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NHL offseason grades: Rebuilding Red Wings get aggressive; Blackhawks decide to bottom out

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The NHL off-season saw many big moments when the three 100-pointers – Johnny Gaudreau, Jonathan Huberdeau and Matthew Tkachuk – switched teams, and the last two traded with each other.

The unchanged salary cap has forced the Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche to make tough choices, and the abundance of cap space has allowed the Seattle Cracken sophomore to make several key acquisitions.

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The coaching merry-go-round was also busy with a few sudden gunshots and plenty of familiar faces filling in the holes.

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With training camps reopening later this month, USA TODAY Sports is evaluating all 32 NHL teams for their off-season performance.

Matthew Tkachuk (left) and Jonathan Huberdeau traded for each other this season.
Matthew Tkachuk (left) and Jonathan Huberdeau traded for each other this season.
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NHL OFF-SEASON REPORT: News, analysis of signings, exchanges and more

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Anaheim Ducks: B

Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano will help the team that lost Ryan Getzlaf to retirement. John Klingberg and Dmitry Kulikov will help the defense that dealt out Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson last season. Or GM Pat Verbeek can trade the blue liners on time.

Arizona Coyotes: D

They had a quiet off-season, aside from the re-signing of Lawson Crouse and a trade for defenseman Patrick Nemeth. But there’s not much they can do because they’re moving into a 5,000-seat arena.

Boston Bruins: B

The Bruins averted big problems when captain Patrice Bergeron returned and improved when David Krejci returned after a year in Europe. The sacking of Bruce Cassidy has caused bewilderment, and new coach Jim Montgomery will have to deal with the extended absences of Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy.

Buffalo Sabers: B

Their biggest move was signing Tage Thompson for seven years with a $50 million extension after he scored 38 goals in a season. His best season so far had been eight goals. Eric Comrie will move into the goalkeeping rotation.

Calgary Flames: A

The Flames were in for a disaster when Gaudreau was wasted and Tkachuk had to be sold. But Calgary turned Tkachuk into Huberdeau and Mackenzie Vigar, and Stanley Cup winner Nazem Kadri signed a seven-year contract. Huberdeau signed an eight-year extension. The Pacific Division winners could be even better this season.

Carolina Hurricanes: B-

Their 4th to 6th-place scorers last season are gone, and off-season acquisition Max Pacioretti will miss the first half of the season with Achilles tendon surgery. The Hurricanes reacted to the latest news by signing Paul Stastny, and rookie Brent Burns had more points than traded defenseman Tony DeAngelo.

Chicago Blackhawks: D

The tank is ready, Alex DeBrinkat, Kirby Dutch and others are sent. They brought back a few eligible players, but the goal seems to be to try and get the No. 1 overall pick and the right to pick Connor Bedard.

Colorado Avalanche: B

They couldn’t afford to bring everyone back, and Kadri, Darcy Kemper and Andre Burakovsky left. But last season, the Avalanche suffered numerous injuries and still managed to finish second overall and win the Stanley Cup. The re-signing of contracts for the acquisition of Artturi Lehkonen, Andrew Cogliano and Manson helps. Evan Rodriguez (one year, $2 million) is a bargain because he scored 30 of his career-best 43 points while the Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin was injured last season. Pavel Francouz, who played well when Kemper was injured, and Alexander Georgiev, who acquired him on an exchange, make up a new goalkeeping tandem.

Columbus Blue Jackets: A

They landed best free agent Gaudreau and achieved a re-signing of the contract with Patrick Line for four years. The two could be a dynamic couple, though the team had to part ways with Oliver Bjorkstrand to make the money work.

Johnny Gaudreau accepts the Blue Jackets jersey from coach Brad Larsen (left) and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.
Johnny Gaudreau accepts the Blue Jackets jersey from coach Brad Larsen (left) and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.

Dallas Stars: B

Peter DeBoer took over as coach after being fired by the Golden Knights. He will need to receive products from more than one line. Signing a contract with Mason Marchment is just the beginning. The Stars had to save money to re-sign goaltender Jake Ettinger and 40-goal scorer Jason Robertson. Ettinger signed a three-year, $12 million contract.

Detroit Red Wings: A-

They were aggressive, with forwards Andrew Kopp and David Perron and goaltender Ville Husso being their top picks. Looks like they overpaid for quarterback Ben Chiaro (four years, $19 million) after a bad season. New coach Derek Lalonde has a track record of winning as an assistant to the Lightning.

Edmonton Oilers: B-

The Oilers’ weakness last season was in the draw, with Jack Campbell outperforming Mike Smith, though he has limited playoff experience. Evander Kane was re-signed after a strong playoff.

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Florida Panthers: B-

Trade acquisition Tkachuk is 24 years old and has received an eight-year extension, but giving up Huberdeau, Vigar, a prospect and a draft pick was a heavy price to pay. Their trade deals with deadlines, as well as the promising Marchment, have moved on. Paul Maurice has been coaching since leaving the Jets last season.

Los Angeles Kings: B

The Kevin Fiala trade will bolster a team that has broken a three-year playoff drought. They signed the 26-year-old to a seven-year, $55 million contract.

Minnesota Wild: B-

Marc-André Fleury re-signed and Cam Talbot was traded for Filip Gustavsson so the Wild would not be embarrassed about online playing time. Losing 85 Fiala points will be difficult, although it will give younger players the chance for more playing time. Sam Steele ($825,000) could be a good buy.

Montreal Canadiens: C

The Canadiens are looking to rookies Evgeny Dadonov, Sean Monahan and Duch to play seasons under coach Martin St. Louis. But the news that goaltender Carey Price is unlikely to play makes his job harder.

Nashville Predators: B

Re-signing Filip Forberg was a big deal and Nino Niederreiter and Ryan McDonagh were great helpers.

New Jersey Devils: C

All-around two-time Stanley Cup winner Ondrej Palat brings experience to a team looking to end a playoff drought. They were unable to find New Jersey native Gaudreau as a free agent.

New York Islanders: C-

Perhaps missing out on the playoffs last year was an accident due to COVID and the long starting journey. But that team fired two-time Coach of the Year Barry Trotz, promoted assistant Lane Lambert, and added quarterback Alexander Romanov. It won’t help the billing problem.

New York Rangers: B

Vincent Trochek’s versatility will help the Rangers’ top six players. Yaroslav Halak is a better backup for goaltender Igor Shesterkin than his trade Georgiev.

Ottawa Senators: A

Impressive off-season result: Claude Giroud, DeBrinkat and Talbot join the rising young core. Senators can compete for a place in the wild-card.

Philadelphia Flyers: D

New coach John Tortorella will help structure the team and DeAngelo will help with the transition game, but troubling news continues to come in about Ryan Ellis-related injuries. and Sean Couturier.

Pittsburgh Penguins: B

The Big Three are still together after center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Chris Letang re-signed to stay with Sidney Crosby, plus coach Mike Sullivan received an extension. They also sent Mike Matheson and John Marino on separate deals to get Jeff Petrie and Ty Smith. The Penguins’ playoff streak should go on, but have they done enough to make it out of the first round?

St. Louis Blues: C

With the Husso trade, the Blues need goaltender Jordan Binnington to play in the playoffs (1.71 goals vs. average) rather than the regular season (3.13). Given Perron’s success with the team, it’s surprising the Blues didn’t bring him back. They did have rising stars Jordan Kirow and Robert Thomas signing an eight-year extension.

San Jose Sharks: B-

New CEO Mike Grier managed to terminate Brent Burns’ major contract, providing flexibility. The return was modest, as were his signatures. New coach David Quinn has experience with a rebuilding team.

Seattle Kraken: A-

They used their free cap space to sign two-time Stanley Cup winner Burakovsky and acquire 28-goal scorer Bjorkstrand. Shane Wright gave them the 4th pick. He was considered the most accomplished player in the draft class.

Tampa Bay Lightning: B-

The Lightning got forward Anthony Cirelli and defensemen Mikhail Sergachev and Eric Chernak signed long-term contracts, but they failed to win back Palat and were forced to trade McDonagh.

Toronto Maple Leafs: C

A new tandem has appeared on the network. The Leafs traded for the frequently injured Matt Murray and signed Ilya Samsonov to a proof-of-concept deal. They had to forfeit their first round pick in order to trade goalkeeper Petr Mrazek.

Vancouver Canucks: B

The Canucks avoided a major distraction by striking a seven-year, $56 million deal with 99-pointer J.T. Miller ahead of training camp. The deal will come into effect after the end of this season and will last until the 2029/30 season, when he will be 37 years old. The Canucks’ next-best scorer had 68 points last season. Ilya Mikheev was an underestimated player.

Vegas Golden Knights: C-

Problems with the salary cap continue to haunt them. Pacioretti and Dadonov were given away for next to nothing. And last year’s injury problems continued when goaltender Robin Lehner (thigh) was out of action for the entire season. But they’ve added a resilient Phil Kessel who is about to break the NHL’s iron man record.

Washington Capitals: B

Last year’s tandem of goalkeepers Vitek Vanechek and Samsonov was fickle. Now they’re joined by Stanley Cup winner Kemper and Charlie Lindgren, who have averaged 1.22 goals per short call-up in the Blues. Nicklas Backstrom’s off-season hip surgery is a concern, but signing Dylan Strome will help.

Winnipeg Jets: C-

They couldn’t get Trotz to coach them and Rick Bowness will be off the bench. Otherwise, it is almost the same team that finished sixth in the Central Division.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Offseason NHL Team Estimates: Evaluating All 32 Teams’ Summer Transfers



Source: sports.yahoo.com

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