Draft And Free Agents: Western Conference Breakdown

By Matt Barbato
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Jun 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) during the first period at game five of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


Chicago Blackhawks 

It’s hard to look at Chicago’s offseason without cringing, but general manager Stan Bowman has done his best to mitigate the losses. Trading Brandon Saad to Columbus wasn’t ideal, but it was what he had to do after Saad’s camp came in with a very high desired salary. Getting Artem Anisimov is good, as he will offer reliable center depth in the future, and Marko Dano could be next year’s version of Teuvo Teravainen, but it’s tough to say they won that trade, given the magnitude of Saad’s talent.

The Blackhawks also lost centers Brad Richards and Antoine Vermette, who signed with Detroit and Arizona, respectively. Vermette was expected to be gone after the Hawks traded a first-round pick and Klas Dahlbeck to acquire him late in the season, but there was hope Richards could return on a cheaper deal.

More importantly, the ‘Hawks failed to shed any excess cap space. They failed to trade any of Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg and could be stuck with them going forward. Defenseman Johnny Oduya likely won’t be back, either.

Colorado Avalanche 

Trading Ryan O’Reilly hurts this team more than it helps it in the short-term future. Nikita Zadorov could be a really good defenseman, but he’s only 20 years old and was a minus-10 in 60 games for the Buffalo Sabres last year.

The Avs made a decent move in acquiring Carl Soderberg from the hasty Bruins, but signing him to a five-year deal with $4.75 million per year was a bit steep. The Avalanche also curiously signed the 35-year-old Beauchemin to a three-year deal worth $4.5 million annually. The Avs need help on the back end, but Beauchemin seems like a one- or two-year band-aid on a larger problem.

Mar 14, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian (9) skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks 

With the Sedin twins entering their mid-30s, it appears Vancouver is going for a franchise overhaul. Brock Boeser was a great draft pick, but aside from that it’s been a lackluster offseason for the Canucks.

Vancouver downgraded from Zack Kassian to Brandon Prust. The latter underachieved in Vancouver but still had value. Getting merely third- and seventh-round picks for goaltender Eddie Lack seems underwhelming in terms of Lack’s value. Losing a veteran in Bieksa certainly won’t help things either.

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