A loud crack of thunder woke me up from my nap earlier today. When I checked my phone I initially thought I was dreaming. In the three hours that I was asleep, three major NHL deals had gone down. Two premier defensemen were swapped, and one of the league’s best players was re-signed to a massive deal. Let’s break this down a little bit…
Canadiens trade P.K. Subban to Nashville in exchange for Shea Weber
–My initial gut reaction to this trade was, “the Blackhawks now look like even more of a wild card team next season.” I know that’s incredibly pessimistic, and after thinking for a while I’ve kind of backtracked on that train of thought.
-Regardless, one of the league’s best players is coming to the Central Division. The Habs and Preds essentially swapped All Stars in this deal, even though I think Nashville won the trade by a mile. I think the change of scenery might do both players some good.
-Subban will immediately add some flair and speed to Nashville’s defense. P.K. will be P.K. in the Music City (still can’t believe Montreal ran him out of town). What’s not exciting is the Blackhawks having to face him more than twice a year now.
-Shea Weber is no doubt a premier defenseman in the NHL. But moving from the slow, physical Western Conference to the speedy, high pace East could spell trouble for him. Weber looked slow in this year’s playoffs, and thinking back to the Hawks-Preds 2015 playoff series he seemed to disappear at times. I don’t remember him being much of a factor.
-This just adds another player into the already loaded Central Division. When was the last time we saw a division this good (talent wise, on paper) in the NHL? It hurts my mind to predict the Hawks, Blues, Stars, and Predators fighting it out at the top. Also throw in Minnesota, who always seems to find a way to be there at the end. That leaves Colorado and Winnipeg at the bottom, and even they aren’t guarantees. It’s just top to bottom the best in the league. With that, and given their roster, there’s a good chance the Hawks could be a wild card team next year. Not necessarily because they’re bad, but because of the logjam near the top of a really good, and really close, division. To me, 1 through 5 in the Central is a complete toss-up.
Stamkos re-signs with Tampa Bay with an eight-year deal worth $68 million
–Stamkos ultimately made the decision to stay put, which came as a surprise to me. I thought he may test the waters of Toronto, Buffalo or Detroit. Especially with the amount of young talent amassing in Tampa.
-When the Lightning made their run to the East finals this year with Stamkos out with an injury, I wondered if the team would really push to bring him back. If they let him go they still had a team equipped to compete for the Stanley Cup. I wasn’t sure it would work out, but they found a way to keep him in Florida for the next eight years. The East goes through Tampa Bay. Stamkos and the Lightning will run the conference for the foreseeable future.
Oilers trade Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson
-It has to be a tough pill to swallow for Oilers fans having to trade away another former No. 1 pick in the draft. Dealing Hall brings a much-needed puck-moving defenseman to Edmonton as they try to build around Connor McDavid. Hall was the first of FOUR number one draft picks for Edmonton starting back in 2010.
-This deal helps both teams as the Oilers get the defense they’re looking for, while the Devils add some scoring to a team that was dead last in that category in 2016. When you get four top picks, the chances of holding onto all of them seems quite slim.
-So is Edmonton there yet? I feel like we’re here every summer debating if the Oilers are ready to put it all together. They apparently aren’t finished making moves yet either. Paging Milan Lucic…