It's been well over a month since the 2020 NHL offseason began following the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Despite the constraints of a flattened salary cap and ongoing uncertainty over when next season will begin, all 31 clubs were busy adjusting their rosters through trades and free agency.
While several teams were forced to shed salary or struggled to address their lineup needs, others have enjoyed considerable success thus far. Some, like the Buffalo Sabres, made a significant, surprising splash in free agency. Others, like the Montreal Canadiens, improved their rosters with several savvy moves.
Here's our ranking of the eight NHL teams that have made the most of this offseason so far. It's based on their recent acquisitions and the effects upon their respective rosters.
8. Detroit Red Wings
The rebuilding Detroit Red Wings were an embarrassment during Steve Yzerman's first season as their general manager. They finished with a league-worst 39 points in 71 games and suffered insult to injury by sliding to fourth overall in the 2020 draft lottery. That selection was used on Swedish prospect Lucas Raymond.
Yzerman spent most of last season making minor tweaks as he evaluated his roster. During this offseason, however, he has wasted no time adding some much-needed veteran depth to his young club.
The Red Wings GM used free agency to add two solid forwards in Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov. He brought some stability to his goaltending by signing Thomas Greiss to a two-year contract. He also bolstered his defense by acquiring Marc Staal (and a 2021 second-round draft pick) in a trade with the New York Rangers and bringing in Troy Stecher and Jon Merrill via free agency.
All those deals were economical, short-term acquisitions that should provide experienced skills and leadership to the Wings' young roster. They're still at least two years away from playoff contention, but Yzerman's recent moves mean they won't be pushovers anymore.
7. New Jersey Devils
After serving as the New Jersey Devils' interim general manager last season, Tom Fitzgerald was named full-time GM and executive vice president on July 9. He quickly went about addressing his club's roster needs.
Fitzgerald's biggest move was shaking up his goaltending. He bought out the final two years of former starter Cory Schneider's contract before making a significant splash in the free-agent pool by signing Corey Crawford to a two-year deal. A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks, the 35-year-old Crawford will split the duties with up-and-comer Mackenzie Blackwood.
The new Devils GM turned to the trade market to bolster his blue line and scoring depth. On Oct. 8, Fitzgerald shipped a 2021 fifth-round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Ryan Murray. Two days later, he dealt restricted free agent forward Joey Anderson to the Toronto Maple Leafs for former 20-goal scorer Andreas Johnsson.
Fitzgerald's moves should make the Devils more competitive next season. He might not be done making additions either. The club still has $17.2 million in salary-cap space, more than enough to re-sign Blackwood and fellow restricted free agent Jesper Bratt. He could also have enough to target a cap-strapped team to add another veteran forward or defenseman.
6. Ottawa Senators
Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has been busily rebuilding his roster for the past two seasons. His club remains another season or two away from playoff contention, but the decisions he made during this offseason should make them more competitive in 2020-21.
With the third- and fifth overall picks in the 2020 draft, Dorion selected center Tim Stutzle and defenseman Jake Sanderson. Both join the Senators' growing pipeline of budding young talent who could form the core of a future perennial playoff contender.