Edmonton Oilers – A
Added: Justin Schultz
Lost: Taylor Chorney
If you want to talk about pure value relative to their cap hit, the Oilers might have signed the best deal of the off-season when they inked defenseman Schultz to an entry-level contract. They already had a ton of talented young forwards and adding Schultz to the mix could go a long way towards eliminating one of their biggest remaining question marks. Of course, it’s hard to predict too much when you’re talking about a guy who never played in an NHL game, but given his level of talent and the fact that his contract makes him a low risk, it’s hard to paint this summer as anything other than a win for Edmonton.
Los Angeles Kings – B
Added: None yet
Lost: Uh, does AHLer Jeff Zatkoff count?
The Los Angeles Kings are a young team that’s just won the Stanley Cup. Rather than try to mess with that, they focused on just keeping their core intact. They re-signed Dustin Penner to a one-year, $3.25 million contract and called it a day. The Kings also inked Jonathan Quick to a 10-year, $58 million extension that won’t kick in until the 2013-14 campaign.
The summer is still young, but it looks like they’ll have largely the same team in 2012-13, and it’s hard to blame them taking that route.
Minnesota Wild – A+
Added: Ryan Suter and Zach Parise
Lost: Guillaume Latendresse
There were two big fish in the 2012 unrestricted free agent market and the Minnesota Wild managed to ink both of them to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts. The deals are significantly frontloaded, with just $4 million owed to each player over the last three years of their respective deals. Depending on what happens with the CBA negotiations over the summer, the Wild might be the last team to structure massive, long-term contracts like this.
They’re not quite Stanley Cup contenders yet, but they do have a great core to build around. In addition to Parise and Suter, Mikko Koivu is already signed through the 2017-18 campaign. More to the point, they are easily this summer’s most improved team and that counts for a lot.
Nashville Predators – D
Added: Chris Mason
Lost: Ryan Suter, Alexander Radulov and Jordin Tootoo
The Nashville Predators decided to swing for the fences last season and they struck out. Their attempts to trade away pieces of their future didn’t lead to a lengthy playoff run or convince Suter to stay in Nashville. Instead, they lost Suter for nothing and now they have to decide if they want to trade Shea Weber or risk losing him as a free agent next season.
The news isn’t all bad for Predators fans. They do have some young, talented blueliners in Jonathan Blum, Ryan Ellis, and Roman Josi. Those three should help to fill the void created by the loss of Suter and the potential departure of Weber. Still, it’s hard to look at the Predators as anything other than losers this summer.
Phoenix Coyotes – C+
Added: Steve Sullivan
Lost: Ray Whitney
The Phoenix Coyotes might also end up losing their captain, Shane Doan.
Until they get an owner, it’s hard for Coyotes GM Don Maloney to compete with the big spenders during the free agent process or even retain his talented players. Still, he’s managed to make the most of an awkward situation over the years and getting Sullivan at the discount price of $1.85 million is the latest example of that.
Overall, this is shaping up to be a bad summer for the Coyotes – at least as far as their roster goes – but it’s hard to say just how bad it will be until Doan makes his decision.
San Jose Sharks – C+
Added: Adam Burish
Lost: Torrey Mitchell
The San Jose Sharks’ biggest addition came well before the unrestricted free agent period when they traded for the rights to Brad Stuart and subsequently signed him to a three-year, $10.6 million contract.
After an early exit in the 2011-12 playoffs, there were some that suspected the Sharks would attempt to make significant changes to their lineup. After all, the current core has been unable to win the Stanley Cup and Joe Thornton is slowly exiting his prime. However, it’s not surprising that they stayed relatively quiet during the free agent frenzy. They don’t have a lot of cap space and they already had close to a full roster of players signed to one-way contracts.
If the Sharks decide to shake things up, it will be done through the trade market, but that’s a story for another day…
St. Louis Blues – C-
Added: Jeff Woywitka
Lost: Danny Syvret
The St. Louis Blues might lose Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner, but at the time of writing, they are still unsigned. They are also expected to part ways with blueliner Carlo Colaiacovo, but he hasn’t found a new home yet.
The St. Louis Blues’ main goal was to lure a top-four defenseman to their squad and so far, they haven’t been able to do that via the free agent process. They might still trade for a defenseman, but it’s a position that every team covets and it will be hard to find a particularly desirable one on the trade market. Even if they do find a team willing to part with a top-four caliber defenseman, they’ll have to give up a forward in the process.
Vancouver Canucks – B
Added: Jason Garrison
Lost: Sami Salo
Jason Garrison got off to a really good start in 2011-12, but fizzled out a bit as the campaign went on. All the same, in the weak 2012 unrestricted free agent market, he had plenty of suitors and ultimately decided to play for his home province. Garrison inked a six-year, $27.6 million contract, which is about one-to-two years longer than I’d feel comfortable with, especially seeing as he got a no-trade clause. The $4.6 million annual cap hit isn’t great either – but to be fair, it is in line with the general market inflation.
This signing isn’t a homerun for the Vancouver Canucks and it’s one that has the potential to do more harm than good, but in the grand scheme of things, a $4.6 million cap hit certainly isn’t crippling, especially given the way the salary cap has been ballooning recently.
Overall, their big accomplishment was inking Cory Schneider to a three-year, $12 million deal. He’s ready to take over as the starter – which is good because they’re certainly paying him like one – but first they need to find a new home for Roberto Luongo. That’s a process that’s likely to heat up now that the free agent frenzy has died down.