Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The 2017 offseason bizarre-o-meter

It’s September and training camp is just a few weeks away, meaning for all intents and purposes the NHL off-season is over. The key decisions have been made, the big moves have gone down, and we have more than enough information to separate the winners from the losers, and the good off-seasons from the bad ones.

But there’s another way to look at it, and it’s with a question we like to break out every year around this time: Who had the most bizarre off-season?

To be clear, bizarre doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad. In today’s ultra-conservative NHL, taking the most predictable approach is often the worst possible strategy, with more than a few teams over the years playing it safe and coming to regret it. And sometimes a little bit of creativity can work out just fine, even if it leaves us scratching our heads at the time.

But there’s still something fun about watching a team make its way through the off-season and wondering: Wait, what are they doing?

So today, let’s dust off the Bizarre-o-meter and hook it up to all 31 NHL teams division-by-division to see which ones did the best of job of keeping us on our toes and giving us something to talk about over the summer.

Central Division

Nashville Predators

The off-season so far: They said goodbye to Colin Wilson in a trade, James Neal in expansion and captain Mike Fisher via retirement. They did lock up Ryan Johansen, albeit at a pricey $8-million cap hit for the next eight years.

But their strangest move was: Giving Nick Bonino more than $4 million a season on a four-year deal seemed like an overpayment for a veteran middle-sixer in an otherwise stingy free agent market.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.6/10. Nothing all that strange here, in an off-season that turned out to be marginally less exciting than last year’s.

Minnesota Wild

The off-season so far: Chuck Fletcher pulled off a four-player deal with the Sabres that saw him add Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno. He also signed UFA Matt Cullen, and got Mikael Granlund locked up on a three-year bridge deal.

But their strangest move was: Wriggling out of a tricky expansion-draft dilemma for the relatively cheap price of Erik Haula and prospect Alex Tuch. Given that they stood to lose a guy like Mathew Dumba or Eric Staal, that was a win.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.8/10. The Wild did well to avoid an expansion disaster. Now the question is whether they’re actually any better.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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