2020 Offseason Report Cards: Atlantic Division

Photo: TSN

As a result of the revenue impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL salary cap will remain flat for the next three years. The unexpected cap constraint has impacted how companies have managed free agency. NoVa Caps grades each of the 31 teams’ offseasons so far in a four-part series. Today, we review the Atlantic Division teams.

Detroit Red Wings

In: F Vladislav Namestnikov, D Marc Staal, G Thomas Greiss, D Troy Stetcher, D Jon Merrill, F Bobby Ryan

Out: D Madison Bowey, D Trevor Daley, F Brenden Perlini, D Jimmy Howard

Re-signings: F Adam Erne, F Sam Gagner

First-round pick: F Lucas Raymond

Remaining RFAs: F Tyler Bertuzzi, F Anthony Mantha, F Dmytro Timashov

Analysis: The Red Wings have made changes after getting eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention three weeks before the 2019-20 season paused due to COVID-19. They were able to sign Namestnikov and Ryan to contribute on offense and a few depth defensemen, including taking on the final year of Staal’s contract that carries a $5.7 million cap hit. The Red Wings upgraded their goaltending with the addition of Greiss to be their starter after their .9056 team save percentage last season was only better than the San Jose Sharks (.9012). Greiss posted a .913 save percentage or higher in four of the last five seasons with the New York Islanders. The Red Wings still have some work to do with two big restricted free agents but are entering the upcoming season in much better shape.

Grade: A

Ottawa Senators

In: G Matt Murray, F Evgenii Dadonov, F Austin Watson, D Erik Gudbranson, D Josh Brown

Out: Ryan, F Anthony Duclair, F Tyler Ennis, D Mark Borowiecki, D Ron Hainsey, F Mikkel Boedker, G Craig Anderson

Re-signings: F Connor Brown, C Nick Paul

First-round pick: C Tim Stuetzle, D Jake Sanderson, C Ridly Greig

Remaining RFAs: C Chris Tierney

Analysis: After the Senators solidified their goaltending by adding Murray, they opted not to issue Duclair a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent after he set a career-high 23 goals in 66 games last season. However, the addition of Dadonov should make up for the loss as he scored at least 25 goals in three consecutive seasons. Other than that, it has been mostly depth moves in Ottawa as they acquired Watson, Gudbranson, and Brown via trade. They also opted to buy out the final two seasons of Ryan’s contract, which carried a $7.25 million cap hit. The Senators struck gold at the draft where they got one of the top players in Stuetzle and a top defenseman in Sanderson with their two top-five picks. They still have to sign Tierney, but this has been a pretty solid offseason in Ottawa.

Grade: A

Buffalo Sabres

In: F Taylor Hall, C Cody Eakin, F Tobias Rieder, C Eric Staal, D Matt Irwin, D Brandon Davidson, GM Kevyn Adams

Out: F Marcus Johansson, F Jimmy Vesey, F Conor Sheary, F Dominik Kahun, F Wayne Simmonds, GM Jason Botterill

Re-signings: F Tage Thompson, F Curtis Lazar

First-round pick: F Jack Quinn

Remaining RFAs: G Linus Ullmark, F Victor Olofsson, F Sam Reinhart, D Lawrence Pilut

Analysis: The Sabres made a surprising move but one that will make the team better in signing Hall at a nice price at $8 million. They also got an upgrade at forward in acquiring Staal, who recorded 19 goals and 47 points in 66 games last season, from the Minnesota Wild for Johansson, who notched only nine goals and 30 points in 60 games last season. Other than that, it has been mostly depth signings in Buffalo, though they made a big change in the front office by firing Botterill and replacing him with Adams. The Sabres also got a nice prospect in Quinn, who recorded 52 goals and 89 points in 62 games with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s last season, with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft. However, work remains with their starting goaltender and two top-six forwards in need of a contract for next season.

Grade: B+

Montreal Canadiens

In: F Tyler Toffoli, G Jake Allen, D Joel Edmundson, F Josh Anderson

Out: F Max Domi, F Dale Weise, G Keith Kinkaid

Re-signings: F Brendan Gallagher, D Jeff Petry

First-round pick: D Kaiden Guhle

Remaining RFAs: F Charles Hudon

Analysis: After upsetting the Pittsburgh Penguins as the No. 12 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Canadiens had a big offseason. They made a bold move in trading Domi, who fit in well with the team, to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Anderson, who was limited to just 26 games last year due to injury, and then extending him for seven seasons at $5.5 million per. The Canadiens also made a couple big moves in free agency, adding a top-six winger in Toffoli and a top-four defenseman in Edmundson. They upgraded in goal by acquiring Allen, who went 12-6-3 with a .927 save percentage, a 2.15 goals-against average, and two shutouts in 27 games with the St. Louis Blues last season, which should only help Carey Price. The Canadiens re-signed a couple major pieces in Gallagher and Petry for the long run. They are definitely ready to take a big step this season thanks to all these moves.

Grade: B+

Florida Panthers

In: F Patric Hornqvist, F Vinnie Hinostroza, C Carter Verhaeghe, C Alex Wennberg, D Radko Gudas, D Markus Nutivaara, GM Bill Zito

Out: Dadonov, Brown, F Mike Hoffman (maybe), F Colton Sceviour, D Mike Matheson, D Mark Pysyk, C Dominic Toninato, C Brian Boyle, C Dryden Hunt, C Erik Haula (maybe), C Lucas Wallmark, GM Dale Tallon

Re-signings: N/A

First-round pick: C Anton Lundell

Remaining RFAs: D MacKenzie Weegar, F Aleksei Saarela

Analysis: After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, the Panthers have made a lot of changes, beginning in the front office as they hired former Blue Jackets’ assistant Zito to replace Tallon. They also parted with two top-six forwards in Dadonov and Hoffman. While they acquired Hornqvist, he is not going to put up the same production those two did. The Panthers made some moves at defense, acquiring Nutivaara via trade and Gudas via free agency, but sent out Matheson and Pysyk. The Panthers made some changes with the bottom-six forward group but not for the better. Expect the Panthers to take a step back this season.

Grade: D

Toronto Maple Leafs

In: Simmonds, Vesey, D T.J. Brodie, F Travis Boyd, F Joey Anderson, D Zach Bogosian, G Aaron Dell, C Joe Thornton

Out: Timashov, D Tyson Barrie, D Cody Ceci, F Kasperi Kapanen, F Andreas Johnsson, F Kyle Clifford

Re-signings: F Ilya Mikheyev, C Jason Spezza, D Travis Dermott

First-round pick: F Rodion Amirov

Remaining RFAs: N/A

Analysis: The Maple Leafs made some major changes after falling short of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in four seasons, letting Barrie walk in free agency and signing Brodie to replace him. They also signed Bogosian to provide some physicality and help the defense after he won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning, and Thornton to support Auston Matthews and John Tavares down the middle. They made some changes with their forward depth and were able to get a steal out of the Kapanen deal with the Penguins, where they got the pick they used to select Amirov along with prospects Jesper Lindgren, Filip Hallander, and AHL defenseman David Warsofsky. The Maple Leafs also shipped Johnsson out to the New Jersey Devils to acquire Anderson and added some depth forwards. They locked up two bottom-six forwards in Mikheyev and Spezza and a key part of their defense in Dermott for the near future.

Grade: B+

Tampa Bay Lightning

In: N/A

Out: Shattenkirk, Verhaeghe, Bogosian, D Jan Rutta

Re-signings: F Pat Maroon, C Mitchell Stephens, D Luke Schenn

First-round pick: N/A

Remaining RFAs: C Anthony Cirelli, D Erik Cernak, D Mikhail Sergachev

Analysis: The defending Stanley Cup Champions have had a quiet offseason but not for a lack of effort. Their three restricted free agents are major parts of the equation and the Lightning have slightly less than $2.9 million. The Lightning have tried to deal center Tyler Johnson and his $5 million cap hit and forward Alex Killorn and his $4.45 million contract but have not had any luck finding a trade partner yet. They were able to re-sign the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Maroon at a nice price – $900,000 for each of the next two seasons. The Lightning have not lost anything significant, though the loss of Shattenkirk will hurt some.  Still, they desperately need to make room for their three restricted free agents. Until they do that, it would be unfair to grade the Lightning.

Grade: Incomplete (but C as of mid-October)

Boston Bruins

In: F Craig Smith, C Greg McKegg

Out: D Torey Krug, F Joakim Nordstrom, D Zdeno Chara (maybe), F Brett Ritchie

Re-signings: D Matt Grzelcyk

First-round pick: N/A

Remaining RFAs: F Jake DeBrusk

Analysis: After finishing first in the NHL with a 2.39 goals-against per game average, the Bruins lost one of their top defensemen in Krug in free agency and are at risk of losing another in Chara, who is an unrestricted free agent and could retire. At forward, they lost a couple of bottom-six forwards but added a solid two-way forward in Smith, who netted 18 goals last season. They also added a fourth-line center in McKegg and re-signed Grzelcyk, who could see an increased role next season. The Bruins still need to sign DeBrusk, who recorded 19 goals last season, but even after they get that done, the team will likely take a step back this season after losing Krug and perhaps Chara.

Grade: C-

Previous Offseason Report Cards:

Central Division

Pacific 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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