C. Ritchie
February 9, 2022  (1:45 PM)

Welcome to Part 2 of each team's big off-season moves and how they already stink. Today we'll look at the Central Division. This one has been a little more difficult as the General Manager's in this division aren't in the hot seat as much as some others, but still made some puzzling moves.

Colorado Avalanche – Trading for Darcy Kuemper
The Colorado Avalanche helped the Arizona Coyotes tank by trading for their starting goalie in Darcy Kuemper after losing Phillip Grubauer in free agency. Colorado sent a 1st round pick in 2022 and Connor Timmins to Arizona, which seems like not a bad deal for a starting goaltender. However, Kuemper is only locked in for this year and makes $4.5 million against the cap. Colorado is already near the cap ceiling and has no room to bring in any extra players if they want to add pieces to make a run at the Stanley Cup. Kuemper could also walk away at the end of this season and Colorado will be shopping for a starting goaltender again this coming off season.
Nashville Predators – Re-signing Juuse Saros long term
Pekka Rinne, the longtime number 1 goalie in Nashville officially retired this summer. This meant that the Predators had to move on to his protégé Juuse Saros, who was an upcoming free agent and was given a new 4-year contract with a cap hit of $5 million per season. That's a lot of money to give to a goaltender whose career high in games played in one season is 40. Saros has put up good numbers but has never been THE GUY in net. If he has any setbacks that is a tough contract to trade away.
St. Louis Blues – Re-Signing Jordan Binnington to 6 years
The St. Louis Blues believe Jordan Binnington is an elite goaltender in the NHL because he backstopped them to a Stanley cup in 2019. Since 2019 where his save percentage was 0.927, he has steadily declined to 0.912 in 2020, 0.910 in 2021 and currently sits at 0.901 on the season. The St. Louis Blues rewarded that steady decline with a new 6-year contract with a cap hit of $6 million with a full no trade clause in the first 3 years. This contract is going to haunt this team for years to come
Minnesota Wild – Signing Kirill Kaprizov to only 5 years
The Minnesota Wild have changed their style of play over the last couple of years from being known as the «trap» team to a fast-offensive minded team. No player exemplifies this more than Kirill Kaprizov and the fact that Minnesota couldn't lock him up to the max 8-year deal is a shame. This is a player that you build your offense and marketing around with his dominant puck control. The Wild need to keep him around for as long as they can to help change the culture of this team.
Dallas Stars – Signing Miro Heiskanen for $8.45 Million
Miro Heiskanen is an exciting offensive minded defenseman who puts up a significant amount of points from the back end, but he is still learning to keep the puck out of the net. This year Heiskanen has a -2.8 Goals Above Expected and has a Takeaway to Giveaway ratio of -24. What Miro Heiskanen brings in offense he lacks twice as much in shutdown defense. He is still young and can learn the game but that is a lot of money to spend on a powerplay specialist.
Winnipeg Jets – Trading for Nate Schmidt
The Winnipeg Jets lack of defensive depth was showcased last playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens, so the Jets knew they needed to upgrade the back end. Winnipeg was nice enough to relieve the Vancouver Canucks of one of the many bad contracts they have by trading for 30-year-old Nate Schmidt. Schmidt still has 4 years left on his contract with a cap hit of $5.95 million, which is a lot for a player who hasn't looked the same since being sheltered with the Vegas Golden Knights. This is a slight upgrade for Winnipeg but not at this cap hit.
Chicago Blackhawks – Trading for Marc Andre Fleury
The Chicago Blackhawks are an organization in need of a change and a rebuild as stars like Toews and Kane enter the twilight of their careers. So why would Chicago trade for a 37-year-old goaltender who makes $7 million a year? That's the kind of move a team makes when they think all they're missing is a starting goalie. Chicago is now winning games they have no business winning because Fleury is keeping them in games, but also worsening their draft lottery odds for a top 3 pick.
Arizona Coyotes – Trading Away Everyone
The Arizona Coyotes came into this season with a plan to be bad and stay at the bottom of the standings. But things got out of hands this off season when they got rid of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Darcy Kuemper, Aidin Hill, and Christian Dvorak. The Arizona Coyotes now have players on their roster that make them look like the island of misfit toys. Their top 6 now consists of players such as Alex Galchenyuk, Lawson Crouse and Riley Nash. For a team that is struggling financially and to create an identity in that market, they need players who can say what a great organization the Coyotes are but have also been there more than a year.
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