Did you ever wake up in the morning and just get that feeling that something big was going to happen. I mean something BIG! Well, Wednesday morning came and of all the folks I spoke to, not one said they had that feeling so, apparently, the National Hockey League decided to take care of that for all of us with some very BIG news with players signings and blockbuster trades.
Who were the winners of the day? I’m glad you asked…
Columbus keeps up with the Joneses
The day began with the Columbus Blue Jackets announcing they had re-signed pending restricted free agent defenseman Seth Jones to a six-year contract extension worth $32.4M with an annual average value (AAV) of $5.4M. The final two years (2020-21, 2021-22) of the deal also includes a Modified No Trade clause meaning he will submit a list of 10 teams to which he cannot be traded.
“I had no thoughts of signing with another team,” Jones said. “I love Columbus.”
Who won? Jones and the Blue Jackets.
Jones (21) is one of the new style of defensemen who not only take care of their defensive zone, they are quick and fast skaters and are able to lead the rush or join it and Columbus is smart to lock him up with this deal.
Hall tailor-made for New Jersey
As people began to come to terms with the Jones signing, Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli open eyes when word got out that he had traded the number one overall selection at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Taylor Hall, to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson, who was drafted fourth overall in the 2011 draft.
To say this deal was a surprise would be an understatement.
Hall has become the face of the Oilers since his draft day and has gone on to produce 328 points on 132 goals and 196 assists in 381 career games for a struggling club. The speedy forward has been an integral member of Team Canada, which has won gold at the last two World Championships.
Hall did not hide his disappointment in being traded.
“It’s disappointing. I was there for six seasons, so you certainly develop a relationship with the team and the city and with the fans,” Hall said. “I’m disappointed that I’m not going to be able to see that through. But I’m excited that I’m going to be able to play for a team that wants me. It’s not that Edmonton didn’t want me, but I certainly do feel a bit slighted by the whole thing. In saying that, I’m excited for New Jersey and I’m excited for the chance that’s in front of me now.”
“Taylor is a dynamic player with speed and youth that changes the complexion of our team,” New Jersey general manager Ray Shero said. “We feel he fits into the direction we wanted to go a year ago, which is that fast, supportive and attacking style.”
In Larsson, Edmonton gets a defenseman, who is an underrated, big (6-foot-3, 205 lbs) physical, blue liner who is highly adept at defending his zone. He is strong at making the all-important first pass that generates break outs. During the course of his career, he has put up 9 goals, 60 assists, 69 points in 274 career games. He averaged 22:30 Time On Ice this past season, which exhibits his value as a defenseman.
“He can match up against all the top forwards,” Chiarelli said. “He can move the puck, and he has more skill to show also.”
Who won? New Jersey shares the Metropolitan Division with the newly-crowned Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils have a young club with decent speed. Adding Hall makes them faster and gives them a proven NHL goal scorer. The deal makes them more competitive with division rivals New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Columbus.
Stamkos chooses Tampa Bay over free agent waters
The Tampa Bay Lightning made a big splash when they made it known that upcoming unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos had agreed to remain with the organization.
Stamkos’ new contract will pay a total of $68M over eight years. It carries an annual average value of $8.5M.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was happy with Stamkos’ decision to remain in the Sunshine State.
“Obviously, I’m extremely pleased for us to be able to announce we’ve been able to sign Steven Stamkos to an eight-year contract extension as an organization and I think I can speak on behalf of everybody here in Tampa, we are thrilled to make this announcement,” Yzerman said. “Ultimately, he (Stamkos) had to come to the conclusion as to what he wanted to do, what’s important to him, and somewhere along the way, he felt, as he had stated all along that he wanted to remain in Tampa and he’s willing to accept the contract that we proposed. Throughout the entire process, I don’t think this was about money but what it says about him is, he’s very loyal.”
Stamkos tweeted out his feelings about his new contract.
“Excited to be back 8 more years @TBLightning! here we go…..”
Tampa Bay signing Stamkos sent shockwaves throughout the NHL. Reports from around the League painted the relationship between the Lightning captain and head coach Jon Cooper as less than rosy. It is now being reported that the two men have settled their differences.
Stamkos was the number one pending unrestricted free agent target of at least 10 teams looking to acquire a player who is one of the best pure goal scorers in the game. A veteran of eight NHL seasons, all with the Lightning, Stamkos has amassed 312 goals, 250 assists, 562 points in 569 career games. Only Alex Ovechkin has scored more goals (362-312) since the 2008-09 season.
Tampa Bay has made deep runs into the Stanley Cup playoffs over the last two seasons (Stanley Cup Final in 2015, Eastern Conference Final in 2016) and it only makes sense that Stamkos would want to remain as the captain of the Lightning. It is, most likely, just a matter of time until he hoists the Stanley Cup.
Who won? C’mon, really?
Stamkos wins financially and with the security of the term. The Lightning win because they have secured the services of one of the best players in Tampa Bay’s history and let’s not forget the game of hockey. Success breeds success and with the Lightning and their neighbors to the south, the Florida Panthers, being Stanley Cup contenders, the game is growing in the state of Florida. The number of youth hockey players there is increasing and we are seeing players entering the NHL who were trained in the state. With players like Stamkos to emulate, it will not be long before we see a steady stream of NHL players who call Florida, home.
PK + Shea = Blockbuster
Just when you thought it was safe to go back onto the ice, the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators pulled off one the biggest blockbusters in recent memory by exchanging defensemen PK Subban and Shea Weber, two of the best rearguards in the League and two of its star skaters.
There had been rumors that Subban could be dealt out of La Belle Province but Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he would not trade the 2013 Norris Trophy (best defenseman) winner but that took a sudden turn on Friday when, according to Bergevin, Nashville general manager David Poile called him and offered Weber. Talks continued throughout the week and the trade was consummated Wednesday.
Drafted 43rd overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Subban (27) has spent his entire seven-year NHL career with Montreal. He enters the 2016-17 season with a total of 278 points on 63 goals and 215 assists in 434 career NHL games.
“I’m excited to get down there,” Subban said from Paris, where he is spending his vacation. “I got along with a lot of the guys during All-Star weekend (in Nashville) and some of the guys have already reached out. I want to come in, listen and learn. In turn, I want to be a leader and a great player for the franchise.”
Weber (30) was selected 49th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by Nashville. In 763 career NHL games, the elite defender – who has had his slap shot recorded at 108 mph – has scored 166 goals, and assisted on 277 totaling 443 points.
“We completed today an important transaction which I am convinced will make the Canadiens a better team,” Bergevin said. “It was also one of the most difficult decisions I had to make as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens. In Shea Weber, we get a top-rated NHL defenseman with tremendous leadership and a player who will improve our defensive group as well as our power play for many years to come. Shea Weber led all NHL defensemen last season with 14 power-play goals. He is a complete rearguard with impressive size (6-foot-3, 235 lbs.) and a powerful shot. P.K. Subban is a special and very talented player. He provided the Canadiens organization with strong performances on the ice and generous commitment in the community. I wish him the best of luck with the Predators.”
Who won this monumental trade?
When comparing the two players, it is virtually a tie when it comes to who is the better defender, who is the better passer and playmaker. Both are leaders on and off the ice and both bring a wealth of experience to their new clubs. The one difference that stands out is skating ability. Weber is a strong, mobile skater and because of that is rarely out of position. He also relies on his intelligence (hockey IQ) to know where to be and when to be there. Subban is a more explosive skater. He is the faster skater of the two. Subban handles the puck better and has the ability to carry the puck deep and make plays or score goals. When the play turns up ice toward his zone, he has the speed to get back and defend against opponent’s rushes which allows him to break up plays.
When one comes right down to it, the NHL is now a league that is built on speed and without it, a team will struggle. Nashville added the faster player, who has not needed to try to adjust to this new NHL and therefore, at this point, consider this deal a win for Nashville.
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.