Nearly a month has passed since the peak of NHL free agency. The new collective bargain agreement kept the salary cap at $81.5 million, which made it tricky for some teams that took a revenue hit due to COVID-19.
With that said, there are always winners and losers from an offseason. These three teams were the biggest losers from the 2020 offseason.
The Blackhawks shocked many around the continent when the team qualified for the extended, 24-team postseason. It was even more of a shock when the 12-seed took down No. 5 seed Oilers. It was a great opportunity for the team to showcase the young talent on the squad, such as Kirby Dach, Adam Boqvist, Alex DeBrincat, and Dylan Strome.
However, most NHL predictions will feature the Blackhawks staying in the basement of the Western Conference after the postseason this team had. It appeared that the Blackhawks were going to retool their veteran core of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Towes, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Kieth and give the team a shot at contending for one more Stanley Cup.
Instead, GM Stan Bowman traded Brandon Saad, while retaining $1 million of his salary, to the Colorado Avalanche. In return, Chicago received defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who was on the trade market for what seemed like an eternity. Based on these actions, it feels that Chicago is throwing away the idea of contending in 2021.
Just think what could have happened if the Bruins took free agency seriously. Boston has the fourth-best odds to win the Stanley Cup, but the Bruins coasted by. The team appeared to have interest in top players like Taylor Hall, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, or Torey Krug. Instead, GM Don Sweeney didn’t do hardly anything.
The team’s moves you ask? Boston signed wing Craig Smith to a three-year, $3.1 million deal. The real disappointment is seeing Krug leave. Krug was an undrafted free agent and quickly became a fan favorite, while maintaining a high level of play. The Bruins should remain a contender, but who knows how much of a true favorite they are.
The Oilers were bounced in the first round of the Stanley Cup in disappointing fashion. After an unfortunate exit, one would think that the Oilers would try and retool their roster. Think again.
The team had a glaring hole at goaltender. Instead of taking care of the issue, the team settled on 38-year old Mike Smith on a one-year, $2 million deal. The team pursued Jacob Markstrom, but he elected to sign with the Flames. The team could have tried to land Petr Mrazek through the trade market, but declined.
To follow that up, the Oilers signed Anton Fosberg to a one-year contract. Fosberg bounced between the NHL and AHL last year. In 185 AHL games, he posted a .920 save percentage while recording a 12-25-4 overall record in 48 career games.
How is a 38-year old and an overwhelmingly underachieving goalie going to make this team go from No. 5 seed to top team in the conference? Your guess is as good as ours.