NHL Free Agency Thread

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SDRay

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Five Teams That Should Be Most Active in NHL Free Agency



Numerous teams have multiple restricted free agents unsigned one day before the NHL free agent market opens July 1, and that’s certainly slowing business.
Restricted free agency should make it easier for teams to sign their own players, but it’s become difficult every year as the younger players in the league have emerged as the best players in the league. Owners and managers next expected to be paying in excess of $10 million per season for players younger than 25, but that’s where we are.
Nonetheless, there are still plenty of teams with gobs of salary-cap space to spend on unrestricted free agents. And we know the market will be filled with plenty of star power, as we know that forwards Artemi Panarin, Mats Zuccarello, Marcus Johansson, Matt Duchene and Joe Pavelski; defensemen Jake Gardiner and Tyler Myers; and goaltenders Sergei Bobrovsky and Robin Lehner; in addition to many others, won’t be re-signing with their old teams prior to Monday.
Here’s a thumbnail look at five teams that will be among the most active acquiring free agent talent:
(All salary-related amounts are credit to CapFriendly.com)
Colorado Avalanche
Currently:
13 players signed with $38 million in cap space
Key RFAs to re-sign: Mikko Rantanen, Andrei Burakovsky
It’s a credit to the Avalanche that even after they sign Rantanen to a megadeal they’ll have plenty of room to add secondary pieces around their top line of Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. MacKinnon’s $6.3 million helps a lot and is also a cautionary tale for RFAs around the league being asked to sign for what looks like strong value now but might not in a couple years.

The Avs have five defensemen on NHL contracts, plus two entry-level blueliners that were factors in the Stanley Cup playoffs, so they’ll focus on the forward market. They’re in the mix on Panarin and should be able to land at least one top-six guy and one top-nine guy. Burakovsky shouldn’t get much of a raise on his $3 million after consecutive 25-point seasons. Colorado also needs a goaltender to share time with Philipp Grubauer, which could cost them around $3 million.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Currently:
17 players signed with $28.6 million in cap space
Key RFAs to re-sign: Zach Werenski, Ryan Murray
The Blue Jackets went all in, added Duchene and Ryan Dzingel before the NHL trade deadline, and held on to Panarin and Bobrovsky. Still they just made it to the second round of the playoffs. Now it’s time to pay the piper. Well first they have to pay Werenski, and then they have to fill out their lineup. Two of the biggest names are Panarin and Duchene, who seem unlikely to stay, so it may be hard for the Blue Jackets to replace them in this market. Nonetheless they’ll have to get at least one top-six forward to try to build off last year (Zuccarello obviously has history from New York with coach John Tortorella).
Vancouver Canucks
Currently:
21 players signed with $17.6 million
Key RFA to re-sign: Boeser
Boeser isn’t eligible for an offer sheet, so the Canucks should be able to get something done with him in due time. If he clocks in at around $8 million, that gives Vancouver enough to land at least one of either a top-six forward or top-four defenseman, with general manager Jim Benning has been transparent about shopping for.

The Roberto Luongo cap recapture will hinder their ability to really bolster this lineup, but the edict is to get back to the playoffs and that’s why you’re hearing about the Canucks and a megadeal for Myers.
New Jersey Devils
Currently:
15 players signed with $25.8 million in cap space
Key RFAs to re-sign: Will Butcher, Pavel Zacha
The Devils devoted a $9 million chunk of their cap space to land P.K. Subban in a trade with Nashville and prove that it’s a new era in Jersey. Now they can throw some more money around, while keeping in mind their biggest task is getting Taylor Hall signed to an extension before he begins the last year of his contract.
But for this season the Devils could be a team that actually lands a top-six forward and top-four defenseman in the same day of shopping. With just seven players signed for 2020-21 at a projected cap hit of $36 million, the Devils can remake their franchise if they can convince big names to head to Newark.
Florida Panthers
Currently:
14 players signed with $24 million in cap space
Key RFAs to re-sign: None
The Panthers are the most intriguing team out there. Can they really land both Panarin and Bobrovsky, as has been rumored for much of the past six months? And would that be enough to make them a legitimate championship threat? If they land Bobrovsky, or even Lehner, they will need a new backup goaltender after trading James Reimer, and then the Panthers have to figure out if their defense corps is up to par.
One thing is certain, general manager Dale Tallon has been up front about his intention to spend the cap space he has after spending all but $3 million of his cap last season.

Also intriguing
Will the Carolina Hurricanes get something done with star RFA Sebastian Aho and then spend enough to put a strong team around him and build off last season’s success?
How much are the New York Rangers willing to spend to accelerate their rebuild after adding defenseman Jacob Trouba, who is still a RFA in need of a new contract?
 

SDRay

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NHL offseason grades: How all 31 teams did in 2019 free agency


With the 2019 NHL free agency period winding down -- anyone going to sign Jake Gardiner? -- and plenty of trade shuffling putting big-name players in new cities, it's time to grade each team's offseason additions.
Grades for all 31 teams from Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski evaluate each franchise's free-agent landings, with additional consideration to how each team navigated the trade market. The list starts with a savvy offseason for one Central Division contender and a pair of Metropolitan Division rivals looking to reenter the playoff picture.



Dallas Stars: A
Jim Nill has been a big-game hunter over the past few seasons, including seeking but striking out on John Tavares, Erik Karlsson and others. He finally lured a big name in Joe Pavelski at three years, $7 million annual average value. Pavelski (four 37-plus-goal seasons over his past six) immediately adds a new dimension to Dallas' offense. But don't overlook the Corey Perry signing, either. Many around the league expect Perry, on a bonus-laden veteran deal, to rebound after a rough season following knee surgery, and there's no question he'll be motivated.
The Stars already have perhaps the best goalie tandem in the league and a stud blue line. Now their offense is catching up. -- Kaplan

New Jersey Devils: A
In the tri-state area these days, it's all about keeping up with the Joneses. The Devils took a pause last season after their surprise 2017-18 success (they knew they would likely regress, so they didn't spend in free agency, then tumbled after Taylor Hall got injured). But once New Jersey won the draft lottery and selected Jack Hughes at No. 1, it accelerated its timeline and took a huge leap forward.
P.K. Subban adds star power to the blue line. Wayne Simmonds (only a one-year commitment) adds veteran leadership and grit. The biggest question mark in New Jersey? Goaltending. The Devils might eventually need an upgrade here, especially if Cory Schneider struggles again. -- Kaplan

New York Rangers: A
Rangers GM Jeff Gorton is the toast of the NHL after executing perhaps the swiftest and most effective rebuild in recent history. The Blueshirts should be competitive again next season, and contending again in short order.
Artemi Panarin was a slam-dunk free agent, and despite making him the highest-paid winger in the NHL (a cap hit of over $11.6 million for seven years), the signing doesn't feel bloated. Kaapo Kakko is the early Calder Trophy favorite. Jacob Trouba improves the blue line -- he's due for a new contract as a restricted free agent this summer and could stay long term. And the Rangers found a taker for Jimmy Vesey, who had stalled.
This offseason was one big win for New York (and the NHL, which benefits when marquee teams like the Rangers are relevant). -- Kaplan
play
1:07
Mike Johnson shows where Artemi Panarin ranks among the top-earning NHL wingers after agreeing to a 7-year deal with the Rangers.

Arizona Coyotes: A-
Phil Kessel, acquired from Pittsburgh, is a potential game-changer for the goal-starved Coyotes, who averaged 2.55 goals per game last season (fourth from the bottom in the NHL). Kessel has had a shooting percentage north of 10.0 in each of the past three seasons and has scored more than 23 goals in each of the past six seasons. Yes, he turns 32 before next season and has played a lot of hockey. But his reunion with coach Rick Tocchet is intriguing, and like GM John Chayka said, the departing Alex Galchenyuk only has the potential to become what Kessel already is.
The Yotes' other significant addition was center Carl Soderberg, acquired in a trade from Colorado. His 23-goal season is either indicative of him hitting his stride or an anomaly. Either way, he's a free agent next summer. And of course, the biggest news is their new owner (as the ink dries) in billionaire entrepreneur Alex Meruelo. The Coyotes are currently capped out. Dogs and cats, living together. Mass hysteria. -- Wyshynski

Colorado Avalanche: A-
The Avs put in their best effort to get Artemi Panarin, but it was clear the winger's heart was set on New York. No matter. The Avs already have offensive stars, and their biggest need was depth forwards. And they addressed that with new second-line winger Andre Burakovsky, the shrewd Joonas Donskoi signing and fourth-liner/penalty-killer extraordinaire Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
The big move, of course, was the trade with the Maple Leafs. Nazem Kadri is the No. 2 center that the team craved. Losing Tyson Barrie is a blow for the short term, but Colorado has confidence in its pipeline for blue-line replacements -- replacements that, for the time being, are much less expensive. -- Kaplan

Buffalo Sabres: B+
The Sabres scrambled to add depth to their lineup for new head coach Ralph Krueger, who was arguably their biggest addition of the offseason. They signed Marcus Johansson away from the Bruins for two years and $4.5 annually, which could be an effective addition if he stays healthy -- just don't do the Ville Leino 2.0 thing and play him at center. They swapped a second in 2021 and a fifth in 2022 to take defenseman Colin Miller and his $3.875 million AAV through 2022 off the Vegas cap. Combined with Brandon Montour, that's two nice additions to the right side since the trade deadline.
They flipped a 2021 third-round pick to the Rangers for underwhelming winger Jimmy Vesey, who goes UFA next summer. They also added forward Jean-Sebastien Dea, another ex-Penguin for GM Jason Botterill and forward Curtis Lazar. Nothing earth-shattering, but nothing terrible.
Could a Rasmus Ristolainen trade for forward help still happen? It's possible. Overall, the Sabres are better than when the summer started, and still have that massive $38 million in open cap space for next summer. (Note: Jeff Skinner's eight-year, $9 million AAV contract was in the previous grading period for this report card. Added in, that necessary overpayment, but overpayment nonetheless, likely knocks the grade down to a B.) -- Wyshynski

Florida Panthers: B+
Obviously, if we were including coaches on this report card, this jumps up to an "A" now that Joel Quenneville has brought his shot-ski down to South Florida. But even without the 'Stache, the Panthers had a solid offseason so far, with one home run: goalie Sergei Bobrovsky signing a massive seven-year, $70-million UFA deal to solidify their crease for the foreseeable future. He's as elite as they come, with a .922 save percentage and 21 shutouts over the past three seasons (190 games) to lead all goalies. Yes, it's a little scary to think about a 36-year-old goalie making $10 million against the cap in 2024. Save for the fact that we don't know what the cap will be in 2024, and that this deal is very much about the next four years, not 2024. Roberto Luongo retired (but thankfully not from Twitter), and James Reimer was shipped to Carolina.
The Panthers weren't done. I don't love the term (four years) for Brett Connolly, but I like the player (and Seattle might, too). Boston's Noel Acciari is a decent signing for their bottom-six for three years. The Anton Stralman signing gives the Panthers an old pro on the blue line coming off an injury-riddled and underwhelming year. Did they buy low or get a diminishing asset?
It's hard not to factor in the Artemi Panarin situation into this grade. It seemed like he was headed to Sunrise for months. No matter what happened behind the scenes -- and maybe it's as simple as wanting to be a Ranger instead -- it's a bit of a bummer the Panthers couldn't reunite him with Quenneville. -- Wyshynski

Nashville Predators: B+
The Predators' offseason can be boiled down to this: P.K. Subban is out, Matt Duchene is in. The Subban trade was truly about understanding the blue line was an area of surplus, and utilizing that cap space for Duchene, a center the Predators had long coveted (and the feelings were mutual).
Nashville needed to shake up its offense after back-to-back playoff flameouts, and Duchene adds a nice dimension. It's no secret the team has been frustrated with Kyle Turris ever since his arrival, so Duchene vaults to the No. 2 center spot. Let's not glaze over the risk, though, of parting with a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman still near his prime. -- Kaplan
play
1:32
Mike Johnson and Craig Button break down Matt Duchene's 7-year deal with the Predators.

St. Louis Blues: B+
The Blues' big free-agent signing was keeping coach Craig Berube around. It was an inevitability, for sure, but an important one.
Other than that, GM Doug Armstrong mostly stood pat, keeping the band together -- the same strategy the Capitals used last season. He brought 32-year-old defensive stalwart Carl Gunnarsson back at two years, $1.75 million per. But the Blues will likely say goodbye to hometown boy Pat Maroon (a regular-season disappointment, but important playoff player).
Other than that, the offseason is all about the restricted free agents, headlined by goalie Jordan Binnington, and hoping Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas can rehab from summer procedures and that the wear and tear of a Stanley Cup run -- plus partying -- doesn't take too much of a toll. -- Kaplan

Toronto Maple Leafs: B+
If and when the Maple Leafs sign Mitch Marner, they're going to have well over $30 million committed to three forwards, the others being John Tavares and Auston Matthews. The reality of their surroundings: Toronto is going to have to manage its cap on a year-by-year basis. So while there's been some concern about defenseman Tyson Barrie going UFA next summer, having been acquired from the Avalanche in a deal involving Nazem Kadri, the bottom line is that they have Barrie next season -- and he's a high-end puck mover, if spotty in his own zone. Then whatever happens, happens.
Can Alexander Kerfoot, who was sent over with Barrie, replace Kadri? He doesn't have Kadri's offensive chops, but improved on faceoffs last season and could be a good third-line center. Or, at the very least, one who can play a complete series against Boston without a player safety hearing. Getting anyone to take the Nikita Zaitsev contract off their cap was a coup, and the fact that Ottawa handed them a third-round pick and Cody Ceci for the honor is still stunning.
We're not sure how much Jason Spezza has left, but at one year and $700,000, who cares? The Leafs also inked Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson to team-friendly RFA deals. Lastly, they did center Patrick Marleau a solid, while clearing his cap space, but it cost them a first-rounder to the Hurricanes to do so. -- Wyshynski
play
1:15
Jason Spezza explains his decision to play in Toronto, where he'll have a chance to win a Stanley Cup.

Boston Bruins: B
The Eastern Conference champs are usually more about the in-season tweaks than the offseason impacts. (And when they do dive into the unrestricted free-agent pool, sometimes they come back to the surface with a David Backes contact.)
They added forward Par Lindholm from the Jets on a low-cost two-year deal and forward Brett Ritchie from Dallas on a one-year contract, the latter being a classic change-of-scenery pickup that could help their fourth line. The Bruins also did some housekeeping in inking defenseman Connor Clifton for pennies (three years, $3 million total) and have more to do with RFAs Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen. They let forwards Marcus Johansson and Noah Accari walk to add to their $10.1 million in cap space. -- Wyshynski

Chicago Blackhawks: B
General manager Stan Bowman's best work this offseason came before July 1, with a pair of moves to rehab the blue line, which was by far the Blackhawks' biggest weakness last season. Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan make Chicago better, but the team is still going to be in a numbers crunch at training camp, with some defensemen on the outside looking in.
The surprise signing was goalie Robin Lehner for one year, $5 million. It's unclear what the workload split will be for Lehner and Corey Crawford, but they should complement each other as a fine tandem, and Chicago could get its first glimpse of its new starting goaltender once Crawford's contract expires next summer. -- Kaplan

San Jose Sharks: B
The offseason in a nutshell: GM Doug Wilson better be absolutely right on Erik Karlsson. The Sharks retained their star defenseman on an eight-year deal worth $11.5 million annually, and in the process put a bundle of dynamite under their salary structure. Captain Joe Pavelski walked to Dallas. Defenseman Justin Braun was traded to the Flyers. Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Donskoi both left as free agents. The Sharks appear to have Joe Thornton back for another year, and they re-signed burgeoning star Timo Meier to a four-year deal with a $6 million cap hit and the downside being that he has arbitration rights and a $10 million qualifying offer after that span.
Full marks for the Sharks getting the single most important free-agent defenseman on the market to commit long term. But to quote King George from Hamilton, "What comes next?" -- Wyshynski

Tampa Bay Lightning: B
They're cap-strapped with Brayden Point still needing a significant new contract, but the Bolts made a few nice moves. They bid adieu to Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman from their defense, but took a chance on Luke Schenn as a bottom-dollar replacement. They saw Ryan Callahan's career sadly come to an end with a variety of injuries and will place his $5.8 million cap hit on long-term injured reserve. The Lightning also added Curtis McElhinney as a quality backup to Andrei Vasilevskiy.
But most importantly, Tampa Bay pulled a conditional first-rounder and a third from Vancouver for forward J.T. Miller, who couldn't hold down a top-six role with the Bolts. -- Wyshynski

Vegas Golden Knights: B
The capped-out Knights shipped out defenseman Colin Miller to Buffalo and forward Erik Haula to Carolina for some breathing room, partially to sign center William Karlsson to an 8-year, $47.2 million contract. RFA Nikita Gusev's situation remains unsettled. The Golden Knights also bid farewell to original Vegas grunts Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan Carpenter. -- Wyshynski

Anaheim Ducks: B-
The youth movement is in full effect. The most notable addition by the Ducks was by subtraction: Corey Perry, a franchise mainstay, had the final two years of his contract bought out. Perry, who signed with Dallas for a paltry one year and $1.5 million (with bonuses), carried a cap hit of $8.625 million through 2021. That contract counts as $2.625 million against the cap this season, balloons to $6.625 million in 2020-21, and then $2 million against the cap for the next two seasons.
Otherwise, the Ducks traded a fourth-round pick to Montreal for forward Nicolas Deslauriers and made their biggest acquisitions behind the bench: promoting AHL coach Dallas Eakins to head coach and hiring Darryl Sutter as his "consultant." -- Wyshynski

Carolina Hurricanes: B-
The Canes were the breakout darling of this spring's playoffs and look to build off that success. The big free-agency news regarding the Canes was Sebastian Aho and the Canadiens' (failed) offer sheet bid. Carolina has to feel good about the price for Aho (a shade under $8.5 million per year) but not the term (five years walks him right to free agency). Nonetheless, the No. 1 center is here to stay, as expected.
Despite flirting with other options, Carolina is sticking with Petr Mrazek in net, although James Reimer will compete for reps. The blue line got worse with the Calvin de Haan departure, but the Canes did add some depth with the addition of Erik Haula, a middle-six winger. -- Kaplan

Philadelphia Flyers: B-
GM Chuck Fletcher is looking to put his stamp on this roster, which has playoff potential but needs some seasoning. Welcome to the first full year of the Carter Hart era.
The big signing was Kevin Hayes, but seven years and $50 million might be a bit rich for the player. Still, there's no doubt he makes this team better when he slots in as the No. 2 center. Matt Niskanen adds much-needed experience to the blue line, too. There are still concerns when it comes to depth, both in the bottom-six and on defense, but the Flyers have plenty of young prospects with a chance to break through to the big roster. -- Kaplan

Washington Capitals: B-
The Capitals finally had to say goodbye to some members of their Stanley Cup team (thanks for the memories, Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik and Devante Smith-Pelly). The reasons varied. Orpik retired. Smith-Pelly is due for another change of scenery. And the Caps got priced out on Connolly, tried to get value for an underperforming Andre Burakovsky and needed to save cap space with the Niskanen trade (both Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom are due for new contracts soon).
In the process, Washington filled out its roster with depth in the form of Radko Gudas, Richard Panik and Garnet Hathaway. We're not sure it got a whole lot better, but the core talent remains. -- Kaplan

Detroit Red Wings: C+
Rome wasn't built in a day, and Detroit won't be rebuilt in a summer, according to Steve Yzerman's first moves at the helm of the Red Wings. Patrik Nemeth is a nice addition to the blue line at two years and $3 million AAV. Valtteri Filppula's return to Detroit for two years is the kind of move for which Ken Holland would have been demolished, but for which Yzerman gets a "because he's Steve Yzerman" pass.
Next summer is when he'll really be able to put a stamp on the roster. -- Wyshynski

New York Islanders: C+
So Lou Lamoriello swung for the fences in trying to lure Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. He got neither. Missing out on Panarin stings mostly because the winger opted for the rival Rangers. But it also allowed the Isles to retain first-liner Anders Lee (seven years, $7 million per year), although the optics were a little awkward, as though they were keeping their captain as a consolation prize.
The breakdown in the Robin Lehner negotiations is still a bit murky, but the Islanders opted for Semyon Varlamov at four years and $20 million total -- which is fine. Bobrovsky is better, but at least they didn't have to overpay (especially in term). -- Kaplan

Pittsburgh Penguins: C+
GM Jim Rutherford is always wheeling and dealing and tweaking his roster. Coach Mike Sullivan is here to stay with a four-year extension and will get some new faces to work with, per usual.
If the Phil Kessel relationship was truly strained, the Pens needed to cut ties, although it's going to be tough to replace his production. Alexander Galchenyuk adds speed and youth, but Pittsburgh needs to unlock the potential that Montreal and Arizona could not. Dominik Kahun could be a nice piece, but Olli Maatta's departure means the blue line is evolving yet again.
The most baffling move to outsiders is the six-year deal for bottom-sixer Brandon Tanev. Rutherford had to be bidding against himself here, right? -- Kaplan
play
1:00
Brandon Tanev shares his reaction to agreeing with Pittsburgh on a deal with an annual average value of $3.5 million.

Vancouver Canucks: C+
That Tyler Myers contract is going to haunt them. Maybe not right away, but eventually. Five years, $6 million annually and trade protection is a lot for a 29-year-old defenseman who at best is a high-end third-pairing guy with some offensive spark but little to speak of in his own end. In other blue-line moves, the Canucks brought back Alexander Edler for two years, added the dependable Jordie Benn for two years and inked Oscar Fantenberg for depth.
Up front, the J.T. Miller trade gives the Canucks a young (26) versatile forward who is signed at $5.25 million annually for the next four seasons. But giving up that conditional first-round pick -- Tampa gets it in 2020 or 2021, if the Canucks miss the playoffs next season -- reeks of a general manager making a deal for today with little regard for a tomorrow he might not be around to see. Brock Boeser is also still waiting for a contract. But hey, at least they haven't done the Loui Eriksson-for-Milan Lucic one-for-one that half of Edmonton is expecting. -- Wyshynski

Montreal Canadiens: C
Well, that was fun for a minute. The Canadiens put an offer sheet on Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho that was emphatically matched by Carolina. Matt Duchene flirted with them, too, before signing with the Predators, as we all knew he would once they cleared out P.K. Subban for cap space. So what are the Habs left with?
They shipped Andrew Shaw back to Chicago for three draft picks (2020 second, 2020 seventh, 2021 third). They signed former Jets defenseman Ben Chiarot to a three-year deal. They added center Nick Cousins and goalie Keith Kinkaid on one-year deals. So, in summary: No Sebastian Aho nor Matt Duchene. But hey, kudos for breaking the offer sheet drought. -- Wyshynski

Winnipeg Jets: C
We knew it was going to be a salary-crunch summer for the Jets. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff's biggest priority is getting new deals in place for Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor (although Andrew Copp is low-key important, too). And in the process, the Jets had to say goodbye to some mainstays.
Sure, they saw Pittsburgh overpay (especially in term) for Brandon Tanev, but he was an important bottom-six cog. Most notably, the blue line got significantly worse with Jacob Trouba off to New York, and Ben Chariot and Tyler Myers getting paydays elsewhere. -- Kaplan

Calgary Flames: C-
The Flames were curiously quiet in the early part of the summer, although reports are that they were chasing Nazem Kadri. They were part of that bizarre Albertan goalie do-si-do with the Oilers, in which they let Mike Smith walk and signed Cam Talbot -- whom Edmonton traded to Philadelphia at the deadline -- to play with David Rittich. Talbot had a minus-3.86 goals-saved above average last season at 5-on-5, which was better than Smith (minus-8.5). So it's perhaps a small improvement here.
But there is still a lot of unfinished business. When is that T.J. Brodie trade coming? When are they signing Matthew Tkachuk? Are they really going to do this again with James Neal? -- Wyshynski

Edmonton Oilers: C-
The inertia of the Oilers this offseason is an indictment of how shambolic GM Peter Chiarelli left this team for his successor Ken Holland. His most significant move was buying out defenseman Andrej Sekera, who signed with Dallas.
Otherwise, he added 37-year-old goalie Mike Smith from Calgary, re-signed Jujhar Khaira and Alex Chiasson, and added depth forwards Markus Granlund and Tomas Jurco on one-year deals. The Oilers are like those headphones whose wires are always a tumbleweed when you take them out of your bag, while the rest of the conference continues as Bluetooth earbuds. -- Wyshynski

Minnesota Wild: C-
Many of Paul Fenton's initial moves as GM of the Minnesota Wild have been perplexing, and this free agency period only perpetuated the narrative. Nobody has an issue with bringing all-heart winger Mats Zuccarello into the fold. But the five-year, $6 million AAV term for a soon-to-be 32-year-old is questionable for a team that desperately needs to get younger.
Fenton inherited some big, unmovable contracts, but he's not making his job easier. Ryan Hartman (two years, $3.8 million total) was worth a flier for the fourth line, and adds an element of toughness. -- Kaplan

Columbus Blue Jackets: D+
It was bound to be a tough offseason for the Blue Jackets, who had fair warning that two of the best players in franchise history (Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky) were going to sign elsewhere. They also couldn't convince Matt Duchene to stay.
So yes, the Blue Jackets had cap space to spend, and as far as consolation signings go, Gustav Nyquist is not too shabby. At four years, $5.5 million per, the price feels right for a top-six winger. Columbus has confidence in its young goalie tandem, Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, but we can't ignore the obvious, too: There's a lot of top-end talent gone from this roster that is going to be hard to replace. -- Kaplan

Los Angeles Kings: D+
Former Sharks defenseman Joakim Ryan isn't a terrible addition, especially at one year and $725,000. They also added Detroit's Martin Frk, my favorite "can I buy a vowel?" name in sports (and a depth player, at best). But the big move here was buying out Dion Phaneuf's final two seasons.
I'm still waiting for their paradigm-shifting moves involving veterans like Jonathan Quick and Jeff Carter, unless they're keeping those vets around for new coach Todd McLellan -- which would not be the thing to do when "old and slow" was a pox on their house last season. So far, it's a D-plus summer, save for a pretty good draft haul. -- Wyshynski

Ottawa Senators: D+
Only the Senators could have their owner summarily mock a rival's defense corps and then acquire two defensemen from that corps in the same summer. The Nikita Zaitsev trade remains an absolute baffler. Even if new coach D.J. Smith liked him from his time as a Leafs assistant, GM Pierre Dorian basically traded a third-round pick for the right to take on a toxic contract, which is not how it's supposed to work. The addition of Connor Brown at forward and the subtraction of Cody Ceci from the blue line are nice moves, though. Then the Sens inked Ron Hainsey to a one-year deal, and added another Leafs grunt in Tyler Ennis.
Bad summer so far, but like Buffalo, it's all about the following summer (when they will have $55 million in open space). -- Wyshynski