Trick or Treat: Which team's offseason moves are for real?

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Halloween arriving in the middle of the NHL's offseason may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Let's look at how a handful of teams have fared so far this fall, evaluating each squad's moves using a theme connected to Saturday's holiday.

Trick = A team that's either further removed from contender status than before this offseason, or isn't as close to contending as the club's splashy moves seem to indicate.

Treat = A team that's vaulted closer to contention thanks to its offseason moves.

Bruins: Trick 👻

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Key arrivals: Craig Smith
Key departures: Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara (unsigned), Joakim Nordstrom

Boston entered the offseason fresh off an underwhelming showing in the playoffs, and with ample cap space to make an impact in free agency. But surprisingly, the Bruins were just passengers throughout the frenzy.

Smith is a nice addition, especially at $3.1 million per season. But only making one signing after another campaign in which an aging core didn't yield a championship is curious, to say the least.

The Bruins also let Krug walk, and they didn't bring anyone in to replace him. There are still strong pieces on Boston's blue line, but without Krug - and Chara still unsigned - the unit is looking thinner than ever before. Tie all that in with long-term surgery recoveries for superstars David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, and Boston's immediate future after a bland offseason seems precarious.

Canadiens: Treat 🍬

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Key arrivals: Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, Joel Edmundson, Jake Allen, Alexander Romanov
Key departures: Max Domi

Montreal's biggest issue last season was scoring, as the Habs were possession darlings, but they often struggled to finish. Adding Toffoli and Anderson should help in a big way.

The Canadiens can now roll out three potent lines next year, and young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi will also provide a boost after making strides during the team's impressive playoff showing. Montreal lacks star power up front, but the club boasts quality depth.

Edmundson's contract (four years, $3.5M AAV) could come back to haunt general manager Marc Bergevin. But the squad's blue line should improve overall, especially if the 20-year-old Romanov can make the leap from the KHL to the NHL with ease.

Allen, meanwhile, is one of the NHL's best backups, and he'll help to keep Carey Price fresh - which will be crucial during a potentially condensed schedule.

Sabres: Trick 👻

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Key arrivals: Taylor Hall, Eric Staal, Cody Eakin, Tobias Rieder
Key departures: Marcus Johansson, Jimmy Vesey, Johan Larsson, Dominik Kahun (unsigned)

The Sabres have enjoyed a great offseason - we're not arguing that. Hall and Jack Eichel will be one of the league's scariest offensive duos, and Staal fills a massive hole as a second-line center.

However, there are still far too many question marks for this team to contend. The bottom-six forward group is a mess. There are some nice blue-line pieces in Buffalo, but the group is unbalanced and lacks a reliable shutdown pair. And the team's goaltending is suspect, despite some encouraging signs from Linus Ullmark a year ago.

Maple Leafs: Treat 🍬

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Key arrivals: TJ Brodie, Zach Bogosian, Mikko Lehtonen, Joe Thornton, Wayne Simmonds, Jimmy Vesey, Joey Anderson
Key departures: Andreas Johnsson, Kasperi Kapanen, Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci

After a disappointing defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets in this summer's qualifying round, Kyle Dubas got busy addressing some of the Maple Leafs' clear needs. Toronto became tougher and more experienced throughout its lineup, and adding Brodie gives the Leafs their strongest group of blue-liners in recent memory.

While the Maple Leafs appear deeper after their bevy of additions, the most impressive aspect of Toronto's offseason could be its salary-cap navigation. Dubas not only bolstered each position, but he also retained restricted free agents Ilya Mikheyev and Travis Dermott at discounted rates, and without going over the stagnant cap.

Islanders: Trick 👻

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Key arrivals: Ilya Sorokin
Key departures: Devon Toews, Derick Brassard (unsigned), Thomas Greiss

New York has been silent so far this offseason and unable to build on the momentum from a surprising run to the Eastern Conference Final. Recouping two second-round picks in the Toews deal is a decent haul, but it's hard to understand why the young, dynamic blue-liner needed to be the Islanders' cap casualty. The club also hasn't signed a single free agent yet.

Lou Lamoriello has always been one to wait, and he's sure showcasing his patience when it comes to locking down two key RFAs. Foundational pieces Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock need new deals, and the Islanders only hold $8.9 million in available cap space. The final prices of those two contracts will define New York's offseason, either bailing out Lamoriello after his inactivity, or further crippling the club's financial future.

Avalanche: Treat 🍬

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Key arrivals: Brandon Saad, Devon Toews
Key departures: Nikita Zadorov

The Avalanche are enjoying yet another solid offseason. GM Joe Sakic didn't go big-game hunting with his cap space, but he continued his trend of acquiring strong two-way players cheaply. Adding Saad to one of the NHL's deepest forward groups is scary for Colorado's Western Conference opponents, and Sakic even managed to convince Chicago to retain some of the veteran winger's salary.

Toews essentially replaces Zadorov on the blue line after the latter went to the Blackhawks in the deal, which is a major upgrade. The 26-year-old is one of the NHL's best puck-moving defensemen, and the four-year, $16.4 million contract he signed after the trade could become a highly team-friendly deal.

He joins a promising defensive corps that already features Cale Makar and Samuel Girard, along with prospects Bowen Byram and Conor Timmins waiting in the weeds. The rich get richer.

Canucks: Trick 👻

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Key arrivals: Nate Schmidt, Braden Holtby
Key departures: Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, Tyler Toffoli, Josh Leivo, Troy Stecher, Oscar Fantenberg

We love adding Schmidt, especially at the cost (third-round pick). But there's no denying the Canucks became worse.

Schmidt replaces Tanev, which is an upgrade, but GM Jim Benning hasn't added anyone to fill Stecher's spot, and he doesn't hold the cap space to make that move. Is Olli Juolevi ready? Tyler Myers playing heavier minutes could be a spooky reality.

Losing Toffoli hurts, too, especially after how well he meshed with Vancouver's top-six forwards. Benning may have been able to keep Toffoli around if he didn't allocate so much money to uninspiring veterans like Brandon Sutter ($4.38 million), Micheal Ferland ($3.5 million), Antoine Roussel ($3 million), and Jay Beagle ($3 million). Not bringing back Leivo, who only received $875K from the Calgary Flames, is questionable too.

Holtby, who's posted three straight poor seasons, is a definite downgrade from Markstrom. Thatcher Demko had better be ready to play at least half of the Canucks' games. He certainly looked like a No. 1 netminder in the postseason.

Golden Knights: Treat 🍬

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Key arrivals: Alex Pietrangelo, Carl Dahlstrom
Key departures: Nate Schmidt, Paul Stastny

Is upgrading from Schmidt to Pietrangelo worth the cost of trading away Stastny? We think so. That's Vegas' offseason in a nutshell. The Golden Knights have now assembled one of the league's best blue lines, and they were able to re-sign goalie Robin Lehner.

Center depth beyond William Karlsson is the club's biggest weakness, but 2016 No. 6 pick Cody Glass provides plenty of upside, and veteran Chandler Stephenson fit in with Vegas extremely well after being acquired in a midseason trade last year from the Washington Capitals.

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Trick or Treat: Which team's offseason moves are for real?
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