Some interesting NHL activity has taken place since the Pittsburgh Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup back in June and in case you’ve been away on summer holidays here’s a recap of some of the more notable events and developments.
Out in Colorado, head coach and vice president of Hockey operations Patrick Roy resigned from the club as he didn’t see eye to eye with his boss and former Hall of Fame teammate Joe Sakic. The Avalanche then hired 44-year-old Jared Bednar to replace Roy as head coach even though he has no prior NHL experience. Bednar played junior hockey with the Prince Albert Raiders and was the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters last season, who just happened to win the Calder Cup. Also out west, the Winnipeg Jets named Blake Wheeler as their new captain and the Los Angeles Kings took the C off of Dustin Brown’s sweater and handed it to Anze Kopitar.
In New York, the Rangers received some good news when coveted free agent Jimmy Vesey chose to sign with the club after being courted by several teams throughout the summer. The 23-year-old Vesey, who played college hockey at Harvard in the U.S., was sought by his hometown Boston Bruins as well as the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks. Vesey won the 2016 Hobey Baker Award as the top American college player last year.
Many fans believed he would end up in Toronto as the Leafs already have his brother Nolan in the organization and his father Jim also works for the club as a scout. Vesey was originally drafted 66thoverall by the Nashville Predators in 2012, but couldn’t agree on a contract with the club. The Buffalo Sabres then traded for his negotiating rights earlier this year, but also failed to sign him.
In other free agent news, the most sought-after player this offseason was definitely Tampa Bay forward and captain Steven Stamkos. He was also linked to several teams, but ended up disappointing them all by re-signing a long-term deal with the Florida franchise. The next big-name player to hit the unrestricted free-agent market will be New York Islanders’ centre and captain John Tavares.
However, the 25-year-old has already told the press that he wants to stay with the Islanders and hopes to sign a contract extension before his current deal runs out in two year’s time. Tavares said there’s no reason to leave and he believes his team has the talent to win a Stanley Cup in the near future.
There were a couple of high profile trades during the offseason with the Edmonton Oilers dealing 24-year-old forward Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for 23-year-old defenceman Adam Larsson. Hall, a former first-overall draft pick by Edmonton in 2010, said he will be changing his sweater number with the Devils to nine from four since number four has been retired by the franchise. In case you’re wondering, Hall of Fame defenceman Scott Stevens used to wear number four with New Jersey. Hall racked up 328 points in 381 games with the Oilers before being shipped out of town. Larsson was the fourth-overall pick by the Devils in the 2011 draft and had 69 points in 274 contests with the team.
The biggest deal though took place between the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville when the Habs sent possible future Hall of Fame defenceman P.K. Subban to the Predators for another possible Hall of Fame blueliner in Shea Weber. The 27-year-old Subban is a former James Norris Trophy winner and had 278 points in 434 games in Montreal while the 31-year-old Weber had 443 points in 763 outings in Nashville. Weber has also reached the 20-goal barrier three times in his career, including a pair of 23-goal campaigns.
The Ottawa Senators announced they will be honouring former captain Daniel Alfredsson in a pre-game ceremony on December 29th. Over in Calgary, the club signed their top restricted free agents Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan and also hired former Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney as a pro scout. Also in case you missed it, American centre Auston Matthews went first overall in the 2016 NHL Draft to Toronto while Finnish winger Patrik Laine went second to the Winnipeg Jets and Canadian winger Pierre-Luc Dubois was taken third by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Most experts had forward Jesse Puljujärvi of Finland ranked ahead of Dubois and he was snapped up by Edmonton with the fourth pick.
The NHL is celebrating its 100thseason in 2016/17 and it faces off about a week later than usual this year as the first puck will be dropped on October 12th. However, fans will be able to enjoy the eight-team World Cup of Hockey tournament from September 17th to October 1st.