The Year In Review: Grading Each Atlantic Division GM’s Performance Over The Last Year

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General Managers around the NHL have been busy in the past year with free agency, trades, and the draft. While some teams like the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs have added superstars such as goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and center John Tavares, respectively, others have been unloading contracts in an effort towards rebuilding. NoVa Caps grades every GM’s performance by division since the end of the 2017-18 season. Today, we continue our series with the Atlantic Division.

Tampa Bay Lightning

In: Curtis McElhinney, Danick Martel, Jan Rutta, Cameron Gaunce, Luke Schenn, Luke Witkowski, Gemel Smith

Out: Andy Andreoff, Anton Stralman, J.T. Miller, Chris Kunitz, Matthew Peca, Jake Dotchin, Slater Koekkoek, Ondrej Sustr, Peter Budaj

The Lightning have done a good job of keeping their core together for many years and that hasn’t changed over the past two. With the roster mainly intact after blowing everybody away during the regular season last year and players like forward Nikita Kucherov, center Steven Stamkos, defenseman Victor Hedman, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay should be the favorite to win the Stanley Cup this year. The Lightning still have to re-sign center Brayden Point, a restricted free agent, after he tied Kucherov for second on the team in goals (41) and was third in points (92) last season but are in great shape for a Stanley Cup run.

Grade: A

Boston Bruins

In: Charlie Coyle, Paul Carey, Par Lindholm, Joakim Nordstrom, Brett Ritchie, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Jaroslav Halak

Out: Smith, Ryan Donato, Noel Acciari, Marcus Johansson

Like the Lightning, the Bruins have not made any significant changes to their core over the past couple years but have made some minor additions. Their top-line of forwards Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak may very well be the best in the NHL right now, their defense is as deep as any, and they have one of the best goaltenders in the business in Tuukka Rask. They need to re-sign defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as both are currently restricted free agents, but Boston is in a good position to contend in the Atlantic Division again this season.

Grade: B+

Toronto Maple Leafs

In: Tavares, Tyson Barrie, Jake Muzzin, Alexander Kerfoot, Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk, Nic Petan, GM Kyle Dubas, Kenny Agostino, Garrett Wilson, Pontus Aberg

Out: McElhinney, Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner, Connor Brown, Patrick Marleau, Nikita Zaitsev, Ron Hainsey, Calle Rosen, Michael Carcone, Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, Garret Sparks, Tyler Ennis, Josh Leivo, Michael Hutchinson, GM Lou Lamoriello, Assistant Coach D.J. Smith

The Maple Leafs have acquired a lot of talent over the past two years but that has come at a cost. Tavares, Barrie, and Muzzin were three excellent pick-ups by GM Kyle Dubas even if that meant that he had to unload players like Kadri, Gardiner, and Brown. Dubas has to re-sign forward Mitch Marner, a restricted free agent, after he led the Maple Leafs with 68 assists and 94 points last season but that will likely take care of itself by the time training camp starts. Toronto should be among the league’s top contenders for the 2019-20 season.

Grade: A

Montreal Canadiens

In: Peca, Max Domi, Tomas Tatar, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Keith Kinkaid, Nick Suzuki, Joel Armia, Jordan Weal, Dale Weise, Nick Cousins, Ben Chiarot, Phil Varone, Riley Barber, Christian Folin, Nate Thompson, Brett Kulak

Out: Agostino, Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Plekanec, Andrew Shaw, Jordie Benn, David Schlemko, Nicolas Deslauriers, Nikita Scherbak, Michael Chaput, Daniel Carr, Byron Froese, Jacob de la Rose, Ales Hemsky, Torey Mitchell, Kerby Rychel, Logan Shaw, Joe Morrow, Al Montoya

The Canadiens have been making a lot of headlines with their roster moves throughout the past few years, including trading Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights for Tatar and Suzuki and acquiring Domi from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Galchenyuk. GM Marc Bergevin has put his team in a good position to compete for a wild-card spot but needs to address the blueline before the Canadiens can take the next step.

Grade: B-

Florida Panthers

In: Bobrovsky, Stralman, Acciari, Mike Hoffman, Brett Connolly, coach Joel Quenneville

Out: Hutchinson, Roberto Luongo, James Reimer, Jared McCann, Nick Bjugstad, Derick Brassard, Jamie McGinn, Riley Sheahan, Troy Brouwer, Micheal Haley, Derek MacKenzie, Chris Wideman, Alexander Petrovic, Bogdan Kiselevich, Connor Brickley, coach Bob Boughner

The Panthers were relatively quiet last offseason but their one move was a good one: landing one of the top goal scorers in the game in Hoffman. The same cannot be said this offseason as they’ve arguably had the best summer out of any team in the NHL, landing one of the league’s top goaltenders in Bobrovsky, a top-four defenseman in Stralman, some scoring in Connolly, and one of the best coaches in NHL history in Quenneville.

Grade: A

Buffalo Sabres

In: Johansson, Jeff Skinner, Rasmus Dahlin, Conor Sheary, Carter Hutton, Brendan Montour, Colin Miller, Jimmy Vesey, Henri Jokiharju, Tage Thompson, Vladimir Sobotka, Matt Hunwick, Head Coach Ralph Krueger

Out: Ryan O’Reilly, Robin Lehner, Nathan Beaulieu, Patrick Berglund, Alexander Nylander, Chad Johnson, Seth Griffith, Danny O’Reagan, Brendan Guhle, Matt Tennyson, Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste, Kyle Criscuolo, Hudson Fasching, Jacob Josefson, Matt Moulson, Benoit Pouliot, Victor Antipin, Cliff Pu, Taylor Fedun, Justin Falk, Josh Gorges, Zach Redmond, Head Coach Phil Housley

The Sabres have made a lot of changes since finishing last in the NHL in 2018, acquiring Skinner, Sheary, Dahlin, and Miller and letting go of O’Reilly, Lehner, Nylander, and Beaulieu since. Buffalo has done a nice job putting pieces together to make it back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011 but they likely need more time as the East is too competitive.

Grade: A

Detroit Red Wings

In: de la Rose, Filip Zadina, Valterri Filpulla, Madison Bowey, Patrick Nemeth, Dylan McIlrath, Jonathan Bernier, Calvin Pickard, GM Steve Yzerman

Out: Witkowski, Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, Thomas Vanek, Nick Jensen, Martin Frk, Jared Coreau, Wade Megan, Jake Chelios, Libor Sulak, David Booth, GM Ken Holland

The Red Wings have not made a lot of changes in the past year but traded Nyquist and Jensen at the deadline last year in an effort to rebuild for the future. They picked up a skilled forward in the 2018 NHL Draft in Zadina and have a bright future, but it will take time for Zadina and the others to develop. There will be a bit of a wait in Detroit for them to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs again, but with the bright, young talent that they have, the Red Wings should be back in the race in the Eastern Conference in 2-3 years.

Grade: B

Ottawa Senators

In: Smith, Brown, Hainsey, Zaitsev, Carcone, Ennis, Brady Tkachuk, Artem Anisimov, Mikael Boedker, Anthony Duclair, Chris Tierney, Anders Nilsson, Vitaly Abramov, Rudolfs Balcers, Erik Brannstrom, Dylan DeMelo

Out: Ceci, Harpur, Luchuk, Hoffman, Carey, Falk, Wideman, Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Head Coach Guy Boucher, Brian Gibbons, Oscar Lindberg, Zach Smith, Fredrick Claesson, Tom Pyatt, Magnus Paajarvi, Max McCormick, Erik Burgdoerfer, Mike McKenna, Marian Gaborik, Alexandre Burrows, Gabriel Dumont, Jim O’Brien, Nick Shore, Ben Sexton

The Senators have been in rebuild mode for the past year and a half and have dealt key contributors such as Karlsson, Stone, Duchene, Hoffman, and Dzingel over that time. They have arguably got underwhelming returns for three of those players (Karlsson, Stone, Hoffman). The Senators are not going anywhere any time soon but have picked up some nice pieces like Anisimov, Brannstrom, Brown, and Tkachuk. Unfortunately, those player pale in value compared to the pieces that they’ve lost.

Grade: D

Previous GM Report Cards

Metropolitan Division

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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9 Responses to The Year In Review: Grading Each Atlantic Division GM’s Performance Over The Last Year

  1. Day One Caps Fan says:

    Another excellent analysis, Harrison Brown!

    I’m most curious to see what will happen with our good friends, the Tampa Bay Lightning. They caught Capitals’ disease last year, dominating the NHL winning the President’s Cup. Then they performed a remarkable swan-dive against CBJ in the playoffs. Hard to remember a more thunderous crash-and-burn!

    Fans will call for the scalp of their Attorney-turned-Head-Coach if something similar happens this season!

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  3. Bob says:

    Toronto an A? Can I get a little of what you’re smoking? They are 3 mill over the cap, and they still have to find a way to sign Mitch. Oh and they only have 4 nhl defenceman under contract. So a D would be more realistic.

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