In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at the most impactful additions teams made for the 2020-21 season.
That includes free agent signings, offseason trades, and in-season trades.
It does not include rookies, so for as impactful as Kirill Kaprizov or Ilya Sorokin may have been, they do not fit the definition we are looking for here since they were already part of their respective organizations as former draft picks. We are looking for players that were actually added to the organization.
Regular season and postseason contributions are all counted.
Leading the way are a handful of players making meaningful contributions to some semifinalists, including two of the bigger free agent signings of the offseason and one of the bigger trade deadline additions.
Who all makes the cut in this week’s NHL Power Rankings?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
1. Tyler Toffoli, Montreal Canadiens. In terms of overall production and value against the salary cap this is the best addition of the offseason, and I am not even sure it is particularly close. Toffoli finished as the seventh-leading goal scorer in the NHL, has been the leading scorer on a playoff semifinalist, has a series clinching goal, and has been Montreal’s biggest offensive difference-maker all season. Not only that, he is also a fantastic all-around player aside from his goal scoring and they got him for a steal of a price against the salary cap (just a little over $4M per season on a manageable four-year contract). Tremendous move by Marc Bergevin and the Canadiens, and a miserable show of cap management and roster management by the Canucks to let him get away.
2. Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas’ latest big-ticket move was to sign Pietrangelo away from the Blues in free agency. It is a massive contract, but he has given the Golden Knights another bonafide top-pairing defenseman (along with Shea Theodore). Very strong regular season performance that is in line with his normal career levels and an outstanding postseason. They paid a steep price and they are getting big production.
3. Kyle Palmieri, New York Islanders. A significant trade deadline addition. The Islanders needed scoring, especially in the absence of team captain Anders Lee, and Palmieri was a perfect fit in terms of style and substance. His Islanders career got off to a slow start, but he has been everything they wanted and needed in the playoffs. A big reason they are two wins away from their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1984.
[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
4. Devon Toews, Colorado Avalanche. As if the Avalanche needed another impact player on their blue line. They acquired Toews from the Islanders for two second-round draft picks, immediately signed him to a four-year contract extension, and got an incredible season from him. With Cale Makar, Sam Girard, Toews, and the arrival of Bowen Byram the Avalanche defense is set for years.
5. Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins. When we saw Taylor Hall, we mean the Boston version of Taylor Hall. Because Buffalo, well, that just did not work out for anybody. Boston, though, was a very different story. From the moment he arrived Hall started to regain his top-line, MVP-level form and helped give the Bruins something they desperately lacked — a second scoring line. It did not produce a Stanley Cup, but if the Bruins can get Hall re-signed he should continue to be an impact player.
6. Cam Talbot, Minnesota Wild. The Wild were one of the biggest surprise teams in the league this season, and the arrival of Kaprizov was a huge factor in that sudden turnaround. Better goaltending also played a big role. Talbot was not one of the bigger names in the goaltending carousel this offseason but he made one of the best and most consistent impacts for a Wild team that ended up being one of the league’s best.
7. Carter Verhaeghe, Florida Panthers. In some ways Verhaeghe is a testament to the absurd depth the Lightning have accumulated over the years. He dominated in the AHL for them, could barely crack their NHL lineup, did not get a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent due to salary cap reasons, and then signs a cheap contract in Florida and plays like a top-line player.
8. Jeff Carter, Pittsburgh Penguins. He showed he still has something left in the tank. A lot, actually. He was one of Pittsburgh’s best players following his acquisition from the Kings and figures to play a prominent role next season as either their third-line center, or second-line center depending on how long Evgeni Malkin is sidelined.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 schedule, TV info]
9. Craig Smith, Boston Bruins. This was a really strong signing by the Bruins and along the same lines as the Toffoli deal in Montreal. Good player, good value, good fit. Smith, Hall, and David Krejci helped form an outstanding second scoring line in Boston that was a perfect complement to the big line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak. The only problem now is two of those three (Hall and Krejci) are unrestricted free agents this offseason.
10. Corey Perry, Montreal Canadiens. This one is probably a surprise. Even though Perry is not the player he was at his peak, he has still proven to be a very strong addition to the Montreal lineup. He scored at a 15-goal, 40-point pace over 82 games, had great possession numbers, and has been outstanding in the playoffs during the Canadiens’ shocking run through the playoffs. He only cost them $750,000 against the salary cap. You could not have possibly asked for more from that signing.
Honorable mentions: Tyson Barrie (Edmonton Oilers), Chris Tanev (Calgary Flames), Patric Hornqvist (Florida Panthers), Kasperi Kapenen (Pittsburgh Penguins), Brandon Saad (Colorado Avalanche), Sam Bennett (Florida Panthers), Mike Reilly (Boston Bruins), Jakub Vrana (Detroit Red Wings), Anthony Mantha (Washington Capitals)
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.