- It's been three-and-a-half months since the end of the 2017–18 season. Which teams didn't use the break effectively?
To say it was an eventful NHL summer would be underselling it.
There was maybe the biggest free-agent signing in NHL history when John Tavares joined the Maple Leafs. Erik Karlsson finally got his ticket out of Ottawa and ended up in San Jose. Max Pacioretty escaped the constant pressure cooker of Montreal, getting traded to Vegas to take part in the Golden Knights' Cup Final follow-up.
Oh, and a whole mess of players signed long-term extensions to stay put: Drew Doughty, Tyler Seguin, Dylan Larkin, Connor Hellebuyck, Nikita Kucherov, Ryan Ellis, John Gibson...
A number of teams, however, didn't do enough to keep up, either standing pat during free agency or signing some truly baffling contracts. The SI NHL staff makes their pick for which teams needed to do a better job over the last few months.
Edmonton Oilers. The bet from GM Peter Chiarelli is that the real Oilers fall somewhere in the middle of their magical second-round run in ‘16–17 and last season’s bowl of baby vomit. But with all due respect to Tobias Rieder—whose speed, admittedly, should work well up front—Edmonton fans probably expected a little more summer action than trust-the-process-isms from the front office. Connor McDavid can only break so many ankles. He needs help.
Dallas Stars. It’s not for a lack of trying, but Dallas did not upgrade a team that faltered down the stretch last season. It’s just too much of the same team from last year.
Ottawa Senators. I’m not trying to go for the cheap shots here, but the Senators failed in every way possible this summer (not even factoring in the drama of Mike Hoffman and former assistant GM Randy Lee). They had a valuable bargaining chip in Erik Karlsson all summer and essentially traded him for some spare parts and picks. And as Mark Stone and Matt Duchene start the final years on their contracts, Ottawa could have done more this offseason to lay a tangible foundation for that rebuild its hoping for.
Chicago Blackhawks. The days of the Blackhawks as an automatic playoff contender are over. Chicago went from winning the Central in 2016–17 (although it only lasted four games in the 2017 playoffs) to finishing dead last in 2017–18. The Hawks have made some moves over the last two seasons, but the team’s core still looks old and slow. They needed big changes this offseason to get back to the glory days when postseason play was expected and a Stanley Cup was reasonably within sight.
New York Islanders. A whole new look in the front office and behind the bench couldn’t keep John Tavares in town. Signing Leo Komarov and Valtteri Filppula and bringing back fan favorite Matt Martin from Toronto won’t do much in the way of replacing the Isles’ former captain’s production. The brass had a successful draft, but that doesn't fix the right-now problems—and neither did free agency. Is Robin Lehner an upgrade from last season’s disastrous goaltending?