Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Bizarro-meter 2018: Eastern Conference edition

On​ Monday, we dusted​ off​ the​ Bizarro-meter​ to​ begin​ our annual​ look at which​ NHL team had​ the​ weirdest offseason. We​​ covered the west, going through the Central (not all that weird) and the Pacific (significantly more weird). Today, it’s on to the Eastern Conference.

Before we begin, we’ll repeat the reminder: “Bizarre” is not a synonym for “bad.” Sometimes, a quiet and predictable offseason is the last thing a team needs, and sometimes getting creative or even outright strange is just what the doctor orders. At the very least, weird offseasons are entertaining, and there’s usually value in that.

One more quick note: I’ve been doing this feature for five years now, adding up to over 150 team rankings. In all that time, I’ve never handed out a perfect 10/10 rating. I’ve never come especially close – only four teams have ever so much as reached 9/10.

Why do I bring this up? Uh, no reason. Onto the east.

Metro Division

New York Rangers

The offseason so far: Did they even have one? The Rangers may have been as quiet as anyone in the league, with most of their focus spent on re-signing a handful of pieces. Hiring David Quinn as coach was obviously a big move, but roster-wise he’ll inherit pretty much the same group that finished last year.

But their strangest story was: The ongoing debate over whether or not they’re really rebuilding. Recent signs pointed pretty conclusively to yes – you don’t trade Ryan McDonagh for futures if you want to win now, nor do you write letters to your fans about how you’re “building the foundation for our next Stanley Cup contender.” But then they go and trade picks for Adam McQuaid, and you see something like Henrik Lundqvist insisting that “next year has to be about winning and nothing else,” and you wonder. That’s just a case of a veteran saying the right thing, right? The Rangers still know they’re rebuilding, yes?

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.5/10. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they know – and Lundqvist does too.

Philadelphia Flyers

The offseason so far: They didn’t do a ton, although they made a big splash on July 1 by landing James van Riemsdyk on an expensive (yet reasonable) deal. They also parted ways with Valtteri Filppula, which may or may not be a loss.

But their strangest story was: Heading into camp without an extension in place for Wayne Simmonds. Most GMs see a star player head into the last year of his deal and rush to hand over whatever he wants for eight more years. So far, Ron Hextall is playing it cool.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.8/10. I remain completely and utterly frustrated that this guy refuses to do anything crazy.

New Jersey Devils

The offseason so far: They lost a handful of free agents, although nobody you’d consider a major difference-maker.

But their strangest story was: Not really adding anybody. When your big acquisition is Drew Stafford on a PTO, it’s been a quiet summer.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 4.1/10. On the one hand, you can see what the Devils are thinking. They’re rebuilding, and last year was already a big step forward, so they’re staying the course. Still, most playoff teams add… someone.

Washington Capitals

The offseason so far: Not surprisingly, their focus was on keeping as much of the roster together as possible. They paid big to keep John Carlson away from the UFA market and figured out a way to have Brooks Orpik bought out and still return. Other than backup goalie Philipp Grubauer and depth forward Jay Beagle, they’re bringing everyone back.

But their strangest story was: The departure of Barry Trotz, who exercised a contract clause none of us knew he had to hit free agency and eventually make his way to the Islanders. You have to figure that didn’t exactly break Brian MacLellan’s heart, given that he’s had Todd Reirden pencilled into the job forever. But it was still pretty weird.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 5.8/10. What do Capitals players think about Trotz leaving? Honestly, given how most of them spent their summer, I doubt any of them know about it yet.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic


  1. Why do you keep spelling Troy Brouwer's name as Bouwer? I thought it was a typo the first time, but after three times I'm wondering if there's an inside joke that I'm missing.