Trying to make sense of a crazy day in the NHL
Hitting the unrestricted free agent market for the first time, Steven Stamkos was slated to be the most coveted player come July 1. With suitors lining up for him, Stamkos could easily have gotten $11-$12 million from other teams, but who can blame him for wanting to stay in Tampa with an ultra talented Lightning squad that is banging on the doorstep of Lord Stanley’s Cup.
With Stamkos off the market, the day — and perhaps the off-season — wasn’t going to be as interesting, right? I mean, there was no way P.K. Subban would be on the move after being the subject of many trade rumors around the NHL Draft, right? And no way would Peter Chiarelli allow history to repeat itself in Edmonton, right?
On this day, the Stamkos news was just the calm. Then came the storm.
First, it was Chiarelli trading one of the cornerstones of the Oilers’
never ending rebuilding effort franchise, Taylor Hall, to the Devils for Adam Larsson, a once promising defenseman that hasn’t lived up to the hype after being drafted fourth overall in 2011. This gives Chiarelli the dubious distinction of trading the top two selections in the 2010 Entry Draft. By Friday, when Loui Eriksson hits the market, the Bruins could be left without any asset from the Tyler Seguin trade on Independence Day three years ago, spearheaded by Chiarelli, Cam Neely and the Bruins’ brass.
Chiarelli also has the honor (or lack thereof) of acquiring Brett Connolly, the sixth overall pick from the 2010 draft, for two second round picks to Tampa. Connolly was not tendered earlier this week. Another example of asset management working against the Bruins.
Including Seguin, Connolly and Hall, the top six players in the 2010 draft have already been dealt during their careers. Nino Niederreiter, Erik Gudbranson and Ryan Johansen all found new homes within the last two seasons. A trivia question for years to come.
Yet, in a day full of narratives, one trade will be discussed for years to come. A trade that many in the hockey world, especially in Montreal, thought was unthinkable.
In another ‘hockey trade’ P.K. Subban, arguably the face of the Habs franchise both on and off the ice, was dealt to Nashville for Shea Weber. In the short term, the Canadiens should get good production out of Weber, but with 10 years left on his deal north of $7 million per season and the fact that the now former Preds captain has logged a lot of miles will put GM Marc Bergevin in a bind if or when he tries to unload that contract.
Even with some of the tension between Subban and Michel Therrien that was highlighted after a Habs loss to the Avs in February, and even after tense contract negotiations that nearly took Subban and Montreal management to arbitration in the summer of 2014, the possibility of the 2013 Norris Trophy winner leaving the legendary franchise seemed unfathomable.
After what seemed like a foregone conclusion of Subban spending the rest of his career in Montreal, we’re now discussing a trade that could turn into the worst transaction in Canadiens’ history when it’s all said and done. Move over, Patrick Roy.
As for the Bruins, well, they’re still stuck in mediocrity. Unless they can find a way to acquire a two-way defenseman like Kevin Shattenkirk or do the unthinkable of signing Jacob Trouba or the other RFA blue-liners to an offer sheet and give up four first round picks in the process, their ceiling will remain the same going into the fall — a fringe playoff team.
The fact that GM Don Sweeney, President Cam Neely and the rest of the front office wasn’t involved in these deals drawn up by Sweeney’s predecessor or Bergevin is actually giving Bruins fans a chance to celebrate. If that’s not an indication of the state of the franchise, then I don’t know what is.