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National Hockey League: 2011/2012 Offseason Report Cards for All 30 NHL Teams

Jake WareCorrespondent IIIAugust 6, 2011

National Hockey League: 2011/2012 Offseason Report Cards for All 30 NHL Teams

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    Another season is behind us, and hockey fans and players alike have begun to turn their sights to the year ahead. A lot of changes happened this past offseason, and teams have changed because of them.

    In many aspects, the league has a different look to earlier seasons. Many teams have improved, and many have done the opposite. Each team has their pros and cons from this offseason; we weigh them up below.

    Here is every team's offseason report card for the 2011/2012 transfer season.

Anaheim Ducks

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    Acquired: B-

    Kurtis Foster, Andrew Gordon, Bryan Rodney, Brian McGrattan, Jeff Deslauriers, Andrew Cogliano

    Kurtis Foster was a good addition to a blue line that could use him. Andrew Gordon was a great signing, real potential there to be a good producer. The Caps will be upset to lose him. Deslauriers is a solid goaltending signing.

     

    Draft Picks: A-

    Rikard Rakell, John Gibson, William Karlsson, Joseph Cramarossa, Andy Wielinski, Max Friberg, Josh Manson

    Rakell was a good choice with the top pick, he's a good leader and a hard worker. Gibson and Karlsson also come with great value in the second round. Friberg was a surprising drop and he is a good pick that late in the draft. A pretty good all-round draft for the Ducks.

     

    Overall Grade: B+

    The Anaheim Ducks did have a pretty good offseason, but they are no closer to winning a Stanley Cup. They managed to avoid losing any big-time free agents, but they failed to bring any in. The Ducks obviously want to get back to the top, but they are doing it in small steps. A good draft class comes in, and they will help eventually, but another legitimate cup run is at least a few seasons away for the Ducks.


Boston Bruins

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    Acquired: C+

    Benoit Pouliot, Joe Corvo

    Didn't do much because they didn't need to. The signing of Pouliot is a hugely underrated one, he could be a real dark horse going into next season. Tomas Kaberle disappointed and they let him walk, but they got back a good replacement in Joe Corvo through a trade with Carolina.

     

    Draft Picks: B

    Dougie Hamilton, Alex Khokhlachev, Anthony Camara, Brian Ferlin, Rob O'Gara, Lars Volden

    Opened very well, getting Hamilton and Khokhlachev, too great prospects who really boost this team's pool. Hamilton will be an imposing partner/replacement for Zdeno Chara, while "Koko" brings a lot of energy to the game and will be a useful second or third-line scorer. Lot of risks taken in later rounds, but if those risks pay off the Bruins will have some great players on their hands.

     

    Overall Grade: B+

    The Bruins didn't do much because, as mentioned, there weren't many needs. Michael Ryder and Mark Recchi leave, but Pouliot is a great replacement and rookie Jordan Caron is ready to step up. A good offseason for the Bruins puts them in a good position for a repeat.


Buffalo Sabres

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    Acquired: A+

    Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik, Christian Ehrhoff, Ville Leino, Drew MacIntyre

    New owner Terry Pegula did a great job this offseason. He started off with getting an absolute steal before the draft, getting Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a second rounder for a prospect and a third-pairing defenseman. He signed Christian Ehrhoff to a cheap $4 million a year over 10 years, then slightly overpaid for Ville Leino but you have to admire the Sabres' resolve at wanting their man and going out and getting him. A great job.

     

    Draft Picks: A - 

    Joel Armia, Daniel Catenacci, Colin Jacobs, Alex Lepkowski, Nathan Lieuwen, Brad Navin

    The top three picks are all great NHL prospects, and they all could have gone higher than the Sabres were able to draft them. The same goes for Nathan Lieuwen, who is overaged but still has potential, and who will step into the AHL right away. Armia was an especially good pick. Adds size as well as skill. A superstar in the making.

     

    Overall Grade: A+

    The Sabres get a grade this good for one reason: They have put themselves in position to make a cup run. With Ryan Miller complemented with a defensive corps that now includes Regehr, Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers, the Sabres won't give up many goals, but they now build on their offense with Leino. A terrific offseason for Terry Pegula and the Buffalo Sabres.


Calgary Flames

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    Acquired: D

    Chris Butler, Paul Byron, Pierre-Luc Letorneau-Leblond, Roman Horak

    The main reason this gets a D is that Calgary was ripped off in the Robyn Regehr trade. While they may shed Ales Kotalik's salary, they barely got anything in a deal for a good player. In fact, they gave up a good draft pick. They also lost Tim Erixon in a separate trade. No major free agents coming in, only thug Letorneau-Leblond through, who the New Jersey Devils will be pleased to be rid of after this. A tough guy going after a 20-year-old Swede in his second NHL game... Real mature.

     

    Draft Picks: B+

    Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Tyler Wotherspoon, John Gaudreau, Laurent Brossolt

    The top four picks are real talents, and the last guy is a development project. Baertschi is a great long-term replacement for Jarome Iginla, while Granlund and Wotherspoon project as solid NHLers. A decent draft by the Calgary Flames, having lost picks in bad trades.

     

    Overall Grade: C-

    The Flames appear to be in a rebuilding stage, and they need to be. Their players are getting older and there are some good young prospects in the system. Now is a time where you want to stock up on draft picks, especially in the deep 2012 class. This will be a tough year for the Flames, but a higher pick is likely ahead. 


Carolina Hurricanes

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    Acquired: A-

    Brian Boucher, Tim Brent, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Tomas Kaberle

    I like Carolina's acquisitions because they went out in free agency and signed to their needs. They needed a top-tier backup goalie and a checking line center and they got them in Boucher and Brent. They also went out and added more star power to their lineup with Ponikarovsky and Kaberle. The Russian could be Eric Staal's new winger, while the Czech will come straight in and be the producing offensive defenseman that the team needs.

     

    Draft Picks: B-

    Ryan Murphy, Victor Rask, Keegan Lowe, Gregory Hofmann, Matt Mahalak, Brody Sutter

    Ryan Murphy is a good pick in the first round. He plays a very similar game to Tomas Kaberle and is a long-term replacement. Victor Rask is a great pickup in the second round. Once considered to be a Top 10 pick, his stock dropped with injuries this season. It's also good to see seventh rounder Brody Sutter join his cousins Brandon and Brett in Carolina.

     

    Overall Grade: C

    I really like what the Hurricanes did, but it's not about how good you can perform in the offseason, it's about how well you perform in season. The Carolina Hurricanes have to ask themselves: "Have we done enough to make the playoffs this season." I'm not sure.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    Acquired: B+

    Rostislav Olesz, Steve Montador, Andrew Brunette, Daniel Carcillo, Jamal Mayers, Brett MacLean, Sean O'Donnell, Sami Lepisto

    If there is one thing the Chicago Blackhawks did this offseason, it was get tougher. Carcillo, Mayers, Brunette, Montador and O'Donnell all bring good physical play to the bottom two lines and that is going to really benefit them. Olesz comes in after Brian Campbell's salary was dumped in Florida, but he could bring some scoring to the second line. Lepisto comes in as a hugely underrated defenseman, good signing.

     

    Draft Picks: A

    Mark McNeill, Phillip Danault, Adam Clendening, Brandon Saad, Michael Paliotta, Klas Dahlbeck, Maxim Shalunov, Andrew Shaw, Sam Jardine, Alex Broadhurst, Johan Mattsson

    The Blackhawks' top four from this draft look really good (when you have two first rounders and two second rounders they're supposed too...). McNeill and Danault are both great character guys, while Clendening is a good defenseman and Saad could easily have gone in the first round. Shalunov is a steal in the fourth round. 

     

    Overall Grade: A-

    Nice little offseason the Blackhawks put together. They looked at where they needed to improve and they did, getting a lot tougher on the bottom-six forwards to complement their stars. Expect them to make a good cup run again.

Colorado Avalanche

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    Acquired: B-

    Semyon Varlamov, Shane O'Brien, JS Giguere, Chuck Kobasew, Joakim Lindström

    I just don't know whether the Colorado Avalanche did enough to turn their fortunes of last season around. "Varly" was a good pickup, and he'll be this franchise's top goalie for a while, but Shane O'Brien is just a good role-player signing. I would be surprised if the Avalanche are done this offseason. Good job signing the Swedish Elite League's top scorer Lindström.

     

    Draft Picks: B-

    Gabriel Landeskog, Duncan Siemens, Joachim Nermark, Garrett Meurs, Gabriel Beaupre, Dillon Donnelly

    Obviously, the top two are great pickups. Landeskog is the new Peter Forsberg, and could be the best player out of this draft. Nermark is a really good pickup in the fourth round as well. I do feel, though, that the rest of the players are high-rish, low-reward guys. Only time will tell. 

     

    Overall Grade: C-

    Semyon Varlamov is a great goalie, and I'm a huge fan, but you will really have to back up giving up so much for him next season. If the Colorado Avalanche have even an average season next year, the Washington Capitals will be sitting there with a Top 10 pick in both the first and second rounds along with their own first rounder. A big risk for Greg Sherman and co. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Acquired: A

    Jeff Carter, James Wisniewski, Andrew Joudrey, Mark Dekanich, Alexandre Giroux, Radek Martinek, Martin St Pierre, Ryan Russell, Cody Bass 

    Jeff Carter comes in and fills a huge need as Rick Nash's new center, while James Wisniewski does the same as an offensive defenseman. Some interesting signings later on: Alex Giroux could fill a third-line left wing role, Martin St. Pierre may win a roster spot and Radek Martinek is a solid pickup.

     

    Draft Picks: A-

    Boone Jenner, TJ Tynan, Mike Reilly, Seth Ambroz, Lukas Sedlak, Anton Forsberg

    The Blue Jackets get such a high grade because of what they managed to do even without having a first rounder. Jenner is a really good pickup in the second round, Tynan was a steal in the third, as was Ambroz in the fifth and Forsberg could turn some heads out of the seventh. A really good looking draft pool, better than many teams with high first rounders. 

     

    Overall Grade: A

    Look out, Columbus is coming. They did a really good job in free agency and addressed big needs. Another good draft to complement a prospect pool that includes Ryan Johansen and John Moore. This is not the year. Next year might be.


Dallas Stars

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    Acquired: A-

    Michael Ryder, Radek Dvorak, Vernon Fiddler, Sheldon Souray, Adam Pardy, Jake Dowell

    A really good series of signings for the Stars based on going after players that fill specific needs. Ryder and Dvorak were brought in to try to carry the burden of Richards' departure, while Fiddler can be a good third-line center. New coach Glen Gulutzan comes in with nothing to lose, but he has proven his worth with the Texas Stars. Deserves to be in the NHL.


    Draft Picks: B

    Jamie Oleksiak, Brett Ritchie, Emil Molin, Troy Vance, Matej Stransky, Jyrki Jokkipakka

    The top three picks were all solid for the Stars, and Jokkipakka could be a steal in the seventh round. Oleksiak will be a franchise player, and the Bruins showed where a big, physical defenseman can get you. 


    Overall Grade: B+

    A big turnover this season for the Stars, but losing Richards might just offset all the signings. Gulutzan has worked wonders in the past, good chance he'll be able to again. Only time will tell.


Detroit Red Wings

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    Acquired: B

    Ty Conklin, Mike Commodore, Ian White

    Actually a pretty good offseason, despite first appearances. They signed a backup goalie after the retirement of Chris Osgood. Also boosted defensive options, and will look a lot stronger back there next year. No need for new forwards with some great young prospects ready to make the next step.

     

    Draft Picks: B

    Tomas Jurco, Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, Alan Quine, Marek Tvrdon, Phillipe Hudon, Mattias Bäckman, Richard Nedomlel, Alexei Marchenko

    Terrific job getting Tomas Jurco in the second, and Ouellet and Sproul could also be steals. Some risks taken further back, but a lot of the picks are low-risk, high-reward players who can will be able to benefit the team somewhere down the road.

     

    Overall Grade: B

    Solid offseason for the Wings. Nothing too flashy, but definitely getting the job done. With the new acquisitions they've put themselves in position to be a title contender next year, as they've only added talent to a group already high on it. Tomas Jurco and Xavier Ouellet were really good picks and they help build for the future.

     


Edmonton Oilers

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    Acquired: A-

    Eric Belanger, Ben Eager, Josh Green, Darcy Hordichuk, Ryan Smyth, Cam Barker, Andy Sutton, Yann Danis

    The Oilers did a great job in free agency bringing in players to complement their outrageously talented young core. Eager, Green, Hordichuk, Smyth and Sutton are all hard-nosed players who, maybe with the exception of Smyth (trade), will fit onto the bottom six. Belanger brings great veteran experience, while Cam Barker is a young defenseman who is a good NHL-level player. Nice job.

    Draft Picks: A+

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Samu Perhonen, Travis Ewanyk, Dillon Simpson, Tobias Rieder, Martin Gernat, Frans Tuohimaa

    You would think that a team with two first rounders and the first overall pick should be getting a grade this high, but the truth is it is very easy for those teams to get derailed and end up with bad players from the later rounds. The Oilers didn't. The top four picks are all great, great prospects, and they all have a good chance at making NHL roster one day. Perhonen could have been a first rounder, good goalie.

    Overall Grade: A

    The Edmonton Oilers have put themselves back on track to the Stanley Cup. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins marks the end of a long rebuild, and now the Oilers will be looking at taking a run at the playoffs. Oilers fans should expect another high pick this year, but 2012-13 will be a big year for them, when their youngsters will no longer be youngsters. Except maybe RNH..

     


Florida Panthers

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    Acquired: A+

    Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Ed Jovanovski, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim, Scottie Upshall, Nolan Yonkman, Marcel Goc, Jose Theodore, Matt Bradley, Keith Seabrook, Angelo Esposito, Sergei Shirokov

    ... enough said ...

     

    Draft Picks: A

    Jonathan Huberdeau, Rocco Grimaldi, Rasmus Bengtsson, Vincent Trocheck, Logan Shaw, Jonathan Racine, Kyle Rau, Yaroslav Kosov, Ed Wittchow, Iiro Pakarinen

    The Panthers were smart, passing on Adam Larsson and taking Jonathan Huberdeau at third overall. He's going to lead their offense for a long time and he could be a 100-point man eventually. Grimaldi and Bengtsson were also really good picks in the second, and Kosov in the fifth was an excellent selection. The others are so-so.

     

    Overall Grade: A+

    Acquiring Campbell, Kopecky and Versteeg through trade would have been a good offseason in its own right. Then the Panthers went out and got all those free agents to create an all-of-a-sudden fantastic team. The older guys will complement the best prospect pool in the NHL beautifully. The future is bright in Florida.


Los Angeles Kings

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    Acquired: B-

    Mike Richards, Colin Fraser, Simon Gagne

    Richards was obviously the big splash. Tough to have to lose Wayne Simmonds and top prospect Brayden Schenn, but Richards could lead this franchise to a cup. Will create a great one-two punch with Anze Kopitar. Simon Gagne is a good pick-up too, Richards could bring him back to his old scoring ways.

     

    Draft Picks: C-

    Christopher Gibson, Andy Andreoff, Nick Shore, Michael Mersch, Joel Lowry, Michael Schumacher

    Chris Gibson could have gone in the first round, but he dropped to the second. The Kings didn't need a goalie, though. Nick Shore could surprise from the third round. Schumacher in the seventh has potential. The rest are big risks. 

     

    Overall Grade: B-

    The Kings did a good job bringing in players, but did not improve their prospect pool enough having traded away one of the league's top prospects. Only time will tell now.



Minnesota Wild

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    Acquired: B

    David McIntyre, Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, Darroll Powe, Dany Heatley, Jeff Taffe, Colton Gillies, Mike Lundin

    The Dany Heatley and Martin Havlat trade was an interesting one, but Havlat is a better player so the Wild pick up minus points there. The Brent Burns trade, though, which netted Setoguchi, super-prospect Charlie Coyle and a first rounder, was well worked by the Wild. Definitely bonus points there. Decent signings, will fill spots on bottom lines. 

     

    Draft Picks: A

    Jonas Brodin, Zack Phillips, Mario Lucia, Nick Seeler, Stephen Michalek, Tyler Graovac

    Great job in the first round to get two great players. Phillips is Heatley's future center, while Swede Brodin is a better replacement for Burns. They were lucky to get local boy Lucia in second round. You could even count Coyle onto this list, which makes it even more impressive.

     

    Overall Grade: A+

    The Wild appear to be in a rebuild. They stocked up on prospects big time, and all of a sudden have one of the best pools in the league. Heatley is a superstar, and the Wild will build around him. You also can't forget about Mikael Granlund, one of the league's top prospects, who should come over a season from now. When all of these youngsters develop, the Wild will be very strong.

Montreal Canadiens

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    Acquired: C-

    Peter Budaj, Erik Cole, Nathan Lawson, Mike Blunden, Mark Mitera

    The Montreal Canadiens needed to get tougher. They didn't. Peter Budaj comes in as Carey Price's new backup, and Erik Cole will be a good scorer for them, but they failed to add some physical forwards on the bottom lines and they failed to replace a lot of defenceman.

     

    Draft Picks: B-

    Nathan Beaulieu, Josiah Didier, Olivier Archambault, Magnus Nygren, Darren Dietz, Daniel Pribyl, Colin Sullivan

    With no second or third rounders, Nathan Beaulieu is obviously the big hope. A solid pickup at 17th overall. Archambault and Nygren have a lot of potential and project to be good NHLers when they eventually make the jump.

     

    Overall Grade: D+

    The Canadiens didn't do enough while the teams around them did. They will miss the playoffs.

Nashville Predators

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    Acquired: B-

    Brodie Dupont, Robert Slaney, Brett Lebda, Niclas Bergfors, Kyle Wilson, Zach Stortini, Tyler Sloan

    The Nashville Predators needed a scorer, and they did their best to get one. Bergfors is a player who still has a lot of potential despite spending a tough couple of seasons in the Southeast. He could well be the dark-horse in free agency. Kyle Wilson is also a good signing and could surprise. Brett Lebda (trade) and Zach Stortini will fill important roles well. Tyler Sloan will be the seventh defenseman.

     

    Draft Picks: B-

    Magnus Hellberg, Miikka Salomaki, Josh Shalla, Garrett Noonan, Simon Karlsson, Chase Balisy, Brent Andrews

    Hellberg and Salomaki are a great pair of second rounders who have a lot of potential. They're both low-risk, high-reward guys, especially Salomaki who is a great character guy. Karlsson and Balisy are boom or bust, but good picks where they were.

     

    Overall Grade: B-

    The big price for the Nashville Predators was obviously re-signing Shea Weber, and they managed to do that. They will now continue to build their team around him and Mike Fisher. Bergfors was another bright spot in a pretty good offseason for the Preds. 

New Jersey Devils

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    Acquired: D

    Maxim Noreau, Cam Janssen, Eric Boulton

    Obviously, the Devils are severely bound by the fact that they have to account for Ilya Kovalchuk's monster contract. Couple that with the fact that you still have to re-sign Zach Parise, and you have a difficult free agency to get through. Noreau is a good trade pickup, but Janssen and Boulton are role players at best.

     

    Draft Picks: A-

    Adam Larsson, Blake Coleman, Reid Boucher, Blake Pietilla, Reece Scarlett, Patrick Daly 

    To get Adam Larsson, arguably the best player available in the draft, at fourth overall is a steal. It didn't stop there, as the Devils made some great picks in the later rounds with Reid Boucher and Reece Scarlett. Solid draft all around.

     

    Overall Grade: B+

    The Devils get a grade this high for one reason: Adam Larsson. He has good size and likes to use it. Best defenseman to come out of Sweden since Victor Hedman, and he's probably better. A really lucky pick at No. 4. Ignore free agency and it's a great offseason for the Devils.

New York Islanders

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    Acquired: C

    Marty Reasoner, Trevor Frischmon, Tim Wallace, Brian Rolston

    With Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Strome added to the equation, the Islanders continue to build on their highly skilled Top Six. They did a good job complementing them with some third-liners in Rolston and Reasoner. What they failed to do was to add some good toughness to those top two lines. A trade would be helpful.

     

    Draft Picks: B+

    Ryan Strome, Scott Mayfield, Johan Sundström, Andrej Pedan, Robbie Russo, John Persson, Brendan Kitchon, Mitchell Theoret

    The Islanders did a great job landing the top three that they did. Sundström is a power forward in the making, and he could be the man I mentioned that the Isles need. With Strome, the Isles create an awesome one-two punch with Tavares, and Mayfield is a future franchise defenseman who could have been a Top 15 pick.

     

    Overall Grade: B+

    The Islanders did a good job in the draft, but their NHL acquisitions could have been better. It's tough to say where they'll end up next season, but I do think another high pick is ahead. Obviously, the biggest news of the offseason is that the Nassau County vote was rejected. What does the future hold for the New York Islanders organization?

New York Rangers

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    Acquired: A+

    Andreas Thuresson, Michael Rupp, Tim Erixon, Brad Richards

    Great job going out and getting Brad Richards. He'll be an 80 to 90 point man in New York, and could make Marian Gaborik a 40-goal man again. Maybe even better job getting Tim Erixon through trade. One of the league's top prospects comes back to where he was born and the Swede will be an instant success in NYR.

     

    Draft Picks: B-

    JT Miller, Steven Fogarty, Michael St Croix, Shane McColgan, Samuel Noreau, Peter Ceresnak

    Big risk taking Miller. Many would say reach pick. He's a heart and soul guy, but the Rangers have those guys already and it's tough to say whether he'll ever be more than a third liner. Otherwise, St Croix, McColgan and Noreau are all great picks where they got them. A nice haul in the later rounds.

     

    Overall Grade: A+

    Simply because the Rangers have put themselves in a great position for future continued success, they get an A+. Richards is around for the next nine years, and that is definitely a plus. You also don't want to forget about the important re-signings of Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle.

Ottawa Senators

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    Acquired: C+

    Nikita Filatov, Mike McKenna, Zenon Konopka, Mark Parrish, Tim Conboy, Lee Sweatt

    A good trade brought Nikita Filatov in cheaply. He is still a bright prospect if you can reel him in and nurture him correctly. The rest are players brought in to fill bottom-line roles on the team. Konopka is a good pickup and has developed into important player for his team in recent seasons.

     

    Draft Picks: A+

    Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen, Matt Puempel, Shane Prince, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Fredrik Claesson, Darren Kramer, Max McCormick, Jordan Fransoo, Ryan Dzingel

    With their three first rounders, the Senators made a big splash at the forward position, picking up three. Mika Zibanejad is obviously the big prize, an uber-talented Swede with a lot of potential. He could play as soon as next season. Noesen and Puempel are his future wingers, Prince and Pageau will eventually be battling it out for a center spot. Max McCormick could be a great player, too.

     

    Overall Grade: A-

    The Ottawa Senators are in the middle of a smart rebuild, and this was the big step. A radically upgraded prospect pool filled with players ready to play sooner rather than later (including Filatov). Expect big things from Ottawa in the not-so-distant future. 

Philadelphia Flyers

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    Acquired: B

    Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Jaromir Jagr, Max Talbot, Andreas Lilja, Ilya Bryzgalov

    The Philadelphia Flyers sent away two of their superstars, and I don't know whether or not the return was good enough. It certainly seems as though they're building for the future, with Schenn and a high first rounder coming in. Worked hard to bring in Jagr, but I can't help but think they overpaid slightly. Talbot and Lilja both come in as solid depth signings. Bryzgalov was overpaid for as well, but finally they get their No. 1 goalie.

     

    Draft Picks: B

    Sean Couturier, Nick Cousins, Colin Suellentorp, Marcel Noebels, Petr Placek, Derek Mathers

    Obviously, the big prize is Sean Couturier, and the Flyers were very, very lucky to get him at eighth overall. He's the new Carter. Marcel Noebels was a solid pickup in the fourth round, look out for Petr Placek as well.

     

    Overall Grade: B-

    The Flyers did some good things, but I don't think they got any closer to winning a Stanley Cup. They gave up a lot in terms of cap space to get Bryz, including Ville Leino, and I don't know if he's the man to lead them to the cup, especially when he signs for $5.7 million and Tomas Vokoun goes for $1.5.


Phoenix Coyotes

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    Acquired: B

    Matt Clackson, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Mike Smith, Radim Vrbata, Boyd Gordon, Raffi Torres, Alexandre Bolduc, Curtis McElhinney, Dean Arsene, Nathan Oystrick, Kyle Chipchura, Justin Pogge

    One of the Coyotes' biggest problems this past season was that they lacked a true grinding, penalty killing fourth line. They addressed that big time this offseason. They got a good return in the Bryzgalov trade, but fans will feel they failed to replace him. Prospect Mark Visentin will be a long-term solution.

     

    Draft Picks: A-

    Connor Murphy, Alexander Ruutuu, Lucas Lessio, Harrison Ruopp, Kale Kessy, Darian Dziurzynski, Andrew Fritsch, Zac Larazza

    The Coyotes got a phenomenal top three in the opening two rounds. Lucas Lessio has real potential as a third liner, and Ruutuu could play in the NHL this year. In terms of the later rounds, local boy Zac Larazza could easily have gone higher and was a good pick. Look for the Coyotes to do everything they can to help him develop so they can get him into the lineup sooner rather than later. 

     

    Overall Grade: B+

    A fairly good 2011 for the Coyotes. They won't win next year, but a good draft class added to what was already a pretty good prospect pool bodes well for them. The Coyotes will probably be a bubble team next season, but look for them to just squeeze into the top eight. The goaltending could let them down in the playoffs.


Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Acquired: C+

    Steve Sullivan, Colin McDonald, Alexandre Picard, Boris Valabik, Steve MacIntyre, Jason Williams, Scott Munroe

    Steve Sullivan coming in is definitely a positive for the Penguins, but neither he nor Jason Williams is the answer to Sidney Crosby's winger problem. I don't know if James Neal is, either. The rest of the signings are risky ones. Those guys might end up with big contracts in the AHL.

     

    Draft Picks: B

    Joe Morrow, Scott Harrington, Dominik Uher, Josh Archibald, Scott Wilson

    Drafting Joe Morrow at 23rd overall was brave, but it was also smart. He could well be the steal of the draft. Scott Harrington is also a good selection in the second round, and he joins a good prospect pool in Pittsburgh. The rest of the picks are safe, players drafted where they were expected to go. No hits, no missed.

     

    Overall Grade: B-

    The Penguins did a good job improving without losing any major assets, but they didn't improve enough compared to the teams around them. If Crosby and Malkin are fit, it won't matter.



San Jose Sharks

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    Acquired: A

    Brent Burns, Jim Vandermeer, Michal Handzus, Martin Havlat, Ben Guite, Colin White

    Martin Havlat has never been fortunate enough to get to play with the linemates Dany Heatley has, yet he always puts up similar numbers. Could that mean something? Burns is a good pickup, even though you maybe gave up a little too much. Handzus is a great signing as well, and Vandermeer and White help to build on what is already a good defensive corps. All good signings.


    Draft Picks: D-

    Matt Nieto, Justin Sefton, Sean Kuraly, Daniil Sobchenko, Dylan Demelo, Colin Blackwell

    Again, the Sharks sacrificed the draft (a first rounder) to improve the team. They also traded top prospect Charlie Coyle to get Burns. Their prospect pool is by far the weakest in the league, and they need to back it up now with a cup.

     

    Overall Grade: A+

    The Sharks have finally put themselves in proper contention. The new players all bring something new to the team, and they all improve it. What was an already good team is not incredibly even better. Look for the Sharks to make the Stanley Cup Final this season.



St. Louis Blues

26 of 31

    Acquired: B

    Evgeny Grachev, Brian Elliott, Kent Huskins, Brett Sterling, Scott Nichol, Jamie Langenbrunner, Jason Arnott, Jonathan Cheechoo

    The St. Louis Blues appear to have become a team that brings in generally rejected players. It's going to work for them, too. All of the signings will help to improve the team. One that I think was really good was the Evgeny Grachev acquisition. They got a great, NHL ready prospect really cheap. Good deal.

     

    Draft Picks: A+

    Ty Rattie, Dmitrij Jaskin, Joel Edmundson, Jordan Binnington, Yannick Veilleux, Niklas Lundström, Ryan Tesink, Teemu Eronen

    Incredibly good draft for a team with no first rounder (three in the second). Rattie and Jaskin could easily have gone in the first, Edmundson is underrated, as are Lundström and Veilleux. Binnington showed glimpses of what he can do at the Memorial Cup, and Tesink and Eronen dropped a long way. Great job building on an outrageously strong pool

     

    Overall Grade: A

    The Blues need a rebuild stage, and it appears as though they are doing it. They have a really strong draft class from this year, and with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz also in the equation, the future is bright. Look for the Blues to be a bubble team with the new signings, but they will likely miss out this season.


Tampa Bay Lightning

27 of 31

    Acquired: C

    Bruno Gervais, TJ Wyman, Michel Ouellet, Mathieu Garon, Richard Petiot, Matt Gilroy, Tom Pyatt, Alexandre Picard, Ryan Shannon

    Obviously, the Tampa Bay Lightning were in the same difficult situation as the Devils. You have a big-money superstar to re-sign, and it becomes really difficult to do anything worth anything in free agency. Most of the signings are role players, few of them will have any large effect on the team this season.

     

    Draft Picks: A-

    Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov, Nikita Nesterov, Adam Wilcox, Matthew Peca, Ondrej Palat

    The Tampa Bay Lightning were brave in the draft, but smart. They got three first-round worthy Russians who dropped significantly because of the Russian factor. Namestnikov will play, Kucherov will likely come over, Nesterov the jury is out on. Smart drafting by Yzerman getting a new center with Lecavalier turning 32 this season. 

     

    Overall Grade: C-

    The Lightning did a good job re-signing Steven Stamkos for the next five years, but they are weaker than the team that reached the Eastern Conference final last season. Gagne and playoff hero Bergenheim among others are gone, and it was tough to replace them. Stamkos needs to be better than last year if he wants to see his team succeed again.



Toronto Maple Leafs

28 of 31

    Acquired: B

    John-Michael Liles, Ben Scrivens, Tim Connolly, Cody Franson, Matthew Lombardi, Philippe Dupuis

    An all-round good improvement for the Leafs. Connolly and Lombardi will become the new No. 1 and No. 2 centers, while Liles and Franson drastically upgrade the defense. A somewhat new-look but improved Toronto team deserve a B for their efforts 

     

    Draft Picks: B-

    Tyler Biggs, Stuart Percy, Josh Leivo, Tom Nilsson, Tony Camaranesi, David Broll, Dennis Robertson, Garret Sparks, Max Everson 

    Bottom line from this draft is that Brian Burke hit with his first rounders and missed across the board. Biggs and Percy both project as great NHLers, while the others are mostly project players. Likely there will be a couple booms, but in the situation Toronto are in they need to dominate a draft like this. 

     

    Overall Grade: B+

    I'm not a big Brian Burke fan, but I'll admit they got a lot closer to a playoff spot this season. I don't think they're there yet. That said, when Reimer has a couple more years of experience and Kadri has developed into a proper NHL player, the Leafs are going to be really good.

Vancouver Canucks

29 of 31

    Acquired: B

    Andrew Ebbett, Marco Sturm, Marc Mancari, Nolan Baumgartner, Steve Pinizzotto, Mike Duco, Alexander Sulzer, Byron Bitz, Sebastian Erixon

    Believe it or not, the Sebastian Erixon signing might just be the best of the lot. He's a great prospect and if nurtured correctly could become a great NHLer. Good decision taking a chance on Marco Sturm, as he can still be a good player at the top level. Steve Pinizzotto is also good signing, he's versatile and can be a good fourth liner. 

     

    Draft Picks: B-

    Niklas Jensen, David Honzik, Alexandre Grenier, Joseph Labate, Ludwig Blomstrand, Frank Corrado, Pathrik Westerholm, Henrik Tommernes

    Niklas Jensen is a great choice at 29th overall. With the Sedins on the team, he may struggle to get first-line duty in his first few years, but he can grow in their shadow and become a great player on Kesler's line. Good trio of Swedes picked up in the late rounds as well.

     

    Overall Grade: B

    The Vancouver Canucks haven't necessarily improved very much, but, with the exception of Christian Ehrhoff, they enter the upcoming season with a largely similar team. The acquisitions will help, while the Sedins have showed that they are still getting better. Canucks fans should expect a long playoff run this offseason.


Washington Capitals

30 of 31

    Acquired: A+

    Mattias Sjögren, Troy Brouwer, Jeff Halpern, Ryan Potulny, Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik, Tomas Vokoun, Chris Bourque, Christian Hanson

    Every NHL signing the Capitals made in the offseason was great. Mattias Sjögren comes in as the best grinder not in the NHL last season. Troy Brouwer (trade) will bring great physical play to any line. Jeff Halpern is an upgrade to Boyd Gordon, as he brings more offensive ability. Joel Ward is a proven playoff player. Roman Hamrlik could be Mike Green's new defensive partner. Tomas Vokoun is one of the best goalies in the NHL. 

     

    Draft Picks: B+

    Steffen Soberg, Patrick Koudys, Travis Boyd, Garrett Haar

    The Capitals draft choices have more than meets the eye. First of all, you get Troy Brouwer for a first rounder. Steffen Soberg is a player with high potential who could develop into a good NHL goalie. Koudys and Haar are two good college prospects, while Travis Boyd's performance at Development Camp suggests he could be a steal in the sixth round.


    Overall Grade: A++

    Giving up goalie Semyon Varlamov was tough, but you got a great return with a couple of high picks. At $1.5 million, Tomas Vokoun was a steal and a real good pickup by George MchPee. The bottom line is that the Washington Capitals might well have turned their fortunes around this offseason. They finally look like a playoff team. They got a lot tougher, and more importantly, a lot better. 

    A Stanley Cup is on the horizon for the Washington Capitals.


Winnipeg Jets

31 of 31

    Acquired: C+

    Aaron Gagnon, Tanner Glass, Derek Meech, Randy Jones, Rick Rypien, Eric Fehr, Kenndal McArdle, Jason Jaffray

    No significant improvement on a team that needs drastic ones. Tanner Glass is a nice addition, but he is a third or fourth-line player, as is Eric Fehr, who appears to be the big acquisition. He is not the answer as Alex Burmistrov's new winger. The rest of the signing are depth ones.

     

    Draft Picks: B

    Mark Scheifele, Adam Lowry, Brennan Serville, Zachary Yuen, Austen Brassard, Jason Kasdorf, Aaron Harstad

    The Scheifele pick was brave, but I like it. He won't be a top-line scorer, but he can be a great complement to the Jets' Russian superstar off the second or third line. Adam Lowry was a really good pickup in the third round.

     

    Overall Grade: B-

    A satisfactory offseason for a team looking for a new start. A pretty good improvement in the draft for the Jets, but they failed to make an impact in free agency and are likely destined for another high pick. 


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