The 2017-18 season is taking shape and we’re starting to have a feel of which teams will be playing in May and which teams will be looking at what to do to improve their fortunes next season. We are also seeing the impacts of fresh faces, acquired via trades and free agency, on their new teams. It’s getting clearer who made the right moves in the offseason. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how a few of the most notable offseason moves are playing out so far.
Flyers trade Brayden Schenn to St. Louis for Jori Lehtera and two first-round picks
This is more a move for the future for the Flyers, as the trade actually breaks down to a first round pick for Schenn and another first-round pick to take on the contract of Lehtera. But how well Schenn has played can’t be ignored, and you have to wonder if Schenn would provide any help to a struggling Flyers team. In 27 games, the 26-year-old has posted 34 points – good for 10th in the league. Of those 34 points, just nine of them are with the man advantage. It’s a stark contrast from the player Schenn was with the Flyers, where he notched almost all his points on the power play and struggled mightily at even strength.
On the other end, the Flyers have gotten the player they knew they were getting in Jori Lehtera – a 13th forward that doesn’t make much impact when he’s on the ice. Where the trade is panning out for the Flyers is the addition of Morgan Frost via St. Louis’ 2017 first-round pick. Playing with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL, the 18-year-old Frost has been on a tear, tallying 44 points in 28 games, and establishing himself as one of the Flyers best forward prospects. The Flyers will also receive the Blues 2018 first-round pick, which figures to be late in the first round, judging by how well St. Louis has performed so far.
Canadiens trade Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa Bay for Jonathan Drouin and a second-round pick
In what turned out to be the biggest blockbuster of the NHL offseason, the Canadiens shipped off their top prospect in defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and a 2018 second-round pick to the Lightning for former third overall pick Jonathan Drouin, who had been unhappy in Tampa Bay, and a conditional 2018 sixth-round pick.
Drouin started his tenure in Montreal with 17 points in 25 games to help the Canadiens escape a poor start to the 2017-18 season. The Habs now sit just above .500 at 13-12-3, but Drouin has recently missed a handful of games with a lower-body injury. Before his absence, Drouin had just started to get on a bit of a roll, posting two goals and two assists in three games to break his second eight-game streak without a goal.
For Tampa Bay, who is riding high atop the league, Sergachev has played a large part in their success and is showing why he was one of the NHL’s best prospects before making the jump to the NHL. Offensively, the 19-year-old has already potted six goals (four of them game-winners) to go along with 13 assists, which ranks him tenth in points by a defenseman. But the ninth overall pick in 2016 has also held his own defensively, sitting at a plus-seven rating while the Lightning, as a team, have allowed the fourth-fewest goals in the league with 66.
Stars sign Alexander Radulov and trade for and sign Ben Bishop
Crowned the winners of the NHL offseason, the Stars seemed to be gearing up for Stanley Cup contention in 2018 after a disappointing 2016-17 campaign where they missed out on the playoffs and finished with their lowest point total (79) since 1995-96. Along with bringing back Ken Hitchcock to man the bench, Dallas also made some huge moves to help them on the ice. The Stars signed perhaps the most coveted forward in free agency in Alexander Radulov and traded for Ben Bishop in an attempt to end their struggles between the pipes.
Through the first quarter of the season, both moves have worked out well for the Stars, helping them to a 16-10-1 record in a tough Western Conference.
Sliding into the right wing spot on the Stars’ top line with center Tyler Seguin and left winger Jamie Benn, Radulov has fit in nicely with his new linemates and currently sits second on the team in points with 25 (nine goals, 16 assists). The 31-year-old winger has also made his presence felt on the Stars’ top power play unit, where he shares the team lead in power play points (9) with Benn and has helped Dallas’ power play to a 14th-ranked 20.0% success rate.
Filling their biggest weakness in recent years, Bishop, who was acquired back in May and signed to a six-year deal, has been up-and-down as the number one goaltender. He got off to a strong start, recording a shutout against the Vegas Golden Knights on opening night before he had to be pulled with an injury. Bishop returned a few days later and earned his first win, holding the Red Wings to two goals. Bishop then went on to hold teams to just one goal twice over his next three starts. The 31-year-old goaltender put together a string of sub-par performances in the next few weeks that followed, including allowing a combined 11 goals in back-to-back starts in mid-November. However, the veteran goaltender has regained his form since, posting a 6-2 record while notching two shutouts (one in relief of Kari Lehtonen) and has won four of his last five starts.
Coyotes trade Anthony DeAngelo and a 2017 first-round pick to the New York Rangers for Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta
In a move to help speed up their rebuild, the Coyotes traded their top defensive prospect Anthony DeAngelo for a veteran number-one center and a new starting goaltender to replace Mike Smith. In a poor start to the season that began with 11 straight losses, Derek Stepan struggled early on and went nine straight games without a point in early November. However, he has recently started to pick up points, registering 11 in the last 13 games.
As for Raanta, his tenure in Arizona has been filled with injury and inconsistency. After a 40-save performance in a loss to Vegas back on Oct. 7, Raanta allowed three goals on five shots in his next start before being pulled. He was injured in his next start. Raanta sat out for almost a month before returning to the Arizona net and registering his first win – a 36-save performance in his second game back.
The injury bug would strike Raanta once again, as he took a hit to the head in a game against the Sharks on Nov. 22 and has not played since. Before being injured, Raanta made 90 saves during a three-game win streak by the Coyotes, and the team looked to finally be putting it together. Without Raanta, Arizona has gone 2-4-1 and, to make matters worse, it is still unknown when he will return.
For New York, DeAngelo hasn’t made much of an impact, tallying one point and a minus-four rating in eight games with the Rangers before being sent down to the AHL Hartford WolfPack, where DeAngelo has three points and a minus-six rating in 13 games.
The Rangers also received the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft in the trade, which they used on forward Lias Andersson. The 19-year-old from Sweden has spent time with Frolunda HC and the Sweden U20 team, posting 13 points in 21 games on a loan with Frolunda and four points in five games with Sweden’s junior team.
Blackhawks trade Artemi Panarin to Columbus for Brandon Saad
After trading Brandon Saad to Columbus just two years ago, Chicago brought back Saad, who was part of their two Stanley Cup teams in 2013 and 2015. In exchange for Saad, as well as goaltender Anton Forsberg, and a 2018 fifth-round pick, the Blackhawks shipped off 2016 Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin and forward Tyler Motte, along with a 2017 sixth-round pick.
For Chicago, the return of Saad brought a more physical presence than that of Panarin. Saad started off his second tenure with Chicago with a bang, netting three goals in a 10-1 rout of Pittsburgh on opening night. Since then, Saad has tallied seven more goals and added four assists.
Forsberg has taken on the backup role behind Corey Crawford. However, Forsberg has just one win in his first nine starts, going 1-4-3 with a 3.33 goals against average.
Meanwhile, in Columbus, Panarin and the Blue Jackets are riding high.
Columbus holds the top spot in the Metropolitan division, and Panarin’s 20 points lead the team. While 20 points doesn’t seem like much, Panarin is doing more than his fair share on a team that wins with great defense and goaltending.
The 22-year-old Tyler Motte has yet to make a big impact in Columbus. He has four points in 16 games.