NHL offseason grades: Atlantic Division

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Divisions: Central | Metropolitan | Pacific

With the NHL offseason all but wrapped up, we're handing out comprehensive grades for all 32 teams. The four-part series concludes with an in-depth look at each Atlantic Division club.

Some contract figures are reported. Most players on two-way deals have been omitted.

Boston Bruins

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Pavel Zacha F 1 year $3.5M
David Krejci F 1 year $1M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Erik Haula F Traded to NJ
Curtis Lazar F Signed with VAN

Re-signed

Player Position New contract length AAV
Patrice Bergeron F 1 year $2.5M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Fabian Lysell F 2021 (1st round)
John Beecher F 2019 (1st round)

The Bruins did not have an active summer relative to some of their Atlantic Division counterparts. Boston inked Bergeron to one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league, then brought back Krejci from Czechia after a year away from the NHL. It was a puzzling plan of attack from a side nearing the end of its competitive window that will be missing key players Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk to start the season.

Perhaps the lack of action was overshadowed by Boston's decision to fire head coach Bruce Cassidy, who led the Bruins to a .672 points percentage across six seasons at the helm and won a Jack Adams Award in 2019-20. The Bruins' core possibly needed a new voice, and a first-round loss was surely a disappointing end to a solid 2021-22 season, but how quickly the Vegas Golden Knights scooped Cassidy up speaks to his pedigree behind the bench and reputation around the league.

It's difficult to get a full read on Boston's summer until we see how the club responds under Jim Montgomery, but he faces an uphill battle off the hop based on who's missing from the lineup. One thing the Bruins did well this offseason was leaving their books wide open for a potential David Pastrnak extension. Some fans surely would have liked to see a deal get done the second it became a possibility, but the club only has $58 million committed to the 2023-24 season, leaving plenty of room to give its most dynamic offensive weapon a considerable raise should he opt against testing the open market.

Grade: C

Buffalo Sabres

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Ilya Lyubushkin D 2 years $2.75M
Eric Comrie G 2 years $1.8M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Colin Miller D Signed with DAL
Mark Pysyk D Signed with DET

Re-signed

Player Position New contract length AAV
Tage Thompson F 7 years $7.142M (starts in 2023-24)
Victor Olofsson F 2 years $4.75M
Vinnie Hinostroza F 1 year $1.7M
Jacob Bryson D 2 years $1.85M
Craig Anderson G 1 year $1.5M
Malcolm Subban G 1 year $800K

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Owen Power D 2021 (1st round)
Jack Quinn F 2020 (1st round)
John-Jason Peterka F 2020 (2nd round)

The Sabres had plenty of bright spots last season despite missing the playoffs again, and the front office shrewdly kept most of its business in-house this summer rather than spending lavishly to accelerate a rebuild that still needs some time. Buffalo still has plenty of youth to infuse into its lineup before the team can truly start ascending the ranks. Based on the loaded prospect pipeline, it may happen sooner than projected, but staying the course this summer was the right move.

Buffalo's two free-agent adds weren't headliner signings, but both are essentially risk-free contracts that help provide depth. Lyubushkin is a quality right-side defender, while Comrie sneakily put up great numbers for a porous Winnipeg Jets team last season. The 27-year-old posted a .920 save percentage with 7.2 goals saved above average in 19 appearances, and if he can handle a bigger workload, he should form a reliable tandem in the crease with veteran Craig Anderson.

The Thompson extension was the Sabres' most notable offseason move, which is a serious gamble any way you slice it. The soon-to-be 25-year-old broke out in major fashion last year, tallying 38 goals and looking like a franchise player. If that's the new and improved Thompson, Buffalo makes out great. If his terrific campaign was an outlier and the Sabres have another Jeff Skinner situation on their hands, Kevyn Adams should prepare for heavy criticism.

Grade: B

Detroit Red Wings

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
David Perron F 2 years $4.75M
Andrew Copp F 5 years $5.625M
Dominik Kubalik F 2 years $2.5M
Ben Chiarot D 4 years $4.75M
Robert Hagg D 1 year $800K
Olli Maatta D 1 year $2.25M
Ville Husso G 3 years $4.75M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Marc Staal D Signed with FLA
Thomas Greiss G Signed with STL

Re-signed

Player Position New contract length AAV
Filip Zadina F 3 years $1.825M
Jake Walman D 1 year $1.05M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Simon Edvinsson D 2021 (1st round)

Steve Yzerman added like a madman in free agency, completely transforming the outlook of Detroit's roster with a slew of moves that should instantly help the Red Wings become more competitive. Bringing in Copp, Perron, and Kubalik creates a much deeper top nine, and the veteran presence should help insulate the club's young stars on and off the ice.

Not only did Yzerman revamp Detroit's forward corps, but he pounced on Husso to create a formidable goaltending tandem alongside Alex Nedeljkovic. Husso was in high demand in a red-hot goalie market this offseason after a strong year with the St. Louis Blues, and the Red Wings surrendered only a third-round pick to acquire the netminder and subsequently sign him to a three-year extension at a modest price.

The Wings needed more experience on their blue line, and Yzerman found that, too, but the four-year deal for Chiarot might be the savvy GM's only swing-and-miss of the offseason. Chiarot has routinely posted some of the worst defensive metrics in the NHL, and paying such a high price for intangibles tends to backfire in a league so reliant on cap space. Luckily for Detroit, it has a projected $41 million in cap space next season, so the rugged blue-liner's questionable deal shouldn't hold the Wings back too much as they look to climb the ranks in the league's deepest division.

Grade: A

Florida Panthers

Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Matthew Tkachuk F 8 years $9.5M (after trade with CGY)
Nick Cousins F 2 years $1.1M
Colin White F 1 year $1.2M
Rudolfs Balcers F 1 year $750K
Marc Staal D 1 year $750K

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Jonathan Huberdeau F Traded to CGY
MacKenzie Weegar F Traded to CGY
Claude Giroux F Signed with OTT
Mason Marchment F Signed with DAL
Ben Chiarot D Signed with DET

Re-signed

Player Position New contract length AAV
Eetu Luostarinen F 2 years $1.5M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Grigori Denisenko F 2018 (1st round)

Fresh off winning the Presidents' Trophy, the Panthers chose chaos this offseason. They swung one of the biggest trades in NHL history but also lost more talent than arguably any other team in the league. If that wasn't enough, Florida opted not to retain Andrew Brunette, who was a finalist for coach of the year. Maybe the sting of having their biggest rival sweep them in the second round led to some knee-jerk reactions, but regardless of the root cause of the Panthers' decisions this summer, it's difficult to say they've improved.

Tkachuk is a fantastic player, and if he flanks Aleksander Barkov, that's easily one of the best two-way top lines in the NHL. Giving up Huberdeau in the deal was fair value, but throwing in MacKenzie Weegar was a head-scratcher. He's one of the league's premier puck-moving defensemen, and now Florida's left side is comprised of Gustav Forsling, Lucas Carlsson, and Marc Staal - not the most inspiring group for a contender.

Due to Barkov's $10 million AAV extension kicking in and Tkachuk's new $9.5-million cap hit, Florida didn't have the space to make any splashy signings this summer. The Panthers also saw three key players walk out the door in Marchment, Giroux, and Chiarot - two they paid a huge price for to help their playoff push. Florida is now without a first-round pick in the next three drafts and is set to ice a less talented team led by a new voice this coming season. The Panthers' window to win a Stanley Cup isn't closed, but it's much smaller than it was a mere four months ago.

Grade: D

Montreal Canadiens

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Kirby Dach F 4 years $3.36M (after trade with CHI)
Sean Monahan F 1 year $6.375M (after trade with CGY)
Evgenii Dadonov F 1 year $5M (after trade with VGK)
Mike Matheson D 4 years $4.875M (after trade with PIT)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Ryan Poehling F Traded to PIT
Jeff Petry D Traded to PIT
Shea Weber D Traded to VGK
Alexander Romanov D Traded to NYI

Re-signed

Player Position New contract length AAV
Rem Pitlick F 2 years $1.1M
Michael Pezzetta F 1 year $750K
Chris Wideman D 2 years $762K
Sam Montembeault G 2 years $1M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Juraj Slafkovsky F 1st round (2022)
Justin Barron D 1st round (2020 by COL)

In his first offseason as GM, Kent Hughes did what was necessary. There was no quick-fix option for the Canadiens, but there was still plenty of business to handle. The first task was trading Petry, who had been rumored to be on the move for months before the club finally dealt him to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The trade gave Montreal some much-needed financial flexibility, as did the Shea Weber cap dump. Without those moves, stashing Carey Price's cap hit on LTIR would have been a significant headache.

The draft is where Hughes made most of the Habs' headlines this summer. He surprised many by taking Slafkovsky over Shane Wright, and only time will tell if that was the right decision. The initial shock factor was significant, but based on Slafkovsky's physical gifts and how he's carried himself through limited media interactions thus far, it's easy to see why Montreal was enamored with the powerful Slovakian winger.

Montreal also orchestrated a three-way trade to acquire Dach - a sort of low-risk, high-reward reclamation project for a young player looking to find his way in the NHL. Based on early returns from the club's youth under Martin St. Louis, it's reasonable to assume the head coach will be able to find a way to get the most out of Dach like he did with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield shortly after taking over behind the bench last winter.

The Canadiens may still be a few years away, but Hughes did nothing this summer to steer the early stages of his rebuild off track.

Grade: B-

Ottawa Senators

Andre Ringuette / National Hockey League / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Alex DeBrincat F 1 year $6.4M (after trade with CHI)
Claude Giroux F 3 years $6.5M
Tyler Motte F 1 year $1.35M
Cam Talbot G 1 year $3.66M (after trade with MIN)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Connor Brown F Traded to WSH
Colin White F Bought out
Michael Del Zotto D Bought out
Matt Murray G Traded to TOR
Filip Gustavsson G Traded to MIN

Re-signed

Player Position New contract length AAV
Tim Stutzle F 8 years $8.35M (starting in 2023-24)
Josh Norris F 8 years $7.95M
Mathieu Joseph F 4 years $2.95M
Dylan Gambrell F 1 year $950K
Erik Brannstrom D 1 year $900K

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Shane Pinto F 2nd round (2019)
Ridly Greig F 1st round (2020)
Jake Sanderson D 1st round (2021)

The Senators stole the show during the Summer of Pierre. Thanks to an impressive collection of trades, signings, and extensions from GM Pierre Dorion, Ottawa has manufactured some major playoff-or-bust expectations heading into the 2022-23 season.

It began with the blockbuster acquisition of DeBrincat at the draft. The 40-goal marksman adds a new element to Ottawa's attack, and he should make a major impact in the top six and on the power play. The Senators then added some veteran flair in Giroux and upgraded in goal, grabbing a disgruntled Talbot from the Minnesota Wild. Overall, Ottawa's lineup now exists beyond its young core and, on paper, appears deep enough to challenge for the postseason.

In addition to bringing in some new blood, the Senators dished out long-term extensions to Norris and Stutzle. They each carry hefty price tags, but if both players continue their current trajectories, the cost of locking them up early will be well worth it.

Grade: A+

Tampa Bay Lightning

Mark LoMoglio / National Hockey League / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Vladislav Namestnikov F 1 year $2.5M
Ian Cole D 1 year $3M
Philippe Myers D 2 years $2.25M (2022-23)/$1.4M (2023-24)
Haydn Fleury D 2 years $762K

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Ondrej Palat F Signed with NJ
Ryan McDonagh D Traded to NSH
Jan Rutta D Signed with PIT

Re-signed

Player Position New contract length AAV
Nick Paul F 7 years $3.125M
Anthony Cirelli F 8 years* $6.25M
Mikhail Sergachev D 8 years* $8.5M
Erik Cernak D 8 years* $5.2M

* - Extensions begin in 2023-24

You don't go to three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals without having a ton of key contributors. The Lightning lost two and retained four in a quiet summer after falling short of a three-peat against the Colorado Avalanche.

Losing veterans like Palat and McDonagh hurts, but there simply wasn't enough money to keep them in Tampa Bay. Offloading the remaining four years of McDonagh's $6.75 million cap hit could be a blessing in disguise for the Bolts, especially if Cernak and Sergachev continue to grow the way the franchise expects. The max-term extensions each blue-liner holds will be a major factor in how long Tampa can remain a powerhouse, eating up a combined $13.7 million until 2031. The same goes for Paul's and Cirelli's new contracts - they're the future of the club down the middle of the ice.

The Lightning couldn't spend on any notable free agents, and it's too early to tell how their in-house bets will pan out. This wasn't a critical offseason in Tampa Bay by any means, and given Julien BriseBois' track record since taking over the Bolts' front office, we'll dish out a fair but non-spectacular verdict.

Grade: B

Toronto Maple Leafs

Steve Russell / Toronto Star / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Calle Jarnkrok F 4 years $2.1M
Nicolas Aube-Kubel F 1 year $1M
Adam Gaudette F 1 year $750K
Victor Mete D 1 year $750K
Jordie Benn D 1 year $750K
Matt Murray G 2 years $4.687M (after trade with OTT)
Ilya Samsonov G 1 year $1.8M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Ilya Mikheyev F Signed with VAN
Jason Spezza F Retired
Colin Blackwell F Signed with CHI
Ondrej Kase F Signed with CAR
Ilya Lyubushkin D Signed with BUF
Jack Campbell G Signed with EDM
Petr Mrazek G Traded to CHI

Re-signed

Player Position New contract length AAV
Pierre Engvall F 1 year $2.25M
Timothy Liljegren D 2 years $1.4M
Mark Giordano D 2 years $800K

Unsigned

Player Position Status
Rasmus Sandin D RFA

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Nick Robertson F 2nd round (2019)
Matthew Knies* F 2nd round (2021)

* - Knies will play the upcoming season at the University of Minnesota but is eligible to join the Leafs when the NCAA campaign is over.

It was a sour case of deja vu for the Maple Leafs and their fans again this offseason. After squandering another opportunity in the first round of the playoffs, passionate supporters screamed for major changes - but instead, they received a brand new goaltending duo with much to prove and an array of fringe singings.

Toronto remains immensely talented and should be a shoo-in for the playoffs, but many are questioning the strength of the Leafs' new Murray-Samsonov tandem. The moves defined Kyle Dubas' offseason after letting Campbell walk, and the GM is hopeful one - or preferably both - of his new netminders can shake off some difficult recent years and deliver reliable goaltending for a team that ranked 29th in save percentage last campaign and still managed 115 points. Dubas' experiment with Mrazek last season blew up in his face, and if his latest roll of the dice doesn't work, his tenure in Toronto is probably over.

The Leafs added some strong bottom-six players and took a flier on a pair of veteran blue-liners. As of now, Sandin remains unsigned, and another contract negotiation lingering into the season won't relieve any pressure on Dubas as he embarks on his most critical year yet.

The narrative around the underachieving Maple Leafs for much of the Auston Matthews era has been simple: This has to be the year the club breaks through, or else the core and/or the front office will face significant repercussions. Six consecutive first-round eliminations later, and all the key pieces remain intact. Truly, though, with only two years remaining on Matthews' deal, this has to be the year the club breaks through.

Grade: B-

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NHL offseason grades: Atlantic Division
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