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  • 2012 Off-Season winners and losers Print
    Written by Blake Benzel   
    Monday, 30 July 2012 12:18

    Zach Parise & Ryan Suter

    The NHL off-season is half finished, leaving teams to start preparing for the upcoming season. While the beginning of the NHL season still may be in doubt, the off-season winners and losers have begun to take shape. 


    Minnesota Wild - It is hard not to look at the Wild's transactions this off-season and think that they are the winners of the off-season. Adding Zach Parise and Ryan Suter significantly improves a team that was atop the NHL for the first three months of the 2011-12 season. The signing of the two prize free agents during the off-season make the Wild winners but the smaller personnel additions should not go unnoticed. Torrey Mitchell will make the team's third line and penalty kill much more effective. Zenon Konopka makes the team tougher, and his 58.9 percent faceoff percentage bolsters a team that was eighth in the league last season. On paper, the Wild are immensely better than they were last season. Will that transfer onto the ice?

    New York Rangers - The Rangers tinkered around the edges in free agency, bringing in bottom-six forwards Arron Asham, Taylor Pyatt, and Jeff Halpern. What places them firmly in the winner column, however, was the trade for Rick Nash. Not only did the Rangers land the prized power forward, but they got him for significantly less than was originally demanded by Columbus General Manager Scott Howson. Nash makes the Rangers, a team that struggled to score goals at times last season, more dangerous offensively.

    Dallas Stars - The Stars improved this off-season, as they became older. They brought in prized prospect Cody Eakin from Washington during a draft day trade, and acquired Derek Roy from the Buffalo Sabres in a deal that sent agitator Steve Ott to Western New York. Those trades, augmented by the free agent signings of Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney appear to improve a team that finished 22nd in the league in goals per game. Dallas may have answered questions about its defense corps by signing former Canuck defenseman Aaron Rome.

    Carolina Hurricanes - Historically the 'Canes have been content with patching together a squad based on everyone's leftovers from free agency but this season, the Hurricanes joined the party. They landed Jordan Staal after the center rejected a contract extension from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Carolina was able to sign Staal to the 10-year, $60 million extension that he had turned down from Pittsburgh. The addition of Staal would have been enough, but the 'Canes went out and improved their offense at even-strength and on the power play by signing Alexander Semin and Marc-Andre Gragnani. They may have struck out on Parise and Suter, but the Canes have improved considerably.


    Columbus Blue Jackets - It's hard to believe that this is the same team that had so much hope surrounding it heading into last season. Gone are Nash and Jeff Carter, replaced by Jack Johnson (who was acquired in the Carter trade near the deadline last season), Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first round draft pick. The Jackets also acquired Sergei Bobrovsky from the Flyers with the hope that he will push Steve Mason for the starting job. The Jackets got nowhere near the return that they had promised their fans for Nash and now look like they may end up with another lottery pick next season.

    Detroit Red Wings - For the first time in quite a while, the Red Wings had cap space to spare. They aggressively pursued both Parise and Suter in free agency, and pursued a trade for Rick Nash, but struck out on all three. The Wings have a gaping hole on their blue line after the retirement of Niklas Lidstrom and have a handful of questions about whether the dynasty can keep up with an increasingly competitive Western Conference.

    Phoenix Coyotes - While Shane Doan is still the captain of the Coyotes, the truth is far bleaker than that. Doan appears on his way out due to the uncertain ownership saga. Losing Doan could be a disastrous blow to a franchise that has managed to claw its way back into respectability.

    You can follow us on Twitter @HockeyPrimetime and Blake @bcbenzel

    Photos by Getty Images

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    Last Updated on Monday, 30 July 2012 12:35