Friday, November 27, 2020

The Bizarro-meter’s Eastern Conference offseason rankings

Welcome to part two of the annual Bizarro-meter column, in which we grade each team based on just how weird their summer has been. Except this year, the offseason wasn’t in the summer, because it’s 2020 and nothing about the sports world makes sense. Should we just say “weirdest year ever”, give every team a 10/10 and be done with it? Probably, but doing things the straightforward way wouldn’t be on-brand for me, so we’ll grade on a curve.

On Wednesday we did the Western Conference, with Arizona landing the highest score thanks to front office drama, a big name on the trade block and a commitment to finding creative ways to forfeit draft picks. Today’s it’s on to East, as we see whether anyone can wrestle the crown away from the Coyotes.

Metropolitan Division

Columbus Blue Jackets

The offseason so far: The flipped Josh Anderson for Max Domi in a deal that made sense, as did making a cheap bet that Mikko Koivu still has something left. Buying out Alex Wennberg and shipping Ryan Murray to the Devils for next to nothing was less impressive, but necessary to clear salary.

But their strangest story was: You knew that a new Pierre-Luc Dubois deal was going to be a tricky negotiation, but the near total silence on that front is at least a little unnerving.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.6/10. There’s also an apparent COVID-19 outbreak, although these days that’s not all that bizarre. Other than that, it was a busy offseason, but nothing too out of the ordinary until the Dubois offer sheet lands.

Carolina Hurricanes

The offseason so far: The big news was the retirement of Justin Williams, which we knew was coming someday but will leave a leadership hole. Other than that, it was pretty quiet, with a nice pickup of Jesper Fast and a handful of veteran departures that won’t move the needle all that much.

But their strangest story was: Not adding a goalie. It will be yet another year of relying on Petr Mrazek, James Reimer, and any random arena workers who happen to be around when needed. On the one hand, you can see why – not many of the goalies who changed teams this year were guaranteed to be better than what they already have. Still, weren’t the Hurricanes pretty high on your pre-offseason list of teams that would be looking for a change here?

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.9/10. A quiet offseason makes sense for a team on the rise, but there’s going to be plenty of second-guessing if the goaltending lets them down, especially with both Mrazek and Reimer unsigned after this year.

Washington Capitals

The offseason so far: The biggest story was the firing of Todd Reirden after an embarrassing loss to former boss Barry Trotz. Peter Laviolette will inherit a roster that won’t look all that different, although they did add Justin Schultz and Trevor van Riemsdyk to the blueline.

But their strangest story was: Signing Henrik Lundqvist to replace Braden Holtby, because man it’s going to be weird to see him in a different uniform.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 4.6/10. Not that you’d expect it to happen amidst all the financial turmoil, but can we point out that Alexander Ovechkin is eligible for an extension that he hasn’t signed yet?

New York Islanders

The offseason so far: It’s been a rough one, as they’ve had to clear space for an eventual Mathew Barzal contract that still hasn’t come. That’s cost them some veteran depth, and more importantly it meant that they had to move Devon Toews for a disappointing return.

But their strangest story was: Signing Cory Schneider… we think? It was reported everywhere, but doesn’t seem to have officially happened, and there are rumors of handshake deals for Andy Greene and Matt Martin too. Did we mention that the Islanders don’t seem to need a goalie?

Bizarro-meter ranking: 5.2/10. The phantom signings are weird, but I’m deducting a point for the Islanders’ reverse retro jerseys, because Lou Lamoriello refusing to let anyone have fun is the least bizarre thing ever.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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