By now, we know that the Flyers have “struck out” on all big free-agent items and failed to acquire Shea Weber. Right now, if you had to grade the Flyers offseason, what would you give them? Furthermore, what grade would you give the rest of the Flyers’ Atlantic Division foes?
Let’s take a look at the rest of the division’s key acquisitions and losses, and where each of its member teams stand thus far through the end of free agency.
New York Rangers
Key Additions: F Rick Nash, Chris Kreider, Arron Asham.
Key Losses: F Brandon Prust, F Brandon Dubinsky, F Artem Anisemov, F Ruslan Fedotenko
The Good: I include Kreider in this category because he did not play in any regular-season games last year. The two-time national champion from Boston College will be counted on to produce now that Dubinsky and Anisemov have left Madison Square Garden. The Rangers big acquisition was power forward Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nash will surely be counted on to produce like during his peak years on a line with Brad Richards.
The Bad: Not much to say here. The Rangers lose great depth and grit with the four forwards leaving via trade and free agency. The only real negative is not having restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto locked up long-term.
New York Islanders
Key Additions: D Lubomir Visnovsky*
Key Losses: F PA Parenteau
The Good: Adding a top-four defenseman of Visnovsky’s ilk is a great pull for the Islanders. He will add leadership and grit.
The Bad: *Visnovsky has filed a grievance with the Islanders to try and reverse the trade. Furthermore, the Islanders lost promising forward PA Parenteau to a large free agent offer from the Colorado Avalanche. The Isles will have to continue to build upon a young foundation.
New Jersey Devils
Key Additions: Re-signed G Martin Brodeur
Key Losses: F Zach Parise, F Alex Ponikarovsky
The Good: They kept the greatest goaltender in the history of the NHL.
The Bad: The Devils lost franchise cornerstone Parise to Minnesota. Furthermore, the team faces a great amount of debt that could bankrupt the team
Key Additions: C Brandon Sutter, F Tanner Glass, G Tomas Vokoun, C Sidney Crosby
Key Losses: Jordan Staal
The Good: The worst-kept secret in the NHL was that Jordan Staal wanted to be in Carolina with brother Eric. Staal refused to negotiate a contract extension with the Penguins. In turn, the Penguins traded Staal to Carolina, who paid a handsome price of Sutter, Glass, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and the eighth pick in the 2012 draft. The Penguins also improved with the signing of Vokoun, who will help take pressure off of incumbent starter Marc-Andre Fleury. Of course, the biggest plus for the Penguins is a healthy Sidney Crosby.
The Bad: Losing a top-three two-way forward will have ramifications, no doubt. Staal was just learning to put the puck in the net consistently, and the lack of his production – both offensively, defensively, and on the penalty kill – will be felt throughout the whole team.
Key Additions: D Luke Schenn, D Bruno Gervais, G Michael Leighton, F Ruslan Fedotenko, F Jakub Voracek
Key Losses: F James van Reimsdyk, F Jaromir Jagr, D Matt Carle, G Sergei Bobrovsky
The Good: The Flyers got bigger on the blue line with the addition of Schenn. He was brought into Philly for two reasons: one, the Flyers love his potential, and two, they feel that Luke will help brother Brayden take the next step. The Flyers also added depth forward and former Flyer Fedotenko back to the mix, and re-signed Michael Leighton to carry Ilya Bryzgalov’s equipment.
The Bad: After being shut out on Suter, Weber, and Parise, the Flyers fell further in the dumps by losing Matt Carle to Tampa Bay and Jaromir Jagr to Dallas. They traded JvR to Toronto and acquired Luke Schenn. The Flyers had better hope that their young studs turn out to be just that – studs.