The NHL offseason fully began over ten weeks ago when the Stanley Cup was won by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since then, teams have been busy making decisions that will impact their rosters next season, and for many years ahead.
Within the Pacific Division, each team had its own issues to address, and its own plans for the offseason. For example, here in Calgary the Flames had to find new and better goaltenders which they swiftly did.
Each team had to improve their team while also ensuring they stay away from salary cap problems down the line. For simplicity’s sake, I left out roster moves that didn’t involve notable NHLers as well as draft picks.
Here’s a recap of what each of the seven Pacific Division teams have done so far this offseason:
Anaheim Ducks (46-25-11, 1st in Division, Lost in WC Quarterfinals)
Added: Jonathan Bernier, Nate Guenin, Mason Raymond, Jared Boll, Antoine Vermette
Subtracted: Frederik Anderson, Jamie McGinn, Shawn Horcoff, Brandon Pirri, David Perron, Mike Santorelli
Outside of essentially trading Anderson for Bernier and a draft pick, the Ducks didn’t make a lot of big moves this offseason. Their best acquisition will most likely be Antoine Vermette who only signed on August 15th.
While there wasn’t a lot of change to the team on the ice, the Ducks made a big move in firing head coach Bruce Boudreau and replacing him with former Duck and Leaf coach Randy Carlyle. Boudreau had guided the Ducks to 4 straight division titles so this change could change the divisional outlook.
Arizona Coyotes (35-39-8, 4th in Division, Missed Playoffs)
Added: Alex Goligoski, Pavel Datsyuk, Jamie McBain, Jamie McGinn, Ryan White, Luke Schenn, Radim Vrbata, Dave Bolland, Lawson Crouse
Subtracted: Anders Lindback, Nicklas Grossman, Boyd Gordon, Steve Downie, Kyle Chipchura, Alex Tanguay, Antoine Vermette
Between acquiring Pavel Datsyuk and last summer’s acquisition of Chris Pronger, the Coyotes seem primed to make a run at the Stanley Cup for the 2007-2008 season.
It was a season that started well, but finished in an all to familiar spot for the Coyotes. Most of this offseason was moving out bodies to make room for young players while also acquiring the contract of Pavel Datsyuk to stay over the Cap Floor. Goligoski’s brand new 5yr/$27.375M deal will help too.
Edmonton Oilers (31-43-8, 7th in Divison, Missed Playoffs)
Added: Adam Larsson, Milan Lucic, Jonas Gustavsson
Subtracted: Rob Klinkhammer, Taylor Hall, Nikita Nikitin, Lauri Korpikoski, Eric Gryba
The Oilers didn’t make a lot of moves this offseason but the few they did make were massive!
First, in trading Taylor Hall, they lost a 1st line scorer that had been supposedly the backbone of this Oiler rebuild. They acquired Adam Larsson who will definitely improve the Oilers defense but at the cost they paid, was it really worth it? A few days later they’d go out and fill Hall’s spot by signing Milan Lucic for 7 years at an AAV of $6M. I’m not sure about these Oilers.
Los Angeles Kings (48-28-6, 2nd in Division, Lost in WC Quarterfinals)
Added: Jack Campbell, Jeff Zatkoff, Zach Trotman, Teddy Purcell, Tom Gilbert
Subtracted: Vincent Lecavlier, Luke Schenn, Kris Versteeg, Milan Lucic, Jamie McBain, Jhonas Enroth
The biggest losses for the Kings will most definitely be Lucic and Enroth.
Other than that the Kings didn’t do much other than just replace a few bodies who left and barely managed to stay under the salary cap this season. As of now, the Kings are just less than $30,000 below the $73M cap for this season.
San Jose Sharks (46-30-6, 3rd in Division, Lost in Stanley Cup Final)
Added: Mikkel Boedker, David Schlemko
Subtracted: Dainius Zubrus, Nick Spaling, Roman Polak, James Reimer
Pretty much nothing will be noticeably different for the Sharks next season as the majority of the team who made it to the Stanley Cup Final will remain.
The additions of Boedker and Schlemko will definitely improve the team while Maple Leaf castoffs Spaling, Polak, and Reimer all move on. The Sharks right now lack an NHL level backup goalie and with less than $1M in cap space, they may be forced to bring someone up from their system.
Vancouver Canucks (31-38-13, 6th in Division, Missed Playoffs)
Added: Erik Gudbranson, Loui Eriksson
Subtracted: Jared McCann, Chris Higgins, Dan Hamhuis, Matt Bartkowski, Linden Vey, Radim Vrbata
For a team that seems like it should be rebuilding, the Canucks started taking a few of the right steps before they then decided to land Loui Eriksson with a 6yr/$36M contract.
The Canucks ended up losing Dan Hamhuis for nothing to Dallas, and it’s too bad they had rejected an offer from Dallas at the trade deadline similar to the one the Flames got for Russell. Thanks!
Calgary Flames (35-40-7, 5th in Division, Missed Playoffs)
Added: Daniel Pribyl, Brian Elliott, Alex Chiasson, Chad Johnson, Troy Brouwer, Linden Vey, Chris Higgins (PTO)
Subtracted: Nicklas Backstrom, Jonas Hiller, Mason Raymond, Karri Ramo, Jakub Nakladal, Joe Colborne, Josh Jooris, Joni Ortio
Finally, we finish with our beloved Flames. Entering the offseason, the Flames clearly needed two new goalies at the NHL level for next season while also balancing a difficult cap situation. The Flames have a tad under $8.6M in cap space left after resigning Sean Monahan, but Johnny Gaudreau has yet to sign and still needs a new contract despite it almost being September.
First let’s talk about the departures from the Flames. Most notably, is the departure of Joe Colborne as he left for the Avalanche on the opening day of free agency after being unable to reach an agreement with the Flames. For the rest of the players listed, it isn’t really a surprise that they were let go whether it be poor play or simply having no spots left within the organization. For me, the only question mark is Jakub Nakladal as I’d be curious to see what happens to him in September after he played well last season and has yet to sign anywhere. Perhaps a PTO or two way deal?
Now, the additions. First and foremost, the Flames had to find a quality #1 goaltender which they swiftly did at the NHL draft by acquiring St.Louis Blues netminder Brian Elliott. They chose to look outside the organization for backup Chad Johnson on the first day of free agency rather than sticking with Karri Ramo or Joni Ortio.
The other big name that the Flames brought in was Troy Brouwer, another pilfering from the Blues organization. Whether or not he lives up to his 4 year $18 million contract remains to be seen.
The Flames also brought in a couple depth forwards in Alex Chiasson and Linden Vey who had tough seasons with their respective clubs. Both have 1 year contracts with have low risk/high reward possibilities. Finally, just a few days ago, the Flames signed Chris Higgins to a PTO meaning that he’ll be invited to training camp in September. Whether he makes the team at the NHL or AHL level, or is simply cut is up to him. Either way, it’s another body to make camp interesting.
The key to all of these signings is that the Flames become a better possession team and create a team chemistry that can carry them along the way. Those duties sit on the shoulders of new coach Glen Gulutzan head coaches for the 2nd time in his career after coaching Dallas from 2011-2013.
The season starts in about five weeks however WCOH training camps get underway September 4, while the Flames’ camp should begin shortly after with the first preseason game on September 26th vs Edmonton.