The free agent market is nearly completely dry—though there remains a few bargain additions who could provide some value on defense—and many teams have already blown their cap space for next season. The trade market has already seen most of its action, and though Erik Karlsson and Max Pacioretty are still expected to be moved there may not be many improvements left to be made for the majority of the league.
Yesterday we asked which team had improved the most through the first part of the offseason, and the answer was clear among our readers. More than 31% of the vote went to the St. Louis Blues, with the Toronto Maple Leafs coming in with 24% as well. No other team registered even 7%, while Nashville was the only team who didn’t receive a single vote. Today we ask the opposite: who has had the worst offseason so far?
The first reaction may be to look at where the Blues and Maple Leafs acquired their biggest additions. St. Louis signed David Perron and Tyler Bozak out of Vegas and Toronto respectively, but made the most significant change by trading for Ryan O’Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres. The Blues clearly improved for next season in the deal, but it’s hard to write off what the Sabres got in return. The two franchises are at very different stages in their competitive windows, and while Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka were overpaid, underperforming players for St. Louis, they are also substantial improvements to the bottom-six for the Sabres.
For Toronto, their only real big move has come at the hands of the New York Islanders. John Tavares left the only team he’s ever known to return to the place he grew up, and no franchise would be able to immediately fill the hole left by a franchise center. The Islanders though have tried to fill it with several players, inking a number of depth forwards in an attempt to spread out some of the load next season. Toronto themselves lost a lot in free agency, seeing Bozak and James van Riemsdyk head to new locales. They’ll be just fine with their summer thanks to the addition of Tavares, but it didn’t come without a cost.
There are plenty of teams who made almost no splash at all when free agency opened. The New Jersey Devils tried but failed to add to their forward group, while the San Jose Sharks didn’t add a single unrestricted free agent outside of Joe Thornton and Dylan DeMelo, both of whom are returning to the team they’ve played on for years. Then there are the teams who found themselves selling instead of buying. The Ottawa Senators have dealt with scandal after scandal the past few months, and ended up having to move out Mike Hoffman at a discount and now may move their franchise defenseman before the season begins. The Montreal Canadiens swapped out Alex Galchenyuk for Max Domi, but were also told that Paul Byron, Andrew Shaw and Shea Weber would all likely miss the start of the season—the latter in danger of missing much more.
Cast your vote below on who you believe has had the worst offseason so far, taking into account all that has happened since the Stanley Cup was awarded to the Washington Capitals. Make sure to explain your reasoning in the comment section below.
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