It is now the beginning of August, a time where the NHL and NHL off-season are both absolutely dead. There are few notable free agents left unsigned and most of a team’s trading is done until next season.
This NHL off-season has been especially exciting because of the expansion draft in Las Vegas. This has triggered one of the more intriguing summers in recent memory. Sure, the free agent market was not incredible, there were no deals like the Shea Weber for P.K. Subban deal and the draft was projected to be fairly weak, but the expansion draft added an extra dimension to the way teams conducted their business.
This NHL off-season will have a large impact on the NHL. It will be looked back on far longer than after the 2017-18 season concludes.
Top 10 Moves of The NHL Off-Season
10. Nashville Predators Extend Ryan Johansen
There was never any real doubt that the Predators and Johansen would not work out a deal for the restricted free agent, but the money was the biggest of any contract given out during the 2017 NHL off-season. Johansen received an eight-year, $64 million contract, keeping the defending Western Conference Champions number one centre in Smashville. The loss of James Neal to the Vegas Golden Knights allowed the Preds to go all in on Johansen, raising the 25-year-old’s seasonal expectations. Johansen is no longer another young gun. He is one of the faces of the franchise and will be expected to perform like one.
9. Philadelphia Flyers Trade Brayden Schenn To the St. Louis Blues For Jori Lehtera
The Blues were the hottest team to finish the 2017 regular season. They look to keep that momentum going into next season. Schenn will join a core of players where the majority are in their primes. He gives the Blues a high energy, physical, goal scorer who can play big minutes on the power play. Lehtera was acquired along with the 27th overall pick (Morgan Frost), and a first round pick in 2018. Lehtera is basically a cap dump at this point.
This trade seems like an immediate win for the Blues. However, the long-term result will not be known until Frost and the 2018 first rounder make it to the big leagues.
8. The Predators Acquire Alexei Emelin
This is one of many trades that the Golden Knights made just days after selecting their first roster. Emelin is a great addition for the reigning Western Conference Champions. Emelin makes the Nashville defensive core perhaps the best in the entire NHL. The Preds look to finish the business they started in April. Joining former Montreal Canadiens teammate P.K. Subban, Emelin will spend most of his time penalty killing and on the third pairing. This was a great fit for Nashville and only cost them a third round pick.
7. The Vegas Golden Knights Select Marc-Andre Fleury
The most speculated move by the Golden Knights, Fleury was a must have for Vegas. Coming off claiming his third Stanley Cup, Fleury had fallen out of the starter role with the Pittsburgh Penguins but now has a chance to be the face of a new franchise in Vegas. He may not be an elite goaltender, but he has an abundance of winning experience. Fleury should help bring together the makeshift roster that Vegas has assembled. Vegas may not be competitive right away, but expect Fleury to be one of the shining stars for at least the next couple of years.
6. The Dallas Stars Trade for Marc Methot
Methot’s future was always up in the air after being an obvious target of the Golden Knights but he may have ended up in the second best place next to Ottawa. Dallas has been struggling over the last three years to keep the puck out their net and Methot should add much needed support. Methot proved during the playoffs with the Ottawa Senators, that he can shut down a team’s top players and will try and replicate that ability in Dallas. Though it may have been hard to leave the Sens, Methot should find a great fit in Dallas and help the Stars become competitive in 2017-18.
5. The Flyers Select Nolan Patrick With The Second Overall Pick
Every year of the NHL draft there is an incredible amount of hype for which of the two top talents will go first and second overall. Usually there is a clear favourite and the hype is just so journalists have more stories to tell but this year, the selection was actually up in the air. Nico Hischier was selected by the New Jersey Devils with the first pick and Patrick fell to the Flyers. Patrick has the obvious skill-set of a first line forward and should fit in perfectly on the Flyers; assuming he stays healthy. He put up 102 points in his 2016 OHL season, including 41 goals and should add scoring to a Flyers team that struggled as much as any team to score in the second half of 2016-17.
Patrick has first overall talent, and the Flyers are hoping to see that in his first year with the team.
4. The New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers Swap Jordan Eberle For Ryan Strome
In one of the more confusing moves of the NHL off-season, the Oilers and Islanders swapped forwards; hoping that a change of scenery would be good for each player.
Eberle has been a face of the Oilers franchise since his rookie year but will now get to play with one of the leagues top play makers and former World Junior teammate, John Tavares. Anyone who plays with Tavares typically does pretty well and Eberle should be no different. He struggled at the end of the 2017 season but could have a career revitalization in Long Island.
For Strome, going to Edmonton is just a much needed change. Since being drafted fifth overall in 2011, Strome has struggled to find consistency as an Islander. Moving to Edmonton gives Strome the chance to grow with a young team. It should let him find where he belongs in the NHL. Strome will be playing for a contract in 2017-18. He will want to impress his new general manager Peter Chiarelli in his first season as an Oiler.
3. The Stars Trade For And Sign Ben Bishop
This was the move that kick started the NHL off-season; while there was still hockey being played. On May 9th, the Stars acquired Bishop from the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick and would soon sign him to a six-year, $29.5 million contract. The Stars have had goaltending controversy for the past two season and are trying to finally put an end to it by signing Bishop. The 6’6″ tender is a two-time Vezina Trophy candidate and at 30 years old, still has a couple years of his prime left to give. He sports a .921 career save percentage and a 2.28 career goals against average. Bishop should assume the starting role in Dallas and will have to be a key cog if the Stars hope to return to the form they held in 2015-16.
2. The New York Rangers Lock Up Kevin Shattenkirk
The highest regarded unrestricted free agent of 2017, Shattenkirk and the Rangers worked out a next to perfect deal. On July 1st, Shattenkirk was locked down to a four-year, $26.6 million deal and both parties could not be happier.
Carrying an annual average value of $6.65 million, the Rangers are paying Shattenkirk exactly what a top-pairing defender should be making. The term is also perfect. Shattenkirk will not turn 32 until the final year of his contract. If the Rangers love what they have, they can extend him.
For Shattenkirk, he goes from one contender to the next. With the Rangers, Shattenkirk will get to play in front of one of the NHL’s best goalies and gets to play in one of the league’s top defensive cores. Alongside defenders like Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal, Shattenkirk will have a chance to play a lot of offence from the blue-line and quarterback an already good power play. This was the only perfect contract of the NHL off-season and should yield results as soon as the regular season commences.
1. The Montreal Canadiens Deal Mikhail Sergachev For Jonathan Drouin
This may not have been the best move of the off-season, but it certainly made the biggest splash. On June 15th, days away from the NHL Draft, the Canadiens acquired Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning and quickly signed him to a six-year, $33 million contract extension.
Drouin had an interesting time with the Lightning and it was crazy to see a trade of this magnitude happen after those speed bumps appeared to be behind him. Despite the circumstances, this trade was a great move for Montreal. The speedy winger just adds more depth to an already stocked position. He is also only 22 years-old; giving him the potential to become a franchise cornerstone for years to come.
In the Lightning’s case, they no longer had to deal with the Drouin’s restricted free-agent status. Instead they get a defensemen with a ton of potential. Sergachev was the Canadiens first round pick in 2016 (ninth overall). He could help out an aging Lightning defensive-core fairly soon. Though it may be at the very start of next season, it could be be at the beginning of the playoffs, or in 2018.
Until the 2018 second round pick that Tampa received in the trade pans out, it will be hard to declare a winner but it was definitely the biggest move of this NHL off-season.
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