Written by Gionni Oliveira (Sports Writer)
It’s been a busy NHL offseason with the 2020 NHL Draft being held Oct. 6-7 and NHL free agency opening Oct. 9. Teams have been hard at work adding players in free agency and trades or re-signing their own free agents. But which team is the most improved to this point in the offseason?
Nick Cotsonika said “I’m going to lead off with a surprise: the Detroit Red Wings. Coming off a season when they had the worst record in the NHL since the salary cap arrived in 2005-06 (17 49-5,.275 points percentage), there is a lot of room for improvement. Under general manager Steve Yzerman, the Red Wings chose forward Lucas Raymond No. 4 in the NHL Draft with their highest pick since 1990 and selected 11 players in rounds 2-7, including three in the second and two in the third. They have signed goalie Thomas Greiss, defensemen Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher, and forwards Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov to short-term, economical contracts as unrestricted free agents. And they have acquired defenseman Marc Staal and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft from the New York Rangers for future considerations, using cap space to their advantage. They’re early in their rebuild, not close to contending for the Stanley Cup, but they have taken smart steps forward.”
Dave Stubbs said “I truly like what the Montreal Canadiens did to retool their roster after a regular season that saw them go 31-31-9 (.500 points percentage), and a surprising run in the postseason when they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers and took the Philadelphia Flyers to six games in the Eastern Conference First Round. GM Marc Bergevin said Montreal wanted to check off four boxes this offseason — a backup for goalie Carey Price, size at defenseman, a power forward and some scoring punch — and they have been checked,
without surrendering prospects or high draft picks. Headed to the Canadiens are goalie Jake size at defenseman, a power forward, and some scoring punch — and they have been checked, without surrendering prospects or high draft picks. Headed to the Canadiens are goalie Jake Allen, defenseman Joel Edmundson (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), and forwards Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli. Montreal also locked up forward Brendan Gallagher with a six-year contract extension. Not a bad couple of weeks.”
Tim Campbell said “Nick and I think similarly about Detroit’s upgrades, and it’s hard to argue that Montreal isn’t better with all of its moves. But I’ll hang my first choice for the most improved team on a most accepted concept, better at preventing goals, and that’s the Calgary Flames, who were 36-27-7 (.564 points percentage) and lost in six games to the Dallas Stars in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round. After signing Jacob Markstrom (23-16-4, 2.75 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 43 games for the Vancouver Canucks last season) as an unrestricted free agent, the Flames will have stability in the goal they have not enjoyed since Miikka Kiprusoff retired in 2013. Based on one of hockey’s great truisms, that goaltending is 50 percent of the game until you don’t have it, then it’s 100 percent, having a top-flight goalie again signifies a big step forward in Calgary.”