NHL Offseason Review


The Devils locked up Hamilton to pioneer the long trip they will have toward competing for the Stanley Cup. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The NHL season is just weeks away but the action never really stopped since Tampa Bay lifted the Stanley Cup in July. There has been plenty to discuss both nationally and locally in free agency and elsewhere. 

Beginning locally, the New Jersey Devils landed the biggest free agent on the market in Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton. New Jersey represents Hamilton’s fourth stop in his NHL career and potentially his last. The 28-year-old signed a nine million dollar contract that takes him through his age 35 season.

The Devils will lean on Hamilton to anchor a young blue line with promise. Ty Smith had a solid rookie campaign and Ryan Graves is coming off a fantastic year in Colorado. It is hard to knock the Devils at all for this deal, although it might impact their ability to add pieces down the line. For now, it is a great move for New Jersey to add Hamilton to the squad. 

The Rangers have gone through a transitionary offseason since the firings of Jeff Gorton and John Davidson. Former captain Chris Drury has taken over the general manager reigns and attempted to make the team “harder to play against.” He added Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Reaves and traded away Pavel Buchnevich. Buchnevich was a restricted free agent before he was traded to St. Louis in exchange for Sammy Blais and a second-round pick. The moves make sense on the surface, but the details are what make this offseason head scratching. 

Goodrow was an unrestricted free agent from Tampa and the Bolts had, quite famously, no cap space remaining. The Rangers traded the negotiating rights to Goodrow before the beginning of free agency in exchange for a seventh-round pick. It was harmless but a little odd considering he would be available in mere days. They then signed him to a six-year contract worth $3.65 million annually. This was a gross overpay from Drury, especially for a player over whom he had exclusive negotiating rights. I personally see a lot of similarities between Goodrow and Islanders center Casey Cizikas, who signed a six-year deal worth $2.5 million this offseason. Analytics is even harsher towards Goodrow, with many models predicting a major drop-off after he turns 30 two years into the deal. 

The Rangers also re-signed Igor Shesterkin to a four-year extension worth over five million dollars per year. Through all of that, the Rangers still have over eight million dollars left in cap space. That money is undoubtedly being saved for the impending Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad contracts coming next offseason. 

The biggest national storyline for the month of September was Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet from the Carolina Hurricanes. The former third overall pick was a healthy scratch in many parts of Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup this summer and has yet to show the upside many anticipated. He sat as an RFA for many weeks, patiently waiting for Montreal to re-sign him. Carolina came calling out of revenge for the Canadians’ offer sheet attempt at Sebastian Aho a few years ago. 

They drastically overpaid for Kotkaniemi, offering a three to four million dollar player over six million for just this season. Montreal smartly declined the offer sheet and recouped a first and third round pick for their troubles. They immediately traded the first rounder for Arizona forward Christian Dvorak. This was the first successful offer sheet in many years and has yet to lead to any of the remaining RFAs — Quinn Hughes, Elias Petterson, Brady Tkachuk — getting offered, but there is still time to see what will happen next.