NHL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands After the First Wave of Free Agency

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2021

NHL Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands After the First Wave of Free Agency

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    Flat cap. Schmat cap.

    Though a second season of $81.5 million payrolls seemed likely to temper the NHL's latest free-agency spending spree, the money has been flying fast and free since things got underway on Wednesday.

    Nearly 250 signings covering more than 400 contract years worth nearly $1 billion had been made official through Saturday evening, including $9 million or more annually in new deals or extensions for Zach Werenski, Brayden Point, Alex Ovechkin, Seth Jones, Dougie Hamilton and Cale Makar.

    And while uncertainty remains as teams construct rosters for the 2021-22 season, those initial puzzle pieces have provided jolts of optimism for some fanbases while others are lamenting inaction.

    The B/R ice hockey team kept its finger on the pulse of the league throughout the playoffs and the draft process, and we continued to do so as the free-agent dominoes began to fall. The result is a new bottom-to-top ranking of all 32 teams with updates based on the changes each has or hasn't made.

    Read on to see what we think of what your team has done, and we invite you to head to the comments section to let us know your thoughts—and to provide some feedback on where we got things right.

Nos. 32-26: Sabres, Kraken, Sharks, Coyotes, Ducks, Red Wings, Canucks

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    Scott Rovak/Getty Images

    32. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week: 31st)

    Thought the Jack Eichel drama was on the back burner, eh? Not quite. The player's agents issued a statement Friday, lambasting the Sabres and suggesting the process to get Eichel ready to play by opening night "is not working." Elsewhere, the team's No. 1 goalie, Linus Ullmark, signed with Boston. Ouch.

                 

    31. Seattle Kraken (Last Week: 32nd)

    The Kraken haven't played, but they made a jump in the rankings thanks to a prolific initial free-agency period. Signing Philipp Grubauer from Colorado gives them a legit No. 1 goalie and the additions of Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Wennberg beef up a forward group that already included Jordan Eberle. Sorry, Sabres. 

             

    30. San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 29th)

    News that the NHL is launching an investigation into the conduct of Evander Kane after his wife, Anna, alleged the 30-year-old gambled on his own games has overshadowed the transactional news the Sharks made during the week. This isn't surprising given that inking a 33-year-old goalie, James Reimer, was the biggest move they made. He arrives on a two-year deal from Carolina, and San Jose also picked up veteran Andrew Cogliano.

             

    29. Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 27th)

    The team that opens the 2021-22 in Coyotes uniforms will look substantially different to the one that ended 2020-21. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland were traded to the Canucks for three picks and a trio of players prior to the draft, and No. 1 goaltender Darcy Kuemper was sent to Colorado for two picks and defenseman Conor Timmins.

               

    28. Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 30th)

    It was a quiet week at Disney West, where the Ducks' only significant move was holding on to 36-year-old center Ryan Getzlaf with a one-year, $4.5 million deal. There had been suggestions the lone holdover from the team's Stanley Cup win in 2007 would go elsewhere, but he'll get a final victory lap in Anaheim.

             

    27. Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 24th)

    General manager Steve Yzerman held on to one of his own by getting restricted free agent Tyler Bertuzzi to agree to a two-year contract worth $4.75 million per season. The 26-year-old's 2020-21 season was essentially scrapped by injury, though he did score five goals in just nine games played.

              

    26. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 21st)

    The bulk of the Canucks' offseason work has come via trades, not signings. Getting defenseman Ekman-Larsson and forward Garland from Arizona was a bold stroke for GM Jim Benning and allowed him to exchange non-productive salaries for players who should contribute right away.

Nos. 25-21: Blue Jackets, Senators, Devils, Flames, Predators

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    25. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 26th)

    The free-agency departure gate from Columbus has been busy in recent years, but the team put at least a temporary halt to the exodus by extending Werenski for six years and $57.5 million. He'll take over the No. 1 blue-line spot after Seth Jones was dealt to Chicago.

                 

    24. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 25th)

    Lower-profile successes were gained by the Senators and GM Pierre Dorion, who moved Evgenii Dadonov and the final two years of his contract—at $5 million per year—to Vegas and got a 2022 third-round pick for his trouble. Additionally, signing D-man Michael Del Zotto from Columbus provides a back-end boost.

            

    23. New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 28th)

    It's transformation time in the Garden State, where the Devils caught the biggest free-agent fish by getting Hamilton to sign on for seven years at $9 million apiece. They also traded for defenseman Ryan Graves and signed former Cup winner Jonathan Bernier, who will team with Mackenzie Blackwood in goal.

             

    22. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 22nd)

    The Flames haven't won a title since 1989, but they got a piece of the reigning two-time champions by signing 29-year-old center Blake Coleman from Tampa Bay to a deal worth $29.4 million over six seasons. Meanwhile, the loss of captain Mark Giordano to the Kraken reshapes the locker room.

                 

    21. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 19th)

    Not exactly a high-profile week of deal-making in Nashville, though the Predators did retain one of their own with a four-year, $20 million contract that will keep center Mikael Granlund in town. And David Rittich arrives as the No. 2 goaltender to fill a gap created by Pekka Rinne's retirement.

Nos. 20-16: Blackhawks, Kings, Canadiens, Flyers, Penguins

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    20. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 20th)

    The Blackhawks made a bold move by getting Jones in a deal with Columbus and a bolder one when they acquired Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas. Getting the veteran to agree to come to Chicago could be the hardest part of that deal, though he said Sunday that he'll give it a go for 2021-22.

               

    19. Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 23rd)

    The Kings took a step forward with a trade that brought forward Viktor Arvidsson from Nashville and Day 1 free-agency deals that netted two-way forward in Phillip Danault and veteran defenseman in Alexander Edler. Danault, a perennial Selke Trophy contender, got $33 million over six years.

               

    18. Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 15th)

    The Habs followed a run to the Stanley Cup Final with a hole-plugging binge to replace players who left. Defenseman David Savard replaces the long-term injured Shea Weber, Cedric Paquette fills a gap created by Danault's exit and Mike Hoffman arrived from St. Louis to replace Tomas Tatar.

              

    17. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 18th)

    It wasn't exactly a free-agent frenzy for GM Chuck Fletcher, but that doesn't mean the Flyers haven't been busy transforming the roster. Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen arrived via trades, and veteran Keith Yandle signed from Florida, all to bolster a blue line that struggled in 2020-21.

               

    16. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 10th)

    The bad news: The Penguins won't be planning a welcome back party for Fleury. The good news: They signed 27-year-old winger Brock McGinn to a four-year, $11 million deal from Carolina after he reached double-digit goals twice with the Hurricanes. Also, Dominik Simon returns after a year in Calgary.

Nos. 15-11: Stars, Blues, Oilers, Rangers, Jets

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    Steve Russell/Getty Images

    15. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 17th)

    It was one defenseman out, one defenseman in for the Stars, who lost Jamie Oleksiak to the Kraken but then plucked Ryan Suter from Minnesota after a buyout and gave him a four-year deal worth $3.65 million apiece. Added to the goaltending mix was Braden Holtby, who's in for a year at $2 million.

             

    14. St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 13th)

    The Blues lost a pair of former Cup winners to the Kraken, first when Vince Dunn was selected in the expansion draft and subsequently when Schwartz signed a five-year, $27.5 million deal as an unrestricted free agent. The arrivals gate swung open when Brandon Saad signed a five-year, $22.5 million deal.

              

    13. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 14th)

    Say what you like about GM Ken Holland, but don't say he hasn't been busy. The Oilers re-signed Tyson Barrie and attracted Zach Hyman, Cody Ceci and Derek Ryan. Trades also netted Warren Foegele from Carolina for Ethan Bear and Duncan Keith from Chicago for Caleb Jones. The goalie tandem remains a question.

                 

    12. New York Rangers (Last Week: 16th)

    The talent-laden Rangers got a little more difficult to play during free agency, thanks to the acquisitions of defensemen Patrik Nemeth and Jarred Tinordi to deals worth $7.5 million and $1.8 million, respectively. They added Tampa Bay's Barclay Goodrow via trade and likely remain alert for a Jack Eichel blockbuster chance.

                 

    11. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 12th)

    The Jets needed to upgrade on defense and did that, engineering trades that brought in Brenden Dillon from Washington and Nate Schmidt from Vancouver. Dillon has three years remaining on an existing deal and Schmidt has four. Meanwhile, Paul Stastny and Dylan DeMelo will remain in Winnipeg.

Nos. 10-6: Wild, Capitals, Bruins, Maple Leafs, Islanders

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    10. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 8th)

    Buyouts of veterans Zach Parise and Ryan Suter started the transactional ball rolling for the Wild, who also added Jon Merrill and Dmitry Kulikov to the blue line. A bit more than $19 million in cap room remains with Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov and restricted free agent Kevin Fiala left to sign.

             

    9. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 11th)

    Rest easy, folks. Alex Ovechkin will make his run at Wayne Gretzky's NHL goal-scoring record while wearing a Capitals uniform. He signed a five-year deal worth $47.5 million before hitting the open market. Washington got second-round picks in both 2022 and 2023 in the Dillon trade with Winnipeg.

            

    8. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 7th)

    It's window-opening time in Boston thanks to the re-signing of Taylor Hall to a four-year deal worth $24 million. Getting goalie Linus Ullmark from Buffalo was a good move, and the Bruins also inked Nick Foligno for two years at $3.8 million per. As for losses, David Krejci has headed home to the Czech Republic.

             

    7. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 9th)

    Hyman was the biggest name to leave, but the Maple Leafs may have upgraded in goal with what essentially became a swap with Carolina. Frederik Andersen is off to the Hurricanes in exchange for Petr Mrazek, who got three years at $3.8 million apiece. He had a 2.06 goals-against average last season.

                

    6. New York Islanders (Last Week: 6th)

    There's a lockdown on information coming out of Long Island, which means no one's officially gotten word of GM Lou Lamoriello's plan. They are considered favorites by Arthur Staple of The Athletic to get Parise after the Wild buyout and to keep Kyle Palmieri after the trade with New Jersey at the 2020-21 deadline.

Nos. 5-1: Hurricanes, Panthers, Avalanche, Golden Knights, Lightning

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    Scott Audette/Getty Images

    5. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 4th)

    It'll take some time for fans in Raleigh to memorize the roster, which saw Hamilton, Mrazek, Foegele, McGinn and Alex Nedeljkovic exit. Among the replacements are goalies Andersen and Antti Raanta and defensemen Ian Cole and Tony DeAngelo. Nearly $12 million in cap space remains.

                  

    4. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 5th)

    There wasn't a lot of free-agency news in metropolitan Miami outside of Wennberg and Chris Driedger heading to Seattle and Yandle to Philadelphia. But the Panthers got Sam Reinhart in a trade from Buffalo's fire sale. Reinhart had 25 goals and 40 points with the Sabres in 54 games last season.

                

    3. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 2nd)

    The Avs took care of their own by holding on to captain Gabriel Landeskog and extending defenseman Cale Makar, but Grubauer led a long line of departures along with Saad and Nemeth. Grubauer's absence is tempered by the arrival of Kuemper, who's got a year left on a two-year $9 million deal he signed in 2019.

            

    2. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 3rd)

    Fleury's out to Chicago and free agent Laurent Brossoit is in for the Golden Knights to play alongside Robin Lehner. Brossoit arrived from Winnipeg for two years at $2.325 million apiece. Dadonov arrives from Ottawa to boost the power play, while rugged winger Ryan Reaves was dealt to the Rangers.

              

    1. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 1st)

    The champs have taken some hits, but they are still the champs. They signed Point to a big-money extension that will keep him in Florida through 2029-30. Also arriving to Jon Cooper's locker room are goalie Brian Elliott, defenseman Zach Bogosian, veteran wing Corey Perry and bottom-six forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.

               

    Salary-cap information came courtesy of CapFriendly unless otherwise noted.

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