Hit or Miss for Every NHL Team's Biggest Move so Far in the 2015 Offseason

Steve Macfarlane@@MacfarlaneHKYFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2015

Hit or Miss for Every NHL Team's Biggest Move so Far in the 2015 Offseason

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Free agency has hit the dog days of summer. The furious first few days are long gone, and NHL teams are kicking tires or attempting to free up some salary-cap space before committing to the group of leftovers.

    It's the perfect time to take a look at every team's moves so far this offseason—and cast some judgement, of course.

    There have been some massive moves, from the departure of Phil Kessel from Toronto Maple Leafs land to the surprise trade of young Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Whether they are ultimately going to be hits or misses is to be determined, but we'll venture our guesses here for every single NHL team.

    Some have been very active, others quietly passing their summer. Whether it was letting someone walk in free agency, signing their own restricted free agents to new deals, diving into free agency themselves or making a trade, there's a pick for each franchise's biggest move.

    Click through to catch up on the big moments and feel free to offer your own ideas in the comments. 

Anaheim Ducks: Miss

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    The Move: Trading for defenseman Kevin Bieksa.

    The one perceived weak spot for the Anaheim Ducks last season was the lack of a veteran presence on the blue line to help guide a very talented but also very green group of defensemen. That's why the Ducks brought in James Wisniewski at the 2014-15 trade deadline in a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    But Wisniewski was scratched for every single one of the Ducks' playoff games and was shipped off to the Carolina Hurricanes in the offseason for a backup goaltender. Francois Beauchemin was also preparing to leave via free agency, ultimately joining the Colorado Avalanche.

    That left a big hole for a veteran but functional rearguard. Enter Bieksa, whom the Ducks grabbed from the Vancouver Canucks for a second-round draft pick. Bieksa promptly signed a two-year extension worth a total of $8 million and will join a star group of sub-25-year-olds in Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen and Simon Despres.

    The 34-year-old Bieksa brings an edge and attitude not entirely unlike former Canucks teammate and now fellow Duck Ryan Kesler. But he also brings declining skills that were exposed by a speedy and heavy-hitting Calgary Flames roster in the playoffs.

Arizona Coyotes: Hit

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    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    The Move: Bringing back Antoine Vermette and Zbynek Michalek.

    The term rental in the NHL refers to the trading for a player who will be with you for a short period of time with an expiring contract. The Coyotes shipped out a pair of them last season, with Vermette going to the Chicago Blackhawks and Michalek joining the St. Louis Blues.

    Both returned to the Coyotes during the offseason, making the haul they received at the deadline a totally free bonus. The net return for these guys was prospects Klas Dahlbeck and Maxim Letunov and a first-round pick.

    Vermette comes back with a Stanley Cup win under his belt. Total win for the Coyotes.

Boston Bruins: Miss

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    Debora Robinson/Getty Images

    The Move: Replacing Milan Lucic with Matt Beleskey

    Technically it's two moves, but they are intrinsically linked when you consider the trade of power forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings—a move to free up both salary-cap space and change the culture of the team—was quickly followed by the signing of one of the most coveted free agents in Beleskey.

    The return for Lucic was decent—a first-round pick in 2015, goalie Martin Jones and defensive prospect Colin Miller. Jones was later flipped to the San Jose Sharks for a first-rounder in 2016. Still, the ex-Anaheim Duck has a lot to live up to in order to satisfy the scoring gap left by the departure of Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings.

    And despite the reasonable signing of winger Beleskey, who inked a five-year deal worth $3.8 million per season, there are a number of question marks regarding the 27-year-old who set career highs last year with 22 goals and 32 points in 65 regular-season games before adding another eight goals in 16 playoff games.

    He had much of his success alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and enjoyed some chemistry with Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg. In six previous seasons combined, Beleskey tallied a total of 35 goals and 80 points—so there is some serious risk the Bruins committed to a guy who had one solid year with no track record that suggests it won't happen again, even once.

    "There's pressure, but I think I put more pressure on myself at the start of every year to be better than I was last year," Beleskey told Matt Kalman of NHL.com. "You know they had big losses. I suppose those are moves they had to make. But I don't think I'm here to fill anyone's spot. I'm here to be Matt Beleskey and play my game. And that's what I'm going to do."

Buffalo Sabres: Hit

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Move: Dealing for Ryan O'Reilly and signing him to an extension.

    No strangers to big-name deals over the past few months, the new-look Buffalo Sabres added another key piece to their core—and we're not talking about second overall draft pick Jack Eichel, either.

    After drafting skilled and cerebral center Sam Reinhart last spring, and adding Eichel—a bigger, more dominant middle man—at this year's draft, the team decided to bring in a more veteran presence at the position to allow the two youngsters to progress at their own pace.

    Enter O'Reilly, the ex-Colorado Avalanche center with big contract expectations and a sketchy past with the club when it comes to negotiations. Still just 24, O'Reilly cost the Sabres prospects Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko, along with JT Compher and a second-round pick in the draft. And while to the Avs he may not have been worth the seven-year contract that pays more than $52 million, the Sabres were happy to make the deal and lock up the two-way centre long-term.

    To a team that is rebuilding, but intent on doing so fairly quickly, O'Reilly is a huge addition. General manager Tim Murray was ecstatic to bring him in, as he told the Associated Press via CBC.ca:

    It's not easy to find a player who, at his age, is already established in the league as someone who plays a complete game and makes his teammates better. When we acquired him, we viewed him as someone who could immediately improve our roster, but was still young enough to make an impact for several years to come. And this contract reflects that belief.

Calgary Flames: Hit

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    Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

    The Move: Stealing Dougie Hamilton.

    While there were plenty of big names available at the top end of the draft in June, the Calgary Flames swooped in amid all the Connor McDavid talk and swiped the spotlight by dealing for young defenseman Dougie Hamilton and leaving the Boston Bruins with little to show for the loss of the 22-year-old who has shown signs of becoming an elite blueliner.

    The cost was a first-round pick and a pair of second-rounders. No roster players. No prospects. No problem.

    The team quickly signed him to a new deal worth $34.5 million over six years. Hamilton gives the Flames a stellar core of defensemen with Hamilton joining Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Kris Russell, as well as veteran Dennis Wideman.

    "I like that defence and I think it's critical to build your team from the defence out," general manager Brad Treliving said, according to the Canadian Press via CBC.ca. "This is a player who fits where we're going in Calgary."

Carolina Hurricanes: Hit

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    Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images

    The Move: Buying out Alexander Semin.

    For the Carolina Hurricanes, the miss came two seasons ago when they signed Alexander Semin to a five-year deal in free agency. The price tag was a cool $35 million. It worked out all right for a season, but things went so poorly so quickly that the Hurricanes felt the need to buy out the contract and disparage the Russian's work ethic as they shoved him out the door.

    "The biggest thing for me, the day-to-day effort it takes to be a professional hockey player wasn't there in practice, it wasn't there a lot of nights in games,” GM Ron Francis told Erin Summers of WRAL.com.

    "You don't want to have to do those things, that's a lot of money to have a guy not be a part of your organization but at the end of the day we felt it was the right decision, it sends the right message to the players and we want guys that want to be here and compete hard every day."

    Canes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. admitted he made an error in assessing Semin's motivation, via Chip Alexander of the Charlotte News & Observer, The correction was a hit as the team moves forward:

    There are some guys you pay millions and millions of dollars and it wouldn't affect their performance at all. There are some guys you pay millions and millions of dollars and it takes away all their incentive. You need to be very careful and understand the character of the person you're signing. We obviously missed that.

Chicago Blackhawks: Miss

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Move: Dealing away Brandon Saad.

    Parting ways with Patrick Sharp was expected for the salary-cap-crunched Chicago Blackhawks. Trading Brandon Saad, a 22-year-old two-time Cup champion who has posted back-to-back seasons of 19 and 23 goals and 47 and 52 points, was a shocker.

    It may have been necessary because of the Hawks' financial situation, but Saad was seen as a big part of the team's core group of forwards. The threat of offer sheet may also have forced Chicago's hand in the situation because of his restricted free-agent status. Still, it's hard to believe there wasn't another way to keep the big-bodied and talented winger.

    There were some fine prospects and players brought in as compensation, particularly the potential for Marko Dano, who flashed some skills in 35 games with the Blue Jackets last season. Unfortunately, if Saad becomes the dominant force he appears destined to be, he'll be the best player in this deal.

    And that's how the winner of a trade is typically determined.

Colorado Avalanche: Hit

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    The Move: Breaking up with Ryan O'Reilly.

    Here's the flip-side of the move from a few slides ago. The decision to move on from O'Reilly in Denver was a big one that had to be made after talks about signing a new contract with the club went as horribly as they did in the past when the two-way center ultimately signed an offer sheet with the Calgary Flames to get paid what he believed he was worth.

    Breaking up is hard to do, but sometimes necessary even when the player in question is a potential Selke Trophy winner.

    The return was solid, however, which makes this a hit for the Avalanche in more ways than just the relief of no longer having to bargain with one of their top players.

    Incoming are young and talented prospects Nikita Zadorov, a defenseman who had 15 points in 60 games with the Sabres last year, and Mikhail Grigorenko, who had 14 goals and 36 points in the AHL last season as well as six points in 25 contests with the big club.

    Analysts will take a wait-and-see approach, but some like Yahoo's Steve McAllister suggested via Twitter they are diamonds in the rough.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Hit

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Move: Signing Brandon Saad

    Until the signing of Saad, to a six-year deal worth $36 million, the trade that brought him to Columbus was the biggest move by the Blue Jackets this offseason.

    Sending some solid prospects Chicago's way, the Blue Jackets got a young and powerful winger whose career is on the upswing in Saad. But they trumped that move by signing him to a multi-year deal that ensured he wouldn't be a short-term purchase.

    Whether or not the big-dollar deal turns out to be a hit or miss will entirely depend on Saad's production with the Blue Jackets, who don't have quite the same star power as the Blackhawks but do have a collection of talented forwards including Ryan Johansen.

    Given that the contract takes Saad to the age of 29 and buys out a few potential UFA years, the value could be well below the market average at that time in the future—assuming Saad is a perennial 20-plus goal-scorer and 60-point player.

    The Blue Jackets are banking on it, and for now, I'm inclined to believe it.

Dallas Stars: Hit

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    Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

    The Move: Acquiring Patrick Sharp.

    Relatively quiet for much of the early offseason, the Dallas Stars made some serious noise when picking up the Chicago Blackhawks winger in a four-player swap. The move gives the Stars even more firepower up front after they added Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza in previous years.

    Sharp is a four-time 30-goal scorer who will play with either Spezza or Seguin, and the 33-year-old should be able to bounce back from his disappointing 16-goal season as a result.

    The cost—agitator Ryan Garbutt and defenseman Trevor Daley—was fairly cheap for a team adding a previously prolific goal scorer and had reporters like the Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan praising the deal for Dallas via Twitter.

    Stars GM Jim Nill is turning the Stars into a potential contender in the Western Conference. Adding some goaltending competition for Kari Lehtonen earlier by adding Antti Niemi into the mix was bold, but bringing Sharp into the top six forwards gives Dallas scoring depth, another big shooter on the power play and championship experience.

    “Patrick’s track record speaks for itself having won three Stanley Cups, a Calder Cup and an Olympic gold medal,” Nill told the Dallas Morning News' Mike Heika. “He will provide leadership for our group and we love his shoot first mentality.”

Detroit Red Wings: Hit

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The Move: Re-signing winger Gustav Nyquist.

    Despite the fact the Detroit Red Wings finally acquired a right-handed offensive defenseman when they signed Mike Green in free agency, and bolstered their center depth with the inking of Brad Richards, the biggest move for the Wings was locking up restricted free agent Nyquist for four more years.

    Nyquist has scored 59 goals and 115 points in 179 games for the Wings, including 27 goals and 54 points in his first full season last year. The 25-year-old was going to arbitration, which might have cost the team less this season but more in future years if he continued to progress as a top goal scorer.

    The contract included two years of what would have been unrestricted free agency for Nyquist, so the $4.75 million cap hit could prove to be a bargain for one of the team's building blocks as stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg continue to face the difficulties as an athlete that come with age

    "Gustav Nyquist is one of the people we're building around," Red Wings GM Ken Holland told Ansar Khan of MLive.com. "He's really coming into the prime of his career. I don't even know if he's in the prime of his career yet. The next four years will be important years in Gustav Nyquist's career."

Edmonton Oilers: Hit

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    The Move: The drafting of Connor McDavid.

    Ok, so it was a no-brainer taking the kid first overall in June's NHL Entry Draft. Still, the Edmonton Oilers' biggest move of the offseason was the selection of a generational player who could help bring them back to the realm of respectability.

    Say what you want about the hiring of Peter Chiarelli and deals for Griffin Reinhart and Cam Talbot, but the single greatest thing to happen to the franchise over the past few months was the addition of McDavid.

    Already, fans are flocking in droves to witness his talent on the ice in development camp. He's a hit in every sense of the word, and no one should expect that to change when the real games start in October.

    The sense of change in the organization is almost palpable from all the events that have taken place.

Florida Panthers: Hit

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    The Move: Acquiring Reilly Smith.

    The Florida Panthers made two moves of any significance this summer. They bought out Brad Boyes (yawn) and made a trade that sent Jimmy Hayes to the Boston Bruins for Smith and the contract of never-to-play-again Marc Savard.

    Hayes is a beast of a winger at 6'6" and is coming off his most productive season so far with 19 goals and 35 points for the Panthers. Smith is slightly more accomplished with a couple of decent years. He took a step back last year from his 20-goal campaign of two seasons ago, so the Panthers are gambling on him bouncing back with them.

    The 24-year-old has a great deal of potential and was a key part of the Tyler Seguin trade—which now looks like a total bust for Boston.

Los Angeles Kings: Hit

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    James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

    The Move: Acquiring Milan Lucic at the draft.

    I'll avoid talking about the Mike Richards termination here as much as possible. It was a significant move in terms of salary-cap relief, but the legal battle will play out over the coming months, and the Los Angeles Kings did make other notable moves.

    Biggest of all was the trade for Milan Lucic, a power forward who should immediately fit in on the top line alongside Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar in L.A.

    Lucic had 18 goals and 42 points in a down year after scoring 20 or more in three of the previous four seasons. He adds a physical element to the top line and will move Gaborik to the more comfortable right side. It's a win-win for the Kings and Lucic, who are both looking to get back to the Stanley Cup Final.

    "We felt that we didn't have the ideal fit for that box, and we had a list of players that were an ideal fit, and there weren't many of them," Kings GM Dean Lombardi told NHL.com's Curtis Zupke. "There's not many like this in the League that can play with top players and bring that element."

Minnesota Wild: Hit

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    The Move: Locking up Devan Dubnyk.

    Goaltending changed the Minnesota Wild's season. They went from a team that had little chance at making the playoffs to one that made it into the second round.

    That change happened when they traded for Devan Dubnyk and stormed successfully down the stretch and into the postseason tournament.

    Making sure they kept that capability between the pipes became the top priority of the offseason, and securing Dubnyk for the next six years with a $26-million deal meant mission accomplished.

    There's risk involved, of course, but well worth it considering his play with the Wild and the contract cap hit. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher expects big things ahead.

    "He’s 29 years old. He’s entering the prime of his career. He’s had some good seasons in Edmonton and had a great season this year," Fletcher told Michael Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune. "We’re not asking him to duplicate what he did this year every year. Maybe that’s not realistic, but we believe he can be a good goaltender in this league. He's right at the stage of his career where he's ready to take off.”

Montreal Canadiens: Miss

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    The Move: Trading for Zack Kassian.

    The list of available scorers has considerably narrowed over the offseason, but the Montreal Canadiens have been on the sidelines in every situation so far. Phil Kessel, Brandon Saad, T.J. Oshie and Patrick Sharp all have new homes. The Habs have a gaping hole in the scoring department.

    That's even more obvious now that leading sniper Max Pacioretty has again been hurt. His knee could keep him out of action for 12 weeks.

    Adding Kassian in a deal with the Vancouver Canucks has the potential to help. Kassian has size and speed and hands much more skilled than one might think considering the Canucks were just as interested in seeing them used for thuggery as scoring. He had 10 goals and 16 points in 42 games last season.

    But the big-bodied winger is an enigma, and unless the Canadiens groom him as a potential power forward and let the other physical aspects become secondary, they're going to be no closer to getting the best from Kassian than the Canucks were.

Nashville Predators: Hit

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Move: Re-signing Mike Ribeiro.

    The Nashville Predators are a team dedicated to offering second chances. And by bringing back Ribeiro for two more years at $3.5 million per season, the Predators are saying they believe he's turned his life and career around in spite of a civil suit that dredges up all the risk involved in his initial signing last year.

    Hey, it worked last time. Ribeiro made the most of his first year in Nashville, putting up 15 goals and 62 points in 82 games.

    David Poile appears to be a good judge of character, and the Preds GM has no qualms over Ribeiro, according to his comments before re-signing him to Adam Vingan of the Nashville Tennessean:

    He did make us aware of the potential of this civil case last year and he told us, as he has now, that he's prepared to vigorously defend (himself).

    [...]

    We weren't with Mike during the earlier years, but we've seen him as a good person this year, both on the ice and off the ice. We think that he and his family are doing really well and are comfortable here. That's why we hope to sign him.

New Jersey Devils: Hit

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Move: Hiring new GM Ray Shero.

    Lou Lamoriello spent 28 years guiding the New Jersey Devils as general manager. 

    Even he knew it was time for a change.

    So the team brought in Ray Shero in a surprise move to guide the Devils into a new era after some very recent disappointment.

    “Ray might do things a little different than I would, so be it. That’s a progression. I don’t see foresee any of that being any issue whatsoever,” Lamoriello told Tom Canavan of the Associated Press, via The Globe and Mail:

    I think we have to be realistic in life in different areas. We have to be honest and I think right now this is a perfect time, we’ve got a got a person at a perfect age with great experience that has been in a couple of different organizations, who has had a year off and who has had a chance to take a step back to look at what went wrong, where, what went right and what would I do differently? I think we are going to be the beneficiary of that.

New York Islanders: Hit

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The Move: Heading to Brooklyn.

    Aside from some housekeeping and depth moves, the New York Islanders have been fairly quiet this offseason, adding a couple of minor-league players, re-signing a couple of RFAs and inking a backup goaltender.

    "Barring injury, I think we'll be better," Isles GM Garth Snow told Newsday's Arthur Staple. "We built a team through the draft that can compete with any team on any given night. We think we'll be better. We have a lot of young players who will be bigger and stronger ... We like the group that we have."

    There's good reason to like what's already there. The Isles got back into the playoffs after missing out a year ago and have a solid young core led by superstar John Tavares.

    As far as the new rink goes, the team is playing scrimmages at Barclays Center, and the crowds have been good so far—so they are a hit in Brooklyn at the moment.

New York Rangers: Hit

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    The Move: Not trading Rick Nash.

    Sometimes the best move you can make is the one you don't.

    There was plenty of talk about the potential for a Rick Nash trade in the offseason, especially before his full no-trade clause kicked in on July 1. It never came to fruition. Instead, the New York Rangers made moves to deal extra parts, stockpile picks and add a prospect with potential in Emerson Etem, while shedding a little salary by dealing away Carl Hagelin.

    Nash didn't have a great spring. He hasn't, in fact, ever been much of a playoff performer. However, getting there is half the battle, and the 40-goal scorer is a big factor in the Rangers' regular-season success.

Ottawa Senators: Hit

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    The Move: Trading away Robin Lehner.

    The crease was getting extremely crowded in Ottawa with the emergence of Andrew Hammond and former up-and-comer Robin Lehner behind the veteran Craig Anderson.

    So the Senators had to make a move to thin the herd.

    Getting a first-round pick from the Buffalo Sabres in return for Lehner was solid. The Sens used the 21st overall pick to grab center Colin White, who will play for Boston College this fall.

    Matt Larkin of The Hockey News wondered why the Sabres didn't fare better in the deal considering the circumstances, which speaks to how much of a victory this was for the Senators:

    But the first-round pick… yikes. Considering how badly the Sens needed to move Lehner, and how much removing Legwand helps their finances, shouldn’t Buffalo have had a bit more leverage here?

Philadelphia Flyers: Hit

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Move: Unloading the Chris Pronger contract.

    The Philadelphia Flyers have shown great restraint this offseason, staying out of any high-priced bidding or making any foolish trades so far. In their one noteworthy move, they dumped defenseman Nicklas Grossman and the contract of Chris Pronger for Sam Gagner, whom they briefly considered buying out but instead decided to keep as a winger.

    Getting out from under the Pronger noose—the annual ebb and flow of their cap situation that saw them stretching in the offseason before getting the long-term-injury relief when the season began—was a nice bonus.

    Not everybody agrees with the move being a fair one, however.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Hit

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    The Move: Adding Phil Kessel via trade.

    Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin? That's the question facing sniper Kessel following his trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins from the Toronto Maple Leafs. One of those two superstars will be his center for the coming season.

    Without the intense scrutiny of the Toronto media, and plenty of big names already on the squad, Kessel will be allowed to just come in and score goals—which is what he does best. He could easily add another 40-goal season to his resume with either of those centers.

    The Penguins ranked 19th in goals per game last season and were dead last among the 16 teams in the playoffs, so the anticipated boost of offense will be much welcomed.

    “It’s a nice addition to our team,” Crosby told CTV News recently. “Obviously he’s a great scorer. He brings a lot. Offensively, he’s going to help any team. We’re happy to have him. From talking to him, he’s excited. It’s something everyone is looking forward to, a lot of anticipation.”

San Jose Sharks: Miss

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    The Move: Trading for Martin Jones.

    As exciting as it may have been for San Jose Sharks fans to see the team sign one of the top free agents on the market in Joel Ward, the Sharks were in desperate need of new blood between the pipes. They parted ways with former No. 1 netminder Antti Niemi, who was a pending UFA, by dealing his rights to the Dallas Stars after a subpar season.

    They picked up former Los Angeles Kings backup Martin Jones to be their new starting goaltender days later after Jones was dealt to the Boston Bruins in a deal for Milan Lucic. The restricted free agent quickly signed a three-year deal worth $9 million.

    It may turn out to be a good move for the future, but Jones isn't a proven commodity in the NHL, and there could be some growing pains as he takes the net as a starter for the first time at age 25. And the Sharks seem inclined to win sooner than later with veterans Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton still on the roster, and the addition of Ward.

    Like Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News suggests, the Kings defense is a great one to grow behind, and former Kings backups Jonathan Bernier and Ben Scrivens haven't gone on to great success since:

    Jones has put up stellar numbers in limited NHL starts, all with Los Angeles. The icky question for Sharks fans is whether or not those stats were partially owed to playing behind a Kings team that was defensively sturdy during his tenure. Ben Scrivens, for example, rocked a 1.97 goals-against average and .930 save percentage with the Kings, then dropped to a 3.01 GAA and .916 save pct. in the same season once he was traded to Edmonton. Are the Sharks going to be as bad as Edmonton was in 2013-14? No, but they still won’t be anywhere near the Kings from that same campaign.

St. Louis Blues: Hit

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    Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    The Move: Extending Vladimir Tarasenko.

    After sending T.J. Oshie off to Washington, the St. Louis Blues made the most of their newfound salary-cap space and inked their best player to the franchise's richest contract in history. Tarasenko signed an eight-year deal worth an average annual value of $7.5 million.

    Forget the bridge deal; Tarasenko has shown through three seasons in the NHL that he's a superstar in bloom. The 23-year-old scored 37 goals last year, finishing with 73 points in 77 games. Locking him up long-term avoids the kind of future headaches that teams like the Colorado Avalanche felt with Ryan O'Reilly and the Tampa Bay Lightning are experiencing with Steven Stamkos at the moment.

    “We saw, I think, just the tip of the iceberg of what Vladi can do in this league last year—highlight-reel goals in New York and against Minnesota in the playoffs,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said, via Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “At such a young age, to show those skills, really made this a priority for us to see if we could work with him to get him to sign a long-term extension.”

Tampa Bay Lightning: Miss

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Move: The extension of Steven Stamkos.

    Wait, he hasn't been extended yet? Well that's a big miss.

    Of course there is plenty of time—nearly a full calendar year in fact—for the deal to get done and ensure the captain remains a big part of the Lightning's future. However, the longer things go, the more ridiculous speculation we have to hear about how he will inevitably sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    After taking some swings with the Tampa Bay Rays, maybe we should throw in some rumors about a switch of sports too.

    Anyway, not much has really happened in Tampa this offseason, so here's a link to a crazy lightning bolt hitting ground near a Wendy's in Tampa.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Hit

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    Abelimages/Getty Images

    The Move: Saying goodbye to Phil Kessel.

    The return wasn't half bad considering how desperate the Toronto Maple Leafs wanted to unload Kessel this offseason. The Pittsburgh Penguins sent a couple of good prospects back, including Kasperi Kapanen—last year's first-rounder.

    More importantly, though, is the effect the move will have on the franchise that is starting from scratch with a new head coach in Mike Babcock.

    Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno suggests the deal is proof that things had to change to really move forward:

    What this trade bellows is that, even with Mike Babcock now at the helm, Kessel was beyond rehabilitation as a Leaf. He is un-coachable, as Toronto management figures it, inimical to the corrective ministrations of arguably the best bench commandant in hockey.

Vancouver Canucks: Miss

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Move: Trading Eddie Lack.

    On its own, it seems like a fine move. The team has three NHL goaltenders and needed to get that number down to two. Eddie Lack was shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes, where he'll get a chance to grow into a No. 1 netminder with Cam Ward in the final year of his contract.

    In return, the Canucks received a third- and seventh-round pick from the Canes.

    But in lieu of recent news that the team could have traded Ryan Miller instead, this one falls in the miss category. It's not just that Lack was definitively better than Miller in their time together last season—posting a 2.45 goals-against average and .921 save percentage to Miller's 2.53 and .911—but he's younger and less expensive, and the Canucks are engaged in a rebuild.

    The team blew it, and season ticket holders let GM Jim Benning know it at a recent event by booing him.

Washington Capitals: Hit

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    Juan Ocampo/Getty Images

    The Move: Signing Justin Williams.

    The Washington Capitals were among the more active teams in the offseason and added a couple of big pieces to their group of forwards with Williams and T.J. Oshie.

    Williams signed a two-year deal as a free agent worth $6.5 million—a bargain as one of the top free agents on the open market. Oshie was part of a three-player trade with the St. Louis Blues.

    Williams gets the nod here because of his experience as a winner and in clutch games, which earned him the nickname Mr. Game 7—a winner-take-all scenario the Caps have had trouble with in recent playoff seasons.

    "He just brings the things that we need that we don't have," Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said on a conference call, via the Associated Press. "We're looking to get over the hump, and he's been there before. I think he can have an effect on our team to get us there."

    Initial thought is Williams will join Alexander Ovechkin on the top line, with Oshie providing the same kind of physical determination and exuberance on the second line that Ovie offers on the top.

    Because it cost the Caps nothing but dollars, and because of Williams' great track record, the addition has the potential to be a big hit in the American capital.

Winnipeg Jets: Hit

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    Darko Bandic/Associated Press

    The Move: Signing Alexander Burmistrov.

    The reunion of sorts came at a great time for the Winnipeg Jets. They lost Michael Frolik via unrestricted free agency but gained Burmistrov after a two-year stint in the KHL. He signed a two-year deal worth $1.55 million per season

    The 23-year-old was drafted eighth overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010 and showed promise in parts of three seasons with the Thrashers and Jets before bolting for Russia.

    Coach Paul Maurice started the conversations about a return at the world championships last year, and it has come to fruition now.

    His versatility will help the young Jets replace Frolik and continue to grow as a group. Maurice is happy to have the options in front of him with the addition, according to an NHL.com article:

    I know the style he plays and the style Kazan played in the KHL. We talk about offense from Russian-born and raised players, but they're usually really smart defensively and skilled. (Frolik and Burmistrov) are similar in the way they view the game. Whether (Burmistrov) plays in that hole (with Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd), I don't know yet. I've got four combinations on the wall right now that we're playing with. That's my little summer toy. I get to play with that every time I'm bored.

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