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
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 66th
overall 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 100th
season 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.
Labels: Ian Palmer