lesson to all the lesser inmates that they should not mess with you, because you're a loose cannon.
Center Ryan Johansen is clearly the biggest guy in the Columbus Blue Jackets room, a 21-year-old restricted free agent coming off a breakout 33-goal season that helped the team reach the playoffs for the second time in franchise history. The fourth pick in the 2010 draft was in for a huge raise and perhaps a seven- or eight-year deal from the team this summer.
That's when general manager Jarmo Kekalainen loaded his fist with some metal from shop class and cracked Johansen in the jaw. Picture the scene in Face/Off when Nic Cage is going nuts in that metal boot prison and screaming, "I'm Caster Troy!" That's essentially what Kekalainen did to Johansen, who may be John Travolta in this metaphor, but it's hard to say.
"It seems like a slap in the face," Johansen said to The Columbus Dispatch about being offered a bridge deal, tying the Face/Off thing together quite nicely.
The Blue Jackets seem impervious to an offer sheet, so this is what you do to keep all the other pending RFAs in line. When it comes time to negotiate new deals with Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson next offseason, Kekalainen can point Johansen's head on his wall and say, "OK, gentlemen, so here is my offer: nothing."
That's just good business, as ruthless as it may be.
Dallas Stars: Hit
The Move: Signing RW Ales Hemsky
The Dallas Stars' move to get Jason Spezza got all the headlines, but it was the crafty backdoor play of adding Ales Hemsky that was the really impressive move.
Hemsky and Spezza were teammates and linemates for about 10 minutes in Ottawa last season, but it was an impressive 10 minutes. Hemsky had 17 points in 20 games after arriving in a trade from the Edmonton Oilers, who had watched his numbers and health decline over the years. But coming to Ottawa and playing with Spezza seemed to rejuvenate the 30-year-old Hemsky.
That's why adding Hemsky for three years and $12 million is a great move now and perhaps in the future. With Spezza's contract set to expire after this season, a year of success and great numbers playing alongside Hemsky could entice Spezza to stay in Dallas. The Stars could be looking at a top six that includes Spezza, Hemsky, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn for at least four straight years.
General manager Jim Nill seems to always be a step ahead, and that was the case here. The Hemsky signing alone is a good move, but it could mean a lot more to the franchise in the future.
Detroit Red Wings: Miss
The Move: Teaching Prospects How to Eat Properly
We could all stand to eat better. The Detroit Red Wings are aware of this, and that's why they want to make their prospects at development camp aware of the fact that good food can make good players.
The team's dietitian showed the prospects how to make nine delicious dishes during camp, according to the team's website.
“We made a chicken parmesan with not as much breading on it,” goaltender Jared Coreau said. “We made an avocado and Greek yogurt spread for salmon fillets, which is really good. Quinoa, which is really good, and I hadn’t eaten until then and now I eat it every week, probably twice a week.”
Team dietitian Lisa McDowell, who is not related to the Lisa McDowell from the 1988 comedy Coming to America, is drawing rave reviews from the players.
“I love Chipotle and Lisa McDowell approves it,” Coreau said. “She says go to Chipotle as much as you want. They have good meat, good rice, it’s all good stuff. It’s a good place on the road."
The Red Wings also signed defenseman Kyle Quincey to a two-year, $8.5 million contract.
Edmonton Oilers: Hit
The Move: Signing D Mark Fayne
The Edmonton Oilers were a defensive nightmare a year ago, finishing 30th in goals allowed and 26th in shots allowed. In an attempt to shore up the defense, the Oilers went under the radar to sign Mark Fayne.
The Oilers signed the relatively unknown defenseman to a four-year, $14.5 million contract, and based on his numbers, he could be a big help on the back end.
Over at Oilers Nation, Jonathan Willis looked into Fayne's quality of competition last season with the New Jersey Devils, and the results were promising. Fayne posted positive Corsi numbers against some of the game's top players, and while it's not entirely his doing, it's encouraging to see, should the Oilers decide to match him against the West's best next season.
It's an uphill battle for the Oilers in the Pacific Division, but they should improve on their 67 points from last season.
Florida Panthers: Hit
The Move: Signing RW Shawn Thornton
Maybe you're asking yourself, "How can the Bruins getting rid of Shawn Thornton be that team's best move and the Panthers adding that same guy be that team's best move?"
That's a fair question and thanks for reading, but the answer is simple—Thornton is there to guide a young team that may not be aware that goals are scored one at a time.
The Panthers finished tied for second-to-last in goals scored last season despite having some talented players like Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad. The Panthers also signed some pricey free agents in Dave Bolland and Jussi Jokinen, although it isn't clear if they know goals are scored one at a time.
Thornton's deal is two years and $2.4 million, which may seem like a lot for a 36-year-old face-puncher whose possession numbers have been downright tragic for three seasons, but again, someone needs to teach these talented kids that goals can't be scored two, three or even four at a time.
And in Thornton, the Panthers have just the savvy veteran to do just that.
Los Angeles Kings: Hit
The Move: Signing RW Marian Gaborik
Let's take a lap around the league and see what some of the top free-agent wingers received from teams in free agency this summer:
• Michael Cammalleri: Five years, $25 million from New Jersey
• Matt Moulson: Five years, $25 million from Buffalo
• Nikolai Kulemin: Four years, $16.75 million from the N.Y. Islanders
• Jussi Jokinen: Four years, $16 million from Florida
That's what makes the Kings signing Marian Gaborik for seven years and $34.125 million ($4.875 million cap hit) so nice—sure, the term is longer, but his cap hit is smaller than that of Cammalleri and Moulson and only slighter greater than that of Kulemin and Jokinen.
The Kings got a bargain for someone who was a wrecking ball playing alongside center Anze Kopitar. Yes, there are questions about Gaborik's long-term health over the course of the deal, which are fair, but a cap-friendly deal for a team that is in a window for winning Cups now is the most important part of this deal.
Minnesota Wild: Miss
The Move: Upgrading the Scoreboard Stuff
If there's one thing every team needs to be on top of, it's the scoreboard game. The Minnesota Wild are making sure that's taken care of this summer by upgrading its scoreboard technology this summer, according a story on its website.
It's a pretty smart move when you think about it for a second. Imagine a scenario next season when the Wild are playing the Blackhawks in the playoffs, and all of a sudden, the Wild are down 1-0 after 45 seconds of the first period.
There's Martin Brodeur in net, trying to figure out how that 60-foot wrister from Nick Leddy got through his legs. Desperate for an answer, Brodeur can just look up at the scoreboard and get a crystal-clear look at the puck disappearing between his legs on the top-of-the-line scoreboard.
Later in the game, Thomas Vanek can look up at the scoreboard, and without hesitation, he'll be able to see on the picture-perfect screen that the Wild are down 5-0. Being able to see and internalize that quickly and accurately will help him and his teammates better assess the situation.
It's always the little things that help teams improve.
Montreal Canadiens: Hit
The Move: Signing D Tom Gilbert
No, really, this was a great signing.
Tom Gilbert is a fancy stats darling and had a positive Corsi with the lowly Florida Panthers last season. With Josh Gorges dealt to the Buffalo Sabres, the Canadiens needed a replacement, and Gilbert for two years and $5.6 million is a worthy replacement and probably an upgrade.
The 31-year-old toiled in Edmonton for years and spent a season with Minnesota, which means this may be his first season on a team as talented as Montreal. He had three goals and 28 points last season and should improve on that this season.
Considering that last year general manager Marc Bergevin opted for Douglas Murray in free agency, this is a sign that the Canadiens may have figured out that advanced statistics are a tool worth using for judging players.
Nashville Predators: Hit
The Move: Signing D Anton Volchenkov
Anton Volchenkov will never score off an end-to-end rush, and his shot from the blue line is much more likely to hit something other than the net, but the Nashville Predators did well to land him for one year and $1 million.
The New Jersey Devils bought out his contract this summer despite him being a positive possession player the past three seasons, both raw and relative. He is not a great skater and has 24 points the past three seasons, but he's mobile enough and willing to block shots.
Volchenkov on his own isn't a headline-grabbing signing, but if you think of him as a replacement for Michael Del Zotto on the third pairing, that's a huge upgrade.
New Jersey Devils: Hit
The Move: Signing G Cory Schneider to a Contract Extension
It took long enough, but Cory Schneider is finally a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL and has the No. 1 goaltender contract to go along with it.
The New Jersey Devils signed him to a seven-year, $42 million contract Wednesday, one that will begin in 2015-16. It's quite the commitment to a goaltender who has played in just 143 career NHL games, but it's similar to another contract handed out recently that's working out well.
The Boston Bruins signed Tuukka Rask to an eight-year, $56 million contract in July 2013. At that point in his career, Rask had played 138 games, although he did guide the Bruins to within two victories of a Stanley Cup in the previous season. The Bruins committed more years and money to Rask, who won the Vezina Trophy last season.
Since 2010-11 Schneider (.928) has the best save percentage of any goaltender to play in at least 100 games. Right behind him is Rask, who has a .927 save percentage over that time.
There's no guarantee that Schneider remains at that elite level for the duration of his deal, but he has proved himself for years as an understudy to Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur. The Devils finally have the goaltender to succeed Brodeur, and relatively speaking, Schneider could be a bargain if he maintains his previously excellent level of play.
New York Islanders: Miss
The Move: Going to the Draft Without Any Celebrities
Nothing says "we're not a legitimate professional sports franchise" like having celebrity fans of the team heavily involved at big events.
It was at the 2010 draft when the New York Islanders allowed actor Kevin Connolly, one of the stars of the repetitive cesspool of lazy storytelling and bro jokes Entourage, to sit at the team's table and announce the selection of Brock Nelson at the podium.
"I live out here and I'm glad to come out here and be part of the Islander team," said Connolly, who may actually believe he's part of the team, per the team's website.
Well, it looks as though the Islanders are about to get through a third straight season in which the actor will not be involved with a draft or a game that counts in the standings. You may think that signing the combination of Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin were the team's best moves, and sure, they were good moves, but they are a reflection of an organization that no longer allows celebrities at draft tables or on benches.
Of course, if the Islanders invite Lena Dunham to the bench during a future Islanders game in Brooklyn, all bets are off.
New York Rangers: Hit
The Move: Buying out C Brad Richards
Sometimes hockey is a cruel business, and that was evidenced in the Rangers' decision to use an amnesty buyout on the contract of Brad Richards.
After he signed with the team before the 2011-12 season, the Rangers reached the conference final, second round and Stanley Cup Final in his three seasons. Richards' play declined over the years, but if not for the looming cap-recapture penalties if he retired early, he'd still be in New York.
Alas, buying out Richards freed the Rangers to use that money to land defenseman Dan Boyle.
And that's not all the Rangers have done with their newfound cap space.
The Rangers followed the Boyle signing by adding Tanner Glass, Michael Kostka, Chris Mueller, Cedrick Desjardins, Matt Hunwick, Steve Kampfer, Chris Bourque and Nick Tarnasky. That's 96 games, six goals and 15 assists from those skaters in 2013-14 added to the roster for next season.
It's probably the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack roster, but additions nonetheless.
Any time you can part ways with a veteran who had 20 goals last season and use some of that space to sign some restricted free agents and bolster your minor league depth, you have to do it.
Ottawa Senators: Miss
The Move: Honoring Dominik Hasek for His Election to the Hall of Fame
When your offseason isn't going all that well (Jason Spezza leaving, no one of note besides David Legwand arriving), it's tough for a team that missed the playoffs the previous year to find a silver lining as fans clamor for moves that will make the team more successful.
Well, the Ottawa Senators stumbled into gold during the offseason when one of the franchise's greatest players was elected to the Hall of Fame—Dominik Hasek.
Kudos to the team for taking time to acknowledge all of Hasek's amazing accomplishments during his career, which may be the best in the history of NHL goaltending.
Hasek played 43 of his 854 NHL games with the Senators, a whopping 5 percent of his career. The 41-year-old Hasek played well over that half-season of work, going 28-10-4 with a .925 save percentage. He went on to not win one of the six Vezina Trophies he grabbed during his illustrious career with other teams.
It has to be a relief to an organization as downtrodden as the Senators that they can hitch their wagon to a legendary player who will very likely spend 90-95 percent of his induction speech talking about his 43 games in Ottawa.
Philadelphia Flyers: Hit
The Move: No Bad Contracts, No Bad Trades (So Far)
For some teams, the offseason is like global thermonuclear war: The only winning move is not to play.
Consider the Flyers' three most-recent offseasons:
2013: The Flyers signed Vincent Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5 million contract, which seems like a lot to pay a fourth-line center.
2012: The Flyers traded James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Luke Schenn. Van Riemsdyk scored 30 goals last season, while Schenn is right-handed, 24 years old and weighs 229 pounds.
2011: The Flyers traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who wound up together in Los Angeles and have won two Stanley Cups in three years. But the good thing about those deals is it freed cap space to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal, a contract that was bought out after two years.
What has Ron Hextall done so far in 2014? Nothing. He's done nothing, and it's everything we thought it could be.
Well, not exactly nothing. He dealt Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets for R.J. Umberger, and that looks like a wash. Since Andrew MacDonald got a six-year, $30 million extension during the season, that avoids any scorn here. But overall, the Flyers have been patient and prudent during the offseason.
As long as the team's captain doesn't get arrested for grabbing a police officer's buttocks, this can be considered a positive offseason so far for the...wait, what's that?
Pittsburgh Penguins: Hit
The Move: Signing D Christian Ehrhoff
With Matt Niskanen leaving via free agency, the Pittsburgh Penguins needed another offensively gifted defenseman to fill the void. Christian Ehrhoff was available after being bought out by the Buffalo Sabres, and the Penguins landed him for one year and $4 million.
It may very well be the best unrestricted free-agent signing of the summer.
Ehrhoff was languishing in Buffalo but still posting solid numbers. His raw Corsi numbers with the Sabres the past two years aren't great, but relative to his teammates, they were outstanding. He had 32 and 33 points, respectively, the past two seasons, and those numbers figure to jump playing with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin at even strength and on the power play.
The Penguins landed a productive top-four defenseman on a show-me contract. It may not solve their long-term problems, but it gives their prospects another year to grow, while Ehrhoff shoulders the load.
San Jose Sharks: Miss
The Move: Signing D/F John Scott
Much like Deryk Engelland with the Flames, the Sharks landed a player in John Scott who can play both forward and defense.
But more importantly, what better way to force Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau out of town and commence a rebuild than signing Scott?
Thornton and Marleau signed contract extensions with no-movement clauses in January, but after a first-round exit at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, general manager Doug Wilson has decided to rebuild his 111-point team. Not surprisingly, Thornton and Marleau have not been traded, as they probably like playing for a 111-point team a whole lot.
Who else but Scott can wreck that?
Scott has played six seasons in the NHL, and only one has resulted in a playoff berth, as he reached the postseason with the Blackhawks in 2011. He has two goals and four assists in 236 games, and perhaps the threat of playing him on the top line will help Thornton decide to accept a trade.
The hardest part of a rebuild is getting the most from your stars in trades. When those stars have no-movement clauses, the rebuild is even more difficult.
Perhaps the thought of Scott lumbering around the ice for a once-great team will help facilitate a rebuild only one or two people on the planet feel is necessary.
St. Louis Blues: Hit
The Move: Signing C Paul Stastny
Sometimes you have to delve deep into the offseason transactions or make up something completely farcical to find a team's best move, but that's not the case with the St. Louis Blues.
Paul Stastny was the biggest prize on the free-agent market, and the Blues landed him with a four-year, $28 million contract. Considering the going rate for some of the top free-agent centers in past years (Brad Richards: nine years, $60 million in 2011; Stephen Weiss: five years, $24.5 million in 2013), it's a fair contract for the team.
Stastny is only 28 years old and had 25 goals and 60 points in 71 games last season. Despite the Avalanche being a possession tire fire last season, he had a 50.2 percent Corsi and was plus-4.2 percent relative to his teammates.
Stastny grew up in St. Louis as his dad Peter played the final two years of his career there.
It hasn't been the greatest summer in St. Louis with Vladimir Sobotka leaving and Steve Ott returning, but there's no question Stastny is a great addition to a team that fancies itself a Cup contender.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Hit
The Move: Acquiring D Jason Garrison
Imagine being able to land a reasonably priced, top-four defenseman who can contribute on the power play, and all it costs is a second-round draft pick.
That's what the Lightning did before this year's draft, snagging Jason Garrison from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for the 50th pick in the draft.
Garrison is 29 years old and has four years and $4.6 million per season remaining on his contract. He had seven goals—four on the power play—and 26 assists in 81 games last season. He has 16 power-play goals the past three seasons, and considering his shooting percentage took a wild dip to 3.9 last season (6.5 for his career), a big year could be in order.
He played about 21 minutes per game the past two seasons, but his possession numbers took a dip last year.
But for a second-round pick, this is quite the nice pickup by general manager Steve Yzerman.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Hit
The Move: Not Signing C Dave Bolland or G Martin Brodeur
There were reports that the always fun Toronto Maple Leafs had strong interest in two players this summer—their own Dave Bolland and goaltender Martin Brodeur, a pair of unrestricted free agents.
According to Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun, the Maple Leafs reportedly weren't willing to pay Bolland more than $5 million per season, so they let him go to the Florida Panthers for five years and $27.5 million. The oft-injured Bolland would have been an expensive third-line center behind Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri, so letting him go was the right move.
While Bolland can't be a Leaf, Brodeur is still lurking in free agency.
Team president Brendan Shanahan admitted interest in Brodeur to serve as a backup to Jonathan Bernier, although it has been two weeks and nothing has been consummated. While Brodeur is still available, the Leafs have not added the goaltender with the second-lowest save percentage among regulars the past three seasons.
The Leafs have burdened themselves with some brutal contracts of late—David Clarkson and Bozak last year, to be precise—but they have wisely avoided that so far this summer.
Vancouver Canucks: Hit
The Move: Firing Mike Gillis, Hiring Jim Benning
Make no mistake about it—general manager Mike Gillis was a big reason why the Canucks got within one game of winning a Stanley Cup in 2011.
But from that point forward, the Canucks were a mismanaged mess that needed cleaning up.
Hiring Jim Benning to replace Gillis isn't paying immediate dividends, but it should help in the long term.
Consider that Gillis had two No. 1 goaltenders in Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, with Luongo asking for a trade after Schneider earned more playing time. Unable to find a taker for Luongo and his 12-year contract, Gillis instead dealt Schneider to the Devils during the 2013 draft.
A few months later, he dealt Luongo to the Florida Panthers, leaving the suddenly rebuilding Canucks with Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom in net.
Benning has arrived on the scene and continued the house cleaning, shipping an unhappy Ryan Kesler to Anaheim and clearing cap space in the Jason Garrison trade to Tampa Bay. The Canucks added a bona fide No. 1 goaltender in Ryan Miller and an underrated winger in Radim Vrbata, so they could be competitive in a division that has a Sharks team talking rebuild.
The Canucks won't be back in the Cup Final anytime soon, but they are on a better path with Benning in place of Gillis.
Washington Capitals: Hit
The Move: Hiring Barry Trotz
The Washington Capitals made a lot of splashy moves in free agency, giving Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen a combined $67 million.
But it was the move to hire Barry Trotz that may go down as their best of the summer.
Trotz compiled a 557-479-60-100 record in 15 seasons with the Nashville Predators, making the most of an expansion team that never found goal scoring all that easy. Offense has never been a problem in Washington, while keeping the puck out of the net has been its downfall recently, not to mention shabby five-on-five play.
If Trotz can make a defensive difference with the Capitals, they could get back to being the dominant team they used to be.
Winnipeg Jets: Hit
The Move: Running LW Evander Kane out of Town (Hopefully)
There are trade rumors swirling around Evander Kane, and the 22-year-old potential star seems OK with them.
He was quoted from a radio interview in a Winnipeg Free Press story by Ed Tait:
Host: Evander do you want to play for the Winnipeg Jets anymore?
Kane: Well, I think I'm a Winnipeg Jet right now, and, you know, there's been speculation and rumors the three years since I got there. So, you know, we'll see what happens and we'll carry on as if I'm a Winnipeg Jet.
If you're unfamiliar with the Ballad of Evander Kane when it comes to weird, unfair treatment in the local media, take a spin through this Greg Wyshynski piece over at Puck Daddy.
With all the fire Kane faces in Winnipeg from the media, here's a link to Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff defending his player in the wake of this controversy:
Sorry. That defense is not out there.
So the Jets' best offseason move has yet to happen, but hopefully it's trading Kane to a team that gets on national television a lot and has a chance at the postseason. Kane has 30-goal potential (he hit that mark in 2011-12) and all the tools to be a dominant power forward. He is a treat to watch, although sadly it's rarely on a large stage.
But having a miserable player who has to constantly answer for things like favoriting tweets does the Jets no good. Deal him to a place where he'll be appreciated and happy and allow hockey fans the treat of watching him flourish elsewhere.
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