Contractual obligations force your trusty correspondent to declare the definitive list of winners and losers from the first day of free agency at a time before the ink is dry on all of the contracts. Who knows who won the day? After all, Thomas Vanek hasn’t even been a healthy scratch as a Detroit Red Wing yet.
With that in mind, we present our Winners and Losers from Canada Day, better known as the Start of Silly Season. If you subscribe to the theory that is held by a number of GMs that more mistakes are made on July 1 than any other day of the year, then perhaps the biggest winners are the teams that did nothing. Maybe it was the Colorado Avalanche, who picked up two players who were not extended qualifying offers and another who was bought out for a total cap hit of $5.3 million.
But that’s no fun. You, dear readers, demand Winners and Losers. Please keep in mind that everyone overpays. So here goes:
Let’s agree on one thing: Alexander Radulov in hockey-mad Montreal should be interesting.
Will inking Radulov to a one-year, $5.75-million contract go down as a stroke of genius for Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin? Or will it be another ill-fated tire kick, as we saw with enigmatic Alexander Semin last year?
It’s very difficult to say. Radulov, who turns 30 next week, has been one of the KHL’s best players in the eight seasons he’s spent there. He hums along at well north of a point per game, year in and year out. He’s a Gagarin Cup champion.
We can’t classify him alongside recent KHL import busts like Roman Cervenka or Sergei Plotnikov because, of course, Radulov isn’t a traditional import. He cut his teeth in major junior, scoring like crazy with the Quebec Remparts under coach Patrick Roy. The Nashville Predators chose Radulov 15th overall in 2004. He scored 18 goals as a rookie with the Preds in 2006-07 and, in his last full NHL year, posted an impressive 26 goals and 58 points in 2007-08. He was just 21 then. The guy can play. He returned after a completed KHL season to finish out his entry-level NHL deal in 2011-12 and, in 17 games split between the regular season and playoffs, had four goals and 13 points. We know Radulov can handle the North American game.
During a 2011 NHL playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins, iconic ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ play-by-play man Bob Cole exclaimed ‘Everything is happening!” during a frantic series of play.
It has become a go-to saying for hockey fans, especially on Twitter, during periods of excitement or big news. It can definitely be applied to what happened on Wednesday afternoon.
While many fans, pundits, and media sat and waited for big news to start happening on Friday during the official start of free agency, several teams swooped in and made a series of blockbuster moves. Each move on its own could have carried a news cycle for a day, but three came in such rapid succession that it nearly “broke the internet”, as they say.
Here’s a timeline of what went down on Wednesday:
The record will show that P.K. Subban was officially traded by the Montreal Canadiens on June 29, 2016. But in reality, the seeds of it were sown on Feb. 1, 2013 when a GM who used to be a fringe player and a stubborn coach tried to beat the individualism out of their best skater. That’s the day that GM Marc Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien killed the ‘Low 5’ celebration that Subban used to do with goalie Carey Price.
They got past that, but like the couple that we all knew would divorce one day, the split became inevitable. And the Canadiens can spin this any way they’d like, but their decision to move Subban for Shea Weber has the potential for being an absolutely terrible hockey trade, one that could set the franchise back enormously. And it was done because one player brought too much attention to himself and some of the people around him couldn’t stand that.
All the P.K. Subban trade chatter turned out to have some merit after all.
On Wednesday, the Montreal Canadiens sent the all-star defenseman to the Nashville Predators for fellow all-star Shea Weber in a blockbuster, straight up, deal.
Subban, 27, had been, along with goalie Carey Price, the face of the franchise for the past five years. He was a two-time all-star, and won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2012-13. Last season, he scored six goals and 51 points in 68 games before missing the final 14 games of the season with a neck injury.
Seven years after the Montreal Canadiens made him a first-round draft pick, center Louis LeBlanc is hanging up his skates. But don’t worry about his post-hockey career opportunities — he’s going back to Harvard to continue to his studies.
According to a report, LeBlanc decided to retire after finishing his 2015-16 season in the Swiss league with Lausanne, and has been in Boston looking for apartments.
The Montreal Canadiens have signed center Andrew Shaw to a six-year contract worth $3.9 million per season and $23.4 million overall. For a team looking to bounce back from a bad year, adding a two-time Stanley Cup winner is a good start.
BUFFALO – In what has become an annual event, the Chicago Blackhawks have done a summer dismantling of their team in an effort to fit their roster under the salary cap. Along with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Montreal Canadiens are the beneficiaries. And it may have come one year late, but Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin got a Blackhawk he coveted.
It was widely believed Bergevin was prepared to give Brandon Saad an offer sheet last summer, which was what prompted the Blackhawks to trade him to the Columbus Blue Jackets. But at the draft this year, Bergevin got Andrew Shaw, a player he scouted for the Hawks when he was their director of player personnel in 2011.