By Shane Darrow on August 4, 2014
There have been trades, re-signings and unrestricted free agents going left and right, but all in all, these 10 roster moves have stood out the most. Some have been great moves, while others horrendous, but here are the grades for the 10 biggest roster moves of the 2014 NHL offseason.
Ryan Miller may be an established starting goaltender in the NHL, but it didn't make a ton of sense for the Canucks to bring him in after presumably putting all their eggs in Eddie Lack's basket last season. The Canucks drove both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider out of town, so while Miller being the starter may make Lack's transition to eventually being the top guy easier, Vancouver's goaltender history is pretty tainted.
One of the signings of the offseason that nobody is talking about for one reason or another is the New York Islanders finally getting themselves a solid goaltender in Jaroslav Halak. The Islanders still have some holes to fill, but a healthy John Tavares combined with Halak between the pipes is a big step in the Islanders being able to compete with the powerhouse teams in the Metropolitan Division.
The Blackhawks already have an immense amount of offensive depth in a roster that includes the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, but signing Brad Richards adds some depth at the center position, which has become crucial in advancing in the postseason. Richards is a few years past his prime, but the Hawks getting a potential 50-point getter for only $2 million is a steal.
There were many teams vying for Thomas Vanek this offseason, but it was the Minnesota Wild who eventually won the bidding. Vanek has the talent to put up 60 or 70 points next year, but there have been questions about his work ethic, so he's going to need to prove himself before this deal looks that great.
If the Vancouver Canucks are looking to rebuild, Ryan Kesler was one of the pieces that needed to be moved. The former Ohio State Buckeye will join a vicious offense in Anaheim and makes the Ducks a perennial Stanley Cup contender when the puck drops for next season. The Canucks received Nick Bonino, Lucas Sbisa and two draft picks for Kesler, but Anaheim will be the ones to reap the benefits of the trade.
ANA Grade: B+
VAN Grade: C+
After an injury-ridden two years in Columbus, no one was quite sure how Marian Gaborik would fit in Los Angeles, but after last year's postseason, that question has been answered. Gaborik's 14 goals in the playoffs were a huge reason why the Kings captured their second Stanley Cup in three years, and on June 25, he signed a seven-year deal worth over $34 million. At 32 years old, it's a gigantic contract.
The Capitals signing Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen – two proven, solid NHL defensemen – may not sound like a bad move. Mike Green probably loved the news more than anyone, but committing over $67 million to both of them is what made this deal a bad move. The Caps taking two blueliners from a rival makes the deal look a little bit better, but that's still a lot of money for two guys who are far from the top tier of NHL defensemen.
One of the few trades where both teams got what they needed. Nashville gets an elite goal scorer, who will also be a threat on the power play, and Pittsburgh adds offensive depth to a roster that desperately needs it. The only negative aspect of the trade is Spaling went to the Pens as a restricted free agent, and was eventually overpaid.
NSH Grade: A-
PIT Grade: B
Paul Stastny was one of the biggest names to enter free agency, and after about a dozen teams made a serious push for him, he ended up agreeing with the St. Louis Blues to a four-year contract worth $28 million. At 28 years old, Stastny is entering the prime of his career, and is coming off his most productive season since 2010.
After missing the playoffs last season, the Dallas Stars could have laid down and died in the offseason, but instead went out and traded for Jason Spezza. Alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, the Stars are going to be the surprise team in the Western Conference. The Stars sent three players to Ottawa in exchange for Spezza, but the only notable export was Alex Chiasson.
DAL Grade: A+
OTT Grade: C-
At one point, it looked like P.K. Subban was going to have his contract decided by an arbitrator, which would likely make him an unrestricted free agent as soon as 2016; however, both parties were able to finally agree to an eight-year, $72 million contract, which makes him the NHL's highest-paid defenseman. The contract is huge, but if Montreal thought they could be successful without Subban, it would have been a rude awakening.
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