Apart from the John Tavares signing and the Ryan O’Reilly trade, there really weren’t a lot of massive moves this summer. Things stayed pretty quiet at the draft. Erik Karlsson was never dealt, and John Carlson stayed with the defending Cup champions.
Maybe it should have been expected because I think GM’s are starting to learn that when you make a big splash in the free agent market, there’s a good chance you’re going to regret it.
Richest UFA deals signed on July 1, 2016:
Milan Lucic, 7 yrs, $42M
Kyle Okposo, 7 yrs, $42M
Andrew Ladd, 7 yrs, $38.5M
Loui Eriksson, 6 yrs, $36M
Frans Nielsen, 6 yrs, $31.25M
David Backes, 5 yrs, $30M
Darren Helm, 5 yrs, $19.25M
Troy Brouwer, 4 yrs, $18M
What a day.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) August 3, 2018
But still, there were teams out there who needed to make changes and simply didn’t.
After missing the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons, I thought the Hawks would be aggressive in trying to change the makeup of their team.
While they did manage to get rid of Marian Hossa’s dead contract, they didn’t use the cap space they had wisely. While Marcus Kruger was part of the Hossa deal and his contract expires soon, they are still spending close to $3 million on a player who was sent to the AHL last season.
To shore up their goaltending, they signed Cam Ward to a $3 million deal, which was an overpay. They could have waited out a flooded goaltending market and grabbed one of Steve Mason or Kari Lehtonen, both of which posted similar numbers last year.
They finished in the bottom third of the league in goals against per game, and while a lot of that was because they didn’t have a healthy Corey Crawford, they also gave up the eighth most shots against per game. I believe that’s the result of an ageing d-core.
I would have liked to see the Hawks make a big splash like trading Brent Seabrook or use their cap space to try and refresh their blueline a little. That didn’t happen.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
They made changes, just not any good changes. They started the offseason by bringing in Lou Lamoriello and then Barry Trotz, but in the end, they couldn’t keep their franchise player.
With John Tavares out of the picture and boatloads of cap space, I was expecting more from the Isles. I thought they would make a deal for a scoring forward and try to fill the hole created by the departure of Tavares. They didn’t.
Instead, they went out and signed Leo Komarov to a four-year deal, signed Valtteri Filppula, and acquired Matt Martin. None of those players will help the team score goals next year.
Their other glaring hole was between the pipes. It’s sunk them in years past, and I assumed this was the year we would see the organization try to find their guy. Again, they disappointed, taking a chance on the inconsistent Robin Lehner.
Could Lehner find his game under goaltending guru Mitch Korn? Maybe. But it’s still a massive gamble.
They lost their best player in John Tavares, a solid d-man in Calvin De Haan, and didn’t solidify their goaltending. It was not a good summer in Brooklyn.
I’ll start with this: I actually like the team’s decision to draft Jesperi Kotkaniemi third overall. The easiest way to get a top line centre is in the draft, and I think Kotkaniemi can be a top-line centre by the end of his entry-level contract.
That’s still a few years away, and the problem for the Habs is that their best players aren’t getting any younger. Last year, I saw a team that wasn’t close to being a playoff team. They either had to sell off and get young or try to bring in proven talent to compete.
Neither of those happened. The Galchenyuk for Domi deal will be lateral at best, they still have the Max Pacioretty saga hanging over their heads, and the injury to Shea Weber leaves their defence looking incredibly thin.
They couldn’t get Paul Stastny in free agency and didn’t even get to make a pitch to John Tavares (which says a lot in my opinion), and when I look at their roster, I still don’t think they’re close to a playoff team.
Carey Price returning to form could certainly change that, but I wish Marc Bergevin would have found a way to acquire a little more talent and certainty this summer.
Is there a team that should be on the list that isn’t? Let us know on our Twitter @BelowTheIce