So far this off-season has seen a lot of surprises in regards to free agent signings, trades and the NHL Draft. Most teams added superstars or depth players to their teams. Other teams struggled to add anything to solve the puzzle of their quest to win the Stanley Cup. Here are my three winners and losers of the NHL off-season to this point.
1. Dallas Stars
The Stars almost made the playoffs last season so they knew they were only a few players away from making a strong run for the Stanley Cup. Many wondered what the Stars were doing when they traded top line center, Mike Ribero, to the Washington Capitals but this freed up money for them to do more with their roster. They signed veterans Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney who both had above average seasons last year. They also filled the top line center need by trading Derek Roy for tough guy Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy.
2. Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes started the off-season with a bang by adding Jordan Staal to their top six forwards list. He adds a dynamic on the power play that the ‘Canes were desperately missing and unites him with his brother Eric for the first time in his career. Carolina also added defenseman Joe Corvo, who was traded from the ‘Canes last year to the Bruins. They hope Corvo can rekindle the chemistry he had with linemate Tim Gleason that he had just two seasons ago. The two additions should lead the Hurricanes to the playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
3. Boston Bruins
The Bruins did what they had to do this off-season, absolutely nothing. They re-signed forwards Greg Campbell, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille as well as goalie Tuukka Rask. With Nathan Horton coming back this season from injury and the addition of young defenseman Dougie Hamilton, the Bruins look to make yet another deep playoff run next season. With the drafting of goalie Malcom Subban, they add more depth to their goalie corps after Tim Thomas announced he would be sitting out this season.
1. Philadelphia Flyers
Philly started off the off-season with a questionable trade by shipping prized scoring winger James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for inconsistent defenseman Luke Schenn. Schenn has a lot of potential but many question his work ethic. Adding to their forward woes, veteran Jaromir Jagr skipped town to Dallas which leaves a huge hole on their power play. On defense, captain Chris Pronger is still a question mark for the upcoming season with post concussive syndrome and the Flyers lost top defenseman Matt Carle to Tampa Bay. Philly needs to fill their roster with depth guys or they may have a problem this upcoming season.
2. Nashville Predators.
First they lose scoring winger Alex Radulov, then top defenseman Ryan Suter and then role player Jordin Tootoo. Now captain Shea Weber might be traded and Nashville might be in rebuilding mode. When general manager David Polie assembled the playoff team last year during the trade deadline, he set it up thinking his team would go deep in the playoffs. They were eliminated in the second round by the Phoenix Coyotes and suffered a disappointing season. Now this season might also come as a disappointment to the Nashville fans as most of their team from last year might be gone.
3. Minnesota Wild
You would think signing superstars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would make you instant winners of an off-season. With over 90 million dollars tied up to both players over 13 years, the Wild don’t have the money to add the complementary players that they need to win a Stanley Cup. Winger Dany Heatley led the team last year with 52 points but that was the lowest total for a player in the NHL that led their team in points. The Wild will probably make the playoffs this season but don’t look for them to go deep if they don’t add more depth to their roster.
Pierce Arrow Sports Editor