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Consider the flurry of NHL news yesterday – former Norris Cup winners Zdeno Chara and PK Subban have retired; Nathan McKinnon has become the highest-paid player in the league – A wake-up call: hockey season is just around the corner. With summer officially ending today and training camps opening this week, here’s a sneak peek at how the seven Canadian teams are spending their off seasons:
Calgary Flames: For better or worse, no one has had a summer more exciting than a flame. It started with two of the team’s top players, Johnny Goudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, who have 40 goals, and decided they wanted to leave the Pacific Champions League. GM Brad Trilling could have been forgiven for getting caught up in rebuilding mode, but instead he went on the offensive, acquiring NHL captain Jonathan Huberdeau of Florida in a trade forced by Tkachuk and signing a two-way position Nazem Kadri in free agency. Whether or not this reload works, you have to respect the hustle.
Edmonton Oilers: Bolstered by Conor McDavid after an amazing season (33 points in 16 games) and Leon Drystle (32 points), Edmonton advanced to the third round for the first time in McDavid’s reign. They’ve been blown out of the water out there by eventual champion Colorado, but the hope is that new guard Jack Campbell (five years, $25 million) brings some much-needed stability to the curls. GM Kane Holland also made a big bet on Evander Kane, awarding the notoriously volatile striker a four-year deal worth $20.5 million after scoring 13 goals in 15 playoff games.
Montreal Canadiens: After finishing his league final last season, the Habs won the draft lottery and Juraj Slafkovsky won the No. 1 pick. The great Czech striker looks Pretty ready NHL Having played against top men in the Finnish league last season, he won the MVP award at the Olympics when he was 17 in Beijing. But there’s a much more shining award waiting in this year’s draft in WHL forward Conor Bedard, who is described as a generational talent. Montreal looks to be a leading lottery candidate once again as Carey Price’s future remains unclear and the team basically does nothing to upgrade their slate of slate over the summer.
Ottawa Senators: They’ve missed the playoffs five years in a row, but the days of the snooze wiper may be numbered. GM Pierre Dorion signaled a bold new direction on draft day when he sent three picks — including seventh — to Chicago for Alex Deberenkat, a 24-year-old with a pair of 40 goals already under his belt. Dorion also signed former 100-point player Claude Giroud and locked up young forwards Josh Norris (35 goals last season) and Tim Stutzel (22 goals, still only 20) on eight-year deals for $60 million each.
Toronto Maple Leafs: else Getting out of the first turn was like a hard pill to swallow. But GM Kyle Dupas wisely resisted quick calls to blow up a talented team after losing to a playoff game at the Tampa Bay Lightning borderline. Dubbas fixed his target, saying goodbye to Jack Campbell and Peter Mrazek and bringing in Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov – two team throws desperate for someone who could actually steal a chain. A fun wrinkle for the Leafs this season is their first NHL MVP title since the 1950s in 60 goals. Auston Matthews.
Vancouver Canucks: Aside from the 2019-20 season being cut short by the pandemic, Vancouver has not won a playoff streak since then. Hooliganism Losing to Boston in Game Seven of the 2011 Cup Final. Time finally ran out for general manager Jim Benning and coach Travis Green when they were sent off last December. Surprisingly enough, Patrick Alvin (the first Swedish General Motors in NHL history) and President Jim Rutherford did little to remake the team in their own image this summer. But, hey, maybe an entire season under coach Bruce Boudreaux would be enough to grab a watershed in the crumbling Pacific.
Winnipeg Jets: A team plagued by a lack of strong leadership heads into this season without a leader. Jets announced last week that veteran Blake Wheeler was stripped of c His duties will be filled by TBD group of alternates. Not a promising start for new coach Rick Bowness, the 67-year-old who was off the bench at Winnipeg in the 1980s. Despite their absence from the playoffs last season, the Jets aren’t trying anything new with their roster either. The Plan seems to be crossing her fingers and hoping the same people can do a better job this time around.