Winners and losers from the NHL offseason


There are still some moves to be made in the NHL this offseason (some trades and a lot of restricted free agent signings), but with the draft and most of the major free agents already made it is time to take a look at some of the biggest winners and losers of the offseason.

When we look at winners and losers we are not just limiting it to teams.

It can also be individual players or groups of players.

Who fits in where?

Let’s take a look.


Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche. An already great team — maybe the best in the West on paper — managed to get even stronger by adding Brandon Saad (trade) and Devon Toews (trade) while only giving up Nikita Zadorov off of its NHL roster. That is a huge win.

Montreal Canadiens. Do not love everything the Canadiens did this offseason (the Joel Edmundson contract seems questionable, as is the Josh Anderson gamble) but getting Tyler Toffoli on that contract and the Jake Allen trade are very strong moves to improve the team’s depth. Carey Price and Allen can cover up a lot of issues defensively.

Josh Anderson. Speaking of the Canadiens, Anderson is a big winner for cashing in on a seven-year, $38.5 million contract. He is a good player when healthy, but he is coming off a major injury and scored just one goal in 26 games a year ago.

Kevin Shattenkirk. What a year for Shattenkirk. After being bought out by the New York Rangers he signs a cheap one-year deal in Tampa Bay, boosts his value again with a bounceback season, wins a Stanley Cup, and then gets a multi-year deal as a reward. Good for him.

Getty Images

Henrik Lundqvist and the Washington Capitals. It will be weird seeing him in a Capitals jersey instead of a Rangers jersey, but Lundqvist gets to play for a contender and gets another chance to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals get a still-solid (and definitely motivated) veteran to pair alongside Ilya Samsonov in net for a cheap price against the cap. A win all around.

[Related: ProHockeyTalk’s Free Agent Tracker]

Torey KrugHe has some big shoes to fill replacing Alex Pietrangelo, but he scored a major long-term deal after he could not come to terms on a similar contract with the Bruins. And he still gets to play for a contender.

Edmonton Oilers. They did not make any huge splashes, but Dominik Kahun, Kyle Turris, and Tyson Barrie are all outstanding low-risk contracts. They already have two MVPs, now the depth is better.

Buffalo Sabres. There should be skepticism about whether or not the Sabres are good enough to compete for a playoff spot because they still have some big questions (looking at you, goalies). But they did get Taylor Hall and Eric Staal while only giving up Marcus Johansson in the process. That is a big improvement, even if it is a short-term one. The long-term outlook is still incomplete, but they are better. How much better remains to be seen.

Vegas Golden Knights and Alex Pietrangelo. The Golden Knights had to give up a lot (Paul Stastny, Nate Schmidt) to clear enough salary cap space to sign him, but getting Pietrangelo is a game-changer on defense for the Golden Knights. He is still one of the best all-around defenders in the league and gives them a dominant 1-2 punch alongside Shea Theodore. They also still have what should be the best goaltending duo in the league, even if it is expensive and has the potential to create some drama.

Matt Murray. Going from a Stanley Cup contender to a rebuilding team at the bottom of the standings may not be much of a win, but the offseason was a huge win for Murray financially. After a couple of inconsistent seasons he still managed to score one of the biggest goalie contracts of the offseason in a goalie market that was overflowing with talent.


Fans of offer sheets (again). The Sebastian Aho saga a year ago was a total outlier. What a shame! If no one seriously went after the Tampa Bay Lightning duo of Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli given their salary cap situation then it is simply just not something that teams are going to seriously pursue.

The middle tier free agents. The pandemic and its impact on the salary cap situation seems to have hit the middle tier free agents the most. Players like Mike Hoffman and Mikael Granlund remain unsigned. Craig Smith, Evgenii Dadonov, and Toffolli all signed for probably far less than they would have in a normal offseason.

Blackhawks lost another Brandon Saad trade. The Blackhawks have been involved in three different Brandon Saad trades and have arguably lost all three of them. A stunning accomplishment. This latest trade saw them send Saad to Colorado for Zadorov in a move that did not really improve their defense or salary cap situation. This move coming just three years after they traded Artemi Panarin to reacquire Saad makes it sting even more.

[Related: ProHockeyTalk’s offseason trade tracker]

Panthers lost a lot of offense. This is a tough one because the Panthers’ offseason hasn’t really been bad. They have been busy — again — and did add some potentially useful players, but losing Dadonov and Hoffman is a significant hit to their offense. Are the defensive improvements they have made enough to offset that?

So did the Predators. The Predators were already a mediocre offensive team and said goodbye to three of their top-four goal scorers this offseason. They have done little to replace it or improve a power play unit that has been the league’s worst for two years now. There are some big questions here.

The Bruins defense. Krug is gone, Zdeno Chara (assuming he returns) is another year into his 40s, and they are relying almost entirely on improvements from within to replace all of that. Krug’s departure is the big one because that is a lot of production and a lot of minutes walking out the door.


Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.