Buying or Selling Every NHL Team's Offseason Strategy So Far

Jeff Langridge@@JeffLangridge1Correspondent IIIOctober 15, 2012

Buying or Selling Every NHL Team's Offseason Strategy So Far

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    Going into the 2012 offseason, every NHL team had a strategy as to what it was going to do. Whether it was the Los Angeles Kings just needing to keep a lineup together or the New York Rangers having to trade for Rick Nash, every team had something to accomplish this offseason.

    All the strategies employed by the teams were rather simple. Needing to improve, every team's biggest need was addressed in that strategy. However, not all teams were able to implement them very well—Detroit for example.

    Should you buy into a team's strategy?

Anaheim: Sell

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    Strategy: Clear Salary

    The Anaheim Ducks let quite a bit of salary go this offseason. The departures of Jason Blake, Nik Hagman and Lubomir Visnovsky cleared quite a bit of salary for one main purpose for whenever the lockout ends.

    On July 1, 2013, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are slated to become unrestricted free agents. If the Ducks want to stay competitive in the Western Conference, they are going to need to re-sign them both. That will not be easy, however.

    With both Getzlaf and Perry making more than $5 million already and a salary cap that will more than likely go down, the Ducks will need all the money they can to re-sign them.

    Unfortunately, the Ducks will probably have to choose to let one of them go.

Boston: Buy

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    Strategy: Stay the Course

    The Boston Bruins are only one season removed from winning the Stanley Cup and are position to stay in contention for it for the foreseeable future.

    Even without Tim Thomas, the Bruins are going to have a capable goaltender between the pipes in Tuukka Rask. Re-signing Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic was crucial in the offseason with the uncertain future of the lockout.

    Their position as the best team in the Northeast Division isn't in danger at all, so no rash moves were needed this offseason.

Buffalo: Sell

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    Strategy: Get Tougher

    Give the Buffalo Sabres credit for trying to fix a weakness by acquiring tougher players. Steve Ott and John Scott will intimidate or agitate opponents and will keep them from taking liberties with their younger players.

    The problem is that their offense, ranked 17th in goals per game, took a hit with the departures of Derek Roy and Brad Boyes. They may not be the best offensive players out there, but now Buffalo will have to rely on young players like Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis to take on more offensive responsibility.

Calgary: Sell

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    Strategy: Stave Off a Rebuild

    Jay Feaster and the Calgary Flames are doing all they can to stave off a rebuild and stay in the playoff race. With Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff both 35 and not getting any younger, the Flames are not any closer to making the playoffs this season than they were last season.

    The acquisitions of Roman Cervenka, Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman will help them rack up the points this season and they might even make the playoffs if a few teams disappoint. However, the Flames are more in need of a rebuild than they are a first-round elimination.

Carolina: Buy

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    Strategy: Bring in More Scoring

    The Carolina Hurricanes have not been that successful at all since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006. The Hurricanes are on a mission to be respectable again and they took a huge step toward that this offseason.

    Bringing in Jordan Staal either gives them a strong one-two punch at the center position with his brother Eric or they can play them together and see how good they can be together.

    The addition of Alex Semin comes with risks, but if he can find some consistency, the Hurricanes will be a dangerous offensive team.

    Carolina's defense might be young but if it can be just good enough, the Hurricanes should be shoo-in for one of the last playoff spots.

Chicago: Buy

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    Strategy: Trying to Improve (Can They?)

    The Chicago Blackhawks tried to do everything this offseason. Whether it was Zach Parise, Martin Brodeur or Roberto Luongo, the Blackhawks were usually listed as a possible destination for them.

    While they failed to acquire any of those players, the Blackhawks still have a stacked lineup and should be able to contend for the Central Division crown fairly easily.

Colorado: Buy

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    Strategy: Retain Their Players

    The Colorado Avalanche had quite a lot do this offseason when it came to re-signing players. They were able to retain most of them and the only restricted free agent left unsigned is their leading scorer last season, Ryan O'Reilly.

    Bringing in P-A Parenteau will give the offense a boost, especially if he can find the same chemistry with Matt Duchene as he did with John Tavares. John Mitchell was brought in to anchor the fourth line, while Greg Zanon brings veteran leadership to a young defense corps.

Columbus: Sell

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    Strategy: Get What They Could for Rick Nash

    The Columbus Blue Jackets were in a bad position to start with this offseason. They were all but forced to trade the best player in their history in Rick Nash.

    They had all the power to make sure they got a good return for him, but the package they received from the New York Rangers was a little underwhelming. Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon are good players but the Blue Jackets should have been able to get more for Nash than that.

    The fact that the 2013 first-round draft pick will most likely be in the bottom five picks pours even more salt on the wound.

Dallas: Buy

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    Strategy: Bring in More Scoring

    The 2011 offseason in Dallas will be remembered for the loss of Brad Richards. The Stars offense wasn't that good even with Richards. It was even worse without him.

    For the 2012 offseason, the Stars looked to recoup some of that offense. They did that with the acquisitions of the Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney and Derek Roy. In a tough Western Conference, Dallas will need to get all the offense they can get.

    With the aforementioned players added to a core that includes Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder, the Stars just might have enough.

Detroit: Sell

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    Strategy: Bring In a Replacement for Nicklas Lidstrom

    For the first time in nearly two decades, the Detroit Red Wings are not in a power position entering the season. They lost their captain, their best defenseman ever in Lidstrom.

    That left Detroit with the unenviable task of trying to replace him. They offered a huge deal to Ryan Suter but were unable to lure him to the Motor City. The only defensive acquisition they made was Carlo Colaiacovo. Not only is Colaiacovo injury-prone, but he is nowhere near the level of defenseman that Detroit needs.

Edmonton: Buy

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    Strategy: Keep Accumulating Young Talent

    Sooner rather than later, the Edmonton Oilers are going to be an NHL power once again. The young players they have been accumulating the past few seasons are amazing, and it only continued with this offseason.

    Nail Yakupov provides another offensive spark plug to the lineup, but the biggest move in Edmonton was the acquisition of young defenseman Justin Schultz. The young blueliner from Kelowna, B.C., should be able to have a great rookie season passing the puck to players such as Yakupov, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Florida: Sell

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    Strategy: Stay the Course; Replace Jason Garrison

    The Florida Panthers came out of nowhere to win the Southeast Division title last season. Not wanting to mess with that success that much, they did all they can to retain their players.

    While they lost standout defenseman Jason Garrison, they replaced him with former Ottawa Senator Filip Kuba. Kuba should enable any of the Panthers young playmaking defensemen.

    Peter Mueller was brought in to replace Mikael Samuelsson and if he can overcome his previous injury concerns, the Panthers might have one of the steals of the offseason.

Los Angeles: Buy

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    Strategy: Keep the Lineup Together

    Whenever a team wins the Stanley Cup, it definitely would like to keep that winning lineup together. In a league with a salary cap however, that can be difficult; just ask the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Going into the offseason, the Kings had a few notable free agents to re-sign. Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser were all re-signed and the lineup the Kings open next season with will be the same one they won the Stanley Cup with.

    Add in the fact that Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick was signed to a long-term extension and the chances for a repeat are pretty high.

Minnesota: Buy

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    Strategy: Make the Big Moves

    The Minnesota Wild have been stuck behind the eight ball in the Northwest Division for the past few years. Even being the No. 1 team entering 2012 could not help them in the long run as the Wild once again finished out of the playoffs and near the bottom of the Northwest standings.

    To fix that problem for this season, the Wild went out and made the biggest move of the offseason. Bringing in both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the two big names in free agency, was a coup for an organization that had been growing stagnant with every passing year.

    The Northwest Division crown is now within their grasp and the playoffs are a pretty good bet in Minnesota next season.

Montreal: Sell

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    Strategy: Get Tougher

    The Montreal Canadiens needed to add toughness this offseason. That much was a given. Unfortunately, they needed to add toughness to their top six forwards. What they did was bring it to the fourth line.

    Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong do not provide the type of toughness they need to protect their many small forwards.

    All this could mean another season of struggling for Les Habitants.

Nashville: Sell

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    Strategy: Keep the Lineup Together

    The Nashville Predators have always been able to compete in the Western Conference, no matter the amount of skill in their lineup. That will be tested this season.

    The loss of Ryan Suter affects the Predators in a big way. With Shea Weber now alone, other teams will be able to focus on him, knowing that his defense partner is not as strong as Suter would be.

    Add in the loss of Jordin Tootoo and the Predators had a horrible offseason.

New Jersey: Sell

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    Strategy: Keep Zach Parise

    All the New Jersey Devils really needed to do this offseason was somehow manage to re-sign their captain Zach Parise. Sure, Martin Brodeur was a free agent as well, but it was all but a foregone conclusion that he would return. Re-signing Parise was going to be much harder to do.

    With Parise departing for Minnesota, the Devils are left with a lineup that will struggle to make the playoffs only one year after making it to the Stanley Cup Final. With Travis Zajac and other crucial members of New Jersey's lineup set to become UFAs next offseason, things are not looking so good in Newark.

New York Islanders: Sell

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    Strategy: Improve the Defense

    Like the Edmonton Oilers, the New York Islanders have a strong offensive core and a weak defense. The Islanders made a few moves to improve that defense this offseason.

    The acquisition of Lubomir Visnovsky gives them an experienced puck-mover that could form a formidable top pair with Mark Streit. Matt Carkner provides toughness from the back end. Calvin de Haan should make the team full time to see if he can produce at the NHL level.

New York Rangers: Buy

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    Strategy: Acquire Rick Nash

    No question about it: the New York Rangers' strategy this offseason was to acquire Rick Nash. That is all they wanted and all they needed to do.

    They succeeded in implementing that strategy and still were able to add depth players to their organization.

    If there is any team that is built to win the Stanley Cup this season, it's the Rangers.

Ottawa: Sell

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    Strategy: Stay the Course

    The Ottawa Senators are looking to improve on the surprising season they had last year. The losses they suffered in the offseason shouldn't affect the Sens too much.

    The addition of Guillaume Latendresse, Marc Methot and Mike Lundin doesn’t give Ottawa a great improvement, but they should provide depth at their positions. Latendresse is a good fit on the second line, while Methot and Lundin add more experience to a defense corps that already includes Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar.

    Whether Ottawa can recapture the magic that it had last season with the new lineup remains to be seen.

Philadelphia: Sell

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    Strategy: Improve the Defense

    Chris Pronger's career is most likely over. Andreas Lilja and Andrej Meszaros are both out with injuries. The Philadelphia Flyers' defense has definitely seen better days.

    Over the course of the offseason, the Flyers lost Matt Carle to the Tampa Bay Lightning, chose not to re-sign Pavel Kubina, signed Bruno Gervais and traded for Luke Schenn. Their top six defensemen now look like this: Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Schenn, Nicklas Grossman, Erik Gustafsson and Gervais.

    The Flyers obviously did not implement their strategy well, although they did try. If the offer sheet to Shea Weber was successful, their defensive problems would be lowered significantly.

Phoenix: Buy

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    Strategy: Stay the Course

    There's not much that can be done when your team's ownership is always in a state of flux. After a surprising trip to the Western Conference Final, the Coyotes didn't want to lose much of that lineup.

    They were able to keep their captain, Shane Doan, but they lost Ray Whitney largely because of the ownership situation in Phoenix. The re-acquisition of Zbynek Michalek will only make their defense better as they have some of the best young defensemen in the league.

    However, whether or not they sign Mike Smith will decide whether they stay in the playoffs after this season.

Pittsburgh: Buy

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    Strategy: Get What They Could for Jordan Staal

    The Pittsburgh Penguins wanted to re-sign Jordan Staal. They figured out quickly that no amount of money was going to keep him in Pittsburgh if he was going to stay in the No. 3 center spot.

    They then started shopping Staal around. Finally, after weeks of rumors, Staal was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on Day 1 of the NHL draft. While the Penguins could have easily not gotten a lot in return for a player entering the last year of his contract, whom they brought in was not bad at all.

    Brandon Sutter will slide right into Staal's old spot and is probably much better suited to the role. They also acquired prospect Brian Dumoulin and the eighth pick in the draft, which they used to select Derrick Pouliot.

    A more-than-capable replacement and two pieces on defense for the future—not a bad return at all.

St. Louis: Buy

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    Strategy: Stay the Course

    The St. Louis Blues finally emerged as a power in the Central Division last season after years of development. None of the losses in the offseason are particularly big, and even if they were, the Blues have the depth to fill the holes.

    With Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko ready to join the Blues full time, they have two young stars that will push their current players even harder.

San Jose: Sell

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    Strategy: Stay the Course

    The San Jose Sharks' two moves this offseason were to bring in Adam Burish and Brad Stuart. On a team that is getting older and whose window of contention is closing fast, these moves will not help keep that window open any longer.

    San Jose could very well finish out of the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season unless it makes a big move during the season.

Tampa Bay: Buy

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    Strategy: Improve the Defense and Goaltending

    The Tampa Bay Lightning have one of the best top-six forward corps in the league. With Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier, offense has not been the problem in Tampa. Their defense and goaltending were their Achilles' heel last season.

    With the acquisition of Matt Carle and Sami Salo, the Lightning have improved their defense for the near future. They also used their first pick in the draft to select Slater Koekkoek, an all-around defenseman that should be a force on the Lightning's blue line in a few years.

    Anders Lindback was brought in from the Nashville Predators and the hope is that he can be step out from the shadow of Pekka Rinne and become a consistent starter in the NHL. If not, the Lightning will have to wait for fellow 2012 draft pick Andrei Vasilevski to develop in Russia.

Toronto: Sell

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    Strategy: Improve Everywhere

    The Toronto Maple Leafs went into the offseason knowing they had to improve pretty much everywhere. They improved on offense with the acquisition of James van Riemsdyk and the penalty kill with Jay McClement.

    However, the Leafs' perceived biggest need is a veteran goaltender and they went the entire offseason without addressing it. There was plenty of rumors and speculation but nothing came of any of it.

    The Leafs will be in tough to improve in an increasingly tough Eastern Conference.

Vancouver: Buy

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    Strategy: Stay the Course

    The Vancouver Canucks are hungry to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals after being ousted in the first round last postseason. Their forward corps remained fairly untouched, only losing Samuel Pahlsson to Europe in the offseason.

    Their defense didn't exactly need fixing, but the acquisition of Jason Garrison to replace Sami Salo will give them even more offense. Garrison should also provide a more consistent spot in the lineup with Salo's injury history.

    Cory Schneider takes over the starting role, moving Roberto Luongo to the backup job. If the Canucks had dealt Luongo during the offseason, they could have an even better lineup.

Washington: Buy

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    Strategy: Improve the Offense

    The Washington Capitals have been trying to improve their defensive play the past few seasons. It worked as the Capitals were definitely a more defensive team. It came at the expense of the offense, and this offseason, the Capitals tried to fix that.

    The acquisition of Mike Ribeiro gives the Capitals a strong second-line center to play with Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson. That second line should take some of the pressure off the first line and allow Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom to bring more offense to the table.

Winnipeg: Buy

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    Strategy: Continue Improving

    Unfortunately, the Winnipeg Jets couldn't fix their biggest problem last year in the offseason as no player can make a team better on the road.

    The Jets brought in veterans Olli Jokinen and Alexei Ponikarovsky to help the offense and Al Montoya to be Ondrej Pavelec's new backup.

    Jokinen and Ponikarovsky aren't exactly offensive stars but they should improve an offense that was ranked 12th in the NHL in goals per game with an average of 2.70. After a good year with the New York Islanders, Montoya should be able to provide a break for Pavelec whenever he needs one.