This week we have results from a recent survey of SB Nation NHL readers, which asked them to grade their respective teams’ drafts and overall offseason so far. Today we’ll look at what you said about the Blue Jackets, and what the other teams in our division have done.
For the Blue Jackets, it appears the fanbase has mixed feelings on the offseason so far. A majority of fans gave Columbus a “B” on their draft class, with no one doling out an “A.” I’m a bit surprised there are so many Bs, given the generally negative reaction to the selection of Yegor Chinakhov in the first round.
Things didn’t improve for the Jackets once free agency a couple days later. Only 41 percent of Columbus fans said they are happy with the Blue Jackets offseason so far. It started with a big trade to acquire Max Domi, but then a series of moves to free up cap space which has not yet been put to use.
Between trades and continued free agency moves, there is still time for something big to happen during the offseason. That is especially true with the unclear nature of the 2021 season.
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Let’s check in with the rest of the division:
Notable add: Jesper Fast (FA signing)
Notable loss: Justin Williams (retirement)
The Canes should look pretty similar next season. I thought that they’d be a player on the goalie market, but at this point it looks like they’ll stick with Mrazek and Reimer for another season. Both are UFAs next summer.
Notable add: N/A
Notable loss: Devon Toews (trade)
A defensive-oriented team which had to trade a solid defenseman to have cap room to sign a young, top line center and reliable middle pair defenseman. Sound familiar? Well it’s not Columbus, it’s the Islanders, with RFA Devon Toews traded to Chicago (for two second round picks, so a better return for him than for Murray and Nutivaara combined) and Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock remain unsigned. Meanwhile, 1b goalie Thomas Greiss left in free agency, replaced by prospect Ilya Sorokin.
Isles fans must be as frustrated by the long wait as Jackets fans are, but without something like the Domi trade to feel hopeful about.
Notable add: Jack Johnson LOLOLOLOLOLOL (UFA signing)
Notable loss: Henrik Lundqvist (buyout)
The King Hank departure is more of a loss for sentimental reasons than on-ice ones, though seeing him attempt to win a Cup with a division opponent has to sting. #1 overall draft pick Alexis Lafreniere is an exciting addition, but the blue line still leaves a lot to be desire and replacing Mark Staal with Jack Johnson doesn’t help. Ryan Strome and Brendan Lemieux remain unsigned RFAs.
Notable add: Eric Gustaffson (UFA signing)
Notable loss: Matt Niskanen (retirement)
No big moves for the Flyers, but after a second place finish in the Metro, a domination of the Eastern Conference round-robin, and an appearance in the second round, did they need to do much? Unlike SOME teams, they got their RFA signings out of the way quickly.
Notable add: Kasperi Kapanen (trade)
Notable loss: Matt Murray (trade)
Jim Rutherford has been very busy this offseason, beginning with a trade with Toronto that occurred while the playoffs were still underway. That cost a first round pick to re-acquire Kapanen, indicating the Pens are in “win now” mode while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are still around and still elite. They bought out the terrible Johnson contract, but then signed the also-terrible Cody Ceci (to a less awful contract, to be fair). With Matt Murray gone, it’s now Tristan Jarry’s goal. Murray had struggled over the last couple of years, but can a “win now” team put all their eggs in the Jarry basket?
Notable add: Corey Crawford (UFA signing)
Notable loss: Cory Schneider (buyout)
The Devils moved a lot of pieces during the regular season, such as Taylor Hall, Andy Greene, and Blake Coleman, so there wasn’t much left to move now. They added solid role players in Ryan Murray and Andreas Johannsson. Crawford is a great addition in net, on a very reasonable two year deal. Incumbent goalie Mackenzie Blackwood is still an unsigned RFA, but the Devils should take care of thing. I don’t think he gets enough credit for how well he has played behind a bad team.
Notable add: Henrik Lundqvist (UFA signing)
Notable loss: Braden Holby (free agent)
You might think it’s a big deal that the Caps lost their franchise goaltender, but I think this may be addition by subtraction after the season he just had. They’re in good hands with Ilya Samsonov as the starter and Lundqvist as the veteran backup. Shoring up the blue line with the likes of Justin Schultz and Trevor van Riemsdyk are solid roster-churn moves that contending teams make. Their window is closing, with their top players aging and two consecutive first round exits following their Cup win in 2018. But it’s not closed yet, so I think they’re still the team to beat for the Metro crown.
What do you think about the comings and goings in the division?
Which Metro team has had the best off-season so far?
This poll is closed
Which Metro team has had the WORST off-season so far?
This poll is closed
The week that was
There was GM call on Friday but no news yet about when or how the next season will begin. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reports that each division could have a designated hub city, which would feature groups of teams staying in the same hotel and the arena hosting multiple games per day, but with looser rules than the playoff bubble. One such hub could be Columbus.
The most interesting possibility is that there could be a Canada division if teams cannot cross the border at will. This would mean a temporary realignment of the other divisions, so Columbus would likely be reunited with some old Central foes like Chicago and Detroit.
The Cannon Cast discussed the moves the Cleveland Monsters are making and the retirement of NBC announcer Doc Emrick.
We looked at recent first round draft picks selected at #21, and selected out of Russia to see what the future may hold for Yegor Chinakhov.
Play me out
I’ve enjoyed that viral TikTok that features Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and the renewed interest in the band, based on their reappearance on the charts. HOWEVER, my hot take is that their 1975 self-titled album (the first to feature Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks) is better than Rumors, in large part because it features their best track (and a better Nicks feature than “Dreams”), “Rhiannon”