Well it really was the Wild West this past week as Minnesota went to town signing the two biggest free agents available in Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. What did the other teams in the West do the past few days? Glad you asked.
Click here to read Corey Abbott's Eastern Conference ratings!
Anaheim Ducks – C+
Added: Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen
Lost: Sheldon Brookbank
It made sense for the Ducks to go after defensemen after they traded Lubomir Visnovsky. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a particularly good market to do it in and they ended up taking a significant risk without actually getting that much better.
Their three-year, $10.5 million deal with defensive defenseman Bryan Allen is fine, but given Sheldon Souray’s age, extensive injury history, and declining offensive input, it’s surprising they thought giving him a three-year, $11 million contract was a good idea. Souray is 35 years old – he’ll turn 36 on July 13th – so they’re stuck with that cap hit even if they attempt to send him to the minors.
Calgary Flames – B+
Added: Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman
Lost: Olli Jokinen
I’m not a big fan of Calgary’s aversion to rebuilding and I think their continued insisted to patchup their team through free agent signings and trades will haunt them in the longrun. However, I have to look at what they’ve done this summer independently of what direction I think this franchise should be taking, and, honestly, I don’t hate these signings.
Hudler’s four-year, $16 million deal and Wideman’s five-year, $26.25 million contract aren’t that excessive in this inflated market and both players should be able to perform through the life of their respective deals. I don’t think it’s enough to make Calgary a Stanley Cup contender, but they did improve their team without sacrificing a whole lot in the process.
Chicago Blackhawks – C
Added: Sheldon Brookbank
Lost: None yet
Chicago has some unrestricted free agents, including Andrew Brunette, Sean O’Donnell, Sami Lepisto, and Brendan Morrison, but at the time of writing, none of them have found new homes so they’re not technically losses yet.
After back-to-back first-round exits, you could make a strong argument that the Chicago Blackhawks needed to make a move this summer. That might still happen, but if it does, it will have to be through the trade market because they were unable to lure any significant free agents.
Colorado Avalanche – A-
Added: P.A. Parenteau and Greg Zanon
Lost: Jay McClement
The Avalanche’s biggest objective this summer was re-signing the army of restricted free agents they had available. They’ve largely that accomplished and scooped up a few unrestricted free agents for good measure.
Their decision to sign Greg Zanon to a two-year, $4.5 million contract isn’t too bad on its own, but is eyebrow-raising when you factor in that they also have defensemen Erik Johnson, Jan Hejda, Ryan Wilson, Shane O’Brien, Ryan O’Bryne, and Matt Hunwick all inked to one-way contracts. That’s seven defensemen who will each cost the Avalanche between $1.6 million and $3.75 million in cap space in 2012-13. On top of that, they have a few defensive prospects who might be ready to play in the NHL, including Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott. So the Avalanche have created quite a logjam for themselves to sort out over the summer and, if necessary, training camp.
I like the signing of P.A. Parenteau a lot more and would argue that his four-year, $16 million deal is even something of a bargain in this market. He’s got first-line potential and is coming off a 67-point season. The knock on him is that he doesn’t have a long track record of success for a 29-year-old, but that ignores his solid 2010-11 campaign and his superb seasons in the AHL before he was finally given a fair shot in the NHL. Parting ways with John Tavares might hurt him a little, but he’ll probably end up playing alongside the likes of Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, and Gabriel Landeskog in Colorado.
Columbus Blue Jackets – C+
Added: Nick Foligno
Lost: Marc Methot
The success or failure of the Blue Jackets will ultimately be linked to Rick Nash. If they are able to trade him and realize an asset haul, the franchise could be revitalized.
Until that happens, there’s really not much to say. Nick Foligno should serve as a top-six forward with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but that says as much about their lack of depth as it does his talents. They gave up a capable defensive defenseman to get him in Marc Methot. All in all, it was a relatively fair trade, but not one that will have a large impact on either franchise.
Dallas Stars – B+
Added: Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy, and Ray Whitney
Lost: Steve Ott and Sheldon Souray
Given their ages, Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney should only be regarded as short-term fixes and their one and two-year contracts reflect that. However, as stopgap measures go, these aren’t bad. The Stars do have a relatively young core and thanks to Dallas’ off-season moves, they’re probably going to be exposed to some playoff playing time.
It’s hard to get too excited by the Dallas Stars’ moves given that Jagr and Whitney will likely be ex-Stars before this team becomes serious Stanley Cup contenders, but they’re decent signings.
The Stars’ decision to acquire Derek Roy at the expense of Steve Ott and Adam Pardy is likely to have more lasting consequences and it’s a solid move. They’re probably getting Roy at a discount due to his rough 2011-12 campaign, but he’s a great candidate to bounce back in a new city and surrounded by some pretty talented forwards.
Detroit Red Wings – D
Added: Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson
Lost: Jiri Hudler
Brad Stuart and Nicklas Lidstrom weren’t included in that list of major losses because both players parted ways with Detroit well before the Entry Draft, but the void they left defined their summer. Detroit is a far worse team than it was 2011-12 and they’ve done very little to fix that.
Management reportedly went after Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, but in the end, the best player they landed was Samuelsson, who is frankly a downgrade from Hudler.
Detroit might still be able to pull off a blockbuster trade that fixes everything, but right now they’re looking like the summer’s biggest losers.