CFN – As the long hot Summer comes to an end changes have occurred across the NHL. Some more drastic than others. Some teams have new coaches and GM’s. We’re going to look at Canada’s six teams and rate their performances in their attempt to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup back to Canada.
Montreal – 100 points – 9th – Marc Bergevin
Bergy has been an interesting study to watch. I would consider him to be a conservative GM and with a city like Montreal one can’t blame him. One bad trade or signing can turn very fickle fans into an angry mob as seen by the PK Subban signing.
His team over performed this past year enjoying a profitable run for Habs owner Geoff Molson.
The major acquisitions leading into the season were an aged Daniel Briere who appeared to have issues with Coach Therrien, Douglas Murray, and George Parros; most of which went as flat as Parros was in his first game for the Habs. Tomas Vanek was not resigned; but nobody expected him back in Montreal.
This year more dramatic moves and signings occurred. Josh Gorges was literally dumped. Brian Gionta was not going to be resigned.
Late season hero Mike Weaver was resigned and adding Tom Gilbert almost equaled the dollars given to Gorges. Great move and a sign that expectations for the D men on the Baby Habs in Hamilton are actually expected to arrive this season or next. Gionta was eating up minutes needed for Brendan Gallagher.
Getting anything for Louis Leblanc was good, a wasted 1st round draft pick. Resigning Markov for 3 years at $17.25 is going to bite hard for the good or bad. There probably will be no middle ground on that deal. Dale Weise showed some spice and grit; but mostly he showed up for the play offs.
Parenteau for Briere was a good move as Briere’s value was not going up. The Malholtra signing gets my thumbs up. Sekac is a lottery ticket and if Montreal has anything it’s cash so why not?
That leaves us with the Eller and Subban signings. The Eller one really confuses me. While Lars had a great off season his regular season left much to be desired. Clearly Bergevin thinks that Eller is a 40 point 3rd line centre to sign him to that contract. The question is he or is he not?
The PK situation was clearly an agent win; from the bridge contract fiasco of two years ago to the media push on behalf of Subban’s value to the team.
Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. In this case Bergy lost big time. Hopefully it was a learning curve. PK is a fine player and I personally think the kind that eventually will play on a championship team as he matures. His contract is a bit high and leaves no wiggle room for bad seasons. An interesting out is that it’s top loaded. Montreal essentially has him for two years at $7M and can trade him anywhere they wish for those two years. That is an interesting wrinkle to the signing .
Signing Michel Therrien long term was also a bit boggling; but again this is Montreal and politics always plays a role in team decisions.
Montreal still hasn’t solved the issue of its needs at Centre which is a concern.
Montreal grade for Marc Bergevin B
Ottawa – 88 points – 21st – Bryan Murray
What an ugly year for the Sens GM. Diagnosed with illness and working for an owner hell bent on being Penny Wise and Pound Foolish; the Sens have now lost franchise player Jason Spezza after losing long time and very popular captain Daniel Alfredsson the year before. Bobby Ryan, who the Sens paid a heavy price for, is recovering from off season hernia surgery and is UFA himself.
The Sens folded this year after losing Alfie and Sergei Gonchar. Things were so bad on D that 1st rounder Cody Ceci was called up eating a season of his rookie eligibility to stop the bleeding.
Eric Gryba for 2 more years is a nice bridge. The Spezza trade was an utter disaster. The key piece, Alex Chiasson doesn’t really measure up as a top six forward and the draft pick was a 2nd from Dallas. The trade clearly did not fill any gaping need for Ottawa nor help fill the loss of Spezza.
Milan Michalek or Ales Hemsky? Ottawa went with Michalek.
I like the Legwand signing; especially for the dollars. The Lehner contract is a good deal for Ottawa and it gives them flexibility as they decide on their goal tending situation.
The Sens must know something about Mark Borowiecki that the rest of the league doesn’t giving him $1.1M for 3 years and Clarke MacArthur finally has a home and lots of respect after Ottawa opened the bank and gave him $23.25M for 5 years.
Ottawa is a hot mess and one key injury away from the Connor McDavid sweeps.
Sens grade for Bryan Murray C-
Winnipeg Jets – 84 points – 22nd – Kevin Cheveldayoff
So your team overwhelmingly under performs and you …..do basically nothing? Of course that’s basically better than making Spezza type deals.
The biggest move so far was losing Olli Jokinen and signing Mathieu Perrault which is a swap with some variance and resigning Keaton Ellerby and Michael Frolik.
How many seasons have Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien been the buzz of trade rumors now; even Zach Bogosian is in the rumor mill now? That distraction has not been dealt with. Is Ondrej Pavelec a good goalie or do the Jets need an upgrade? While fans and media clearly seem to think the latter no moves to date have been made.
Winnipeg on paper and in theory should be achieving much more than they have. The question is why they haven’t. Even with the move of Byfuglien to wing from D the Jets still have a solid corps in their back end.
Sometimes the deals you don’t make are better than the deals you do; but time is running out for the Jets GM; especially if this team doesn’t come out strong from the gate.
Jets grade for Kevin Cheveldayoff D
Toronto Maple Leafs – 83 points – 23rd – Dave Nonis
How did this team fare worse than Winnipeg? The Leafs threw money at a bunch of problems without resolving any. No major trades or signings; but a lot of depth holes were plugged and maybe that was the way to go?
Roman Polak in for Carl Gunnarsson. Stephane Robidas and his broken leg $9M for 3 years; popular Leo Komarov back for nearly $3M per year begs the question of why let him go the KHL in the first place? I like the David Booth lottery ticket. I think he’ll be this year’s Mason Raymond for the Leafs and probably score as many points as well.
Signing Cody Franson for one year buys the Leafs some time, same for James Reimer’s 2 year bridge deal. Jake Gardiner’s $20.25 5 year deal shows what Toronto expects from the young gun.
Nazim Kadri is still Toronto’s #2 centre as of this story. The Leafs, like the Jets, should do much better than they have.
Dave Nonis looks like his head is primed and ready for the chopping block. It should be interesting to see if this team gets off to a good start and saves him or not?
Leafs grade for Dave Nonis – B-
Vancouver Canucks – 83 points – 25th – Jim Benning
The mighty Vancouver Canucks plunged hard this past season spelling the end of GM Mike Gillis and coach John Tortorella.
Nick Bonino had a career year and was 3rd in scoring in Anaheim after Getzlaf and Perry. Vancouver also picked up Luca Sbisa as a depth d man in the deal along with a 1st and a swap of 3rds for Ryan Kesler.
A step back, but not a Spezza step back. Benning dumped Jason Garrison’s contract for a 2nd. Used a 2nd to land Linden Vey from LA, grabbed Radim Vrbata for $10M over two years and then decided they needed a proven #1 in goal after the Luongo mess and nabbed Ryan Miller, who failed St. Louis in the play offs, for 3 years at $6M per.
Yannick Weber and Chris Tanev were resigned as well.
Vancouver is clearly reloading as opposed to blowing it all up. The Sedins are still there and resigned to new 3 year deals. Vancouver is a veteran bubble team.
The question is where will Benning take them?
Canucks grade for Jim Benning N/A
Calgary Flames – 77 Points – 27th – Brad Treliving
Brian Burke finally brought in a new GM in Brad Treliving; but his mark is clearly on this team as it rebuilds. It’s interesting that this squad finished ahead of Edmonton with all of their young studs. It’s also interesting to see some of the moves the Flames have quietly made.
Cap picking from Chicago Calgary landed Brandon Bollig for a 3rd. Bollig is clearly a Burke kinda guy with size and sand paper.
Speedy Mason Raymond will have a great opportunity to add to his points total from last year in Calgary. Jonas Hiller for 2 years $9M works.
Paul Byron and big Joe Colborne also were resigned and will be given ice time. Devon Setoguchi gets a chance for lots of ice time too. He really is a pretty good hockey player who doesn’t have to score 30+ goals to have value; especially at his $750K price tag.
Calgary clearly is rebuilding, and probably be in the Connor McDavid sweeps; but with the new lottery formula at the draft don’t have to be Edmonton bad. They are a character team as most Burke squads are; but there’s some interesting talent sprouting like Johnny Gaudreau.
Flames grade for Brad Treliving N/A
Edmonton Oilers – 67 points – 28th – Craig MacTavish
When Craig MacTavish entered as Oilers GM he made some big promises of change. So far that really hasn’t occurred and the team stunk again in spite of years of top draft picks some of whom now have very big contracts.
He grabbed Nikita Nikitin from Columbus and signed him for 2 years $9M; salary dumped Sam Gagner for Teddy Purcell, and then gave some mighty money for Benoit Pouliot($4M per year for 5 years) and Mark Fayne ($14.5M for 4 years) while plugging a few holes with Keith Aulie and Luke Gazdic. Jeff Petry was resigned for 1 year at $3.1M.
Mac T has managed to settle his goal tending with Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth in place. The d is a hot mess and for a team with such high powered draft picks over the last five years they still are essentially a one line team that may end up being in the Connor McDavid sweeps as well.
Oilers grade for Craig MacTavish C-
Hockey is Canada’s game; but looking over last year’s performance and only one Canadian team making the play offs shows a malaise.
Many Canadian born players with partial no trade clauses seem to single out Canadian cities as places they refuse to be moved to.
Clearly Canada’s franchises need to do better, and of course that starts top down.
Was Montreal simply lucky this year? Where the Jets and Leafs as bad as their records and can Edmonton, Calgary, and Ottawa be respectable this season?
Those are some of the questions their GM’s have to be asking themselves as we get closer to the opening of camps for the 2014/15 NHL season.
So hockey fans? Are you happy with your team and GM? You can post your comments below.
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