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FA/Trade Grades - Part 1

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FA/Trade Grades - Part 1
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Corey Abbott examines the off-season activity of the Atlantic and Central Divisions

The NHL off-season is in full swing now, as teams prepare their rosters for next year.  Free agency just began and more signings will continue to trickle in throughout the summer.   Trades have also picked up since the draft and more will come as teams try to fit all their assets within the parameters of the salary cap.  The grades you see below are weighted more on fantasy relevance and a player's overall worth to their team rather than if the contract has an unfavorable term or an extraordinary monetary value.  We also chose to focus on the more relevant additions and subtractions. 

Also don't forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's up to the minute coverage on Player News, as well as follow @Rotoworld_HK and @CoreAbbott on Twitter. 

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Boston Bruins - D

Added: N/A
Lost: Jarome Iginla, Andrej Meszaros, Chad Johnson, Shawn Thornton



Boston hasn't done any free agent shopping yet, but they intend to add some bargain pieces later.  Their precarious salary cap situation forced the Bruins to bid farewell to top-line winger Jarome Iginla and long-time tough guy Shawn Thornton.  Iginla was excellent alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic and he will be difficult to replace.  Thornton was part of the team's renowned "Merlot Line" and his leadership will be missed.  Boston is trying to fill those holes through trade or free agency, but they may have to look internally if those options don't pan out.  



Johnson will be replaced in the crease by new backup Niklas Svedberg and Meszaros was a depth defenseman.  Boston also has to re-sign key restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. 

   

Buffalo Sabres - C+

Added: Brian Gionta, Matt Moulson, Josh Gorges, Andrej Meszaros
Lost: Christian Ehrhoff, Ville Leino,



Buffalo had to do some work in free agency to get to the salary cap floor, so it's understandable that they had to overspend for Gionta ($4.25 million AAV), Moulson ($5 million AVV) and Meszaros ($4.125 million AVV).  Gionta shouldn't be counted on for much more than 40 points, but he can provide leadership.  Moulson had 11 goals and 29 points in 44 games during his stint with the Sabres.  He's likely to continue that same kind of streakiness in 2014-15.  Gorges and Meszaros aren't valuable fantasy contributors in most standard leagues, but they instantly become the grizzled veterans on Buffalo's defense corps. 



The Sabres bought out 2011 off-season additions Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino.  Ehrhoff reached a new deal with Pittsburgh, while Leino is still seeking employment. 



Detroit Red Wings - D

Added: Kyle Quincey, Jonas Gustavsson
Lost: Todd Bertuzzi, David Legwand, Mikael Samuelsson



The Red Wings retained the services of potential unrestricted free agents Jonas Gustavsson and Kyle Quincey, while allowing Bertuzzi, Legwand, Samuelsson and Cleary to test the market.  Unfortunately, Detroit has been unable to successfully lure any other targeted free agents despite reportedly offering to match the offers they got from other teams.  The Wings tried to land Dan Boyle, Matt Niskanen, Christian Ehrhoff and Stephane Robidas, but they came up empty. 



If Daniel Alfredsson decides to return for another season then he's expected to agree to terms with the Red Wings.  There's a chance that Daniel Cleary will be brought back too.  Detroit also has to get restricted free agents Tomas Tatar and Dan DeKeyser under contract. 

Florida Panthers - B-

Added: Jussi Jokinen, Dave Bolland, Al Montoya, Derek MacKenzie, Willie Mitchell, Shawn Thornton
Lost: Tom Gilbert, Scott Clemmensen, Ed Jovanovski



For a second straight off-season, the Panthers were busy on the free agent market.  Like the Sabres, Florida is forced to spend wildly to get to the cap floor, which helps to explain Dave Bolland's hefty five-year, $27.5 million contract.  Still, it doesn't justify making him the highest paid forward on the team.  Perhaps his new role will make him a more attractive fantasy pickup, but he'll have to be 100 percent healthy for that to happen.  Jokinen will pair with Brad Boyes as the team's shootout specialists and they can score before the game gets there as well.  MacKenzie and Thornton will give the Cats a solid bang and crash energy line, while Montoya is a capable understudy for Roberto Luongo.



Florida bought out veteran rearguard Ed Jovanvoski, but Willie Mitchell can take up his leadership responsibilities.  Tom Gilbert was a pleasant surprise for the Panthers and he even led the team in scoring at one point during the season.  He could be replaced by first overall pick Aaron Ekblad, Colby Robak or Alex Petrovic,



Montreal Canadiens - C+

Added: P.A. Parenteau, Tom Gilbert, Mike Weaver
Lost: Thomas Vanek, Daniel Briere, Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta,



Montreal's big off-season move so far has been the acquisition of Parenteau from Colorado for Briere.  Parenteau has enjoyed success when he's played with talented players like John Tavares and Matt Duchene.  Montreal doesn't have centers of that caliber, but they can play Parenteau on the top line, with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty, or alongside Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk. 

Montreal shipped Gorges to Buffalo for a 2016 second-round pick.  If you are looking for shot blocks on the Canadiens to replace Gorges then Mike Weaver, who the Canadiens re-signed, is a good option.  Andrei Markov led the Habs in shot blocks last season, with 180, and he landed a front-heavy three-year extension worth $17.25 million.  Montreal and Vanek were unlikely to come terms on a new contract, but his disappointing playoff performance certainly didn't help.  Still, he did record six goals and 15 points in 18 regular-season matches and his departure is a loss.  The Habs' top priority now is getting restricted free agent P.K. Subban signed to a new deal.    

 

Ottawa Senators - D

Added: Alex Chiasson, Milan Michalek
Lost: Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky



The Ottawa Senators were faced with a losing situation when Jason Spezza requested a trade.  GM Bryan Murray knew he wouldn't get equal value in the deal, but he said from the beginning that the team would do its best to honor their captain's wish.  The Senators sent Spezza and Ludwig Karlsson to the Dallas Stars for Alex Chiasson, Nick Paul, Alex Guptill and a second-round selection in 2015.  Hemsky played well for the Senators after his acquisition from Edmonton by picking up four goals and 13 assists in 20 contests.  However, he wanted to see what was available on July 1.     



Ottawa faced the possibility of losing Michalek as well, but he re-upped with the team on a three-year deal worth $12 million.  Losing Spezza will hurt his fantasy value, as Mika Zibanejad is probably the best suitable replacement right now. 



Tampa Bay Lightning - B+

Added: Ryan Callahan, Jason Garrison, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman, Evgeni Nabokov
Lost: Anders Lindback, Teddy Purcell



Prior to the start of free agency, Tampa Bay granted Callahan a lucrative six-year, $34.8 million contract.  He brings a lot of intangibles to the table, but the Lightning overspent to keep him from going into unrestricted free agency.  Callahan provided valuable input into the free agent signings of former Rangers teammates Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman.  Both of them are solid presences. 



The Bolts didn't tender a qualifying offer to Lindback so he became available to the highest bidder.  The team signed veteran netminder Evgeni Nabokov to take his place as Ben Bishop's backup. Sami Salo is still on the open market., but Tampa made up for his departure by acquiring Jason Garrison, the rights to Jeff Costello and a 2015 seventh rounder in a very good with Vancouver in exchange for a second-round pick in 2014.  Teddy Purcell was involved in a cap clearing move in a trade to Edmonton for Sam Gagner.  The Lightning then flipped Gagner and B.J. Crombeen to Arizona for a sixth-round pick in 2015.  The unorthodox trades allowed for a good shopping spree on July 1. 



Toronto Maple Leafs - C

Added: Leo Komarov, Mike Santorelli, Petri Kontiola, Matt Frattin, Stephane Robidas, Roman Polak
Lost: Dave Bolland, Mason Raymond, Carl Gunnarsson, Nikolai Kulemin



The Leafs were spared some cap space when Bolland headed to Florida and Josh Gorges refused to waive his no-trade clause to join Montreal's bitter rivals.  Toronto brought back Komarov and Frattin after they both spent one season away from the team.  They are gritty wingers who are capable of modest offensive production.  Santorelli ($1.5 million) and Kontiola ($1.1 million) were inexpensive additions who are slated to compete for bottom-six spots.  Robidas is coming off some bad injuries, but his leadership and right-handed shot are assets that Toronto was seeking. 

Raymond played for a discount in 2013-14, but he got a much better contract from the Calgary Flames.  Kulemin rejoined Mikhail Grabovski on the New York Islanders.  The Leafs also traded Gunnarsson to St. Louis at the draft for rugged defender Roman Polak. 

CENTRAL DIVISION



Chicago Blackhawks - A-

Added: Brad Richards, Peter Regin
Lost: Michal Handzus, Brandon Bollig



Even though Chicago was already over the salary cap, the team managed to make a splash on July 1 by inking Brad Richards to a one-year, $2 million deal.  That's a great bargain for a player who still has the ability to create plenty of offense.  He'll be the best second-line center the Blackhawks have had in quite a while.  The team also re-signed Peter Regin to serve as a depth option.  

 

Chicago traded Bollig at the draft and allowed Handzus to walk as a free agent.  The Hawks still have to make a move to get under the cap, but they improved their roster when it appeared as though their hands would be tied. 



Colorado Avalanche - C

Added: Jarome Iginla, Daniel Briere, Brad Stuart
Lost: Paul Stastny, P.A. Parenteau



Colorado attempted to keep Stastny, but it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would test free agency.  He ended up signing with division rival St. Louis, which leaves a hole down the middle for the Avalanche.  Restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly can fill that spot, but he has to be signed first.  Nathan MacKinnon can also shift back to center, so it wasn't surprising that the team didn't go after a pivot to replace Stastny.  Instead, the Avs signed Iginla to a three-year contract worth $16 million.  He proved he can still score when surrounded by talented players and he'll get some good linemates in Colorado. 



The additions of Brad Stuart, who was acquired for a pair of draft picks from San Jose, and Zach Redmond won't shore up a defense corps  that averaged the sixth-most shots against per game last year.  The trade that sent P.A. Parenteau to Montreal for Daniel Briere may also prove to be a regrettable move. 



Dallas Stars - A+

Added: Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Anders Lindback, Vernon Fiddler
Lost: Alex Chiasson, Ray Whitney


NHL General Managers who lament that top-line centers don't grow on trees should take a look at what Dallas' Jim Nill has been able to accomplish.  He's acquired Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza in back-to-back off-seasons to gives the Stars an impressive one-two punch.   Dallas plucked Spezza away from Ottawa and signed his late-season linemate Ales Hemsky to a three-year, $12 million deal.  The Stars also re-signed Vernon Fiddler and brought in Anders Lindback to serve as Kari Lehtonen's backup. 



Dallas gave up promising youngster Alex Chiasson as a key part of the Spezza deal and they allowed veteran winger Ray Whitney to leave as a free agent.  Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel remain unsigned as key restricted free agents. 


Minnesota Wild - B

Added: Thomas Vanek
Lost: Matt Moulson, Clayton Stoner, Ilya Bryzgalov



Thomas Vanek was expected to join the Minnesota Wild long before the final year of his last contract expired.  The former Minnesota Gophers forward inked a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Wild, which will reunite him with ex-Buffalo teammate and good friend Jason Pominville.  There's a perception that his value is declining, but some streakiness is a part of his game and playing where he essentially targeted to go from the beginning should help him be a fantasy factor in 2014-15. 



Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick returned to the Buffalo Sabres on July 1, but they simply didn't work out in Minnesota.  Moulson played hurt in the playoffs, which contributed to his struggles and McCormick shouldn't be on your radar in standard leagues regardless of where he plays.  Ilya Bryzgalov is looking for his next stop after an overall decent stint with the Wild.  Clayton Stoner is a tough defender who could be missed, but his departure opens a spot for Christian Folin or July 1st addition Stu Bickel.  

 

Nashville Predators - B

Added: James Neal, Olli Jokinen
Lost: Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Michael Del Zotto



Nashville's transformation into a more offense-oriented squad continued in free agency when they signed Olli Jokinen to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.  Jokinen recorded 43 points in 82 games last season and is just two seasons removed from a 61-point performance in Calgary.  He could play alongside James Neal, who was obtained from Pittsburgh at the NHL draft in exchange for Hornqvist and Spalding. 

 

The Predators also cut ties with Del Zotto by not tending him a qualifying offer.  The offensive-minded blueliner is still an unsigned free agent.  Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm are still restricted free agents to take care of, but it's likely that Nashville isn't done trying to acquire some additional point-producing talent.   

 

St. Louis Blues - A+

Added: Paul Stastny, Jori Lehtera, Carl Gunnarsson, Brian Elliott
Lost: Ryan Miller, Roman Polak



The Blues landed arguably the best free agent in this year's class when they signed Paul Stastny to a four-year, $28 million deal.  There's talk that he could play on the top line with David Backes and Alexander Steen, which is intriguing.  St. Louis also has designs to play 2008 draft pick Jori Lehtera, who just recently agreed to a two-year contract worth $5.5 million, between Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. 



St. Louis snagged Carl Gunnarsson from Toronto on the draft floor in June for Roman Polak.  Gunnarsson has the potential to excel in a slightly reduced role with the Blues.  Ryan Miller was permitted to walk as a free agent and he landed in Vancouver.  In the crease, the Blues plan to use Brian Elliott, who got a newly-minted three-year/$7.5 million contract, and prospect Jake Allen.   It's a risky plan, but St. Louis isn't a team that relies on superb goaltending so it could work out.



Winnipeg Jets - C

Added: Mathieu Perreault, Chris Thorburn
Lost: Olli Jokinen, Al Montoya



Winnipeg picked up Mathieu Perreault on the free agent market after Anaheim decided to risk not giving him a qualifying offer.  He got a three-year, $9 million contract to replace Olli Jokinen on the roster. Oddly enough, the two of them both had 18 goals and 43 points last season, but Perreault reached that total in 69 games.  He could form a speedy duo with Evander Kane. 

 

The Jets lost backup goaltender Al Montoya and Michael Hutchinson may be in line to get the job in his place.  However, the team needs more of an upgrade as though as faith in Ondrej Pavelec has just about run out.  Winnipeg retained the services of Thorburn, who could've tested the open market.  

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