NHL offseason grades: Atlantic Division

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Divisions: Metropolitan | Central | Pacific | Atlantic

With the NHL offseason all but wrapped up, we're handing out comprehensive grades for all 32 teams. The four-part series concludes with an in-depth look at each Atlantic Division club.

Some contract figures are reported. Most players on two-way deals have been omitted.

Boston Bruins

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Nick Foligno F 2 years $3.8M
Erik Haula F 2 years $2.375M
Tomas Nosek F 2 years $1.75M
Derek Forbort D 3 years $3M
Linus Ullmark G 4 years $5M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
David Krejci F Playing overseas
Sean Kuraly F Signed with CLB
Jeremy Lauzon D Expansion draft
Kevan Miller D Retired
Tuukka Rask G Unsigned
Jaroslav Halak G Signed with VAN

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Taylor Hall F 4 years $6M
Trent Frederic F 2 years $1.05M
Brandon Carlo D 6 years $4.1M
Mike Reilly D 3 years $3M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Jack Studnicka F 2nd Round (2017)
Urho Vaakanainen D 1st Round (2017)
Jeremy Swayman G 4th Round (2017)

The end of an era in Boston? Franchise pillars Krejci and Rask aren't with the team anymore, although it wouldn't be shocking if the latter re-signed in due time.

Krejci is clearly the bigger loss, though. Ullmark, who posted stellar numbers on some awful Sabres teams, should do just fine behind a perennially strong defensive club. However, Charlie Coyle, who tallied only 16 points over 51 games last year, has big shoes to fill to replace Krejci as the No. 2 center. Secondary scoring has always been a question mark for the Bruins, but perhaps never more so than now.

Veterans such as Foligno, Haula, Nosek, and Forbort should prove to be fine additions in supporting roles.

Replacing two cornerstones is never easy, but general manager Don Sweeney did some decent work this offseason - most notably re-signing Hall and Reilly for well below market value.

Grade: B-

Buffalo Sabres

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Vinnie Hinostroza F 1 year $1.05M
Mark Pysyk D/F 1 year $900K
Will Butcher D 1 year $2.83M
Robert Hagg D 1 year $1.6M
Craig Anderson G 1 year $750K
Aaron Dell G 1 year $750K

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Sam Reinhart F Traded to FLA
Rasmus Ristolainen D Traded to PHI
Jake McCabe D Signed with CHI
Will Borgen D Expansion draft
Linus Ullmark G Signed with BOS

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Casey Mittelstadt F 3 years $2.5M
Rasmus Asplund F 2 years $825K
Drake Caggiula F 1 year $750K
Henri Jokiharju D 3 years $2.5M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Jack Quinn F 1st Round (2020)
John-Jason Peterka F 2nd Round (2020)
Arttu Ruotsalainen F Undrafted
Owen Power D 1st Round (2021)
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen G 2nd Round (2017)

If the Sabres' goal is to tank this year and put themselves into the Fight for (Shane) Wright - the consensus top prospect in the upcoming draft - then, bravo. However, the Arizona Coyotes have a case for icing a worse roster.

Of course, this offseason can be viewed as nothing but incomplete until the Jack Eichel saga is settled. Keeping him is a major distraction, but GM Kevyn Adams is smart to wait until his asking price is met instead of accepting the best offer.

Adams did well in getting a surprisingly strong return for Ristolainen, but the package for Reinhart was underwhelming. Losing Ullmark and McCabe for nothing also stings.

It's slightly disappointing that Power, the 2021 No. 1 overall pick, will play another season at Michigan instead of turning pro, but that might be best for his development. He could still join the Sabres after his NCAA campaign finishes.

Grade: D

Detroit Red Wings

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Pius Suter F 2 years $3.25M
Carter Rowney F 1 year $825K
Mitchell Stephens F 1 year $738K
Nick Leddy D 1 year $5.5M
Jordan Oesterle D 1 year $1.35M
Alex Nedeljkovic G 2 years $3M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Frans Nielsen F Bought out
Luke Glendening F Signed with DAL
Dennis Cholowski D Expansion draft

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Adam Erne F 2 years $2.1M
Jakub Vrana F 3 years $5.25M
Tyler Bertuzzi F 2 years $4.75M
Sam Gagner F 1 year $850K
Michael Rasmussen F 3 years $1.46M
Filip Hronek D 3 years $4.4M
Marc Staal D 1 year $2M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Lucas Raymond F Round 1 (2020)
Joe Veleno F Round 1 (2018)
Moritz Seider D Round 1 (2019)
Jared McIssac D Round 2 (2018)
Wyatt Newpower D Undrafted

Steve Yzerman made a few savvy moves and didn't lose anyone of significance as his slow rebuild of the Red Wings continued.

Suter and Nedeljkovic, specifically, were excellent additions. Both players are only 25, so they could potentially stick in Detroit once the club is ready to contend. The price for acquiring them was minimal, too. Suter was a free agent, and "Ned" only cost the team a third-round pick.

The Red Wings still have a ways to go, but Yzerman has his franchise on the right track.

Grade: B+

Florida Panthers

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Sam Reinhart F 3 years $6.5M
Joe Thornton F 1 year $750K
Noah Juulsen D 1 year $750K

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Alexander Wennberg F Signed with SEA
Keith Yandle D Bought out
Anton Stralman D Traded to ARI
Chris Driedger G Expansion draft

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Sam Bennett F 4 years $4.425M
Anthony Duclair F 3 years $3M
Carter Verhaeghe* F 3 years $4.17M
Juho Lammikko F 1 year $750K
Brandon Montour D 3 years $3.5M
Gustav Forsling D 3 years $2.67M

*extension beginning in 2022-23

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Anton Lundell F Round 1 (2020)
Grigori Denisenko F Round 1 (2018)
Aleksi Heponiemi F Round 2 (2017)
Matt Kiersted D Undrafted
Spencer Knight G Round 1 (2019)

The Panthers had a clear offseason priority: keep the gang together. GM Bill Zito managed to do that by clearing cap space in the form of the Yandle buyout, Stralman trade, and allowing Wennberg and Driedger to walk.

The departures also created enough flexibility to add a much-needed top-six winger in Reinhart. Zito only gave up a first-round pick and a middling prospect to pluck the former Sabres winger and then signed him to a very reasonable contract.

This team still has question marks regarding the defense core and goaltending duo of veteran Sergei Bobrovsky and rookie Spencer Knight, but the Cats should still be an improved squad. The only thing preventing Zito from earning a higher grade is failing to get an Aleksander Barkov extension done.

Grade: B

Montreal Canadiens

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Christian Dvorak F 4 years $4.45M
Mike Hoffman F 3 years $4.5M
Cedric Paquette F 1 year $950K
Mathieu Perreault F 1 year $950K
David Savard D 4 years $3.5M
Chris Wideman D 1 year $750K

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Jesperi Kotkaniemi F Signed with CAR
Phillip Danault F Signed with LA
Tomas Tatar F Signed with NJ
Corey Perry F Signed with TB
Cale Fleury D Expansion draft

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Ryan Poehling F 2 years $750K
Artturi Lehkonen F 1 year $2.3M
Joel Armia F 4 years $3.4M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Cole Caufield F 1st Round (2019)
Jesse Ylonen F 2nd Round (2018)
Josh Brook D 2nd Round (2017)
Cayden Primeau G 7th Round (2017)

GM Marc Bergevin did a lot of good this offseason. Despite captain Shea Weber's long-term injuries leaving an enormous hole on the back end, the Habs brought in Savard - who will be a seamless fit - on a fair deal, considering what defensemen went for in free agency.

Bergevin also made the tough but smart decision not to match the Kotkaniemi offer sheet. Instead, he used those picks to acquire Dvorak, who, although older with less upside, is currently a better player on a better contract.

It wasn't all sunshine and roses for the Canadiens, though. Hoffman possesses a lethal shot and will help the power play, but he's very one-dimensional. It wouldn't be shocking if he ends up spending most of his time on the fourth line.

Of course, you can't discuss Montreal's offseason without mentioning the inexplicable decision to draft Logan Mailloux in the first round. That alone results in a full grade drop.

Grade: D+

Ottawa Senators

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Tyler Ennis F PTO N/A
Michael Del Zotto D 2 years $2M
Nick Holden D 1 year $1.7M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Evgenii Dadonov F Traded to VGK
Joey Daccord G Expansion draft

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Drake Batherson F 6 years $4.975M
Victor Mete D 1 year $1.2M
Artem Zub D 2 years $2.5M
Filip Gustavsson G 2 years $788K
Anton Forsberg G 1 year $900K

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Shane Pinto F Round 2 (2019)

Ottawa had a pretty underwhelming offseason for a team nearing the end of its rebuild and hoping to take the next step this year. The Senators have $24.5 million in cap space - and yes, Brady Tkachuk still needs a new contract - but their big offseason additions were Del Zotto and Holden?

The Sens are a small-market team and can have difficulty luring high-profile players, but it feels like GM Pierre Dorion could've done more to improve his club. Instead, he'll bank on the internal development of his young squad. Yes, the young core is very promising, but it surely could've benefited from adding an established veteran who can still play at a high level - ideally a center or defenseman.

Remember this quote from owner Eugene Melnyk in February 2019?

"The Senators will be all-in again for a five-year run of unparalleled success - where the team will plan to spend close to the NHL's salary cap every year from 2021 to 2025," he said.

It's safe to say Melnyk has failed to deliver on his promise thus far.

Grade: C-

Tampa Bay Lightning

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Corey Perry F 2 years $1M
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare F 2 years $1M
Zach Bogosian D 3 years $850K
Brian Elliott G 1 year $900K

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Yanni Gourde F Expansion draft
Blake Coleman F Signed with CGY
Barclay Goodrow F Traded to NYR
Tyler Johnson F Traded to CHI
Mitchell Stephens F Traded to DET
David Savard D Signed with MTL
Curtis McElhinney G Unsigned

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Brayden Point* F 8 years $9.5M
Ross Colton F 2 years $1.125M
Alex Barre-Boulet F 3 years $758K
Taylor Raddysh F 3 years $758K
Boris Katchouk F 3 years $758K
Cal Foote D 2 years $850K

*extension beginning in 2022-23

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Alex Barre-Boulet F Undrafted
Taylor Raddysh F 2nd Round (2016)
Boris Katchouk F 2nd Round (2016)

The defending champs were inevitably going to lose some key pieces this offseason. Coleman and Goodrow were due for big pay raises, and they weren't going to get them in Tampa Bay. Plus, Nikita Kucherov's contract coming back on the books meant a couple of others would have to go. Gourde being taken in expansion and Johnson getting shipped to Chicago helped solve those cap issues.

Few NHL teams could lose four quality forwards and replace them with next to no cap space like the Lightning did. Bellemare is a solid fourth-line center, and Perry has shown that he still has some game left. Plus, the organization's incredible farm system continues to bear fruit: Barre-Boulet, Raddysh, and Katchouk appear ready for regular jobs, and Ross Colton and Mathieu Joseph should excel in 2021-22 with more responsibility.

GM Julien BriseBois was dealt a difficult hand this offseason, but he's put the Bolts in the best position possible to take a run at a third straight Stanley Cup.

Grade: A-

Toronto Maple Leafs

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Nick Ritchie F 2 years $2.5M
David Kampf F 2 years $1.5M
Ondrej Kase F 1 year $1.25M
Michael Bunting F 2 years $950K
Kurtis Gabriel F 1 year $750K
Josh Ho-Sang F PTO N/A
Nikita Gusev F PTO N/A
Carl Dahlstrom D 1 year $750K
Alex Biega D 1 year $750K
Petr Mrazek G 3 years $3.8M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Zach Hyman F Signed with EDM
Nick Foligno F Signed with BOS
Joe Thornton F Signed with FLA
Jared McCann F Expansion draft
Zach Bogosian D Signed with TB
Frederik Andersen G Signed with CAR

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Wayne Simmonds F 2 years $900K
Jason Spezza F 1 year $750K
Travis Dermott D 2 years $1.5M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Nick Robertson F 2nd Round (2019)
Timothy Liljegren D 1st Round (2017)

Many thought a fifth straight opening-round exit would cause a massive shakeup in Leafland, but GM Kyle Dubas is sticking to his plan and keeping the Core Four together.

The strategy of paying four forwards half of the salary cap hasn't yielded playoff success yet, and it remains to be seen whether it can work at all. The Maple Leafs' forward depth could once again be an issue this coming season.

However, letting Zach Hyman walk was definitely the right call considering the massive contract he signed with the Oilers. Instead, Dubas opted to take a handful of low-risk, high-reward fliers on wingers like Ritchie, Kase, and Bunting. If two of them pan out, that's a win.

For the first time in nearly two decades, Toronto's defense was a strength of the team last season. The Leafs will miss Bogosian's physical presence, but this unit should remain effective - especially if 21-year-old Rasmus Sandin makes strides.

Failing to get an extension done with Morgan Rielly is concerning, though. It's too late to trade the 2022 pending UFA, and Dubas can't allow him to walk for free. One way or another, it would've been ideal to have Rielly's future resolved early in the offseason.

Grade: C

(Salary source: Cap Friendly)

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NHL offseason grades: Atlantic Division
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