Hockey is back – here’s what Canada’s NHL teams did this summer
This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, the daily email newsletter for CBC Sports. Stay up to date on what’s happening in games by subscribing here.
Consider yesterday’s flurry of NHL news – former Norris Trophy winners Zdeno Chara and PK Subban are retiring; Nathan McKinnon Is Becoming the League’s Highest Paid Player – Your wake-up call: Hockey season is upon us. With summer officially ending today and training camps starting this week, here’s a quick catch-all of how the seven Canadian teams spent their off-seasons:
Calgary Flames: For better or worse, no one had a more interesting summer than flames. It started with two of their best players, 40-goalers Johnny Goudreau and Matthew Takachuk, deciding they wanted to leave the champions of the Pacific Division. GM Brad Trelliving would have been forgiven for falling into rebuilding mode, but he went on the attack instead, with NHL leader Jonathan Huberdeau from Florida in a forced trade by Takachuk and signing two-way center Nazem Qadri in free agency. helped to do. Whether or not this reload works, you have to respect the hustle.
Edmonton Oilers: Driven by an incredible post-season run for Conor McDavid (33 points from 16 games) and Leon Dresitl (32 points), Edmonton reached the third round for the first time in the McDavid era. They were blown out of the water there by eventual-champion Colorado, but hope new goalkeeper Jack Campbell (five years, $25 million US) brings some much-needed stability to the crease. GM Ken Holland also made a big bet on Evander Kane, scoring 13 goals in 15 playoff games after handing the notoriously volatile forward a four-year, $20.5M deal.
Montreal Canadiens: After finishing last in the league last season, the Hubbs won the draft lottery and took on Juraj Slafkowski with the No. The big Czech forward looks pretty NHL-ready after playing against the big men in the Finnish league last season and winning Olympic MVP honors as a 17-year-old in Beijing. But an even more spectacular prize awaits in this year’s draft at WHL forward Conor Bedard, who is touted as a generational genius. Montreal looks like a top candidate to win the lotto again as Carrie Price’s future is still unclear and the team is doing basically nothing to upgrade its bland roster over the summer.
Ottawa Senators: They’ve missed the playoffs for five consecutive years, but the Senses’ doormat days may be numbered. GM Pierre Dorian signaled a bold new direction on draft day when he sent three picks – including No. 7 overall – to Chicago for Alex Debrinkt, a 24-year-old with a pair of 40-goal seasons already on his own. under the belt. Dorian also signed former 100-point man Claude Giroux and hired young forwards Josh Norris (35 goals last season) and Tim Stutzl (22 goals, and still only 20 years old) for north of $60 million for eight years. closed in deals.
Toronto Maple Leafs: another Getting out of the first round was a tough pill to swallow. But GM Kyle Dabas wisely resisted knee-jerk calls to blow up a talented team after their razor-thin playoff loss to the borderline-dynastic Tampa Bay Lightning. Dubs meets his goal by saying goodbye to Jack Campbell and Petr Marzek and bringing in Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov – a pair of darts desperate for someone who can actually steal a chain. A fun wrinkle for the Leafs this season is that they have the reigning NHL MVP in 60-goal scorer Austin Matthews for the first time since the ’50s.
Vancouver Canucks: Apart from the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, Vancouver has not won a playoff series since a riot-triggered loss to Boston in Game 7 of the 2011 Cup Final. The clock finally ran out on general manager Jim Benning and coach Travis Green when they were fired last December. Not surprisingly, Patrick Allwyn (the first Swedish GM in NHL history) and chairman Jim Rutherford did little to remake the team in their own image this summer. But, hey, maybe a full season under coach Bruce Boudreau will be enough to grab a playoff spot at Ricky Pacific.
Winnipeg Jets: A team plagued by a lack of strong leadership this season without a captain. The Jets announced last week that veteran Blake Wheeler has been dropped from C and that his duties will be filled by an alternate TBD set. Not the most promising start for new head coach Rick Bones, a 67-year-old lifeguard who was behind the Winnipeg bench in the 80s. Despite crashing out of the playoffs last season, the Jets aren’t looking to try anything new with their roster. Looks like “The Plan” is keeping its fingers crossed and hoping the same people can do better this time.