Updated: Oct 22, 2020
August 25th - Penguins Trade for Kasperi Kapanen
Penguins Receive: Kasperi Kapanen, Jesper Lindgren, Pontus Aberg
The biggest piece of this trade is clearly Kasperi Kapanen. The Penguins needed to try something to extend their window with Crosby and Malkin, and Jim Rutherford made his bet on Kapanen. He does have some high-end skill, particularly his speed, and they're betting that they’ll be able to get more out of that skill set. On the other hand, the other skills have been inconsistent and there have been questions about his determination; that’s led to him only being able to turn his ability into highs of 20 goals and 24 assists while playing with plenty of offensive talent in Toronto.
Crosby’s shown the ability to get a lot out of players with far less skill, so I’ll be particularly interested to see what Kapanen could do if they put him on that wing. Kapanen’s speed could fit well there, benefitting Crosby as well by opening up more space for him to operate in.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, Kapanen’s underlying stats have been even more disappointing than his traditional metrics. Kapanen had a 48% xG% at 5v5 this season, which isn't too bad on it's own. However, almost every Maple Leaf he played with had better stats without him on the ice.
He did play well further down the lineup and was effective on the penalty kill, so there's no question Kapanen can fill a role. However, the price the Penguins paid clearly points to Rutherford planning for him to be in their top six - that's concerning when Tavares, Nylander, Matthews, and Marner all fared significantly better without him.
Neither Lindgren or Aberg is likely to contribute much for the Penguins. Lindgren has some skill but is more likely to be an AHL piece, while Aberg is currently in the KHL.
Maple Leafs Receive: Penguins 2020 First-Round Draft Pick (15th Overall), Evan Rodrigues, Filip Hallander, David Warsofsky
The Leafs have major limitations with a flat cap, and considering everybody knows it they did well to turn Kapanen into a mid-first round pick. Kapanen's deal wasn't one that was going to make or break their cap situation, but for them any flexibility helps. Considering Toronto's first-round pick is owned by Carolina, Kyle Dubas getting them back in is the biggest win of this trade.
Evan Rodrigues is an interesting piece, but made $2M in 2019-20; I'm not sure Dubas will be looking to spend that much on a bottom-six forward. If they do choose to try to keep him, he was a slighlty positive relative player in possession and scoring chances for much of his time with a poor Sabres team and has the potential to fill a similar role to Kapanen's.
Hallander has played well against men in Sweden for a couple seasons, and could be a solid contributor to the Leafs by 2021-22. I expect him to fill a bottom-six role as well as to be valuable on the penalty kill. Warsofsky is unlikely to contribute outside of the AHL.
Winner: Maple Leafs
Kapanen is in as good a position as he could ask for to show that he can live up to the promise from when he was drafted, and I wouldn’t bet against Crosby bringing out more in him. If he does breakout, his $3.2M AAV will be a bargain for the Penguins. However, I just can’t see what he’s shown so far in his career being worth the 15th overall pick.
Sept 2nd - Canadiens Acquire Jake Allen
Canadiens Receive: Jake Allen, 2022 Seventh-Round Pick
The Canadiens get a much more effective backup for Carey Price (and one who arguably performed better than Price this season). Allen had a .934 save percentage at 5v5 and a .894 against high-danger chances. Those numbers are enough to assume that the Canadiens will be able to give Price a much more manageable workload in 2020-21.
The downside for Montreal is that they'll now be spending almost $15M of their cap on goaltenders for next season. That's a risk with a flat cap, but I think is being overblown a bit since Allen is only signed for one more season and they should be able to manage it for one year. The other side of that is that it does still prevent investment in other areas, or taking advantage of teams that are right up against the cap.
This is also interesting for the expansion draft - teams are required to expose an RFA or goalie under contract for 2021-22, and currently Price is the only goalie that the Canadiens have signed into that year. The Canadiens will need to address that at some point unless they plan on exposing Price and assuming Seattle wouldn't want to take on his deal.
Blues Receive: Washington’s 2020 Third-Round Pick, Chicago’s 2020 Seventh-Round Pick
For St. Louis, this isn't about the return they're getting - it's about a bet on Jordan Binnington and freeing up cap space to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo. Given that the Blues already have Ville Husso signed going forward, it didn't make sense for them to keep both Jordan Binnington and Allen. Allen actually outplayed Binnington for much of this season and ended up taking over in the playoffs, but even the PR standpoint was enough to ensure the Blues wouldn't be moving Binnington after his cult hero status from 2018-19.
From here the only question is if that extra cap space will allow them to sign their captain. Pietrangelo put up over 50 points this season, and combines that with strong underlying numbers. There are rumors of some unhappiness between him and St. Louis, so this salary cap space was vital to having any chance to sign him.
Winner: Draw (Updated on 10/21)
Right now I'd probably call the Canadiens the winner on this deal since I'd much rather have Price and Allen than Binnington and Husso, and I think Montreal can work around the cap impact for one season. However, I think the winner will be dependent on if St. Louis can sign Pietrangelo; managing to re-sign him would make St. Louis a slight winner for me.
With the loss of Pietrangelo and signing of Torey Krug, I would settle on this one being a draw.
Sept 2nd - Canadiens Acquire Joel Edmundson
Canadiens Receive: Joel Edmundson (UFA)
Edmundson was set to become a UFA, but was signed to a four-year extension worth $3.5M per year. The analytics suggest that Edmundson is a pretty average player - a Corsi for percentage of 50.7% while starting in the defensive zone slightly more often than the offensive. I'm slightly concerned about how he could fit into Montreal's system; they excelled at dominating high-danger chances, while he had a high-danger for percentage of 46.6%. The contract to me is the biggest overpay; they may have paid more for Edmundson in free agency, but could have gotten a similar player for cheaper.
Hurricanes Receive: Montreal's 2020 Fifth-Round Pick
The return for the Hurricanes is straight-forward: they didn't plan to re-sign Edmundson or didn't think they'd be able to, so they got a late round pick for Montreal to be able to negotiate early.
Given that they weren't going to be able to re-sign him, the Canes got something in return for someone they would have lost soon for free. Montreal didn't give up much, but overpaid on the contract for what I expect to see as a return.
Sept 11th - Pittsburgh Sends Nick Bjugstad to Minnesota
Wild Receive: Nick Bjugstad, Penguins Retain 50% of Salary
Bjugstad has been somewhat productive in his career, but has largely struggled to stay healthy. In his one full season he managed to put up 49 points for Florida; if Minnesota gets him healthy and at that level then he will be a bargain at $2.05M. His underlying stats are strong as well, with most of his most common linemates faring better while he's on the ice.
Penguins Receive: Conditional 2021 Draft Pick
This trade is all about opening up a little bit of extra budget space for the Penguins. The condition on the pick is around the number of games that Bjugstad plays.
I see this as even since it's low-risk on both ends. The Penguins opened up a little bit of space to look to improve in free agency, while the Wild get to take a chance on a talented player who has struggled with injuries and only give something up if he plays.
Sept 16th - Eric Staal to the Sabres
Wild Receive: Marcus Johansson
Minnesota gets slightly faster and younger, even though Johansson was less productive than Staal last year. Johansson has shown flashes of talent, but his productivity and underlying stats rarely match that talent. He's never exceeded 15 goals or 35 assists at 5v5, and both of those came quite a while ago. Considering he's more expensive than Staal and isn't strong at center, it's hard to figure out this move for the Wild. This has to be a part of an expected second move to move a defenseman for center help, but this still doesn't seem like a strong use of assets.
Sabres Receive: Eric Staal
Staal has experienced a resurgence with Minnesota, even if he's 35 and has seen declines the past couple seasons. Staal has struggled to drive possession in Minnesota, but excels and creating chances and owning the xG and high-danger chance stats. That will be welcome as a 2C in Buffalo, giving them someone to facilitate that line and mentor Dylan Cozens. A line of Skinner-Staal-Thompson is intriguing as an option to finally give Buffalo some scoring depth.
Staal is aging and may not work out for the Sabres, but the fact that he's slightly cheaper is enough to make them the winner when this move doesn't make sense for Minnesota.
Sept 24th - Hornqvist for Matheson
Penguins Receive: Michael Matheson and Colton Sceviour
The Penguins receive a talented puck mover in Matheson; unfortunately, they also get a poor defender in the same player. Matheson has offensive talent and an impressive highlight reel, but his offensive stats have declined while he continues to put up mediocre possession numbers (Corsi and Fenwick each under 50% for the past two seasons). Additionally, he still has six years and $29.25M remaining on his contract; Sceviour's contract adds another $1.2M this year
Panthers Receive: Patric Hornqvist
The Panthers receive a physical presence in their lineup who is capable of contributing goals, but is in decline at this point in his career. Hornqvist's goals and points stayed pretty steady this year at 5 on 5, but his possession number and other underlying stats indicate decline has started - his Corsi dropped from 53.54% two seasons ago to 48.29% this season, and high-danger chances saw a similar decline. Hornqvist has three years and $15.9M remaining.
I see the Panthers as the winner here simply because I don't think either team got significantly better, and the Penguins will be stuck with Matheson's contract for longer. Considering he also adds to a huge log jam at left-handed defense that the team will have to address, I give the slight edge to Florida.
Oct 4: Kings Acquire Maatta
Kings Receive: Olli Maatta
Chicago Receives: Brad Morrison
For the Kings, this move gives them a left-handed defenseman to likely play alongside Drew Doughty on the first pairing. That’s likely forcing Maatta into a role bigger than his skills, but it allows LA’s other defensemen on the left side to slot into more appropriate roles. Long-term, that’s more important for the Kings during their rebuilding process.
Maatta had poor possession, xG, and scoring chance numbers for Chicago, but much of that seems to be related to the quality of the team overall. Almost everyone he played substantial minutes with had worse underlying numbers while Maatta wasn’t on the ice. That’s encouraging for LA at least having gained someone who can hold their own on the left side.
Even if Maatta isn’t slotted as a number one defenseman on a contending team, for LA he fills a major need. If he can build chemistry with Doughty, he could pay huge dividends while helping to grow the younger members of the roster. For Chicago, this is clearly a salary dump and I’m surprised they weren’t able to find someone willing to give up more, especially since they are retaining some of Maatta’s salary.
Oct 5: Sharks Trade for Ryan Donato
Sharks Receive: Ryan Donato
Wild Receive: 2021 Third-Round Pick
I love this trade for the Sharks - Donato’s points haven’t been huge so far, but his underlying stats show a player who could thrive with a bigger role. Donato had a 54% xG rate at 5v5 last year, and an extremely impressive 63% high-danger chance percentage. His shooting percentage this year may be a bit inflated compared to prior seasons, but those underlying metrics make me much less concerned about that being an issue going forward.
Winner: San Jose
Donato looks like a talented, but underused, player so far in his career. He could thrive in San Jose for a long time if they give him a larger role.
Oct 5: Sharks Trade for Devan Dubnyk
Sharks Receive: Devan Dubnyk, 2022 Seventh-Round Pick
Wild Receive: 2022 Fifth-Round Pick
The exact opposite of the last one, this is a horrendous trade for the Sharks. They’ve been plagued by poor goaltending on big contracts, and managed to acquire a goalie who is, at best, equal to what they already had while having a cap hit of $4.3M next season.
Of goalies who played at least 1200 minutes at 5v5 last season, Dubnyk had the third-worst save percentage at .903 (Martin Jones was worst at .892); that’s despite playing with a strong defensive team in Minnesota that allowed him to have shots coming from the third-furthest average distance. High-danger chances were even worst, with Dubnyk ranking dead last in the league.
This is a clear win for the Wild. The free agency market was loaded with goalies this year, and San Jose could have looked to improve that way. Instead, they brought in Dubnyk to ensure that San Jose will be putting out the worst goalie tandem in the league next season.
Oct 6: Domi Traded for Anderson
Canadiens Receive: Josh Anderson
Blue Jackets Receive: Max Domi, 2020 Third-Round Pick
This is one of the more interesting trades of the offseason so far, and one that will likely take a while to see play outs. Both players were roughly team-average at driving possession and xG (using Anderson’s 2018-19 stats due to injuries last year), and seem to fill needs of their new teams.
Anderson is a big power forward that gives some size that the Canadiens felt they were missing; given how strong some of their lines have already been at driving possession, it will be interesting to see where they slot him in. After the trade, Montreal signed Anderson to a seven year contract with an AAV of $5.5M.
Domi is probably the more talented player, but seemed to have fallen out of favor in Montreal and there was a reluctance either from the team or him (or both) to move him to the wing to allow him to move higher up the lineup. Domi was signed to a two-year contract with an AAV of $5.3M.
This could have been a draw, and I think both teams did fairly well. The advantage goes to Columbus in my opinion due to getting a center vs a wing, getting the draft pick, and having more long-term financial flexibility. Obviously the offset to the flexibility is that Domi could command more money to keep him in the long run, but the Anderson contract looks like an overpay by Montreal.
Oct 7: Senators trade for Matt Murray
Senators Receive: Matt Murray
Penguins Receive: Jonathan Gruden, 2020 Second-Round Pick
More than anything, this trade comes down to salary. Pittsburgh needed to get out of Murray’s contract and arbitration case, while Ottawa needed to get to the salary floor. The contract signed by Ottawa to avoid arbitration does two things for them:
Buys certainty. The AAV is probably close to what Murray would have received in arbitration, but protects them against increased value if he had a big year.
They can control the cash for this year. A one-year arbitration deal would have had the same cash amount as AAV, so in this case they were able to delay most of the actual cash. The same applies to their move to Erik Gudbranson.
Murray’s a bit difficult to figure out with what to expect. He looked better at times before the pause, but still had the fourth-worst save percentage at 5v5 with at least 1200 minutes played. However, he was average against high-danger chances - his save percentage against those was the same as Carey Price (though also barely better than Craig Anderson). And while Pittsburgh’s defense wasn’t great, Ottawa was far worse at avoiding chances on the rush.
My instinct was that this is a clear win for Pittsburgh - they got a draft pick and a decent prospect for a goalie they couldn’t afford to keep. However, I think Ottawa got what they needed as well. From a financial standpoint, they limited their cash payment this year while helping move to the cap floor and getting a goalie who has shown he can be effective in the past - they have to hope he can regain his form going forward.
Oct 8: Devils get Ryan Murray
Devils Receive: Ryan Murray
Blue Jackets Receive: 2021 Fifth-Round Pick
The Devils did a great job here of taking advantage of being one of the few teams with available cap space. Murray’s possession numbers aren’t great, but he’s been consistently good at controlling high-danger chances and xG throughout his career. The real question mark for him comes down to health - he hasn’t played more than 60 games since 2015-16.
New Jersey took advantage of cap space to acquire a defenseman that can play tough top four minutes for them. Even if it’s only for one season, that would have cost much more on the free agent market.
Oct 9: Knights Trade Stastny to the Jets
Jets Receive: Paul Stastny
Knights Receive: Carl Dahlstrom, Conditional 2022 Fourth-Round Pick
Stastny’s raw scoring numbers declined this season, but he continued to be a play driver for Vegas. His expected goal percentage at 5v5 was 57%, yet poor finishing made his actual goal percentage 50%. He’s obviously an aging player, but hasn’t hit his demise like some may say just looking at the scoring totals.
Stastny will probably slot into the second-line for the Jets, ideally giving them plenty more depth to their offense. For Vegas, this was clearly a cap dump to help them acquire Alex Piertangelo. However, the Knights’ biggest issue in recent years has been a lack of true first-line talent, especially at center, forcing players to play above their ideal roles. This is only going to make that issue worse.
October 10: Saad Goes to Colorado
Avalanche Receive: Brandon Saad, Dennis Gilbert
Chicago Receives: Nikita Zadorov, Anton Lindholm
I don’t think there’s much here from a hockey perspective, but is important for what it symbolizes with Chicago going into a clear rebuild. Instead of picks and prospects, the key piece coming back is Zadorov. He’s a decent stay at home defenseman, but doesn’t seem to fit the team’s other moves that have focused on a more mobile back-end. He’s also been average to below-average at driving possession and chances on a great Colorado team.
Saad isn’t the player he’s been in the past - his underlying stats have declined significantly, though he’s obviously been doing that on a poor Chicago team. Colorado has enough talent to slot him into a more appropriate role, but they shouldn’t expect to be getting the player Saad used to be.
Even if they’re going into a true rebuild, this move doesn’t make sense for Chicago. The return back is minimal and doesn’t seem to fit their overall plan; this seems more likely a panic move to reduce salary. They likely could have received a much better return just by hanging onto Saad until a contender needed someone like him at the next trade deadline.
October 12: Avalanche Acquire Devon Toews
Avalanche Receive: Devon Toews
Islanders Receive: 2021 Second-Round pick, 2022 Second-Round pick
Toews helps give Colorado an even deeper blue line, likely the deepest in the league, and is a clear improvement over losing Zadorov in the prior trade. His underlying stats are good, not great, but I think he’s a better fit for Colorado’s system than he had been in New York.
The Avalanche clearly improved in this trade, giving them even more depth. However, the Islanders needed to offload Toews’ expected contract (he’s an RFA) in order to stay under the salary cap. Given everyone knew that, getting two picks for him is a very good move for the Islanders.
October 12: Knights Trade Nate Schmidt to Vancouver
Canucks Receive: Nate Schmidt
Knights Receive: 2022 Third-Round Pick
Another clear salary dump to prepare for free agency by Vegas, Schmidt improves the Canucks’ blue line immediately. He can provide good value for the Canucks, and they took advantage of the Knights needing to offload salary. Schmidt has strong possession numbers dating back to his time in Washington, as well as driving the play and creating chances. He’s a good enough puck mover, but Vancouver has plenty of that anyway and needed a more well-rounded defense.
This is almost by default. The Knights knew they weren’t getting much back, but needed to get rid of the contract (this makes the Toews return more impressive for New York). The Canucks have had a poor offseason, but this move is a definite win for them.
Grades take into account circumstances around the team and other moves as well. Transaction listings taken from NHL.com, so may not include all re-signings.
Signings: Kevin Shattenkirk, Derek Grant, Chase De Leo, Andy Welinski, Andrew Poturalski, Vinni Lettieri
I like the Shattenkirk deal, especially combined with it having a lower cap hit than the Erik Gubranson contract that they traded away. Shattenkirk made a great recovery last year to post strong possession numbers and great scoring chance numbers on the best team in the league. He immediately improves Anaheim.
The reason the grade isn’t higher is because I don’t understand Anaheim’s plan. This isn’t a team that’s close to contending, and should be focused on obtaining younger assets. I don’t personally believe in tearing down a team and “tanking”, and instead think teams should always be looking to improve - the problem is that the Ducks shouldn’t be doing that at this stage by signing a 31-year-old defenseman.
Signings: Johan Larsson, Christian Fischer, Tyler Pitlick, John Hayden, Jordan Gross, Dryden Hunt
Almost all of these deals were fine, with expected values pretty equal to the actual contracts. The exception is John Hayden - he was poor in Chicago and awful in New Jersey. Even at a relatively low salary(and even that is reportedly above the league minimum), I can’t imagine this returning positive value to Arizona.
Signings: Craig Smith, Jakub Zboril, Greg McKegg, Callum Booth, Kevan Miller, Matt Grzelcyk
This grade isn’t about the signings they did make: Craig Smith in particular can be a very strong signing for them. Smith is a strong possession and chance driver who seems to have sustainable efficiency: his actual goal % at 5v5 has consistently been above his already strong underlying stats.
The issue for Boston is that while their offense got deeper, they now have huge holes on defense. Chara will be a loss if he doesn’t end up resigning, but losing Krug is a huge hit. Boston may now have one of the worst defensive corps in the league, and it could be rough for them against Toronto and Tampa in their own division.
Signings: Taylor Hall, Zemgus Girgensons, Tobias Rieder, Brandon Montour, Cody Eakin, Brandon Davidson
The Sabres hit a likely home run with their major deal - Taylor Hall next to Jack Eichel can make this offense extremely dangerous (at least in the top 6). Getting him for one year keeps long-term flexibility, even if it’s doubtful they’d be able to retain him past that if he does have a strong year.
This is probably at least an A if that was the only deal, the problem is most of the others have been extremely questionable. The Eakin contract in particular doesn’t make sense: Johan Larsson is a much better defender and was effective on the fourth line for Buffalo last year, and signed for less than Eakin did. Letting Dominik Kahun go was puzzling as well. (It’s also puzzling why the people closest to Kevyn Adams in every picture of the offseason have been the Pegula’s and not the hockey people in the front office.)
The job also isn’t done for Buffalo, with a number of players potentially heading to arbitration. The Hall contract was great, but not as much if they aren’t able to afford to bring back Reinhart, Olofsson, or Ullmark.
Signings: Jacob Markstrom, Christopher Tanev, Louis Domingue, Glenn Gawdin, Zac Rinaldo, Byron Froese, Buddy Robinson, Tyler Parsons, Andrew Mangiapane, Joakim Nordstrom
I love the Markstrom and Mangiapane deals. Markstrom immediately makes this team better in net, and Mangiapane was great for them as his role increased last year. Mangiapane posted strong possession numbers with great chance creation and xG percentages, and can provide huge surplus value to his deal.
The problems come in with many of the depth signings. I don’t know why the team would bring Zac Rinaldo back, and Nordstrom is unlikely to provide any value on the fourth line either. The depth of the team is still a major concern.
Signings: Jesper Fast, Joakim Ryan, Clark Bishop, Spencer Smallman, Steven Lorentz, Jeremy Bracco, David Gust, Sheldon Rempal
This looks to be a very average offseason - the Fast signing is the most important, and I think that’s a fair deal. He won’t add much to Carolina, but should be able to be close to filling Justin Williams’ on-ice role.
Signings: Dominik Kubalik, Malcolm Subban, Mattias Janmark, Lucas Wallmark
The context is important here: for a rebuilding team, replacing Corey Crawford with Malcolm Subban is understandable. The problem is that Chicago’s valuations seem to consistently be way off. The Kubalik bridge deal is likely a strong value, but Janmark was a major overpay for what he’s able to provide (even if it’s not a huge deal). Combined with the lack of return while retaining salary on Saad, I can’t trust this front office to effectively position Chicago for the future at this point.
Signings: Andre Burakovsky, Sheldon Dries, Miikka Salomaki, Kiefer Sherwood, Mike Vecchione, Jayson Megna, Valeri Nichushkin, Ryan Graves
This grade may look odd considering the lack of any big deals, but I think the key here is that they didn’t go out and overpay when they already have such a strong team. Saad and especially Toews make the team better, and they gave up very little while retaining flexibility. The only reason this isn’t an A+ to me is that it’s intriguing to wonder if their RFAs will leave enough cap room that they could potentially have signed Taylor Hall to the same deal he got in Buffalo instead of making the move for Saad.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Signings: Max Domi, Gavin Bayreuther, Mikko Koivu, Gabriel Carlsson
I like the Domi move and contract, and Mikko Koivu should be a strong addition as well. The problem is that the Blue Jackets’ blue-line got weaker, and they seemed to be creating cap space that didn’t get spent. I’m all for not overspending in the UFA market, but Columbus made their team significantly weaker past Jones and Werenski. I have to wonder if this team just missed on the free agents they wanted, or if they’re one of the teams with significant financial pressure.
Signings: Anton Khudobin, Mark Pysyk, Radek Faksa, Joel L’Esperance
This is perfectly average, and it’s hard to complain about that if you’re coming off of a Finals appearance. The Khudobin deal provides good value, and Pysyk adds more depth to the back-end. Even with the attention he got in the playoffs, I’m not overly concerned for Dallas having to replace Corey Perry.
Detroit Red Wings
Signings: Bobby Ryan, Jon Merrill, Riley Barber, Kyle Criscuolo, Kevin Boyle, Thomas Greiss, Troy Stecher, Vladislav Namestnikov
There may not be any blockbusters here, but Detroit isn’t at a stage where they should be making any of those type of moves. Instead, these are incremental moves that make this team better next season without hurting them in the long-run by losing flexibility. All of these players provide positive value, while most of who Detroit lost was below replacement. Some, such as Merrill, played sheltered minutes on their old teams, so the biggest question may be how they can adapt to larger roles. These are the type of moves that a rebuilding team should be looking to make as they start to move forward.
Signings: Kyle Turris, Tyson Barrie, Mike Smith, Anton Forsberg, Alan Quine, Tyler Ennis
I like the Turris deal, and the Barrie contract could be a steal for Edmonton. He’s still a strong puck moving defenseman who can quarterback the power play, and Edmonton needs both of those. The downside is that Edmonton also needs better defensive play, and they haven’t fixed that with these moves. I think the Oilers are probably better next year, but I can’t see them advancing in the playoffs with their defensive deficiencies.
Signings: Alexander Wennberg, Radko Gudas, Carter Verhaeghe, Ryan Lomberg, Vinnie Hinostroza, Philippe Desrosiers
Hinostroza, Verhaeghe, and Wennberg can all provide value to this offense, providing more depth to the Panthers attack. The longest term went to Gudas, and I don’t like that contract for him. He can be an effective piece for a team, but $2.5M is too much for three years, especially by year three. On the other hand, he’s still better than what he’s replacing in Florida. Not a great offseason, but no real poor deals or overpays either.
Los Angeles Kings
Signings: Mark Alt, Troy Grosenick
Nothing to really see here, but that’s fine for where the Kings are in their rebuild. I would have liked to see them make more efforts similar to the Maatta deal and what the Red Wings did to add capable players to a poor team, but they at least didn’t try to improve too quickly and overpay.
Signings: Cam Talbot, Jordan Greenway, Kaapo Kahkonen, Joseph Cramarossa, Dakota Mermis
I really like both the Talbot and Greenway deals. Talbot is probably around league average, and that’s fine with what Minnesota has around him - they were an OK team last year with Dubnyk in the net. Greenway hasn’t shown much offense, but can be strong in a defensive role - his underlying stats took a huge step up across the board last season; I can easily see him providing excess value for his deal.
The problem is that the free agency moves didn’t do anything to offset how poor the rest of the offseason has been. Such a large improvement in net should have made Minnesota much stronger looking ahead to next season - instead they’re probably around the same team because of how poor the Staal and Donato trades were.
Signings: Brendan Gallagher, Josh Anderson, Joel Edmundson, Tyler Toffoli, Victor Mete, Brandon Baddock, Xavier Ouellet
The Gallagher deal was a great move by Montreal, locking up one of the most underrated 5v5 players in the league. Of players with at least 500 minutes at 5v5 last season, Gallagher was third in xG% (60.84%), first in high-danger chance percentage (63.98%), and second in Fenwick (60.34%). Despite that, he ranked only 36th in points at 5v5. He’s an elite possession driver and chance creator, and this contract would be fair value even if that’s all he can bring. If he and his linemates turn it into more points, this becomes a bargain.
The Toffoli deal was strong as well, likely to provide excess value; however, that’s where the really strong moves end. The Edmundson deal makes some sense in a normal market, but with the depressed values it’s likely an overpay that pushes better players down the lineup. The Anderson deal looks to be for too much money and for far too long; it could pay off, but the odds seem to be against it.
Additions: Mark Borowiecki, Nick Cousins, Matt Benning, Brad Richardson
The additions of Borowiecki and Benning are good signings, shoring up the third-pair defensively. However, Nashville lost significant scoring depth to free agency and didn’t do enough to replace it. That lack of depth could be costly in the playoff race next season.
New Jersey Devils
Signings: Corey Crawford, Scott Wedgewood
Didn’t do too much in free agency, but Crawford will make up one half of a much better tandem than what they had in goal last year. I would have liked to see them do more, but their improvements in the trade market make it understandable that they look to free agency much.
New York Islanders
Signings: Austin Czarnik, Grant Hutton
The Islanders didn’t have cap space available to make moves, and because of that couldn’t replace what they lost in free agency or trade (primarily Devon Toews). Despite their playoff success, this looks like a worse team next year that could struggle in a competitive division.
New York Rangers
Signings: Tony DeAngelo, Alexandar Georgiev, Jack Johnson, Brandon Crawley, Kevin Rooney, Anthony Bitetto, Keith Kinkaid, Colin Blackwell, Anthony Greco, Jonny Brodzinski, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Gabriel Fontaine, Darren Raddysh
I love the DeAngelo and Georgiev deals - both keep the Rangers’ young players with contracts that they’re likely to outperform. DeAngelo isn’t great defensively, but is an outstanding puck mover and key to the power play. Meanwhile, Georgiev is an important 1B to Shesterkin.
On the other side of things, the Jack Johnson contract is the worst signing of the offseason in my opinion. Johnson’s shown that he can no longer keep up with the speed of today’s game, and even the league minimum likely would have been a bad choice. After ridding themselves of Marc Staal’s deal, the Rangers managed to give $1M to someone who may be the league’s worst defenseman next season.
Signings: Matt Murray, Evgeny Dadonov, Matthew Peca, Logan Shaw, Nick Paul, Rudolfs Balcers, Joey Daccord
I really like the value of the Dadonov deal, but that’s about it. The Murray deal can make sense, though it looks worse in retrospect when seeing what the rest of the goalie market ended up looking like. Combined with their trades, the Senators added a lot of money to the payroll while likely not getting any better.
Signings: Derrick Pouliot, Erik Gustafsson
The Gustafsson deal is at fair value, but he doesn’t really fill the hole that the Flyers had with the loss of Matt Niskanen. Gustafsson is a good puck mover with defensive shortcomings, who is likely a borderline top-four guy.
Signings: Cody Ceci, Evan Rodrigues, Mark Jankowski, Josh Currie, Frederick Gaudreau, Maxime Legace, Anthony Angello, Sam Lafferty, Sam Miletic
Pittsburgh did a great job of cutting salary for next season without becoming worse, even if they didn’t use that space to make a clear improvement in free agency. None of these deals move the needle much, and the Ceci deal offsets some of the benefit of losing Jack Johnson, but they don’t hurt or commit too much salary either. It’ll be interesting to see if they still look to use that space to take advantage of other teams in cap or cash trouble.
San Jose Sharks
Signings: Kevin Labanc, Matt Nieto, Patrick Marleau, Stefan Noesen
This grade has more to do with the trade market than it does any of these signings, which don’t alter the team much either direction. The Dubnyk deal is a disaster. and while Ryan Donato can be a big win there’s nothing in these free agency moves that’s going to help having the worst goaltending in the league.
St. Louis Blues
Signings: Torey Krug, Jon Gillies, Steve Santini, Curtis McKenzie, Sam Anas, Kyle Clifford
Both main deals that St. Louis made, Krug and Clifford, are for fair values. Krug in particular is a good signing - he’s one of the league’s best possession driving offensive defensemen and power play quarterbacks The offset to that is that his defending gives some of that away on the other end; his high-danger chances at 5v5 were almost exactly 50%.
The grade here also has to take into account losing Alex Pietrangelo. His leadership and defensive production will be hard, if not impossible, to replace. Even if they didn’t overpay elsewhere, it’s hard to grade St. Louis higher while they lose their captain.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Signings: Andreas Borgman, Chris Gibson, Ben Thomas, Ross Colton, Pat Maroon, Luke Schenn
The Lightning were significantly limited here, as they needed to shed salary throughout the offseason. The Maroon re-signing was still a good deal for the Lightning. Maroon’s been a strong possession driver throughout his career, not just the past two seasons on Stanley Cup winners. Given the role he fills and the salary, that was likely a great deal for Tampa.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Signings: TJ Brodie, Zach Bogosian, Joe Thornton, Wayne Simmonds, Aaron Dell, Jimmy Vesey, Travis Boyd
Toronto made a lot of moves, but I’m not sure any other than Brodie make them much better. Brodie’s deal looks like fair value for now, but is likely more than he’s worth once it gets into the back end of the deal. In the short-term, they gain a solid right handed defenseman that can fit up and down the lineup. Bogosian was very good after moving to Tampa, and can be an asset if his role is limited.
The rest of the signings don’t do much to improve the back-end of Toronto’s lineup; in fact, they may be worse next season. The Maple Leafs need to hope that their strong top six can do enough to carry the scoring.
Signings: Braden Holtby, Tyler Motte, Ashton Sautner
I like the Holtby deal for Vancouver - he’s not Jacob Markstrom, but he’s proven his ability in the past and I think can be very good again behind a better defense than what he had in Washington.
The grade is so low because of what Vancouver lost and didn’t replace. In addition to Markstrom, the Canucks lost Tyler Toffoli, Chris Tanev, and Troy Stecher. Some of those the Canucks could have afforded to match, so it’s fair to wonder if there was an issue in the relationship between that group and the front office. The Canucks have a great young core, but those losses likely make them worse next year.
Vegas Golden Knights
Signings: Alex Pietrangelo, Tomas Nosek, Tomas Jurco, Danny O’Regan
I really don’t like the signing of Pietrangelo for the Knights, and it has nothing to do with the player himself or his contract. The contract is likely fair, though giving seven years to a thirty-year-old is going to be questionable. Pietrangelo has been great over recent seasons, and he will be an upgrade on the first pairing.
However, the Knights had to make themselves worse in order to afford the Pietrangelo deal. They traded Paul Stastny and Nate Schmidt to create room, while also losing Nick Cousins. That creates a huge hole at center in their lineup, and it’s hard to see them not being significantly weaker on the second and third lines next season. While Pietrangelo is an upgrade over Schmidt, I’d rather have Schmidt and at least one of those two centers.
Signings: Henrik Lundqvist, Justin Schultz, Cameron Schilling, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Paul LaDue, Daniel Carr, Shane Gersich
There’s nothing to complain too much about here, but I’m not a huge fan of the Lundqvist signing. Washington needed an effective backup/1B and Lundqvist can still play, I just don’t see him as a good fit with the way Washington plays. The Capitals are terrible at avoiding rush chances and high danger opportunities - I don’t think that fits well with Lundqvist’s abilities at this stage.
The Schultz signing is hard to figure out at this point. His possession numbers have been average and his chance creation percentages below 50%, but that’s largely been done with less than ideal partners in Pittsburgh. He could be a good fit, but he is still more of a puck mover than a strong defensive defenseman - I would have rather seen Washington use that $4M to help shore up some of their defensive deficiencies.
Signings: Nathan Beaulieu, Mason Appleton, Nate Thompson, Luca Sbisa, Derek Forbort, Nelson Nogier, Dominic Toninato, CJ. Suess
Winnipeg got better with their trade for Paul Stastny, but they still have a significant weakness on defense and didn’t do much to address it in free agency; Forbort is fine, but he’s not going to make them better. Right now this is a team that will be depending on Connor Hellebuyck a ton again next season.