The summer of 2018 has already seen quite a few huge changes across the NHL landscape. Though the free agent market was relatively thin, it included one of the best players to ever see the open market in John Tavares. The Toronto boy chose his hometown Maple Leafs, making up for some of the losses the rest of their roster experienced. The Islanders decided to go with a committee approach to replace Tavares, and could find themselves with a more balanced attack in 2018-19.
There were others who hit big in free agency, even if they missed out on the top name. The Philadelphia Flyers brought in a familiar face in James van Riemsdyk, giving their top-six another 30-goal scorer and powerplay specialist while the Vegas Golden Knights added some more center depth in Paul Stastny and an underrated defenseman in Nick Holden.
The St. Louis Blues and Calgary Flames were both busy in free agency, adding the likes of David Perron, Tyler Bozak, James Neal and Derek Ryan, but did their biggest damage on the trade market. The Blues brought in Ryan O’Reilly to solidify the center position, while the Flames flipped Dougie Hamilton and others for more young talent. Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin are expected to play large roles with Calgary next season, as they try to bounce back from their disappointing season.
What about a team like the Buffalo Sabres, who added some experience with players like Conor Sheary, Carter Hutton, Matt Hunwick, Vladimir Sobotka and Patrik Berglund, while also landing the top pick in the draft. Rasmus Dahlin is expected to make an impact for the Sabres right away, and could make the team a playoff contender immediately with some improved performances around him. The Detroit Red Wings also added a ton of talent through the draft, but likely won’t see it pay off for several seasons. They instead hope that Jonathan Bernier and others can help them stay competitive in the short term.
So who is the most improved for 2018-19? Which team will take the biggest step forward, and who can place the credit for that on their new additions? Cast your vote below, and make sure to explain your position in the comments.