The Good and Bad of Summer 2017 (So Far): Atlantic Division

Cam Lewis
July 29 2017 10:58AM

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PHOTO CREDIT: © ERIC BOLTE-USA TODAY SPORTS

This is one part of a four-part, division-by-division series looking at the moves made by each team this offseason and what they still have left to do before the season begins. 

The Panthers and Sabres are moving in a new direction again, the Lightning dealt with some housekeeping that should allow them to rebound next season, the Red Wings seem to be trying to prolong the inevitable, the Leafs added veteran leadership to their exciting young squad, the Bruins and Senators stayed completely still, and the Habs had another whirlwind of a summer. 

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Boston Bruins

  • Re-signed Ryan Spooner to a one-year, $2.825 million contract.
  • Re-signed Austin Czarnik to a one-year, $650k contract.
  • Signed Paul Postma to a one-year, $725k contract.
  • Minor signings: Kenny Agastino.
  • Minor re-signings: Jordan Szwarz, Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, Noel Acciari, Tommy Cross, Tim Schaller.
  • Bought out Jimmy Hayes’ contract.
  • Lost Colin Miller in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Paul Postma, Kenny Agastino.
  • OUT: Jimmy Hayes, Drew Stafford, John-Michael Liles, Colin Miller, Zac Rinaldo, Brian Ferlin, Alex Grant, Joe Morrow, Tyler Randell, Dominic Moore, Chris Casto.
  • UNSIGNED: David Pastrnak (RFA).

The Bruins had a pretty successful season in 2016-17. They had the league's best possession stats, finished third in the Atlantic Division, and made the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14. But they did nothing this summer ti build on it.

The only signings the Bruins have made are minor ones, adding Kenny Agastino and Paul Postma to one-year deals. They bought out Jimmy Hayes, who had a miserable five-point season last year, and they lost Colin Miller in the expansion draft. Otherwise, the Bruins will go into 2017-18 with a similar roster to last year's group, with young players like Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril, and Anders Bjork ideally filling into the lineup and making an impact.

Boston's offseason isn't finished yet, though. It's unlikely they'll add, as the Bruins actively want to have space on their roster for young players to shine through, but the team needs to get David Pastrnak signed to a new contract. He enjoyed a breakout season last year playing on one of the league's best lines alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, picking up 34 goals and 36 assists in 75 games. You'd think the Bruins want to get Pastrnak, one of the better young forwards in the game, locked up to a long-term deal, but they could instead look to offer him a bridge contract instead.

 

Buffalo Sabres

  • Re-signed Robin Lehner to a one-year, $4 million contract.
  • Re-signed Jacob Larsson to a two-year contract with a $1.475 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Linus Ullmark to a two-year contract with a $750k cap hit.
  • Signed Chad Johnson to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.
  • Signed Benoit Pouliot to a one-year, $1.15 million contract.
  • Minor signings: Kyle Criscuolo, Matt Tennyson, Adam Wilcox, Kevin Porter, Jacob Josefson.
  • Minor re-signings: Taylor Fedun, Evan Rodrigues.
  • Traded Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, and a 2018 third round pick to the Minnesota Wild for Marco Scandella, Jason Pominville, and a 2018 fourth round pick.
  • Traded a 2017 third round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Nathan Beaulieu.
  • Lost William Carrier in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Nathan Beaulieu, Marco Scandella, Jason Pominville, Benoit Pouliot, Chad Johnson, Kyle Criscuolo, Matt Tennyson, Adam Wilcox, Kevin Porter, Jacob Josefson.
  • OUT: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Brian Gionta, Cody McCormick, William Carrier, Dmitri Kulikov, Anders Nilsson, Mat Bodie, Cal O’Reilly, Cal Petersen, Cole Schneider.
  • UNSIGNED: Zemgus Girgensons (RFA), Nathan Beaulieu (RFA), Cody Franson (UFA).

The Sabres 2016-17 season was nothing short of a disaster. It was so bad, in fact, that it got both general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma fired. The team's rebuild has been massively disappointing so far, and the Sabres ownership pressed the reset button. Phil Housley is set to take over as the team's coach while Jason Botterill was hired as the general manager.

In Botterill's first summer, he pulled off a savvy deal to acquire solid defenceman Marco Scandella from the Wild by taking advantage of Minnesota's ugly cap situation. He also sent a draft pick to Montreal for Nathan Beaulieu, who ended up on the outside of the Habs crowded blueline. There's still a lot of work to be done here, but's a step in the right direction for Buffalo, a team who's consistently had one of the worst defensive crops in the league in recent years.

The team still needs to figure out what's going on with Zemgus Girgensons. Last summer, Girgensons held out until Sept. 1 waiting for a long-term deal, but ultimately agreed to a one-year show me contract. He didn't show very much. There was once a point in which the former first round draft pick was heralded as the team's second line, two-way beast down the middle of the future, but after back-to-back seasons with fewer than 20 points, it's getting hard to see Girgensons as an impact player.

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Detroit Red Wings

  • Re-signed Tomas Tatar to a four-year contract with a $5.3 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Xavier Ouellet to a two-year contract with a $1.25 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Dylan McIlrath to a two-year contract with a $650k cap hot.
  • Signed Trevor Daley to a three-year contract with a $3,166,667 cap hit.
  • Minor signings: Turner Elson, Luke Witkowski.
  • Minor re-signings: Ben Street, Brian Lashoff, Martin Frk.
  • Traded a 2017 seventh round pick to the Calgary Flames for Tom McCollum.
  • Lost Tomas Nosek in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Trevor Daley, Turner Elson, Luke Witkowski, Tom McCollum.
  • Tomas Nosek, Mitch Callahan, Edward Pasquale, Drew Miller, Joe Vitale.
  • UNSIGNED: Andreas Athanasiou (RFA).

The Red Wings handed out another bad contract this summer. What else is new in Detroit?

After missing the playoffs for the first time in a quarter century, the Wings seem to be caught in purgatory. They obviously want to retool and quickly aim to be competitive again, but this fall from grace has been a long time coming, and turning the ship around seems virtually impossible.

They have a wealth of terrible, immovable contracts, and have virtually zero room to add to the roster because of it. Their major move this summer was adding Trevor Daley to a three-year contract, and while it isn't necessarily terrible like I flippantly mentioned earlier, it's yet another contract with a no trade clause — they have 10 of those now — to a player on the wrong side of 30.

The Wings got Tomas Tatar signed to a reasonable four-year contract, but still need to sign Andreas Athanasiou, who's coming off of his entry-level contract. Next summer, they'll need to give Dylan Larkin Petr Mrazek, and Anthony Mantha new deals, but there isn't much money to go around as Mike Green's $6 million cap hit is the only major contract coming off the shelf.

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Florida Panthers

  • Re-signed Mark Pysyk to a three-year contract with a $2.73 million cap hit.
  • Signed Evgeny Dadonov to a three-year contract with a $4 million cap hit.
  • Signed Michael Haley to a two-year contract with a $825k cap hit.
  • Signed Radim Vrbata to a one-year, $3.75 million contract.
  • Minor signings: Alexandre Grenier, Harri Sateri, Connor Brickley
  • Minor re-signings: Chase Balisy.
  • Lost Jonathan Marchessault in the expansion draft.
  • Traded Reilly Smith to the Vegas Golden Knights for a 2018 fourth round pick.
  • Bought out Jussi Jokinen’s contract.
  • IN: Evgeny Dadonov, Michael Haley, Alexandre Grenier, Harri Sateri, Connor Brickley.
  • OUT: Reto Berra, Adam Wilcox, Jussi Jokinen, Kyle Rau, Paul Thompson, Michael Sgarbossa.
  • UNSIGNED: Jaromir Jagr (UFA), Thomas Vanek (UFA).

I think it's safe to say that the analytics renaissance in Florida has come to an end. The team had a rough season last year — they were decimated by injuries, came up well short of the playoffs, and dealt with multiple PR disasters — and they seem to be moving in a different direction again this summer.

Dale Tallon has stepped back in as the team's general manager, Tom Rowe has been moved to some kind of role as an advisor, Bob Boughner was hired to be the head coach, and former players Chris Pronger and Shawn Thornton were both given front office jobs.

In terms of the actual roster, the Panthers let Jonathan Marchessault, one of those analytics wins from last season, go in the expansion draft in order to also dump Rielly Smith's contract on the Golden Knights. They bought out veteran Jussi Jokinen and replaced him with Radim Vrbata, signed KHL star Evgeny Dadonov to a three-year deal, and are parting ways with the legendary Jaromir Jagr. The signing that most accurately represents the team's shift back to traditional hockey was the two-year deal that was given to Michael Haley, who, according to Tallon, will bring toughness and grit back to the roster.

The Panthers aren't a better team than they were last year, but they also weren't as bad as they showed last season either. With better injury luck, this team can enjoy a rebound season.

 

Montreal Canadiens

  • Re-signed Jonathan Drouin to a six-year contract with a $5.5 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Alex Galchenyuk to a three-year contract with a $4.9 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Carey Price to an eight-year contract extension with a $10.5 million cap hit.
  • Signed Karl Alzner to a five-year contract with a $4.625 million cap hit.
  • Signed Ales Hemsky to a one-year, $1 million contract.
  • Signed Mark Streit to a one-year, $1 million contract.
  • Minor signings: Matt Taormina, Joe Morrow, Peter Holland, Byron Froese.
  • Minor re-signings: Andreas Martinsen, Jacob De La Rose, Charles Hudon.
  • Traded Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional 2018 second round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Jonathan Drouin and a 2018 conditional sixth round pick.
  • Traded a 2019 fifth round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for David Schlemko.
  • Traded Nathan Beaulieu to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2017 third round pick.
  • Lost Alexei Emelin in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Jonathan Drouin, Karl Alzner, Ales Hemsky, David Schlemko, Mark Streit, Matt Taormina, Joe Morrow, Peter Holland, Byron Froese.
  • OUT: Alex Radulov, Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu, Mikhail Sergachev, Joel Hanley, Brian Flynn, Stefan Matteau, Dwight King, Andrei Markov, Nikita Nesterov, Steve Ott.

It was another weird summer for Marc Bergevin. After shocking the hockey world by swapping P.K. Subban for Shea Weber last June, Bergevin has completely overhauled the Habs roster, signing shutdown guy Karl Alzner, trading for Jonathan Drouin, and letting Alex Radulov and Andrei Markov walk in free agency. Despite all of the moves and signings, the Habs still don't have that top centre they so desperately covet.

Stepping away from roster changes, the Habs got Carey Price, Alex Galchenyuk, and the newly-acquired Drouin locked up to new contracts. Price's extension isn't good, it isn't bad, it was just inevitable. He's going to be paid $10.5 million annually for eight years starting in 2018-19, which is a little sketchy considering Price is going to be 30 in August and has struggled with injuries. But what are you going to do? He's the most valuable player on the team, arguably the best goaltender in the NHL, and the team's success largely hinges on him. It's just going to be a challenge to navigate through Price and Shea Weber's contracts when both are into their late 30s making a combined $18 million.

Overall, this was a very puzzling offseason. It's hard to see what Bergevin's end game is. The team didn't really get better despite making a flurry of moves, but they're still good enough to be competitive in the Eastern Conference. Losing Markov and Subban over two summers has completely gutted the offence from the blueline, and while Drouin is a very good player who will likely be revered in Montreal, using Mikhail Sergachev and not getting a top centre back is disappointing.

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Ottawa Senators

  • Re-signed Ryan Dzingel to a two-year contract with a $1.8 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed J-G Pageau to a three-year contract with a $3.1 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Mike Condon to a three-year contract with a $2.4 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Tom Pyatt to a two-year contract with a $1.1 million cap hit.
  • Signed Nate Thompson to a two-year contract with a $1.65 million cap hit.
  • Signed Johnny Oduya to a one-year, $2.25 million contract.
  • Minor signings: Erik Burgdoerfer, Tyler Randell, Max Reinhart, Ben Sexton, Danny Taylor.
  • Minor re-signings: Patrick Sieloff, Chris Driedger, Max McCormick.
  • Lost Marc Methot in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Nate Thompson, Johnny Oduya, Erik Burgdoerfer, Tyler Randell, Max Reinhart, Ben Sexton, Danny Taylor.
  • OUT: Marc Methot, Tommy Wingles, Matt O’Connor, Philip Varone, Chris Kelly, Chris Neil, Viktor Stalberg.

The Senators shocked everybody this spring and came one win from reaching the Stanley Cup Final. That's not bad for a team that wasn't supposed to make the playoffs.

But they haven't done anything this summer to build on it. The two most notable additions the Sens made were Nate Thompson and Johnny Oduya, who are essentially replacing long-time veterans Marc Methot and Chris Neil. The Methot saga was a little puzzling. He's been a very solid wingman next to Erik Karlsson for quite some time, yet the Sens didn't do anything to sway Vegas from not taking him like many other teams did at very reasonable prices. In the end, he was dealt to Dallas for a random prospect and a second round pick in 2020.

They signed Mike Condon to a three-year deal, which is pretty heavy for a backup, and rewarded Ryan Dzingel and J-G Pageau's excellent seasons with multi-year raises. But otherwise? It was a quiet summer in Ottawa. The team's run this year was very improbable, and without any improvement to the roster this summer, it's unlikely we'll see something like that again.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Re-signed Tyler Johnson to a seven-year contract with a $5 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Ondrej Palat to a five-year contract with a $5.3 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Jake Dotchin to a two-year contract with a $812k cap hit.
  • Re-signed Andrej Sustr to a one-year, $1.95 million contract.
  • Re-signed Peter Budaj to a two-year contract with a $1.025 million cap hit.
  • Signed Dan Girardi two-year contract with a $3 million cap hit.
  • Signed Chris Kunitz to a one-year, $3 million contract.
  • Minor signings: Michael Leighton, Mat Bodie, Jamie McBain.
  • Minor re-signings: Cory Conacher, Yanni Gourde, Slater Koekkoek, Gabriel Dumont, Michael Bournival, Matthew Peca.
  • Traded Jonathan Drouin and a conditional 2018 sixth round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional 2018 second round pick.
  • Traded Nikita Gusev, a 2017 second round pick, and a 2018 fourth round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights in order for them to select Jason Garrison in the expansion draft.
  • Traded Kristers Gudlevskis to the New York Islanders for Carter Verhaeghe.
  • IN: Mikhail Sergachev, Dan Girardi, Chris Kunitz, Michael Leighton, Mat Bodie, Jamie McBain.
  • OUT: Jonathan Drouin, Jason Garrison, Krister Gudlevskis, Nikita Gusev, Mike McKenna, Luke Witkowski, Byron Froese, Greg McKegg.

If I had told you a couple of years ago the Tampa Bay Lightning would have Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Nikita Kucherov all locked up together, you wouldn't have believed me. But they do.

Last summer, they got Stamkos and Hedman signed, and this summer, Steve Yzerman handed out long-term deals to Johnson and Palat, ensuring that this core of players will be together for at least the next five seasons. The one curious thing, though, is that they didn't get Kucherov, who could be the best of those forwards, signed long-term. Instead, Kucherov is on a bridge deal for two more seasons and will be seeking a massive raise come 2019. Jonathan Drouin ended up being the odd man out of that cluster, but the Lightning turned him into a young, cheap, controllable asset at a position of need.

Yzerman also pulled the trigger on a good deal to dump Jason Garrison on the Golden Knights in exchange for Nikita Gusev's rights and a couple of draft picks, but then he turned around and spent the savings on Dan Girardi and Chris Kunitz. The Kunitz signing is fine, as it adds solid, veteran depth to the team's top-six and it's only one year. But the three-year contract given to Girardi, who was bought out by the Rangers earlier this summer due to his play completely deteriorating, is very strange.

The Lightning didn't get better this summer, but they're primed for a rebound from their disappointing 2016-17 season. Despite being legitimate Cup contenders, Tampa missed the playoffs thanks largely to injury and poor play from goaltender Ben Bishop, but they're a reasonable bet to climb back up to the top of the Atlantic Division in spite of this summer's losses.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Re-signed Zach Hyman to a four-year contract with a $2.25 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Nikita Zaitsev to a seven-year contract with a $4.5 million cap hit.
  • Signed Patrick Marleau to a three-year contract with a $6.25 million cap hit.
  • Signed Ron Hainsey to a two-year contract with a $3 million cap hit.
  • Signed Dominic Moore to a one-year, $1 million contract.
  • Minor signings: Vincent LoVerde, Chris Mueller, Calle Rosen, Andreas Borgman.
  • Minor re-signings: Colin Greening, Garret Sparks, Justin Holl, Ben Smith.
  • Lost Brendan Leipsic in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Patrick Marleau, Ron Hainsey, Dominic Moore, Vincent LoVerde, Chris Mueller, Calle Rosen, Andreas Borgman.
  • OUT: Brendan Leipsic, Brian Boyle, Steve Olesky, Andrew Campbell, Seth Griffith, Matt Hunwick, Antoine Bibeau, Roman Polak, Stephane Robidas, Brooks Laich, Milan Michalek.
  • UNSIGNED: Connor Brown (RFA).

The Leafs enjoyed a somewhat-earlier-than-expected breakout season in 2016-17, and they'll look to build on it with largely the same group heading into 2017-18.

The Leafs made a few additions, the biggest, of course, being Patrick Marleau's three-year contract to slot into the top six and give the team even more offensive firepower. There's a chance that contract could be bad by the third year, but the front office has shown an uncanny ability to navigate around the salary cap in the past.

Matt Hunwick and Brian Boyle went out the door, but they were replaced by Ron Hainsey and Dominic Moore, who were given cheaper, shorter deals than the players they're replacing. They lost Brendan Leipsic in the expansion draft, sparking a little bit of outrage that the team chose to protect Matt Martin instead of the young, skilled forward, but nobody critical to the team's success was lost this offseason.

Work isn't finished yet, as the Leafs need to sign Connor Brown to a post-ELC contract. Brown had a solid rookie season, posting 36 points in 82 games, and shouldn't be difficult to sign. They gave Zach Hyman a four-year contract and it seems Brown could get something similar. Next summer will be interesting, though, as William Nylander's entry-level deal ends and both Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews will be eligible for extensions.

Previously in this series…

The Good and Bad of Summer 2017: Pacific Division

The Good and Bad of Summer 2017: Central Division 

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Nation Network utility infielder. Twitter: @cooom, Email: cameron@oilersnation.com