Grading Each NHL Team on Its Trade and Free Agency Moves so Far

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IAugust 14, 2012

Grading Each NHL Team on Its Trade and Free Agency Moves so Far

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    We are about one month away from the opening of NHL training camps (assuming there is no lockout, and that may be a very big assumption).

    It's been a busy summer in the NHL with plenty of big trades and blockbuster free agent signings, a matched offer sheet for a star defenseman and even injuries to star players.

    Here is a look at each team's trade and free agency moves so far, keeping in mind we have at least another month to go before the teams once again take to the ice to prepare for 2012-13.

Anaheim Ducks

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    It hasn't been a very monumental offseason for the Ducks as they didn't make any huge moves, but did move to increase team size on the blue line and change around some depth at the forward positions.

    The biggest turnover was on defense where they tried to trade Lubomir Visnovsky to the Islanders (he has filed a grievance) and let Sheldon Brookbank go to Chicago as a free agent. In their place, GM Bob Murray brought in bigger defensemen in Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen.

    Daniel Winnick and Brad Staubitz are the new forwards, but neither of them are likely to solve the depth issues the Ducks have behind their top line and Teemu Selanne. Jason Blake and George Parros have moved on as well.

    New backup goalie Viktor Fasth from Sweden replaces Dan Ellis and should be an upgrade.

    The big question remains whether or not Bobby Ryan will be traded before the start of the season. The rumors continue to swirl.

    Grade: C

Boston Bruins

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    The biggest change in Boston is between the pipes: Tim Thomas is taking a year off and most likely will not be back in Boston and Tuukka Rask will take over as the starter.

    Joe Corvo, Matt Mattau, Benoit Pouliot and Brian Rolston have moved on but the Bruins are more or less counting on younger players to fill these depth positions.

    Overall, the Bruins more or less stayed put. The core of the 2011 Stanley Cup champions remains in tact (except for Thomas) and the Bruins hope that players like Tyler Seguin and Rask step up to keep them near the top of the league standings.

    Grade: C+

Buffalo Sabres

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    Buffalo had a busy offseason this year and said goodbye to a lot of familiar faces like Derek Roy, Brad Boyes, Jochen Hecht and Ales Kotalik.

    The big addition this summer was Steve Ott, acquired in a trade from Dallas. Ott, Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis figure to be the top three down the middle for the Sabres and should add to the team's scoring prowess and power play.

    Ott will also add grit while big John Scott will make sure goalie Ryan Miller isn't run over without consequences this season.

    Adam Pardy, acquired from Dallas, may add depth on the third defense pair.

    The Sabres tried to address their lack of grit last year.

    Grade: B

Calgary Flames

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    The Flames remain dedicated to qualifying for the playoffs right now and they have kept the veteran core of their team (Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff) together despite their advancing age.

    The team said goodbye to defenseman Scott Hannan and forwards Olli Jokinen and David Moss this summer.

    They certainly upgraded on defense by adding Dennis Wideman and brought in experience at forward in ex-Wing Jiri Hudler and KHL star Roman Cervenka.

    There is some improvement here, but is it enough to get them into the playoffs? Cervenka needs to fit in quickly and a lot of players need to improve their offensive numbers for the Flames to compete in the tough Western Conference.

    Grade: B-

Carolina Hurricanes

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    The Hurricanes made some major changes this summer, bringing in a lot more offensive talent both via trade (Jordan Staal) and free agency (Alexander Semin).

    The Canes had only two players top the 20-goal mark last year, but the addition of Staal and Semin gives them the potential to easily double that number and should make it tougher for opposing defenses to key on Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner, two other players who should benefit from the new additions. Brandon Sutter was dealt to Pittsburgh in the deal that brought Jordan Staal to Raleigh.

    Joe Corvo returns on defense to add depth. He will help replace the departed Jaroslav Spacek and Bryan Allen.

    A team hurting for offense added two big pieces to the puzzle and definitely improved their scoring prowess.

    Grade: B+

Chicago Blackhawks

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    It has been a most uneventful summer in Chicago. The only major addition was defenseman Sheldon Brookbank who came over from the Ducks.

    The Hawks should be looking to upgrade their goaltending and find some depth up front.

    Departures include goalie Cristobal Huet, forward Andrew Brunette and defenseman Sean O'Donnell.

    Overall, the Hawks have more or less stood pat. They have some depth on defense to offer in a trade but have yet to make a big move this summer.

    Grade: C

Colorado Avalanche

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    The Avs added a few key pieces to a lineup they feel is young, talented and ready to break out.

    Ex-Islander P.A. Parenteau was signed as a free agent and should add a good passing touch to the second line and on the power play. Defenseman Greg Zanon is a very good shot blocker and will upgrade the penalty kill and the third defensive pair. John Mitchell will be a depth forward and should see action on the fourth line.

    Peter Mueller and Jay McClement headed the short list of departing players.

    The Avs didn't add quantity, but the pieces they added made sense as they continue to build their team.

    Grade: B

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    There has been a lot of change in Columbus over the past few months, the only question is whether it is actually change for the better.

    Sniper Rick Nash was traded to the Rangers in exchange for defenseman Tim Erixon and forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. It leaves the Jackets with some more depth but less firepower. 

    Columbus also acquired Nick Foligno from Ottawa, added veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin to mentor some of the younger blueliners and picked up goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in a trade from Philadelphia to compete with the faltering Steve Mason.

    Other departures include defensemen Marc Methot and Radek Martinek and forward Kristian Huselius.

    The Blue Jackets had to deal Nash, but they didn't get as much as they were holding out for at the trade deadline. This is the beginning of a rebuilding program in Columbus. Bobrovsky should improve the goaltending situation but there's still a long way to go here.

    Grade: C+

Dallas Stars

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    The Stars made plenty of changes this summer, bringing in some talented veterans up front to supplement their scoring.

    Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr are both on the wrong side of 40, but they are still capable of creating offense. Whitney is more of a setup man while Jagr creates space with his large frame. Both should be a boost to the Stars' power play.

    The Stars hope that giving new addresses to forwards Derek Roy (top six) and Cody Eakin (bottom six) will help rejuvenate their careers.

    Aaron Rome adds a physical element to a blue line that still needs reinforcements.

    Adam Burish, Radek Dvorak, Steve Ott, Mike Ribeiro and Sheldon Souray are among those who have moved on.

    Grade: B-

Detroit Red Wings

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    The Red Wings lost a lot more than they added this offseason. Future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom retired while Jiri Hudler and Brad Stuart have left town.

    The additions were mostly depth players. Mikael Samuelsson returns for another tour of duty in Hockeytown and will contribute on the third line while Jordin Tootoo will be the Wings' new fourth-line agitator.

    Basically, the Wings are counting on younger players to fill some of the voids left by the departures described on the blue line. Detroit was interested in adding some big-ticket free agents like Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Zach Parise but came up empty this summer.

    Grade: C+

Edmonton Oilers

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    The Oilers have been primarily building through the draft in recent years and they have not really deviated from that philosophy.

    Their big free agent addition was college hockey standout defenseman Justin Schultz who starred at the University of Wisconsin and was coveted by several teams once he became an unrestricted free agent. Schultz should add offensive skill and speed to the Oilers blue line, an area they really have been trying to upgrade for several seasons.

    Grade: B

Florida Panthers

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    The Panthers lost some key players this offseason like defenseman Jason Garrison and forwards Mikael Samuelsson, Krys Barch and Marco Sturm, but added some key newcomers as well.

    Peter Mueller should be a good addition to the second line if he can stay healthy. Mueller has struggled with concussions in recent years. George Parros signed and will add some toughness and experience to the fourth line.

    Filip Kuba will try to replace Garrison on the blue line and should find a home on the second pairing.

    The Panthers' additions aren't bad, but they don't quite equal what was lost.

    Grade: C+

Los Angeles Kings

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    The Kings made no significant additions and lost no significant players from the team that won last year's Stanley Cup.

    They did keep some of their own key players in the fold by signing goalie Jonathan Quick to a long-term contract this offseason and keeping potential free agents Dustin Penner and Jarret Stoll in Los Angeles.

    The biggest obstacle facing the Kings will be dealing with Stanley Cup hangover.

    Grade: B+ for keeping their team together.

Minnesota Wild

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    The Minnesota Wild hit the jackpot in free agency this summer, signing both the most highly sought after forward in Zach Parise and the most highly touted defenseman in Ryan Suter.

    Add valuable faceoff man and penalty killer Zenon Konopka and depth forwards Torrey Mitchell and Jake Dowell and the Wild had a very strong haul this summer. Not only will Parise and Suter add skill, but Konopka, Mitchell and Dowell will make the Wild more difficult to play against.

    Now all the team has to do is succeed on the ice.

    Grade: A

Montreal Canadiens

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    The Candiens set out to make themselves a tougher opponent this summer and new GM Marc Bergevin took steps to accomplish that goal.

    He added free agent forwards Colby Armstrong and Brandon Prust and defenseman Francis Bouillon. While none of these three players are stars, they all add size or grit (Bouillon is small but tough).

    The Habs also signed goalie Carey Price to a long-term deal to make him the long-term centerpiece of the franchise.

    These additions were solid and calculated even if they weren't outstanding.

    Grade: B

Nashville Predators

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    The Predators lost a major piece of their puzzle when Ryan Suter signed with the Wild. They also lost agitator Jordin Tootoo and disappointing late season additions Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov.

    It looked like a horrible summer until the Preds decided to match Philadelphia's hefty front-loaded offer sheet to captain Shea Weber which meant they kept two of their three cornerstones (the other being goalie Pekka Rinne).

    The only other major addition was backup goalie Steve Mason.

    Overall, the Predators lost a lot of talent, but keeping Weber was important.

    Grade: C+

New Jersey Devils

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    The Devils have had a rough offseason thus far. The best thing they did was manage to re-sign future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur and his backup Johan Hedberg. The good news is that it keeps the Devils' goaltending tandem in tact. The bad news is that the two of them have a combined age of 79 and there is no ready heir apparent in the system.

    Of course, the Devils also lost captain Zach Parise to free agency. Parise has been a consistent 30 goal scorer but his class and leadership will be missed as much as his offensive contributions.

    The only real addition this summer is tough guy Krys Barch who will be a depth player. They did manage to keep some more of their own potential free agents like Steve Bernier and Bryce Salvador which helped keep the defending Eastern Conference titlists more or less together.

    New Jersey ownership is having cash flow issues and rumors are rampant that the team may be forced to declare bankruptcy.

    Grade: C-

New York Islanders

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    As usual, the Islanders did not make any blockbuster free agent signings this offseason, but GM Garth Snow did take steps to improve the team's defense, scoring and tried to make them a little tougher to play against.

    The big loss was top-line winger P.A. Parenteau, who signed with Colorado. The Islanders also said goodbye to some depth players who didn't quite work out like Steve Staios, Mark Eaton and Jay Pandolfo.

    The additions were designed to address specific needs. Winger Eric Boulton and defenseman Matt Carkner will make the Isles tougher while defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, acquired in a draft-day trade with the Ducks, should help provide puck moving skills and help with the power play.

    Visnovsky has filed a grievance with regard to the trade, claiming he has a no-movement clause in his contract that was still in tact and has asked that the trade be voided. That can't make the Isles happy, although eventually, Visnovsky should join the club.

    Brad Boyes was brought in on a one-year deal to fill Parenteau's shoes. Boyes had an off year last season but is looking to bounce back. The Isles will give him an opportunity and top six minutes.

    Grade: B-

New York Rangers

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    The Rangers pulled off the biggest trade of the summer when they acquired sniper Rick Nash from Columbus. GM Glen Sather pulled off a coup by getting Nash without giving up Chris Kreider or Derek Stepan in the deal. Instead, he sent Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky and Tim Erixon to Columbus.

    The other additions added forward depth as players like Arron Asham, Jeff Halpern and Taylor Pyatt will help round out the third and fourth lines and replace the departed Ruslan Fedotenko and Brandon Prust.

    The addition of Nash helps give the Rangers much-needed scoring depth and will help them score until Marian Gaborik is ready to return from injury in November or December.

    Grade: B+

Ottawa Senators

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    The Senators took a huge leap forward last season, qualifying for the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and taking the top-seeded Rangers to a full seven games in their opening round series.

    The biggest offseason moves the Sens made were retaining captain Daniel Alfredsson, who announced he was returning to Ottawa for at least one more season, and signing Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson to a long-term extension.

    The Sens brought in former Wild forward Guillaume Latendresse as a free agent and acquired defenseman Marc Methot from Columbus in a trade.

    Ottawa said goodbye to defensemen Matt Carkner and Filip Kuba, fourth line center Zenon Konopka and winger Nick Foligno.

    Grade: B-

Philadelphia Flyers

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    This wasn't the best of summers in Philadelphia. The Flyers tried to make several big moves, including signing defenseman Shea Weber to a huge offer sheet, but Nashville matched the offer. The Flyers failed to sign any big ticket free agents.

    They did add reliable third line veteran Ruslan Fedotenko who played with the Rangers last year and acquired defenseman Luke Schenn from Toronto in a trade for James van Riemsdyk but that was essentially it.

    The big problem the Flyers now have is on defense where captain Chris Pronger is expected to retire due to post-concussion syndrome, and Andrej Meszaros and Andreas Lilja will both miss much of the early part of the season with injuries.

    The Flyers also said goodbye to backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (traded to Columbus), forwards Jaromir Jagr and Blair Betts and defensemen Matt Carle and Pavel Kubina.

    Grade: C

Phoenix Coyotes

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    The Coyotes won the Pacific Division last season and made the longest playoff run in franchise history when they reached the Western Conference final, but this summer has not been easy for the Coyotes.

    In addition to ownership issues which continue to cloud the team's future in Arizona, the Coyotes said goodbye to veteran wingers Ray Whitney and Daymond Langkow and defensemen Adrian Aucoin and Michal Rozsival. Worse yet, the team's financial issues may cost them the services of captain Shane Doan, who remains in limbo.

    The Coyotes did trade for defenseman Zbynek Michalek who will be a top four pairing and help shutdown opposing offenses, and signed Steve Sullivan as a free agent to replace Whitney's production. Winger David Moss will be active on the third line.

    Re-signing Doan remains the key. His loss would mean a lot more than just goals and assists.

    Grade: C+ (if Doan leaves)

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    When third line center Jordan Staal refused to sign a lucrative long-term extension offer, the Penguins dealt him to the Hurricanes for Brandon Sutter. Expect Sutter to assume Staal's old role on the third line.

    Forwards Steve Sullivan and Arron Asham have left. The Penguins also sent defenseman Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix, but GM Ray Shero is confident that the organization has talented young prospects to fill these positions.

    Shero also added Tomas Vokoun to serve as Marc-Andre Fleury's backup. Vokoun adds experience and can still start if need be. He is a step up from departed backup Brent Johnson.

    Grade: B-

St. Louis Blues

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    The Blues more or less decided to stick with the status quo which makes sense when your team finished with 109 points last season, tied for the second-best record in the league.

    They re-signed veteran defenseman Barret Jackman to help lend experience to a young and talented group of blueliners. Since Carlo Colaiacovo is still unsigned and will likely move on, the Blues may look to add another defenseman before the season gets under way.

    Any additions up front will likely come from within as prospects like Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz likely get the first chance to crack the lineup.

    Right now, it's steady as she goes in St. Louis.

    Grade: B-

San Jose Sharks

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    The Sharks only made small changes this offseason despite their early playoff exit last spring.

    GM Doug Wilson was trying to add grit and size and both major additions helped in this area. Defenseman Brad Stuart was brought back to San Jose to bolster the blue line, while winger Adam Burish should be a good addition to the third forward line.

    The best move the Sharks had this summer may have been adding assistant coach Larry Robinson to the organization.

    Grade: B-

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    The Lightning had a disappointing 2011-12 and GM Steve Yzerman made some bold moves to address his team's weaknesses.

    First, he traded for goalie Anders Lindback from Nashville to replace Dwayne Roloson. Lindback is not a proven NHL starter, but he has good size and has shown potential while serving as Pekka Rinne's backup.

    Yzerman also improved his defense by signing free agents Sami Salo and Matt Carle which gives Tampa Bay a strong top four on the blue line.

    Forward Benoit Pouliot was brought in from Boston to strengthen the third line and could improve on his 16 goals of a year ago.

    The Bolts made important upgrades to the weakest parts of their roster.

    Grade: B+

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    GM Brian Burke made a few moves this offseason to improve his offense, but the Leafs' biggest weakness, goaltending, has yet to be addressed.

    James van Riemsdyk was acquired in a trade from Philadelphia for defenseman Luke Schenn. Burke also added center Jay McClement to the mix while bidding farewell to Colby Armstrong.

    These moves should strengthen an already solid offense but until the goaltending situation is resolved, the Leafs' playoff prospects will be considered iffy at best.

    Grade: B-

Vancouver Canucks

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    When you win the President's Trophy two years in a row, you don't expect major roster changes and the Canucks didn't make them.

    The big addition was defenseman Jason Garrison, signed as a free agent from the Florida Panthers. Garrison had a strong start to the season last year before slowing down after the All-Star Game, but he still finished the year with 16 goals. He will be replacing departed defensemen Sami Salo and Aaron Rome and should be an upgrade at least offensively.

    Grade: B

Washington Capitals

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    New Caps' Coach Adam Oates inherits a talented team that has yet to find postseason success.

    The Caps said goodbye to defenseman Dennis Wideman, forward Alexander Semin and goalie Tomas Vokoun.

    Their big addition up front is center Mike Ribeiro, the type of player who the Caps hope can make the others around him better. GM George McPhee also added enigmatic forward Wojtek Wolski who has a lot of ability but not enough consistency. If motivated, Wolski can be a help up front.

    Jack Hillen will add some depth on the blue line and can move the puck when asked to.

    Grade: B-

Winnipeg Jets

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    The Jets' strategy is to rely primarily on the players they drafted and wait for them to develop into front line players.

    This summer, the Jets went out and added some depth up front when they signed center Olli Jokinen and winger Alexei Ponikarovsky. Jokinen will be asked to play on the top line but he is really more of a second-line center. He also has played in only six career NHL playoff games despite suiting up for more than 1,000 regular-season contests. Ponikarovsky adds some badly needed size up front and can chip in with the odd goal.

    Ex-Islander Al Montoya will serve as the backup goalie and is an useful addition who can start in spots when needed.

    Grade: B-