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A look around the Central Division after the free agent frenzy

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We know what the Predators did—what have their division rivals been up to?

NHL: FEB 23 Avalanche at Predators Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The dust is settling (apart from the mystery of Jake Gardiner), and the Nashville Predators have—finally, after over three years—landed Matt Duchene, the One That Kept Getting Away.

Time to take a quick look around the division and see who made what moves yesterday.

Chicago Blackhawks

Non-Rentals Out:

  • None

In:

  • Ryan Carpenter, $1M x 3 years
  • Robin Lehner, $5M x 1 year

Instant reaction:

Signing the 27-year-old Lehner is a fantastic move on Bowman’s part. The Blackhawks suffered badly last season from not having a capable backup for Corey Crawford, who’s struggled with the aftereffects of concussions over the last couple of seasons. Both Crawford and Lehner come off the books at the end of next season, so it’s not a long-term commitment to having $11M tied up in goalies—and even if it were, we don’t blink at a team tying $11M up in a single skater if that skater is good enough. It’s fantastic for both the Hawks and Crawford to not have to weigh his long-term health against their hockey season.

The Shaw trade is weird and silly, but technically that happened on June 30th. Still, if they want to re-create the 2015 roster, they’re going to need to find Marián Hossa an allergy cure and wind back the clock on most of the core.

Overall Bowman has made some very solid moves over the last week, Shaw nostalgia notwithstanding. It was a nice two years not having to hear about the Blackhawks, but that vacation might be over.

Colorado Avalanche

Non-Rentals Out:

  • Tyson Barrie [by trade with TOR]
  • Alex Kerfoot [by trade with TOR]
  • Patrik Nemeth
  • Semyon Varlamov

In:

  • Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, $1.8M x 2 years
  • Joonas Donskoi, $3.9M x 4 years
  • Nazem Kadri [by trade with TOR]
  • Daniel Renouf, $700K x 2 years
  • Calle Rosen [by trade with TOR]
  • T.J. Tynan, $700K x 1 year

Instant reaction:

Hey, this was UFA Signing Day, not Trade Deadline Day.

Donskoi is darn good. That contract is just fine for him, and I’m sorry the Preds weren’t able to offer something similar to get him. Kadri gives them two extremely legitimate top lines. I’m just glad they weren’t able to land Artemi Panarin, but I’m also not sure how much difference it makes. If the kids (Samuel Girard, Cale Makar, and maybe Bowen Byram) can play, and if Erik Johnson can stay healthy, they really don’t need Barrie.

They still have some RFAs to sign, most prominently Mikko Rantanen, but they also have a ton of cap space left. I will admit it: I was very, very wrong about Joe Sakic’s abilities as a GM.

The Avs are good. Life is futile. Eat at Arby’s.

Dallas Stars

Non-Rentals Out:

  • Jason Spezza

In:

  • Tanner Kero, $737.5K x 2 years
  • Joe Pavelski, $7M x 3 years
  • Corey Perry, $1.5M+ x 1 year
  • Andrej Sekera, $1.5M+ x 1 year

Instant Reaction:

Pavelski is good, and will probably be worth his contract for at least part of it—he’s not Patrick Marleau’s age, and he also wasn’t relying entirely on Joe Thornton to set him up for goals right before leaving the Sharks, so the Stars have that going for them. Corey Perry (gag) is cheap at that price.

Andrej Sekera is, uh, bad. Not sure what the Stars are doing there—if even the Edmonton Oilers realize they don’t want a defender, they’re not all going to be Justin Schultz, you know?

I’m hesitant to announce that the Stars have won the offseason, and I’d be hesitant to announce it even if the Avalanche hadn’t already won the offseason because we say that about the Stars every single year, but apart from the weird Sekera decision they definitely look like a better team on paper than they were last year, even allowing for rental Mats Zuccarello’s departure.

Minnesota Wild

Non-Rentals Out:

  • None

In:

  • Gabriel Dumont, $700K x 2 years
  • Ryan Hartman, $1.9M x 2 years
  • Luke Johnson, $700K x 2 years
  • Mats Zuccarello, $6M x 5 years

Instant Reaction:

“I told [Zuccarello] when I was talking to him that he’s like a lizard, the way a lizard takes his tongue and sticks it as far as it does and retrieves what it was trying to do,” Fenton said.

So, uh, on a scale of 10 to 10, how glad are we that Paul Fenton isn’t still running the Milwaukee Admirals?

Nashville Predators

Non-Rentals Out:

  • None

In:

  • Daniel Carr, $700K x 1 year
  • Matt Duchene, $8M x 7 years

Instant Reaction:

Eric covered the Carr signing here, and Sarah stepped up for the Duchene signing here.

I think that the Preds got the UFA they absolutely needed, and they were lucky enough to do so on very team-friendly terms. We’ll have more on what this means for the roster tomorrow.

St. Louis Blues

Non-Rentals Out:

  • None (yet; Patrick Maroon is probably gone)

In:

  • Jake Dotchin, $700K x 1 year
  • Nick Lappin, $700K x 1 year
  • Evan Polei, $925K x 2 years
  • Derrick Pouliot, $700K x 1 year
  • Michael Vecchione, $700K x 1 year
  • Nathan Walker, $700K x 2 years

Instant Reaction:

I mean, if there were ever a time to tinker around the edges without doing much, this is probably it. Still, that’s a lot of players I had to check individually to see if they were coming from outside the Blues’ organization or had already been playing for the San Antonio Rampage. A really forgettably July 1, but that’s not a bad thing, and the Blues aren’t feeling any pressure right now.

Winnipeg Jets

Non-Rentals Out:

  • Tyler Myers
  • Brandon Tanev

In:

  • None

Instant Reaction:

The Jets already traded Jacob Trouba for table scraps—there have long been rumors that Trouba wasn’t happy in Winnipeg—and there are rumors that they might trade Nikolaj Ehlers, which they should probably not do, so a quiet day in free agency doesn’t sum up their summer moves thus far. They’re also rumored to be in on Anthony Bitetto, which is strange, as they’re not GMed by a guy who oversaw him in the AHL.

The Jets have a little over $23M in cap space available. They need to re-sign Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor; once they do that, they’ll have nine forwards and six defenders under contract at the NHL level.

Not throwing buckets of money at anyone—especially Tyler Myers, who may have been a temptation after trading the guy just above him in the depth chart—was a smart move by the Jets today, but I’m not sure how robust the Manitoba Moose are and whether they’re going to be able to fill in the roster around the core with the players available to them once they’ve sorted out the contracts for Laine and Connor.


All contract information provided by capfriendly.com.