Between the NHL Draft, crazy trades and free agent frenzy, it’s been a notable offseason for the league.
Many major players have switched teams, adding intrigue for the upcoming year and shuffling the deck heading into the 2016-17 season.
Considering the Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup less than a month ago — on June 12 to be exact — it’s hard to believe how many things have changed since that night in San Jose, Calif.
Some teams are worse off than they were prior to free agency beginning last Friday, while many have had busy offseasons to put themselves in tremendous shape going forward. We’re here to focus on the latter group.
Here are the three best offseasons by franchise thus far in the NHL offseason.
Honorable Mention: Oilers
Edmonton would probably make the list with relative ease if it wasn’t for one trade that we’re still trying to wrap our heads around. With Steven Stamkos opting to re-sign with the Lightning, Milan Lucic became the most coveted free agent on the market and the Oilers were able to reel him in. Lucic, 28, signed a seven year, $42 million contract with Edmonton after going 20-35–55 last season with the Kings.
Lucic will try to fill the void created by the trade of Taylor Hall, who led the team in scoring last season. Hall, 24, was dealt for practically nothing to the Devils, who gave up just defenseman Adam Larsson in a bizarre one-for-one. Pairing Lucic with promising young center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Connor McDavid, who shined in his rookie year, should pay dividends, but the uneven trade is just unforgivable.
3) New Jersey Devils
Ya gotta give the Devils their due — yeah, we went there. New Jersey absolutely fleeced Edmonton on the deal for Hall as Larsson has shown promise, but hasn’t lived up to his hype nor is he worth a straight one-for-one for Hall. The Devils added Hall (26-39–65 in 2016) to a club that scored a league-worst 2.22 goals-for per game in the 2015-16 season.
The Devils also signed Ben Lovejoy to a three-year contract, which will fill the void created by Larsson’s trade, and added more depth with the signing of Vernon Fiddler (one-year deal) and the addition of Beau Bennett via trade (for a third-round pick).
2) Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s been a very exciting offseason in Toronto as the Maple Leafs used their No. 1 overall draft pick to sign Auston Matthews, who is said to be a generational talent and could become an elite center in the NHL. Toronto, which allowed 2.93 goals per game this past season to rank a measly 25th in the league, also shored up its goaltending by acquiring the rights to Frederik Andersen from the Ducks and then signing him to a five-year, $25 million pact.
Andersen, 26, finished 37-22-9 last season with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. The Maple Leafs also added physical forward Matt Martin on a four-year, $10 million contract and upgraded the blue line with the addition of Roman Polak on a one-year, $2.25 million deal.
1) Nashville Predators
Though they haven’t been that busy compared to some other teams, the Predators may very well have won the offseason. It all started with a blockbuster trade that saw Nashville trade its captain Shea Weber to Montreal for impact player P.K. Subban in a one-for-one deal of defenseman.
Subban, 27, drives possession and is younger than Weber, 30, who is still under contract for 10 years. Subban finished 6-45-51 in 2015-16, while averaging 26:22 time on ice and finishing a plus-4. Weber finished 20-31–51, while averaging 25:23 and finishing a minus-7.
The Predators also re-signed Filip Forsberg to a six-year, $36 million deal, locking up the 21-year-old after he notched a career-high 33 goals and 64 points last season.
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