Canadian NHL teams: Off-season progress report
1st spring without playoff hockey in 46 years
From top draft picks to new coaches to big-time free agent signings, Canadian teams have been among the busiest in the NHL this off-season following the first spring without playoff hockey in Canada in 46 years.
A progress report on the happenings so far:
Biggest move: Traded for Brian Elliott
The Flames haven't stopped moving this off-season, pulling off significant changes in key areas.
Glen Gulutzan was hired to replace Bob Hartley, the 2014-15 Jack Adams Trophy winner, as Calgary's head coach. It's the second NHL head coaching job for Gulutzan, who served as an assistant in Vancouver for three seasons.
Calgary also took serious steps toward addressing a goaltending situation that was woeful last season. The club traded for new No. 1 Brian Elliott and then signed Chad Johnson to be his backup on July 1. Elliott boasts the second-best save percentage in the league (.925) over the past five seasons, a substantial upgrade over last year's duo of Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo.
Beyond the crease, the Flames got a boost up front by signing veteran Troy Brouwer to a rich four-year deal before buying out Mason Raymond, a disappointment over two seasons in Calgary.
The Flames added Matthew Tkachuk with the fifth overall pick at the draft, a promising piece to pair up front with Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and 20-year-old Sam Bennett.
Still to come for Calgary are new contracts for Monahan and Gaudreau, both as yet unsigned for next season.
Biggest move: Traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson
Edmonton GM Peter Chiarelli made no secret of his intention to find help on defence following a 10th straight season without playoff hockey. Chiarelli made that happen by sending former No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall to New Jersey for 23-year-old Adam Larsson. It was an admittedly need-based (and risky) trade for the Oilers, who like Larsson's upside as a top pairing defender.
Edmonton also plunged deep into the free agent market and came up with heavy winger Milan Lucic on a seven-year deal worth $42 million US. Lucic was arguably the top available free agent on July 1 and adds a rough, if pricey, veteran edge up front. A quieter signing later in the day saw the Oilers add backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.
Edmonton's high-potential forward group has also gotten deeper. Finnish winger Jesse Puljujarvi was plucked with the fourth overall pick and Drake Caggiula, a Pickering Ont., native who led the University of North Dakota to a Frozen Four title, was signed to a two-year deal.
Biggest move: Traded P.K. Subban for Shea Weber
Montreal won't soon forget this off-season. On the same day that Edmonton dealt Hall, one of the NHL's top left-wingers, Montreal sent away 27-year-old defenceman and former Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban, flipping him to Nashville for 30-year-old Shea Weber. Rumours of discontent had bubbled around Subban and the Canadiens for some time. Still, it was jarring to see Subban dealt for a player four years his senior and seemingly on the decline.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergervin said he valued the experience and leadership Weber, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, could bring to the club's defence.
Bergervin continued his bold summer by signing 30-year-old winger Alex Radulov for one season. Radulov left the NHL in 2012 after a messy tenure in Nashville, starring in the KHL for four seasons before joining the Habs. The Radulov signing came on the heels of a trade for Andrew Shaw, the feisty former Chicago Blackhawk promptly signed for six years and more than $23 million.
Montreal sought to solve a hole in goal behind returning starter Carey Price, landing Al Montoya on the free agent market. The club also drafted Mikhail Sergachev, the OHL's reigning defenceman of the year, with the ninth overall pick.
Biggest move: Hired Guy Boucher as head coach
The quietest of the seven Canadian teams this off-season, the Senators made their biggest splash on May 8 when they hired Boucher to replace Dave Cameron behind the bench. Boucher, who last ran an NHL bench with Tampa in 2013, is the fifth Senators coach since 2008, hoping to turn around a squad that gave up a league-leading 32.8 shots per game last season.
Ottawa, which picked huge American centre Logan Brown (six foot six, 208 pounds) with the No. 11 pick at the NHL draft, stayed predictably quiet on July 1, signing only minor league talent before bringing back veteran Chris Kelly on a one-year deal.
New Senators GM Pierre Dorion still has to sign 26-year-old winger Mike Hoffman and 22-year-old defender Cody Ceci. Hoffman, 19th in the NHL with 56 goals over the past two seasons, elected for salary arbitration. His hearing is Aug. 4 in Toronto.
Biggest move: Drafted Auston Matthews with No. 1 overall pick
The Maple Leafs made Matthews not only their first top pick in 31 years, but the first player to don the club's new sweater, a fresh take on an old look that features a big, booming version of the team's new logo. A potential franchise centre, Matthews was one of 11 draft picks made by the club in Buffalo.
The Leafs also landed their hopeful goalie of the future just before the draft, trading for 26-year-old Frederik Andersen before gambling on the Danish keeper with a five-year deal. Toronto later traded former No. 1 Jonathan Bernier to Anaheim and is now seeking a veteran backup for Andersen.
Once a major player in free agency, the Leafs only scooped up 27-year-old hit machine Matt Martin on a four-year deal and brought back 30-year-old defenceman Roman Polak for one season. Polak rejoins a Toronto defence that will presumably include Nikita Zaitsev, a 24-year-old formerly of the KHL.
Three Leafs are due for three salary arbitration hearings in the coming weeks: Frankie Corrado, Peter Holland and Martin Marincin. The club already signed pending restricted free agents Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly to six-year deals earlier this off-season.
The Leafs' biggest swing of the summer ultimately missed, with star forward and Toronto-area native Steven Stamkos opting to remain in Tampa.
Biggest move: Signed Loui Eriksson to six-year deal
Canucks GM Jim Benning let it be known that his club was chasing the most attractive summer assets — Stamkos and Subban — a move for which his club was penalized $50,000 for tampering. Benning managed to strike on July 1, however, inking Swedish winger Loui Eriksson to a six-year deal worth $36 million. The second-lowest scoring team in hockey last season, the Canucks needed firepower and Eriksson, who scored 30 goals last season, helps fill that void somewhat.
Vancouver also sought change on defence, trading 20-year-old centre Jake McCann for 24-year-old defenceman Erik Gudbranson, a now-rather-than-later transaction for a club that finished last season with the third-worst record in hockey. The Canucks, which lost long-time defender Dan Hamhuis to free agency and bought out disappointing winger Chris Higgins, look much the same otherwise.
The club did sign Jacob Markstrom, the (hopeful) long-term solution in goal to a three-year deal which takes effect in 2017, also selecting promising Finnish defenceman Olli Juolevi with the fifth overall pick at the draft. Juolevi was the highest-scoring defenceman for the Memorial Cup champion London Knights.
Biggest move: Drafted Patrik Laine with No. 2 overall pick
The Jets were the surprise winner at the draft lottery, leaping past four teams for the right to pick second at the draft and select Finnish highlight maker Patrik Laine. Laine joins one of the league's most impressive groups of young talent that includes 23-year-old Mark Scheifele, 20-year-old Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor, who led the NCAA with 71 points as a University of Michigan freshman.
Beyond the draft, the Jets were also busy locking key members of their current core while also adding a piece from the outside. Scheifele, a restricted free agent who had a career-high 29 goals and 61 points last season, was inked for eight years and $49 million. Matthieu Perrault, who wasn't due to be a free agent until next summer, was signed for four years. Goaltender Michael Hutchinson re-upped for this year and next.
Veteran winger Shawn Matthias, meanwhile, was signed for two years on July 1.
Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has one more move to make: promising American defenceman Jacob Trouba is due a new contract.