Ranking the 10 Biggest Roster Moves from the 2014 NHL Offseason So Far

Allan Mitchell@@Lowetide_Featured ColumnistAugust 1, 2014

Ranking the 10 Biggest Roster Moves from the 2014 NHL Offseason So Far

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NHL teams were aggressive this summer in an effort to improve their Stanley Cup chances. Free agency saw brisk action, and there were several blockbuster deals that should change fortunes in 2014-15.

    Several teams stayed away from the action due to cap concerns. Fans may see some late moves before training camp by those teams as they tinker with their roster.

    Here are the 10 biggest roster moves of the 2014 offseason and their impact on NHL teams.

10. Edmonton Oilers Sign Mark Fayne

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    Andy Marlin/Getty Images

    The Acquisition

    The Edmonton Oilers scored early in free agency, signing defenseman Mark Fayne July 1. NHL.com covered the signing by GM Craig MacTavish. 

     

    The Role

    Fayne fits Edmonton's needs like a glove. He's a bigger, veteran defenseman who can cover the zone well and get the puck going in a good direction.

    The NHL.com article quotes MacTavish on the acquisition: "With Mark Fayne, it brings us a guy that really makes simple plays with the puck but makes them highly effectively He's a very good defender. I think he fits into that role."

     

    The Impact

    Edmonton lacks veteran defensive help, and Fayne's qualifications for the role are well documented, courtesy of Extra Skater. Fayne will play heavy minutes at even strength and on the penalty kill, and it should make a difference.

9. Vancouver Canucks Sign Ryan Miller

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The Acquisition

    The Vancouver Canucks solved their goalie issues by signing free agent Ryan Miller, as Kevin Woodley of NHL.com confirms. 

     

    The Role

    Miller is an established, reliable No. 1 goaltender. His postseason performance in St. Louis may have hurt his reputation, but a strong recovery season will have his value back to Buffalo levels within a year.

     

    The Impact

    Vancouver can rely on him all season and into the playoffs as its go-to guy, or it can cash him in at the deadline for a ransom. Miller may be at the journeyman portion of his career, but his value is strong.

8. Pittsburgh Penguins Trade James Neal for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    The Acquisition

    The Pittsburgh Penguins traded scoring-winger James Neal to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Dan Rosen of NHL.com covered the story. 

     

    The Role

    Pittsburgh's problem a year ago pertained to its forward depth. Despite Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and others, there wasn't enough depth to compete with the best teams. In the Rosen article, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford talks about what the two new acquisitions bring to the team: "I probably talked to about 15 teams; those calls were mostly initiated by them. I had a few offers. We like Hornqvist; he's an all-around player. We like Spaling; he can play all three positions."

     

    The Impact

    The Penguins depth chart is much deeper than it was a year ago. Spaling gives them all kinds of options, and there's a good chance Pittsburgh emerges as an impact team in 2014-15. 

7. New York Islanders Sign Jaroslav Halak

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Acquisition

    The New York Islanders solved their long-standing goaltending problems by trading for the rights to Jaroslav Halak, subsequently signing him. Rory Boylen of The Hockey News covered the trade, and the Islanders announced the signing on their website.

     

    The Role

    Halak is a quality No. 1 goalie. The Islanders had poor goaltending in 2013-14 and did little to improve their plight. The team was middle of the pack in shots-against per game but near the bottom of the league in goals-against per game. 

     

    The Impact

    New York's depth chart is much stronger this season, with Halak and Chad Johnson now holding fort in net. This represents an impressive upgrade for GM Garth Snow and the Islanders.

6. Chicago Blackhawks Sign Free Agent Brad Richards

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    The Acquisition

    The Chicago Blackhawks signed veteran center Brad Richards during free agency. Bob Verdi, the team's historian, interviewed Richards on its website about the signing. 

     

    The Role

    Richards is a capable two-way center and a major addition to a Stanley Cup contender. He can play in any role required and impact the game.

     

    The Impact

    The Blackhawks depth chart improved markedly with the addition of Richards. He'll likely play an offensive role with the team and should post some impressive scoring numbers.

5. Anaheim Ducks Acquire Ryan Kesler

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    Jonathan Hayward/Associated Press

    The Acquisition

    The Anaheim Ducks acquired Ryan Kesler for a combination of picks and players. Dan Rosen delivered the details for NHL.com. 

     

    The Role

    The Ducks will use Kesler to help them compete with the best teams in the Western Conference at the center position. Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis are powerhouse teams down the middle, and adding Kesler's two-way ability to Ryan Getzlaf makes the Ducks their equal. 

     

    The Impact

    The Anaheim depth chart at center is one of the strongest parts of the team. Kesler and Getzlaf should be able to match up against the best of the West and outscore them consistently. The Ducks can play power versus power in 2014-15 and win doing it.

4. Minnesota Wild Sign Thomas Vanek

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Acquisition

    The Minnesota Wild signed free-agent winger Thomas Vanek. Dan Myers of NHL.com gave the details on the signing.

     

    The Role

    Vanek is a quality offensive player who can impact the game at even strength and on the power play. The most unique thing about Vanek is that he's consistent: Teams can count on 20 goals or more a season, even in the lockout year of 2012-13.

     

    The Impact

    The Wild depth chart shows impressive offense at the top. With Vanek, there's another trigger man for a team that had only two players over 15 goals a year ago. 

3. Dallas Stars Acquire Jason Spezza

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Acquisition

    The Dallas Stars acquired center Jason Spezza in a multiplayer deal from the Ottawa Senators, as this NHL.com story confirms. 

     

    The Role

    Spezza is a brilliant offensive player and instantly impacts the power play. He was Ottawa's franchise player for several years and led them to a Stanley Cup Final appearance. His role is offensive center, delivering a point per game in his NHL career.

     

    The Impact

    The Stars depth chart has changed tremendously in two summers. In adding Spezza to Tyler Seguin, Dallas is now capable of playing the best in the conference to a tie. Considering how poor it was at the position before the Seguin trade, that's tremendous progress.

2. Marian Gaborik Signs with the Los Angeles Kings

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Acquisition

    The Los Angeles Kings signed winger Marian Gaborik to a long-term deal. Helene Elliott and Lance Pugmire wrote a detailed story on the signing in the Los Angeles Times

     

    The Role

    Gaborik was a perfect fit after the deadline trade that saw him arrive from Columbus. That deal now looks like an extreme bargain after the Stanley Cup victory in the spring.

     

    The Impact

    Los Angeles was a formidable team before the acquisition of Gaborik, but it didn't have enough scorers. Adding the brilliantly skilled winger makes the Kings even stronger in 2014-15.

1. St. Louis Blues Sign Free Agent Paul Stastny

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    The Acquisition

    The St. Louis Blues signed free-agent center Paul Stastny July 1, as indicated in this NHL.com article by Louie Korac.

     

    The Role

    The Blues acquired Stastny to give them scoring punch. In the very difficult Western Conference, the top clubs have several snipers. St. Louis dressed one 30-goal scorer a year ago and four more who posted more than 20, but it wasn't enough to get past the Chicago Blackhawks.

     

    The Impact

    Stastny gives the Blues two strong scoring lines, and the depth chart hints three are possible. This team is built to win the Stanley Cup, and if it does in 2015, fans can look back to the Stastny signing as a key turning point. 

     

    Stats via NHL.com and HockeyDB.com unless otherwise noted. Depth charts via CapGeek.