It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today, so in honour of that, here’s a look at what each team can be thankful for from the off-season.
1. Anaheim Ducks
Acquiring Ryan Kesler makes this dangerous team even scarier up the middle.
2. Arizona Coyotes
They’re still in the desert, with a new name and a new owner (again). They should be thankful for stable ownership, but wary of that five-year out clause rumoured to be in the Coyotes’ contract with the league.
3. Boston Bruins
You could say the Bruins’ tight salary cap actually helped them this off-season, as they only had about $3 million to offer restricted free agents Reilly Smith and Torey Krug. Both signed for easy $1.4-million, one-year contracts.
4. Buffalo Sabres
5. Calgary Flames
6. Carolina Hurricanes
New general manager Ron Francis will hopefully bring a new approach to building the Hurricanes – an approach that doesn’t include signing every former Toronto Maple Leaf castoff available.
7. Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are going to be Blackhawks for a long, long time, after signing their twin eight-year, $84-million contract extensions this summer. And the best part is those don’t kick in until next year, so the Blackhawks have one more season before they need to clear cap space to accommodate their superstars’ new contracts.
8. Colorado Avalanche
The young Avs added some great veteran talent in the off-season, including Jarome Iginla, Brad Stuart and Danny Briere. The team still belongs to Gabriel Landeskog and company, but Iginla, Stuart and Briere bring lots of experience that will help through the rough stretches in Colorado.
9. Columbus Blue Jackets
10. Dallas Stars
11. Detroit Red Wings
Head coach Mike Babcock is still in Detroit (for now).
12. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers finally drafted a forward with size in 6-foot-1, 210-pound centre Leon Draisaitl, their third overall pick in this year’s draft. Be thankful he’s there, but be concerned he’s the second-line center right now.
13. Florida Panthers
The Panthers went on another spending to spree to get to the cap floor, signing useful veterans like Dave Bolland and Willie Mitchell. Their Stanley Cup experience will be helpful in developing the Panthers’ next generation of young stars.
14. Los Angeles Kings
A Stanley Cup is great, but keeping almost everyone from that team for next year’s campaign? That’s something to be thankful for.
15. Minnesota Wild
Niklas Backstrom is healthy (or healthier, at least), and Thomas Vanek is finally in town. Vanek always wanted to go to Minnesota, and at last, we can all stop acting like he might’ve signed elsewhere.
16. Montreal Canadiens
The Habs took P.K. Subban to arbitration but figured out a long-term deal before the arbitrator’s decision. It’s probably best for both sides if they don’t negotiate again for a few years.
17. Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne is back and ready to carry the load in net, while new coach Peter Laviolette will show Predators fans what offense looks like.
18. New Jersey Devils
19. New York Islanders
Islanders’ management appears determined to avoid an embarrassing bottom-five finish this year. John Tavares is healthy and they’ve got a better goalie in Jaroslav Halak, plus they’ve added some talent up front (Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski) and on the back end (Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy).
20. New York Rangers
21. Ottawa Senators
After Jason Spezza spurned Ottawa and asked for a trade out of town, Sens fans can take comfort in Bobby Ryan’s recently-signed seven-year pact to remain with the team.
22. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers have a history of making dramatic off-season changes, so maybe fans should be thankful new general manager Ron Hextall stayed quiet for most of the summer. The only real headline-grabber was Claude Giroux, whose alleged run-in with Ottawa police provided Twitter with jokes for days.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins
You could point to new general manager Jim Rutherford or new coach Mike Johnston as the Pens’ best off-season moves, but the jury is still out on both. How about a healthy Sidney Crosby? That’s always worth giving thanks for.
24. San Jose Sharks
25. St. Louis Blues
It’s hard to complain about any of the Blues’ off-season moves. Ryan Miller wasn’t working, so be happy they let him go. Signing Paul Stastny was a good move, and Carl Gunnarsson will be a useful piece on the back end.
26. Tampa Bay Lightning
27. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs didn’t blow their brains out on a big-name, big-money free agent this summer. Apparently, they learned their lesson from the bust that has been David Clarkson. Also, did you hear the Leafs have an analytics department now?
28. Vancouver Canucks
New coach Willie Desjardins will bring renewed energy to the Canucks, who were obviously worn down and miserable under John Tortorella last year.
29. Washington Capitals
Barry Trotz brings a ton of experience and respectability to the Caps’ coaching spot. After a string of first-time NHL head coaches (the last guy with experience was Ron Wilson from 1997-2002), the Capitals will finally have a steady vet in charge.
30. Winnipeg Jets
‘Mr. Stand Pat,’ Kevin Cheveldayoff, didn’t trade Evander Kane just for the sake of trading him. Oh, and Kane was mostly a good boy on Twitter this summer.
Did I miss something? What are you most thankful for with your team? Add it to the comments below.