Grading Every NHL Team’s Offseason So Far: Central Division

Photo: Nashville Hockey Now

With the 2023 NHL Draft done and most of the marquee players on the trade block and in free agency off of the board, NoVa Caps grades each team’s offseason by division so far. We will also look at what may be remaining on each team’s to-do list for this offseason. With many big names still on the trade market, these grades could be updated prior to the start of training camp. We will continue with the Central Division.

Chicago Blackhawks

Added: LW Taylor Hall, RW Nick Foligno, C Ryan Donato (two-year contract, $2 million cap hit), RW Corey Perry, 2026 second-round pick

Lost: D Ian Mitchell, D Alec Regula, 2024 seventh-round pick, C Jonathan Toews

Re-signed: Perry (one-year, $4 million contract), Foligno (one-year, $4 million contract), LW Joey Anderson (one-year, two-way contract — $800,000), RW Andreas Anthansiou (two-year contract extension, $4.25 million cap hit)

Unsigned RFAs: LW Philipp Kurashev

First-Round Picks: C Connor Bedard (first overall), C Oliver Moore (19th overall)

Chicago was able to bring in Hall, a seven-time 20-goal scorer, to play with Bedard for nothing significant due to the Boston Bruins’ salary cap constraints.

In addition to Bedard, Moore was a consensus high pick in many mock drafts and the team was able to get him at 19th.

They may have handed out lucrative contracts to both Foligno and Perry but on one-year contracts. With Chicago not expected to be competitive next season, having them on the salary cap at those numbers is fine. Besides, the leadership that both will provide to Bedard and Chicago’s other kids will have a positive impact on their development.

Grade: B+

Arizona Coyotes

Added: D Sean Durzi, D Travis Dermott (one-year, two-way contract — $800,000), LW John Leonard (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), C Alexander Kerfoot (two-year contract, $3.5 million cap hit), C Nick Bjugstad (two-year contract, $2.1 million cap hit), LW Jason Zucker (one-year, $5.3 million contract), D Troy Stecher (one-year, $1.1 million contract)

Lost: RW Zack Kassian, D Patrik Nemeth, RW Christian Fischer, LW Boko Imama, D Connor Mackey, 2024 second-round pick

Re-signed: G Connor Ingram (three-year contract, $1.95 million cap hit), C Nathan Smith (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), D Steven Kampfer (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), LW Michael Carcone (two-year contract, $775,000 cap hit)

Unsigned RFAs: LW Matias Maccelli, C Jack McBain, C Jan Jeník, G Ivan Prosvetov

First-Round Picks: D Dmitry Simashev (sixth overall), LW Daniil But (12th overall)

Arizona was looking to take a step forward this offseason and arguably did by adding a 24-year-old top-four defenseman in Durzi, five-time 20-goal scorer in Zucker, and three-time 40-point scorer in Kerfoot.

They bought out the final years of Kassian’s and Nemeth’s contracts but need to re-sign 22-year-old Maccelli after he tallied 38 assists and 49 points in 64 games last season.

Arizona also gambled in the NHL Draft, going off of the board with both of their high picks as both Simashev (was ranked 38th in TSN’s Craig Button’s draft rankings) and But (30th) were thought to have been available well below the spots they were actually taken. Defenseman Axel Sandin Pellikka, defenseman Tom Willander, center Dalibor Dvorsky, center Ryan Leonard, and center Zach Benson were available by the time Arizona made the sixth overall pick.

Grade: C+

St. Louis Blues

Added: C Oskar Sundqvist (one-year, $775,000 contract), G Malcolm Subban (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), D Wyatt Kalynuk (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), C Kevin Hayes

Lost: C Nolan Stevens, D Brady Lyle, C Nathan Todd, D Steven Santini, C Anthony Angello, C Logan Brown, LW Matthew Highmore, C Tyler Pitlick, 2024 sixth-round pick, G Thomas Greiss

Re-signed: LW Hugh McGing (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), RW MacKenzie MacEachern (two-year contract, $775,000 cap hit), D Tyler Tucker (two-year contract, $800,000 cap hit), D Scott Perunovich (one-year, $775,000 contract), C Adam Gaudette (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000)

Unsigned RFAs: LW Alexey Toropchenko

First-Round Picks: Dvorsky (eighth overall), C Otto Stenberg (25th overall), D Theo Lindstein (29th overall)

St. Louis acquired Hayes at 50% of his $7.14 million cap hit for three seasons at the price of just a sixth-round pick and made a couple depth signings.

The real noise in the Gateway City came at the first-round of the NHL Draft, where they made three first-round picks.

Grade: B

Nashville Predators

Added: Angello (two-year, two-way contract — $775,000 cap hit), GM Barry Trotz, Head Coach Andrew Brunette, LW Denis Gurianov (one-year, $850,000 contract), C Jasper Weatherby (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), G Troy Grosenick (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), RW Gustav Nyquist (two-year contract, $3.185 million cap hit), D Luke Schenn (three-year contract, $2.75 million cap hit), C Ryan O’Reilly (four-year contract, $4.5 million cap hit)

Lost: Leonard, GM David Poile, Head Coach John Hynes, C Rasmus Asplund, C Matt Duchene, C Ryan Johansen

Re-signed: D Alexandre Carrier (one-year, $2.5 million contract), C Cody Glass (two-year contract, $2.5 million cap hit)

Unsigned RFAs: N/A

First-Round Picks: RW Matthew Wood (15th overall), D Tanner Molendyk (24th overall)

Trotz has been busy since taking over, giving his team a makeover as he let go of Duchene (via buyout) and Johansen (via trade, which they retained 50% of his $8 million cap hit for the final two seasons of his contract) and brought in O’Reilly (a nine-time 35-assist, 10-time 50-point center who has a Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top shutdown forward in a season and a Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP), Gurianov (a three-time double-digit goal scorer in his four-season career), and Nyquist (a seven-time 15-goal, eight-time 40-point scorer in his nine full-season career). While Duchene’s 2022-23 season certainly was underwhelming, it arguably was not enough to warrant a buy out.

He also made a coaching change, signed a steady third-pairing blueliner in Schenn, and made two first-round picks.

Grade: B+

Winnipeg Jets

Added: LW Alex Iafallo, C Gabriel Vilardi, C Rasmus Kupari, 2024 second-round pick, G Collin Delia (one-year, $775,000 contract), D Artemi Kniazev, G Laurent Brossoit (one-year, $1.75 million contract)

Lost: C Pierre-Luc Dubois, C Kevin Stenlund, RW Blake Wheeler, C Alex Limoges, G Arvid Holm, D Leon Gawanke, G David Rittich

Re-signed: D Ashton Sautner (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), D Dylan Samberg (two-year contract, $1.4 million cap hit), LW Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (two-year contract, $775,000 cap hit, two-way for first season), RW Vladislav Namestnikov (two-year contract, $2 million cap hit)

Unsigned RFAs: Vilardi, Kupari, LW Morgan Barron, D Logan Stanley, D Declan Chisholm

First-Round Pick: LW Colby Barlow (18th overall)

Winnipeg has had a louder offseason than usual as goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and center Mark Schiefele have all expressed desire to leave town as did Dubois prior to the deal that shipped him to the Los Angeles Kings. They were able to land a nice return for Dubois, luring in Vilardi (41 goals, 78 points in 152 games over four NHL seasons including a 23-goal, 41-point output in 63 games during 2022-23), Iafallo (five-time 13-goal, 30-point scorer), Kupari (the 20th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft), and a second-round pick.

They also bought out the final year of Wheeler’s contract but Winnipeg’s offseason still has unfinished business as Vilardi and Kupari need new contracts and Schiefele and Hellebuyck have yet to be dealt.

Grade: Incomplete (B+ so far)

Minnesota Wild

Added: LW Pat Maroon, RW Max Cajkovic, C Vinni Lettieri (two-year, two-way contract —$775,000 cap hit)

Lost: Sundqvist, Nyquist, 2024 seventh-round pick, D John Klingberg, RW Ryan Reaves, C Sam Steel

Re-signed: G Hunter Jones (one-year, two-way contract — $787,500), RW Marcus Johansson (two-year contract, $2 million cap hit)

Unsigned RFAs: RW Brandon Duchaime, D Calen Addison, G Filip Gustavsson

First-Round Pick: C Charlie Stramel (21st overall)

Minnesota has had a quiet offseason which saw them lose four of their in-season acquisitions from 2022-23 but added toughness in Maroon for just a seventh-round pick after Reaves left as an unrestricted free agent.

There is still work to be done as their starting goalie and top-six blueliner are still without contracts for next season. Minnesota will always face the question at No. 1 center until they address it.

Grade: Incomplete (C so far)

Dallas Stars

Added: Steel (one-year, $850,000 contract), Duchene (one-year, $3 million contract), D Derrick Pouliot (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), D Gavin Bayreuther (one-year, $775,000 contract), RW Craig Smith (one-year, $1 million contract), 2025 fifth-round pick

Lost: LW Fredrick Olofsson, D Will Butcher, D Ben Gleason, C Max Domi, RW Riley Tufte, C Rhett Gardner, LW Marian Studenic, D Colin Miller, C Luke Glendening

Re-signed: G Matt Murray (one-year, $775,000 contract), D Alexander Petrovic (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), C Ty Dellandrea (one-year, $900,000 contract), RW Nicholas Caamano (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), D Joel Hanley (two-year contract, $1.58 million cap hit)

Unsigned RFAs: C Riley Damiani

First-Round Pick: N/A

Dallas had a quiet offseason as they lost Domi and signed Duchene, who has scored 65 goals and 142 points in 149 games over the last two seasons, and Smith, a seven-time 15-goal and 35-point scorer, to cheap one-year deals for offensive support. They also parted with their 2016 first-round pick in Tufte.

Grade: B

Colorado Avalanche

Added: Olofsson (one-year, $775,000 contract), Holm (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), Tufte (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), Johansen (50% of $8 million cap hit for two more seasons retained), RW Chris Wagner (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), D Corey Schueneman (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), C Jonathan Drouin (one-year, $825,000 contract), RW Miles Wood (six-year contract, $2.5 million cap hit), C Ross Colton, 2023 first-round pick (31st overall), D Gianni Fairbrother

Lost: C Alex Galchenyuk, C Evan Rodrigues, C J.T. Compher, C Lars Eller, G Jonas Johansson, D Andreas Englund, D Erik Johnson, LW Mikhail Maltsev, C Alex Newhook

Re-signed: G Justus Annunen (one-year, two-way contract — $775,000), D Jack Johnson (one-year, $775,000 contract), D Bowen Byram (two-year contract, $3.85 million cap hit), LW Andrew Cogliano (one-year, $825,000 contract)

Unsigned RFAs: Colton, C Ben Meyers, LW Sampo Ranta

First-Round Picks: C Calum Ritchie (27th overall), D Mikhail Gulyayev (31st overall)

Colorado lost two middle-six centers in Rodrigues and Compher but brought in two in Johansen and Colton. They also committed to a couple of reclamation projects in Johansen and Drouin, two former high first-round picks who have both seen their production decline over the past 3-4 seasons.

They also handed out a very reasonable contract to Byram (15 goals, 40 points, +14 rating, 51.97% expected goals-for percentage over his two full NHL seasons) and got Wood (five double-digit goal, 23 point seasons over his last five full seasons) at a fair cap hit.

Grade: B

Previous Offseason Report Cards

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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