Draft

Draft And Free Agents: Western Conference Breakdown

By Matt Barbato
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There was plenty of power shifting around the NHL the past week, as the draft and first days of free agency have come and gone. The Western Conference features cutthroat competition, and there were plenty of legitimate Stanley Cup contenders looking to bolster their roster for the upcoming season.

As always, there are plenty of teams who have improved their championship chances vastly since the 2014-15 season ended and there are plenty of others who didn’t come out with the grass being greener on the other side.

Here’s a list of the winners and losers from the first week of the offseason in the Western Conference.

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Connor McDavid walks off the stage after being selected as the number one overall pick to the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Winners 

Edmonton Oilers 

For the first time in what seems like eons, the Oilers won something (although it hasn’t had a chance to reflect in the standings). New general manager Peter Chiarelli did a tremendous job retooling the Oilers all around the ice.

The obvious, no-brainer acquisition was drafting Connor McDavid first overall last Friday. McDavid is a stud and has drawn Sidney Crosby comparisons. The Oilers should have their next star to bring the franchise back to relevance.

The next best move was stabilizing the goaltender position by trading for Cam Talbot. Granted, the Oilers dealt the Rangers three draft picks, but Talbot showed the talent of a franchise goalie in his 36 appearances with New York last season. Granted, Edmonton’s defense isn’t nearly as talented as New York’s was last season, but Talbot may be the closest thing the franchise has had to a star in net in quite a while.

Signing defenseman Andrej Sekera was also a good get for Chiarelli, who will have to retool Edmonton’s blue line to be adequate in front of Talbot. Sekera, 29, is a solid defenseman who brings versatility to the lineup.

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  • Calgary Flames 

    Calgary added to an already young core by trading for defenseman Dougie Hamilton and giving him a six-year extension shortly afterward. Hamilton is only 22 and registered 42 points last season in Boston. This was one of the biggest moves of draft weekend and gets Calgary a step closer to seriously contending for the conference.

    The Flames also added a quality two-way forward in Michael Frolik. He scored 19 goals last season for the Winnipeg Jets and is a great defensive forward who is capable of killing penalties. This is an underrated but crucial depth move by the Flames.

    Calgary also managed to re-sign goaltender Karri Ramo to a one-year deal, a move that should not be underestimated either.

    May 26, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Rangers left wing Carl Hagelin (62) skates with the puck during game six of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Anaheim Ducks 

    Although they haven’t reached a deal with him yet, Carl Hagelin was a very good pickup for the Ducks. Hagelin is a talented winger who gives Anaheim either second- or third-line depth, two things they desperately lacked against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference final. Hagelin isn’t a stat-sheet stuffer, but he’s a very productive two-way forward.

    Acquiring Kevin Bieksa from Vancouver for a second-round pick allowed the Ducks to let Francois Beauchemin walk. Bieksa is a similar player to Beauchemin, and staying healthy will be crucial, as he only played 60 games for the Canucks last year.

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