Is it the start of the NHL season yet? No, it still isn’t. It’s only August. We still have two months to go until hockey starts again. Until then, all we can do is sit here and speculate what’s going to happen, which teams are going to break out, which signings were worth it, which weren’t, etc. You know, all the fun stuff. We can also take a look at what each team has done so far this summer, whether it was good or bad and whether they can still do anything else before the season finally begins.
A roller coaster in Boston, the end of the Kessel era in Toronto, and potentially the end of the Stamkos era in Tampa Bay. It’s been a really interesting offseason (for the most part) in the Atlantic Division. After the jump, I’ll take a look at the good and bad of the offseason so far in the Atlantic Division this summer.
- Traded the UFA rights to Carl Soderberg to the Avalanche for a 2016 sixth-round pick.
- Traded Dougie Hamilton to the Flames for a first-round pick and two second-round picks in 2015.
- Signed Adam McQuaid to a four-year contract with a cap hit of $2.75 million.
- Traded Milan Lucic to the Kings for Martin Jones, Colin Miller, and a 2015 first-round pick.
- Traded a 2017 third-round pick to the Flyers for Zac Rinaldo.
- Traded Martin Jones to the Sharks for Sean Kuraly and a 2016 first-round pick.
- Traded Reilly Smith and Marc Savard’s contract to the Panthers for Jimmy Hayes.
- Signed Ryan Spooner to a two-year contract with a $0.950 million cap hit.
- Signed Matt Beleskey to a five-year contract with a $3.80 million cap hit.
- Signed Jimmy Hayes to a three-year contract with a $2.30 million cap hit.
- Signed Brett Connolly to a one-year, $1.05 million contract.
- Signed Matt Irwin to a one-year $0.800 million contract.
- IN: Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Zac Rinaldo, Matt Irwin.
- OUT: Milan Lucic, Marc Savard’s contract, Gregory Campbell, Dan Paille, Carl Soderberg, Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartowski, Niklas Svedberg.
Buckle up, because I’m going to try to navigate my way through whatever the hell it was that Don Sweeney did to the Boston Bruins franchise this summer. Saying this offseason has been a roller coaster for the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions would be an understatement, but I’ll try my best to make sense of it.
The Bruins started off by dealing the UFA rights of Carl Soderberg to the Avalanche for a sixth-round pick in 2016 because they figured that he wasn’t worth the contract he was going to demand on the open market. He ended up signing a five year deal with a $4.75 million cap hit which is a fair amount of coin for a guy who’s career high in points is 48. I’m not saying it’s bad contract, or that Soderberg is a lousy player, but I can understand why the Bruins, who have a handful of huge contracts on the books already, were OK with letting him walk. I mean, they needed to free up some space to sign Dougie Hamilton, their best defenceman and most valuable asset, to a long term contract, right?
After that, things started to get a little weird. The Bruins traded RFA Dougie Hamilton to the Flames for a very underwhelming collection of draft picks, apparently because they didn’t agree on what Sweeney figured was a significant contract offer. Regardless of what their reasoning was, the Bruins didn’t get anywhere near the return they should have for Hamilton, who at just 22 years of age, is emerging as a top paring defenceman. Soon after, they shipped Milan Lucic to the Kings for Martin Jones, Colin Miller, and another first rounder in 2015. This was a much, much better deal for the Bruins, because they managed to get good value for a declining player who’s just one year away from free agency. That doesn’t look that bad, right? But just as this offseason adventure seemed be looking somewhat positive for the Bruins, Sweeney’s roller coaster took another massive nosedive. I’m not going to go too far into detail about the draft, but the Bruins went completely off the board with all three of their consecutive picks, leaving notable prospects like Mathew Barzal and Kyle Connor on the table.
After the draft, the Bruins flipped Jones to the Sharks for Sean Kuraly and their first round pick in 2016, providing them with even more ammunition to make confusing, off the board picks come next June. They also unloaded Marc Savard’s contract on the Panthers while swapping Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes. Okay, so far the Bruins have unloaded Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, Milan Lucic, Martin Jones, Reilly Smith, and Marc Savard’s contract, and they’ve received three first-round picks, two second-round picks, a sixth-round pick, Jimmy Hayes, Colin Miller, and Sean Kuraly. Yikes. Then we hit free agency, where the Bruins made one big splash, using their recently opened up cap room to sign former Duck Matt Beleskey to a five-year contract with a $3.80 million cap hit. That could have been a lot worse. I remember at one point it was being reported that Beleskey was seeking over $5 million to be this year’s Dave Bolland, and with the summer that Sweeney was having, it didn’t seem too far fetched that the Bruins would offer him that much money.
Lost among all of these transactions is the fact the Bruins re-signed UFA defenceman Adam McQuaid — who’s boasted a negative Corsi For percentage in relation to his teammates in every single season of his NHL career — to a four-year contract with a $2.75 million cap hit. The Flames ended up signing Hamilton to a six-year deal with a cap hit of $5.75 million — which doesn’t really seem like a hell of a lot for a player of Hamilton’s quality — making the trade all the more curious. When you add McQuaid’s new deal and Beleskey’s UFA contract together, you have nearly $1 million more than the Flames are paying for Dougie Hamilton. Let’s be honest, a young, top pairing defenceman is much more valuable than a combination of a second line forward and a bottom pairing defenceman. It’s really odd to me that the Bruins weren’t okay with signing Hamilton, but they went ahead and spent the money is much less efficient ways. I’m not sure exactly what went on between the Bruins and Hamilton, but his reasonable deal with the Flames makes me wonder what exactly he was offered to stick around in Boston, and whether it came down to money, or term. Regardless, the Bruins have had the most bizarre and entertaining (well, infuriating for their fans) offseason in the NHL so far, and it isn’t even close.
Oh, I just realized I never mentioned acquiring Zac Rinaldo at all in there. Here, this sums it all up perfectly.
- Traded a 2015 first-round pick to the Senators for Robin Lehner and David Legwand.
- Traded Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, JT Compher, and a 2015 second-round pick to the Avalanche for Ryan O’Reilly and Tye McGinn. Then they signed O’Reilly to a seven year contract with a $7.5 million cap hit.
- Bought out Cody Hodgson. He’ll carry a $1.042 million cap hit for eight seasons.
- Signed Matt Donovan to a one-year, $0.825 million contract.
- Signed Jason Akeson to a one-year, $0.575 million contract.
- Signed Cal O’Reilly to a two-year contract with a $0.700 million cap hit.
- Signed Carlo Colaiacovo to a one-year, $0.900 million contract.
- Signed Phil Varone to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Mark Pysyk to a two-year contract with a $1.125 million cap hit.
- IN: Ryan O’Reilly, Jack Eichel, David Legwand, Jason Akeson, Phil Varone, Jamie McGinn, Cal O’Reilly, Carlo Colaiacovo, Matt Donovan, Robin Lehner.
- OUT: Cody Hodgson, Patrick Kaleta, Mikhail Grigorenko, Matt Ellis, Zac Dalpe, JT Compher, Andrej Meszaros, Nikita Zadorov, Andre Benoit, Tyson Strachan, Anders Lindback, Matt Hackett.
The Buffalo Sabres actually did a pretty good job of making themselves less horrible this summer. Not only did they draft Jack Eichel — the best possible consolation prize to Connor McDavid imaginable — but they also acquired something close to an NHL goaltender and some veteran depth down the middle to help shelter their prized prospects. Buffalo’s summer began when they traded the 21st overall pick in the draft to the Senators for Robin Lehner and David Legwand. Right after that, they sent Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, JT Compher, and the 31st overall pick in the draft to Colorado for Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn. It’ll be forever known as the blockbuster that brought Jamie McGinn to Buffalo.
Let’s start with the Lehner trade, which gives Buffalo a formidable upgrade over last season’s goalie tandem of Anders Lindback and Jhonas Enroth. Lehner, once a prized possession in the Senators’ system, was the odd man out after Andrew Hammond came out of nowhere and willed Ottawa to a very unlikely playoff berth last season. Now 24 years old, Lehner hasn’t accomplished much at the NHL level, boasting a 0.914 career save percentage. His last two seasons have been riddled by injuries, but in 2012-13 he looked like a lock to become a star goalie in the NHL. He put up a sparkling 0.938 save percentage in 31 games in the AHL and carried that success into the big leagues, posting a 0.936 save percentage with the Senators in a 12-game stint. While he certainly isn’t a sure thing, Lehner will more than likely be an upgrade on last year’s goalies who put up a 0.911 save percentage as a group.
Of course, no upgrade in net will really matter if the Sabres can’t improve themselves as a team. Last year, the Sabres posted a ridiculously bad 37.5 team Corsi For at even strength, allowing nearly 27 more shot attempts per 60 minutes against than they could muster themselves. While the Sabres are obviously icing a horrible roster so they can build through the draft, Tim Murray decided it was time to start making improvements to the actual roster so the Sabres can start moving in an upwards direction. He shipped a package including former first round picks Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov to the Avs for soon-to-be UFA forward Ryan O’Reilly. Soon after, he was given a massive seven year extension with a $7.5 million cap hit that’ll begin at the start of the 2016-17 season. Yeah, it’s a lot of money for a guy who doesn’t exactly produce at a top line level, but O’Reilly has consistently been a good forward for the Avs at both ends of the ice, posting positive Corsi For numbers in relation to his teammates despite making a good chunk of his starts in the defensive zone throughout the majority his career.
Although they’re a far stretch from playoff contention, adding O’Reilly, Lehner, and Eichel is certainly a big step in the right direction now, and in the future. Oh yeah, and Sabres fans will finally get to see Evander Kane suit up for the first time since being acquired from Winnipeg in February. They still have more than $14 million in cap space available, so if they really wanted to continue to make upgrades, they could. Next summer they’re going to have to hand out new RFA deals to Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, and Rasmus Ristolainen among others, so they probably aren’t going to want to go too crazy with late summer spending.
- Signed Joakim Andersson to a one-year, $0.815 million contract.
- Signed Brendan Smith to a two-year contract with a $2.75 million cap hit.
- Bought out Stephen Weiss. He’ll carry a cap hit of $1.067 million for six seasons.
- Signed Andy Miele to a one-year, $0.575 million contract.
- Signed Tom McCollum to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Landon Ferraro to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Mike Green to a three-year contract with a $6.0 million cap hit.
- Signed Brad Richards to a one-year, $3.0 million contract.
- Signed Gustav Nyquist to a four-year contract with a $4.75 million cap hit.
- Teemu Pulkkinen to a one-year, $0.735 million cap hit.
- Signed Tomas Jurco to a two-year contract with a $0.900 million cap hit.
- IN: Brad Richards, Andy Miele, Tom McCollum, Mike Green.
- Stephen Weiss, Marek Zidlicky, Erik Cole, Dan Cleary, Jonas Gustavsson.
The Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs every single year of my life so far, and after a pretty solid offseason, it’s a fair bet to assume that streak (of 24 seasons) is going to continue.
The Wings’ most interesting move was the signing of Mike Green to a three-year deal with a $6 million cap hit. While Green isn’t the same offensive weapon he was when he netted 73 points in 68 games in 2008-09, he’s certainly still a solid producer. Last year he had 10 goals and 35 assists to go along with a respectable 53.0 Corsi For percentage at even strength. The best part of this deal is the term. If Green struggles to fit into Detroit’s system, or his game starts to go downhill, the Wings are only committed to him for three years, making this deal relatively low risk. Even though $6 million per year is a fair amount to being paying for a player like Green, the fact it’s condensed over a short period of time makes it much more attractive. The Wings made another low risk move by signing Brad Richards to a one year, $3 million deal after a nice rebound season with the Hawks. Richards performed well in a limited role last year with Chicago last season, scoring 12 goals and 25 assists in 76 games while averaging just under 15 minutes of ice time per game.
I can see why the Wings were interested in making short term signings this summer after the debacle Stephen Weiss has been over the past two seasons. Weiss managed just 11 goals in 78 games over two seasons with the Wings after he was signed to a five year contract in 2013. The Wings bought out Weiss’ contract this summer (which will carry a cap hit of $1.067 million for six seasons) giving them the money to sign Richards, a clear upgrade, for one year. The Wings are pressed right up against the cap, so it’s unlikely they’ll be doing anything else before the season rolls around.
- Traded Zach Hyman and a 2017 draft pick to the Leafs for Greg McKegg.
- Bought out Brad Boyes. He’ll carry a $0.958 million cap hit for two seasons.
- Signed Brent Renger to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Cameron Gaunce to a one-year, $0.575 million contract.
- Traded Jimmy Hayes to the Bruins for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard’s contract.
- Signed Alex Petrovic to a two-year contract with a $1.05 million cap hit.
- IN: Greg McKegg, Brent Ranger, Cameron Gaunce, Reilly Smith, Marc Savard’s contract.
- OUT: Brad Boyes, Jimmy Hayes, Tomas Kopecky, Scotty Upshall.
The Panthers sent shockwaves around the Eastern Conference by putting together a blockbuster deal that saw Zach Hyman and a pick get shipped to the Leafs in exchange for Greg McKegg. Sarcasm aside, that’s one of the more interesting things the Panthers actually did this summer. They made a few minor signings, a trade with the Bruins that saw them give up Jimmy Hayes in return for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard’s contract, and they bought out Brad Boyes’ contract. So yeah, not much to talk about.
The most interesting part of Florida’s offseason has probably been a move that they haven’t made yet, which is signing RFA forward Jonathan Huberdeau to a new contract. Huberdeau has had an up and down career so far in the NHL. After a rookie season that was good enough to win the Calder Trophy, he had an ugly sophomore campaign in which his production dropped from 14 goals and 17 assists in 48 games to nine goals and 19 assists in 69 games. Last year, though, he moved past his sophomore slump and put up 15 goals and 39 assists to go along with a solid 52.9 Corsi For percentage. The Panthers have more than $9 million in cap space, so it’s not like they can’t afford Huberdeau or anything. I’m guessing they’re trying to figure out a long term deal that works for both sides, similar to the six-year extension Nick Bjugstad signed last season.
- Bought out P.A. Parenteau. He’ll carry a $1.33 million cap hit for two seasons.
- Signed Brian Flynn to a two-year contract with a $0.950 million cap hit.
- Signed Mark Barberio to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Greg Pateryn to a two-year contract with a $0.800 million cap hit.
- Traded Brandon Prust to the Canucks for Zack Kassian and a 2016 fifth round pick.
- Signed Alex Semin to a one-year, $1.0 million contract.
- Signed Alex Galchenyuk to a two-year contract with a $2.8 million cap hit.
- IN: Zack Kassian, Alexander Semin.
- OUT: Brandon Prust, P.A. Parenteau, Manny Malholtra, Sergei Gonchar, Mike Weaver.
The biggest move of the Canadiens’ summer came well before the offseason began when they signed defenceman Jeff Petry to a six year deal that’ll pay him an average of $5.5 million a season. The Habs acquired the soon-to-be UFA defenceman from the Oilers at last season’s trade deadline and he showed his worth in the playoffs, averaging over 22 minutes of ice time per game while posting a respectable 54.3 Corsi For percentage against tough competition. They swapped Brandon Prust for Zack Kassian, saving them some money and getting younger in the process. They also signed Alexander Semin to a one year, $1 million “save your career” contract after he was bought out by the Hurricanes.
Aside from that, the Habs offseason was more about subtraction than addition. The habs bought out the final year of P.A. Parenteau’s contract, so they’ll pay him $1.33 million per year for two more years rather than $4 million this season. They also allowed Manny Malholtra, Sergei Gonchar, and Mike Weaver to walk when they became unrestricted free agents, giving them the money to squeeze in Petry’s new contract and the extension handed out to Brendan Gallagher last season. At this point, the Habs are pressed right up against the cap, so it’s difficult to imagine them doing anything else this summer.
- Signed Jean-Gabriel Pageau to a two year contract with a $0.900 million cap hit.
- Signed Mark Stone to a three year contract with a $3.5 million cap hit.
- Signed Mika Zibanejad to a two year contract with a $2.625 million cap hit.
- Traded Robin Lehner and David Legwand to the Sabres for a 2015 first round pick.
- Traded Eric Gryba to the Oilers for Travis Ewanyk and a 2015 fourth round pick.
- Signed Chris Wideman to a one year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Patrick Mullen to a one year, $0.600 million contract.
- Made a few minor signings: Eric O’Dell, Zack Stortini, and Mike Koskta.
- Signed Alex Chiasson to a one year, $1.2 million contract.
- Signed Mike Hoffman to a one year, $2.0 million contract.
- IN: Eric O’Dell, Zack Stortini, Mike Koskta, Travis Ewanyk.
- OUT: David Legwand, Erik Condra, Eric Gryba, Robin Lehner.
Aside from handing out new deals to Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad, Alex Chiasson, and Mike Hoffman, the Senators had a pretty quiet offseason. They made a trade with the Oilers at the draft, sending Eric Gryba to Edmonton for Travis Ewanyk and a fourth round pick. They also made a deal with the Sabres, unloading David Legwand’s contract and Robin Lehner for a first round pick in 2015. By moving Lehner, the Senators appear to be comfortable rolling with a tandem of Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond for the foreseeable future, as both of them are signed for three more seasons.
The Sens still have nearly $8 million in open cap space to work with right now, so if they wanted to sign a few depth players they probably could. I imagine they’d avoid handing out a big or long term contract to any of the players remaining on the board, though, largely because they’re going to have to hand out new RFA deals to four players —Hoffman, Chiasson, Wiercioch, and Ceci — next summer, and then four more the summer after.
- Signed Erik Condra to a three year contract with a $1.25 million cap hit.
- Signed Andrej Sustr to a two year contract with a $1.45 million cap hit.
- Made some minor signings: Jeff Tambellini, Matt Taormina.
- IN: Erik Condra, Jeff Tambellini, Matt Taormina.
- OUT: Brenden Morrow.
The Tampa Bay Lighting are going into the 2015-16 season with nearly the exact same roster that they carried into the Stanley Cup Finals in the spring. The only notable player in the “out” category is old man Branden Morrow, who wasn’t very effective last season, posting just three goals in 70 games. Obviously he wasn’t there to set the world on fire, but the Lighting aren’t losing much with him moving on. Looking at the “in” category, the Lightning made a couple of depth signings, Jeff Tambellini and Matt Taormina, and an interesting signing in Erik Condra. Condra is certainly an upgrade over Morrow at this stage in each of their respective careers, so if you look at this offseason in a vacuum, the Lightning made an upgrade in the one spot that they could, because they’re pressed so tight up against the cap right now, all they could really worry about was replacing Morrow’s roster spot. While this offseason was very uneventful in Tampa Bay, next summer is going to be a tough one.
As everybody knows by now, Steven Stamkos is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2016. Along with him,the Lightning are going to have to deal with new RFA deals for Alex Killorn, J.T. Brown, Cedric Paquette, Nikita Kucherov, Tye McGinn, and Nikita Nesterov. The summer after that, it gets even more difficult, as Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Jonathan Drouin, and Andrei Vasilevski will need new RFA deals, while Victor Hedman and Ben Bishop become UFAs. Right now, though, the main concern is Steven Stamkos. Everything Tampa Bay does moving forward will be dictated by what happens with him. If he signs a massive contract extension with the Lightning, moves are going to have to be made to accommodate his larger cap hit. If he signs elsewhere, or tells the team he’s not interesting is re-signing during the season, the Lightning have to decide if it’s worth trading him, or whether they’re going to keep him regardless for a playoff run. Personally, I think it’s very unlikely he’s traded and I imagine both sides will avoid discussing contract details during the season, so while this will be talked about at length all year, nothing is going to happen until the Lighting are eliminated from the 2016 playoffs.
- Traded Greg McKegg to the Panthers for Zach Hyman and a 2017 draft pick.
- Traded Brad Ross and a 2015 fourth-round pick to the Oilers for Martin Marincin. Then they signed him to a one-year, $0.700 million contract.
- Signed Richard Panik to a one-year, $0.975 million contract.
- Signed Mark Arcobello to a one-year, $1.1 million contract.
- Signed Matt Hunwick to a two-year contract with a $1.2 million contract.
- Signed Daniel Winnik to a two-year contract with a $2.25 million cap hit.
- Signed P.A. Parenteau to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
- Traded Phil Kessel, Tyler Biggs, Tim Erixon, and a conditional second round pick to the Penguins for Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling, a conditional first round pick, and a 2016 third round pick.
- Signed Nazem Kadri to a one-year, $4.1 million contract.
- Signed Shawn Matthias to a one-year, $2.3 million contract.
- Traded Jamie Devane to the Predators for Taylor Beck. Then they signed him to a one-year, $0.875 million contract.
- Signed Jonathan Bernier to a two-year contract with a $4.15 million cap hit.
- IN: Shawn Matthias, Daniel Winnik, P.A. Parenteau, Mark Arcobello, Taylor Beck, Matt Hunwick, Martin Marincin, Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling, Zach Hyman, Jamie Devane.
- OUT: Phil Kessel, Tyler Biggs, Brad Ross, Tim Erixon, Greg McKegg, David Booth, Brandon Kozun, Trevor Smith, Joakim Lindstrom, Colton Orr, Troy Bodie, Frazer McLaren, Zach Sill, Eric Brewer, Andrew MacWilliam.
The Leafs had a really, really busy offseason. I’m not sure if the most interesting thing to talk about would be the massive eight year, $50 million contract given to Mike Babcock, or the end of the Phil Kessel era, or the beginning of the Mark Arcobello era. Regardless, there’s a lot to talk about, as usual, with the Leafs.
As you can see above, the leafs had a massive turnover this summer. They sent a whole bunch of players out the door, and they brought a whole bunch of new players in, which is always exciting. Are they a better team than they were last year? Probably not, largely because of the departure of Phil Kessel, who was traded to the Penguins for Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington and a draft pick. Are they better off in the long term? Yeah, they most certainly are. While losing Kessel hurts, especially in the short term, the Leafs boast a really impressive group of prospects and young players and I imagine they’re going to be adding to that group with a very high pick in the 2016 draft. They added Arcobello, Shawn Matthias, Daniel Winnik, P.A. Parenteau, Matt Hunwick, Martin Marincin, and a few others, and while none of them are going come anywhere near replacing what Kessel brought on the ice, they’re pretty clear upgrades over the players that went out the door, like Colton Orr, Zach Sill, Brandon Kozun, Eric Brewer, etc. On top of that, they’re also all signed to one year deals, so if the Leafs decide to do a mini blow up like they did last year, they can probably net a few more draft picks and prospects to add to the rebuilding pool.
I know it sucks going through yet another rebuild, but it looks like they’re finally doing it right in Toronto.
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STATS COURTESY OF HOCKEY REFERENCE AND WAR ON ICE.