Welcome to NHL free agency day 2016.
Stay tuned to THN.com for up-to-minute analysis of all the biggest deals, as they happen.
The Lightning kicked things off in a big way on Wednesday by signing Steven Stamkos to an eight year extension. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t big names that will be on the move Friday, and beyond.
Get acquainted with who’s available by checking out our list of the Top 30 (now 29) free agents. You can also check out a list of every move made so far this off-season in the Transactions Log.
Shea Weber for P.K. Subban. Oh, baby. What a trade. Even if most of us agree the Nashville Predators won the deal by acquiring the younger, currently better Subban, this was a legit hockey trade. Weber still finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting this past season. We witnessed a swap of two players still close to the top of their class at their position.
Was Weber for Subban the most significant 1-for-1 trade in NHL history? We can make that case given both players are in their primes. The Hartford Whalers dealt Chris Pronger to the St. Louis Blues for Brendan Shanahan in 1995. That was a helluva straight-up deal, involving two future Hall of Famers (and player safety execs), but Pronger was a kid at the time. He hadn’t yet blossomed into his Hart Trophy form. It may seem bigger than Weber for Subban in hindsight but, if we factor in each player’s status when the trade happened…Weber for Subban wins.
We’ve probably seen bigger blockbusters than Weber for Subban, but it’s awfully tough to find those in which a single player went for a single player. Pierre Turgeon for Pat LaFontaine? That deal involved six players and a pick. Eric Lindros for Peter Forsberg? The Nordiques got half a team in that trade along with Foppa. Luc Robitaille to the Penguins for Rick Tocchet? A Second-rounder went to L.A. along with Tocchet. Dany Heatley for Marian Hossa? Nope, the Atlanta Thrashers got Greg de Vries, too. Even Martin St-Louis for Ryan Callahan included the Tampa Bay Lightning acquiring draft picks.
It’s extremely rare to find a pure 1-for-1 matching the magnitude of Weber for Subban or, heck, Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, which happened in the same friggin’ hour. Scott Stevens went to the New Jersey Devils in 1990 for Shanahan, but that wasn’t a trade. Stevens was awarded as compensation for the Blues inking Shanahan.
So Weber for Subban thus may have the title belt. We could keep going and dig through every trade in NHL history, but there are only so many hours in the day – which happens to be the eve of July 1, free agency day. So I’ll let you toss out more candidates in the comment section. And I’ll present the 10 biggest 1-for-1s of the salary cap era, factoring in players’ status at the time of the deal. Brian Elliott for Craig Anderson may sound like a major move today, but it wasn’t when it happened in 2011. This list factors in which 1-for-1s blew us away in the moment.
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.
For a fleeting moment, before P.K. Subban, Shea Weber and Steven Stamkos stole the spotlight, Wednesday’s blockbuster trade between the Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils was the off-season’s biggest story. Left winger Taylor Hall for defenseman Adam Larsson. One player for the other. No salary retained.
The transaction was…poorly received by the Edmonton Oilers fanbase judging by the social media response. “Worst trade in NHL history” isn’t a term tossed about lightly, but it popped up repeatedly. Taylor Hall is among the best left wingers in the game, blessed with major speed and scoring ability. He was the first overall pick of the 2010 draft. His 0.86 points per game since arriving in the NHL in 2010-11 ranks 26th, ahead of Joe Pavelski, Vladimir Tarasenko and Tyler Seguin over that stretch. Hall even made a concerted effort to improve his defensive ability under new coach Todd McLellan this season. Hall had the second best 5-on-5 relative Corsi on the Oilers after Brandon Davidson among regulars with 400 or more minutes played, per puckalytics.com. Better yet, Hall has four years left on his contract at a $6-million cap hit. That’s quite reasonable.
But now Hall is a New Jersey Devil. Only one man, Larsson, heads the other way. Losing Larsson, who had begun to mature into a big-minutes NHL defenseman, leaves a gaping hole on New Jersey’s blueline, but it was clearly a “who cares” trade for GM Ray Shero. You don’t pass up Hall for Larsson. You fix your D-corps later.
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.
The excitement over the Steven Stamkos Sweepstakes has gotten Jim Benning in trouble with the NHL.
The Vancouver Canucks GM was fined $50,000 by the league on Tuesday for tampering. The charges stem from comments Benning made on the radio last week about Stamkos, and Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.
BUFFALO – The Buffalo Sabres walked away with an impact Russian defenseman early in the NHL draft after all. No, it wasn’t Mikhail Sergachev, as they passed on him for a forward in Alex Nylander during Friday’s first round at No. 8 overall. Instead, GM Tim Murray upgraded his blueline Saturday morning by acquiring veteran Dmitry Kullikov and pick No. 33 (Rasmus Asplund) in Saturday’s draft from the Florida Panthers for D-man Mark Pysyk, picks No. 38 and No. 89.
Some trades are easier to understand than others, and this deal, first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, makes perfect sense for the Sabres. They were very clearly in the market for a veteran top-four blueliner, commonly linked to the Anaheim Ducks’ Cam Fowler. Kulikov, a tenacious left-handed shooter who blocks shots with aplomb, shores up Murray’s blueline. Rasmus Ristolainen remains the cornerstone piece, and Kulkov, Cody Franson, Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges provide depth. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kulikov play on the top pairing with right-shooting Ristolainen.
Just as we’ve seen with the Leafs landing Frederik Andersen and the Coyotes signing Alex Goligoski, the Sabres send a message here they’re ready to start competing as a playoff hopeful. They’ve amassed a nice pile of promising young scorers in Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Nylander. They have their No. 1 stud blueliner in Ristolainen. Why not pick up an impact veteran in Kulikov, still young at 25, and start trying to push for a post-season berth in the weak Atlantic Division?