The free agency cycle is not finished and more moves will be made, but the bulk of the action has been completed. In each case we have winners and losers which need to be identified.
This is not to say this immediately transfers into positive or negative results this upcoming season, rather, this is about making improvements or taking a step backwards, or even the worse, the dreaded status quo in which moves meant almost nothing.
NHL Off-Season Winners
Let’s begin our look at what playoff teams helped themselves the most. In the Sunshine State, both Florida (20-1) and Tampa Bay (10-1) helped themselves internally. The Panthers locked up Aaron Ekblad and free agent Keith Yandle to bolster the defense and with their excellent collection of young players, Florida fans should have a sunny disposition for years. The Lightning took care of business in house by re-signing of Steven Stamkos to contract that pays him his due, but is also cap-friendly. In addition, Jonathan Drouin and Victor Hedman were signed at reasonable numbers to keep the core group together in Tampa.
Nashville (20-1) lost an important cog in Shea Webber, but the trade for P.K. Subban adds one the best offensive-minded defenders in the game. If the Predators can resign center Ryan Johansen, they can remain Cup contenders for years.
When Toronto (60-1) brought in Mike Babcock from Detroit, you knew the Maple Leafs had finally done something right. This offseason, Babcock and Lou Lamoriello were able to draft center Auston Matthews, keep Roman Polak and lockup Matt Martin and have a goaltender they can build around in Frederik Andersen.
Winnipeg (60-1) was adroit in moving up in the draft and picking up Patrik Laine. The Jets were also wise in signing Mark Scheifele to long term deal. Next is locking up Jacob Trouba, which would make the offseason a complete success.
Honorable Mention – New Jersey, Minnesota, Arizona and Edmonton
NHL Off-Season Losers
The New York Islanders (30-1) made the decision to let Matt Martin, Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo go, but they turn around and overpay for Andrew Ladd and Casey Cizikas. Yes, the Isles still have a bevy of young forwards, but New York did nothing to improve their status.