Ranking the 10 Biggest Mistakes from the NHL Offseason So Far
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Everybody makes mistakes, and that includes NHL general managers. We will now examine the 10 biggest mistakes made by NHL teams so far this offseason.
Some of these errors involve the signing of free agents, some involve trades and some involve the loss of players. Keep in mind, a signing can be a mistake if a team overpays for a player, signs the wrong player or takes up cap space to fill an area that is not a glaring need for the team.
Feel free to comment on any of the transactions mentioned on this list or to name any you feel belong on it but were omitted. Please state why you feel your choice belongs or doesn't belong on the list.
10. The Lightning Overpay for Filppula
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After they lost Vincent Lecavalier, the Tampa Bay Lightning signed Valtteri Filppula to be their new second-line center. It's a five-year deal worth $25 million.
Filppula has played seven seasons in the NHL but only one of them showed he was worthy of being a top-six forward, especially one being paid as much as the Bolts decided to pay him. That was 2011-12 when he scored 23 goals and 66 points. He has never scored more than 20 goals or 40 points in any other NHL season.
Granted, he was not getting top-six minutes with a talented Detroit club in past years, but other than that one season, he has not shown he can fill that role consistently.
The Lightning took a gamble on Filppula, who at 29 is already in his prime and has likely become the player he is going to become.
9. The Devils Lose Ilya Kovalchuk
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Sniper Ilya Kovalchuk announced that he was "retiring" from the NHL earlier this month, turning down the remaining $77 million left in his contract.
Kovalchuk's retirement didn't last long. About a week later, he signed a new deal with a team in the KHL.
While there may not have been much the Devils organization could have done about Kovalchuk's decision to play closer to home, the team is now left with a huge gap in its roster. In fact, the Devils lost two of their top three scorers from a year ago (David Clarkson and Kovalchuk).
The bigger mistake made by GM Lou Lamoriello was probably made a few seasons ago when he opted to sign Kovalchuk to that huge deal knowing he probably couldn't afford to sign him and Zach Parise. Now the Devils have neither player on their roster.
The Devils did sign 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr to a one-year deal, but at this stage in his career, he is not likely to be anything more than a role player and comes nowhere near replacing the firepower the team lost since last season ended.
8. The Senators Lose Daniel Alfredsson
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Former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson surprised a lot of people when he signed a free-agent contract with the Detroit Red Wings earlier this month. It was a one-year deal worth a reported $5.5 million.
While Alfredsson said he left Ottawa in an attempt to win a Stanley Cup before his career ends, Yahoo! Sports writer Nicholas J. Cotsonika explained that Alfredsson's departure was more about money than anything else.
The Senators lost a player who was the heart and soul of their franchise for more than a decade. He had served as captain of the Sens since 1999-00 and has been very involved in charities in and around Ottawa.
While Alfredsson's numbers have slipped in recent seasons, he was still a leader in the locker room. His value was demonstrated during the playoffs when he scored four goals and 10 points in 10 postseason games.
The Senators made a mistake by letting their captain and leader go instead of paying him a few more dollars so he could finish his career in Canada's capital.
7. The Avalanche Pass on Seth Jones
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The Colorado Avalanche had a golden opportunity to add a badly needed defenseman to their roster as they held the first pick in the 2013 NHL draft, but the Avs passed on Seth Jones and drafted Nathan MacKinnon instead.
There are plenty of reasons the Avalanche should have picked Jones. First, their roster is already filled with talented, young forwards. Ryan O'Reilly, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny are among the players already on the Colorado roster.
The Avs also had a need for improvement on defense. Colorado finished 27th in the league in goals allowed last season.
Add to the mix the fact that Seth Jones had ties to the Denver area since his father, Popeye Jones, played for the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and Seth grew up there.
Jones was also ranked first among North American skaters by Central Scouting prior to the draft.
Despite the fact that he fit their greatest need, had local ties and was the highest-rated player in the draft by Central Scouting, the Avalanche passed on Seth Jones.
Only time will tell how big a mistake this decision was (or if it was a mistake at all).
6. The Coyotes Stay in the Desert
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Earlier this month, the Glendale city council voted 4-3 to approve a measure that will keep the Phoenix Coyotes in the desert for at least the next five years.
The NHL has owned the Coyotes franchise for the past four years, and the search continues for a new owner to take over the team. Yet again, we have been told a deal is close although nothing has been finalized with a group known as IceArizona.
But keeping the Coyotes in Arizona is a mistake for the NHL.
This is not to knock the hockey fans in and around Phoenix. The big issue is the location of the arena and the less-than-ideal lease agreement the team has there.
The Coyotes have been 29th or 30th in the league in attendance for each of the past four seasons.
Rumors had the Coyotes moving to Seattle if the Glendale vote had gone the other way. While there would have been issues there or in almost any other city the team moved to, it was a mistake to keep the team in Glendale where situations are far from ideal.
5. The Maple Leafs Sign David Clarkson
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The Toronto Maple Leafs signed former Devils winger David Clarkson to a seven-year contract worth $36.75 million on July 5.
Toronto is essentially taking a cap hit of $5.25 million a year for a player who has had only one NHL season that would come close to bringing back that kind of value.
In 2011-12, Clarkson scored a career-high 30 goals and 46 points in 80 games. He has never scored more than 20 goals or 32 points in any other NHL season (although his totals from last year's lockout-shortened season put him on pace for 26 goals and 41 points over an 82-game season).
Yes, Clarkson adds size and some goal scoring to the Toronto lineup, but that wasn't Toronto's biggest need. It finished sixth in the league last year in goals scored while finishing 17th in goals allowed. Toronto's biggest need was for physical defensemen who could make life more difficult for opposing players. The Maple Leafs haven't added any as of yet.
Clarkson is 29 now, and while his numbers may jump a tad because he is playing for a more offensively minded club like Toronto, his typical season is roughly 22 goals, 14 assists and 120 penalty minutes, hardly a huge return on $5.25 million of cap space.
Add the fact that Clarkson will be 36 when the deal expires and the fact that power forwards tend to show their age sooner than other players and you have a deal full of more doubts than sure things for the Leafs.
4. The Flyers Sign Lecavalier and Streit but Don't Get a Defensive Defenseman
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The Philadelphia Flyers signed former Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier to a five-year contract with an annual cap hit of $4.5 million.
Lecavalier is still a productive player who has averaged about 22 goals and 60 points per season over the past four campaigns.
There are two reasons that the Lecavalier signing is a mistake for the Flyers, though. First, Lecavalier will be 38 by the time the deal is over, and it's likely the player's production will drop in future years.
The bigger issue is that signing Lecavalier (and Mark Streit) used up valuable cap space that the Flyers needed to fill their biggest weakness: a lack of defensive defensemen.
Philadelphia was tied for 22nd in the league in goals against last season. Since Chris Pronger was lost due to injury, the Flyers have had a gaping hole on defense. Once again, they have failed to fill it.
According to CapGeek.com, the Flyers are a little more than $2 million over the salary cap for the upcoming season. While Chris Pronger's addition to the long-term injury list would get them under the cap, they don't have a lot of room to add a badly needed physical defenseman (or two) that they need to be more competitive.
While Lecavalier is not badly overpaid, his signing and the signing of offensive defenseman Streit took up valuable cap space and will prevent the Flyers from addressing their biggest need.
3. The Devils Sign Ryane Clowe
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The New Jersey Devils signed free agent forward Ryane Clowe to a five-year contract for $4.85 million per year.
The deal is risky on a number of fronts. First, giving Clowe—a power forward with a lengthy injury history—a five-year deal is always a risk. Add the fact that Clowe has a history of concussions and that he will turn 31 before the start of the new season and the risk becomes even greater.
Clowe needs to play a physical game to be effective, and that only increases the risk of another injury.
Last season, Clowe scored only three goals and 19 points in 40 games. In 2011-12, he scored 17 goals and 45 points in 76 games. Neither of those seasons come anywhere close to justifying a salary of nearly $5 million per season.
The Devils are taking a huge gamble on Clowe. Unless Clowe consistently returns to his form of 2008-09 through 2010-11 where he averaged almost 22 goals and 57 points per season while providing a physical element to his team, it will be a losing gamble.
2. The Bruins Trade Tyler Seguin
The Boston Bruins traded forward Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars this offseason.
Seguin is an undeniable talent. He was the second overall selection in the 2010 NHL draft. He is a gifted scorer who tallied 29 goals in 2011-12 and was on pace for 27 tallies if last year was a full, 82-game season.
Before trading him, general manager Peter Chiarelli questioned Seguin's work ethic and maturity. Apparently, the 21-year-old Brampton, Ontario native was having a little too much fun away from the ice—which makes him not all that different from guys his age, many of whom are in college.
The big question is, does Seguin mature in time to realize his potential? If he does, the Bruins will probably regret dealing Seguin. If he doesn't, this was a good trade.
The cliche in sports is that the team who got the best player in a trade probably got the best of the deal. Seguin has the potential to be the best player in this trade.
Natural goal scorers are hard to come by in the NHL. Even with the immaturity that the Bruins organization noticed in him, Seguin nearly scored 30 goals in a season.
If he does mature, 40 or even 50 goals are not hard to imagine for Seguin. If that happens, the Bruins will regret the day they traded Seguin.
1. The Canucks Trade Cory Schneider and Keep Roberto Luongo
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The good news for Vancouver Canucks fans is that their goaltending glut has been resolved. The bad news is that the team kept the wrong goaltender.
The Canucks traded 27-year-old Cory Schneider to the Devils for the ninth overall pick in this year's draft. They ended up keeping 34-year-old Roberto Luongo, who has a horrible contract that made him impossible to trade and too expensive (at least in the minds of Vancouver management) to buy out.
Luongo was already considered a goner in Vancouver before the start of last season when Schneider was named the starter. Trade rumors swirled around him for almost a year, but no deal was finalized and the Canucks were "stuck" with their veteran goalie.
Now, with the advent of the this trade, the Canucks are stuck with an older, more expensive goalie who they clearly are settling for. Emotionally, Luongo needs to attach himself to the franchise yet again.
The Canucks should have accepted less for Luongo in a trade at some point over the past year or bit the bullet and bought him out once a deal couldn't be worked out. Now they are stuck with an overpaid and older goaltender who will provide diminishing returns as he ages while Schneider becomes the heir apparent to Martin Brodeur in New Jersey.