Regrading the Biggest Moves of the 2015 NHL Offseason
The 2015 NHL offseason saw several significant moves take place. Among the biggest trades was the Pittsburgh Penguins acquiring right wing Phil Kessel (pictured above) from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals signing right wing Justin Williams was among the top free-agent signings.
On July 17, Bleacher Report's Allan Mitchell ranked the 10 biggest roster moves of the summer. Now past the midpoint of the 2015-16 season, it's worthwhile to re-evaluate those moves to see how they panned out. Some of them worked out, and some didn't.
With the benefit of hindsight, here's a regrading of last summer's biggest NHL moves. We'll compare the expectations from those moves with the player's actual impact on the roster of his new team. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section below.
Edmonton Oilers Draft Connor McDavid 1st Overall
The deal: During the 2015 NHL draft, the Edmonton Oilers selected center Connor McDavid with the No. 1 pick.
Expectation: Edmonton expected McDavid, considered the best player selected first overall since Sidney Crosby a decade earlier, to have an immediate impact for the team. Many predicted him as the front-runner for the 2016 Calder Memorial Trophy.
Performance to date: With 12 points in his first 13 games, McDavid was among the top five rookie scorers. Since November 3, however, he's been sidelined by a broken clavicle and is not expected to return until February. Partially due to McDavid's lengthy absence, the Oilers are once again at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Grade: (Incomplete) Despite McDavid's injury, he's still considered a franchise player for the Oilers. We'll have to wait until next season to properly evaluate his play over a full NHL season.
Anaheim Ducks Acquire Carl Hagelin
Expectation: Anaheim expected Hagelin's speed, two-way game and versatility to bolster the Ducks' forward depth. Many projected the Ducks as Stanley Cup finalists in 2016 and pegged Hagelin as a key piece of the championship puzzle.
Performance in 2015-16: Hagelin struggled during his 43-game tenure with the Ducks, managing only 12 points. On January 16, the Ducks shipped him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for left wing David Perron and defenseman Adam Clendening. As for Etem, he didn't last long with the Rangers. On January 8, he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks.
Grade: (F) Hagelin-for-Etem was originally ranked as the eighth-biggest roster move of the offseason. Their respective poor performances and short tenures with the Ducks and Rangers make this deal the worst of the 2015 offseason.
Calgary Flames Acquire Dougie Hamilton
The trade: On June 26, 2015, the Calgary Flames traded their first-round pick (15th overall) and two second-round picks in the 2015 NHL draft to the Boston Bruins for defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
Expectation: The 22-year-old Hamilton was coming off an impressive 42-point performance with the Bruins in 2014-15. The 6'6", 210-pounder is a future franchise defenseman. Calgary assumed he'd quickly and smoothly fit into its defensive corps, perhaps skating on the top pair alongside captain Mark Giordano.
Performance in 2015-16: The Flames got off to a horrible start, partially due to Hamilton struggling to adjust to a new team and city. At one point, he was dropped to the third pairing. Since early December, however, Hamilton's performance is improving. He netted 14 of his 19 points during that stretch and moved into the second pairing.
Grade: (C-minus) Had Hamilton not stepped up his game, the grade for this trade would've been lower. Signed to a six-year, $34.5 million contract, he'll have plenty of time to improve into a potential top-two defenseman with the Flames.
Penguins Acquire Phil Kessel
The Trade: On July 1, 2015, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded right wing Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a multi-player deal.
Expectation: A five-time 30-goal scorer, Kessel should have thrived with the Penguins and significantly bolstered their offense. Skating alongside skilled playmakers like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, some predicted that Kessel would snipe 40-plus goals this season.
Performance in 2015-16: So far, Kessel's been a bust for the Penguins. He's struggled alongside Crosby and Malkin, bouncing around the lineup. At his current rate of production, he might not reach 25 goals this season.
Grade: (C-minus) While Kessel isn't a total bust, he's failed to substantially improve the Penguins offense. He'll have to step it up over the remainder of this season.
Detroit Red Wings Sign Mike Green
The deal: On July 1, 2015, the Detroit Red Wings signed free-agent defenseman Mike Green to a three-year contract.
Expectation: Due to his experience, many anticipated that Green would fit in quickly with the Wings' veteran defensive corps. Detroit hoped his offensive skills would boost its power play but didn't expect him to see top-pairing duty.
Performance in 2015-16: Green, 30, is filling a second-pairing role with the Wings. While his offensive stats are down compared to last season's 45-point effort, he's on pace for over 30 points. Among Wings blueliners, he's the leading scorer. Green is also among the club's power-play point leaders.
Grade: (C-plus) Green's done exactly what was expected of him. The only sticking point is the amount the Red Wings paid for his services. With a $6 million cap hit, Green is making too much for a second-pairing rearguard, taking away valuable cap space for other signings.
Columbus Blue Jackets Acquire Brandon Saad
The trade: On June 30, 2015, the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired left wing Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks in a blockbuster multi-player trade. The Jackets subsequently signed the restricted free agent to a six-year contract.
Expectation: Many anticipated Saad would provide an immediate boost to the Blue Jackets' scoring depth. Given Columbus' promising youth, it looked upon Saad to play a significant role in what was supposed to be a breakout season for the Jackets.
Performance in 2015-16: It's been a disastrous season for the Blue Jackets, however. Despite the upheaval, Saad is putting up decent numbers. The 23-year-old is on pace for around 27 goals and 54 points and is among the Jackets' offensive leaders. Still, there's the feeling Saad could've had more of a positive impact.
Grade: (B-minus) As the Blue Jackets attempt to recover from this horrible season, Saad should continue to play a key role in their future. His best years are still ahead of him.
Dallas Stars Acquire Patrick Sharp
The trade: On July 10, 2015, the Dallas Stars shipped defenseman Trevor Daley and center Ryan Garbutt to the Chicago Blackhawks for left wing Patrick Sharp and blueliner Stephen Johns.
Expectation: Dallas acquired Sharp to provide secondary scoring depth and defensive experience at forward. The young Stars also hoped they could benefit from Sharp's years of championship experience.
Grade: (B) Sharp's been a welcome addition to the Stars. His experience and leadership are key factors behind their rise in the Western Conference standings.
Los Angeles Kings Acquire Milan Lucic
The trade: On June 26, 2015, the Los Angeles Kings traded goaltender Martin Jones, prospect defenseman Colin Miller and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft to the Boston Bruins for left wing Milan Lucic.
Expectation: A big power forward with considerable playoff experience, the 6'3", 233-pound Lucic was a valuable addition to the Kings offense. Los Angeles expected him to offset the declining production of captain Dustin Brown and the soon-to-be-bought-out Mike Richards.
Performance in 2015-16: After several games of adjustment early in the season, Lucic is now among the Kings' top scorers. He leads the club with five game-winning goals. He's brought more size and skill to an already big and talented roster.
Grade: (B-plus). Lucic is a physical clutch performer for the Kings. He's a key reason why they're among the best teams in the Western Conference.
Washington Capitals Add Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie
The deals: On July 1, 2015, the Washington Capitals signed free-agent right wing Justin Williams to a two-year contract. The following day, the Capitals shipped right wing Troy Brouwer, a prospect and a 2016 third-round draft pick to the St. Louis Blues for right wing T.J. Oshie.
Expectation: The Capitals brought in Williams and Oshie to address the team's lack of skilled depth at right wing. They viewed Williams' years of playoff experience, including Stanley Cup titles with Carolina and Los Angeles, as crucial to helping them overcome their woeful playoff record.
Performance in 2015-16: Williams and Oshie are fitting in well with their new club, ranking among the Capitals' leading scorers. The 34-year-old Williams is on pace for his best season since 2011-12. Oshie's offensive numbers are down slightly, but he's among their best defensive forwards.
Re-ranking: (B-plus) Williams and Oshie are key reasons behind the Capitals' rise to the top of the NHL's overall standings. They turned what was once a roster weakness into a strength. That should bolster the club's championship hopes.
Buffalo Sabres Acquire Ryan O'Reilly
The trade: On June 26, 2015, the Buffalo Sabres shipped several young players (including center Mikhail Grigorenko) and a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft to the Colorado Avalanche for center Ryan O'Reilly and left wing Jamie McGinn.
Expectation: After signing O'Reilly to a seven-year contract extension, the Sabres looked to him to lead the rebuilding Sabres at both ends of the rink. They hoped the 24-year-old would have an immediate positive impact with his new club.
Performance in 2015-16: In his first season with the Sabres, O'Reilly is exceeding expectations. He leads the club in several offensive categories. That includes points, as he's on pace for a career high in that category. He's also the Sabres' top defensive forward.
Grade: (A): While the Sabres are still rebuilding, they're a better team this season because of O'Reilly. He's delivered as expected on all fronts and should continue to play a big role in the Sabres' future.
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