Photo: Las Vegas Review Journal
With the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, entry draft, and most of the top free-agents signed this offseason, a lot of teams have moved up and down. How has each team faired? NoVa Caps grades each team’s offseason so far by division starting with the Pacific.
Note: The grade reflects how much each team saw their roster improve (or worsen) and how it impacts the team’s outlook for next year.
A – greatly improved present and future outlook
B – improved present and future outlook but not dramatically
C – stood pat (C+, it was fine to do so; C-, should have been more active)
D – got worse in present and/or future
F – got significantly worse in present and/or future
In: G Phillip Grubauer, LW Jaden Schwartz, C Alexander Wennberg, RHD Connor Carrick, LW Marcus Johansson, G Chris Driedger, RHD Jamie Oleksiak, LHD Adam Larsson
Out: G Vitek Vanecek, RW Tyler Pitlick, LHD Kurtis MacDermid, LHD Gavin Bayreuther
Re-signings: LHD Vince Dunn, C Alexander True, RHD Will Borgen
First-round pick: C Matthew Berniers
Remaining RFAs: LW Carsen Twarynski, LHD Dennis Cholowski
Analysis: The Kraken passed on some talent in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft as St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, and New York Islanders right wing Josh Bailey were among the big names bypassed to preserve financial flexibility in a flat salary cap environment. However, they got plenty of good players out of expansion and improved that on the free-agent market.
- reigning Vezina Trophy finalist in Grubauer (who went 30-9-1 with a .922 save percentage, a 1.95 goals-against average, and seven shutouts with the Colorado Avalanche last season);
- Schwartz (who has eclipsed the 19-goal and 55-point mark five times each in his nine-season NHL career with the St. Louis Blues);
- Driedger (who went 14-6-3 with a .929 save percentage, a 2.09 goals-against average, and three shutouts with the Florida Panthers);
- Larsson (who recorded four goals, 10 points, a +2 rating, a 46% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 48.12% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 45.53% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 56 regular-season games with the Edmonton Oilers);
- Oleksiak (who recorded four goals, 10 points, a +2 rating, a 46% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 48.12% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 45.53% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 56 regular-season games with the Dallas Stars);
- Wennberg (who earned 17 goals and 29 points in 56 games with the Panthers); and
- Johansson (who notched six goals and 14 points in 36 games with the Minnesota Wild).
The Kraken, who currently have nearly $10 million in cap space, were able to accumulate assets for a few of their lower-end expansion picks and could still get some draft picks back as they need to trim their roster to 23 players by the end of training camp. Oleksiak’s contract (five years at a $4.6 million cap hit) might be a head-scratcher but they still have a lot of cap flexibility and will enter the season with one of the NHL’s best goaltending tandems in Grubauer and Driedger.
In: RW Buddy Robinson, RHD Greg Pateryn
Out: LHD Haydn Fleury, LW Danton Heinen, C Carter Rowney, RW David Backes, LW Andrew Agozzino, RHD Andy Welinski
Re-signings: C Ryan Getzlaf, C Sam Steel
First-round pick: C Mason McTavish
Remaining RFAs: LW Max Jones, C Max Comtois
Analysis: The Ducks, who are reportedly in the sweepstakes for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, did not do a lot to improve a team that finished second-to-last in the NHL in points in 2020-21. They arguably got worse as they lost:
- Fleury (earned three goals, four points, a -6 rating, a 52.42% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 49.62% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 52.33% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 47 games with the Ducks and Carolina Hurricanes last season), and
- Heinen (who hit the double-digit goal mark and 25-point mark in the three prior seasons before this one, where he tallied seven goals and 14 points in 43 games) for nothing.
To fill the gap, the Ducks brought in 29-year-old Robinson, who has just two goals and three points in 21 career NHL games. Meanwhile, they still have work to do with two of their future cornerstones restricted free agents remaining unsigned. Perhaps acquiring Eichel will give a big boost to the Ducks’ offseason, but their moves so far have only made a rebuilding team even worse.
San Jose Sharks
In: G Adin Hill, G James Reimer, C Nick Bonino, LW Alexander Barabanov, C Andrew Cogliano, RW Nick Merkley
Out: Pateryn, G Martin Jones, G Josef Kosenar, C Ryan Donato, LW Patrick Marleau, C Alexander True, RHD Christian Jaros
Re-signings: Hill, LW Matt Nieto
First-round pick: C William Eklund
Remaining RFAs: C Noah Gregor
Analysis: The Sharks reworked their goal crease, as they bought out the final three seasons of Jones’ contract and traded Kosenar and a second-round pick for Hill and a seventh. Hill went 9-9-1 with a .913 save percentage, a 2.74 goals-against average, and two shutouts with the Arizona Coyotes last season and signed a two-year contract that carries a $2.175 cap hit. They also signed Reimer, who went 15-5-2 with a .906 save percentage and a 2.66 goals-against average with the Carolina Hurricanes last season.
The Sharks also made some changes at center as they did not qualify restricted free agent Donato and brought in Bonino (who earned 10 goals and 26 points in 55 games with the Minnesota Wild last season) and Cogliano (five goals and 11 points in 54 games with the Dallas Stars).
San Jose did not make many changes other than in net, and they gave Hill, who has a .909 save percentage in just 49 career NHL games, a fairly large contract. The Sharks did not make many strides to improve a roster that was tied for the 25th-best record in the league last season.
Los Angeles Kings
In: C Philipp Danault, RW Viktor Arvidsson, LHD Alexander Edler
Out: MacDermid, C Matt Luff
Re-signings: LW Andreas Athanasiou, RW Trevor Moore, C Blake Lizotte, RHD Matt Roy
First-round pick: RHD Brandt Clark
Remaining RFAs: N/A
Analysis: The Kings did not lose anyone major and added two big pieces to an offense that finished 27th in the NHL with an average of 2.54 goals-per-game in Danault, one of the league’s best defensive centermen who recorded five goals and 24 points in 53 games with the Montreal Canadiens last season after earning 25 goals and 100 points in 152 games over the previous two, and Arvidsson, a two-time 30-goal and 60-point scorer who has seen his scoring dip the past two seasons and finished 10 goals and 25 points in 50 games with the Nashville Predators, last year. Though, getting a 28-year-old top-six right-wing for just a second- and third-round picks was a good deal for the Kings.
The Kings also brought in some defensive depth in Edler, who tallied eight assists, a -8 rating, a 45.21% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 46.54% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 41.73% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 52 games with the Vancouver Canucks.
The Kings moves should help them get in the hunt for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference in a weaker Pacific Division, especially if their highly-touted young players take a step in their development.
In: C Jason Dickinson, LW Conor Garland, LW Phil Di Giuseppe, LHD Oliver Ekman-Larsson, RHD Tucker Poolman, RHD Luke Schenn, LHD Brad Hunt, G Jaroslav Halak, C Justin Dowling
Out: Edler, G Braden Holtby, LHD Nate Schmidt, C Jay Beagle, RW Jake Virtanen, C Jayce Hawryluck, C Travis Boyd, LW Jimmy Vesey, LW Loui Eriksson, RHD Jalen Chatfield, RHD Brogan Rafferty, RW Kole Lind, LW Antoine Roussel
Re-signings: Garland, C Brandon Sutter, RW Justin Bailey, RHD Travis Hamonic, Head Coach Travis Green
First-round pick: N/A
Remaining RFAs: Dickinson, C Elias Pettersson, LHD Quinn Hughes, LHD Olli Juolevi
Analysis: The Canucks were one of the NHL’s most active teams in the offseason as they shed some bad contracts by trading Eriksson, Beagle, and Roussel in addition to buying out the final season of Holtby’s deal. However, they picked one of the NHL’s worst contracts in Ekman-Larsson’s, which has six seasons left at an $8.25 million cap hit (though, the Coyotes retained $990,000 of it). The 30-year-old recorded three goals, 24 points, a -17 rating, a 47.91% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 42.02% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 43.74% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 46 games with the Coyotes last season. Though, Garland, who earned 12 goals and 39 points in 49 games with the Coyotes in 2020-21 and signed a four-year contract that carries a $4.95 million cap hit with the Canucks after the trade, was a very good add for a team that needed a top-six right-winger.
The Canucks attempted to fill their hole at third-line center by acquiring Dickinson, who racked up seven goals and 15 points in 51 games with the Dallas Stars last season after earning at least 21 points in each of the previous two, for the 73rd overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.
They also replaced Holtby with Halak, who went 9-6-4 with a .905 save percentage, a 2.53 goals-against average, and two shutouts with the Boston Bruins last season and signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
The Canucks made some changes on defense after their average of 3.34 goals-against per game was the sixth-highest in the NHL, adding Poolman, Schenn, and Hunt (though all of them are seventh defensemen) and subtractions of Schmidt and Edler. The Canucks also tinkered with their depth.
While the Canucks traded away the ninth overall pick in the draft, perhaps it was worth it to offload Eriksson, Roussel, and Beagle’s contracts all at once and still get a solid, young winger in Garland.
There is still work to do in Vancouver as two of their best players in Pettersson and Hughes are currently without contracts for this season.
In: Pitlick, Welinski, C Blake Coleman, RW Trevor Lewis, LHD Nikita Zadorov, G Daniel Vladar
Out: Robinson, LHD Mark Giordano, C Derek Ryan, LW Josh Leivo, LW Joakim Nordstrom, RHD Michael Stone, LHD Nikita Nesterov, LW Dominik Simon, LW Zac Rinaldo
First-round pick: RW Matt Coronato
Remaining RFAs: Zadorov, RW Dillon Dube, C Glenn Gawdin, LHD Oliver Kylington, LHD Jusso Valimaki, LHD Connor Mackey
Analysis: The Flames made a couple of notable moves with the additions of Coleman, who recorded 14 goals and 31 points in 55 games with the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning last season, and Zadorov, who earned a goal, eight points, a +1 rating, a 44.76% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 44.9% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 43.14% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 55 games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season (which cost them a third-round pick).
The loss of their captain in Giordano to the Kraken hurt but it was a necessary move for the Flames to protect Christopher Tanev, Rasmus Andersson, and Noah Hanifin as well as their top forwards in the expansion draft. The addition of Zadorov will help mitigate that loss, though not completely.
The Flames also brought in Vladar, who is 2-2-1 with an .886 save percentage and a 3.40 goals-against average in five career NHL games with the Bruins (all last season), to back up Jacob Markstrom. The 23-year-old has recorded a save percentage of at least .921 in four of five AHL seasons, including a career-best .936 in 2019-20, and a goals-against average of 2.73 at the most, including a career-best 1.79 two seasons ago.
They changed up their fourth-line a bit and still have quite a bit of work to do with seven players to sign before training camp opens. The addition of Coleman was a good one but there is not much else that stands out about the Flames’ offseason.
In: Ryan, LW Zach Hyman, LHD Duncan Keith, LW Warren Foegele, LW Devin Shore, RHD Cody Ceci, LW Brendan Perlini
Out: Larsson, RW Alex Chiasson, LW Dominik Kahun, C Jujhar Khiara, LW James Neal, C Tyler Ennis, RHD Ethan Bear, LHD Caleb Jones, C Gaetan Haas, LHD Dmitry Kulikov, RW Patrick Russell, LHD Slater Koekkoek, LW Joakim Nygard
First-round pick: C Xavier Bourgault
Remaining RFAs: RW Kailer Yamamoto
Re-signings: Foegele, C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, LHD Darnell Nurse, RHD Tyson Barrie, G Mike Smith
Analysis: The Oilers have had a disaster of an offseason that kicked off with them adding Keith, who has two seasons left on a contract that carries a $5,538,462 cap hit and recorded four goals, 15 points, a -13 rating, a 44.84% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 41.88% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 45.07% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 54 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, without getting anything for taking on his contract and giving up Jones and a third-round pick to get him.
On Friday night, the team re-signed Nurse, who notched 16 goals, 36 points, a +27 rating, a 51.08% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 51.45% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 51.84% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 56 games last season, to a mammoth eight-year contract that carries a $9.25 million cap hit. Earlier in the offseason, they signed Ceci, who posted four goals, 17 points, a +18 rating, a 48.31% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 48.67% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 48.34% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 53 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, to a large four-year contract that carries $3.25 million cap hit. The Oilers lost two stout defensive defensemen in Bear and Larsson.
In exchange for Bear, Edmonton got Foegele, who scored 10 goals and 20 points in 53 games with the Hurricanes last season, which could be considered an even trade but perhaps the Oilers would have been better off keeping Bear considering their lack of depth on defense.
Up front, the Oilers signed Hyman, who earned 15 goals and 33 points in 43 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, to a seven-year contract that carries a $5.5 million cap hit, which was a solid add.
Other than that, the Oilers made some changes to their bottom-six forward group, including buying out the final two seasons of Neal’s contract. This offseason has been a mess in Edmonton with the defense getting significantly worse and the goaltending not fixed. Mikko Koskinen, who went 13-13-0 with an .899 save percentage and a 3.17 goals-against average, did not have his contract that carries a $4.5 million cap hit for one more season bought out.
This seems to bring up the question of whether former GM Peter Chiarelli is still in the Oilers’ organization.
Vegas Golden Knights
In: C Nolan Patrick, C Brett Howden, RW Evgenii Dadonov, G Laurent Brossoit
Out: G Marc-Andre Fleury, LW Tomas Nosek, C Cody Glass, RW Ryan Reaves, LHD Nick Holden
First-round pick: C Zach Dean
Remaining RFAs: Patrick
Re-signings: LHD Alec Martinez, LW Mattias Janmark
Analysis: The Golden Knights dumped the final season of Fleury’s contract which carries a $7 million cap hit to the Blackhawks for center prospect Mikael Hakkarainen, who will likely never play for them, despite the 36-year-old coming off of a Vezina Trophy victory as the NHL’s best goaltender to gain some cap flexibility to strengthen their forward depth.
The Golden Knights have been a part of a couple of major trades this offseason as they acquired Patrick, who scored four goals and nine points in addition to a horrid -30 rating in 52 games with the Philadelphia Flyers last season, from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Glass. They also acquired Dadonov, who recorded 13 goals and 20 points in 55 games with the Ottawa Senators last season and three straight seasons with at least 25 goals with the Florida Panthers from 2018-20, for Holden after they averaged 2.79 goals-per-game (seventh) in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs despite ranking fifth with a 54.59% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage.
They made a couple of minor tweaks to their bottom-six forward group in addition to acquiring Patrick with Howden, who is coming off a down season where he recorded a goal and seven points in 42 games with the New York Rangers but posted 15 goals and 42 points in 136 games over the previous two seasons, as they parted with Glass, Nosek (who signed a two-year contract with the Boston Bruins in free agency), and Reaves (who was traded to the Rangers). The Golden Knights got a nice return for Reaves as they secured a third-round pick for him.
To replace Fleury, they signed Brossoit, who went 6-6-0 with a .918 save percentage, a 2.42 goals-against average, one shutout in 14 games with the Winnipeg Jets last season, to a one-year contract to back up Robin Lehner.
The Golden Knights re-signed Janmark, who recorded 11 goals and 24 points in 56 regular-season games with the team and the Blackhawks last season, to a one-year, $2 million contract and Martinez, who posted nine goals, 32 points, a +26 rating, a 52.16% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 53.58% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 53.21% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 53 games last season, to a three-year deal that counts $5.25 million against the salary cap.
While losing their face of the franchise for peanuts certainly hurts, the Golden Knights were able to upgrade their offense, keep a defense that won the team a Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals and find a respectable back-up goaltender this offseason.
By Harrison Brown