With preseason hockey officially starting this month, the 2022 NHL offseason is nearing its end as teams prepare their final rosters for training camp. It’s fair to say that the 2022 offseason was perhaps the most wild and crazy offseason of the salary cap era with major players switching teams throughout the summer.
After so many players changed teams throughout the summer, it’s worth breaking down which teams actually improved with their moves and which teams got worse. To judge each team’s improvement we can use goals above replacement (GAR).
GAR assesses a player’s value in terms of how many goals they contribute to their team above replacement. It is calculated using even strength offence, even strength defence, special teams contributions, as well as penalty differential. A replacement level player would have a GAR of zero. Consequently, anything above zero is an above-replacement level player, and anything negative is a below-replacement level player.
All GAR numbers are courtesy of the Evolving-Hockey.com model. We’ll only be looking at moves involving NHL players who met the minimum requirements last season to have their GAR calculated.
2021–22 record: 31–37–14 (Missed playoffs)
GAR Added: 17.8 GAR
In: Frank Vatrano, Ryan Strome, John Klingberg, Olli Juolevi, Dmitri Kulikov
Out: Zach Aston-Reese, Ryan Getzlaf, Vinni Lettieri, Buddy Robinson, Dominik Simon, Andrei Sustr, Sonny Milano, Sam Steel
The Ducks had an offseason full of turnover, moving out a ton of replacement level depth pieces as well as seeing franchise legend Ryan Getzlaf retire into the sunset as they transition into their new era built around budding superstar Trevor Zegras. Adding Ryan Strome was the team’s biggest move and a great one at that. Strome’s 9.6 GAR ranked third among Rangers forwards last season.
Signing John Klingberg to a one-year deal immediately improves the team’s blueline and gives them a grade-A trade chip come the trade deadline if the Ducks are sitting outside of the playoffs. Also joining the blueline is Dmitri Kulikov who posted a surprising 6.3 GAR last year in Minnesota. Frank Vatrano meanwhile is a sneaky good depth add who can help chip in offensively.
Their losses don’t amount to much as only Sonny Milano, Sam Steel and Buddy Robinson posted a positive GAR last season. In particular, Milano’s 7.3 GAR ranked fourth among Ducks forwards in 2021–22 so his loss will be felt assuming he doesn’t re-sign at the last minute. Addition by subtraction could describe most of their other losses though.
Overall the Ducks had a good offseason for a team who is still very much in a rebuild by adding some quality veteran pieces at forward and defence. The Ducks are still far from a playoff contender, but they should be improved next season.
2021–22 record: 25–50–7 (Missed playoffs)
GAR Added: -15.8 GAR
In: Nick Bjugstad, Troy Stecher, Josh Brown, Laurent Dauphin, Jon Gillies, Patrick Nemeth, Zach Kassian
Out: Jay Beagle, Loui Ericsson, Alex Galchenyuk, Dmitrij Jaskin, Phil Kessel, Antoine Roussel, Anton Stralman
The Coyotes were terrible last season and they will once again be terrible in 2022–23. It’s Bedard or bust for the Coyotes and their amateur arena. The team’s goal this offseason was clearly to do everything in their power to avoid getting better and they achieved that by shedding below-replacement level players and then replacing them with new ones.
Really the only additions of note are Troy Stecher and Zach Kassian. Despite his -3.4 GAR last year, Stecher had posted a positive GAR every other year of his career and is a decent depth defender. Kassian meanwhile was nothing more than a cap dump but can provide some value at times and posted a 1.8 GAR last season. The rest of their additions are well below-replacement and will only make them worse, not better.
Overall the Coyotes might have managed to somehow get worse this offseason by adding a plethora of bad players to an already terrible roster. There’s no way this team finishes outside of the bottom five.
2021–22 record: 50–21–7 (Eliminated 2nd round)
GAR Added: -15.1 GAR
In: Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, Nazem Kadri, Kevin Rooney, Nicholas Meloche
Out: Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Calle Jarnkrok, Sean Monahan, Erik Gudbranson, Brett Ritchie
No team had a more wild offseason than the Calgary Flames. In fact it was probably the most turnover one team has ever experienced in one offseason in NHL history. Somehow though, the Flames came out of it in a very good spot considering the circumstances.
The Flames were the first team in NHL history to lose two 100-points player in the same offseason, saying goodbye to Johnny Gaudreau and his 31.3 GAR and Matthew Tkachuk and his 24.0 GAR. Both totals ranked inside the top 10 among all forwards last season. Luckily that’s where the major losses stopped. Erik Gudbranson may have posted 4.1 GAR last season, but the odds of him replicating that away from Sutter and the Flames elite defensive system are essentially zero.
Treliving was able to add Jonathan Huberdeau’s 16.0 GAR and MacKenzie Weegar’s 9.7 in the Tkachuk deal and then land the top free agent in Nazem Kadri who posted a 21.7 GAR last season. Overall the Flames lost a staggering 55.3 GAR from Gaudreau and Tkachuk but added 47.4 between Huberdeau, Weegar and Kadri. The price may have been hefty, but shedding Sean Monahan and his -2.1 was also addition by subtraction.
The Flames were left for dead when Tkachuk asked to be dealt, but did the absolute best anyone could’ve hoped for to remain competitive and come out of the offseason still looking like a major threat in the Western Conference.
2021–22 record: 28–42–12 (Missed playoffs)
GAR Added: -13.2 GAR
In: Petr Mrazek, Max Domi, Andrei Athanasiou, Colin Blackwell, Buddy Robinson, Jack Johnson
Out: Alex DeBrinact, Kirby Dach, Calvin De Haan, Erik Gustafsson, Kevin Lankinen, Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome
The Blackhawks plan this offseason was simple, get worse and go after Connor Bedard in the 2023 draft. They did just that by shipping out two key players for nothing but draft picks. Alex DeBrincat’s 20.0 GAR last season was first among all Blackhawks. Shipping out a 40-goal scorer in DeBrincat for nothing but picks isn’t exactly good asset management, but if you’re trying to get worse it certainly achieves that goal.
They also shipped out 2019 third overall pick Kirby Dach for the 2022 13th overall pick and a third-rounder. Dach has yet to make his mark in the NHL, however he still carries a ton of upside. Needless to say trading him away for a pick outside the top 10 was not great value.
Finally, the Blackhawks let Dylan Strome and his 9.4 GAR as well as Dominik Kubalik and his 1.7 GAR walk for nothing in free agency by not extending them qualifying offers. The fact both were restricted free agents and the Blackhawks chose to lose them for nothing makes their plan clear as day.
2021–22 record: 56–19–7 (Won Stanley Cup)
GAR Added: -40 GAR
In: Evan Rodrigues Alexandar Georgiev, Anton Blidh, Brad Hunt
Out: Darcy Kuemper, Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, Jack Johnson, Ryan Murray, Nicolas Aube-Kubel
The Colorado Avalanche experienced what every reigning Stanley Cup Champion does in their first offseason, a stripping down of their roster due to cap constraints. The team lost some significant pieces and wasn’t able to do much to replace them.
The biggest losses are of course that of Darcy Kuemper and Kadri, the team’s starting goalie and second line centre. Kuemper’s 30.4 GAR and Kadri’s 21.7 GAR were essentially impossible to replace with the Avs’ cap situation. They also lost an underrated top-six forward in Andre Burakovsky and his 11.7 GAR.
To replace the monumental 63.8 GAR lost from those three players the Avs weren’t able to do much. Evan Rodrigues and his 11.6 GAR was a great cheap add but they didn’t have room to do much more. They added a fringe starting goalie in Alexandar Georgiev and his 0.3 GAR, as well as a depth forward in Anton Blidh and depth defenceman in Brad Hunt.
The Avs will still be one of the Stanley Cup favourites in 2022–23, but they got significantly worse this offseason and will not be the juggernaut they were in 2021–22.
2021–22 record: 46–30–6 (Eliminated 1st round)
GAR Added: 10.7 GAR
In: Mason Marchment, Colin Miller, Will Butcher
Out: John Klingberg, Vlad Namestnikov, Brayden Holtby, Michael Raffl, Andrei Sekera
After being carried to a game seven by their goaltender last season, the Dallas Stars had a relatively quiet offseason and didn’t make make many changes to their roster. The only addition of note is Mason Marchment who brings over a GAR of 20.5 from Florida. Whether he can continue that success on a weaker team is yet to be seen but on the surface it looks like a great add.
In terms of losses the only major one is Klingberg and his 4.4 GAR. Colin Miller’s 6.5 GAR and Will Butcher’s 1.4 GAR help offset that quite well though. Outside of the mentioned moves they didn’t really do much of anything else. The Stars will once again be a fringe playoff team next season.
2021–22 record: 49–27–6 (Eliminated 3rd round)
GAR Added: -9.9 GAR
In: Jack Campbell, Mattias Janmark
Out: Zach Kassian, Mikko Koskinen, Kris Russell, Derek Brassard, Brendan Perlini
It’s clear the Oilers’ main goal this offseason was clearly to fix their dreadful goaltending situation. To do this, they went out and grabbed one of the top goaltenders on the market in Jack Campbell and let Mikko Koskinen go off to Europe.
Campbell’s modest 2.7 GAR from last season was actually lower than Koskinen’s 6.7 GAR, however that’s mainly due to Campbell’s extreme highs and lows. Campbell could either be a big upgrade over Koskinen or provide roughly the same value and it makes the move a major risk for the Oilers. Only time will tell if it was a good move or not.
Past the moves in net, the Oilers let a couple replacement level options walk and added a depth forward in Mattias Janmark. The Oilers offseason success completely relies on the play of Campbell in 2022–23.
Los Angeles Kings
2021–22 record: 44–27–11 (Eliminated 1st round)
GAR Added: 6.5 GAR
In: Kevin Fiala
Out: Andreas Athanasiou, Troy Stecher, Olli Maatta, Dustin Brown
The Los Angeles Kings only made one addition this offseason after their surprise 2021–22 season and it was a major one, adding an elite winger in Kevin Fiala. The lone addition really cannot be understated as Fiala is a major add that will bring the exact type of skill that the Kings needed.
Fiala posted a 13.3 GAR last season, which is more than their four losses combined. Losing Andreas Athanasiou in free agency and Dustin Brown to retirement hurts the team’s depth at forward a bit, but Fiala plus the development of the Kings’ young forward core will more than make up for it.
This is a team on the rise and with the addition of Fiala they look like a major threat in the weak Pacific Division right now.
2021–22 record: 53–22–7 (Eliminated 1st round)
GAR Added: -14.3 GAR
In: Sam Steel, Filip Gustavsson
Out: Kevin Fiala, Cam Talbot, Nicolas Deslauriers, Dmitri Kulikov, Jordie Benn, Nick Bjugstad
The Wild posted their best regular season in franchise history last season and then proceeded to once again lose in the first round. To make matters worse, the massive buyout penalties for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter kick in this season and it cost them one of their best forwards in Fiala and his 13.3 GAR.
Outside of losing Fiala, the Wild downgraded in net by swapping Cam Talbot for Filip Gustavsson and his -4.9 GAR, shipped out Kulikov and his 6.3 GAR and let a couple depth players walk. Steel is good depth add but overall this was an offseason completely dominated by those massive buyout penalties and it prevented the Wild from doing much of anything.
They still have a deep roster and some high end prospects coming up the ranks, but losing Fiala was a major blow to the Wild’s Stanley Cup hopes in 2022–23.
2021–22 record: 45–30–7 (Eliminated 1st round)
GAR Added: 5.4 GAR
In: Nino Niederreiter, Ryan McDonagh, Zach Sanford, Kevin Lankinen, Mark Jankowski
Out: David Rittich, Matt Benning, Nick Cousins, Luke Kunin, Phillipe Myers
The Nashville Predators had a pretty solid offseason across the board, upgrading at both forward and defence. This is a team trying to hang onto their final years of competing with their aging stars and they did a good job of that in the offseason.
Nino Niederreiter was a tremendous value add at his price, as his 14.2 GAR ranked first among all Hurricane forwards last season. The Phillipe Myers for Ryan McDonagh swap is a win as he brings in 3.1 GAR compared to Myers’ -0.1 GAR as well as some veteran experience.
The swap of David Rittich for Kevin Lankinen is just swapping one bad backup for another, although Lankinen’s -15.9 GAR was far worse than Rittich’s -2.3 GAR. Not that it matters much as Juuse Saros will once again be the team’s workhorse in net.
The Predators made some solid additions after wasting eight days in the playoffs last season, and should once again be right in the mix for a playoff spot in the west.
San Jose Sharks
2021–22 record: 32–37–13 (Missed playoffs)
GAR Added: -11.5 GAR
In: Nico Sturm, Luke Kunin, Oskar Lindblom, Matt Benning, Evgeny Svechnikov, Steven Lorentz
Out: Brent Burns, Adin Hill, Lane Pederson, Rudolf Balcers, Ryan Dzingel
The San Jose Sharks offseason was pretty underwhelming as they brought in some cheap bottom-of-the-lineup players and nothing else. The franchise is in full on rebuild mode and they didn’t do anything to expediate that rebuild this offseason.
Oskar Lindblom posted a 2.1 GAR last season and still has some potential, however the rest of their additions are at or below-replacement level. In particular Luke Kunin had a dreadful -6.6 GAR last season and was acquired for a third-round pick for some reason.
The Sharks’ major move of the offseason was moving out Brent Burns and his 10.6 GAR which led the team’s blueline for Steven Lorentz, a prospect and a pick. The return was pretty underwhelming but it made the team worse and they shed some salary so that’s a win at least. Buying out the 25-year-old Rudolf Balcers who posted a 4.2 GAR last season was a curious move to say the least though.
The Sharks will once again be one of the worst teams in the NHL next season as they did nothing but get worse this offseason.
2021–22 record: 27–49–6 (Missed playoffs)
GAR Added: 1.8 GAR
In: Andrei Burakovsky, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Justin Schultz, Martin Jones, Michael Kempny
Out: Haydn Fleury, Viktor Rask, Riley Sheahan
After a disappointing inaugural season, the Seattle Kraken made two great adds this offseason. Adding two underrated top-six wingers in Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand was some tidy work from the Kraken and should make them more competitive in 2022–23.
Burakovsky posted a 11.7 GAR last season and was a great add in free agency at his price, while Bjorkstrand posted a 8.7 GAR and was acquired for pennies from the Blue Jackets. Both players were incredible acquisitions considering the cost and will immediately improve the Kraken’s forward depth.
Past that, the Kraken didn’t do much of note, as they let three replacement level players walk and added three new ones who may all be worse in Justin Schultz, Martin Jones and Michael Kempny. Both Schultz and Kempny posted negative GAR totals last season. Regardless, their two big additions make this offseason a success for Seattle.
St. Louis Blues
2021–22 record: 49–22–11 (Eliminated 2nd round)
GAR Added: -37.6 GAR
In: Noel Acciari, Tomas Greiss, Matthew Highmore
Out: Ville Husso, David Perron, Tyler Bozak, Dakota Joshua
The St. Louis Blues had a pretty dreadful offseason, as they made some major decisions in net based off some playoff games. Choosing Jordan Binnington over Ville Husso may come back to haunt the Blues in the very near future.
Husso posted a remarkable 22.4 GAR last season, a total that ranked 14th among all goalies in the NHL. Despite that, the Blues decided to ship him out for a draft pick after he stumbled in the playoffs. To replace him the Blues signed Tomas Greiss who posted a -10.0 GAR last season—a downgrade to say the least.
The Blues also saw one of their top wingers in David Perron as well as Dakota Joshua leave in free agency. Perron’s 5.1 GAR and Joshua’s inflated 6.3 GAR both ranked top nine among Blues forwards last season. Noel Acciari and Matthew Highmore will help fill in the loss of Perron a bit but not by much.
Overall the Blues made a huge downgrade to their goaltending and lost a near point-per-game winger in Perron which tanked their entire offseason.
2021–22 record: 40–30–12 (Missed playoffs)
GAR Added: 9.4 GAR
In: Ilya Mikheyev, Dakota Joshua, Andrei Kuzmenko, Curtis Lazar
Out: Jaroslav Halak, Alex Chiasson, Brad Hunt, Matthew Highmore
The Canucks didn’t have a super busy offseason but they did make some nice additions to bolster their forward depth while not losing much the other way.
The addition of Ilya Mikheyev and his 8.2 GAR is the big add of the offseason for the Canucks, and he should provide them with some more scoring punch in their middle-six. Joshua posted a surprising 6.3 GAR in 2021–22 and is a decent depth add, as is Curtis Lazar and his 4.8 GAR. Andrei Kuzmenko is the wild card as the 26-year-old will be making his NHL debut this season after coming over from Russia.
The Canucks should be right in the mix for a playoff spot in the West in 2022–23 after their quiet but efficient offseason.
Vegas Golden Knights
2021–22 record: 43–31–8 (Missed playoffs)
GAR Added: -9.7 GAR
In: Phil Kessel
Out: Max Pacioretty, Evgeni Dadonov, Mattias Janmark, Dylan Coghlan
The Golden Knights went through a long and painful 2021–22 season only to follow it up with one of the worst offseasons in the entire NHL. Vegas’ magic may have run out as they continue to suffer the consequences of the salary cap existing.
Vegas was forced to move out two top-six wingers in Max Pacioretty and Evgenii Dadonov for nothing due to cap constraints from their excessive spending. The duo combined for 12.4 GAR last season and their losses will certainly be felt.
The only addition Vegas made was Phil Kessel who posted a 0.8 GAR last season and will come nowhere close to replacing the offence they lost. The Knights are looking less and less like a playoff team in 2022–23 after they suffered a brutal offseason.
2021–22 record: 39–32–11 (Missed playoffs)
GAR Added: -26.7 GAR
In: David Rittich, Sam Gagner
Out: Evgeny Svechnikov, Zach Sanford, Paul Stastny, Eric Comrie
I truly don’t understand the Winnipeg Jets’ plan right now. The team was average at best last season and proceeded to go out and do essentially nothing of note this offseason. An average offseason from an average team.
In net, the Jets let backup Eric Comrie walk and replaced him in free agency with Rittich who really struggled last year. Although it was a small sample size, Comrie posted an impressive 14.4 GAR last season while Rittich posted a -2.3 GAR. Comrie’s .920 save percentage from 2021–22 also dwarfs Rittich’s .886 save percentage.
At forward, the team’s only move of note was swapping Paul Stastny for Sam Gagner. Stastny posted an 8.5 GAR last season and Gagner came in at -0.5 so that tells you all you need to know about that swap.
The Jets seem like a team with no direction or plan right now and will once again be in tough to make the playoffs after a less than stellar offseason.
|4||Los Angeles Kings||6.5|
|7||Vegas Golden Knights||-9.7|
|9||San Jose Sharks||-11.5|
|15||St. Louis Blues||-37.6|
The Western Conference had a rough offseason overall, as only six of 16 teams added a positive GAR this offseason. In particular, the Avalanche, Blues, and Jets took a beating by all losing over 25 GAR. The Ducks total GAR added of 17.8 takes the crown as the best offseason overall in terms of adding GAR in the whole conference.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire