Grading Every NHL Team's OffseasonOctober 3, 2021
Grading Every NHL Team's Offseason
The Stanley Cup was awarded in early July. Training camps opened up in mid-September.
That means the always-busy executive offices in the NHL's now-32 cities were particularly frenetic during two months of offseason activity that will shape what things look like when the regular season begins Oct. 12.
B/R's hockey writers got together as the wait time before puck drop dwindled into the single digits to discuss exactly how each team did during its summer vacation.
Some got better. Some got worse. Some stayed the same.
Grades were applied to all, and what follows is a divisional breakdown of the league with a quick reasoning behind each team's mark. Click through to see what we came up with, and feel free to drop a letter or two of your own in the comments section.
Boston Bruins: A
It's an "is the window still open?" debate in Boston these days, and Bruins brass did its part by keeping Taylor Hall and signing Linus Ullmark to compensate for injured goalie Tuukka Rask's departure.
Buffalo Sabres: F
OK, we'll concede that clearing out some players for the good of the future wasn't awful and that landing Owen Power atop the draft helps toward that end. But the Jack Eichel drama is bad optics. Period.
Detroit Red Wings: A
We may get tired of Steve Yzerman being smarter than everyone. Until then, getting a Calder finalist goalie (Alex Nedeljkovic), a 14-goal rookie (Pius Suter) and a veteran D-man (Nick Leddy) helps his cause.
Florida Panthers: B
Call this a follow-up grade to recent moves that reeled in Carter Verhaeghe and Brandon Montour. This time it meant getting 25-goal man Sam Reinhart from Buffalo, which helps build Miami-area momentum.
Montreal Canadiens: C
There was a lot going on this summer. A long playoff run. Corey Perry's and Phillip Danault's exits. Mike Hoffman's and David Savard's arrivals. But losing Jesperi Kotkaniemi via offer sheet leaves a sour taste.
Ottawa Senators: C
We will call this one a conditional grade. But it's a big condition. Franchise face and restricted free agent Brady Tkachuk remains unsigned after three years and 60 goals, and a deal has simply got to get done.
Tampa Bay Lightning: D
Winning a second straight Cup sort of eases the pain of a subpar grade, but the losses since the boat parade will sting, and we will soon see how vital Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow were to the Lightning.
Toronto Maple Leafs: C
You can call this one conditional too. If the Leafs end a 54-year drought, no one will care what the grades were. Only winning will end the angst over letting Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen walk in free agency.
Arizona Coyotes: D
If you're a Coyotes fan hoping for relevance in 2021-22, this summer didn't help. If you're looking longer term, maybe it did. Veterans left, and Arizona is stockpiling picks. This season's needle won't move much.
Chicago Blackhawks: A
Chicago GM Stan Bowman took his swing with the carnival hammer this summer. Marc-Andre Fleury is in from Vegas. Seth Jones is in from Columbus. Duncan Keith's contract is gone. Give that man a prize.
Colorado Avalanche: C
The Avs are good. And they will be good. Maybe banner-raising good. But there's concern. Losing No. 1 goalie Philipp Grubauer and getting Darcy Kuemper is the biggest concern heading into their season as favorites, per DraftKings.
Dallas Stars: C
The transaction wire was buzzing all summer, but the overall significance seems middling at best. General manager Jim Nill may still try to get an asset for a surplus goaltender, of which the Stars seem to have many.
Minnesota Wild: B
The team's main objective in the summer was to get Calder winner Kirill Kaprizov signed, and they did that late in the game. He will help maintain the 2020-21 progress, but dead-cap space from buying out both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise will be an issue soon.
Nashville Predators: F
Seems longer than four years since the Preds were in the title round, eh? Pekka Rinne's retirement leaves the net gig to Juuse Saros, but the exits of Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Ellis will be felt more in 2021-22.
St. Louis Blues: B
It looks like the Blues lost a lot in Vince Dunn, Jaden Schwartz and Mike Hoffman, but wingers Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich are sound refills. Where wantaway winger Vladimir Tarasenko plays remains a mystery.
Winnipeg Jets: A
Some teams went for star power. The Jets filled holes. They had a sound forward group and a stud goalie but lacked defense. Getting Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt helps there. A lot. This is a contender.
Carolina Hurricanes: D
The highest-profile fish in the free-agency pool left Carolina for New Jersey. And the Canes saw their 2020-21 goaltending tandem exit as well. Can they fill those holes and stay among the league's elite?
Columbus Blue Jackets: C
The optics weren't good when Seth Jones decided he wanted out. But Zach Werenski stayed, and GM Jarmo Kekalainen has done well in getting assets for stars. A load of draft picks helps the future too.
New Jersey Devils: A
The Devils won just 19 of 56 games last season and were seventh in an eight-team division. But they still got Dougie Hamilton to set up shop, and landing Jonathan Bernier as a No. 2 goalie was money. Bravo.
New York Islanders: B
Leave it to Lou Lamoriello to do it his way. The Islanders had a lot to get done this offseason but were notably quiet until a late flurry of activity. Kyle Palmieri stayed, which was the main priority.
New York Rangers: C
If "meh" was a grade, it would apply here. Getting Barclay Goodrow and his two-Cup pedigree is nice, but six years for a 28-year-old grinder seems iffy. If it all ends with an Eichel trade, though, call it a win.
Philadelphia Flyers: A
Just like the Jets, the Flyers entered the offseason with a specific hole and went about filling it. Blue liners Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and Keith Yandle will give Carter Hart a chance to rebound in goal.
Pittsburgh Penguins: F
Where the Rangers could qualify for a meh, the Penguins might be worthy of an "uh-oh." There was nothing significant in the way of adds to a team that's gotten older. Go ahead and say it: The window is now closed.
Washington Capitals: C
GM Brian MacLellan had one job: Keep Alex Ovechkin as he chases Wayne Gretzky's goal record. He did his job. Unloading Evgeny Kuznetsov wouldn't hurt, but for now it's a mission accomplished.
Anaheim Ducks: C
Nothing much to see here. Franchise icon Ryan Getzlaf remained in town on a manageable deal, and the prospect pool remains deep, but nothing of great consequence happened on the NHL-level roster.
Calgary Flames: C
Where the Ducks kept a foundational piece, the Flames watched one—team captain Mark Giordano—walk out the door to Seattle in the expansion draft. Getting Blake Coleman and Nikita Zadorov works, though.
Edmonton Oilers: B
This one will be reexamined at playoff time. The Oilers kept Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyson Barrie, extended Darnell Nurse, traded for Duncan Keith and signed Zach Hyman. But the goalies? Hmmm.
Los Angeles Kings: A
The Kings won't win the Cup this year. But they are better. Getting Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson augments the forward group, and Alexander Edler is reliable on the blue line. They will all help the kids grow.
San Jose Sharks: D
The Sharks continue to ride the league's low-middle wave. New goalies James Reimer and Adin Hill remind no one of Billy Smith and Chico Resch, and Evander Kane's saga is nothing if not distracting.
Seattle Kraken: A
Considering where they were as summer began—nowhere—it was a transformative few months in Seattle. And thanks to Philipp Grubauer and a strong defensive corps, they might even sneak into playoff chatter.
Vancouver Canucks: A
The Canucks finally sorted out deals with restricted free agents Elias Petterson and Quinn Hughes as October arrived. Along with a trade that yielded Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland, their presence will trigger an immediate turnaround.
Vegas Golden Knights: C
The main takeaway is the exile of Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago, which sounds bad considering he won the Vezina Trophy. Arriving forwards Evgenii Dadonov and Nolan Patrick could be big wins—or not.