In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we shift our focus to the trades that have taken place so far this offseason, and which teams have made the best addition.
We have not really seen a ton of blockbuster trades (and the one we thought we were going to get never actually happened) but there have still been some potentially impactful moves.
Some teams have been forced to shed salary for salary cap purposes. Some teams just needed to shake things up. Other teams were waiting to take advantage of both situations.
We are looking at a combination of factors when it comes to the rankings, from the talent of the player, to the fit with the new team, to the contract that player has, and what all the team had to give up in return.
Which additions do we like the most?
1. Nate Schmidt to Vancouver. By far the bright spot of Vancouver’s offseason. They took advantage of Vegas’ cap crunch and picked up a top-four defenseman for mid-round draft pick two years from now. They didn’t get Oliver Ekman-Larsson from Arizona, but given the contract and small trade cost this might work out better.
2. Brandon Saad to Colorado. Not sure Saad ever became the player a lot of people expected him to be, but he is still a 20-goal, possession driving forward that gives an already stacked team even more talent. Maybe he is not a franchise building block, but he should be a hell of a complementary piece.
3. Devon Toews to Colorado. The Islanders could not afford to pay Toews given their salary cap situation and the Avalanche were there to pounce. Toews’ style of play is a perfect fit for Colorado’s system. Their forwards get all of the attention, but the Avalanche have pieced together a sensational young defense.
4. Max Domi to Columbus. He is not likely to repeat his 28-goal, 72-point performance from two years ago and he has his flaws away from the puck. Even so, he is a talented playmaker that gives the Blue Jackets some much-needed help down the middle, while they also managed to get him at a fair price under the cap.
6. Kasperi Kapanen to Pittsburgh. You could argue they overpaid a little (a first-round pick and a good prospect) and did not fill a huge need, but Kapanen is a good player, seems like a good fit for the system, and he should make them better.
7. Paul Stastny to Winnipeg. The Jets needed some help down the middle and were another team able to take advantage of Vegas’ desperation to dump salary to fit Alex Pietrangelo under the cap. Stastny is not the player he was a couple of years ago, but he is still a big upgrade for them and didn’t cost anything significant in a trade.
8. Ryan Donato to San Jose. I like this move a lot for the Sharks. Forward depth was one of their many issues a year ago, and Donato is still a promising player that has produced in a little role. A very smart pickup for a cheap cost.
9. Andreas Johnsson to New Jersey. A very solid, under-the-radar pickup that did not get a lot of attention when it happened. He has 20-goal ability and should give the Devils some much-needed scoring depth.
10. Nick Bonino to Minnesota. The Wild needed centers, and Bill Guerin turned to a familiar face from his Pittsburgh days. Bonino gives the Wild a very solid defensive presence in the middle of its lineup that can also chip in 15-20 goals. Good player.
11. Jake Allen to Montreal. A backup goalie? Sure, why not. Goalie platoons are becoming more common across the league (and are very important!) and Allen gives Montreal a capable backup to keep Carey Price fresh. That could pay off in a big way.
12. Devan Dubnyk to San Jose. The Sharks had to address their goaltending. I just don’t know if this is the answer. On one hand, Dubynk was awful this past season. On the other hand, he seems like a solid bounce-back candidate, he didn’t cost the Sharks anything in a trade, and Minnesota picked up half of his remaining cap hit.
13. Josh Anderson to Montreal. There are a lot of reasons to like the player and still hate the risk. If Anderson is healthy, and if he regains the goal-scoring form he showed a couple of years ago, he could be a good fit and give Montreal the type of forward it needs. But those are two big ifs and Montreal already committed seven years and $38.5 million to him. Big question mark.
14. Matt Murray to Ottawa. Which player are the Senators getting? The two-time Stanley Cup winner, or the inconsistent one we have seen the past couple of years? It is a big gamble, made even bigger by that four-year, $25 million price tag. No goalie signed a bigger contract this offseason.
16. Luke Kunin to Nashville. Still very young and looks like he has 20-goal potential. Still a bit of a question mark and his underlying numbers in Minnesota were fairly weak.
17. Patric Hornqvist to Florida. He is going to bring energy, effort, toughness, and leadership to the Panthers, but given his playing style there is reason to wonder how he will age on the ice. With that contract it is a concern.
18. Mike Matheson to Pittsburgh. I actually like the idea of Matheson in Pittsburgh because I think they can get a lot of out of him. But that contract. The Penguins have had a tendency to pay too much money to bottom-of-the-lineup players, and Matheson is now under contract longer than any player currently on the roster. Does anyone really need that much Mike Matheson?
19. Marcus Johansson to Minnesota. He is a good player, but I am not sure he serves as any sort of an upgrade over what Minnesota gave up (Eric Staal) to get him.
20. Joel Edmundson to Montreal. He is an okay player that might help their blue line, but the contract seems to be a little much for what he is.
21. Lias Andersson to Los Angeles. Look, it’s a great gamble for the Kings and they have very little to lose here. Maybe it works out and they stumble upon another skilled, impact player to add to an impressive collection of prospects. But I also feel like if he was going to be that player we would have seen some sort of sign of it by now.
22. Olli Maatta to Los Angeles. A smart player that is solid defensively but lacks the speed or offensive ability to make a huge impact at both ends of the ice. He is not going to hurt your team, but the $4 million price tag is a little steep.
23. Nikita Zadorov to Chicago. Not sure if Zadorov does much to change the outlook of the Blackhawks’ defense. The bigger issue is this: Chicago trades Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad. Chicago trades Brandon Saad for Nikita Zadorov. In three years Chicago turned a top-five winger and offensive force into Nikita Zadorov. That is moving in the wrong direction.