Less than 24 hours remain before the free agency frenzy officially begins and some blockbuster level trades have already taken place.
To address the elephant in the room, Steven Stamkos is remaining a member and captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning for a long, long time. Yesterday the Lightning announced that they had re-signed their captain to a 8 year deal worth $68 million dollars with an annual average value of $8.5 million dollars. This deal finally closes the door on Stamkos watch and a multitude of possibilities which had him signing in Detroit, Buffalo, Toronto or a bunch of other cities. General Manager Steve Yzerman was able to not only bring back his captain and most valuable player, but also keep Jonathan Drouin and get him to withdraw his trade request.
Stamkos was arguably the most coveted free agent this offseason and for good reason. Since being drafted the Lightning first overall in 2008, Stamkos has amassed 562 points in 569. Stamkos has been the captain of the Lightning since 2014 and won the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy, for most goals in an NHL season, in 2010 and 2012. He is also a four time all-star and led the Lightning in goals in six of the last seven seasons with two of those seasons seeing Stamkos surpass the 50 goal mark.
“We are very appreciative of the effort and commitment that Steven and his representatives have exhibited in getting a deal done,” GM Steve Yzerman said. “We are excited to have him as a cornerstone part of the team for the next eight years as we continue in the franchise’s ultimate goal of winning another Stanley Cup.”
Shifting to blockbuster trades, the first trade that not only broke Twitter, but also shocked most of the internet was Taylor Hall being shipped to the New Jersey Devils from the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Adam Larsson. Not many trades in the NHL are one for one and many fans took to social media to address their distaste with the trade. Many Oilers’ fans thought they could have gotten much more for Hall, but the trade does address a need for both teams. The Oilers desperately needed defense and they got that in Adam Larsson. Larsson, the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, has plenty of room to grow at only 23 years of age and will certainly help the Oilers blueline. In the 2015-16 season, Larsson registered 18 points in 82 games and was a +15. Taylor Hall on the hand is arguably one of the top left wing forwards in the NHL today. Drafted first overall in 2010, Taylor Hall has racked up 328 points in 381 and will immediately bolster the Devils offense with his scoring touch. Hall has eclipsed the 50 point mark 4 times in his 6 NHL seasons and accumulated 65 points in 82 games last season. Hall is also only 24 and has 4 years remaining on his contract with an AAV of $6 million dollars. Hall will also get to reunite with a former teammate on the Windsor Spitfires, Adam Henrique, where they won the Memorial Cup together in 2009 and 2010.
Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli was quoted saying, “In the last four or five months, I’ve been very public in saying that we’re looking for some defenseman. We really have to shore up our defense and we pounded the pavement, and this is the price you have to pay.”
Many Oilers fan are unhappy to see Hall leaving, but with the looming rumors of Milan Lucic signing in Edmonton as a free agent, it makes Hall even more expendable. Also, with winger Jesse Puljujarvi dropping to the fourth pick in the 2016 NHL Draft it gave the Oilers more room to work with regarding moving one of their forwards for a defenseman. Although many people are upset about the return for Hall, Larsson may prove to be just what the Oilers are looking for and this will be a trade that will be examined and watched closely for years to come.
Lastly, to end the day off with a bang, Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K Subban was traded to the Nashville Predators for captain and all-star defenseman Shea Weber. This was a trade even I didn’t think was real when I first saw it. To have a one for one trade is peculiar in itself, but to have two in the same and involving elite caliber players is something almost unheard of. Subban and Weber are both top defenseman in the league and after years on their respective teams they will be moving on. Subban, drafted 43rd overall in the 2007 draft, has posted 278 points in 434 games and in the 2015-16 season recorded 51 points in 68 games. Weber, drafted 49th overall in the 2003 draft, has amassed 443 points in 763 games and in the 2015-16 season totaled 51 points in 78 games. At first glance, this trades benefits both the Canadiens and Predators. Both teams are getting a superstar return in Subban and Weber and will both fit in nicely with their new teams. Subban can be slotted anywhere on the Predators’ blueline and be deadly and Weber can easily come into Montreal and be their top defenseman as he was in Nashville. This trade will not be one that can have an immediate winner. This is a trade that will take years to decide who had the advantage. With Subban comes 6 years remaining on his contract with a $9 million dollar AAV at age 27. With Weber comes 10 years remaining on his contract with an AAV of $7,857,142. Although the Predators have slightly more to pay per year, they’re gaining 3 years of age with Subban compared to Weber. On Montreal’s side, general manager Marc Bergevin has sped up the Canadiens’ window to win a Stanley Cup. However, bringing in Weber alone will not be enough to win the Stanley Cup no matter how good Carey Price plays. Looking back in years to come, this may turn out to be one of the most interesting trades in NHL history.
The free agency period and offseason have shown to be some of the most hectic times to be a hockey fan, but also one of the most exciting. Many big named free agents are still on the market and in less than 24 hours many will be signed to new deals, in new uniforms and playing for new teams. What do you think was the most surprising trade of the day? What teams got better? Which got weaker?