Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The offseason Bizarro-meter concludes with a look at the Western Conference

Yesterday, we fired up the Bizarro-meter for our annual rundown of the offseason’s strangest moves, starting with the Eastern Conference. It barely registered a reading for the Capitals and Bruins, beeped a few times for the Islanders and Red Wings and was actually starting to smoke by the time we got to the Habs and Hurricanes.

Today, we move on to the Western Conference. Will anyone top Carolina’s East-leading score of 9.1? Let’s find out.

Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks

The offseason so far: They didn’t add much to a roster that missed the playoffs. But they did subtract — getting younger in the process — by using a buyout on Corey Perry and preparing for a future without injured veterans Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves.

But their strangest story was: They made the expected choice behind the bench when they hired Dallas Eakins as coach, although it took long enough that by the time they actually announced it you went “Wait, didn’t that already happen a month ago?”

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.5/10. The Eakins hiring took longer than it should have and the Perry move was jarring, but both made sense.

Arizona Coyotes

The offseason so far: They added Carl Soderberg and hired former Sabres coach Phil Housley as an assistant. But their biggest move was a blockbuster trade that brought in Phil Kessel, who should address their lack of scoring right up until Rick Tocchet strangles him. So, mid-October.

But their strangest story was: Signing Clayton Keller to an eight-year, $57.2-million extension that everyone agrees was either way too much money or a brilliant bargain.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.8/10. The Kessel deal, while big and not without some risk, fit where this team is at right now, and locking up a young star long-term usually works out. But I did award a few bonus points for this quote.

Los Angeles Kings

The offseason so far: The big news was the hiring of Todd McLellan, who replaces interim boss Willie Desjardins. They also bought out veteran Dion Phaneuf.

But their strangest story was: Not really doing anything else aside from a few extensions. You might figure that a team that just finished 30th overall would do more to reshape the roster, but the Kings pretty much stood pat.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 4.2/10. A little bit of patience with a rebuild isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if the alternative is throwing money at bad-fit veterans. Still, you’d typically see a bit more turnover from a last-place team.

Seattle Something-or-Others

The offseason so far: They hired Ron Francis as the team’s first GM, and started filling out the front office. That included hiring analytics guru Alexandra Mandrycky away from the Wild, having her sit in on the hiring process for the new GM, and declaring that analytics is going to be “a way of life.” Uh oh, this team doesn’t even have a name yet and it’s already smarter than most of the competition.

But their strangest story was: Existing.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 4.5/10. How many times do you think Francis has already called Dale Tallon, just to mess with him?

Calgary Flames

The offseason so far: They looked at last year’s Oilers and said: “Let’s be more like them.”

But their strangest story was: Gambling on Cam Talbot to rebound enough to be an upgrade over Mike Smith seems reasonable. But the Milan Lucic trade was a head-scratcher, as they took a mistake in the James Neal contract and flipped it into something worse.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 5.4/10. We’re having some fun with the Oiler stuff, but for the most part, the Flames are a good team who didn’t change much, and that makes sense. Like a few other teams, their grade is subject to change based on how their ongoing RFA drama plays out, but unless the Matthew Tkachuk situation gets crazy then the Flames will stay near the middle-of-the-pack.

Oh hey, speaking of Edmonton …

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