The Good and Bad of the 2015 Offseason (Looking Back): Central Division

A few months ago, I looked at all of the moves each team had made over the offseason with the goal of figuring out which trades and signings were good and bad, and what each teams goals were and whether or not they did a good job of making personnel changes to achieve them. Now, since an adequate amount of time has passed, I’m going to pull those assessments up, throw on my hindsight goggles, and look back on the good and the bad moves from the 2015 offseason. 

The Hawks executed another successful re-tool in the midst of sinking into cap hell, hitting a home run on undrafted Russian free agent Artemi Panarin. The Colorado Avalanche have brought Avsalytics back to life and are doing their best to defy statistics, and this time, it’s probably even more puzzling than last. And the Dallas Stars attempt to become the Chicago Blackhawks last summer has helped turn them into a legitimate contender. Let’s get into it. 

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  • Traded Antti Raanta to the New York Rangers for Ryan Haggerty. 
  • Signed Artemi Panarin to a two-year contract with a $3.5 million cap hit. 
  • Signed David Rundblad to a two-year contract with a $1.05 million cap hit.
  • Traded Brandon Saad, Michael Paliotta, and Alex Broadhurst to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp, and a 2016 fourth round pick.
  • Signed Artem Anisimov to a five-year contract extension with a $4.550 million cap hit.
  • Signed Viktor Tikhonov to a one-year, $1.04 million contract. 
  • Signed Andrew Desjardins to two-year contract with an $0.800 million cap hit. 
  • Traded Anders Nilsson to the Oilers for Liam Coughlin. 
  • Signed Trevor van Riemsdyk to a two-year contract with an $0.825 million cap hit. 
  • Traded Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns to the Stars for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt.
  • Traded Kris Versteeg, Joakim Nordstrom, and a third round pick in 2017 to the Carolina Hurricanes for Dennis Robertson, Jake Massie, and a fifth round pick in 2017.
  • Signed Brent Seabrook to an eight-year contract extension with a $6.875 million cap hit. 
  • Traded Trevor Daley to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Rob Scuderi. 
  • Traded Jeremy Morin to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Richard Panik. 
  • Traded Ryan Garbutt to the Anaheim Ducks for Jiri Sekac.
  • Lost Viktor Tihkonov on waivers to the Arizona Coyotes. 
  • IN: Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Corey Tropp, Jiri Sekac, Richard Panik, Rob Scuderi, Dennis Robertson, Jake Massie.
  • OUT: Brad Richards, Brandon Saad, Antoine Vermette, Dan Carcillo, Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Kimmo Timonen, Antti Raanta, Anders Nilsson, Trevor Daley, Jeremy Morin, Ryan Garbutt, Kris Versteeg, Joakim Nordstrom, and Viktor Tihkonov. 

The last time I looked at the Hawks, they were in the process of one of their patented summer fire sales. Such as they have a couple times before, the Hawks were forced to unload a few key assets to a Stanley Cup winning roster in order to become cap compliant, and thanks to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane’s combined $21 million extensions kicking in, Stan Bowman and co. had to be even more creative than usual. 

They dealt RFA Brandon Saad to the Blue Jackets for Artem Anisimov and nice haul of prospects, Patrick Sharp to the Stars for Ryan Garbutt and Trevor Daley, who have both since been moved in other trades, and they let Antoine Vermette, Johnny Oduya, and Brad Richards walks as free agents. Despite another mass exodus, the Hawks kept their core grope of Toews, Kane, Keith, Hjalmarsson, and Hossa together and are once again legitimate Cup contenders. 

In terms of offseason moves, the signing of Artemi Panarin as an undrafted free agent was a home run. Panarin, who currently appears to be the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy, has been excellent playing alongside Kane, who’s on pace to have far and away the best offensive season of his career. Between them is Anisimov, who came back in the Saad deal. Anisimov has been exactly what the Hawks were hoping for when they acquired him, as his possession and production stats this season are virtually identical to the numbers he’s averaged throughout his career, and he provides a solid defensive game between two wingers who are primarily focused on offence. 

The Hawks also inked Brent Seabrook to an eight-year extension worth $55 million, giving him a cap hit of $6.875 million annually, which will be seventh highest in the league among defencemen next season. He’s going to be 31 years old in April, so one obviously has to questions whether locking him up for eight years rather than moving him for a younger, most const-controlled asset was the right move. 

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Regardless, the Hawks are contending again, and along with winning comes the price of success. I’m sure that even though it’s been difficult for them to squeeze everybody under the cap, and this summer will be another adventure, winning makes it all worthwhile. 


  • Traded a 2016 sixth round pick to the Bruins for the UFA rights of Carl Soderberg, then signed him to a five-year contract with a $4.75 million cap hit.
  • Traded Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn to the Sabres for Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, JT Compher, and a 2015 second round pick. 
  • Signed Francois Beauchemin to a three-year contract with a $4.50 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Blake Comeau to a three-year contract with a $2.40 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-year, $0.675 million contract. 
  • Traded Freddie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for a conditional seventh round pick in 2017. 
  • Signed Erik Johnson to a seven-year extension with a $6 million cap hit. 
  • Claimed Andrew Bodnarchuk off waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets. 
  • Claimed Chris Wagner off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks.
  • IN: Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau, Mikhail Grigorenko, JT Compher, Nikita Zadorov, Francois Beauchemin, Andrew Codnarchuk, Chris Wagner.
  • OUT: Ryan O’Reilly, Danny Briere, Jamie McGinn, Jordan Caron, Max Talbot, Jan Hejda, Ryan Wilson, Freddie Hamilton.

Last year, we got to watch the demise of Avsalytics, as the 2014-15 version of the Avs massively failed to live up to its predecessor’s billing as Central Division champs. Who could have seen that coming? Well, anybody who bothered to look at the fact they were consistently eaten alive but managed to win games thanks largely to a high shooting percentage. 

Like most, I had completely written the Colorado Avalanche before the season began mainly because of how strong their competition within the division would be. But here we are again. The Avs underlying numbers suggest they’re a rotten team, and yet, they’re not only in the thick of the playoff race in the league’s best division, but they occupy a playoff spot at the All-Star break. Also, this time they’re doing it with a league-average PDO, so there isn’t even really a balloon to burst here. They’re honestly more logic-defying than they were in 2013-14.

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The biggest move the Avs made last summer was sending soon-to-be UFA Ryan O’Reilly to the Buffalo Sabres for Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, JT Compher, and a second round pick. Obviously the two main pieces in that deal are far from finished products, so we can’t really give a fair assessment on how well they did on the deal. That said, we can give them a gold star for bringing in Carl Soderberg to fill O’Reilly’s spot in on the roster. 

Soderberg has 36 points in 52 games, posting average possession numbers despite making heavy defensive zone starts and playing difficult assignments. He’s also signed for $4.75 million per year over five years, compared to O’Reilly, who’s going to be paid $7.5 million annually for seven years starting next season. I mean, I’m not saying Soderberg is the superior player, nor am I suggesting the Avs are better off without O’Reilly, but they certainly did a good job filling his spot in the lineup and saving some cash in the process. 

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In terms of their defence, the Avs brought in Francois Beauchemin to provide a minutes eating, veteran presence, which is exactly what he’s been. He’s logging 25 minutes of ice time per game while also making heavy defensive zone starts, but he’s also 35 years old, so his $4.5 million cap hit might look ugly at the end of his three-year deal. They also inked Erik Johnson to a seven-year extension worth $42 million, which certainly isn’t terrible value considering what other similar defencemen in the league are being paid. 


  • Signed John Klingberg to a seven year contract with a $4.250 million cap hit. 
  • Traded a 2015 seventh round pick to the Sharks for the UFA rights to Antti Niemi, then signed him to a three year contract with a $4.50 million cap hit.
  • Signed Curtis McKenzie to a two-year contract with a $0.675 million cap hit.
  • Signed Patrick Eaves to a one-year, $1.15 million contract. 
  • Signed Jamie Oleksiak to a one-year, $0.875 million contract. 
  • Traded Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt to the Blackhawks for Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns.
  • Signed Johnny Oduya to a two year contract with a $3.75 million cap hit.
  • Signed Cody Eakin to a four-year contract extension with a $3.85 million cap hit. 
  • IN: Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Antti Niemi.
  • OUT: Shawn Horcoff, Rich Peverley, Ryan Garbutt, Trevor Daley, Jhonas Enroth. 

The Dallas Stars basically tried to become the Chicago Blackhawks last summer. They acquired Patrick Sharp in a trade with Chicago, and they signed two other former Hawks, Antti Niemi and Johnny Oduya, as free agents. And it’s working. 

As we all remember, the Stars were one of the league’s biggest disappointments last season. They had an exciting offseason that saw them acquire Ales Hemsky and Jason Spezza, and after a surprising berth as a Wild Card team in the playoffs, it was expected the Stars would rise up and become legitimate contenders in the West. That didn’t happen. Thanks to some horrible goaltending, the 2014-15 Stars fell flat on their face and ultimately missed out on the playoffs. 

But this year, while their goaltending hasn’t been great, it’s been good enough to not negate the team’s elite offence, and as a result, the Stars have the third best record in the NHL. Patrick Sharp has been producing like he did back in his glory days in Chicago, Johnny Oduya has been solid in defensive situations and has given the Stars some much needed depth on the blue line, and Antti Niemi, like I said, has been as good as the high scoring Stars squad needs him to be. 

Possibly the best move they made last offseason was one that came all the way back in April. The Stars inked defenceman John Klingberg to a seven-year extension with a $4.25 million cap hit. This was certainly surprising, considering Klingberg had only actually played 65 games in the league by the time he put his signature on the dotted line. That said, his 40 points in 65 games led all rookie defencemen last season, and this year, he’s behind only Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns in terms of offensive production. So the Stars definitely hit a home run on this deal, as they’ll have one of the league’s premier offensive defencemen locked up at a bargain bin price for the good part of the next decade. 


  • Bought out Matt Cooke’s contract, which will have a $0.500 million cap hit for two more seasons. 
  • Signed Mike Reilly to a two-year entry level contract. 
  • Signed Nate Prosser to a a two-year contract with a $0.625 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Ryan Carter to a one-year, $0.625 million contract. 
  • Signed Jared Knight to a one-year, $0.716 million contract. 
  • Signed Mikael Granlund to a two-year contract with a $3.0 million cap hit.
  • Signed Devan Dubnyk to a six-year contract with a $4.33 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Christian Folin to a two-year contract with a $0.725 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Tyson Strachan to a one-year, $0.650 million contract. 
  • Signed Erik Haula to two-year contract with a $1.0 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Zac Dalpe to a one-year, $0.600 million contract.
  • Signed Ruslan Fedetenko to a one-year, $0.600 million contract. 
  • Signed Jared Spurgeon to a four-year extension with a $5.1875 million cap hit. 
  • IN: Mike Reilly, Tyson Strachan.
  • OUT: Kyle Brodziak, Matt Cooke, Sean Bergenheim, Chris Stewart, Keith Ballard, Jordan Leopold. 

The Minnesota Wild’s offseason certainly wasn’t very Wild. 

Lame joke, yes. But it’s true. The Wild had one of the most uneventful offseasons of any team in the league last summer, and save for some housekeeping, the only two things really worth talking about is the addition of Mike Reilly and Devan Dubnyk’s new contract. 

Reilly was the most recent college player to reject signing with his draft team and instead impose his individual agency on the league by hitting the open market. He was highly coveted, as he produced an impressive 42 points in 39 games with the University of Minnesota in 2014-15, and he ultimately decided he was comfortable in the State of Hockey, opting to sign his two-year rookie deal with the Wild. He’s only played four games in the NHL this year, but he’s been the Iowa Wild’s best offensive defenceman so far this season, producing 19 points through 36 games in the AHL. 

So not much has changed there. Reilly hasn’t made an impact at the big league level yet, but I don’t think it was really expected he would this year. Still, it’s always a good thing when you can add what’s essentially a first round calibre talent without using a draft pick. 

Then there’s the Devan Dubnyk contract. After bouncing around the league for a couple years, Dubnyk finally found a home in Minnesota. He played in 39 games with the Wild last year and was good enough to finish third in Vezina Trophy voting. His 0.936 save percentage and 22.82 goals saved above average were incredible, and it managed to net him six years of job security. Also, the Wild got a bargain on this deal, as they’re only paying him $4.33 million annually, which puts him in the bottom third in the league for goalie salaries with the likes of Jonas Hiller and Jonathan Bernier as close comparisons.  


  • Bought out Richard Clune’s contract, which will have a $0.283 million cap hit for two more seasons. 
  • Bought out Viktor Stalberg’s contract, which will have a $0.667 million cap hit for four more seasons. 
  • Signed Steve Moses to a one-year, $1.0 million contract.
  • Signed Mike Fisher to a two-year contract with a $4.4 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Mike Ribeiro to a two-year contract with a $3.5 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Barret Jackman to a two-year contract with a $2.0 million cap hit. 
  • Traded a conditional fourth round pick to the Flames for Max Reinhart. 
  • Signed Cody Hodgson to a one-year, $1.0 million contract. 
  • Signed Gabriel Bourque to a one-year, $0.866 million contract. 
  • Traded Taylor Beck to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Jamie Devane. 
  • Signed Calle Jarnkrok to a one-year, $0.735 million contract.
  • Signed Craig Smith to a five-year contract with a $4.250 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Colin Wilson to a four-year contract with a $3.938 million cap hit. 
  • Traded Seth Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Ryan Johansen.
  • Traded Conor Allen to the Ottawa Senators for Patrick Mullen.
  • Traded Victor Bartley to the Arizona Coyotes for Stefan Elliott. 
  • IN: Steve Moses, Cody Hodgson, Jamie Devane, Max Reinhart, Barret Jackman, Ryan Johansen, Patrick Mullen, and Stefan Elliot. 
  • OUT: Taylor Beck, Mike Santorelli, Matt Cullen, Anton Volchenkov, Cody Franson, and Seth Jones, Conor Allen, and Victor Bartley.

Last summer, I said that the Nashville Predators’ offseason was more about keeping the team’s core from their previous breakout season together rather than adding to it. They let Cody Franson, Anton Volchenkov, and Mike Santorelli walk, but they signed Mike Fisher, Mike Ribiero, Craig Smith, and Colin Wilson to new deals. In terms of additions, the only players they brought in were low-key, low-risk guys like Steve Moses and Cody Hodgson, both of whom completely flopped, and depth defenceman Barret Jackman. 

Actually, I won’t be so dismissive of the Jackman addition. Though he’s only playing a shade over 14 minutes per game, which is well below what he’s typically been accustomed to throughout his career, he’s put up some damn good possession numbers. His 57.3 even strength Corsi For percentage is far and away the best he’s ever had, and he’s been a good rock alongside Ryan Ellis, who tends to play an offensive-minded game. 

The Predators have actually been a pretty big disappointed so far this season, though. Obviously after breaking out last year, it was expected that the Preds, backed by strong goaltending and arguably the best D-core in the league, would take another step forward and establish themselves as legitimate contenders. While they have the underlying numbers of an elite team, they currently buried in the Central Division thanks largely to some horrific goaltending from Pekka Rinne, who’s numbers are significantly lower in every statistical category than his career averages. 

Finally, although he wasn’t acquired over the offseason, I feel like it’s necessary to talk about Ryan Johansen, who was acquired in a one-for-one swap for Seth Jones. Since joining the Preds, Johansen has been excellent, producing at a point-per-game clip and posting strong possession numbers. Of course, the Preds took a pretty huge risk making this deal, as Johansen has much fewer years of control than Jones does, so they should really start thinking of a long-term extension sooner rather than later. 


  • Signed Chris Butler to a one year, $0.675 million contract.
  • Signed Jori Lehtera to a three-year contract extension with a $4.70 million cap hit that will start in 2016-17. 
  • Traded T.J. Oshie to the Capitals for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley, and a 2016 third round pick. 
  • Signed Kyle Brodziak to a one-year, $0.900 million contract. 
  • Signed Robert Bortuzzo to a two-year contract with a $1.05 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Andre Benoit and Peter Harrold to one year, $0.600 million contracts. 
  • Jake Allen to a two year contract with a  $2.350 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Vladimir Tarasenko to an eight-year contract with a $7.5 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Scottie Upshall to a one-year, $0.700 million contract. 
  • IN: Troy Brouwer, Peter Harrold, Andre Benoit, Kyle Brodziak, Jordan Caron, and Scottie Upshall. 
  • OUT: T.J. Oshie, Marcel Goc, Olli Jokinen, Chris Porter, Zbynek Michalek, Adam Cracknell, Barret Jackman. 

The window is closing on the current St. Louis Blues group. No, I don’t mean they have to win this season or it’s all going to blow up, but with David Backes set to his free agency this summer and Kevin Shattenkirk one year behind him, the Blues are more than likely going to look much different this time next year than they do now. 

They already traded T.J. Oshie, a key part of their group over the past few years, to the Washington Capitals for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley, and a pick. That was a pretty odd trade at the time, and it still is. Brouwer is a free agent this summer, while Oshie is signed for one more year. So they get $4.175 million in savings next season if they walk away from Brouwer, but they only saved $500K this year, which isn’t a hell of a lot. Brouwer has been decent for the Blues in a defensive zone and checking role this season, but Oshie is easily the better of the two players. I mean, if the goal was to shed Oshie’s salary for 2016-17 so the Blue had more cap flexibility, why not hang on to him for one more push and then move him over the summer? 

Anyways, if that move was a head-scratcher, the contract given to Vladimir Tarasenko certainly wasn’t. The Blues inked their star forward to an eight-year deal with a $7.5 million cap hit, which is certainly fair value given that he’s already established himself as one of the league’s elite forwards at just 24 years of age. Tarasenko has picked up exactly where he left off last year, scoring at just under a point-per-game clip. So even if they lose Backes this summer and even though they’re likely going to have traded Oshie for virtually nothing, they still have Tarasenko locked up to a nice contract, which is certainly something. 


  • Signed Anthony Peluso to a two-year contract with a $0.675 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Ben Chiarot to a two-year contract with a $0.850 million cap hit.
  • Signed Drew Stafford to a two-year contract with a $4.350 million cap hit.
  • Signed Adam Pardy to a one-year, $1.0 million contract.
  • Signed Matt Halischuk to a one-year, $0.750 million contract. 
  • Signed Alex Burmistrov to a two-year contract with a $1.550 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Paul Postma to a two-year contract with a $0.887 million cap hit. 
  • Signed Matt Fraser to a one-year, $0.650 million contract. 
  • IN: Alexander Burmistrov, Matt Fraser.
  • OUT: Michael Frolik, T.J. Galliardi, Jiri Tlusty, Lee Stempniak, Jim Slater, Keaton Ellerby. 

It looks like the Jets are moving into a rebuild situation. Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien are both set to become free agents at the end of the season, and judging by Winnipeg’s internal budget, it’s very unlikely they’ll both be signed, and honestly, it’s hard to say if they’ll end up keeping one of the two. 

The only addition of note the Jets made last summer was bringing Alex Burmistrov back from the KHL. The former eighth overall pick of the Atlanta Thrashers has been pretty underwhelming so far this season. He’s scored four goals and six assists in 48 games and has posted some of the worst possession numbers on the team. He’s signed for another year, and he’s still young, but I’m sure the Jets were hoping for a little bit more production from the 24-year old after he scoring 72 points in 107 games over two seasons in the KHL. 

In terms of departures, the Jets were forced to let Michael Frolik walk as a free agent along with a handful of other depth forwards. Probably the most puzzling, with the power of hindsight, would be Lee Stempniak, who ended up signing a one-year, $850K deal with the Devils. Even before Stempniak blew up in New Jersey this year, he had always been a good depth forward who could produce despite playing in defensive situations. 

For a team so concerned with budget restrictions, a player like Stempniak on a bargain bin deal would have been excellent for depth and helping to shelter the team’s young forwards. 

Stats courtesy of War on Ice and Hockey Reference 


The Pacific Division 

  • FishWhiskey

    Every time I read an article about the Winnipeg Jets they are referred to as “cash strapped” and bound by a frightening and inescapable “internal budget”. Yet Forbes lists them as a team that has almost doubled in value in the last five years and shows them turning a tidy profit. They are also co-owned by a man who has a net worth greater than twice the value of all of the NHL teams combined.

    I can understand True North trying to perpetuate this myth of the Jets being the “penniless pauper” of the NHL to cover their poor on ice product and suck tax breaks from government but why is the media so whole heartedly complicit in perpetuating this myth?

    Am I missing something here or is it time to call BS on the Jets and the media playing the “Poverty Card”?

    • #12MorrisLukowich

      good point FishWhiskey (but hardly a tasty product). But it’s a fact of life for ALL Canadian clubs…not just Winnipeg. Ladd’s $6mil, $36 mil ask equates to $7.7 mil, $46 mil in Canadian $$…the media types tend to forget their is a Canada outside TO…

      • FishWhiskey

        Ahhhh, Morris, I liked you as an Aero and loved you as a Jet! Don’t knock the Fish Whiskey until you have tried it. There is a secret distilery on Hecla Island but to gain entry you must guess Benny Hatskin”s secret name! I often times find myself in agreement with your well thought out comments. As a boy I saved my paper route money to buy tickets to watch Hedburg, Neilsen and Hull win Avco Cups and the memory of those glory days lingers in the hearts of Manitobans on a genetic level. The Chipman and Thomson families made their fortunes on Manitoba and they owe the place better than they have been giving. Jets fans are paying through the nose and are expected to be greatfull for a mediocre product that puts proffits in these billionares pockets and I for one call BS!

        • #12MorrisLukowich

          Not even my mates Rich & Terry ever heard of a Hecla distillery…unless you’re talking about the 19th hole…The only FishWhiskey I’m familiar with is a country band (Thank-God)…not sure about Benny’s “secret” name outside of Fats Hatskins although I agree HE was the NHL deliverer and there should be some recognition of that fact at MTS Centre. Without Benny, there would be no Jets version 2.0…I hate ALL of the Atlanta references and I deeply believe that the NHL, as it stands today, is the product of Hull signing the 1st professional $million dollar contract at Portage & Main and our city should celebrate that historical fact. But just like the original Fort Garry Gate, this city wallows in it’s mediocrity and virtually ignores it’s historical significance…the true Gateway to the West

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    Jets play in THE Stanley Cup division of hockey. Talent & coaching are paramount…the GM should always be ACTIVELY improving his team (as the other GM’s in this division do), and NOT be constantly sitting on his hands…Does Wpg. even have a GM ?

    • FishWhiskey

      Hello again Morris. I agree vigorously! As a former manager I hired expertise to make better decisions than I was capable of making. Either Chevy is incompetent or Chipman is micro managing. To save $1m we let Frolic and Stepniak go to keep Thorburn, Pelluso and Burmistrov? The fans who are paying for this product deserve better.