NHL Free Agency glorifies the teams that sign the big prizes. The New York Rangers were heroes for reeling in Brad Richards, and the signings of Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino made the Sabres instant contenders.
The attention paid to the winners of free agency leaves the losers in the shadows. Every big name star that signs with a new team has left another team behind.
Let's examine which player each team will miss the most this upcoming season.
The Anaheim Ducks will obviously miss Teemu Selanne more than anyone if he chooses to retire, but for now I'm optimistic about his chances of returning to the Ducks for another season.
Ray Emery is the man that Anaheim will wish they had re-signed for cheap money. When Jonas Hiller went down with injury, Dan Ellis was pretty shaky between the pipes. Emery stepped in and managed to hold down the fort for the Ducks.
Anaheim must be pretty confident in Hiller's health.
The Boston Bruins are fortunate not to have lost many players from their 2011 Stanley Cup championship team. However, Michael Ryder did cash in big during free agency, and his presence could be missed at times.
The Bruins were wise not to re-sign Ryder at the expensive clip the Stars paid him, but there is no denying that Ryder came up big in some clutch situations for Boston during the playoffs. He may have been streaky during the regular season, but his postseason performance validated his salary.
Mike Grier is the type of player that a team doesn't miss until he's gone. The Buffalo Sabres spent big in free agency, upgrading the blue line and adding Ville Leino up front. Unfortunately, that spending left Mike Grier out to dry, and he is still sitting on the open market.
Grier is excellent defensively and possesses ideal leadership traits that a contending NHL team loves to have. The Sabres may miss him when the going gets tough in the postseason.
The Calgary Flames are in an awkward transition from being a competitor to being ready to start from scratch and rebuild the roster.
While the Flames held onto Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff this offseason, Robyn Regehr was a victim of the offseason roster poaching by GM Jay Feester. There's no doubt that Calgary will miss Regehr's physical presence on the blue line.
Erik Cole was a steady and consistent producer during his lengthy career with the Carolina Hurricanes. When healthy, Cole was a virtual lock for a 50 point season.
However, the price he demanded in free agency was too steep for the Hurricanes to meet, so they were wise to move on. In any event, the team will miss his production.
Brian Campbell had an outrageous contract, so the Chicago Blackhawks made the right move in getting rid of his salary.
However, from an on-ice perspective, the Hawks will miss having Brian Campbell in their second pairing. They did not do much to replace him, and the production he had was pretty substantial.
John-Michael Liles was an excellent puck-moving defenseman for the Colorado Avalanche. He could always be counted on for a 30-point season and even provided solid play in his own end.
The Avs elected to send him to the Toronto Maple Leafs in order to continue the rebuilding effort. Colorado will miss him, but Jan Hejda should help the team handle his departure.
The Columbus Blue Jackets and plenty of media outlets are downplaying the significance of Jakub Voracek's departure.
Voracek has played only three NHL seasons, in which he has had point totals of 38, 50 and 46 respectively. Some people think he has leveled out and is a 50-point-per-year player on a good year. However, I am of the opinion that this kid is just getting started. He just turned 22 years old and will be surrounded by more talent than he ever has in his career. Expect big things.
Brad Richards is an obvious choice for the player that the Dallas Stars will miss the most. His departure turns the Stars from a fringe playoff contender to a team in rebuilding mode.
The offense will be significantly worse without Richards, and the worst part is they have nothing to show for it. Richards could have been traded at the deadline, but the Stars let him walk in free agency without anything in return.
The Detroit Red Wings managed their team very well, so not too many key players snuck away in free agency. Brian Rafalski, though, decided to retire this offseason, leaving a vacancy on the blue line and in the locker room.
Ian White will replace Rafalski in the lineup, but filling the leadership void in the locker room won't be easy. Luckily, the rest of Detroit's core will remain in place.
There was not a whole lot of turnover on the Edmonton Oilers' roster this season, as the front office is allowing the young players time to develop while continuing to add to their prospect pool.
Andrew Cogliano was the biggest departure from Edmonton this offseason, and there is reason to believe that he will be missed for a young Oilers' scoring attack. Cogliano will take his 64 points from a season ago to the Anaheim Ducks.
Tomas Vokoun had been the heart and soul of the Florida Panthers since being acquired by the team prior to the 07-08 season. Still, the Panthers were unable to retain him in free agency this offseason, as he signed a one year contract with the Capitals worth just $1.5 million.
The part that stings the most about Vokoun's departure is that incumbent Jacob Markstrom is not quite ready to take over the starting job, leaving the newly signed Jose Thoedore as the starter in Florida.
Brayden Schenn has long been considered the best prospect in all of hockey, so having to part ways with him has to sting for the Los Angeles Kings and their fans.
The Kings were able to bring in Mike Richards as a part of the trade, but Brayden Schenn has the upside to develop into an elite center, possibly even better than Mike Richards. Down the line, the Kings could look back on this trade with regret. Time will tell.
Brent Burns was the best player on the Minnesota Wild's roster a season ago, so his departure stings a bit. That being said, this offseason was a very successful one for the Wild, who managed to acquire Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, and Charlie Coyle.
Burns will need to be replaced on the blue line, but the depth and youth Minnesota Wild added will heal any heartache the team feels over missing Brent Burns.
It was a tough offseason for the Montreal Canadiens. The team was in cap trouble, so all of their top free agents could not be re-signed.
James Wisniewski was the main departure for this team, though they did manage to get compensation for his negotiating rights. Wisniewski, along with Roman Hamrlik, will be gravely missed on defense for the Canadiens.
The Nashville Predators went deeper into the NHL postseason than they ever have in franchise history. Joel Ward's point per game production was a big part of that.
The Predators don't have much talent up front, so losing one of their more productive wingers is not a positive sign for this team moving forward. Nashville will bank on the development of some of their younger players moving forward.
The New Jersey Devils had an uneventful offseason. However, the biggest regret they will end up having over the 2011 NHL Free Agency period is their mishandling of Zach Parise's contract situation.
Parise was signed to a one year deal that will make him an unrestricted free agent next offseason. If things go south for the Devils, Parise may be traded at the deadline in order for the team to receive something for his departure.
The New York Islanders managed to keep their roster intact this offseason, making only minor tweaks here and there.
One guy that will be missed, at least by the fans, is Zenon Konopka. Konopka was the best fighter on a New York Islanders team that loved to drop the mitts last season. The fights brought a lot of fans to the arena, so Konopka will be a significant departure.
The New York Rangers won't miss any of their offensive departures, considering Chris Drury, Vinny Prospal and Alex Frolov, the three biggest departures, all spent most of last season injured.
Couple that with the fact that Brad Richards is in town, and I think the Rangers will quickly forget about any players that will not be dawning the red and blue this season.
The Ottawa Senators had a mostly positive offseason. The team's most significant departure was Pascal Leclaire. But with Craig Anderson in place as the team's starter, and a much more durable and consistent Alex Auld backing him up, Leclaire was not a good fit for this team.
Mike Richards was supposed to be the captain for life. His 12 year contract worth $69 million was evidence of that fact. Then, Paul Holmgren had a change of heart.
The Flyers weren't getting it done, and there was rumors of a disconnect in the locker room between Richards and head coach Peter Laviolette. Holmgren decided Richards had to go.
Time will tell whether or not the Flyers have improved themselves with this move and the move to get rid of Jeff Carter, but either way, the fans will miss Mike Richards. And in the short term, so will the team.
The Phoenix Coyotes are a franchise in financial disarray, so seeing them have to watch Ilya Bryzgalov walk for close to nothing is a shame.
Bryzgalov was a dominant goaltender for the Coyotes, carrying them to the playoffs on a few occasions. A defensive minded Phoenix team is going to miss having their best defender between the pipes for the 60 plus games he was good for each season.
The 2011 offseason was uneventful for the Pittsburgh Penguins. One player they would have liked to retain, however, is third line center Maxime Talbot.
Talbot was a clutch performer in the playoffs for Pittsburgh and an excellent two-way player. The depth he provided the Penguins will be pretty tough for them to replace.
Dany Heatley was never productive for the Sharks when it mattered most. But despite the lack of postseason stardom, Dany Heatley's exodus from San Jose will leave a huge hole in the Sharks' lineup.
Heatley had a down year, but I can almost guarantee he will bounce back. His prime is not quite over, folks.
The St. Louis Blues did a good job of damage control this offseason, considering Cam Janssen was the team's most significant departure.
Janssen struggled to stay healthy in St. Louis, but a change of scenery could do him a bit of good. Janssen will return to New Jersey, where he began his NHL career.
The 2010-2011 NHL regular season had many doubting Simon Gagne once again. But in typical Gagne fashion, he turned things around in the postseason, earning a short term, solid money contract with the Los Angeles Kings.
The Lightning will miss his experience and production come postseason time, but likely won't notice much of a difference during the regular season.
J.S. Giguere struggled to stay healthy for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it seemed as if he was turning a corner this offseason. He had healed up and was ready to accept a significant pay cut to stay in Toronto. However, the Leafs did not seem interested.
Giguere would have continued to serve as an outstanding mentor for James Reimer and provided solid play in relief of the budding star.
Christian Ehrhoff was banged up during the 2011 NHL Playoffs, explaining why his play was a bit off. That being said, once healthy, Ehrhoff will return to his outstanding offensive ways. But this time, he'll be wearing a Buffalo Sabres jersey.
The Vancouver Canucks chose to use their limited cap space to retain Kevin Bieksa, letting Ehrhoff collect a huge pay check on the open market. The move had to have been tough for the front office to swallow.
The Colorado Avalanche may have vastly overpaid for Semyon Varlamov, but that does not mean that he won't be missed by the Washington Capitals down the road.
For now, the Caps have Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun between the pipes. But with Vokoun on a one year deal and Neuvirth still developing, the Caps may end up wishing Varlamov was still on the team in a few years.
Other than the fact that the city of Winnipeg received an NHL franchise, it was a pretty uneventful offseason in the great white north.
Freddy Meyer is not much more than a depth defenseman, but depth can be huge on the blue line. If injuries leave the Jets thin on defense, they will certainly miss Freddy Meyer.