For a team fighting to make the playoffs, they sure seemed eager to trade active assets for draft picks and prospects (even while in the middle of battling to make the playoffs). Would this team have made the playoffs if they still had Mike Ribeiro? Erik Cole certainly didn't earn his salary, while Michael Ryder was a top player in Montreal. Cole had 7 PTS in 23 GP when acquired. Why did the Dallas Stars trade their top goal scorer for a guy that Montreal could not get rid of fast enough? If they fancied themselves a playoff team, it would have made sense to hold on to their top players. Maybe I'm just stupid.
They managed a nice little 5 game winning streak after unloading several of their best players at the deadline. Alex Chiasson came in and scored 6 goals on his first 13 shots and will enter next season with higher expectations. Alex Goligoski took a step forward with 27 PTS and the best plus minus on the team. Jamie Benn proved that he's worth the money he wanted to be paid. He is quickly establishing himself as an invaluable franchise player.
Preseason Rank: 26
Midseason Rank: 17
Final Rank: 21
GM Grade: F
1st Star: Jamie Benn
2nd Star: Loui Eriksson
3rd Star: Kari Lehtonen
UFAs: Eric Nystrom, Jordie Benn
RFAs: Tom Wandell, Lane MacDermid, Richard Bachman
Best Contract: Loui Eriksson 3 more years at $4.25M
Worst Contract: Erik Cole 2 more years at $4.5M
What I said about them in preseason: Management playing hardball with Jamie Benn doesn't make much sense to me, given that he should be the focus of the franchise. Are they trying their best to win, or are they in a rebuilding mode? They brought in some old bodies like Jagr/Whitney, and the jury is still out on how good they'll be another year older.
What will Jim Nill do going forward as the new General Manager? It won't be rebuilding, that's for sure. He's going to try to win, and has the benefit of no bad contracts on the roster (not including Eric Cole, who has threatened to retire because he hates the CBA). Joe Nieuwendyk was pretty good at picking up quality young prospects, so Jimmy will be taking over a strong situation. It remains to be seen however if the owner will allow him to spend more money, as the Stars bleak financial situation has forced them into penny pinching the last few years.