The National Hockey League is going to look unrecognizable to the common fan next season.
Since the start of free agency Oct. 9, the league has seen superstars land in new places. Primarily, goaltenders were on the move. The combination of duel threat goalies and the sheer coincidence of a plethora of goaltenders on the market made this off-season quite interesting.
Goalies who once ruled the Eastern Conference for their respective teams are now elsewhere. King Henrick Lundqvist went from ruling New York to his rival in Washington D.C. As for the former Vezina winner in the nation’s capital, well, he is now over the border in Vancouver.
Two-time Stanley Cup Champion Matt Murray signed a juicy contract with the Ottawa Senators after being traded. The New Jersey Devils signed two-time Stanley Cup champion and longtime fan-favorite of Chicago, Corey Crawford.
Try and keep up. Breakout goalie of the year Jacob Markstrom went from Vancouver to Calgary despite some major drama involving the Edmonton Oilers push for Markstrom. Edmonton settled for Mike Smith. Former Oilers and Flames netminder, Cam Talbot ended up in Minnesota. Stanley Cup bubble hero, Anton Khudobin, re-signed to Dallas. Robin Lehner re-signed to Vegas.
Time to judge the goalie moves with no other reasoning other than hot take analysis. Vancouver’s move for Holtby is one I particularly like.
Although they are losing a stud in Markstrom, they get a cup champion and Vezina winner for less money. Not to mention, they have the best young back-up in the entire league, Thatcher Demko. He is no doubt going to learn from the veteran Holtby and set Vancouver up for success for years to come.
A move I find baffling is Edmonton’s with Mike Smith. He is a good goalie and teammate but not championship caliber. Edmonton needs to win now, they signed Kyle Turris, Tyler Ennis and Tyson Barrie, but a sub-par goalie will not get McDavid atop the hockey mountain.
Another doggie-doo-doo move is Vegas signing Lehner and keeping Fleury. Their playoff push made it clear the coach had no clue who to start and when.
Having two top tier starting goalies is a bit ridiculous. It costs too much, causes tension in the locker room, and adds a headache to the coach if one has a stretch of bad games. Both Lehner and Fleury deserve a starting job in the NHL. It would not surprise me if one were to be traded midseason.
I wish the best for Matt Murray in his new home in Ottawa. The Sens are going through a complete re-build and have made it clear Murray is their guy for years to come. A group of young guns will feel safe having a two-time cup champ who practiced with the greatest players in the world on a daily basis.
As for non-goalie free-agent signings, there have been major moves. For starters, the St. Louis Blues captain, Alex Pietrangelo, signed a monster contract for the Vegas Golden Knights. St. Louis responded by signing their Stanley Cup foe, Torey Krug, from the Boston Bruins. Boston, in turn, locked up Matt Grzelyck.
Shockingly, former MVP Taylor Hall signed in Buffalo. Hall was the top sought free agent forward and landed in the hockey capital of the U.S. Hockey fans from all over are excited to see what he can do with Jack Eichel.
There were so many moves made and more to come. So again, let’s judge all the teams moves based on my very own, all things right no things wrong hot take analysis.
A team I think made some of the best moves is the Calgary Flames. The Flames added a No. 1 goalie in Markstrom, a solid defenseman in Chris Tanev, and a shifty forward in Dominik Simon while only losing T.J Brodie.
Now a team that was arguably the best in the West and now is certainly that, Colorado Avalanche. GM Joe Sakic is a sorcerer. He signs the best players for the lowest price.
The team only got better by re-signing Andre Burakovsky, Ryan Graves, Tyler Jost and Valeri Nischukin. They traded a can of chew and a bag of pucks for the solid defenseman, Devon Toews, from NYI.
Teams that sucked at the free agency frenzy are many, but I will only name a few. The Chicago Blackhawks have signed minimal players for a max of two years. The LA Kings and New York Islanders must still be in quarantine because they have not made any moves.
Of course, the team that made the most moves is Toronto. They signed T.J Brodie, Wayne Simmonds, Zach Bogosian, Joe Thornton and Travis Dermott just to name a few.
Overall, it will take a few weeks into the new season to get used to the leagues’ new look. Many players that have been with their teams for a very long time are now gone. It is one of those off-seasons that reshapes the league.
Powerhouse teams like Washington and Pittsburgh are now falling off to young talent like Colorado and Tampa Bay. So, sit down, shut up, drink a beer, and enjoy the madness.