NHL Teams That Missed Opportunity to Improve Their Rosters This Summer

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IAugust 4, 2015

NHL Teams That Missed Opportunity to Improve Their Rosters This Summer

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    The NHL's offseason is a fascinating time of the year as general managers attempt to bolster their rosters while giving up as little as possible to do so. The end result includes interesting negotiations, speculation and there is usually a pinch of mayhem thrown in for spice.

    Others throw caution to the wind and raid the prospect pool to add a seemingly quintessential piece, and some general managers do nothing, for better or for worse. In particular, there were teams such as the Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals who were aggressive in upgrading their rosters, and despite taking care of business early, their fellow adversaries simply did nothing.

    In the case of the Capitals, the New York Rangers didn't respond because they had their roster rounded out and lacked cap space. The New Jersey Devils, on the other hand, are in a transition period, so it wasn't expected.

    There are countless examples of teams that had logical reasons to stay inactive, but the following teams really had no reason to maintain the status quo heading into the 2015-16 season. With that in mind, here are the teams that missed an opportunity to improve their rosters this summer.

Other Teams

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Before going into the teams that missed out on an opportunity, here are the teams that made the most of the offseason and the categories they are in.

    Teams That Made Improvements

    The below teams made moves this summer that added talent to their rosters, and it can be argued that the moves have made their rosters better as a whole.

    1. Anaheim Ducks: Chris Stewart and Carl Hagelin
    2. Buffalo Sabres: Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel
    3. Calgary Flames: Dougie Hamilton, Michael Frolik
    4. Colorado Avalanche: Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko
    5. Columbus Blue Jackets: Brandon Saad
    6. Dallas Stars: Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Stephen Johns
    7. Detroit Red Wings: Mike Green, Brad Richards
    8. Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid, Andrej Sekera 
    9. Los Angeles Kings: Milan Lucic, Jhonas Enroth
    10. Minnesota Wild: Mike Reilly
    11. Montreal Canadiens: Alex Semin
    12. Pittsburgh Penguins: Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, Eric Fehr, Adam Clendening
    13. San Jose Sharks: Martin Jones, Paul Martin, Joel Ward
    14. Washington Capitals: T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams

    Teams That Remained Neutral

    The below teams made moves this summer that neither made their clubs better or worse.

    1. Boston Bruins: Traded Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton and Reilly Smith; added Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Collin Miller
    2. Vancouver Canucks: Traded Nick Bonino; added Brandon Sutter, Brandon Prust and Matt Bartowski
    3. Winnipeg Jets: Signed Matt Halischuk, Adam Pardy, Alex Burmistrov and Matt Fraser

    Teams That Operated Under Cap Crunch

    The below teams operated under a cap crunch, and as such, additions were limited to re-signings and subtractions were for financial reasons if applicable.

    1. Chicago Blackhawks
    2. Philadelphia Flyers
    3. New York Rangers

    Teams That Didn't Make Moves for Good Reason

    1. Ottawa Senators: Roster set for upcoming season, exception includes dealing of goaltender Robin Lehner
    2. Tampa Bay Lightning: Roster set for upcoming season, financial crunch approaching

    Teams in Rebuilding Stage

    1. Arizona Coyotes
    2. New Jersey Devils
    3. Toronto Maple Leafs: Traded Phil Kessel, added Nick Spaling, Kasperi Kapanen, Matt Hunwick, P.A. Parenteau, Daniel Winnik, Shawn Matthias and Mark Arcobello

New York Islanders

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    2014-15 Record: 47-28-7, 101 points

    Finish: Eliminated in Eastern Conference quarterfinals by Washington Capitals (4-3 series)

    Teams Around Them That Improved: PIT (Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, Eric Fehr), WSH (T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams), CBJ (Brandon Saad)

    The New York Islanders are a team that sorely needed to make a move or two this offseason to bolster a roster that failed to get the job done in the playoffs. Youth is a key strength of the Islanders roster, but you can only rely on youngsters for so long, and that was apparent during the playoffs.

    Case in point: Anders Lee was one of the Islanders' best forwards in the regular season, posting 25 goals and 41 points while averaging 14:24 a game in his first full season. Despite his great regular-season play, he struggled in the playoffs, and head coach Jack Capuano scratched him for Games 6 and 7.

    This is not to say he won't be better this season (by all accounts he should be better), but a look at the roster shows that team brass has high expectations for a youthful team.

    The top scorers, Lee excluded, from last season includes:

    • John Tavares (24) with 86 points
    • Kyle Okposo (26) with 51 points
    • Ryan Strome (21) with 50 points
    • Frans Nielsen (30) with 43 points
    • Brock Nelson (23) with 42 points
    • Josh Bailey (25) with 41 points

    Of this list, you can reasonably expect Tavares and Strome to easily repeat or surpass their previous point totals, Okposo, if healthy, should exceed the 51 points he accrued, Nielsen could regress with a drop in ice time, Bailey could could do the same and Nelson is up in the air as a sophomore who was on and off during the season. 

    It would have been nice for the Islanders to add another established piece to add some oomph to the top six, as the Penguins, Capitals and Blue Jackets each added a major forward to their top six.

    While the Islanders' forward corps looks good on paper, what happens if the youngsters struggle? That is a precarious situation to be in and one that could backfire. 

St. Louis Blues

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    2014-15 Record: 51-24-7, 109 points

    Finish: Eliminated in Western Conference quarterfinals by Minnesota Wild (4-2 series)

    Teams Around Them That Improved: DAL (Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Stephen Johns), COL (Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko), MIN (Mike Reilly)

    The St. Louis Blues took an interesting approach to being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season. St. Louis dealt T.J. Oshie to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Troy Brouwer, goaltender Pheonix Copley and a third-round draft pick in the 2016 NHL draft.

    The swap of Oshie and Brouwer is maddening since Oshie is a first-line forward and Brouwer is a third-line forward at best. The soon-to-be 30-year-old Brouwer has averaged 21 goals and 39 points a season throughout his career to date.

    Oshie turns 29 in December, and he has averaged 21 goals and 57 points a season in his brief seven-year NHL tenure, but in the previous two seasons, he averaged 22 goals and 62 points when accounting for per-games-played totals.

    The addition of Copley, a talented prospect, is meaningless in this context given the fact that the Blues have an abundance of netminders. The 2016 third-round draft pick also can't be quantified, although it may pan out in the next few years.

    If the Blues wanted to trade Oshie because they felt they needed to mix up the shape of their lineup, it's hard to disagree with that assertion. He has a great contract at $4.175 million for two more years and is a versatile top-six forward.

    The Blues sold low on him to add a veteran forward with an expiring contract, and other than that, their current roster isn't any better now than it was all last season. Re-signing Vladimir Tarasenko was a must, but the Blues didn't make enough changes to get them over the hump in 2015-16.

Nashville Predators

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    2014-15 Record47-25-10, 104 points

    Finish: Eliminated in Western Conference quarterfinals by Chicago Blackhawks (4-2 series)

    Teams Around Them That Improved: DAL (Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Stephen Johns), COL (Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko), MIN (Mike Reilly)

    The Predators spent the majority of their offseason taking care of restricted free agents such as Craig Smith and Colin Wilson, and they also gave Mike Ribeiro a new contract. There's reason to believe the Nashville Predators could be a very good team again in 2015-16, but it is baffling to see some of the moves the front office made.

    For example, the team brought in Cody Hodgson on a one-year deal, and it appears the front office feels he has more to offer than Mike Santorelli.

    While there is a chance the former top prospect of the Vancouver Canucks could rebound, Santorelli has a better track record and therefore would have been a better fit for the roster.

    In the last two seasons, Santorelli has tallied 22 goals and 39 assists for 61 points in in 128 games for a 0.48-points-per-game average. Hodgson, on the other hand, has 26 goals and 31 assists for 57 points in 150 games for a 0.38-points-per-game average.

    In addition to the 0.10-per-game gap, Santorelli is a versatile two-way forward who is solid on faceoffs, whereas Hodgson isn't as proficient defensively. It is clear the Predators see something more in him, because, by all accounts, they signed a lesser player for similar money.

    If the Predators were looking for a reclamation forward, why not take a chance on Alex Semin? He is a dynamic offensive winger who would have been a nice addition to the power play, and if he flamed out, he could've been dispatched via waivers. The Montreal Canadiens felt it was worth taking the risk, and they could end up with a true steal.

    Nashville also decided not to re-sign Cody Franson—he remains un-signed—and instead signed Barret Jackman for two years at $2 million a season. 

    Money isn't an issue for the Predators, as they have $12,355,777 in available cap funds, per General Fanager, and it would have made sense for the team to try and transform their offense given the fact that the Western Conference has shown that teams with significant talent generally go far in the playoffs.

Florida Panthers

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2014-15 Record38-29-15, 91 points

    Finish: Missed playoffs, No. 6 overall in Atlantic Division

    Teams Around Them That Improved: BOS (Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes), DET (Mike Green and Brad Richards), MTL (Alex Semin), BUF (Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel)

    The Panthers are a team that came very close to making the playoffs last season, and it was on the backs of some very talented young players. The addition of Jaromir Jagr at the trade deadline was a huge plus, but he's a player who is going to be 44 in February. 

    Florida made a move during the offseason by swapping Jimmy Hayes for Reilly Smith and the contract of Marc Savard. If the Panthers are going to spend to the salary cap, his contract would go on long-term injured reserve, but it is unlikely the team will spend that much. 

    It would be nice if the Panthers would spend some money to bolster their roster, because with a few minor additions to their budding core, they would be a hard team to stop. Florida has the chance to make some upgrades in the coming years, and one will hopefully be in goal as Roberto Luongo ages and loses effectiveness.

    The Panthers are still in the latter stages of a development phase, but they have the potential to take a leap forward if they spend wisely.

    Financial information via General Fanager. Statistics via Hockey-Reference.com. Transactions via NHL.com and CBS Eye on Hockey move trackers.


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