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Florida won the Presidents' Trophy last season
  1. NHL

NHL: Best under-the-radar signings of the offseason

The big-name moves in the NHL this off-season have been well analysed, but there were several teams who made themselves better by shopping smartly.

Capitals add centre depth

The Washington Capitals took advantage of the Chicago Blackhawks' aggressive decision to enter a re-build by grabbing 25-year-old forward Dylan Strome on a one-year contract.

The 6'3" centreman scored a career high 22 goals, plus 26 assists for 48 points in a struggling Blackhawks team last season and for the Capitals is a crucial addition to help negate the loss of Nicklas Backstrom, who expects to miss several months of the season at least with a severe hip problem.

Red Wings aim to be competitive

The Detroit Red Wings have gone six seasons without making the Stanley Cup Playoffs and this off-season General Manager Steve Yzerman has signalled the re-build period is over by adding several established players to his exciting core of youngsters.

Among the new players handed to new coach Derek Lalonde are goalie Ville Husso (from St. Louis Blues), forward Andrew Copp (from New York Rangers), defence pair Olli Maatta (from Los Angeles Kings) and Ben Chiarot (from Florida Panthers), but the under the radar addition might well be 34-year-old David Perron from the St. Louis Blues.

The 6'1" winger turned back the clock last season scoring 27 goals, 30 assists for 57 points in 67 regular season games, before impressing even further in the playoffs by bagging nine goals, four assists for 13 points in 12 games.

St. Louis didn't want to lose their long-time fan favourite but couldn't find the salary cap space to keep him, allowing the Red Wings to add a player who will help spark their powerplay which was 26th in the NHL last season.

Stars improve offence

The Dallas Stars were the lowest scoring team to make the NHL playoffs last season (2.84 goals-per-game), relying heavily on their above average defensive game to help them make the post-season.

Their scoring woes continued into the playoffs where they were beaten by the Calgary Flames in seven games averaging just 2.00 goals per game and 27.9 shots on goal, each the fewest among the 16 teams.

Dallas have used free agency wisely to try and help their offence by adding 27-year-old Mason Marchment from the Florida Panthers.

In 54 games last season, the 6'4" forward scored 18 goals, 29 assists for 47 points, all while getting just 14 minutes a night on the Panthers third line.

Dallas will likely play him alongside their best players Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, meaning a bigger role, more minutes and a greater opportunity to show what he can really do.

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Kraken get Cup champion

'Under the radar' may be stretching it a little for Andre Burakovsky's move to the Seattle Kraken.

However, with all the attention on fellow Colorado Avalanche free agents Nazem Kadri, Val Nichushkin, Darcy Kuemper among others, the reaction to his leaving and signing for the NHL's newest franchise was somewhat muted.

The 27-year-old proved himself as a bona fide top six forward in Colorado's run to the cup, scoring 22 goals, 39 assists for 61 points in 80 regular season games and three goals, five assists for eight points in 12 playoff appearances.

Agreeing a five-year deal with the Kraken, Burakovsky has been around the 20-goal mark in each of the past three seasons with the Avalanche and like the aforementioned Marchment, did it with a limited role on a team packed with stars ahead of him.

If he can hit the same numbers, or elevate them further with more responsibility the Kraken will be considerably better as they aim to make themselves a lot more competitive in the NHL.

Leafs mix up bottom six

The Toronto Maple Leafs went out of the playoffs at the first-round stage for the sixth consecutive season, but the narrow defeat to back-to-back champions Tampa Bay Lightning was one which was greeted widely with optimism.

Keeping faith in the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares, GM Kyle Dubas has again made the decision to shuffle his bottom six, and also mix up his goaltending with Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov replacing Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek.

Searching for something different to Ilya Mikheyev (moved to Vancouver Canucks) and Ondrej Kase (moved to Carolina Hurricanes), Dubas also snapped up cup champion Nicolas Aube-Kubel on a bargain $1-million, one-year contract.

The 26-year-old won't offer the same offense of the Mikheyev and Kase, but what he has proven is that can bring the intangibles need to help a team win in the playoffs, something the Leafs are desperately in need of.

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