The dust has settled on NHL free agency but nowadays, it’s just a piece of the offseason pie that includes trades and the NHL Draft. Putting it all together, let’s take a look at who has helped themselves the most this offseason.
Winner: Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers have had one heck of an offseason. It started with getting their ducks in order in the front office as they hired a shrewd General Manager in Peter Chiarelli. Then he brought in a quality coach in Todd McLellan and then the team started to build. Getting the top pick in the NHL Draft helped, but they also picked up a possible solution in net with goaltender Cam Talbot. In free agency, they addressed what was probably their biggest remaining need by signing Andrej Sekera. We’ll see if they can finally put it all together but as a result, the Oilers are up to 28/1 NHL odds on the Stanley Cup futures…if you can believe that.
Loser: Vancouver Canucks
This is a team that’s clearly on the decline and one I’ll be looking to bet under for their regular season point total. They’re trying to figure out if they’re rebuilding or still contending. If they’re rebuilding, then why keep Ryan Miller at his lofty salary? If they aren’t rebuilding, then why give away Kevin Bieksa to the Anaheim Ducks? The team has no elite up-and-coming defensemen. Worse yet, they can’t figure out whether they plan to fight for a playoff spot or whether they’re going to start from scratch. Until they do that, they are just going to be a middling team in the Western Conference.
Winner: Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets had a rough go of things in the 2014-15 season as a number of injuries derailed their season. However, once everyone got healthy, they made a late-season charge for the playoffs and showed that they are still a team on the rise. They ended the season with 12 wins in the last 13 games. In the offseason, they continued to build as they acquired Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks, who is a quality young stud who is on the rise. On top of that, they added some grit in Gregory Campbell and a couple of quality defensive prospects in the draft. This team should be back in the playoffs next season and they’ll be one I’ll be curious to keep an eye on in terms of their regular season point total.
Loser: Toronto Maple Leafs
Great: they traded away Phil Kessel, who at 27 years old is in the prime of his career. Worse yet, they got a mediocre package for him. If they were going for a complete rebuild, they failed miserably as they still have the big contracts of Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul. Why keep them if you don’t plan to compete? And then they go out and sign useless veterans like Daniel Winnik and P.A. Parenteau. Good job, guys. They’re at 66/1 to win the Stanley Cup.