Let’s cut to the chase and wrap up these division previews.
Check out these other previews: Atlantic Division, Central Division, Metropolitan Division, PHT’s picks and predictions.
- The Anaheim Ducks didn’t lose Sami Vatanen to the expansion draft, as some feared. Still, Shea Theodore is a painful loss, even though he highlights the Ducks’ riches on defense in his departure.
- Cam Fowler had been trade rumor fodder for what felt like ages. The Ducks flipped the script, signing him to an eight-year, $52 million extension that remains eye-popping.
- To some surprise, the Ducks brought back Patrick Eaves, a guy who once seemed like a nice rental. Then again, do you let a beard like that go?
- The Ducks will limp, rather than waddle, into the season because of injuries to the likes of Eaves, Ryan Kesler and Ryan Miller. (Side note: Kesler’s work ethic deserves a plug.)
- Goodness, what an offseason for the Coyotes. Mark them down as one of the biggest movers, even if it remains to be seen if they can make big gains right away.
- Arizona added a possible first-line center option in Derek Stepan, while they’ll ponder Antti Raanta‘s credentials as a potential goalie of the future. Raanta will need to prove it, as they didn’t hand him an extension off the bat, like some teams have done in similar situations.
- The Coyotes also shipped Connor Murphy to the Chicago Blackhawks for fantastic defensive defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.
- That defense looks deadly after also adding Jason Demers to the mix.
- There was a period where parting ways with Dave Tippett, Mike Smith, and Shane Doan seemed like bad PR. That wave of moves likely washes that away, and gives new head coach Rick Tocchet something to work with.
- There’s still work to do, however.
- The Flames keep clearing their throats at all that praise for the Coyotes. They made big changes, too.
- One area that should be intriguing is in net. Smith and Eddie Lack replace Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson as the Flames’ goalies. That’s a different duo; will they be better?
- If nothing else, the Flames deserve our collective appreciation for giving Jaromir Jagr a long-overdue contract. It should be fascinating to see where the legendary winger fits in.
- Calgary sent assets to the New York Islanders for Travis Hamonic, setting the stage for an outstanding defense alongside Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, and T.J. Brodie. Re-signing Michael Stone could also help solidify the bottom pairing.
- Whether you agreed with the moves or not, this was a historic offseason for the Oilers. It all starts with two huge contract extensions: Connor McDavid taking a bit less than he could and Leon Draisaitl‘s $8.5M cap hit causing some consternation.
- Yes, the Oilers’ cap situation could end up being scary.
- That has as much to do with the makeup of the supporting cast as anything else. Kris Russell receiving term and a $4M cap hit draws somewhat similar criticism to the deal Milan Lucic landed a year earlier.
- Another polarizing move: shedding Jordan Eberle‘s $6M in a trade that landed tough-to-gauge forward Ryan Strome, who’s entering a contract year. Could Ryan Nugent-Hopkins eventually join Eberle and Taylor Hall as $6M men traded out of town?
Los Angeles Kings
- After another disappointing season, the Kings cleaned house, with GM Dean Lombardi and head coach Darryl Sutter out.
- The new regime includes John Stevens being elevated to head coach and Rob Blake taking over as GM.
- Improvement might be incremental, perhaps in part because of salary cap troubles. They seem to be taking modern approaches.
- Still, there were some promising steps. Both Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli signed affordable deals. Michael Cammalleri signed the $1M summer bargain special. Not bad.
San Jose Sharks
- As much as the Sharks have been able to keep the band together, a major era ended this summer. Patrick Marleau is now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s going to be weird.
- Joe Thornton, however, came back. The Sharks found a nice compromise by giving him generous money, but just for one year.
- The world got to see Brent Burns and Jumbo Joe just about naked. Enter if you dare. Also, Burns and McDavid made some funny ads.
- Again, the band is staying together. Marc-Edouard Vlasic joins Burns and Martin Jones as aging (but impressive) players locked up long-term in San Jose. The hope is that regression does not begin anytime soon … but we’ll see.
- The bad news is that, despite a dismal season, the Canucks didn’t get one of the top two picks. If tanking is the plan, another rough year could be in order.
- Also not so great: the possible year-long story about the Sedin twins staying or going.
- Yes, there’s some gloom. Yet, after a strong trade deadline and some savvy offseason moves, there’s hope that Vancouver might make some strides in their rebuild.
- They also might be marginally more pleasant this season. The additions of Sam Gagner, Michael Del Zotto, and Thomas Vanek aren’t likely to make them a good team, but it might make Vancouver easier on the eyes.
Vegas Golden Kngihts
- Golden Knights GM George McPhee gleefully cornered the trade market heading into the expansion draft. Vegas didn’t end up with a ton of immediate returns outside of a few nice players (James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, David Perron, Shea Theodore, and Marc-Andre Fleury in particular), but this franchise has a ton of draft picks in 2017 and beyond.
- They seemed to do well in their first draft, too. Independent observers agreed.
- Really, it’s another post to review the Golden Knights’ entire offseason. Take a peek at the league’s opening night rosters to get a sense of where they stand today, though.