Playoffs guide NHL's summer upgrades

Updated: September 21, 2011, 2:17 PM ET
By Craig Custance

Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi explained it this way: When you're first rebuilding a team, it's about putting a respectable product on the ice. Sometimes you add veterans Lombardi called "bridge players," the connection between respectability and contention.

"You have to get a team on the ice," Lombardi said.

Look at what the Florida Panthers did this offseason: They added bridge players. The Panthers have a lot of young talent that will eventually form the nucleus of a strong playoff team if Dale Tallon's track record holds true. Most likely, some of the players signed this summer won't be a part of that.

After a core is developed and it's time to challenge for the Stanley Cup, the evaluation of the offseason additions changes.