The National Hockey League Draft which unofficially doubles as the NHL's second trade deadline, and the first wave of free agency are now officially in the books. So far we have witnessed a lot of players that changed addresses due to the amount of trades and free agent signings that have taken place since the end of the season.
Whether it be finance, a team looking to rebuild, or something as petty as a falling out between a player and a coach, there are many reasons why a player gets traded. As is often the case with most trades, there is usually a clear winner and a loser. From the Tyler Seguin trade, to the Alexei Yashin trade, while those transactions looked great on paper, they ended up being completely one-sided. The flip side of that however, are trades like Iginla for Nieuwendyk, the Nordiques/Flyers' Lindros trade, and more recently with the St. Louis/Callahan trade, those are examples that worked out well for everybody involved.
Although it revolves around player movement as well (unless a player re-signs with their current club) free agency operates much in the same way. A change of scenery, a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, unhappiness, the ability to play closer to family, or simply feeling that another team values you more, are some of the main reasons why a player will choose to sign somewhere else .With that said, it's time to look at Top 15 good and bad off-season moves via trade and free agency.
16 Bruins Trading Milan Lucic
While having to create salary cap space, and faced with the fact that he was set to become an unrestricted free gent next summer, on the day of the NHL draft, the Boston Bruins traded arguably the face of the franchise in Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings for goaltender Martin Jones, prospect Colin Miller, and a 2015 1st round pick that the Bruins used to draft Saint John's defenceman Jakub Zboril. The trade worked out great for the Kings as they picked up a forward who can play anywhere in their top-6 group, and whose rugged and physical attributes matches up perfectly Darryl Sutter's preferred style of play.
15 Canucks trading Eddie Lack
It seems like it's been a carousel of goaltending in Vancouver ever since Cory Schneider was traded two summers ago. Roberto Luongo was traded last year presumably to make room for Eddie Lack, but the Canucks wound up signing veteran Ryan Miller in the offseason. Miller took over as the starter in Vancouver but when he went down with injury, Lack proved to be a workhorse for over two months. For a goalie with star potential, the Canucks dumped Lack for a third rounder and a seventh rounder next year. When you compare that to what the Rangers got for Cam Talbot, this just can't be seen as a good move.
14 Flames signing Michael Frolik
13 Oilers overpaying Andrej Sekera
You can't fault the Oilers for trying to improve a terrible blueline, but this signing has bad contract written all over it. Andrej Sekera will soon be over 30 and his best offensive season was 44 points in 2013-14. The Kings acquired Sekera this past season at the trade deadline, hoping he'd fill the void left by Slava Voynov. While Sekera didn't flop in L.A., he didn't exactly make a difference on a second pairing as the Kings wound up missing the playoffs. Odds are, he's going to be asked to do a lot more in Edmonton than he should be. The good news for Edmonton is they had ample cap space to make this move. But they may regret the signing in the latter years of the deal.
11 Avalanche overpaying Carl Soderberg
10 Maple Leafs getting little value in Kessel trade
The most talked about trade of the summer had to make an appearance on the list. Phil Kessel and Maple Leaf fans finally getting a reprive as Toronto sent the sniper along with Tim Erixon, and Tyler Biggs, and a 2016 2nd round pick to the Penguins for Nick Spaling, Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, and 1st and 3rd round drafts picks next year's draft. The Leafs will retain $1.2 million of Kessel's $8 million a year salary for the next seven seasons.
9 Columbus overpaying Brandon Saad
Fresh off of winning their 3rd Stanley Cup in 6 years, the Blackhawks once again had to shed some salary. Faced with the prospect of having to re-sign Sadd who was an impending RFA, and coming off another impressive playoff performance where he registered 8 goals and 11 points, the team from the Windy City traded him along with Alex Broadhurst and Michael Paliotta to Columbus for Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, Corey Tropp, Jeremy Morin, highly touted prospect Marko Dano, and a 2016 4th round draft pick. Despite all the names involved, this is essentially a Saad for Anisimov swap.
8 Detroit Red Wings signing Brad Richards
This signing happened on the opening day of free agency, and appeared to fly under the radar a little bit. Rest assured Red Wing fans, the addition of the vet has the potential to be a positive one for Detroit.
7 Anaheim Ducks trading for Kevin Bieksa
While the Ducks acquiring Ryan Kesler from Vancouver was a great coup last year, Vancouver appears to turned the tables by unloading a declining Kevin Bieksa to a Ducks team that was looking to bolster their blueline.
6 San Jose Sharks acquiring Martin Jones
Fresh off of missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, and ripe with a long list of playoff disappointments the San Jose Sharks and general manager Doug Wilson decided that changes were in order. Wilson brought in a trio of players to the squad via free agency and trade. He acquired Joel Ward, Martin Jones, and Paul Martin. All three players bring a winning pedigree to their new team.
5 Chicago trading Sharp to Dallas
As you can tell, Chicago has had a busy off-season. Just a couple of weeks after the aforementioned Saad/Anisimov transaction, the reigning Stanley Cup champs traded Patrick Sharp and prospect Stephen Johns to the Dallas Stars for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt. While both clubs come away with value, it appears that the Stars came away as the big winners in this one.
4 Boston Bruins reaching for Beleskey
This signing has the potential to go either way. Beleskey's stock soared after scoring a career-high 22 goals this past regular season. He followed that up with a fantastic playoff run this spring as a member of the Anaheim Ducks that saw him score a career high 8 goals. That total was good for second on the team in post-season scoring.
3 Detroit Red Wings signing Mike Green
Although its hard to doubt Red Wings GM Ken Holland given his success rate over the years, this in my opinion is the most questionable signing of free agency. After bursting onto the scene in 2007, Green quickly elevated his game and was named an All-Star in 2009 and 2010. Injuries and ineffectiveness especially in his own end of the ice has seen Green's stock fall from where it once was. This past season was the fifth in a row that the 29-year old failed to crack the 50 point mark.
2 Boston trading Dougie Hamilton
Speaking of ex-Bruins, the towering 6-foot-5 Defencemen was dealt to the Calgary Flames the day before the draft as well. Rumors swirled around that the Bruins couldn't reach a financial agreement with Hamilton who was about to become a restricted free agent. In fear of having another club sign him to an offer sheet this offseason, the Bruins decided to trade the 22 year-old. While Boston netted a 1st, and two 2nd round picks in June's draft, most hockey insiders still fell it wasn't enough of a return to justify trading arguably their best D-man.
1 Buffalo's contract to Ryan O'Reilly
While the Buffalo Sabres improved their team tremendously this offseason, they already have to be having doubts about handing Ryan O'Reilly a seven year contract extension worth $52.5 million. When your presumed no.1 center for next season gets arrested for drunk driving and allegedly striking a Tim Horton's and leaving the vehicle following the crash, you have to believe GM Tim Murray is now a little concerned.
While O'Reilly is a very good player, he was on Colorado's second line and point totals like his (17 goals, 55 points) aren't what you'd associate with a no.1 center earning over $7 million a year. He's still young at 24 and can improve on those totals, potentially playing on a line with Evander Kane and Jack Eichel this season, but this screams of a deal where a GM got a little too desperate.
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