After a string of bad years and the departure of Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks finished off last season with one of the worst rosters in the NHL. Although they’d missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons, last year was truly reflective of how far the franchise had fallen. However, with a stroke of good fortune, Chicago got the number one pick in this year’s draft. It’s been a great offseason for them ever since.
While Hall will most likely play alongside Bedard on the top line, all three of these players will play a large role in mentoring many of the younger players. If Chicago wants to rebuild successfully, they’ll need a solid core of players that know what it takes to win in the NHL. Perry, Foligno and Hall will certainly be able to help build that. They don’t have to continue to make moves right now, but it’s also got to be nice knowing they can. Of every team in the NHL, only Anaheim has more money to spend. Things are definitely looking up in Chicago.
With Connor Bedard now officially a Blackhawk, the rebuild and organization got a major boost. Tickets are selling out, the fan interest has been revitalized, and everyone in Chicago is hoping that this is the start of yet another fantastic run of hockey. After Bedard, Kyle Davidson continued to make moves in Free Agency. Among the other new faces in Chicago will be former NHL MVP Taylor Hall and veterans Nick Foligno and Corey Perry.
Detroit Red Wings
We’re now a few years into the ‘Yzerplan’ in Detroit, and it looks like this may be the season that things could all come together for the Wings. After making the postseason for a record 25 straight seasons, the storied franchise has now missed it for seven consecutive years. That may not sound too exciting, but last year’s point percentage of .488% was the highest since they last made the playoffs. Things are back to moving in the right direction, and now it’s time for the big step in Detroit.
Not only are their nucleus of exciting young players one year older, but the Red Wings have once again been very active in the offseason. On the first day of free agency, Yzerman signed eleven new players to contracts, including J.T. Compher, Shayne Gostsibehere, Justin Holl, Klim Kostin and James Reimer. These guys may not be All-Stars, but all of them should be able to contribute to the young team immediately next season. Then came the big news: Detroit traded for and extended winger Alex DeBrincat. DeBrincat, a two-time 40-goal scorer, will be in Detroit for the prime of his career over the next four seasons. He represents the best natural goal scorer the team has had in a very long time.
Before the free agency window, Yzerman had another chance to build through the draft with three picks in the first 41 selections. The organization took Nate Danielson, Axel Sandin-Pelikka and Trey Augustine. Although these players aren’t expected to make a difference next season, they represent another class of capable players that could help form a very good core for the Red Wings in a few seasons.
Finally, we’ve got the Carolina Hurricanes. They are easily the best team here; the Canes have only gotten better this offseason, which is much harder to do when you’re already so good. As we’ve said before, Carolina should be looking at 2024 as the year to go all in on, and they’re off to a good start.
They weren’t set up for a ton of success or excitement in the draft this year, but Carolina made up for it with a few key signings. After one day of free agency, the Canes had resigned Jordan Stall, Jesper Fast, Antti Raanta and Frederik Anderson. They had also picked up Michael Bunting and Dmitry Orlov in Free Agency. Despite some big moves, Carolina also managed to keep their core intact this offseason, something they may not be able to do next year. Of their top 14 scorers from last year, every player is still currently on the roster.
It may not have been the flashiest offseason, but the quiet improvements with minor losses could prove to be what this team needs to get over the hump in the NHL postseason finally. With five straight years of at least one playoff-round win, it’s clear that Carolina doesn’t need an upheaval but just a few tweaks instead. To this point, that’s exactly what they’ve done.