Offseason Grades, Pacific Division: Kings unshackled, Battle of Alberta now on


Metropolitan | Atlantic | Central | Pacific

Anaheim Ducks: B
Key Addition: Kevin Bieksa, Carl Hagelin
Notable Subtraction: Matt Beleskey, Francois Beauchemin

It's amazing what a little cap space can do.

Free of financial burden thanks in part to team-imposed salary restrictions, Bob Murray has the ability to constantly tinker, tweak, and refine his roster. He sheds a million here, dumps a contract there, and voila! Emerson Etem becomes Hagelin.

For an elite team, Anaheim is incredibly prudent with its finances. And after indirectly swapping Beauchemin for Bieksa, and Beleskey for Hagelin, and expanding their trunkload of cap space in the process, the Ducks remain elite, and a threat to improve at the drop of a hat.

Arizona Coyotes: B-
Key Addition: Antoine Vermette
Notable Subtraction: -

In retaining the likes of Vermette, Zbynek Michalek, and Boyd Gordon while introducing Steve Downie, Brad Richardson, and Nicklas Grossmann, the Coyotes have effectively pieced together a holdover roster until their fleet of young prospects is ready to burst onto the scene.

The influx of bodies is mainly a protective and temporary measure, with little associated risk. They have four veteran forwards signed beyond next season.

Arizona might be in for another long season in the Pacific juggernaut, but with one more piece to add (a local kid, perhaps?), and the ability to flip the roster quick, Don Maloney has this team in a decent spot.

Calgary Flames: A
Key Addition: Dougie Hamilton, Michael Frolik
Notable Subtraction: -

Two bullets. Two targets acquired.

Brad Treliving's stealth acquisition of 22-year-old stud defenseman Hamilton, the final piece of perhaps the best unit in the NHL, was the most important swap of jerseys this summer and one of the more stunning trades in recent memory.

Meanwhile, Frolik's name looks a touch strange atop the team's payroll (among forwards), but while they paid a high price to land the middle-six contributor, he fills a clear need.

Edmonton Oilers: A
Key Addition: Cam Talbot, Andrej Sekera... Oh, and Connor McDavid
Notable Subtraction: -

Draft picks weren't supposed to factor into the grading scheme, but the Connor McDavid hype machine, and the consequence of his presence, simply cannot be ignored. An abandoned market is now a five-star destination for free agents and Hockey Canada executives alike.

Peter Chiarelli upgraded the three most important and neglected positions on the roster twofold, adding a pair of centers, (at least) two top-six blue-liners, and a fresh new duo in net.

His moves likely weren't perfect (the Griffin Reinhart deal may well blow up) but adding seven capable roster players without losing a meaningful one in return (or bludgeoning the salary cap) is an impressive feat.

Los Angeles Kings: B+
Key Addition: Milan Lucic
Notable Subtraction: Justin Williams, Mike Richards

If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin', apparently.

It's all a bit unsavory, the way Los Angeles has conducted its business of late. But with a monster winger now in the fold and the freedom to breathe well beneath the cap, Dean Lombardi, in his axing of Richards, may have utilized a championship loophole.

The Kings have been rather quiet since taking a torch to Richards' remaining $28.75 million (his ghost may yet reappear), but Lombardi now has the ability to shore up the team's minor inadequacies, until someone (likely Don Fehr) tells him otherwise.

San Jose Sharks: C
Key Addition: Martin Jones
Notable Subtraction: Antti Niemi

One summer after deciding it was time to retool, the Sharks signed multi-year agreements with a pair of 34-year-olds in Paul Martin and Joel Ward, and traded their first-round pick next season for a goaltender in Jones who has made 34 total NHL appearances.

Though Jones taking the starter's role from the departed Niemi is consistent with the youth movement, that plan appears to have been crumpled up and thrown in the vicinity of a trash bin.

Vancouver Canucks: F
Key Addition: -
Notable Subtraction: Eddie Lack, Kevin Bieksa

While the rest of the division bulks up, the Canucks remain stuck. They're not moving forward, nor disbanding - just eroding.

The Lack return, well, lacked. The Bieksa deal was botched. Zack Kassian's trade was nonsensical. And while Shawn Matthias and Richardson aren't necessarily major individual losses, they're part of a mass exodus that's seen the team lose much of its identity.

Offseason Grades, Pacific Division: Kings unshackled, Battle of Alberta now on
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