So often it's the under-the-radar signings of the offseason that make the biggest difference for playoff bound teams; this year is no different.
The Blue Shirts attracted Alex Frolov from the Kings which triggered a knee-jerk reaction from LA as they immediately signed Alexei Ponikarovksy to fill the gap; neither have panned out as their respective teams had hoped. While Frolov was expected to bring some much needed offense to New York it was fellow Kiev native Ruslan Fedotenko signed from the Penguins in the offseason who has had a great impac. The veteran of two cup wins has 13 points in 31 games, and his hulking 6'2", 200lb. frame are a great fit in a small-ish Ranger forward corps. The Kings made a surprising move giving Willie Mitchel 3.5Million/season over two years after many thought his career was in jeopardy. Mitchell has been sidelind over a month with a broken wrist but had four points in 11 games before being injured and was agreat fit with young stud Drew Doughty on the top unit.
The Flyers lured Nik Zherdev back from the KHL this offseason, but his 9 goals in 28 games aren't exactly living up to expectations. In yet another move with the Bolts the Flyers acquired defenseman Andrej Meszaros from the Bolts. While the former first round pick had disappointed in Tampa he has poste 11 points so far this year and is an astound plus-18 thus far, and has been a rock on a Philly D playing infront of a rookie Russian goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky who has got to be one of the top five new players in the NHL this season. The undrafted Ruskie puck-stopper was skooped from the KHL by Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and has posted a staunch 2.29 GAA to accompany a 14-4-4 record.
Penguins GM Ray Shero was busy re-stocking his teams blue line after the departure of Sergei Gonchar. He put an emphasis on two-way play bringing in Paul Martin and Zybnek Michalek after losing out on Dan Hamhuis in a number of high-profile offseaon moves. Martin and Michalek are begining to gel in a new look Pens group who are in the midst of a 12 game win streak, but it's another former Devil, the rugged Derek Engelland whos 5 points in 26 games along with a team high 67 PIMs have been a big impact on the Penguins.
Canucks GM Mike Gillis rolled the dice signing Raffi Torres to a one year one-million dollar pact and Torres has been a great fit on the bigger, badder, better Canucks third line riding shotgun for the league leading face-off man Manny Malhotra, who inked a three-year 7.5 million dollar contract with the Nux this past season also. They've been stellar with a revolving door of linemates bringing grit and scoring to the Canucks bottom nine, both playing special teams roles for their new club.
Montreal picked up well traveled Jeff Halpern and the 34 year-old veteran who split time with Tampa and Los Angeles last season has been a shocking offensive jugernaut with 16 points in 31 games this year. After recording the last of three 40+ point seasons with the Capitals Halpern hasn't had more than 25 in the past four. He's on pace to eclipse the 40 point plateau once again for the Northwest Division leading Habs.
Rookie GM Steve Yzerman had Brett Clark picked to shore up the Lightning blue line early in the offseason, and while many doubted Clark's ability the former Canadien's draft pick is the teams highest scoring d-man.
I'm sure there are quite a few more names that deserve mention in this list, but of those mentioned above all are now on playoff bound teams whos GM's and Scouting Staff can find the roll players to get the job done.