On Tuesday, we dusted off the offseason bizarro-meter and gave it a good workout going through the Western Conference. We looked at some big swings in Calgary, an international drama involving Minnesota, a deposed captain in Winnipeg, and lots more. It got weird, which is kind of the entire point.
Today, it’s the East. As always, we’re ranking each team by how bizarre their offseason was, with the important caveat that “bizarre” does not necessarily mean “bad.” We want the teams that surprised us, whether that was with something positive, negative or somewhere in between.
We’ll go by divisions, starting in the Metro and working our way from the least to most bizarre.
New York Rangers
The offseason so far: It was mostly a status quo offseason after last year’s far more newsworthy summer. They did trade Alexandar Georgiev to Colorado and Nils Lundkvist to Dallas, re-signed Kaapo Kakko on a tidy bridge deal, lost Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp to free agency, and named Jacob Trouba captain.
But their strangest story was: They bet big on Vincent Trocheck, no doubt hoping he can duplicate the production he had for whatever team it was he played for last year.
Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.8/10. They made some moves, but in terms of weirdness, there’s not all that much to see here.
The offseason so far: They added forward depth in Dylan Strome and Connor Brown, but will start the season without Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom.
But their strangest story was: Finally addressing the goaltending by trading Vitek Vanecek and signing Darcy Kuemper to a big-money deal.
Bizarro-meter ranking: 4.5/10. It’s not often you can find the most recent Cup-winning goalie on the UFA market, and the Capitals snapped him up.
The offseason so far: They signed Paul Stastny and extended Martin Necas, along with a handful of smaller moves. Also, they gave Don Waddell a new contract before he started interviewing with other teams, which was a nice change.
But their strangest story was: Acquiring Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty in exchange for (checks notes) essentially nothing. Huh, apparently managing the salary cap has benefits.
Bizarro-meter ranking: 5.9/10. It’s not that getting multiple free all-stars wasn’t impressive, but after recent offseasons the Hurricanes are like the gifted kid who gets an A- on the exam. I’m not disappointed, but I know they’re capable of so much more.
New Jersey Devils
The offseason so far: The perpetual offseason champions had another decent summer, albeit one that featured solid additions like Ondrej Palat and Erik Haula instead of any big names. On that note, they didn’t get Johnny Gaudreau or Matthew Tkachuk, and it sounds like they didn’t get all that close, but they would like you to know that they tried.
But their strangest story was: Knowing they desperately needed a goalie, the Devils turned to the Capitals, who also desperately needed a goalie, and said “Hey can we have your goalie?” Problem solved, I guess.
Bizarro-meter ranking: 6.1/10. They also hired Jack Adams finalist Andrew Brunette as “associate coach,” which I guess sounds better than “guy we’re promoting when we fire Lindy Ruff in early-November.”
New York Islanders
The offseason so far: [tumbleweed full of chirping crickets blows by]
OK, they weren’t completely absent, but it felt that way. That was especially true when it came to Johnny Gaudreau, who we figured would have some interest in playing close to home, or maybe a late-summer Nazem Kadri signing. The Isles didn’t have the cap room, and couldn’t find it in time.
But their strangest story was: Watching a big chunk of the fan base finally turn on Lou Lamoriello. The guy has been bulletproof for a long time, and you can understand why given what he did in New Jersey. He’s always been a bit of an eccentric character, and that plays when you’re winning. But when you whiff on improving a so-called contender that just missed the playoffs, patience starts to wear thin.
Bizarro-meter ranking: 6.4/10. It’s been a tough year for Islander fans. Let’s maybe give them a home game in October this year, just as a treat.