Six NHL teams that are curiously quiet this offseason
Many NHL teams made a splash in the trade market and in unrestricted free agency. And other teams … well, they didn’t, or at least haven’t yet.
Some of these teams certainly fall into the “they’re a little too quiet” category, while others have some justification for staying on the sidelines.
Here are six NHL teams that have been curiously quiet so far this offseason.
The Avalanche bought out Brad Stuart and traded Nick Holden. They signed Patrick Wiercioch, Fedor Tyutin and Joe Colborne. Some of these moves are nice. Some are OK. None of them really rise to the kind of defibrillator-to-the-heart that the franchise probably needs. Or to put it in Terry Frei’s terms, “the Avs made a series of arguably solidifying moves. But I thought they’d do more.”
But it comes back to this familiar point, one that was reinforced the last few days: Especially given the way the Avalanche folded down the stretch, Colorado still is staking an enormous amount of faith in the “core” — and it’s no longer accurate to call it a “young core” — to make this a better team, largely through natural progression. A Semyon Varlamov return to consistently elite status would be a great start, but the buck (or puck) doesn’t stop there. Has this “core” earned that much trust? No. Not yet.
GM Joe Sakic said the team would be on the sidelines for free agency, but there was talk about the Avs on the verge of something big. Like shipping Tyson Barrie to Edmonton instead of settling on a high-price one or two-year deal in arbitration. Like trading Matt Duchene or, even more significantly, Gabriel Landeskog.
New contracts for Nathan MacKinnon and Barrie are going to eat a lot of that remaining cap space. So is this the team they come back with next season?
The Alex Goligoski out/Dan Hamhuis in moves certainly rise above having done “nothing,” and there have been little moves like adding Adam Cracknell. But the Stars are here for one reason: The goaltending, which GM Jim Nill thinks is sufficient, which the rest of the hockey world thinks is grounds to test the water in Dallas for heavy doses of hallucinogens.
Ben Bishop was on the table, but it’s looking a little hazy as far as whether Dallas can land him. And we’re all wondering if this Dallas Stars team is going to continue on in the grand tradition of the Lindros Flyers where insufficient goaltending submarines a championship caliber team.
Los Angeles Kings
Teddy Purcell is a nice signing. Tom Gilbert is a depth signing. Jeff Zatkoff seems like a decent guy.
But Milan Lucic left for Edmonton, despite an effort from the Kings to re-sign him that included a now-rescinded buyout to Matt Greene. They want a top-six forward on the left side. They have under $1 million in cap space and a sad Dustin Brown that one assumes they’d like to move to open up more. A trade would seem the best option – but does Dean Lombardi wait until we’re deep into the season to make one?
They have to be a little concerned with what Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are going to require next summer. But by then, Brown will be playing in Vegas, so no worries there.
New York Rangers
They’re quiet. Too quiet.
Keith Yandle was moved so the Panthers could sign him. Michael Grabner and Nathan Gerbe are depth signings and quality ones at that, especially in a conference that suddenly demands hyperspace speed to excel. But the Rangers stayed on the sidelines for the rest of the Frenzy, partially out of necessity: They have to re-sign Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Dylan McIlrath as RFAs.
So we’re all waiting for the Big Trade from the Rangers. They’d like it to include the $7.8 million cap hit for Rick Nash, who as a 12-team no-trade list, but have found no takers. There was talk that Derek Stepan was in play, but that hasn’t come to pass.
The Nash, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal contracts continue to be anchors around their collective necks. Frankly, the time is right to trade Henrik Lundqvist, but he has both a love of New York and a full no-move.
They’re going to do something, and it’s going to be fascinating to see what it is.
GM Ron Hextall subtracted R.J. Umberger and added Dale Weise for forward depth, but that’s not the kind of forward depth this team needs. It needs goal-scoring, desperately, in the form of a top six forward.
Think power forward that can enable top-line guys Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek to get back to a dominating level again; or a second-line scorer who could solidify Sean Couturier’s appointment as a two-way center.
That would be worth paying for. Especially since last season’s journey wound up with Hextall recently saying, in so many words, that his team made the playoffs … which was cool, but so what?
It’s a process, after all. The Flyers have a long way to go in it. Adding scoring help would seem to be the next step. “Do I hope to? Yes,” Hextall said about the prospect of a helpful free-agent forward. “Are we going to? I don’t know.”
Three things on the Flyers in this offseason:
The cap is not their friend. They have $8.6 million open and still need to hand Brayden Schenn and Nick Cousins RFA deals.
They’re confident that kids like Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny are going to make the team and provide cheap help in the lineup.
Speaking of kids: Is that top six forward going to end up being prized NCAA free agent Jimmy Vesey, and if so, how much will it cost?
Obviously, the addition of Patrik Laine is one of the biggest of the offseason. Shawn Matthias is a nice addition. But that Jacob Trouba offer sheet drama has yet to produce anything tangible, nor has it produced a contract.
Winnipeg is one of those teams that seems to be perpetually building towards something but other than the Evander Kane trade – which, frankly, they were forced into making – hasn’t made that giant leap to contender status. Maybe that comes in 2017, when a few players come off the cap and guys like Laine, Nik Ehlers, Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck are a year older.
Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.