The Dallas Stars have made it a priority to take care of their own this summer. News came out of Stars' world about the re-signing of Jamie Oleksiak, but it has been quiet since the draft. While an entire series of articles could be devoted to the merits of a non-playoff team "standing pat", we are here to see what the bad guys have been up to.
What do things look like next season? Will the Predators come back to earth? Will the Blackhawks win four Cups in seven years? Will the Blues lose in the first round?
Part 1 of the Central Review can be found here, where we looked at the Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets, and Minnesota Wild.
2014-2015 regular season: 48 Wins, 28 Regulation Losses, and 6 Overtime Losses (102 Points)
The Chicago Blackhawks did not draft until the second round, having given their pick to the Coyotes for Antoine Vermette. The Hawks drafted 4 forwards, 3 defensemen, and no goalies. None of the Hawks' picks jump off the screen, but neither did Jamie Benn. It was a solid draft including several big two-way forwards and some heavy defensemen.
Johnny Oduya has not been re-signed by the team, though negotiations are ongoing. One would think that the incumbent Hawks stand the best chance of signing the 33 year old. Oduya was a large part of their four-man rotation in the postseason, and the Blackhawks are working hard to get him re-signed.
Scott Darling stole the hearts of management during his stint with the big club, and the Hawks submitted a vote of confidence by trading former backup Antti Raanta to the New York Rangers for Ryan Haggerty. The Rangers got another promising backup goalie, and the Hawks got a 22 year-old right winger. Haggerty struggled in the AHL last year, but put up big numbers in his last season in the NCAA with RPI (28g, 15a, 35 GP).
The Hawks traded the manimal, Brandon Saad, to the Columbus Blue Jackets. There was a good deal of talk about what the Hawks would do with their RFA stud, and it seems the Hawks decided to get what they could and move forward. Saad was a beast last season, and looks like he could be one of the premier power forwards in the game for many years. The trade in its entirety sent Brandon Saad, Alex Broadhurst, and Michael Paliotta for Marko Dano, Artem Anisimov, Cory Tropp, Jeremy Morin, and a 2016 fourth round pick.
The acquisition of Dano and Anisimov was a great return for a guy that was going to be too expensive to keep. The cap-strapped Blackhawks got 2 NHL-ready players that should be impact players next season. Dano had a strong campaign in Columbus last year, seemingly getting better every week. Chicago lost an impact player, but got two contributors in return.
Overall: The Hawks did what they had to do. No one in Chicago is going to be blown away by their offseason, but when you've won three cups in six years, what can anyone say?
2014-2015 regular season: 47 Wins, 25 Regulation Losses, and 10 Overtime Losses (104 Points)
The Preds had five draft choices, with the highlight being Iakov Trenin taken 55th overall. The 6-foot-2 center from Russia had the attention of the Predators, with some people saying the team was prepared to trade up to get him.
The team's second pick at 85 overall was Thomas Novak. Novak played for Waterloo in the USHL. Last season, he scored 14 goals and added 34 assists in 45. Novak is an offensive minded, pass-first kind of guy. Good not great skater. Highly skilled, highly mental. After reading his scouting reports and watching some of his videos, I thought to myself, "Wow, this guy reminds me of Mike Ribeiro." As I kept reading farther down the page, his NHL comparable was Mike Ribeiro. Can I please have a cookie?
Speaking of, Nashville re-signed Mike Ribeiro. He had an excellent season in Nashville, but a two-year deal at $3.5 million AAV for an aging veteran was a curious move before you consider the pending lawsuit against him. Ribeiro was valuable to the team last year, and perhaps management does not think the prospect pool is in a place to fill in for him this year. Aside from the threat of a PR disaster, players don't usually duplicate career years after 35. Nashville gave him a second chance last year, now will he reward them for their faithfulness?
Barret Jackman signed a two-year deal with Nashville with a cap hit of $4 million each season. Jackman is a reliable depth defenseman. In a vacuum, this is an expensive signing for a team loaded on defense, but perhaps it speaks to where the Cody Franson negotiations were going at the time. Jackman will allow Seth Jones a longer leash in the offensive zone and won't make many mistakes. The Jackman signing seems a little pricey for a veteran, but when you have cap space and have a chance to improve, you take it.
Cody Hodgson signed with Nashville after a moribund 2014-15 campaign in Buffalo. Most people will tell you that the former No. 1 prospect in the Canucks' system is a bust, but Nashville has made a habit of rehabilitating distressed assets. If Hodgson is able to get on the right path, this will be a steal for the Preds.
Overall: Meh. They got a reliable veteran defenseman and re-signed Ribeiro. This team will be a bear defensively, but how much can they expect Ribeiro to carry the load again? The Preds tinkered with the roster, but it is hard to see how they got "better". This feels like a status quo offseason.
St. Louis Blues
2014-2015 regular season: 51 Wins, 24 Regulation Losses, and 7 Overtime Losses (107 Points)
The Blues had a balanced draft taking three forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie. The name to remember from this class is Glenn Gawdin. Last season, his second in the WHL, Gawdin scored 15 goals and had 39 assists at Swift Current. Gawdin is a utilitarian center with high-end ice vision. He was the 37th rated North American skater by NHL.com. He was drafted with the 116th pick.
St. Louis chose to shake up their top six by trading fan favorite T.J. Oshie. In return from Washington, the Blues got Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley, and a third round pick. This feels like a "shake it up move" designed to bring in some fresh blood. Troy Brouwer is a fine hockey player, but his addition alone won't keep the Blues from another dreaded first round exit. Someone had to go, and it appears it was Oshie.
Vladimir Tarasenko signed an 8-year, $60 million deal. This move put St. Louis right up against the cap, but they had to take care of their new superstar. Tarasenko had 73 points in 77 games this year, and the Blues had to get this done. Tarasenko has the look of a generational talent, and now he can haunt the Stars for the next eight years at least.
Overall: St. Louis had a good value draft, traded a contributing but seemingly plateaued forward, and they kept Tarasenko on their team. Much like Nashville, this is a status quo offseason. Nothing particularly good happened in St. Louis, and nothing bad happened. They are now close to the salary cap and that will require some creativity to navigate next season. Just ask the Los Angeles Kings.
Looking at the division, it is clear the Avalanche stand to look quite different next year. With Nashville, Dallas, and St. Louis staying relatively in tact, it will be interesting to see these moves pay dividends for the movers and shakers. I think the Saad trade was the best Chicago could have hoped for, but he is going to be a monster in Columbus. One thing is for certain: No division rival made less "transactions" than the Stars this summer (so far). Will this patient offseason prove to be the best decision Nill has ever made, or the worst?