My first annual offseason awards given to the teams who have made the best and worst moves up to this point. Admittedly, much could still happen between now and start of camp but screw it I’m handing them out now anyways. Without further adieu….
Best Offseason for a GM award / Team that helped themselves the most in Offseason:
Dallas Stars – The Dallas Stars appeared to help themselves the most although I must say I am disappointed that GM Jim Nill basically hung Lindy Ruff out to dry last year. Clearly, they needed an upgrade in goal & had a chance to get Bishop & potentially salvage the season & coach’s job but they passed, seemingly content to just give up on the season. Ruff got fired quickly replaced by Ken Hitchcock. Now they signed Bishop along with Hanzal, Radulov, Pitlick and Marc Methot. All nice additions. They got lucky in Draft Lottery & ended up with a real nice player. Improved themselves the most from last year.
Edmonton Oilers – The Oilers re-signed their two Franchise players in McDavid & Draisaitl for 8 years, $21 Million combined. That’s a win for the Organization as McDavid could have got significantly more. They also traded away Jordan Eberle who was a bad fit in their system for Ryan Strome at a significantly lower cap hit (saved $3.5 Mill). Kris Russell re-signing cost them much less than a guy like Hamonic would for a team in need of developing a pipeline of guys on ELC’s. The Benoit Pouliot buyout was a no-brainer & the addition of the versatile Jussi Jokinen was a real nice add. Excellent draft too by most accounts.
Worst Offseason for a GM award / Team that did nothing to help themselves in Offseason:
Joe Sakic & the Colorado Avalanche – I can honestly say I have no idea wtf Joe Sakic is doing. Why isn’t Zadorov signed yet? Why is Duchene still on the team? I swear, he is just sitting in his office zoned out enjoying all that the state of Colorado offers while eating a pile of munchies. They lost Pickard & Grigorenko, Wiercoch & Beauchemin, gained Colin Wilson, Yakupov and Bernier. Did they even upgrade at all? They were the WORST team by far last year & that’s all they added? They did have a nice draft but I honestly have no idea how Sakic is still the GM at this point. They’re a mess right now.
Washington Capitals – Lost Alzner & Shattenkirk to FA, Schmidt to Vegas basically replacing them all with no one. Lost their best playoff guy in Justin Williams and traded Johansson for a 2nd & 3rd rd pick. That’s 48 goals gone from Top 6 with no real replacement & 3 defencemen gone. How did they improve their playoff roster? Were Top team in East last year wouldn’t be surprised at all if they will be fighting for Wildcard next and could miss playoffs altogether if a key injury or two occur. Did I mention Ovie will be bolting to Olympics mid season?
Philadelphia Flyers – A non-playoff team waited forever to address goaltending (Elliott) when they surely could have got Bishop for a 4th rd pick or more. They traded valuable Brayden Schenn for the overpaid Lehtera and draft picks. They will be replacing 2 dmen on their team with rookies likely. They may not admit it but this has clear rebuild written all over it. You don’t trade away Schenn & ignore your goaltending that long if you are serious about winning this year. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if Hakstol is fired by end of year. Drafted extremely well but all the more reason to think rebuild around Patrick.
Most overrated Offseason:
Calgary Flames – They lost Brian Elliott & Chad Johnson, acquired Mike Smith & Eddie Lack. New names same results? Lost Deryk Engelland & Dennis Wideman, re-signed Michael Stone & signed Travis Hamonic. Bought out Lance Bouma. Signed College FA Spencer Foo who may not make team out of camp. Traded away a 1st & 2nd next year in a very deep draft by most accounts to acquire Hamonic (along with another 2nd rd pick). Are they really that much better? Goaltending has been a black hole for Calgary for years. They’ve burned through so many goalies from Hiller to Ramo to Ortio to Elliott to Johnson to now 35 yr old Smith. Is Smith really any better than Elliott is? Statistically Elliott has been far superior last 3 years. Eddie Lack is garbage even compared to Chad Johnson. Check the stats. Not convinced they really got any better in the short term & giving up those picks next year might really hurt.
Vancouver Canucks – Adding a large quantity of Free agents is not the same as adding quality Free Agents. Signed former London Knights & classic underachievers Sam Gagner & Michael Del Zotto. They lost Ryan Miller replaced him with Anders Nilsson. Also signed perennial underachiever Alex Burmistrov & the ineffective Wiercoch. All those additions are mediocre upgrades at best. Really like Travis Green as a coach signing though & they did have a good draft. Pettersson, Lind, DiPietro & Gadjovich all nice picks. Just don’t see how they got any better especially if the unproven Markstrom falters.
Most underrated Offseason:
Chicago Blackhawks – People need to realize there is a difference between building a good regular season team and building a good playoff team. One of the two wins Championships while the other is OVERRATED. This has been quite apparent with Chicago as they have had over 100 points each of last 2 years but have been bounced 1st rd in both. Panarin is clearly the more productive hockey player in the regular season over Brandon Saad but come playoff time if you had to bet your life on it who would you put your money on to help you win the cup? Saad makes Toews a better player. Also, they signed Patrick Sharp who is a proven playoff performer. Who cares what he does in Regular season they need big goals from him in the playoffs. 2 time SC winner Johnny Oduya was also brought back, Tommy Wingels signed and a real sleeper in Anton Forsberg was acquired to replace the departed Scott Darling. Trading Hjallmarsson for Murphy hurts a bit but Murphy has been developing into a tough, hard to play against defenceman and he is only 24. Salary wise they didn’t have a choice they had to move a guy like Kruger.
Overall, they shedded some salary, brought back some proven leadership & Stanley Cup experience along with a couple of sleeper additions. Likely a slight regression in Regular Season but a better PLAYOFF roster and that’s all that really matters.
Best trade in offseason:
Ben Bishop for a 4th rd pick. Dallas got a bonafide #1 goalie who will turn 31 this year for only a 4th rd pick. That is a steal. Especially considering Los Angeles gave up highly touted prospect Erik Cernak & 7th rd pick so Bishop could play 7 games for LA (they did get a 5th rd pick from Tampa too in the deal). What a joke.
Worst trade in offseason:
Travis Hamonic trade. “Oh they are only draft picks.” Wait till the draft next year. How much of an improvement will Hamonic be over Engelland statistically? Somewhat but is it worth a 1st & 2nd next year in a deep draft plus another 2nd in 2019 or 2020? Sorry but that’s too much IMO. Eberle for Hamonic would have been ideal for Edmonton but there is no chance in hell I’d mortgage the future for Hammer like Calgary did.
Best FA signing in Offseason:
Kevin Shattenkirk to the NY Rangers. I’m not the biggest Shattenkirk fan but the Rangers adding him combined with their rivals Washington losing him for nothing is a big win for New York. 4 yrs @ 6.5 Mill per isnt the end of the world and if you combine it with the Girardi buyout it looks that much better. Should help his team more than any other FA will.
Worst FA signing in Offseason:
Alex Radulov with Dallas. I like the idea of Radulov potentially playing with Benn & Seguin for a year or two but 5 yrs at $6.25 Mill per? Call me crazy but I can’t see how he stays motivated for that long. I have a feeling Dallas will be regretting this contract as soon as next year.
Sleeper signing in Offseason:
Patrick Sharp signing with Chicago for 1 yr, 800K. Sure, he’s 35 yrs old but just so we’re clear, Sharp had a $5.9 Million Cap hit last year. He has won 3 Cups with Chicago amassing 53 playoff points during those 3 years alone. Him signing for 800K is an absolute STEAL for Chicago in my opinion regardless of what he does in Regular season.
Justin Williams signing in Carolina is a nice add too but at $4.5 Mill not as much value as what Sharp could offer if he stays healthy.
So that’s it. Let me know what you think. You can comment via Twitter @TheOilKnight