So far, many of those GMs have put their clubs in a much better position than a season ago. The end result should be one exciting postseason.
With that in mind, here is NHL.com's top 10 acquisitions, whether it be through free agency or trade: 1. Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks --
After losing Brian Campbell to Chicago, San Jose struck quickly to find another offensive defenseman. On July 4, the Sharks sent defenseman Matt Carle, prospect Ty Wishart, and first- and fourth-round draft picks in 2009 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Boyle.
While the price Sharks GM Doug Wilson paid was steep, it appears to have been well worth it. Forty games into the season, Boyle was the team's top scorer among defensemen and was fourth on the team in scoring with 34 points. 2. Marian Hossa, Detroit Red Wings --
If you can't beat them, join them.
Such was the case for one of the League's best two-way forwards, as Hossa signed a one-year deal with the Wings after he and the Pittsburgh Penguins lost to that club in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final. While many were expecting Hossa to sign a long-term deal in Pittsburgh or elsewhere, the Slovakian forward opted for the short-team deal in Motown.
With Hossa on board, Detroit hasn't missed a beat. The club has been battling with San Jose all season for the Western Conference lead, while Hossa is one of the team's top three scorers along with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. 3. Brian Campbell, Chicago Blackhawks --
Dale Tallon was hoping to add a No. 1 defenseman to his young, talented group. On July 1, he did just that by signing Campbell to an eight-year deal worth $56.8 million.
Campbell's arrival has helped put the Blackhawks -- who participated in the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic -- back on the NHL map. Halfway through the season, the 29-year-old is Chicago's top defensive scorer and he's clearly helped bring some of the younger players along.
When it's all said and done, Campbell may very well be the final piece that ends the Blackhawks' seven-year playoff drought. 4. Mark Streit, New York Islanders --
The Isles may have the worst record in the NHL, but Garth Snow was behind the wheel for one of the best signings of the summer.
Hoping to find a power-play quarterback who could also play solidly in his own end of the ice, Snow landed the former Montreal Canadiens defenseman July 1 with a five-year deal worth $20.5 million.
Streit arrived on Long Island with the stigma that he wasn't very good in his own zone. However, he had put that to bed with the Islanders as he's been, by far, the team's best defenseman. Without a doubt, the Isles could certainly use four more years of this. 5. Ty Conklin, Detroit Red Wings --
Not even Conklin could have expected the amount of playing time he's received since leaving Pittsburgh for Detroit. Now, Conklin is clearly one of the summer's best and most underrated signings.
With Cup-winning starter Chris Osgood battling early-season injuries and poor form, Conklin has stepped up to the plate and performed as one of the League's most consistent goalies after signing a one-year deal with the Red Wings.
Halfway through the season, Conklin and Osgood split the goaltending duties right down the middle. Conklin had one more victory than Osgood (15 to 14), and his goals-against average was 2.32 compared to Osgood's 3.02. 6. Michael Ryder, Boston Bruins --
After scoring just 14 goals in 70 games for Montreal in 2007-08, Ryder has turned things around in Beantown after signing a three-year deal worth $12 million.
Skating alongside Marc Savard, Ryder already scored 17 goals in the Bruins' first 42 games, to go along with a plus-21 rating. His ability to score from anywhere in the offensive zone is one of the biggest reasons why Boston has been the best team in the Eastern Conference during the first half of the season.
Even if he has just a mediocre second half, Ryder should eclipse his career high of 30 goals, which he set in 2005-06 and again in 2006-07. 7. Todd Bertuzzi, Calgary Flames --
Not many teams were willing to take a gamble on the injury-plagued power forward, but Calgary GM Darryl Sutter must be glad that he did.
Bertuzzi, who signed a one-year deal for $1.95 million, has played a big offensive role for the Flames this season, especially on the power play and in other key situations. Five of his first 11 goals came with the man advantage, and three of them were game-winners.
After injuries limited him to just 15 games in 2006-07, Bertuzzi appeared in 68 for the Anaheim Ducks last season and is well on his way to eclipsing that this time around in Calgary. A bargain. 8. Pavol Demitra, Vancouver Canucks --
Other than the Sedin twins, one could make the argument that Demitra has been the Canucks' best offensive player.
That was just what Vancouver brass was hoping for when it signed Demitra to a two-year deal worth $8 million on July 9. With 12 goals in his first 34 appearances, Demitra is well on his way to topping the 15 tallies he had last season with the Minnesota Wild.
With Mats Sundin now in the fold, Demitra could be primed to enjoy a big second half of the season. 9. Kristian Huselius, Columbus Blue Jackets --
Looking to take some pressure off captain Rick Nash, the Blue Jackets added some scoring touch on the second day of free agency when they signed Huselius to a four-year contract.
With 25 points in his first 39 games, Huselius has indeed chipped in for a team that was desperate to find help for Nash. Others have chipped in as well, such as Derick Brassard, now injured, and R.J. Umberger. The latter was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers on draft day.
If Huselius can enjoy a solid second half of the season, and if Nash can stay healthy, the Blue Jackets could be in the race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs until the very end. 10. Jose Theodore, Washington Capitals --
He struggled early, but the former Hart Trophy winner has picked up his game in recent weeks and has helped Washington return to the top of the Southeast Division standings.
Theodore, who left the Colorado Avalanche to sign a two-year deal worth $9 million this summer, won 14 of his first 25 appearances. He won two of his first three starts in January, allowing just five goals along the way. Those outings helped him lower his GAA to 2.89.
While he may not be the goalie he was five or six years ago, that doesn't mean Theodore is not capable of playing at a high level. If he gets hot in April, the Caps could go on a serious run.