Thursday, July 17, 2008

Off-Season Grades

I'm Ryan from Red Light District, and I'll blog for HockeyBums once a week...

Anaheim Ducks: C
There’s been very little activity from Brian Burke’s office this summer. Brendan Morrison was a nice pickup to solidify the second line. I wouldn’t expect too much from Burke for the rest of the summer, unless he trades Mathieu Schneider
Atlanta Thrashers: C+
Don Waddell started quietly after striking out in the Brian Campbell sweepstakes. But he recovered nicely with the signings of Ron Hainsey and Jason Williams. They still have a lot of work to do before they start talking playoffs again, but this organization is on the way up.
Boston Bruins: B-
Everyone had high expectations for Peter Chiarelli this off-season, with the potential to sign Marian Hossa or Brian Campbell. But he opted to settle for a second-tier UFA, and signed winger Michael Ryder, which was a wise decision IMO. He’ll be a nice piece to another playoff puzzle in Beantown.
Buffalo Sabres: D
Buffalo struck out big time during the frenzy, with their only move signing a backup to Miller (Lalime). I don’t like the acquisition of Craig Rivet. I just don’t see that being a great fit. A very questionable off-season in Buffalo, to say the least.
Calgary Flames: B
Some people think the Cammalleri acquisition was a dumb one to replace Tanguay, but I love it. He’ll be a nice fit with Iginla on the top line. As for the Bertuzzi signing, the jury is still out on that one. GM Darryl Sutter also did a good job re-signing Conroy and Langkow.
Carolina Hurricanes: C+
Joni Pitkanen is just what the ‘Canes need, and got rid of the oft-injured Erik Cole. But I think they could’ve done better on the offensive side. They look pretty thin up there, and won’t be able to last if Staal or Williams go down.
Chicago Blackhawks: A
So what, they had to overpay a little to sign Campbell and Huet. Those two signings alone make the ‘Hawks a legitimate playoff team. I’m curious to see what they’ll do in a trade with Ottawa and/or LA. Unloading Khabibulin’s contract would be the icing on the cake this summer!
Colorado Avalanche: C-
The Avs have taken a step back this summer, and will take another if Sakic retires. Losing Theodore and replacing him with Raycroft will hurt this team in the end. Budaj is not reliable as a #1. I will give them credit for re-signing Foote and Liles…
Columbus Blue Jackets: B
I think the Jackets’ brass did a nice job bringing in great offensive depth. The only thing keeping their grade from an A- is not being able to replace Hainsey on the blue line. Commodore and Tyutin are average at best, so Columbus may want to acquire a solid veteran d-man (Schneider?)
Dallas Stars: C+
The losses of Hagman and Miettinen may hurt, but the acquisition of master-pest Sean Avery will offset that. He was what they were missing in the western finals vs. Detroit.
Detroit Red Wings: A+
I can’t repeat A+ enough. First they signed Ty Conklin as their backup for cheaper than the Sens paid Alex Auld. Then, they pulled off the shocker of the frenzy by landing Hossa with a one-year deal. And, they were able to re-sign Stuart and Lilja. Ken Holland knows how to operate things in the Motor City.
Edmonton Oilers: B+
There are mixed feelings over the Oilers’ summer. Personally, I think the acquisitions of Erik Cole and Visnovsky put them a legitimate playoff team. Also, the recent extension of Horcoff was a job well done by K-Lowe. Now, back to the Burke-Lowe feud!!
Florida Panthers: D
Do they even want to make the playoffs in South FLA!? The Cory Stillman signing makes it look like they’re trying, but they definitely got the worse of the Jokinen deal. Jacques Martin needs to wake up before he’s heading out the door…
Los Angeles Kings: F
All you can do is laugh… Terry Murray? I can name 10 better candidates. I think they’re just waiting for Jonathan Bernier to put this team on his shoulders. What do you think?
Minnesota Wild: C
With the departures of Rolston and Demitra, Minny’s offense now lacks ‘pop’. But they improved the blue line by acquiring M-A Bergeron & Marek Zidlicky through the trade route. I really don’t know what to make of the summer that GM Doug Risebrough has put together. Ask me again in March.
Montreal Canadiens: C+
Laraque and Lapierre on the same line!? Scary. They could afford the loss of Ryder after picking up Tanguay via Calgary. But the loss of Mark Streit will hurt. Who will step in on the number one power play?
Nashville Predators: C-
The off-season was going fairly smoothly until the past week. The defection of Radulov will sting this lineup in a big way. He leaves the Preds with little scoring depth. At least GM David Poile was able to re-sign all of those RFA’s!
New Jersey Devils: B-
GM Lou Lamoriello really improved the offense by signing Brian Rolston. Also, I think going back to Jersey could help Bobby Holik somewhat revive his career.
New York Islanders: D
I don’t like their off-season at all. Mark Streit isn’t at all a good fit there, IMO. And then GM Garth Snow threw a curveball by firing Ted Nolan this week. A very confusing off-season for the Isles, but what else would you expect??
New York Rangers: C+
There’s been so much turnover on the Rangers’ roster, it’s hard to give them a good grade. Losing Jagr, Avery, and Shanahan will definitely have an affect at some point. The Redden and Naslund signings were solid, but you don’t know what you’re going to get out of Nikolai Zherdev. I guess we’ll know by March if it was a good summer or not in the Big Apple.
Ottawa Senators: F
I’ve been critical of the Sens’ off-season ever since July 1. I honestly don’t know what Bryan Murray is doing in the nation’s capital. They’ve lost out just about anyone you can think of. Maybe this trade that’s about to happen could benefit them, but this was not the summer Ottawa needed after their late-season struggles last year.
Philadelphia Flyers: D
The cap-strapped Flyers didn’t really have much room to do anything this summer. They did a nice job by getting a lot in return for Umberger, but it’s hard to give them a good grade when they’re not very active at all.
Phoenix Coyotes: B
Gretzky and company needed to make a splash this summer, and did so by trading for Olli Jokinen. They also added good depth on the blue line by signing David Hale and Kurt Sauer. IMO, the ‘Yotes will be in the playoff discussion with this very solid summer.
Pittsburgh Penguins: C
It was a given that they were going to lose Malone and Hossa. But they recovered nicely with the signings of Fedotenko and Satan. Ray Shero also did a great job by locking up Malkin and Fleury long-term.
San Jose Sharks: B
This was a big summer for the Sharks organization, and they’ve done a good job thus far. The hiring of Todd McLellan as coach was a great move. The acquisitions of Rob Blake & Dan Boyle will bolster the defense significantly. If this particular team doesn’t improve their playoff woes, San Jose is officially cursed.
St. Louis Blues: C-.
It’s been a very quiet summer for the Blues. They got a nice backup for Legace with the trade for Chris Mason. But it’s safe to say the Blues didn’t improve their team this summer.
Tampa Bay Lightning: A-
First Stamkos, then Melrose, then Malone, then Vrbata, then… This summer never ended for the Bolts. And they’ve completely revived the fan base down in Florida. All of these moves were great for the offense, but they still need some help on the blue line.
Toronto Maple Leafs: C-
They paid outrageous money for Jeff Finger, but bringing in Nik Hagman and Jamal Mayers will help. But it appears to me that the Leafs are preparing to make a run for phenom John Tavares in next year’s entry draft.
Vancouver Canucks: B-
GM Mike Gillis has brought in some good scoring depth with Demitra, Bernier, and Wellwood. If they’re able to get Mats Sundin in the near future, this grade goes up to an A.
Washington Capitals: B-
Replacing Huet with Theodore for less money was a nice move by the Caps. Also, the re-signing of Sergei Fedorov will significantly help the Caps. Solid off-season for Washington as they look to defend their division title this winter.

3 comments:

Alex Chiappini said...

Good review....I liked what you had to say about every team.

Chris Cote said...

Ryan, I know I'm biased, but I'm gonna have to disagree with your comments on the Canes... I don't think there are many teams in the league that are as deep at forward anywhere in the NHL. Pitkanen himself is going to help the offense tremendously as well.

Cas and Dana Masiak said...

DAMN! Positivity for the Thrash. I think you are right on. Not great, but a good start. With Lehtonen signing for a year, the trade possibility is out there. Ya think some goalie-less team would love to have Lehts?

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