The 7 NHL offseason moves that I hate
We already looked at the best offseason moves that I think have a real chance at working out, so now it’s time to look at the moves that I hated.
Maybe some of these will work out, but I have my doubts and initial problems with them.
1. Pittsburgh gives Tristan Jarry five years
As the offseason started to get closer it seemed more and more likely that Tristan Jarry was going to be returning to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And then he did on a five-year contract that will pay him more than $5.3 million against the salary cap each year. It was one of the most eye-opening deals on the first day of the signing period.
In some ways I do get it.
Jarry probably was the best free agent goalie available, which speaks volumes as to how bad the free agent market actually was and how limited the options were.
When he is healthy, he has shown the ability to at least be an above average NHL starter and does have two All-Star game appearances on his resume. That is worth something.
It did not require any trade assets to get him like a trade for a true top-tier goalie (Connor Hellebuyck, Juuse Saros) would have.
There is also a chance Jarry stays healthy, plays to his potential, and gives the Penguins a solid starter for the next few years that can get them into the playoffs and maybe give them a fighting chance. Sometimes goalie performance is unpredictable and the guys you least expect put it all together at the right time. The potential for all of that is definitely there.
We have even seen flashes of it at times over the past four years.
We just haven’t seen it consistently or often enough.
On a short-term “prove it” deal I could have even been easily talked into his return given the points mentioned above. Especially if it was accompanied by a more trustworthy backup that could either push him for playing time or be a better safety net in the event Jarry is injured again or simply does not play well.
But the Penguins didn’t do any of that.
They well all in on committing to Jarry to be their starter for the next five years, and don’t really have a decent Plan B in place. It all just seems like an absolutely gigantic risk given everything we know and have seen.
While it hasn’t been the only issue for the Penguins, goaltending has been one of the single biggest flaws this team has had and it has played a massive role in their past two first round playoff exits against the New York Islanders and New York Rangers. And they keep bringing the same duo of Jarry and Casey DeSmith back to try and fix it.
I know they added a couple of other free agents in Alex Nedelkjovic and Magnus Hellberg to push DeSmith for the backup role, but there is no reason to be sold on either of them as upgrades.
I have no problem with keeping the core of the roster together, and even though I might have taken a different approach in terms of overhauling the bottom-six and defense I can at least see the vision they have for those spots. But the goaltending thing? It continues to baffle me and I do not know how this is going to work.
Goaltending was the one blind spot Kyle Dubas seemed to have in Toronto and his early work in Pittsburgh is giving off similar vibes.
2. Ryan Reaves to Toronto
I actually like a lot of what Toronto did this offseason, at least in terms of adding Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi on low-risk one-year deals.
Even though it goes against the popular narrative surrounding the Maple Leafs, their biggest need this offseason was adding more offense to help balance out the lineup and complement their core players at the top. The offense was non-existent in the playoffs and the bottom-six was a blackhole for offense during the regular season.
Bertuzzi and Domi should help fix some of that.
The one move that makes zero sense to me was not only the signing of Reaves, but the fact they signed him to a three-year contract worth over $1 million per year.
It’s not a cap-crushing deal by any stretch of the imagination, but it is completely unnecessary.
Reaves has been a better player than he gets credit for being throughout his career, but he’s also not terribly effective in any one area. He has some good speed, he scores some goals, and he is more than just a heavyweight fighter. But if you are expecting him to be anything more than just a passable fourth-liner you are expecting too much at this point.
There were 382 forwards that logged at least 500 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time a year ago and he finished with the following rankings in some major categories:
Expected goal share: 280th
Scoring chance share: 322nd
High-danger scoring chance share: 254th
Goals scored per 60 minutes: 310th
Points per 60 minutes: 291st
You could definitely do worse. But you could also easily do better with that spot. And that level of production does not even take into account the fact the Maple Leafs signed a 36-year-old forward coming off of that performance to a three-year contract.
For a team that is consistently pushed to the upper limits of the league’s salary cap that extra $1 million is very important. Those little mistakes can quickly add up into big mistakes when you are sitting there trying to figure out why you don’t have enough salary cap space to add a player that could actually make you significantly better.
3. Columbus hiring Mike Babcock
I honestly do not understand anything about Columbus’ direction this offseason, and the hiring of Babcock is the most baffling aspect of it all.
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