Updated: Jul 19, 2022
With the NHL offseason now in full effect, there have been a lot of changes around the league both trades and signings alike. Some teams are loading up for a playoff push, others seemly look like they don't have a plan at all. Here are some of the most interesting offseason moves so far.
Starting off with the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Av's are re-signing playoff hero Artturi Lehkonen to a 5-year deal worth 22.5 million dollars. This is a big move for them because he was key to their success in the playoffs, and the trade the Avalanche made with Montreal at the trade deadline definitely was a success. Now they are rewarding Lehkonen for his services. Lehkonen was tied for 4th on the team for most goals scored in the playoffs, and scored the goal that sent them to the Stanley Cup Final, a feat he accomplished with Montreal a year ago as well.
The Avalanche will be searching for a new starting goaltender with the loss of Darcy Kuemper to the Washington Capitals, signing a 5 year 26.25-million-dollar contract. Kuemper is a solid goaltender, He is tall and lengthy which is always good attributes to have as a goalie, but he isn't the flashiest goalie. He will get the job done on most nights as long as the team around him plays well enough, but he won't win you many games like some of the top goalies in the sport. His reputation suffers a bit from playing on some bad teams early on in his career, starting off with the Wild, which were actually a pretty average team. But, ultimately it was his years as the goalie for the Arizona Coyotes that plagued him a bit.
Since joining the Avalanche almost exactly a year ago, he has recorded a .921 save percentage, a 2.54 goals-against average and five shutouts in 57 starts for the Colorado Avalanche in 2021-22.
However, it was his playoff performance this year that gathered interests from teams when he posted 2.57 goals-against-average, a .902 save percentage, 1 shutout, and obviously a Stanley Cup championship. The Avalanche felt as though he wanted too much for the numbers he produced and thought they could get something cheaper for maybe a little better production. which is why they traded for Alexander Georgiev on draft night and signed him to a 3-year deal worth up to 3.4 million a year. Georgiev was the backup for this year's Vezina trophy winner Igor Shesterkin and future hall of fame goalie Henrik Lundqvist, and was very vocal about not getting enough playing time, so this will be a nice fresh start for him.
A move to keep an eye on is the future of Nazem Kadri. Kadri had the best statistical season of his 13-year career with the Avalanche this season, tallying 87 points in 71 regular season games, 26 more points than his previous best season. At the time of writing this article, we are 5 days into NHL free Agency, and he is still unsigned. The likelihood of the Avs resigning Kadri before free agency started was not very high, as they are running low on cap space and have contracts like Nathan Mackinnon to worry about in the coming year. But with his interest seemingly at a standstill, it's possible that a return to the Av's could happen and they really could use a strong second line center like him. Kadri has said he would like to stay in Colorado so it's possible he is just waiting on the Av's or another team to clear space for him.
Columbus Blue Jackets:
A move that shook the Hockey world was the Blue Jackets signing Johnny Gaudreau to a 7 year 68.25-million-dollar contract. Columbus has been a plagued franchise for years, they would draft players that would turn out to be very talented productive players, they have traded for talented players, but in the end, they could never keep them long term, whether that be because they couldn't succeed with them or simply just didn't want to pay them anymore.
This signing is a franchise changing move because it's not just the fact that Johnny "Hockey" Gaudreau chose to sign with them, it's the fact that Gaudreau turned down a bigger contract offer from the only team he has ever played for in the Calgary flames. Johnny WANTED to play for the Blue Jackets and that's not something many players have publicly said over the years. Gaudreau, a 5-time All-Star, is now teaming up with the likes of Patrik Laine, Jake Voracek and Oliver Bjorkstrand, in what should be an exciting offense to watch. Will Columbus's misfortunes turn around now? I guess we will see.
Throughout the regular season and postseason there was one glaring weakness in the Oilers locker-room. goaltending. The Oilers immediately addressed their most significant need by signing Jack Campbell to a 5 year 25-million-dollar contract. Although Campbell does come with some questions, considering he is 30 years old with only 135 NHL games under his belt, he has been a statically consistent throughout his tenure with the Maple Leafs posting a goals-against-average of 2.50, a save percentage of .916, and 7 shutouts in his 3 years in Toronto. The only thing keeping The Oilers from advancing where they want to go was consistency between the pipes and with Jack Campbell, they can now hopefully feel more confident in their goalie situation going into next season.
Another move the Oilers made was the resigning of Evander Kane, Edmonton gave Kane a 4 year 20.5-million-dollar deal. The 30-year-old Nuisance may not be valuable in the goal scoring department, surpassing 30 goals only twice in his career, but he makes up for it in other ways like getting under the skins of his opponents, which can be just as valuable. he is one of those players where you hate playing against him but love playing with him.
What the hell are the Chicago Blackhawks doing? That is the question many fans around Chicago have been asking the last 3-4 years. This team was a historic dynasty just a few years ago winning 3 Stanley Cups in 6 years. Since then, it's been nothing but losing and controversy. In the wake of the Kyle Beach sexual assault scandal, the Blackhawks vowed to rid anyone involved with that scandal from the organization.
Less than a year later from that vow, the Hawks are doing just that. this is the most extensive teardown I have ever witnessed in sports in this short amount of time. In the front office some of names that are no longer with the Blackhawks are Stan Bowman the general manager, John Mcdonough the president, and Al MacIsaac the vice president. as well as coach Jeremy Colliton and legendary play by play announcer Pat Foley who recently retired.
This controversy and tear down even affected ex-Hawks coach John Quenneville who stepped down as coach of the Florida Panthers when the investigation finished earlier in the NHL season. What really gets under my skin is, during a town hall meeting in February, the Blackhawks opened questions to the media about the direction of the franchise, team owner Rocky Wirtz went on a tirade about questions asked about the sexual assault scandal. Amongst many ridiculous things he said it was this comment that made me the angriest," I think the report speaks for itself. The people that were involved are no longer here. we're not looking back at 2010, we're looking forward, and we're not going to talk about 2010."
With all due respect Mr. Wirtz, and right now it's very little, you are wrong. There is one person still in the Blackhawks organization that was involved in 2010. Rocky Wirtz. Do not try and act like you were not in the loop of what was going on, you did, and to act like this isn't a big issue and to just move past this terrible situation acting like the media, or YOUR FANS don't need to know what's going on shows me he is no longer fit to run the organization. no amount of turnover will EVER undo what happened.
To go with all the front office turnover, we have also seen many roster changes as well. Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, Brandon Hagel, Marc-Andre Fleury, Dylan Strome, and Dominik Kubalik, all of which are no longer on the team. There are only 3 remaining players currently on the team that was on the 2019-2020 roster. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Connor Murphy. It raises the question of how long Kane will and Toews will continue to wear a Blackhawks jersey after all these moves. Once they are gone, and they will most certainly be moved at some point, the illustrious story of the Chicago Blackhawks of the 2010s will officially be over, if it wasn't over already after the scandal.
There is some good to take from all this turmoil though. Alex Debrincat and Brandon Hagel were by far the Blackhawks most valuable assets, they are both young, cheap, and elite offensive wingers. The Blackhawks traded Hagel at the trade deadline to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Taylor Raddysh, Boris Katchouk, and two 1st round picks, a 2023 and 2024. This being the start of the official tear down of the roster. On draft night the Blackhawks traded Debrincat for the 7th overall pick and the 39th pick. That same night Kirby Dach was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for the 13th and 66th pick. The Blackhawks used their 3 first round picks to draft two defensemen Kevin Korchinski and Sam Rinzel, and center Frank Nazar.
Some smaller moves that happened is the Vegas Knights trading Max Pacioretty to the Carolina Hurricanes for "future considerations" the moves are most likely linked to the Jack Eichel trade the Knights made in order to clear some cap space, but Max gives the Hurricanes another high-level goal scorer to go along with their young core.
Lastly Ondrej Palat signed a 5-year deal worth 30 million dollars with the New Jersey Devils. It'll be interesting to see what the Lightning will do to replace Steven Stamkos longtime linemate.
With all the transactions going on it'll be interesting to see how this upcoming season plays out, make sure to follow along at TDT Media for more content!