The Atlantic Division was a two-team race for second place last season, with everybody chasing the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Heading into this offseason, there was a clear hierarchy in the Atlantic. At the top were the Bruins, Maple Leafs, and Lightning. At the very bottom were the Senators, and in between was a mixture of the Sabres, Panthers, and Red Wings.
Now? Things are probably still the same, but the Bruins’ Atlantic friends sure were busy today. Let’s take a look.
(Transaction news comes from TSN and other sources)
Toronto Maple Leafs free agency recap
- Acquired defenseman Tyson Barrie, forward Alexander Kerfoot and a 6th-round pick from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Nazem Kadri, defenseman Calle Rosen and a 3rd-round pick
- Signed forward Nick Shore to a one-year contract
- Signed forward Kenny Agostino to a two-year contract
- Signed defenseman Kevin Gravel to a one-year contract
- Signed forward Jason Spezza to a one-year contract
- Acquired defenseman Cody Ceci (and signed him to a one-year contract), forward Aaron Luchuk, and defenseman Ben Harpur from Ottawa in exchange for defenseman Nikita Zaitsev and forward Connor Brown
The Leafs definitely got better over the past few days. Adding Tyson Barrie is pretty big, and Spezza could be a good cheap find.
Montreal Canadiens free agency recap
- Signed Carolina forward Sebastian Aho to a five-year offer sheet (lol)
- Signed forward Riley Barber to a one-year contract
- Signed goalie Keith Kinkaid to a one-year contract
- Signed defenseman Mike Reilly to a two-year contract
Ah, Montreal. The Aho offer sheet was bananas, mainly because they signed him to a deal that it’ll be easy for Carolina to match. They didn’t really get much better, unless the Hurricanes completely lose their minds.
The Habs did trade Andrew Shaw as well.
Buffalo Sabres free agency recap
- Signed defenseman John Gilmour to a one-year contract
- Signed forward Jean-Sebastien Dea to a one-year contract
- Signed forward Curtis Lazar to a one-year contract
- Signed goalie Andrew Hammond to a one-year contract
- Acquired defenseman Colin Miller from the Vegas Golden Knights
- Acquired forward Jimmy Vesey from the New York Rangers
Ol’ buddy Colin Miller will be good for the Sabres, and Jimmy Vesey was probably worth giving up a draft pick. Neither move makes the Sabres super dangerous, but re-signing Jeff Skinner was probably Buffalo’s big off-season move.
Detroit Red Wings free agency recap
- Signed goalie Calvin Pickard to a two-year contract
- Signed forward Valtteri Filppula to a two-year contract
- Signed defenseman Patrik Nemeth to a two-year contract
I didn’t know Filppula was still playing, but here he is! These moves aren’t major ones, and Detroit shouldn’t be making major strides in the Atlantic this season.
Ottawa Senators free agency recap
- See trade with Toronto above
- Signed forward Tyler Ennis to a one-year contract
- Signed forward Jordan Szwarz to a one-year contract
- Signed defenseman Ron Hainsey to a one-year contract
- Signed defenseman Cody Goloubef to a one-year contract
So, uh...the Senators seem to like their division rivals’ players, eh? Every player above played for either the Bruins or Leafs organizations last year. Ottawa should be bad again this season, but that’s kind of the point.
Tampa Bay Lightning free agency recap
- Signed forward Chris Mueller to a one-year contract
- Signed goalie Spencer Martin to a one-year contract
- Signed goalie Scott Wedgewood to a one-year contract
- Signed defenseman Luke Witkowski to a two-year contract
- Signed defenseman Luke Schenn to a one-year contract
- Signed goalie Curtis McElhinney to a two-year contract
The Bolts added a new back-up goalie in McElhinney, as Louis Domingue will no longer be with the club. Other than that, the two Luke’s are depth defensemen, with Anton Stralman heading across the state to the Panthers.
Nothing huge from Tampa here, but they’ll be just fine (as long as they get Brayden Point signed).
Florida Panthers free agency recap
- Signed defenseman Ethan Prow to a two-year contract
- Signed defenseman Tommy Cross to a two-year contract
- Signed Anton Stralman to a three-year contract
- Signed forward Noel Acciari to a three-year contract
- Signed forward Brett Connolly to a four-year contract
- Signed goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven-year contract
The big Atlantic movers and shakers! The Panthers undoubtedly got better, even if some of these contracts might look hideous in a couple years.
They have a franchise goalie now, and added a little reliability on the blueline in Stralman. Acciari should add some sandpaper, and if they get Washington Brett Connolly, they’ll have some more pop up front.
The Panthers have done this before, of course, and it didn’t work out. Maybe this time will be different.
Teams that got better
- Florida Panthers
- Toronto Maple Leafs
Teams that are about the same
- Boston Bruins
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Buffalo Sabres
Teams that should remain on the outside looking in
- Detroit Red Wings
- Ottawa Senators
Your thoughts? Are the Bruins a bit behind the eight-ball now, or do you think they’ll be in good shape again next season?