An NHL offseason roundup
But which Canadian did the best job of retooling?
Just past the NHL draft and well into free agency, and a couple of the Canadian teams look to have improved a lot, while others haven’t done anything, or have even regressed. Here’s my look at each teams draft/free-agency so far.
Let’s start with the most improved team. The only reason this particular Alberta team is the most improved, and not the other Alberta team, is because they were so bad last year that nobody could possibly improve more than the Oilers will this year.
The Oilers added a new goalie who, let’s be honest, isn’t going to solve anything in net because he is a backup, just like their other two goalies. But hey, at least they tried. On top of that, they added a new general manager, new head coach, a solid top four defenseman, and just some guy named Connor who is supposed to be the next Gretzky or something. Even with all of these additions, they will have to improve by 30 points in the standings from last year just to compete for a playoff spot, so I still don’t think they will be in the playoffs, but they will have improved a ton from last year.
Vancouver is stuck in those years where they are still holding on to the dream and it’s obvious the team isn’t going to win anything, but management isn’t ready to start rebuilding yet. They brought in a great team guy in Brandon Prust, by trading away Zack Kassian, but then they lost a good team guy in Bieksa, to a division rival no less. All-in-all, they probably regressed a little bit, but if they decide to start their rebuild, that might work out in their favour.
Speaking of rebuilds, that is exactly what Toronto is doing right now, and at first glance they are doing a terrific job. They have a great new general manager, and one of the greatest coaches in history in Mike Babcock (good Saskatchewan boy too), all added on to a prospect pool that has some high-end talent in it. The Leafs are primed for another top five pick this year and if they can unload Dion Phaneuf the same way they recently got rid of Kessel, they will be on track to be back in the running in no time.
Montreal made one move in signing the recently bought out Semin who can’t replace the leadership lost when they traded Prust, but he can, just maybe, score 40 goals. Its not very likely, but at 1.1 million dollars, it is a very low-risk, high-reward signing.
Ottawa had a good draft, grabbing Thomas Chabot and Colin White with their two first-round picks, but they haven’t made any impact signings or trades yet in the offseason. They do have some decent young talent that will improve next year, but as a team I think they will be right about where they were last year.
Winnipeg is said to have one of the best prospect cupboards in the league and they are a team on the upswing for sure, but losing one of their best possession players, Frolik, to free-agency wont help, but even that won’t stop them from improving next year.
Speaking of improving, teams on the upswing, good rebuilds, and Michael Frolik, that leads me right into the Calgary Flames. The Flames, much like the Jets, have a very talented prospect pool, some would say is one of the best in the league. However, unlike the Jets, the Flames added not one, but two, very good possession players this offseason. One is the aforementioned Michael Frolik who chose to sign in Calgary instead of re-signing in Winnipeg. The other is former Boston Bruins franchise defenseman Dougie Hamilton (editor’s note: I’m still upset about this. DOUGIE!), who will be added to the already highest-powered offensive D-core in the league. With the Flames young forwards continuing to improve, and a full season of Sam Bennett, there is no doubt they will be a scary team this coming year, so look out NHL!