WINNERS AND LOSERS FROM NHL OFFSEASON PT2 - The Jewish Voice
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Thursday, October 6, 2022

WINNERS AND LOSERS FROM NHL OFFSEASON PT2

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Marvin A Azrak

The robust  NHL offseason following the Colorado Avalanche dethroning the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the Stanley Cup final has featured a plethora of league-changing moves with superstars either getting traded or signing elsewhere boosting potential playoff stock for next season. There’s still top free agents out on the market for example star center from the Avs Nazeem Kadri, and hot trade talks surrounding all-stars JT Miller, Pierre-Luc-Dubious and Patrick Kane. However, most teams seem predominately  set for 2022-23, while others are in for a tedious campaign.

The following lists two more clubs that did well thus far during the offseason and two more that fared poorly. It’s part two of a series that will continue as the offseason progresses and you can keep track of on theJewishvoice.com.

We’ll examine their notable moves and explain how they improved or weakened their respective rosters as they prepare for the upcoming season which begins on October 7th between the Predators and Sharks in the Czech Republic, with the North American portion beginning on October 11th between the Los Angeles  Kings and Vegas Golden Knights, as well as the Rangers hosting the Lightning. The rest of the league will begin play on October 12th, which will feature the Avalanche raising their Stanley cup banner and getting the rings.

WINNER: DETROIT RED WINGS

Since becoming general manager of the Detroit Red Wings in April of 2019, Steve Yzerman has rebuilt his roster with young players through the draft or via trades otherwise known as the “Yzerplan”.

This summer,  he made several moves designed to transcend  the process and improve his club’s chances at playoff contention, and although it may not be this upcoming season, the trajectory points to 2024 being a potential breakout year for the organization and it’s fans.

Yzerman’s notable  additions  were the signings of  forwards David Perron, Andrew Copp, Dominik Kubalik and defensemen Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta. As if that wasn’t enough, he traded for backup  goaltender Ville Husso on July 8 from the St. Louis Blues and signed him to a three-year contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.75 million.

Chiarot is a 6’3”, 234-pound blueliner, AKa a “Defensive defenseman” and inked  a four-year deal worth $4.75 million annually. Meanwhile, the puck-shifting  Maatta agreed to  a one-year, $2.25 million contract. Both will provide  depth on the left side of the Detroit blue line and continue to help mold  Calder  Trophy winner Moritz Seider and star youngster Filip Hronek.

Perron, 34, is a top-six winger on a prove it two-year contract worth an average annual value of $4.75 million. The 28-year-old Andrew Copp brings versatility  to their forward lines for the next five seasonsat $5.625 million annually, having just come off a career 53 point  season with the Jets and Rangers, including the playoffs where he went for 14 points in 20 games helping New York reach the Eastern Conference finals.

A former 30-goal scorer, the 26-year-old Kubalik could help if he’s able to rekindle that scoring touch and try the open market again after his two year $5 million deal pact through 2023-24 expires.

The 27-year-old Husso became the  Blues starter , outright defeating 2019 Stanley cup champion Jordan Binnington during the 2021-22 regular season, but lost the starting role outright in the playoffs.

He and Alex Nedeljkovic should form a steady tandem that gives Detroit balance in regards to their goalies unlike years past.

LOSER: PHILADELPHIA FLYERS:

Coming off a disheartening performance in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, Philadelphia general manager Chuck Fletcher acquired Cam Atkinson, Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolanen last summer. Those moves then backfired and sent the team tumbling  towards the Metro division basement.

Rather than construct a roster rebuild, Fletcher opted to an inexplicable retool. He hired unliked head coach John Tortorella, who while vowed to bring a change in culture to the underperforming club, has a reputation of rupturing locker rooms.

Fletcher acquired Tony DeAngelo from the Carolina Hurricanes and signed the offensive-minded defenseman to a two-year contract, as the 26-year-old enjoyed a bounce-back 51-point performance last season with the Hurricanes, but things did end awkwardly when Carolina gave him permission to seek a trade.

The Flyers had an opportunity to sign Johnny Gaudreau who were  were the high-scoring winger’s top choice as he this was his boyhood team, but they had to clear salary-cap space by trading James van Riemsdyk to do so. Gaudreau ultimately signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets and JVR is somehow still a Flyer. Absolutely pathetic.

With a roster filled with declining players like Sean Couturier, Cam Atkinson and Kevin Hayes, the Flyers GM doesn’t have much to show for his efforts to improve his roster this summer, and may be deservingly canned soon with no sense of direction in sight for this embarrassment of a franchise.

WINNER: EDMONTON OILERS

The Oilers entered this offseason stuck with limited salary-cap space, hampering their efforts to improve their roster after a deep playoff run. But regressing goalie Mike Smith and underwhelming defenseman Duncan Keith both retired, while the cap-wasting Zack Kassian was dealt to the Arizona Coyotes.

That enabled them to  bring back Evander Kane and and lure former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell as their new starting goalie.

Kane’s 4 year $82 million deal was the result of a nice piece of work on GM Ken Holland’s part, as he  allowed the winger’s agent to speak with other clubs before free agency prior to him signing the contract. Campbell, meanwhile received a a five year $25 million deal despite a mediocre playoffs, but at least he should be a significant improvement over Smith as their guy in net, especially after his 31-9-6 regular season that featured a 2.64 GAA(14th in NHL) and a .914 save %(15th in NHL).

LOSER: TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

The Toronto Maple Leafs seeked a new goalie tandem after letting Jack Campbell depart via free agency and trading Petr Mrazek to the Chicago Blackhawks. So they welcomed  to the team, Matt Murray and two draft picks from the Ottawa Senators for “future considerations” which is basically nothing. The Senators also agreed to retain 25 percent of Murray’s $6.3 million annual salary-cap hit through 2023-24. Ottawa was looking to deal the goaltender who at the draft, vetoed a deal to the Buffalo Sabres using his no trade clause.

Landing a two-time Stanley Cup champion for free without being on the hook for his full cap hit would usually be regarded as a cop , but Murray, has been plagued by injuries in recent years which has performance and limited his playing time. During his two years with the Sens, he played in just 47/ 138 total games.

To back him up, Toronto signed unrestricted free agent Ilya Samsonov to a one-year, $1.8 million contract. The 25-year-old netminder was let go  by the Washington Capitals after struggling to establish himself as a reliable starter in the nations capital.

The Leafs’ prolific offense led by Auston Matthews(Hart trophy and Rocket Richard winner, coming off a 60 goal season) and Mitch Marner all but ensures  they’ll be a playoff contender in 2022-23. But , their new goaltending tandem suggests a plethora of question marks. An injury-prone starter,  plus an unproven backup netminder   simply doesn’t scream “Stanley Cup contender” to me. But hey, you never know!

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