This article is part of a four-part series that lists all of the transactions made by each NHL team and discusses what each team’s offseason means in the context of their division. Information and data was taken from: NHL Numbers, Hockey Reference, General Fanager, Hockey Analysis, Corsica, TSN, and Rotowire. Also, a special thanks to Sean Tierney who provided data visualization for the series.
The most difficult division in hockey just got more competitive.
The Stars, Blues, and Blackhawks took a hit in free agency, but still boast the majority of their core players that made them arguably the best three teams in the West last season. The two wild card teams, the Predators and Wild, each made major steps forward, and the Jets and Avs, the two squads who didn’t make the playoffs, look like they’re moving in the right direction.
- Traded Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2016 second round pick and a 2017 third round pick.
- Traded Andrew Shaw to the Montreal Canadiens for two 2016 second round picks.
- Signed Brian Campbell to a one-year, $2.25 million contract.
- Signed Jordin Tootoo to a one-year, $750k contract.
- Minor signings: Michal Kempny, Martin Lundberg, Lars Johansson, Spencer Abbott, Sam Carrick, Pierre-Cedric Labrie.
- Re-signed Richard Panik to a one-year, $875k contract.
- Re-signed Michal Rozsival to a one-year, $600k contract.
- Re-signed Brandon Mashinter to a one-year, $575k contract.
- Re-signed Dennis Rasmussen to a one-year, $575k contract.
- Minor Re-signings: Mac Carruth, Mark McNeill, Dennis Rasmussen.
- Entry-level contracts: Alexandre Fortin.
- Mutually agreed to a contract termination with David Rundblad.
- IN: Brian Campbell, Jordin Tootoo, Michal Kempny, Martin Lundberg, Lars Johansson, Spencer Abbott, Sam Carrick, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Alexandre Fortin.
- OUT: David Rundblad, Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, Bryan Bickell, Andrew Ladd, Dale Wiese, Kyle Cumiskey, Christian Ehrhoff, Ryan Haggerty, Matt Fraser, Jay Harrison, Tim Jackman, Michael Leighton, Tomas Fleischmann.
It just isn’t an offseason without a Chicago Blackhawks Cap Crunch Fire Sale. And for the second year in a row, that’s exactly what we got!
Last year, it was Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya, and Patrick Sharp who joined Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Campbell, Andrew Ladd, Dave Bolland, and so on and so on as Cup winners who were jettisoned from Chicago so the Hawks could slide under the cap ceiling. This summer, they dealt RFA Andrew Shaw to the Montreal Canadiens and Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell to the Carolina Hurricanes for a collection of draft picks.
Their only major addition was arguably the best value move of the summer, as they welcomed Brian Campbell back for another stint with the team for a fraction of what he probably could have earned elsewhere. Campbell will be paid a base salary of $1.5 million with bonuses up to $750k, which, again, is excellent value for somebody who, while not the same elite talent he used to be, has been an excellent possession driver, decent offensive producer, and consistent minute muncher over the past few seasons in Florida.
Also, don’t look now, but the seeds for Summer 2017’s Chicago Blackhawks Cap Crunch Fire Sale: Artemi Panarin edition have been planted! According to a Tweet from Chris Kuc, last season’s Rookie of the Year is seeking a six-year deal worth $6 million plus per year. Uh oh!
Verdict: The Campbell signing was excellent, and it goes to show the kind of advantages you can create for yourself when you have a history of success. But other than that, the Hawks didn’t really do much save for some housekeeping and depth additions for their minor league team. Without much top level talent waiting in their farm system, it’s difficult to see how the Hawks are going to fill the holes on their roster made by this summer’s exodus. But haven’t we been saying that for years now?
- Head coach and Vice President of Hockey Operations Patrick Roy resigned.
- Traded Reto Berra to the Florida Panthers for Rocco Grimaldi.
- Traded Nick Holden to the New York Rangers for a 2017 fourth round pick.
- Signed Fedor Tyutin to a one-year, $2 million contract.
- Signed Joe Colborne to a two-year contract with a $2.5 million cap hit.
- Signed Patrick Wiercioch to a one-year, $800k contract.
- Minor signings: Trent Vogelhuber, Reid Petryk, Ryan Stanton, Jeremy Smith, Turner Elson, Jim O’Brien, Mike Sislo, Joe Whitney, Ben Smith.
- Re-signed Calvin Pickard to a two-year contract with a $1 million cap hit.
- Re-signed Nathan MacKinnon to a seven-year contract with a $6.3 million cap hit.
- Re-signed Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-year, $1.3 million contract.
- Re-signed Tyson Barrie to a four-year contract with a $5.5 million cap hit.
- Minor re-signings: Duncan Siemens, Andreas Martinesen.
- Bought out the contract of Brad Stuart. He’ll carry a $3.6 million cap hit for one year.
- IN: Rocco Grimaldi, Fedor Tyutin, Joe Colbourne, Patrick Wiercioch, Trent Vogelhuber, Reid Petryk, Ryan Stanton, Jeremy Smith, Turner Elson, Jim O’Brien, Mike Sislo, Joe Whitney, Ben Smith.
- OUT: Reto Berra, Nick Holden, Brad Stuart, Shawm Matthias, Zach Redmond, Andrew Agozzino, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Mikkel Boedker, Borna Rendulic, Ben Street, Nate Guenin, Taylor Beck, Grandon Gormley, Jack Skille, Jesse Winchester.
Summer 2016 had disaster potential written all over it for the Colorado Avalanche. The team has boasted some of the worst underlying numbers in the game over the past few seasons and the organization’s management instills very little faith in being able to navigate through the issue. And by the organization’s management, I’m talking about Patrick Roy, who not only implemented tactics and systems as a coach that led to failure on both ends of the ice, but also seemed to take a dislike to some of the team’s best players, like Tyson Barrie and Matt Duchene.
Rumours swirled around the team that Barrie, the team’s top defenceman and one of the league’s best producers from the blue line, would be dealt as the organization didn’t want to commit to him long-term, and that Duchene would more than likely be dangled on the market to help find his replacement.
But instead of Barrie or Duchene leaving the Avs, it was Patrick Roy who headed out the door. Roy announced shortly after Barrie was signed to a four-year contract (after going through arbitration) that he was resigning from his post as VP of Hockey Operations and as the team’s head coach, apparently because of philosophical differences with general manager Joe Sakic, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported.
Based on the moves the team made and what Roy has suggested his vision and ideals are in terms of assembling a competitive NHL roster — that being largely anti-analytics — this all adds up. The team hired analytics guru Chris McFarland last summer, then this summer, made a major commitment to Barrie, kept Duchene off the table, signed Patrick Wiercioch, an advanced stats darling, and added Joe Colbourne and Fedor Tyutin to boot.
Barrie was handed a four-year deal with a $5.5 million cap hit, which is very fair for the guy who ranks 11th in the league — ahead of names like Brent Burns, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Justin Faulk — in points among defencemen over the past three seasons. They also got Nathan MacKinnon locked up to a seven-year, $6.3 million, which is pretty much the standard for young, elite forwards inking their first long-term deal.
Verdict: Based on the way things could have gone this offseason for the Avs, 2016 looks like a major success. They got two of their best players, Barrie and Nathan MacKinnon, signed to long-term contracts, they made some nice depth additions at a low cost, and they’ve moved on from a coach and executive with a poor track record for both assembling a competitive roster and executing in-game strategies and systems to maximize it. We’ll have to wait and see who they hire to replace him, but the future of the Colorado Avalanche looks brighter without Patrick Roy than it did with him around.
- Traded Jack Campbell to the Los Angeles Kings for Nick Ebert.
- Traded the UFA rights of Alex Goligoski to the Arizona Coyotes for a 2016 fifth round pick.
- Signed Dan Hamhuis to a two-year contract with a $3.75 million cap hit.
- Signed Jiri Hudler to a one-year, $2 million contract.
- Signed Andrew Bodnarchuk to a two-year contract with a $725k cap hit.
- Signed Adam Cracknell to a one-year, $600k contract.
- Re-signed Jordie Benn to a three-year contract with a $1.1 million contract.
- Re-signed Patrick Eaves to a one-year, $1 million contract.
- Re-signed Jamie Oleksiak to a one-year, $919k contract.
- Signed Jamie Benn to an eight-year contract extension with a $9.5 million cap hit.
- Minor re-signings: Brendan Ranford, Justin Dowling, Mattias Backman, Brett Ritchie, Matej Stransky.
- IN: Jiri Hudler, Dan Hamhuis, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Adam Cracknell, Nick Ebert.
- OUT: Valeri Nichushkin, Colton Sceviour, Vernon Fiddler, Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski, Travis Moen, Kris Russell, Jack Campbell.
The Dallas Stars didn’t make a big move on the free agent market or via trade this summer like they have in years past, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a big splash. It just happens the major signing they made this summer was a player they already had locked up heading into 2016-17, but that doesn’t take away from its magnitude.
Jamie Benn was inked to an eight-year, $76 million contract extension, making him one of the richest players in the game, as his $9.5 million cap hit will put him behind only Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex Ovechkin and Anze Kopitar in terms of annual salary (for now). That compensation seems fair, considering the fact that nobody has produced more over the past three seasons than Benn has.
With that massive extension and the fact that Patrick Sharp and Ales Hemsky are going to need to be re-signed or replaced at the end of next season, the Stars decided to let Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers walk in free agency. That’s obviously a massive hit for the team to take, as Goligoski and Demers ranked first and third on the Stars in ice time last season, and both boasted positive possession numbers while playing in a variety of situations for the team.
They did manage to fill half of the hole left by the parted blue liners by inking veteran defenceman Dan Hamhuis to a two-year contract, which is a much more manageable term than the one being commanded by either of the two aforementioned free agents. Hamhuis plays a more defensive style than either Goligoski or Demers does, so he’ll be a nice fit with John Klingberg on Dallas’ top pair.
The Stars also waved goodbye to 2013 10th overall pick Valeri Nichushkin (for now), as the Russian winger inked a two-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. This isn’t really a big loss for the Stars in the context of here and now, as Nichushkin played a bottom-six role on the team last season, but it’s obviously disappointing seeing what appeared to be a key cog in the team’s future leave the organization.
Verdict: To be honest, I’m surprised that the Stars weren’t willing to sign one of Goligoski or Demers, while letting the other walk. Losing two key defencemen is a massive hit for a team already pretty thin on the blue line, and while Dan Hamhuis is a nice addition, it’s a pretty big risk to expect a young defenceman like Jamie Oleksiak, Stephen Johns, or Patrik Nemeth to take a step in their development and take on a more important role on the team’s blue line. Though they still have the league’s best offence, the Stars are a decent regression candidate largely because of the strength of their division.
- Hired Bruce Boudreau as head coach.
- Signed Eric Staal to a three-year contract with a $3.5 million cap hit.
- Signed Alex Stalock to a one-year, $650k contract.
- Signed Chris Stewart to a two-year contract with a $1.15 million cap hit.
- Minor signings: Adam Vay, Victor Bartley, Pat Cannone.
- Re-signed Jason Zucker to a two-year contract with a $2 million cap hit.
- Re-signed Tyler Graovac to a two-year contract with a $625k cap hit.
- Re-signed Darcy Kuemper to a one-year, $1.55 million contract.
- Re-signed Matt Dumba to a two-year contract with a $2.55 million cap hit.
- Minor re-signings: Zac Dalpe, Zach Palmquist, Jordan Schroder.
- Bought out the contract of Thomas Vanek. He’ll have a $1.5 million cap hit in 2016-17 and a $2.5 million cap hit in 2018-19.
- IN: Eric Staal, Alex Stalock, Chris Stewart, Adam Vay, Victory Bartley, Pat Cannone.
- OUT: Thomas Vanek, Ryan Carter, Justin Fontaine, David Jones, Chris Porter, Jarret Stoll, Ruslan Fedetenko, Scott Sabourin, Tyson Strachan, Brett Bulmer, Conor Allen, Raphael Bussieres, Jon Blum.
Possibly a more important addition than any major free agent could have been this summer, the Minnesota Wild hired Bruce Boudreau to be their head coach, like, five seconds after he was fired by the Anaheim Ducks. Though he hasn’t had much success in the playoffs, Boudreau, through his career, has shown an ability to get the most out of his teams, as both the Washington Capitals and Ducks were much better teams under him than they were with previous regimes.
The Wild also put an end to the Thomas Vanek era in Minnesota, buying out the final year of his $6.5 million annual contract and spreading the cap hit over two years. Vanek’s time in Minnesota was obviously very, very disappointing as he joined the team in the summer of 2014 as one of the most highly sought after free agents on the market. He was supposed to provide an offensive spark to a team who badly needed one, but his 0.25 goals per game, 0.60 points per game, and 47.9 Corsi For percentage were all well below the average of what he produced elsewhere over the course of his career.
With the savings, the Wild signed Eric Staal to a three-year contract with a measly $3.5 million cap hit, which is a massive discount from the $7 or $8 million he was reportedly seeking in an extension with the Carolina Hurricanes last summer. Staal had the worst season of his career last year in terms of production, but he’s a good bet for a bounce back candidate as his possession numbers were in the positive and he rode a terrible PDO all the way to just 13 goals.
Verdict: The Wild are a team with both veteran and young talent who have underachieved quite a bit over the past few seasons. With the addition of Bruce Boudreau, one of the best coaches in the game right now, they’re a very good candidate to take a massive step forward next season. That said, they still play in a loaded division, so climbing the ladder isn’t going to be an easy task.
- Traded Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens for P.K. Subban.
- Traded Jimmy Vesey to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2016 third round pick.
- Signed Yannick Weber to a one-year, $575k contract.
- Signed Matt Irwin to a one-year, $575k contract.
- Signed Matt Carle to a one-year, $700k contract.
- Minor signings: Jonas Gunnarsson, Harry Zolnierczyk, Trevor Smith, Mike Liambas.
- Re-signed Calle Jarnkrok to a six-year contract with a $2 million cap hit.
- Minor re-signings: Marek Mazanec, Petter Granberg, Cody Bass.
- Signed Filip Forsberg to a six-year contract extension with a $6 million cap hit.
- Bought out the contract of Eric Nystrom. He’ll carry a $500k cap hit in 2016-17 and a $1 million cap hit in 2017-18.
- Bought out the contract of Barret Jackman. He’ll carry a $667k cap hit for two years.
- IN: P.K. Subba, Yannick Weber, Matt Carle, Matt Irwin, Jonas Gunnarsson, Harry Zolnierczyk, Trevor Smith, Mike Liambas.
- OUT: Shea Weber, Jimmy Vesey, Carter Hutton, Cody Hodgson, Eric Nystrom, Gabriel Bourque, Paul Gaustad, Barret JackmanAnton Volchenkov, Corey Potter, Taylor Aronson, Max Reinhart, Jamie Devane, Joonas Jarvinen, Simon Moser, Patrick Mullen, Garrett Noonan, Johan Alm, Stefan Elliott.
This still doesn’t feel real. The Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens pulled off the type of trade that you would expect to see in a video game if you have the ‘forced trades’ setting on, as P.K. Subban got shipped to Nashville for Shea Weber. (For those who had Weber jerseys, the Predators also went ahead and did a cool thing by signing Yannick Weber to a one-year deal so they didn’t immediately become obsolete.)
This deal heavily favours the Predators for a variety of reasons. First, Subban, one-for-one is the better player. Over the past three seasons, the Canadiens have scored 2.65 goals per hour at even strength with Subban on the ice, while the Predators scored 2.37 per hour with Weber playing. That difference doesn’t seem like much, but when you look at how how each player produces in relation to their teammates, you see that Subban has a much larger positive impact both offensively and defensively than Weber does.
Of course, Weber isn’t some hack like the trendy opinion on Twitter might suggest, but even if the two players were exactly equal (which they aren’t), this deal would still tilt in Nashville’s favour. Subban just turned 27 years old, while Weber just turned 31. Subban has six more years left on is contract, albeit with a massive $9 million cap hit, but he’ll be 33 when it ends. On the other hand, Weber is still going to command a cap hit of $7.857 million for another nine years, which will take him well beyond his years as an effective player.
Moving away from Subban and Weber, the Predators also inked a couple members of their core to long-term contracts. Most importantly, they got Filip Forsberg, their leading scorer over the past two seasons, signed for six years at a reasonable $6 million cap hit. They also signed Calle Jarnkrok for six years at a very manageable $2 million average salary. Now, their key task will be dealing with a new contract for Ryan Johansen, who, in the past, has suggested he wants to maximize his earning potential through free agency.
Verdict: This was basically a dream summer for the Nashville Predators. I’m not going to say that Shea Weber is a horrible player or anything, but they managed to unroot themselves from a very ugly contract while also netting themselves one of the game’s most exciting talents and personalities in the process. Though Subban’s $9 million cap hit might be a little rich, the Preds can certainly afford it, considering how many players — Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis — they have signed to value contracts.
- Traded Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames for a 2016 second round pick and a 2018 third round pick.
- Traded Anders Nilsson to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2017 fourth round pick.
- Signed David Perron to a two-year contract with a $3.75 million cap hit.
- Signed Carter Hutton to a two-year contract with a $1.125 million cap hit.
- Minor signings: Andrew Agozzino, Morgan Ellis, Alex Friesen, Wade Megan, Kenny Agostino, Brad Hunt, Landon Ferraro.
- Re-signed Dmitrij Jaskin to a two-year contract with a $1 million cap hit.
- Re-signed Jaden Schwartz to a five-year contract with a $5.35 million cap hit.
- Re-signed Scottie Upshall to a one-year, $900k contract.
- Re-signed Kyle Brodziak to a two-year contract with a $950k cap hit.
- Re-signed Chris Butler to a one-year, $600k contract.
- Re-signed Magnus Paajarvi to a one-year, $700k contract.
- Re-signed Ty Rattie to a one-year, $650k contract.
- Minor re-signings: Jordan Caron, Jacob Doty, Pheonix Copley, Jordan Binnington.
- Signed Jake Allen to a four-year contract extension with a $4.35 million cap hit.
- Signed Alex Steen to a four-year contract extension with a $5.75 million cap hit.
- IN: David Perron, Carter Hutton, Andrew Agozzino, Morgan Ellis, Kenny Agostino, Alex Friesen, Brad Hunt, Landon Ferraro.
- OUT: David Backes, Troy Brouwer, Brian Elliott, Anders Nilsson, Steve Ott, Pat Cannone, Andre Benoit, Peter Harrold, Jeremy Welsh, Danny Kristo, Cody Beach, Richard Nedomlel, Yannick Veillieux, Ryan Tesink, Zack Phillips, Rob Bordson.
For the St. Louis Blues, summer 2016 was more about housekeeping than it was making improvements to their roster. Most notably, the Blues locked up Jaden Schwartz to a five-year, $26.75 million contract and Jake Allen and Alex Steen to four-year, $17.4 million and $23 million extensions that’ll kick in at the beginning of the 2017-18 season.
Their one major addition came when they signed David Perron, who’s spent the past three seasons bouncing around the league since the Blues traded him to Edmonton, to a reasonable two-year contract. Perron had one excellent season in Edmonton, was dealt half way through the following season to Pittsburgh, struggled there, and was traded to Anaheim a year later where he produced at nearly a career-high pace for 28 games.
The Blues also lost captain David Backes and Troy Brouwer to free agency, which, judging by their age and what they were paid on the open market, isn’t really a bad thing. Obviously the Blues would have certainly loved to keep either player around, but Backes was paid $6 million annually over a five-year deal, which will take him and his already declining production into his late 30s. Brouwer, on the other hand, was given $4.5 million annually over four years, which is very rich for someone who produces at a middle-six level with forgettable underlying numbers.
Verdict: The Blues went into summer 2016 knowing that they were going to have to either pony up some cash or wave goodbye to veteran talent. Rather than falling into the team of trying to keep past-their-prime players around based on what they accomplished in the past, the Blues made the smart decision to look towards the future. While it’s difficult to say they’re a better, or hell, even as good of a team as they were last season, the decisions they made will give them some much needed flexibility when next summer’s wave of free agents — Colton Parayko and Kevin Shattenkirk — come calling.
- Signed Shawn Matthias to a two-year contract with a $2.125 million cap hit.
- Signed Quinton Howden to a one-year, $650k contract.
- Signed Brian Strait to a one-year, $600k contract.
- Signed Kyle Connor to an entry-level contract.
- Re-signed Michael Hutchinson to a two-year contract with a $1.15 million cap hit.
- Re-signed Mark Scheifele to an eight-year contract with a $6.125 million cap hit.
- Re-signed Joel Armia to a two-year contact with a $925k cap hit.
- Re-signed Adam Lowry to a two-year contract with a $1.125 million cap hit.
- Minor re-signings: JC Lipon, Julian Melchiori, Brendan Kichton, Brandon Tanev.
- Signed Mathieu Perrault to a four-year contract extension with a $4.125 million cap hit.
- Drafted Patrik Laine second overall and signed him to an entry-level contract.
- IN: Patrik Laine, Shawn Matthias, Quinton Howden, Brian Strait.
- OUT: Rob Schremp, Grant Clitsome, Thomas Raffl, Arturs Kulda, Matt Halischuk, Andrew MacWilliam, Austen Brassard, Patrice Cormier, John Albert.
- Unsigned: Jacob Trouba
The Jets had a very disappointing follow up to the team’s first playoff appearance since relocating to Winnipeg. After making the playoffs in 2014-15 with a core of good young players, the Jets took a step back last season, finishing last in the Central Division. This can largely be attributed to bad goaltending, poor luck, and discipline issues, as their possession numbers suggested they should have fared much better, but that’s a different story.
Anyways, the Jets were immediately rewarded for their misfortune, as they jumped all the way from their position of sixth overall all the way up to second overall despite the fact they only had a 7.5 per cent chance of having their name drawn. As a result, they were able to draft The Second Coming of The Finnish Flash Patrik Laine, an elite offensive talent who rocketed up the charts last season with incredible performances at the international level.
The Jets didn’t make any major free agent splashes, but they added some depth with Shawn Matthias, Brian Strait and Quinton Howden. Their major signings came internally, as they locked up Mark Scheifele, who enjoyed a breakout season scoring 29 goals last season, to an eight-year contract that’ll keep him in Winnipeg until he turns 30. They also extended the heavily underrated Mathieu Perreault to a four-year extension, which seems pretty rich for somebody with his production until you look at what his underlying numbers show that he brings to the table.
But unfortunately for the Jets, there was one signing it appears they couldn’t get done. According to a statement from his agent, Trouba has been seeking a trade out of Winnipeg since May, largely because of the team’s current depth (Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers) on the right side of the blue line.
Verdict: The Jets had a rough season last year, but were certainly rewarded for it as Patrik Laine is great reward for putting up with disappointing results. Laine will join an already loaded prospect core in Winnipeg along with Marko Dano, Josh Morrissey, and Kyle Connor who will look to break into the league next season and immediately make an impact on the team. Winnipeg’s underlying numbers last season indicated the team deserved a much better fate than the one they ultimately earned, and with an influx of young talent, they’re a good candidate to have a bounce back season in 2016-17.