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Here at NHL Rumors, we’re going to take a look at some of the summer moves we loved and some we’re less in love with. Again, these are quick prints and don’t shoot the messenger. Sunday ends with the metropolitan division.
Anyway, let’s end this with a bang!
NHL Like And No Like – Metropolitan Division
Let’s light up the masses a bit here.
So the Carolina Hurricanes are an interesting team and they just brought in Paul Stastny on a one-year contract to boost their scoring and veteran leadership a bit. They already have Brent Burns on the blue line for depth there, but it wasn’t enough.
Martin Necas is perhaps the key and friendliest move here. His bridge deal hopefully lights a fire under him for a better season or two. They expect greater things ahead. He took a step back last year. If he shoots a bit more and improves that 8.8% shooting percentage, both parties will be happy.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Again, Jarmo Kekalainen took the plunge and signed Johnny Gaudreau to the big, long-term free agency deal. The fact that Gaudreau made less than $10 million AAV was impressive. Then came the less likable parts.
First, Patrik Laine was extended an additional four seasons for an $8.8 million AAV. It’s a risk that could pay off, but these Columbus moves put them at a tipping point. The result was Oliver Bjorkstrand’s trade to the Seattle Kraken for what amounted to pennies on the dollar.
Bjorkstrand was on a team-friendly deal that paid him $5.4 million over the next four years and he had just gotten married, bought a house, etc. Sentiment aside, he was a winger who had 30-30 potential for years to come at Columbus. Oh my.
New Jersey Devils
The “Last Offseason Winners” didn’t hit the jackpot in Gaudreau this time around, but they did land a usable-anywhere jackpot player in Ondrej Palat. If anyone watched that 2018 playoff, Palat was a waking nightmare that New Jersey couldn’t quite contain.
However, what will be interesting is what happens with the goalkeepers. Are Jonathan Bernier or MacKenzie Blackwood really healthy? The best decision the Devils made was to bring in Vitek Vanecek. At the very least, the former Washington guard can push Blackwood and Bernier.
For a team that suffered from historically poor goalkeepers last year, Vanecek’s move represents at least a refreshing shift in mentality. Whether it pays off is anyone’s guess. It can’t be much worse.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders and Lou Lamoriello believe they still have a playoff team. They hit first Gaudreau and then Nazem Kadri for good measure. It was mainly because the Islanders just didn’t want to part with a top pick.
Still, they paid a price for Alexander Romanov (the 13th pick) who is a defensive back and then signed him. On the contrary, a low-scoring team like the Islanders needed an offensive defenseman. They signed Noah Dobson to a $4 million AAV stint deal. It was perhaps their best decision.
New York Rangers
The problem with Rangers is that there is a simple debate. Should they have gone with Andrew Copp (who went to Detroit) or Vincent Trocheck? In the end, they went with what they believed was a better long-term fit. Trocheck was their guy for seven years at $5.625 million AAV.
This second-line fit is what sells most pundits and myself included. Trocheck is a bit more of a two-way player than some think and scores 25-30 or more goals. Could he return to the 60-point mark in New York? Absolutely.
Just, if anyone knows what the Philadelphia Flyers actually have in mind. Please enlighten us. Chuck Fletcher missed almost everyone and brought back an even worse team than last year.
The head scratcher in all of this effectively brought Anthony DeAngelo back to Philadelphia for three draft picks. DeAngelo on the ice is effective offensively but his defense sometimes leaves something to be desired. It’s those “fouls” despite back-to-back 50-point seasons that scare people.
A simple message from Philadelphia was that they didn’t care if people cared about DeAngelo’s off-ice behavior and beliefs. Also, the Philadelphia team might not be the most talented. Fletcher and company may have chosen to rebuild. What’s up is a little messy.
For better or worse, Ron Hextall finally brought the band together by accepting deals with Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin. Both are risks, but both produce quite well, even in your mid-30s.
The question is sustainability with Sidney Crosby not getting any younger. Can Pittsburgh stay healthy enough this season?
The reality is that Washington didn’t overdo it, but they did bring in Darcy Kuemper who will at least bring some stability to the Capitals’ fold. At a five-year contract of just over $5 million AAV ($5.25), he better as they say.
The sneakiest and most beloved move here was Dylan Strome. If Strome can have some chemistry with players like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, this move could be a decent reward for the Capitals. With Nicklas Backstrom out for who knows how long (hip refacing surgery), Washington is hoping for a Strome Surge.
September is finally fast approaching for hockey fans…