The Offseason “Losers” So Far Are ….

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Written by Greg Stamper, who can be found on twitter @g_stamp91.

In part one of this article (which can be found here) we took a look at some of the teams that were blessed with a solid offseason and deserved their title as winners.

It’s time to take a look and see which teams have had far less success and are deemed this year’s losers; some of which may surprise you.

Part 2: Losers

Washington Capitals

One thing is for certain, Washington tried.

Although the Capitals managed to sign the top defenseman available on this year’s market in Matt Niskanen, it’s widely believed that they massively overpaid in the process of doing so. For the time being, this deal should work in the Caps favour, but, near the end of the massive seven-year, $40.25 million deal when Niskanen still has a $5.75 million cap hit in his mid-30’s, it then might really come back to bite them.

Washington didn’t stop there though.

On top of Niskanen, the Caps also elected to sign his 33 year-old (34 when the season starts) teammate from Pittsburgh, defenseman Brooks Orpik, to a five-year, $27.5 million deal. This move quite simply is the reason for Washington making the loser section of this list; it is totally insane.

Losing Mikhail Grabovski and not replacing him didn’t help the Caps either.

The fact that the signing of back-up goaltender Justin Peters to a two-year, $1.9 million deal appears to be the best / least risky move the Caps made shows just how rough this offseason was.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks’ only move in free agency was the signing of enforcer John Scott for one-year, $700,000; need I say more?

For a team that was believed to be finally ready to shake things up after yet another disappointing playoff performance last season, all the Sharks have done is lose players. Dan Boyle is gone to the Rangers, Brad Stuart was dealt to the Avalanche and Martin Havlat was bought out.

The same core group of players remains intact. Will that change with a Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau trade?

That remains to be seen.

For now, this offseason has been a major bust for San Jose.

Boston Bruins

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has been one of the league’s better managers at working around the cap to add talent during both the offseason and at the trade deadline over the last few seasons, but, it appears he may have lost his touch.

After re-signing Patrice Bergeron to a very good value for a player of his talents (eight-years, $52 million), Chiarelli seemed to forget to free up money to be a player in this year’s free agency market.

The Bruins have added absolutely no-one this offseason and lost notable players Jarome Iginla, Shawn Thornton, Andrej Meszaros, and Chad Johnson to other teams.

With the current cap space siting at -$209,143 according to CapGeek.com, there is some serious work that needs to be done if Boston wants to replace the 30 goals that Iginla scored last season.

This has been a very weak offseason for one of the league’s best teams.

Detroit Red Wings

Coming into this offseason, with names like Dan Boyle and Matt Niskanen available as a free agent, and Mike Green and Tyler Myers possibly available in trades, there was common belief around hockey that the Wings would finally get the quality right-handed defenseman they had been so desperately seeking.

Well, so far none of that has come to be, with Myers likely staying put on a new look Buffalo squad and Green still in Washington.

Instead, the Wings only two offseason acquisitions of note were the re-signing’s of defenseman Kyle Quincey to a bloated two-year, $9 million deal and 35 year-old forward Danny Cleary for one-year at $1.5 million; both of which came with displeasure from Detroit fans.

Might Detroit’s management team finally have lost their abilities? First signing Stephen Weiss to a massive deal last year and now nobody this year; Detroit doesn’t seem like the UFA destination they once were.

30 Comments

  1. Alex

    July 23, 2014 at 11:43 am

    While I agree Detroit did not have a good offseason, I cannot completely call them losers.

    1) They got healthy. Dats and Hank say they both feel good and Weiss should be ready for the start of camp.

    2) They did not overpay for any of the free agents they were targeting. They lost out on Nisk, a guy who got paid off of one good season and had a lot of point on one of the best PP units in the league. Missed on Ehrhoff because he took a smaller deal to go where he wanted. Boyle went to play with St. Louis. You cannot say the wings lost out on guys because of personal decisions.

    3) You can’t say Detroit is losing their touch on bringing in key FAs. Last year they were classified as ‘winners’ bringing in Alfie and Weiss. While Weiss was hurt all season, I will give him this year before I call his contract a mistake.

    4) Cleary signing is a loyalty thing. Everyone says how loyal Detroit’s players are to the franchise. Ever think that’s because the franchise is loyal to them? Yeah it sucks, but he probably won’t even play.

    5) I truthfully think the Quincy signing was a bit of an over-payment so that they could make a deal with Buffalo for Meyers and they can still reach the cap floor. The young guys they want/have would not get them there and they probably have no interest in Weiss.

    6) Not signing any defense will allow some of these promising prospects to get a shot which needs to happen. The youth movement seems to be in full swing which is awesome.

  2. Austin

    July 23, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I completely agree with Alex. Though the Wings were technically offseason losers, since they didn’t sign anyone even with holes to fill. It was a smart and conservative off season that may pay off long run.

  3. Alex

    July 23, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Also, you even said above Nisk was an over-payment. So what could Detroit have done that would make the be considered not losers?

  4. GaryMagic

    July 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Yeah if WSH is a loser for overpaying for Niskanen, how does that make the Wings losers for missing out in his big contract. Sure we didn’t make any moves, but we didn’t commit to bad ones like other teams. I wouldn’t say we regressed at all, just stayed pat, minus the Quincey raise

  5. kckrebs

    July 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Capitals were the clear losers. However I don’t mind the Niskanen deal. It might be a slight overpay right now but after a few years when he’s still plugged into their top 4 the deal will likely look pretty good. The caps just really screwed the pooch signing Brooks Orpik. That is a horrible deal for a mediocre at best defensman and that contract will hurt immediately.

  6. Mark Easson

    July 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Not my piece, but my thought would be that the Wings tried to sign and held trade talks about multiple defensemen and weren’t able to land any of them.

    They offered more for Boyle and reportedly would have offered similar for Niskanen.

    What makes them stand out IMO is that there was lots of talk/rumors about them wanting to add a top 4 Dman and top 6 winger … So far they they’ve done neither.

    The “losers” part of the title was my suggestion, “unsuccessful” may have been a better choice of words for the Red Wings.

  7. Greg Stamper

    July 23, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Completely agree with you Mark, it just seems like they should have done more from all the talk.

    I guess what they could have done, Alex, would be getting him for a shorter term. I don’t know, something about Niskanen and 7 years just doesn’t sit well with me.

  8. kckrebs

    July 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Realisticly signing anyone in free agency to 7 year deal should make you worry a bit. But its still a case by case thing. Niskanen is 27 and coming off a career year. He will be a top pairing defensman in Washington. He deserves every penny and every year of that contract. When his contract is up he will be only 1 year older than Brooks Orpik is right now, 34 years old. Do I need to remind you that Brooks just signed a 5 year deal? There are many worse contracts signed by guys 5 years or more older than Niskanen year in and year out. So please just stop saying the Niskanen deal was bad because its just not.

  9. Alex

    July 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Yes there was a lot of talk about a trade but at what price? Losing Tatar, Nyquist, Jurco, or Mantha would hurt up front in the near future, say 3 years when Pav retires.

    I could see Tatar, a d prospect and a 2nd for Meyers but wouldn’t go any higher than that. There are a few right handed shots in the minors that don’t have the experience as Meyers but his game has declined. They should just dump Quincey, Kindl, and Lashoff; then promote Marchenko, Sproul, and Ouellet. All of those 3 I think will be better than Niskanen within 4 years of his contract making it look even better that they did not sign him.

  10. John

    July 23, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    This off season is gonna come back and bite Detroit hard this year. They did nothing to replace the free agents they let walk and they virtually have no depth now that the young guys will all be playing in the show. Sophomore slumps for everyone and the Wings miss the playoffs. Not to mention Jimmy Howard is the most overrated goalie in the league.

  11. Jerry

    July 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    In regards to the Bruins, the only real loss out of that group was Iggy. Losing Thorty’s leadership will hurt, but he was a 4th line player with limited minutes and would spend a lot of 3rd periods on the bench – that said, he was still a great addition to this team while he was here.

    Meszy got limited play time after being acquired, and with as deep as they are on D right now he won’t be missed.

    Ocho Jojo was an amazing backstop to Tuukka. I’m actually sad to see him go, but I’m glad he’s going someplace where he has the chance to play for the starting role. Sveds will be a good backup, and will help bide time until Subban is ready to backup Rask.

    That said, I do agree that they are one of the losers in this offseason. Chia has been great, but it feels like he did drop the ball this offseason. But, they have depth in Providence and some of the kids should get a serious shot at making the team this year. Move Loui up to the first line, and have a tryout for Spooner and Koko on the 3rd line and see which one cracks the lineup.

  12. Butch Brune

    July 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Should have replace Detroit with Edmonton just for the Pouliot contract… What were they needing in Edmonton? Oh Yeah, character and leadership for role modeling their young guns… Not sure overpaying Mister Underachiever is the way to go!

  13. Alex

    July 23, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    @John what FAs did they let walk? Nyquist is technically in his 3rd year so he beat the sophomore slump. Jurco and Sheahan didn’t even play full seasons so can they really count as sophomores? As for Tatar I think he is a career 20 goal scorer, will probably have years at 15 and some around 25. While I am a big Howard hater, there is noway in hell he can possibly play as bad as he did last year, and if he does Mrazek is just hanging out in GR. He style reminds me of Quick.

  14. John

    July 23, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Granted they didn’t do much, letting role players like Bertuzzi, Tootoo and Samuelsson walk is damaging to a bottom six. In my opinion the only thing that has kept Detroit from bring successful in recent years is grit in the bottom six and they have no one to fill that. Alfie will most likely retire so there’s another top six spot open. They gave up their best center prospect and a second round draft pick in Calle Jarnkrok for David Legwand. There’s an opening on the third line. That’s a lot of pressure for all these young guys to come in and be expected to perform high end night after night in a market like Detroit. I just see too many holes in my eyes

  15. John

    July 23, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Best center prospect in Calle Jarnkrok **** hard typing on this phone ha

  16. Alex

    July 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Yes they lost him but Tootoo spent the season in GR and Sammy never played. When Bert played it was painful. Where is the opening on the third line?

    Hank-Pav-Abby/Mantha
    Franzen-Weiss-Nyquist
    Tatar-Sheahan-Jurco
    Abby/Miller-Helm-Cleary/Anderson/Glendenning

  17. John

    July 23, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    You got me there. You can’t argue against not having grit though. That’s 3 lines that can score and the 4th could be a 3rd on any other team. Motown better hope the younglings are all the real deal

  18. Alex

    July 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I do agree that they did lose some grit, but the game is becoming a speed game and they have a lot of speed on this team. Last year proved that having a third goal scoring line can lead an injured battered team into the playoffs, ie the kid line vs whoever

  19. Kevin

    July 23, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Detroit was a loser this off season!! You can tell by reading the comments you guys are Detroit fans.. Your opinions are so bias. Detroit did nothing, their stars got older and slower, they didn’t address the defence, and they need a goalie. That sounds like losers to me!! Wake up and give your heads a shake!!!!

  20. Alex

    July 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I am a wings fan, but who should they have signed to make them winners? Nobody was worth it this year.

  21. kckrebs

    July 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Alex they lost out on several guys that chose to go to different teams. If Niskanen would have signed you would have been thrilled. If Boyle would have signed he would’ve been just the guy you needed. Don’t pretend like there weren’t upgrades just because none of them wanted to play in Detroit, probably because of the current state of the arena. I understand the Joe is plum full of history, but facility wise its one of the worst in the league ..sorry

  22. Shane

    July 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I don’t think free agency is a reliable way to improve your team… most times, you just end up overpaying for a piece you thought you needed.

  23. chris

    July 23, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I remember reading tweets just after the Matt Niskanen signing to Washington that Detroit had offered him more money on the same 7-year deal, but he followed both Brooks Orpik and Todd Reirden (his positional coach from Pittsburgh) to DC.

    Being a Capitals fan, both the Niskanen and Orpik contracts are terrible. The signing of the players is good, but there is no way Orpik is as good now (which is a shell of what he was 5 years ago hoisting the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh) when he’s 37 or 38 finishing out that contract. They are also banking on Niskanen to produce top 4 numbers when he feasted on favorable competition last year in Pittsburgh and to do so consistently for the next seven years. All they needed to do was look in-house to see how fast a train can get derailed which an injury or two (Mike Green).

    Those two signings handcuffed them in their inability to add depth up the middle of their lineup – which is where every single legitimate cup contender has strength (LA, Chicago, St. Louis, Anaheim, Dallas, Colorado, Detroit, Boston, etc).

    Huge question marks on their roster at the 2C and 3C positions. Not impressed with the start to the GMBM era.

  24. Ernie

    July 23, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Sorry, but its a pet peeve of mine to get the spelling a player’s name wrong… especially one of JAROME Iginla’s ilk.

  25. ChrisB

    July 23, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    The Wings may be FA losers, but I don’t think too many Wings fans will lose sleep over losing out. IMO, 99% of the fanbase knows this team isn’t a cup contender and is eager to see more of the kids getting a chance to define their roles. They’re sick of annually icing one the oldest teams for the same mediocre results.

    I don’t think alot of the fanbase has come to the reality that Detroit just isn’t the huge draw they once were, and there are alot of other teams that have passed them in that regard with more to offer UFA’s besides money.

  26. bri

    July 23, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    The Leafs were big losers. Kulemin, Raymond, Bolland all signed big contracts with other teams. Washington is not a loser. Their team is better.

  27. Pierre

    July 24, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Brooks Orpik is not 35.. He’s 33.

  28. Alex

    July 24, 2014 at 7:22 am

    I agree with Chris. Now in 3 years, this could be a whole different story about the wings and contending. I also think Bobby Ryan would look good in a Wings jersey next year.

    And I agree with bri that the Leafs are bigger losers than the Caps. The caps got better but could be regretting it a bit in a couple years.

  29. ChrisB

    July 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Not sure about Washington myself. It says that Orpik’s contract is the reason they’re on the list, so basicallyl, they’d be losers with or without him because without Orpik, Niskanen probably doesn’t sign either. Niskanen was getting married and never had a chance to see the city or talk personally with Washington. Orpik did, and relayed all the info to Niskanen.

    Personally, I’m not writing them both off yet. Trotz is coaching and Reirdon, who coached the defense in Pittsburgh, got snatched up after the Pens regime change. While their contracts aren’t ideal, I’d have to think, considering what the Caps lacked, that they would help more than they would hurt. Caps not replacing Grabovski, IMO, could bite them in the ass more than Niskanen and Orpik would.

  30. chris

    July 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

    The Capitals didn’t get better, they were a pretty bad team defensively last year and they signed two defensemen. In doing so they neglected the forward position, which had been a strength of their team in past years.

    They lack a true first line winger to play opposite Alex Ovechkin with Nicklas Backstrom. They have no second line center. They have no third line center. I’m not seeing how that is a better team than last season.

    The only part that is better is the coaching staff. They are a playoff team with the exact same lineup as last year with Trotz and Co. steering the ship.