A few months ago, I looked at all of the moves made over the offseason with the goal of figuring out which trades and signings were good and bad, what each teams goals were, and whether or not they did a good job of making the personnel changes to achieve them. Now, since an adequate amount of time has passed, I’m going to pull those assessments up, throw on my hindsight goggles, and look back on the good and the bad moves from the 2015 offseason.
If you’re an Atlantic Division team, you either had an incredibly busy offseason, or you came into the 2015-16 season with virtually the exact same roster as the year before. The Boston Bruins summer was a roller coaster ride, filled with ups and downs, but looking back in hindsight, it wasn’t as bad as many suggested it was at the time. The Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs have done a solid job pushing their rebuilds in the right direction, while the Florida Panthers have finally broken out thanks to excellent play from young and old players alike. And, of course, rather than even bothering to talk about the summer the Tampa Bay Lightning had, we need to talk about what’s ahead. Let’s get into it.
- OFFSEASON MOVES:
- Traded the UFA rights to Carl Soderberg to the Avalanche for a 2016 sixth-round pick.
- Traded Dougie Hamilton to the Flames for a first-round pick and two second-round picks in 2015.
- Signed Adam McQuaid to a four-year contract with a cap hit of $2.75 million.
- Traded Milan Lucic to the Kings for Martin Jones, Colin Miller, and a 2015 first-round pick.
- Traded a 2017 third-round pick to the Flyers for Zac Rinaldo.
- Traded Martin Jones to the Sharks for Sean Kuraly and a 2016 first-round pick.
- Traded Reilly Smith and Marc Savard’s contract to the Panthers for Jimmy Hayes.
- Signed Ryan Spooner to a two-year contract with a $0.950 million cap hit.
- Signed Matt Beleskey to a five-year contract with a $3.80 million cap hit.
- Signed Jimmy Hayes to a three-year contract with a $2.30 million cap hit.
- Signed Brett Connolly to a one-year, $1.05 million contract.
- Signed Matt Irwin to a one-year $0.800 million contract.
- REGULAR SEASON MOVES:
- IN: Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Zac Rinaldo, Matt Irwin, Jonas Gustavsson.
- OUT: Milan Lucic, Marc Savard’s contract, Gregory Campbell, Dan Paille, Carl Soderberg, Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski, Reilly Smith, Niklas Svedberg.
If the Boston Bruins offseason was one thing, it was entertaining. It was filled with ups and downs, head scratchers, and some good laughs as Don Sweeney slammed his head through a wall and completely altered the composition of the Bruins roster over his first summer at the helm of the organization. Some of it was bad, some of it was good, but I really don’t think any of it was predictable.
First, the Bruins dealt Carl Soderberg’s UFA rights to the Colorado Avalanche for a sixth round pick. Fair enough. They figured they weren’t interested in competing with market value for the 29-year-old, who only had 161 career NHL games under his belt at the time. He ultimately signed a five-year, $23.75 million deal with the Avs, which is a lot of money to dedicate to a player who’s career high in points was 48. Besides, signing Dougie Hamilton was a much, much bigger priority anyways, so Sweeney didn’t want to load up the team’s already unenviable cap situation with more long-term deals.
Well, as we know, that didn’t work out at all. And much to the shock of pretty much everybody, Hamilton was sent to the Calgary Flames for a first round pick and two second round picks the morning of the NHL draft. Hamilton had just come off a season in which he produced 0.58 points-per-game and led all Bruins defencemen in relative Corsi For percentage at just 22 years of age, so it was expected that he was going to be seeking a pretty significant pay increase as his entry-level deal came to an end. After being dealt to Calgary, he and the Flames agreed on a pretty reasonable six-year, $34.5 million contract.
This looked bad at the time, and even though Hamilton got off to a rough start in Calgary, it still looks bad. The Bruins obviously got nowhere near fair value for a defenceman of Hamilton’s calibre and age, and the deal he signed in Calgary certainly wasn’t outrageous, again, for a player of his quality. I mean, I’m not sure what happened between Hamilton and Sweeney here. Maybe Hamilton just didn’t want to be in Boston long-term or he didn’t like the direction the team was moving, but it’s hard to look at what the Bruins got for him and objectively say that it was what he should have warranted in a trade.
The rest of the Bruins offseason wasn’t all bad though. Obviously the Hamilton situation got things off to a pretty ugly start, but Sweeney was able to gain some praise when he traded the rapidly declining Milan Lucic to the L.A. Kings for a first round pick and Martin Jones. This was certainly an impressive deal, as the Bruins were able to return pretty significant value for a player just one year from free agency who was coming off the worst statistical season of his career. They later moved Jones to the San Jose Sharks for a first round pick in 2016, which is another thumbs up, as the Bruins essentially turned Lucic into two first round draft picks.
Then, at the draft, the Bruins offseason took another nosedive, as Sweeney went off the board with their three consecutive first round picks, passing up names like Matthew Barzal and Kyle Connor in favour of players projected as late first and mid-second round picks. I think this is what really left a sour taste in the mouth of most Bruins fans. In a draft absolutely packed with talent, they used the 13th, 14th, and 15th overall picks to draft players who don’t really appear to have a tremendous amount of upside.
After the draft, Sweeney kept rolling by swapping Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes, unloading Marc Savard’s contract on the Florida Panthers in the process. In free agency, he signed Matt Beleskey to a five-year, $19 million contract, which was quite a bit less than what he was reportedly seeking on the open market. Beleskey was expected to be the Dave Bolland of last year’s free agent class, as he had a career year in Anaheim last season thanks largely to an uncharacteristically high shooting percentage. Through 49 games in Boston, he’s been producing at the same level he did last year, so there certainly isn’t anything to complain about there.
So it’s certainly fair to say that the Bruins offseason was loaded with ups and downs, which is what makes it so frustrating. Trading Lucic for two first round picks? Really impressive. Dealing Hamilton for an underwhelming package of picks? Not so much. Dumping Marc Savard’s contract? Excellent. Signing Adam McQuaid for four years? Acquiring Zac Rinaldo? Uhhhhh. In some aspects, they did an excellent job in clearing cap space, but in others, they didn’t maximize the value of their assets. All in all, it led to a confusing and rapidly hit and miss summer. I don’t think it was as bad as everyone made it out to be, especially considering how the team has performed this year, but summer 2015 in Bruins land would certainly look a lot nicer in hindsight if they had a better time at the draft.
- OFFSEASON MOVES:
- Traded a 2015 first-round pick to the Senators for Robin Lehner and David Legwand.
- Traded Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, JT Compher, and a 2015 second-round pick to the Avalanche for Ryan O’Reilly and Tye McGinn.
- Signed Ryan O’Reilly to a seven-year contract extension with a $7.5 million cap hit.
- Bought out Cody Hodgson. He’ll carry a $1.042 million cap hit for eight seasons.
- Signed Matt Donovan to a one-year, $0.825 million contract.
- Signed Jason Akeson to a one-year, $0.575 million contract.
- Signed Cal O’Reilly to a two-year contract with a $0.700 million cap hit.
- Signed Carlo Colaiacovo to a one-year, $0.900 million contract.
- Signed Phil Varone to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Mark Pysyk to a two-year contract with a $1.125 million cap hit.
- Signed Cody Franson to a two-year contract with a $3.325 million cap hit.
- REGULAR SEASON MOVES:
- IN: Ryan O’Reilly, Jack Eichel, David Legwand, Jason Akeson, Phil Varone, Jamie McGinn, Cal O’Reilly, Carlo Colaiacovo, Matt Donovan, Robin Lehner, Cody Franson.
- OUT: Cody Hodgson, Patrick Kaleta, Mikhail Grigorenko, Matt Ellis, Zac Dalpe, JT Compher, Andrej Meszaros, Nikita Zadorov, Andre Benoit, Tyson Strachan, Anders Lindback, Matt Hackett.
The Buffalo Sabres offseason began in the most unfortunate way possible. Despite being the worst team in the league, and as a result, having the highest likelihood of winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, the Sabres had to watch Bill Daly draw a golden piece of cardboard featuring the Edmonton Oilers logo laughing maniacally at them, and suddenly, the best prospect to come through the junior ranks in a decade fell through their grasp.
Thankfully, the other guy might actually be the second best prospect to come along in a decade. Jack Eichel isn’t Connor McDavid, but he’s probably as good of a consolation prize as anybody could come up with, so there was a certainly a silver lining to not being the golden ticket. In his rookie season, Eichel has 16 goals and 19 assists through 52 games, good for second on the team in scoring.
Aside from adding a franchise centre through the draft, the Sabres had themselves a pretty nice offseason. They dealt the 21st overall pick in the 2015 drat (courtesy of the Islanders, from the Thomas Vanek trade way back when) to the Ottawa Senators for David Legwand and Robin Lehner. After that, they sent Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, JT Compher, and a second round pick to the Colorado Avalanche for Ryan O’Reilly and Tye McGinn. So they acquired an elite two-way centre to help insulate Eichel and their other young forwards, a guy who can tell interesting stories on the airplane about his good old days in Nashville, and legitimate goaltending option.
Unfortunately, Lehner got injured in the first game of the season, forcing him to the sidelines until mid-January. Since he’s returned, though, he’s been excellent. Lehner has played in five games since being removed from the injured reserve, and in those games he’s allowed more than two goals just once. So overall, though it’s a tiny sample size, he has a 0.938 save percentage in his six games as a Sabre. Obviously we need to watch him play more before coming to a conclusion, but I think it’s fair to assume Lehner will be an upgrade over what the Sabres have had in net over the past few years.
The other big splash the Sabres made was acquiring Ryan O’Reilly, and then quickly handing the soon-to-be UFA a seven-year, $52.5 million contract extension. They paid a pretty hefty price in terms of assets to acquire him, and they paid even more in terms of cold hard cash to keep him around, but O’Reilly has made it worthwhile for the Sabres this year. His 0.81 points-per-game are much higher than his career average in Colorado, he averages just under 22 minutes of ice time per game, and he makes heavy defensive zone starts against tough opposing competition. I mean, he’s basically the definition of an elite two-way centre, in that he not only plays a good defensive game, but he also produces at a high level, which oddly enough, is something that sometimes gets overlooked when talking about the value of these types of players.
Then, at the end of the summer, the Sabres inked enigmatic defenceman Cody Franson to a two-year deal with a $3.325 million cap hit. The case of Franson was curious last summer, as he was expected to be one of the most coveted names on the market, but he didn’t end up signing until into September. While his production is slightly lower than it usually had been during his time with the Leafs, Franson’s underlying numbers suggest he’s been a pretty decent depth option for the Sabres. And at what they’re paying him, you can’t really lose.
The Sabres have a ways to go before they become a good team, but the moves they made last summer are certainly a nice step in the right direction.
- OFFSEASON MOVES:
- Signed Joakim Andersson to a one-year, $0.815 million contract.
- Signed Brendan Smith to a two-year contract with a $2.75 million cap hit.
- Bought out Stephen Weiss. He’ll carry a cap hit of $1.067 million for six seasons.
- Signed Andy Miele to a one-year, $0.575 million contract.
- Signed Tom McCollum to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Landon Ferraro to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Mike Green to a three-year contract with a $6.0 million cap hit.
- Signed Brad Richards to a one-year, $3.0 million contract.
- Signed Gustav Nyquist to a four-year contract with a $4.75 million cap hit.
- Teemu Pulkkinen to a one-year, $0.735 million cap hit.
- Signed Dan Cleary to a one-year, $0.950 million contract.
- Signed Tomas Jurco to a two-year contract with a $0.900 million cap hit.
- REGULAR SEASON MOVES:
- Signed Justin Abdelkader to a seven-year contract extension with a $4.25 million cap hit.
- IN: Brad Richards, Andy Miele, Tom McCollum, Mike Green.
- OUT: Stephen Weiss, Marek Zidlicky, Erik Cole, Jonas Gustavsson.
Clearly the biggest loss in Detroit this summer was the departure of Mike Babcock, as the former Red Wings coach signed an eight-year, $50 million deal to join the Toronto Maple Leafs. Amazingly, Babcock’s $6.25 million annual salary would be the second highest of any player on the Red Wings, behind only Pavel Datsyuk who makes $7.5 million per year. Anyways, the Wings have been OK in the post-Babcock era, as they’re currently hanging on to a playoff spot despite having weaker underlying numbers than they did last season.
In terms of additions, the Wings signed Mike Green to a three-year, $18 million deal and Brad Richards to a one-year, $3 million deal to replace Stephen Weiss, who was bought out just two years into his five-year contract signed back in 2013.
Through 45 games this season, Green has just three goals and 17 assists, which represents his worst level of production since the 2011-12 season in which he was limited to just 32 games due to injury. Obviously 0.44 points-per-game isn’t terrible, but the Wings are probably expecting more production from somebody who’s paid to be a juggernaut offensively. That said, his possession numbers are very good (well, they should be considering the amount of offensive zone starts he’s given), and his low on-ice PDO suggests that his luck should soon take a turn for the positive. Same goes for Richards, who only has five goals and eight assists through 37 games thanks to a horrific 4.9 shooting percentage. Anyways, while Green and Richards haven’t been producing as much as the Wings probably would have hoped, their underlying numbers suggest that the team is better when they’re on the ice than they are when they’re on the bench, which is certainly something.
Oh yeah, and even though it didn’t happen over the offseason, I have to mention Justin Abdelkader’s extension. The Wings inked the soon-to-be 29-year old to a seven-year, $29.75 million deal earlier this year for some reason. Abdelkader had a career high in goals last season with 23 (he also had a career high shooting percentage of 14.9), probably because he was spoon fed a heavy amount of offensive zone starts. Throughout his career, he’s averaged just 0.35 points-per-game, making it bizarre that the Wings figured he was worth locking up until he’s 36 years old. I mean, they made two smart, low-risk signings last summer with manageable terms, and then they went ahead and did this. Very odd.
- OFFSEASON MOVES:
- Traded Zach Hyman and a 2017 draft pick to the Leafs for Greg McKegg.
- Bought out Brad Boyes. He’ll carry a $0.958 million cap hit for two seasons.
- Signed Brent Renger to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Cameron Gaunce to a one-year, $0.575 million contract.
- Traded Jimmy Hayes to the Bruins for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard’s contract.
- Signed Alex Petrovic to a two-year contract with a $1.05 million cap hit.
- Signed Jonathan Huberdeau to a two-year contract with a $3.25 million cap hit.
- REGULAR SEASON MOVES:
- Signed Aleksander Barkov to a six-year contract with a $5.9 million cap hit.
- IN: Greg McKegg, Brent Ranger, Cameron Gaunce, Reilly Smith, Marc Savard’s contract.
- OUT: Brad Boyes, Jimmy Hayes, Tomas Kopecky, Scotty Upshall.
Despite doing virtually nothing to improve their roster last summer, the Florida Panthers have broken out this season, as they sit at the top of the Atlantic Division standings and look poised to make the playoffs for just the fifth time in franchise history. Actually, come to think of it, the Panthers are well on their way to shattering their franchise record for wins in a season of 43 set in 1999-00. So we could very well be witnessing the best Florida Panthers team ever right now!
Like I said, though, they didn’t do a hell of a lot last summer. This breakout is largely the result of the continued progression of the team’s young core coupled with some fantastic performances from savvy, grizzled veterans. I mean, it’s borderline satirical to say out loud that a 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr is leading the 2015-16 Florida Panthers in scoring and Roberto Luongo’s Vezina Trophy level performance is helping the team to its best season in franchise history. This is something that might happen in, like, NHL 2004 if you somehow hacked into the game and turned player aging off. But no, this is real life, and it’s been very fascinating to watch.
We’re witnessing what appears to be the rise of a powerhouse team in Sunrise for the first time ever. I can’t remember the last time the Panthers had a young group as good as Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, Vincent Trocheck, and Nick Bjugstad. After years and years of mediocre drafting and poor development, the Panthers finally have a core of players worth talking about.
Anyways, let’s get back to the moves they made over the offseason. Uhhhhh, I guess the marquee move the Panthers made last summer was acquiring Reilly Smith (and Marc Savard’s contract) from the Boston Bruins for Jimmy Hayes. Smith has been pretty good for the Panthers, scoring 16 goals and 15 assists in 51 games while also posting a 50.8 Corsi For percentage. Otherwise, all they did was buy out Brad Boyes, make a couple of minor signings, and ink Huberdeau and Alex Petrovic to bridge deals. It wasn’t exciting at all, but the future of the franchise certainly is.
- OFFSEASON MOVES:
- Signed Jeff Petry to a six-year contract with a $5.5 million cap hit.
- Bought out P.A. Parenteau. He’ll carry a $1.33 million cap hit for two seasons.
- Signed Brian Flynn to a two-year contract with a $0.950 million cap hit.
- Signed Mark Barberio to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Greg Pateryn to a two-year contract with a $0.800 million cap hit.
- Traded Brandon Prust to the Canucks for Zack Kassian and a 2016 fifth round pick.
- Signed Alex Semin to a one-year, $1.0 million contract.
- Signed Alex Galchenyuk to a two-year contract with a $2.8 million cap hit.
- Signed Tomas Fleischmann to a one-year, $0.750 million contract.
- REGULAR SEASON MOVES:
- Signed Tomas Plekanec to a two-year contract extension with a $6 million cap hit.
- Traded Christian Thomas to the Arizona Coyotes for Lucas Lessio.
- Traded Zack Kassian to the Edmonton Oilers for Ben Scrivens.
- Traded Dustin Tokarski to the Anaheim Ducks for Max Friberg.
- Traded Jerred Tinordi and Stefan Fournier to the Arizona Coyotes for John Scott and Victor Bartley.
- IN: Alexander Semin, tomas Fleischmann, Max Friberg, Ben Scrivens, John Scott, Victor Bartley, Lucas Lessio.
- OUT: Brandon Prust, P.A. Parenteau, Manny Malholtra, Sergei Gonchar, Mike Weaver, Christian Thomas, Jerred Tinordi, Stefan Fournier, Zack Kassian, Dustin Tokarski.
It really isn’t difficult to figure out why the Montreal Canadiens have imploded on themselves this season. In 12 games played, Carey Price has a save percentage of 0.934. Since he’s been injured, though, the Canadiens have had some of the worst goaltending in the NHL as Mike Condon, Dustin Tokarski, and Ben Scrivens have combined to allow 108 goals on 1066 shots this season (good for a dazzlingly bad 0.898 save percentage).
Interestingly enough, the Canadiens are statistically a better team than they were last year. Carey Price’s Hart Trophy winning performance was good enough to take a pretty mediocre team with below average peripherals and make them look good, as the Habs 50-22-10 record certainly wasn’t indicative of their overall ability as a team. This year, though, their underlying numbers are much better. Their possession numbers have increased dramatically, they’re doing a better job at creating and suppressing scoring chances, but as I pointed out earlier, they haven’t been able to keep the puck out of the net.
In terms of offseason moves, the Habs had a decent summer. They inked Jeff Petry, who they acquired at last year’s trade deadline from the Edmonton Oilers, to a six-year deal, giving them some much needed depth on defence. Petry has been a rock this year, posting a 54.9 Corsi For percentage despite playing in as many defensive defensive zone assignments as anybody on the Habs’ blue line.
They signed Alex Semin and Tomas Fleischmann to bargain bin, save-your-career, one-year deals. One worked out, one didn’t, such as you’d expect when you’re taking random stabs in the dark like this. Semin had some nice possession numbers, but he was waived after just 15 games, while Fleischmann has been a decent, yet inconsistent depth scoring option. They also traded Brandon Prust to the Vancouver Canucks for Zack Kassian which is essentially a wash because Prust was recently waived by the Canucks and Kassian was dealt to the Oilers for Ben Scrivens.
Anyways, regardless of the moves the Habs made, they’re going to struggle until Carey Price comes back. And if he’s not going to be back any time soon, they may want to consider just shutting him down for the season and tanking for a high pick. That would certainly be better than rushing him back to save what may already be a dead season.
- OFFSEASO MOVES:
- Signed Matt O’Connor to a two-year contract with a $1.775 million cap hit.
- Signed Jean-Gabriel Pageau to a two-year contract with a $0.900 million cap hit.
- Signed Mark Stone to a three-year contract with a $3.5 million cap hit.
- Signed Mika Zibanejad to a two-year contract with a $2.625 million cap hit.
- Traded Robin Lehner and David Legwand to the Sabres for a 2015 first round pick.
- Traded Eric Gryba to the Oilers for Travis Ewanyk and a 2015 fourth round pick.
- Signed Chris Wideman to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Patrick Mullen to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
- Signed Alex Chiasson to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.
- Signed Mike Hoffman to a one-year, $2.0 million contract.
- REGULAR SEASON MOVES:
- Traded Patrick Mullen to the Nashville Predators for Conor Allen.
- IN: Eric O’Dell, Zack Stortini, Mike Koskta, Travis Ewanyk, Conor Allen, Matt O’Connor.
- OUT: David Legwand, Erik Condra, Eric Gryba, Robin Lehner, Patrick Mullen.
The Senators had a pretty quiet offseason. They had to deal with some internal housekeeping, which involved signing Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad, Alex Chiasson, and Mike Hoffman to new contracts. Aside from that, their only major move was sending Robin Lehner and David Legwand to the Buffalo Sabres for a first round pick that ended up being Colin White.
In his freshman year at Boston College, White has 16 goals and 19 assists through 25 games, which is certainly impressive for a 19-year-old. That said, it’s pretty reasonable to say they may have made a mistake in giving up on Lehner. For years, Lehner was Ottawa’s prized prospect who was expected to eventually evolve into an elite goaltender. Due to various injuries and inconsistent play, though, that never happened. Lehner showed well at times, but ultimately failed to take the starting job away from Craig Anderson.
So why was it ill advised to give up on Lehner? Well, now the Senators have a much less predictable insurance policy for the aging Anderson who’s in the midst of his worst season in years. They were either blinded by the fly by night performance of Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond, the most recent of many goaltenders who have taken the league by storm for a month or two after coming out nowhere, or they have a tremendous amount of faith in Matt O’Connor, a top prospect signed out of Boston University last May.
Obviously it’s too early to tell, as Colin White could end up becoming a superstar while Lehner fizzles out like so many other elite goaltending prospects do, but I’m not sure if this was a risk worth taking. They probably would have been better off trying to capitalize on Hammond’s hot streak, but then again, most general managers probably wouldn’t be daft enough to actually bite on that. Time will tell with Lehner and White, but I’m skeptical.
- OFFSEASON MOVES:
- Signed Erik Condra to a three year contract with a $1.25 million cap hit.
- Signed Andrej Sustr to a two year contract with a $1.45 million cap hit.
- Acquired Kevin Poulin off waivers from the New York Islanders.
- REGULAR SEASON MOVES:
- Traded Kevin Poulin to the Calgary Flames for future considerations.
- IN: Erik Condra.
- OUT: Brenden Morrow.
Should I even bother assessing Tampa Bay’s offseason? Or should I just jump forward and start talking about next summer? I don’t really think replacing Brenden Morrow’s place on the roster with Erik Condra is all too riveting, so I’ll just skip ahead to the impending nightmare Steve Yzerman is set to face in the enxt few months.
This summer, the Lightning are going to need to figure out new RFA contracts for J.T. Brown, Nikita Kucherov, Cedric Paquette, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Nikita Nesterov. That doesn’t sound too bad. Oh wait, yeah, dammit, Steven Stamkos is also set to hit the open market, and it’s been widely speculated that he’s not too interested in staying in Tampa. Time will tell, though, but it really wouldn’t surprise me if Stamkos bolted and signed in his native Toronto this summer. To make matters even worse, the following summer, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Andrei Vasilevskiy all need new RFA deals, while Victor Hedman is set to become a UFA.
So I guess they did a good job in dealing with the gaping hole left by old man Morrow’s departure last summer, but we’ll see what Yzerman can do with what’s about to smack him on the face in a few months.It certainly isn’t an enviable situation, that’s for sure.
- OFFSEASON MOVES:
- Traded Greg McKegg to the Panthers for Zach Hyman and a 2017 draft pick.
- Traded Brad Ross and a 2015 fourth-round pick to the Oilers for Martin Marincin. Then they signed him to a one-year, $0.700 million contract.
- Signed Richard Panik to a one-year, $0.975 million contract.
- Signed Mark Arcobello to a one-year, $1.1 million contract.
- Signed Matt Hunwick to a two-year contract with a $1.2 million contract.
- Signed Daniel Winnik to a two-year contract with a $2.25 million cap hit.
- Signed P.A. Parenteau to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
- Traded Phil Kessel, Tyler Biggs, Tim Erixon, and a conditional second round pick to the Penguins for Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling, a conditional first round pick, and a 2016 third round pick.
- Signed Nazem Kadri to a one-year, $4.1 million contract.
- Signed Shawn Matthias to a one-year, $2.3 million contract.
- Traded Jamie Devane to the Predators for Taylor Beck. Then they signed him to a one-year, $0.875 million contract.
- Signed Jonathan Bernier to a two-year contract with a $4.15 million cap hit.
- Signed Rich Clune to a one-year, $0.575 million contract.
- Signed Brad Boyes to a one-year, $0.700 million contract.
- REGULAR SEASON MOVES:
- Traded Richard Panik to the Chicago Blackhawks for Jeremy Morin.
- IN: Shawn Matthias, Daniel Winnik, P.A. Parenteau, Mark Arcobello, Taylor Beck, Matt Hunwick, Martin Marincin, Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling, Zach Hyman, Jamie Devane, Jeremy Morin, Brad Boyes, Rich Clune.
- OUT: Phil Kessel, Tyler Biggs, Brad Ross, Tim Erixon, Greg McKegg, David Booth, Brandon Kozun, Trevor Smith, Joakim Lindstrom, Colton Orr, Troy Bodie, Frazer McLaren, Zach Sill, Eric Brewer, Andrew MacWilliam, Richard Panik.
Last summer saw the beginning of the Mike Babcock era in Toronto, and much to the disappointment of local media, it also saw the end of the Phil Kessel era. What the Kessel deal and Babcock signing in tandem represent, though, is a massive shift in the future of the organization as the Leafs embark on yet another rebuild. But fortunately for their fans, who have suffered through so much over the years, it looks like they’re doing it properly this time.
As odd as it sounds, Mike Babcock might have been the most coveted free agent in the NHL last summer. Well, he was certainly paid like it. Babcock ended up leaving the Detroit Red Wings after 10 years in order to accept an eight-year, $50 million deal to help make the Toronto Maple Leafs relevant again. It’s taken them a while, but it appears the team has bought into his system, as their underlying numbers are vastly superior to what they were last year. I don’t think there’s much debate that bringing in Babcock to coach this team for the foreseeable future was an excellent idea, so we can move along and leave it at that.
The next big move Shannahan/Dubas/Lamoriello made was sending Phil Kessel (with salary retained), Tim Erixon, and Tyler Biggs to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling, a conditional first round pick, and a 2016 third round pick. To be honest, this was a pretty underwhelming return for Kessel, especially considering the fact the Leafs are hanging on to $1.2 million in salary for the remainder of his contract. That said, getting rid of Kessel was inevitable when new management stepped in and decided that the team wasn’t going to be competing in any kind of win-now mode, and instead was focused on building for the future. Obviously not having Kessel on the team helps the Leafs lose games, which increases their draft lottery odds, but it also gives them the opportunity to challenge different players in bigger roles to see if they’re worth keeping around for the long haul.
Aside from their two major splashes, the Leafs also made a whole bunch of low-key moves, in what was essentially a quest to acquire future draft picks through free agency. Mark Arcobello, Matt Hunwick, Daniel Winnik, Shawn Matthias, P.A. Parenteau, and Brad Boyes were all plucked off the free agent market in order to add to the team’s depth, not only to improve the team, but also to use as bargaining chips for what will likely be a very, very busy trade deadline. I’m not sure if all of of them will be dealt, but I would imagine that the Leafs will be kicking tires on just about every team looking to add ammunition for a playoff run.