In today’s NHL, there are no bad teams.
And I’m not talking about recent Buffalo Sabres bad, I’m talking about like expansion-era Ottawa Senators bad. Look it up.
But after I highlighted a few winners of the 2018 NHL offseason last week, it’s only fitting that I round out my takes with the reverse, and label which teams went full Cobra Starship -- made their good teams go bad (laugh now) -- over the course of the summer.
In a similar way that I broke down the winners of the offseason, I will also divide team’s failures into four major categories -- departures, acquisitions, re-signings and regressions.
New York Islanders
The Islanders BY FAR took the biggest ‘L’ this offseason. There is absolutely no question about it, so let’s cut the talk and
just dive into this soon-to-be gong show.
Departures: John Tavares, Calvin De Haan, Nikolai Kulemin, Dennis Seidenberg and Jaroslav Halak.
Acquisitions: Robin Lehner, Valtteri Filppula, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, Tom Kuhnhackl and Jan Kovar.
Re-signings: Brock Nelson, Thomas Hickey, Ryan Pulock, Ross Johnston and Devon Toews.
Regressions: Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ladd, Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas Komarov and Martin.
Let’s get this out of the way from the jump. The Isles lost their former No. 1 overall pick in John Tavares at no cost. That is…not ideal.
But instead of playing it safe, new GM Lou Lamoriello -- who, I personally think is no longer as great as he is perceived, but that’s a longer discussion for another day -- went out and spent a collective $8.25 million on Filppula, Komarov and Matt Martin.
On top of that, the Islanders are spending just under $29 million on the other players listed in the regression category.
But it’s not even the dollar value that is laughable, it’s the length of terms of the respective contracts.
Boychuk, Komarov and Clutterbuck (and for what it’s worth, Nick Leddy) are locked up until 2022. Ladd is locked up until 2023 and a Tavares-less Josh Bailey is staying on Long Island until 2024. Even the low-risk, $1 million Russ Jonthson signing is bonkers because the Islanders gave him a four year extension after a 2018-19 campaign of a collective 17 points and 175 PIM in 62 games with both Bridgeport and the big club.
The point is, the Islanders have Mat Barzal, yet another elite player that will enter his prime years with what looks like limited-to-no support. Ring a bell?
Too lazy; didn’t read - After losing Tavares, the Islanders added even more subpar players at terrible value and term.
Ahh, how I love to see the Habs’ demise. It just gives me joy, you know?
While the Canadiens were already in a pretty tough situation to begin with, this summer did not include any forwards steps whatsoever. Whether it was a questionable trade, lack of trade or injuries, Montreal had a rough time on the links and it will surely carry over into the season.
Departures: Alex Galchenyuk, Daniel Carr and Logan Shaw.
Acquisitions: Max Domi, Tomas Plekanec, Joel Armia and Matthew Peca.
Re-signings: Phillip Danault, Jacob De La Rose and Antti Niemi.
Regressions: Shea Weber, Jeff Petry and Carey Price (yeah, I said it).
Following a tough season, the Habs didn’t change too much, but when change occurred, it was mostly setbacks. Instead of building the team back up, French-speaking (it’s important!) GM Marc Bergevin went out and traded former No. 3 overall pick and natural centerman Alex Galchenyuk to Arizona for… *takes off metaphorical glasses, breathes on them, wipes them off and puts said glasses back on face* left winger Max Domi?
(Doesn't he look aobsolutely OVER THE MOON to wear Mats Sundin's No. 13 for the Habs?!?)
I’m no GM, so correct me if I’m way off, but when your team has an excess amount of wingers and a void down the middle, the logical thing is build upon that void.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Matthew Peca (Quinnipiac alum, let’s go!) has some sneaky potential at center, but when you have Max Pacioretty, a superstar winger that has been on the rumor mill for quite some time, pull the trigger and acquire depth at center.
It’s clear that management knows that their position of need is center, as they took a risk and drafted positionally instead of skill-first when they took work-in-progress Jesperi Kotkaniemi at No. 3.
So my question is, what is going on in Montreal? Is this a rebuild or not? Because the Habs had a chance to move current pieces for key future assets over the summer and decided not to.
Too lazy; didn’t read - Montreal was a bad team last season and they are now slightly worse after making a debatable, semi-blockbuster trade and failing to make any other moves.
Listen, despite a relatively incompetent front office, I actually liked what the Canucks were doing with their team moving forward.
Then they decided to splurge on bottom-six forwards, as if their top-six were actually good enough, and now I am back in question.
Departures: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Nic Dowd, Jussi Jokinen and Patrick Wiercioch.
Acquisitions: Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Tim Schaller and Elias Pettersson.
Re-signings: Jake Virtanen, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Derrick Pouliot and Troy Stecher.
Regressions: Loui Eriksson, Erik Gudbranson, Beagle and Roussel.
The loss of the Sedin twins alone is a clear step backwards for the Canucks. Luckily, there are up-and-coming prospects in Vancouver’s system like Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen that may help fill that void.
So my big question is, after stealing Dahlen from the Senators and scoring big on Pettersson through the draft, why is GM Jim Benning & Co. spending just under $8 million a year on Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and Tim Schaller? And -- with the exception of Schaller, who is signed through 2020, both 32-year-old Beagle and 28-year-old Roussel are locked in until 2022.
Unlike the Maple Leafs, who took in veterans on one-year deals in 2015-16 in order to essentially tank for Auston Matthews, the Canucks will be stuck with these players, and others that made it onto the regression list well into younger players’ prime years.
Too lazy; didn’t read - Instead of sitting back, waiting for talent to grow and probably getting a high draft pick in 2019, the Canucks spent too much money and long term on OK players.
Just missed the cut: Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks.