Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Bizarro-meter’s Western Conference offseason rankings

With camps opening around the league this week, we can officially declare the offseason over. And long-time readers know what that means: It’s time to fire up the trusty Bizarro-meter, and go through all 32 teams to see who had the strangest summer.

To be clear, we’re looking at which NHL teams’ offseason were the weirdest. That doesn’t necessarily mean the busiest, and it certainly doesn’t mean the best or worst. We want the team that made us go “Wait, what?”, preferably more than once. That could mean a trade, a signing, a coaching or front office change, or even doing nothing at all when everyone assumed that they would.

We start the clock on the offseason as soon as a team is eliminated from the playoffs, so some teams have more runway to work with than others. We’ll go division-by-division, working our way up from the teams that basically followed the consensus expectations to the ones that went way off the board.

Today, we start with the Western Conference, with the East on deck for tomorrow. Let’s get weird.

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Kings

The offseason so far: They landed Philip Danault as a UFA, traded for Viktor Arvidsson and signed Alex Edler. And they did it without really losing anyone.

But their strangest story was: Not trading for Jack Eichel, or any other elite difference-makers. Stupid patient rebuilds, we want fireworks now.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.4/10. The Kings are making slow and steady progress, which might even be enough in the Pacific.

Anaheim Ducks

The offseason so far: Yeah, about that. Put it this way, Dom’s review of their offseason work was 25 words long, and five of those words were “Not much to see here”.

But their strangest story was: It felt like Dallas Eakins and Bob Murray were on the hot seat all year, but then the offseason arrived and the status quo remained in place.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.8/10. The team did make changes with Eakins’ assistants, which is often the sign of a head coach on his very last chance, but for the most part the theme of the offseason was staying the course. Maybe it’s the right call, although the fans sure don’t seem to think so.

Arizona Coyotes

The offseason so far: If there was any doubt before, the offseason signalled that the full-scale rebuild has arrived in Arizona. In addition to hiring a rookie coach in Andre Tourigny (not to mention John Ferguson Jr. as assistant GM), a team that already didn’t have enough talent to push for a playoff spot unloaded Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Christian Dvorak and both goaltenders, among other departures. They added some valuable draft capital and cleared cap space, and they’ve rolled the dice on a reclamation project in Shayne Gostisbehere that could pay off, so it all added up to some reasonably tidy work by Bill Armstrong. But man, they look like they’re going to be bad this year.

But their strangest story was: Despite years of rumors, it was weird to see the Coyotes finally pull the trigger on an Ekman-Larsson trade. They didn’t get as much for him as they would have a season or two ago, but given how his value has dropped they did pretty well.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 5.1/10. I’m subtracting a point because the Coyotes are having arena problems, which at this point is just about the least bizarre thing they could possibly do.

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