5 NHL Teams Other Than the Minnesota Wild That Had a Great Summer
The Minnesota Wild got the majority of the headlines around the NHL this summer for their signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. While Minnesota did the most to improve their roster, there were certainly other NHL teams that got better as well.
There wasn't a ton of free-agent talent left after Suter and Parise were off the market, but a number of good players were still available, and some teams had great drafts or made smart trades to bolster their roster.
Here's a look at five other NHL teams other than the Wild that did a lot to improve this summer.
Regardless of how the team performs, nobody can say that Carolina GM Jim Rutherford didn't try. On draft day, he traded away some valuable pieces in exchange for Jordan Staal. But there's no telling how the young talent he gave up will pan out, while Staal is a proven star.
Staal will be united with his brother Eric in Carolina, and there's no telling what the Staals can achieve on the same team.
Rutherford also locked up young star Jeff Skinner, and had one of my favorite free agent signings of Alexander Semin.
The one-year-deal for Semin is a low-risk, high-reward deal that could pay off dividends. He has great scoring and playmaking potential, although he's a defensive liability and has a questionable work ethic, I like that Rutherford took a chance on him.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The biggest reason the Lightning are on this list is because of their great draft. In the first round, they took defenseman Slater Koekkoek and goalie Andrey Vasilevskiy, both highly regarded talents that could become huge parts of the organization moving forward.
They also had two second round picks, where they grabbed another solid defenseman in Dylan Blujus along with winger Brian Hart. When you have two picks in both the first and second rounds and use them wisely, it's always good for the direction of the organization.
Tampa Bay also added Matt Carle and Sami Salo to their blue line. Being from Philadelphia, I've seen a lot of Carle over the past few years, and while I think his new contract is far too big, I can't deny that he's a talented puck-moving defenseman.
Salo is older and won't produce much on the stat sheet, but brings toughness, experience and leadership to the team. These qualities are so important down the stretch and in the playoffs, so Salo's presence will be valuable to the Lightning.
New York Rangers
The Rangers took advantage of Columbus Blue Jackets' GM Scott Howson's no-win situation and got an incredible deal for Rick Nash.
Although I think Nash isn't going to perform as well as people think over the next four or five years, he is going to be a big producer this season while surrounded by all of the talent that New York has.
Historically, there's been a big drop off in production for forwards once they reach their 30s, but Nash is still an immensely talented scorer who can help the Rangers make a championship push whenever the lockout ends. GM Glen Sather didn't have to give up that much for him either, which makes it all the better.
Sather also added depth with Arron Asham and Taylor Pyatt, who give the Rangers some added grit and will help them down the stretch.
Already possessing one of, if not the deepest, young talent pool in the NHL, the Oilers got even younger and more talented with the signing of Justin Schultz and selection of Nail Yakupov in the draft.
Schultz, who was originally taken by the Anaheim Ducks but decided to play for Wisconsin until he became available as a free agent in 2012, is a potential top-line defenseman who is strong in the defensive end but is a great skater and puck handler.
Yakupov was the highest regarded talent in the draft, and is every bit deserving of being taken first overall. He's a dynamic forward who could be one of the best players in the league by 2015.
But GM Steve Tambellini didn't add much in the way of veterans, and the Oilers are going to live and die with their young roster's ability to mature and develop.
The Capitals made a number of good moves this season. They got rid of inconsistent players like Alexander Semin and Dennis Wideman, and brought in veteran center Mike Ribiero.
They also had two great first-round picks. Filip Forsberg may end up being the steal of the draft, and Tom Wilson could eventually fill Mike Knuble's spot in front of the net.
The Capitals' best move, however, had nothing to do with any of these players. GM George McPhee's best decision of the summer was hiring Adam Oates as the Capitals' coach.
Oates was a great player and leader with tremendous on-ice vision and an unselfish attitude. He'll be a very positive influence on the Capitals' talented group of forwards and set a good example for the entire team.