Welcome to part two of the offseason Bizarro-meter rankings, in which we look at all the decisions made by every team in the NHL and try to figure out which team has had the weirdest summer. Yesterday, we went through the Western Conference, where the Anaheim Ducks rode one of the worst contracts in recent league history to land an impressive score of 9.2 and clubhouse-leader status.
Can somebody from the East beat that score? Let’s find out …
Their offseason so far: They said goodbye to UFAs Mike Green, Joel Ward and (presumably) Eric Fehr. They used some of that cap space to sign Justin Williams away from the Kings, and also landed T.J. Oshie in a trade with the Blues. Pretty solid moves all around, really, and nothing that didn’t make sense.
But their strangest move was: Letting goaltender Braden Holtby remain unsigned. After yet another strong season, Holtby seems poised to move into the top tier of NHL goaltenders. But he still doesn’t have a new contract, and barring a last-minute settlement he’ll go to arbitration today with the two sides far apart. Those last-minute settlements almost always come, and there’s a good chance one will have already been announced by the time you read this. Actual arbitration hearings in the NHL are rare but notoriously brutal, and they can be particularly rough on goaltenders. The Caps wouldn’t really put their young superstar through that … would they?
Bizarro-meter reading: 3.3/10. That’s assuming they avoid arbitration with Holtby. Bump it up to 7.5/10 if they don’t.
New York Islanders
Their offseason so far: In terms of signings and trades, they haven’t done much. Adding backup goalie Thomas Greiss was pretty much it.
But their strangest move was: GM Garth Snow went into the draft without a first-round pick, and left with two thanks to some aggressive wheeling and dealing. That included trading former fourth overall pick Griffin Reinhart to the Oilers for a mid-round first and early second, a deal that most seem to think the Islanders won handily.
Bizarro-meter reading: 3.5/10. “Garth Snow, downright solid NHL general manager” is a thing I will never get used to.
Their offseason so far: Their big move was trading for Eddie Lack, who’ll come in as Cam Ward’s backup but be starting full-time by November. That allowed them to flip Anton Khudobin for James Wisniewski, upgrading a blue line that will also welcome no. 5 overall draft pick Noah Hanifin. All in all, a fairly solid summer.
But their strangest move was: Their owner launched into a weird tirade against former GM Jim Rutherford, the Penguins, and Phil Kessel, which wasn’t actually a “move” per se but was still really strange.
Bizarro-meter reading: 4.2/10. I admit, I did not have “Carolina and Pittsburgh” in my “Who will emerge as the Tupac and Biggie of the hockey world?” office pool.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Their offseason so far: They pulled off a shocker by landing Brandon Saad in a trade with the Blackhawks. It didn’t come cheap, costing them a package that included (but was not limited to) useful forward Artem Anisimov and prospect Marko Dano and then a six-year, $36 million extension for the young winger. Still, Saad has a chance to develop into a first-line power forward, and guys like that aren’t available very often.
But their strangest move was: Not doing all that much else. For a team that was never really in the playoff race last season, is adding one player enough?
Bizarro-meter reading: 4.7/10. Saad makes them better, both now and in the future. He won’t be enough to make them a playoff team on his own, so they’ll hope for continued development from other young players and some better luck than last season’s train wreck.
New York Rangers
Their offseason so far: They’ve been busy, trading Cam Talbot for picks, replacing him with Antti Raanta, and dealing Carl Hagelin for the not-as-good-but-cheaper Emerson Etem. They also said goodbye to Martin St. Louis, who announced his retirement.
But their strangest move was: Replacing Glen Sather as GM with Jeff Gorton. The move was expected — Sather is 71, and the team’s refusal to let other teams interview Gorton for openings was a giveaway that he’d be taking over in New York sooner rather than later. But it’s still going to be strange to see someone other than the cigar-chomping Sather running the show for the Rangers.
Bizarro-meter reading: 5.3/10. Oh, and speaking of longtime GMs stepping aside …