The Good and Bad of the 2015 Offseason (So Far): Pacific Division

Is it the start of the season yet? No, it isn’t. In fact, it isn’t even close. We still have over two months to go until the puck drops on the 2015-16 NHL season, meaning there’s a lot of time for teams to make moves, and there’s a lot of time to sit around and think about who’s had a good offseason and who hasn’t. Pretty much all of the interesting free agents are off the table now that we’re heading into August, but as we saw the other day with the Canucks and Penguins, there’s still a lot of time for teams to make moves and tweak their rosters. 

With that being said, after the jump I’m going to break down the good and the bad of the offseason in the Pacific Division (so far) and who might still be looking to make some more moves before the season starts. 

Anaheim Ducks

  • Signed Ryan Kesler to a six year contract extension with a $6.875 million cap hit.
  • Signed Chris Stewart to a one year, $1.7 million contract.
  • Signed Shawn Horcoff to a one year, $1.75 million contract.
  • Signed Brian McGrattan to a one year, $0.600 million contract. 
  • Bought out Mark Fistric, $0.517 million cap hit for four years.
  • Traded a 2016 second round draft pick to the Canucks for Kevin Bieksa, then gave him a two year extension with a $4 million cap hit.
  • Traded Kyle Palmeri to the Devils for a 2015 second round pick and a 2016 third round pick.
  • Traded Emerson Etem and a 2015 second round pick from New Jersey to the Rangers for Carl Hagelin and a 2015 second round pick and sixth round pick.
  • Traded James Wisniewski to the Hurricanes for Anton Khudobin.
  • A few minor signings: Harry Zolnierczyk, Korbinian Holzer, Chris Mueller, Joe Piskula, and Matt Hackett. 
  • IN: Chris Stewart, Shawn Horcoff, Kevin Bieksa, Carl Hagelin, Anton Khudobin.
  • OUT: Francois Beauchemin, Mark Fistric, Emerson Etem, Kyle Palmeri, Matt Beleskey, Sheldon Souray, James Wisniewski, Jason LaBarbera.

The Ducks have had a pretty busy offseason so far, and they still have a little bit of work to do. Newly acquired Carl Hagelin and Jakob Silfverberg are in need of new contracts, but this shouldn’t be a huge issue as the Ducks have nearly $16 million in cap space remaining. Even though they do have a ton of cap space to play with, they aren’t going to want to go too crazy before the season starts. This year they have Hagelin and Silfverberg, but next year Ryan Kesler’s extension kicks in, and they’ll need to figure out new contracts for like half of their team. John Gibson, Frederik Andersen, Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, Simon Despres, Jiri Sekac, and Rickard Rakell will all be looking for new contracts next summer. Aside from that, it appears that Anaheim’s core (including a freshly signed/aging Ryan Kesler) is locked up and under control for the foreseeable future. 

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The Ducks’ biggest loss this offseason was the departure of veteran blue liner Francois Beauchemin. The Ducks replaced him by trading a second round pick in 2016 to the Canucks for Kevin Bieksa. Although he isn’t the player he was a few years ago on the powerhouse Canucks, Bieksa will do a fair job at filling Beauchemin’s role as a physical, defensive defenceman who can provide grit and leadership on a young-ish Ducks blue line. Colorado is paying Beauchemin $4.5 million for three years, while the Ducks are paying Bieksa just $2.5 million in real salary this year, though he comes with a $4.6 million cap hit. Next year, an extension kicks in that’ll pay him $4.0 million for two years, so the Ducks get a slight savings than they would have had they kept Beauchemin at the $4.5 million Colorado gave him. All in all, the Ducks will save $3 million over three years in real money by changing to Bieksa. 

Like I said, the Ducks still have money (cap space, they are an internal budget team) and they still have room to improve, but their top priority right now will be signing their remaining RFAs to new deals. 

Arizona Coyotes

  • Traded Sam Ganger and a conditional pick in 2016 to the Flyers for Chris Pronger’s contract and Nicklas Grossmann.
  • Traded Lauri Korpikoski to the Oilers for Boyd Gordon.
  • Signed Brad Richardson to a three year contract with a $2.083 million cap hit.
  • Signed Steve Downie to a one year, $1.75 million contract.
  • Signed John Scott to a one year, $0.575 million contract. 
  • Signed Zbynek Michalek to a two year contract with a $3.2 million cap hit. They traded him to St. Louis at last year’s deadline. 
  • Signed Antoine Vermette to a two year contract with a $3.75 million cap hit. They traded him to Chicago at last year’s deadline. 
  • Signed Anders Lindback to a one year, $0.875 million cap hit. 
  • IN: Dylan Strome, Antoine Vermette, Boyd Gordon, Brad Richardson, Steve Downie, John Scott, Chris Pronger’s contract, Zbynek Michalek, Nicklas Grossmann, Anders Lindback.
  • OUT: Mark Arcobello, Sam Gagner, Lauri Korpikoski, David Moss, Tye McGinn, Martin Erat, B.J. Crombeen, John Moore. 

What is there to say about the Coyotes? Not a hell of a lot, honestly. They managed to bring back two guys they moved at last year’s deadline — Antoine Vermette and Zbynek Michalek — which can help them be as bad as they were last season. They also traded for Hall of Fame inductee Chris Pronger (although he’ll never play for them), Nicklas Grossmann and Boyd Gordon, and they signed a few depth guys in Brad Richardson and Steve Downie. Of course, they gave away Sam Gagner and Lauri Korpikoski, and it looks like they’re letting Martin Erat, B.J. Crombeen, and David Moss walk, so it’s hard to imagine the Coyotes actually being any better this year than they were last year – which is good for them. 

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But that’s probably the aim of the Coyotes at this point, as a rebuilding franchise. They’re obviously looking to draft their way towards success, as they added a prized prospect in Dylan Strome in June to a young group that includes Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, Anthony Duclair, and others. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Coyotes move some collection of the few NHL players they have left at the deadline if it helps them increase their odds at getting the first overall pick in the 2016 draft because Auston Matthews could just be the local hero the Coyotes need to finally capture the attention of a sour hockey market in Arizona. If not, maybe they can look forward to retiring Pronger’s number to the rafters, along with Coyotes legend Brett Hull?

Calgary Flames

  • Signed Mikael Backlund to a three year contract with a $3.575 million cap hit. 
  • Traded a 2015 first round pick, second round pick, and a 2016 second round pick to the Bruins for Dougie Hamilton, then they signed him to a six year contract with a $5.75 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Karri Ramo to a one year, $3.8 million contract.
  • Traded Max Reinhart to the Predators for a conditional fourth round pick. 
  • Signed Michael Frolik to a five year contract with a $4.3 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Lance Bouma to a three year contract with a $2.2 million cap hit.
  • Signed Josh Jooris to a one year, $0.975 million contract. 
  • Signed Paul Byron to a one year, $0.900 million contract. 
  • IN: Michael Frolik, Dougie Hamilton.
  • OUT: Raphael Diaz, Corey Potter, David Schlemko. 

I’ll be honest, being an Oilers fan watching Dougie Hamilton get traded to the Flames for a very, very underwhelming package of draft picks hurt. A lot. But, rivalries aside, the Flames have had a pretty damn good offseason so far. They traded a first round pick and two second round picks for Hamilton, who – despite what the Bruins believe – is emerging as a top pairing defenceman. Hamilton has averaged a 55.8 Corsi For percentage in his first three seasons in the NHL. Last year’s 55.5 Corsi For was his most impressive, because it was very strong in relation to his struggling Bruins teammates. The Flames also added another analytics darling in Michael Frolik this summer. While 42 points in back-to-back seasons doesn’t really seem like anything special, Frolik put up some very impressive possession numbers with the Jets over the past couple seasons while being used in difficult situations. Frolik is the type of player who may not show up on the scoresheet, but manages to make his team much, much better when he’s on the ice. 

The Flames also didn’t really lose anybody of note. Like I said, they moved picks for Hamilton and they signed Frolik as a UFA, so nobody from last year’s magical, overachieving roster was sent packing. Aside from giving Michael Ferland a few RFA deal, I imagine the Flames are done this summer. Next year, though, is going to be a tough offseason for the Flames. Key forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, among many others, need new RFA deals, while Mark Giordano, Kris Russell, Jiri Hudler, Jonas Hiller, and Karri Ramo are set to become UFAs. They only have six forwards and five defencemen committed to heading into 2016-17, but the Flames will likely need to find suitors for some of their bigger contracts like Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Smid, and Deryk Engelland in order to find space for new contracts for these key players. It’s going to be an interesting season (and offseason) in Calgary. I guess they aren’t going to regress as much as everybody thought they would. 

Edmonton Oilers

  • Traded Pittsburgh’s 2015 first round pick and a 2015 second round pick to the Islanders for Griffin Reinhart. 
  • Traded Montreal’s 2015 second round pick, a 2015 third round pick, a seventh round pick to the Rangers for Cam Talbot and a 2015 seventh round pick. 
  • Traded Martin Marincin to the Maple Leafs for Brad Ross and a 2015 fourth round pick, then flipped the pick and Travis Ewanyk to the Senators for Eric Gryba. 
  • Traded Boyd Gordon to the Coyotes for Lauri Korpikoski.
  • Traded Liam Coughlin to the Blackhawks for Anders Nilsson. 
  • Signed Mark Letestu to a three year contract with a $1.8 million cap hit.
  • Signed Andrej Sekera to a six year contract with a $5.5 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Nail Yakupov to a two year contract with a $2.5 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Justin Schultz to a one year, $3.9 million contract.
  • IN: Connor McDavid, Lauri Korpikoski, Mark Letestu, Andrej Sekera, Eric Gryba, Griffin Reinhart, Cam Talbot, Anders Nilsson.
  • OUT: Viktor Fasth, Martin Marincin, Derek Roy. 

I’m not even going to bother talking about Connor McDavid, because what is there that’s left to say? I mean, I can just type his name and everybody reading this will fold their arms and nod their head in agreement, saying “oh yeaaaaah” out loud. Whatever, I’ll say it again for good measure: the Oilers have Connor McDavid. They also have: a legitimate top pairing defenceman, and what appears to be an upgrade in net. 

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The thing I like about signing Andrej Sekera is the fact he comes from a bad team. He’s been in the league for a while now, but he really broke out with the Hurricanes in the past few seasons. Why do I like good players who come from bad teams? Well, it means they probably aren’t a product of their environment. Carolina isn’t a good team at all, but they do have a really good defenceman in Justin Faulk, who Sekera put up nice numbers playing with. It’s possible that Faulk made Sekera better, but his numbers without Faulk are actually better than his numbers with him. Over the past two years, Sekera logged over 1800 minutes with Faulk at even strength and put up a 52.4 Corsi For percentage. In those two years, he played 680 minutes without Faulk, and put up a 54.8 Corsi For percentage. His numbers improved when he went to L.A, but his most common D partner there was Brayden McNabb. I think it’s safe to say he wasn’t being carried in L.A. by Brayden McNabb. Regardless, the Oilers found a guy who can produce offensively, log around 22 minutes a game, and make their horrible defensive corp better. 

What about Cam Talbot? Talbot has been a damn good backup goalie for the Rangers over the past two seasons and last year, when he had to be their No. 1 guy, he was fantastic. In fact, he was good enough to finish seventh in Vezina Trophy voting. His 0.926 save percentage and 2.21 goals against average could be the product of a strong defensive environment, as the Rangers were a really good possession team, but his 11.60 goals saved above average suggests he actually has some merit. It’s difficult to say whether Talbot will end up being the No. 1 goalie the Oilers need, but it’s safe to say he’s at least a reasonable upgrade on Scrivens, especially if the team can limit the amount of high danger shots against him per game. 

The Oilers roster looks like its pretty much set at this point. The biggest question heading into the season in Edmonton is which young guys – Nurse, Reinhart, Draisaitl, etc – are going to make the team and where they’ll fit. 

Los Angeles Kings

  • Signed Tyler Toffoli to a two year contract with a $3.25 million cap hit.
  • Terminated the contract of Mike Richards.
  • Traded Martin Jones, Colin Miller, and a 2015 first round pick to the Bruins for Milan Lucic. 
  • Signed Jhonas Enroth to a one year, $1.25 million contract. 
  • Signed Jamie McBain to a one year, $0.600 million contract. 
  • IN: Milan Lucic, Jhonas Enroth.
  • OUT: Mike Richards, Slava Voynov*, Jarret Stoll, Justin Williams, Robyn Regehr, Martin Jones. 

The Kings have had a very strange year since winning the 2014 Stanley Cup. Mike Richards continued his decline so much so that he was sent to the AHL and Slava Voynov was arrested and suspended due to domestic assault charges. All in all, the Kings eventually terminated Richards’ contract due to more legal issues and now only have to pay a fraction of his $5.75 million cap hit. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to Voynov, but he’s an article going over the possibilities in depth for those interested. Amidst all of that, they went and traded Martin Jones and first round pick for Milan Lucic (as a replacement for playoff hero Justin Williams, who left as a UFA), who’s set to become a UFA at the end of the year. And just for good measure, they’ll also need to figure out a new contract for Anze Kopitar at the end of the season, as he hits the UFA market. 

When it’s all said and done, the Kings are still in cap hell, but they’re certainly still good enough to be considered contenders at the moment. They still have over $6 million left in cap room to improve in the depth department, but they obviously won’t be looking to hand out any more long term deals. I think they have enough of those to worry about at the moment. 

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San Jose Sharks

  • Bought out Adam Burish, $0.617 cap hit over two years. 
  • Traded UFA rights of Antti Niemi to the Stars for a 2015 seventh round pick. 
  • Traded a 2015 seventh round pick to the Canucks for Patrick McNally. 
  • Traded a 2015 first round pick and Sean Kuraly to the Bruins for Martin Jones, then they signed him to a three year contract with a $3 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Paul Martin to a four year contract with a $4.85 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Joel Ward to a three year contract with a $3.275 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Brenden Dillon to a five year deal with a $3.8 million cap hit. 
  • IN: Martin Jones, Paul Martin, Joel Ward.
  • OUT: Antti Niemi, Adam Burish, Scott Hannan, John Scott, Matt Irwin. 

The Sharks had a pretty nice offseason, adding two coveted free agents in an attempt to win in what’ll likely be a last hurrah for Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau over the next two seasons. The Sharks signed Paul Martin to a four year contract with a cap hit of $4.85 million, which will provide a nice upgrade on an already solid blue line. They also signed Joel Ward to a three year deal with a cap hit of $3.275. I honestly doubt this is enough to push the Sharks over the top, as that ship as sailed, but they are nice additions that can help the team get back into the playoffs, at least. The big question mark is the addition of Martin Jones in net as a replacement for Antti Niemi. He’s only played 34 games in the NHL, but he’s put up some respectable numbers, though his career 1.99 goals against average and 0.923 save percentage could be the product of a strong defensive system. It’s tough to say, but the Sharks know seem to like him, as they signed him to a  three year contract with a cap hit of $3 million right after acquiring him. 

Like I said, the Sharks are in win now mode. If it doesn’t work out, they can sell a bunch of assets and start building around their younger players because Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Brent Burns become UFAs in 2018, but Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Brenden Dillon, Marc Vlasic, and Justin Braun are locked up past that. Next summer, they only have to worry about giving Matthew Nieto and Tomas Hertl new RFA contracts, so this group they have now isn’t probably going to change much for the next couple years. 

Vancouver Canucks

  • Traded Eddie Lack to the Hurricanes for a 2015 third round pick and 2016 seventh round pick.
  • Traded Patrick McNally to the Sharks for a 2015 seventh round pick. 
  • Traded Kevin Bieksa to the Ducks for a 2016 second round pick. 
  • Signed Yannick Weber to a one year, $1.5 million contract. 
  • Signed Matt Bartowski to a one year, $1.75 million contract. 
  • Traded Zack Kassian and a 2016 fifth round pick to the Canadiens for Brandon Prust. 
  • Traded Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening, and a 2016 second round pick to the Penguins for Brandon Sutter and a 2016 third round pick. 
  • IN: Brandon Sutter, Matt Bartowski, Brandon Prust.
  • OUT: Nick Bonino, Shawn Matthias, Zack Kassian, Brad Richardson, Kevin Bieksa, Eddie Lack.

To be frank, this hasn’t been a very nice offseason for the Canucks. 

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First of all, they traded away the better (and cheaper) of their two starting goalies to the Hurricanes for a couple of draft picks. Now they’re struck with a quickly declining Ryan Miller for the next two seasons at a $6 million cap hit rather than what appeared to be an up and coming Eddie Lack at $1.55 million. After that, they finally closed the book on Zack Kassian by trading him to Montreal for Brandon Prust who’s slightly more expensive, a lot older, and not much better. Finally, they sent a nice secondary scoring option in Nick Bonino to the Penguins for Brandon Sutter who apparently has a nice two way game, despite the fact he doesn’t produce much offensively. They really, really overpaid for Sutter, considering they dealt a roster player (who’s probably better than Sutter is alone), a solid defensive prospect and a draft pick for him. That trade was probably the low point of a pretty ugly offseason. Oh yeah, they managed to shed the final year of Kevin Bieksa’s contract, but then they went and signed Luca Sbisa to a three year contract with a cap hit of $3.6 million for some reason. 

The Canucks have just over $1 million in cap space, so I doubt they’ll be doing anything other than finalizing an extension for Sutter before the start of the season. They have Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis hitting UFA status at the end of the season, so if things are looking ugly for the Canucks come New Year’s, they’ll make good trade chips at the 2016 deadline. I think it’s time to start looking at a rebuild in Vancouver. 

Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference and WAR on ICE. 

    • The Last Big Bear

      Just because you’re clearly not very good at math, we’ll explain this for you…

      Over the entire season, the Oilers’ opponents walked away with 74% of available points last season, and the Coyotes did the same. (they gave up two points in 71% of games). So an average NHL team playing 10 games against the Oilers and Coyotes should expect to walk away with 14.8 points, or about 16% of their point total.

      The Canucks got 17% of their points against the Oilers and Coyotes. The Kings got 17%, the Sharks got 16%. The Ducks didnt even play 10 games against these two teams, but still got 15% of their points from them.

      Heck, Arizona got 18% of their points from ONE team last season… Guess who?

      The division, and really the entire NHL, absolutely feasted on the Oilers and Coyotes last season. The Flames only beat those odds by a handful of points.

      • NJ

        What’s your point? We know how much the Oilers sucked last year. We know everyone feasted on us and we trust, as fans noting the improvements in and off the ice, that it won’t be the same this year. That’s why we expect slight regression from some teams (except Phoenix who I think went 5-0 against us… They will get significantly worse), and expect the Oilers to improve. I can find 20 points against our conference and considering our start last year and our record against the western conference we will see improvement.

        Also, the flames improved big time with Hamilton among others. No, we don’t like it but to be honest in the end, we prefer our team. Hall is a top 3 winger in the NHL, RNH is rounding into a legitimate #1 2-way center, and we just picked up the best player in 10 years. Darnell Nurse is the best D man not having played an NHL game.

        Facts are, your top line is a bunch of nobodies. Gaudreau might be a name people know only because he’s a midget who puts up some points. It’s a great story. Monahan, Hudler? We don’t care. Flames would likely give away any 3 of their players for Connor McDavid, or any 2 for Taylor Hall. You don’t scare us… I don’t expect the crazy regression we saw out of Colorado last year but the Flames WILL regress. I’d put money on it.

        • The Last Big Bear

          Hall is a top 3 winger in the NHL

          Um… no.

          Top three LW? Sure. Top two if you count Ovechkin as a RW for some reason. But who among Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn, Alex Ovechkin, Corey Perry, or even Phil Kessel is he actually better than? I think that’s more than two names, no?

          • mk

            Not that I’m a Canucks fan, but Daniel Sedin is a horse in that race too.

            Even Nash, Pacioretty, Zetterberg, Parise, Marleau, Vanek, etc. could all be in that argument too.

            Hall is a damn good player, for sure, but I wouldn’t say he is head and shoulders above all these other players.

      • mk

        So where was I wrong, exactly?

        Was my 20% number incorrect? You never attempted to disprove it, yet claimed my math was wrong.

        When I said “The Oilers were DESTROYED by their division last year…” was that wrong? Well, your post only proves my point in detail.

        So what exactly about the statement, “20% OF THE FLAMES POINTS LAST SEASON CAME FROM 2 TEAMS.” is incorrect?

        You also seem to agree with my conclusion that the Flames will need help to make the playoffs again.

        So I think your reply came out of frustration for the fact that the Flames made a big gamble in getting Hamilton, may have to trade Gio, and may end up not making the playoffs this year, resulting in a large setback for their rebuild.

        • NJ

          How would it be a “big step back” if the Flames don’t make the playoffs this year?
          Wasn’t last years team, in year 2 1/2 of the rebuild, supposed to be a contender for a lottery pick?

          They may very well miss the playoffs this season but either way, the rebuild is very much on track.

          Now if they get to year 9 and are still picking 1st in the draft

          • NJ

            There are going to be cap issues and the make up of the team may drastically change. Much like how the Oilers will be in a few years.

            If you are going to count the trade of Smyth as year 1 of the rebuild, we should use the trade of Phaneuf as year 1 as the Flames rebuild. Which in a couple of years would put them in year 9, correct?

  • The Last Big Bear

    Sean “nobody” Monahan was 5th in goals for NHL centres last year. Offensively he scored more goals than Taylor Hall ever has, and defensively was good enough to get Selke trophy votes.

    Jiri “nobody” Hudler just led the entire NHL in even-strength scoring.

    Johnny “nobody” Gaudreau just tied or beat every Oilers player for every major counting stat.

    I don’t know how the Flames will finish this season. They are unlikely to be any better. And you’re right, it’s entirely reasonable that the Oilers could pick up 20 points within the conference. But based on last season’s results, if they did, they would still be 2nd last in the West.

    My point is that the Oilers have a VERY long way to go, and saying “Lol, our rivals absolutely roasted us, they got 10% of their points against us” is a funny way to trash talk.

  • MorningOwl

    Interesting thoughts, for sure. It is hard to imagine Calgary being better, or Edmonton being worse. What did LA do to improve their lot?.Sutter gets to go back to his farm by March 1.Not much improvement in San Jose . Canucks will be hard-pressed to notch 100 points unless they bring in a couple of kids who sparkle. Arizona brings back players who helped them be terrible last year. They may slip below oblivion.

    • mk

      This. This x 1000.

      I despise the Oilers, but the victories are much sweeter if they mean something. Playoff battles. Fights for division positioning. Personal grudges. Battle of off-season acquisitions.

      I mean, sure, the Flames’ record vs. the Oilers over the last few years has been fun. But the games could mean So. Much. More.

      BoA please!