After a highly successful NHL return to play playoff format, teams across the league scrambled to improve their rosters with a free agency period like the league has never seen before. In a flat salary cap world, teams have either had to make trades to free up money out or let their stars walk via free agency. The real question is who were the winners and losers so far. Which GM has thrived, and which has fucking died, you ask? Don’t worry. Mr hockey is here to drop some facts on your collective asses.
The Montreal Canadiens
Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin is more than just a man with massive biceps. He is proving so far this offseason he has learned from some earlier wrong moves in his career and now has the Montreal ship finally on course to the playoffs. The offseason began for the Canadiens by trading for St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen. Jake Allen had a great rebound year after losing his starting job to Jordan Binnington. Allen battled back last year and had a .927 save% and a 2.15 goals-against average. The Canadiens ended up extending Allen for two additional years last week and now have one of the league’s best platoon between the pipes.
The Canadiens then traded forward Max Domi and a third-round pick to the Blue Jackets for forward Josh Anderson. Anderson only played 25 games last year and scored one goal after sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury. The Habs’ biggest problem has been size and strength. Anderson and his 6’3, 225 pound frame address that. Anderson then quickly committed the next seven seasons to the Habs by inking a significant contract extension. Big daddy biceps wasn’t done adding there though as the Canadiens then signed UFA forward Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli signed, in my opinion, the best value free-agent deal of the offseason receiving 4.25 million dollars a year on a 4-year contract.
The Detroit Red Wings
After posting their worst record in the salary cap era, The Detroit Red Wings have quietly had one of the best offseasons. It all started at the draft when Lucas Raymond was announced with the 4th overall pick. Raymond got no respect because the top three were so dominant, but I believe the first four draft picks were cant miss talent. The Redwings trimmed the fat off the roster by buying out the contract of Justin Abdelkader saving the team over 4 million dollars. GM Steve Yzerman also improved the defense by acquiring Marc Staal and John Merrill. John Merrill and Marc Staal aren’t sexy names, but they are stable in their own zone, something the Red Wings were just not last year. The team also added Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov up front. Stevie Y capped off a great offseason by signing Thomas Greiss and will make a solid tandem with Jonathan Bernier. Yzerman was the architect of the team in Tampa that just raised Lord Stanley’s Cup. He is going to deliver a title in Detroit in the next five-years. Stevie Y doesn’t fuckin miss.
The Buffalo Sabres
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you would know that Sabres superstar Jack Eichel has been unhappy in the land of chicken wings. The Sabres have missed the playoffs in 9 straight years, and something HAD to give. The team made arguably the most shocking free agent signing in recent history when they convinced former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall to take a one-year deal worth 8 million. Taylor Hall instantly makes Jack Eichel a happier man, and if the duo are paired with Jeff Skinner or Sam Rinehart will be a deadly line. The team also acquired Eric Staal from the Minnesota Wild and signed young center Cody Eakin making the team pretty deep down the middle of the ice. I think Adams has done a great job so far.