Who has turned out to be the best acquisition this past offseason for each team so far? Whether it's by trade like Tyler Seguin and Bobby Ryan, by draft like Nathan MacKinnon, or by free-agent signing like Mikhail Grabovski and Jaromir Jagr, which new arrivals have had the most immediate positive impact with their new clubs?
To answer that question, we've been going team by team and using a variety of analytics to select the single player whose contributions to his new franchise have been the greatest.
Don't be tripped up by players who were already part of the organization at 2013's season end. Those acquired at last year's trade deadline or prospects who already had contracts are excluded from consideration!
Without further ado, let's see which new whales are making the biggest splash.
Quality of competition and attempted shot differential statistics are sourced from Behind the Net, and all other advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted.
The Anaheim Ducks made several offseason acquisitions this summer, but with apologies to Dustin Penner, none of them have worked out quite as well as Mathieu Perreault.
Acquired from the Washington Capitals right before the season began for John Mitchell and a fourth-round selection in the 2014 draft, the 25-year-old trails only Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf in the team scoring race with 14 points in 20 games. He also boasts a team-leading 54.6 percent success rate in the faceoff circle.
In fact, his fine play centering Teemu Selanne and Jakob Silfverberg (who is another fine offseason acquisition) gave Anaheim the confidence it needed to deal Peter Holland away to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The best news for the Ducks is that the talented center has a cap hit of just $1.05 million this season and remains a restricted free agent at the end of the year. Perreault is currently recovering from a minor injury to his left wrist.
The Boston Bruins thought they had acquired the legendary winger from the Calgary Flames at last year's trade deadline, only to find out quite unexpectedly that Jarome Iginla was heading to the Pittsburgh Penguins instead. They had to wait until July 5 to sign the 36-year-old power forward to a one-year deal.
Placed on the right side of their top line, Iginla has helped ignite David Krejci and Milan Lucic, and together, the three have scored 15 goals and 42 points combined while also playing defensively responsible hockey against top opposing lines.
This was not an easy selection, as both Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith, who were acquired from the Dallas Stars in the Tyler Seguin trade, have each made comparable contributions, and for less money even when combined.
Even though Iginla's services don't come cheap ($6.0 million), the Bruins are hoping that the two-time Olympic gold medalist can help them win back the Stanley Cup they last hoisted in 2011 and narrowly missed in 2013. Iginla, who was a video review away from winning it all in 2004, will no doubt be pursuing that same goal just as passionately.
Not much has gone right for the Buffalo Sabres this season, and none of their offseason acquisitions have been able to make much of an impact.
Thirty-four-year-old Swedish stay-at-home defenseman Henrik Tallinder, for example, was brought back on a one-year deal in an attempt to reignite young giant Tyler Myers with the kind of magic the two found in the 2009-10 season. Instead, Myers has continued to struggle, leading to rumors of a trade courtesy of Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal.
Only so much blame can be placed at the skates of Tallinder, who has been playing hard against top opposing lines and killing penalties. Recently, his leadership has been rewarded with an A sewn to his chest (as assistant captain). With new coaching and management, there may be hope yet.
Acquired from the San Jose Sharks for a fourth-round selection 2015, winger T.J. Galiardi may only have six points in 19 games so far, but he is making an impact in a variety of important ways.
For starters, the 25-year-old, who was born and raised in Calgary, has already drawn eight penalties and is second to Mikael Backlund among the team's forwards in average time spent killing their own.
Despite being on the ice against top opponents in both offensive and defensive situations, the Calgary Flames enjoy their best attempted shot differential when the former Calgary Hitmen Rookie of the Year is on the ice. Amazingly Galiardi's cap hit is 16th on the team, a value-priced $1.25 million.
There are a lot of new faces on the Flames this year, and while Sean Monahan may get a lot of the press, Galiardi's the one quietly getting the job done.
With injuries to top defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason, not to mention to their two top goalies Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin, it's more important than ever that one of the Carolina Hurricanes' new defensemen stepped up. So far, that defenseman has been Andrej Sekera.
Signed by Buffalo in the 2011 offseason to a four year, $11 million deal, Sekera was dealt to the Canes at the 2013 entry draft for Jamie McBain and a second-round selection.
Forming one of the league's better shutdown pairs with another lesser known defender in Justin Faulk, Sekera has helped turn things around for the Hurricanes lately, who have won four of their last five games. The 27-year-old Slovakian leads the team in penalty-killing time, helping it become an exceptional but still highly underrated shorthanded unit in the process.
Surprisingly, the defensive-minded blueliner has eight points in 19 games, which places him atop the team's defensemen and just two back of Eric Staal for the team scoring lead. It also puts him on pace to easily exceed his career high of 29 points with Buffalo back in 2010-11.
The fact that the Chicago Blackhawks' best offseason acquisition is someone who has only played two games and is currently assigned to long-term injury reserve shows how few changes the defending champions made over the summer.
Cap issues have certainly forced the Blackhawks to be especially careful, resulting in only defenseman Mike Kostka and 41-year-old goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (who has been awful) being added to the roster.
This is actually Kostka's fourth NHL organization. Originally drafted by the Florida Panthers, he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning, then signed as a free agent with the Maple Leafs in the 2012 offseason. The Chicago Blackhawks then picked up the 27-year-old, who scored his first NHL goal this season, to a one-year deal barely above the league minimum.
The first overall selection of the 2013 entry draft, 18-year-old Nathan MacKinnon is tied for third in the rookie scoring race with 12 points in 19 games.
While the youngster's dynamic offensive presence is one of the reasons for the Colorado Avalanches' hot start, the bigger reason is the much-improved blue line. While Cory Sarich, Andre Benoit and Nathan Guenin have all been surprisingly effective additions to what was once considered to be among the worst blue lines in the league defensively, no single one of them has made as great a difference as MacKinnon.
Starting off the season as the third-line center, MacKinnon got an opportunity as a top-six winger when Alex Tanguay (another fine offseason addition) was injured. Even though Colorado is already deep in young puck-moving forwards, it never hurts to have one of MacKinnon's tremendous potential.
Even though he has yet to play a single game, winger Nathan Horton is already the Columbus Blue Jackets' best offseason acquisition.
Despite missing the postseason on a tiebreaker, the Blue Jackets made surprisingly few moves this summer, adding only utility players like Jack Skille, who has played only a single game.
Instead, the Jackets have been relying mostly on the introduction and/or the continuing development of several longtime prospects to fuel further club improvement. This includes Ryan Murray and Dalton Prout, who signed with Columbus in 2012.
When Horton does make his return from shoulder surgery, which is expected to be by the end of December, it is hoped that the high-priced free agent can help turn things around for Columbus. At his best, the former Panther and Bruin is a responsible two-way player who can still score 20 goals and up to 60 points in a full 82-game schedule.
The Dallas Stars are a brand-new team, with new coaching, new management and a completely different roster. The undisputed gem among the new arrivals is first-line center Tyler Seguin.
Achieving immediate chemistry with multitalented winger Jamie Benn, the two have formed one of the league's most potent top lines with 22 points apiece. Seguin, who will be featured prominently in both the Maurice Richard and Art Ross race this season, already has 12 goals, including a recent four-goal outburst against Calgary.
If there's a flaw in Seguin's game this year, it's been in the faceoff circle, where his 37.5 percent winning percentage in 208 faceoffs is dead last among anyone who has taken at least 100 draws.
Also, Seguin's services didn't come cheap, costing Dallas a package that included Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith, and an additional cap hit of $5.75 million for the next six years, second on the team to goalie Kari Lehtonen. It will be well worth that investment if 2010's second overall selection continues to score at this clip.
One of the most shocking signings of the 2013 free-agent season was when 17-year Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson inked a one year deal with the Detroit Red Wings.
At the time, Alfredsson was fifth among active players in career goals, fourth in assists and points, and there was some question whether the 40-year-old Swede could still deliver to the tune of a $5.5 million cap hit. Though currently struggling through a minor groin injury, Alfredsson has mostly silenced those concerns.
The veteran winger is third among the team's forwards in ice time and third in team scoring with 14 points in 19 games. These scoring totals have not been inflated by opportunities on the top line with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, with whom he has spent only a quarter of his total ice time.
Normally Alfredsson has played on the second line with some combination of Johan Franzen, Danny Cleary and fellow new arrival Stephen Weiss.
While some fans initially balked at his $3.0 million cap hit, Boyd Gordon checks off nearly everything in the list of what makes a great do-it-all value player:
- He leads the team with a 57.6 percent faceoff winning percentage, seventh in the NHL.
- He leads the team's forwards with almost three minutes of shorthanded ice time per game.
- He takes the tough defensive zone minutes, starting 24.3 percent of his non-neutral zone shifts in the defensive zone, lowest among NHL forwards.
- He chips in offensively, scoring 10 points in 22 games, including three on the power play.
The 30-year-old shutdown forward is one of those critical players behind the scenes that every team needs. The former Capital and Phoenix Coyote takes on the top opponents in defensive situations and does so without the assistance of the Edmonton Oilers' young superstars. His most frequent linemates are Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones, Jesse Joensuu and David Perron, the last of whom was perhaps an equally fine addition.
Many things have been going wrong in Edmonton this year, but Boyd Gordon is one of the moves that has worked out very well.
The Florida Panthers quietly made a lot of great value acquisitions this offseason, acquiring veterans Tom Gilbert, Tim Thomas, Brad Boyes, Scott Gomez and Jesse Winchester, not to mention depth players like Matt Gilroy and Mike Mottau, all for a combined cap hit that matches Brian Campbell's alone.
Among all those new players, and not to mention second overall selection Aleksander Barkov, Tom Gilbert stands out as the most valuable addition.
The top tandem of Gilbert and Campbell is leading the team in ice time, is taking on top opponents and is the only defensive pair with whom the Panthers have a positive attempted shot differential. Gilbert has also added seven points in 21 games, and Campbell currently leads the team with 12.
Gilbert's exceptional play for the value price of just $900,000 has left a lot of NHL general managers kicking themselves for this rather obvious free-agent oversight.
Acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a deal that involved Jonathan Bernier, Ben Scrivens has been one of the league's better backup goalies so far this year.
The 27-year-old netminder has played seven games, all of them on the road. Two of his four starts were shutouts, and he has blanked opponents in two of his three relief appearances. Put it all together, and Scrivens has a .940 save percentage and a microscopic 1.51 goals-against average.
Best yet, since Scrivens' cap hit is barely above league minimum, the cap-crunched Los Angeles Kings were able to retain all of their key high-priced superstars.
Given Scrivens' history of posting .930-plus save percentages in U.S. college hockey and .925 in the AHL, the Kings have high hopes that Scrivens can continue to thrive as he starts to face more challenging opponents and situations.
Minnesota is a brand-new team. After years battling the Edmonton Oilers as the worst puck-possession team in the league, the Wild are instead battling Chicago as one of the best.
The key to Minnesota's strategy has been to secure the best players possible at any cost, like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu for example, and then to invest the remaining dollars as efficiently as possible.
One of those efficient new players is Matt Cooke, secured for three years at $2.5 million per season. Playing on the left side of a line with Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine, Cooke has been taking on all the tough situations so that players like Parise and Koivu don't have to. Cooke is second to Brodziak in the toughest quality of competition and most penalty-killing minutes among the team's forwards.
Cooke has also added three goals, two of them being game-winners, for nine points and provides both the grit and the veteran experience a team like Minnesota will need when pursuing the Stanley Cup next May.
The Montreal Canadiens aren't making the same mistake that some other teams have made with their young players. They have been careful to surround and support them with the right veterans, and that includes free-agent signing Daniel Briere.
The only real concerns with signing the 36-year-old to a two-year deal worth $8.0 million total was his ability to play tough minutes without getting overwhelmed. Briere is second on the team to linemate Max Pacioretty in quality of competition and has the lowest offensive zone start percentage on the team (32.2 percent). And yet the Habs still enjoy a positive attempted shot differential when he's on the ice. Concerns addressed!
Having just got back from a concussion suffered October 19, Briere has five points in 11 games. As a Flyer, Briere led the postseason in scoring in 2009-10 and in goals in 2011-12. The real challenge begins in May when his reputation as a playoff performer will be put to the test.
The Nashville Predators must have been pleasantly surprised when defenseman Seth Jones was actually still available with the fourth overall selection.
In the same spirit as Brenden Dillon in Dallas and Jonas Brodin in Minnesota last year, Nashville has paired up its blue-chip prospect with its star defenseman, Shea Weber, on the top pairing. Jones is second to Weber among Predators in overall ice time per game, fourth on the penalty kill and fifth in estimated quality of competition. The 19-year-old is also sixth in team scoring with eight points.
At the other end of the age spectrum is 37-year-old free-agent signing Matt Cullen, who has a nifty 57.8 percent faceoff percentage (fifth in the NHL), is third among the team's forwards in quality of competition and is one of only six players with whom the team enjoys a positive attempted shot differential at even strength. If he keeps that up, he may yet prove to be well worth $3.5 million per season.
As a player on an entry-level deal, Jones' cap hit is just $925,000 for the next three seasons. That's a great price for a top-four defenseman, especially on a team that was in such desperate need.
While former Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider was expected to be the most valuable of the New Jersey Devils' many offseason acquisitions, the distinction goes to 41-year-old future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr.
The ageless Czech, who became just the eighth player ever to notch 1,700 career points earlier this season, currently leads the Devils in goals (seven), assists (nine), points (16) and even plus/minus (plus-nine).
And these totals aren't being bloated by soft minutes or exceptional puck luck, as Jagr is estimated to face the highest quality of competition on the team and is second to frequent linemate Patrik Elias in attempted shot differential.
Little more could be asked of any free agent who was signed to a low-risk, single-year deal for $4.55 million, let alone one of Jagr's stature.
The New York Islanders invested in their forward depth this offseason, and the best acquisition so far has proven to be creative playmaker Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who is currently fourth in team scoring with nine points.
In signing a low-risk, one-year deal for $2.0 million with the New York Islanders, Bouchard ended a 10-season relationship with the Minnesota Wild, who drafted him eighth overall in 2002 after he was named the CHL player of the year.
Now 29 years old, Bouchard is a fantastic puck-possession player who is being used to stimulate the offense on the two-way secondary lines, most famously with Josh Bailey and Frans Nielsen, the latter of whom is second to Jonathan Tavares in team scoring with 21 points.
Other than replacing coach John Tortorella with Alain Vigneault, the New York Rangers didn't engage in many offseason changes. The only noteworthy move was the addition of some forward depth in the form of Benoit Pouliot and Dominic Moore for a combined cap hit of just $2.3 million. While Cam Talbot has been a fine new backup goaltender, he has technically been with the club since 2010.
Pouliot is a prototypical utility player, being moved from one line and situation to another in an effort to add some grit and secondary offence. While his four points in 19 games is a little light, scoring has been hard to come by for the whole team. The Rangers nevertheless have won eight of their past 11 after a slow start.
Though only 27 years old, this is Pouliot's fifth team since he was drafted fourth overall in 2005 by the Minnesota Wild after a highly decorated season in the OHL and before winning gold at the World Juniors in 2006. Since then, Pouliot has played for Montreal, Boston and Tampa Bay, and is now on a one-year trial with the Rangers.
Ottawa's best offseason acquisition is Bobby Ryan, who currently leads the team with 10 goals, only one less than all of last year, and 20 points.
Of course, those goals haven't come cheap. The Senators were forced to part with Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a first-round selection in 2014 to acquire the four-time 30-goal scorer, not to mention picking up the remaining two years of his contract at $5.1 million per season.
The 26-year-old American, who was selected second overall by the Anaheim Ducks in 2005, mostly plays on one of the league's best two-way lines with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur, who is another brilliant offseason acquisition, and occasionally on the struggling top scoring line with Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza.
Not many players are worth a prospect, a first-rounder and a solid young top-six forward, but Ryan has done much to prove that he's one of those few who truly are.
After 14 seasons with Tampa Bay, 1998's first overall selection, Vincent Lecavalier, tested free agency this summer. Turning down a deal with Washington, the 33-year-old ultimately signed a five-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers that carried a cap hit of $4.5 million until he's 37 years old.
Lecavalier's career is certainly full of achievement. With a Stanley Cup championship in 2004 and a Maurice Richard Trophy in 2006-07 with 52 goals, Lecavalier is currently ranked seventh among active players in career goals and 10th in points.
As for this season, he currently leads the Flyers with seven goals, skating on a line primarily with Wayne Simmonds and breakout star Brayden Schenn.
Philly's contracts have been rather hit or miss in recent years, and while not a lot has gone right for the club so far this season, Vincent Lecavalier's play has been a beacon of hope.
In one of this offseason's biggest moves, Mike Ribeiro signed a four-year deal in Phoenix at $5.5 million per season, tied with Oliver Ekman-Larsson just below Mike Smith's new deal for the team's highest cap hit.
While it remains to be seen if Ribeiro will still earn that deal when he's 36, he's certainly providing bang for the buck so far this year at age 33. Playing mostly with David Moss and Shane Doan, Ribeiro is currently second on the team with six goals, and his 16 points are two back of the team lead.
Ribeiro is a gifted playmaker who previously played for Montreal and Dallas before a single season in Washington last year, which ended up as the fourth time he finished in the league's top 10 in assists. He is also seventh among active players with a 14.8 percent career shooting percentage.
The Coyotes certainly needed an offensive shot in the arm, and so far, the hefty investment they've made in Ribeiro has provided just that.
With Rob Scuderi out indefinitely with ankle surgery and defenseman Olli Maatta technically signed since 2012, Pittsburgh's title for best offseason acquisition falls to depth winger Chuck Kobasew (who himself is out with a lower-body injury).
The 31-year-old was signed to a one-year deal at the league minimum salary and has played primarily with Jussi Jokinen and Brandon Sutter, where he has scored two goals in 12 games, both game-winners.
Kobasew was Calgary's first-round draft choice in 2001 and has since also played for Boston, Minnesota and Colorado. He topped 20 goals in three of the four seasons following the 2005 lockout, but at this stage, he only offers some veteran forward depth.
The St. Louis Blues added some veteran forward depth with the free-agent signings of Derek Roy, Maxim Lapierre and Brenden Morrow, the first of which having the most positive impact so far this season.
Roy, who previously spent eight seasons in Buffalo before splitting last year between Dallas and Vancouver, was signed to a low-risk, one-year deal for $4.0 million.
The 5'9" 30-year-old has played primarily on a line with Chris Stewart and Vladimir Sobotka, and has earned 11 points in 19 games despite having his ice time cut by over five minutes to 13:17 per game.
While the Blues' top line of Alexander Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie is really rolling this year, the time will soon come when opposing teams have adjusted, and the Blues will be especially glad to have a second scoring line built around Roy.
Drafted 17th overall in 2012 but eligible for this list since he wasn't signed until this past June, Tomas Hertl is the obvious choice for San Jose's most impactful new addition.
The 20-year-old Czech has achieved instant chemistry with extraordinary playmaker Joe Thornton and is currently leading the team—and all NHL rookies—with 12 goals.
Hertl's contributions go far beyond his scoring. His enthusiasm for the game has provided a spark to a team that has always had the skills but not always the intangible qualities required to win it all.
Despite a hefty free-agent contract that will carry a cap hit of $5.0 million for five years, few people are questioning the incredible contributions being provided by Valtteri Filppula.
Not only is the 29-year-old Finn second on the team with eight goals and third with 15 points, but he has also gone 3-of-3 on the shootout, is currently ninth in the NHL with a 22.9 percent shooting percentage, has drawn seven penalties, works the secondary penalty kill and is currently sporting a solid 53.7 percent faceoff percentage. Not bad.
And there's nothing boosting Filppula's incredible numbers. He's not playing with Steven Stamkos or Martin St. Louis. Instead, he is going up against the top opposing lines alongside the likes of Alex Killorn and Teddy Purcell.
Calm and poised, Filppula played seven full seasons in Detroit, once topping 40 points in his impressive 23-goal, 66-point 2011-12 season. He may achieve that again this year and potentially multiple times throughout his new deal with Tampa Bay.
Acquired from Los Angeles in a deal with Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin and a draft choice, Jonathan Bernier wasted virtually no time in taking Toronto's starting goalie job away from James Reimer.
The 25-year-old netminder, who was a first-round selection by the Kings in 2006, posted a .922 save percentage and a microscopic 1.88 goals-against average last season. So far this year, his .938 save percentage is seventh in the NHL, and his 2.05 goals-against average is eighth. Bernier also has quality starts in nine of his 11 starts and has stopped 49 of 52 shots in his two appearances in relief of Reimer.
The Leafs have tried a lot of different goalies over the years, and they seem to have finally found a tandem that is both effective and cost efficient. Bernier, for instance, carries a cap hit of just $2.9 million for the next two seasons, tied with Nazem Kadri for ninth on the team.
As usual, the Vancouver Canucks spent the offseason bolstering their forward depth, adding Brad Richardson, Ryan Stanton and local boy Mike Santorelli.
Santorelli is playing mostly with Chris Higgins and logging over 19 minutes a game, fifth among the team's forwards. He kills penalties, his 12 points are fourth on the team and his 55.7 percent faceoff percentage is 13th in the NHL. It's hard to believe that players like these are available for the league minimum salary.
The 27-year-old has previously played for Nashville, Florida and Winnipeg. His career highlight was a 20-goal, 41-point season in 2010-11 for Florida. These are marks Santorelli may eclipse if his current opportunities and performance both continue.
Mikhail Grabovski is a classic example of how a player's usage can affect both his performance and his statistics. When deployed in an offensive top-six fashion, Grabovski was successful enough to be rewarded with a long-term deal worth $5.5 million per season. When dramatically shifted into a defensive zone line against top opponents, his play was considered so poor that the deal was quickly bought out.
Washington was wise to see through the illusion created by his unusual usage and signed the 29-year-old Belarussian to a low-risk one-year, $3.0 million contract. The Caps have been rewarded with seven goals, 11 assists and 18 points, each of which ranks third on the team.
These totals haven't been boosted at all by Alexander Ovechkin, as Grabovski is mostly out there with players like Jason Chimera and Joel Ward. Grabovski also has two shootout goals and a nifty 53.7 percent faceoff percentage.
Grabovski has previously played for both Montreal and Toronto, and he topped 20 goals in his only three full seasons (of at least 60 games). Barring injury, he will doubtlessly do so again this year.
The Winnipeg Jets added both Devin Setoguchi and Michael Frolik this offseason, and it's hard to choose which one has had the greatest positive impact.
They both have four goals and 10 points, though Setoguchi's totals are boosted with more time in the offensive zone and two points on the power play.
Working in Setoguchi's favor are three shootout goals in three attempts, slightly better possession-based play in comparable playing conditions, as well as drawing a few more penalties.
On the flip side, Frolik kills penalties (albeit on the secondary unit), while Setoguchi does not. Frolik is also paid $2.33 million, compared to $3.0 million for Setoguchi.
Though it's admittedly a coin toss, I'll go with Frolik as the better acquisition. The 25-year-old Czech was drafted 10th overall in 2006 by Florida and began his career with back-to-back 20-goal, 40-point seasons. He made his way to Chicago, where he won a Stanley Cup last year, before being traded to Winnipeg for third- and fifth-round choices at the 2013 entry draft.