The off-season, the most dreaded time of the year, everyone waits anxiously until the season starts again. Although this off-season has been quite exciting as of late, July 1, 2016, was a big day in the NHL. A lot of big name players were shopped somewhere else and raised a lot of eyebrows. Now some teams benefited tremendously, while others did not. A few teams that made some major moves to enhance their line-up were the New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins. Of course with the exception of a few other teams that enhanced their line-ups but these few teams made a few moves that are going to pay off during the regular season, big time.
The New Jersey Devils
NJD added one major offensive weapon, a nice role player as well as a nice solid piece of their defensive core. With the addition of Taylor Hall, it’s obvious how much of an impact he will be. With Hall’s offensive talent and great skating ability, it’s a no-brainer that he will have major upside in New Jersey. Hall had 65 points in 82 games last year on a sub-par Edmonton team, now adding him to the mix with his old junior hockey teammate Adam Henrique, things are starting to look bright in Jersey.
Also with the addition of Beau Bennett, who has the experience from Pittsburgh, and will play an essential bottom six forward role on this team, helps balance out the Devils line-up. Adding recent Stanley Cup winner Ben Lovejoy to the mix also helps to bring stability to the Devils defense.
Boston acquired a great veteran player for their line-up who is able to score goals, play big minutes and will most defiantly help this Bruins team get back to the playoffs. David Backes, who recently made a strong run through the playoffs but fell short yet again, has the experience and leadership skills to fit smoothly into this Bruins line-up. Adding Backes with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci will help the Bruins make that push back to the playoffs, after missing the playoffs for two straight years. Also, re-signing defensemen Torey Krug to a four-year deal helps to lock him in and mold the Bruins defensive core.
The Preds showed signs of how dangerous they can be this year and made a great mid-season transaction to boost their offensive production (Ryan Johansen). With the biggest trade of the off-season so far, while many say Nashville lost in this trade, I think Nashville rather gained here. The addition of P.K. Subban, who’s proven to be one of the best defensemen in the league, adds a great deal of help to the offensive side of the puck as well as the defensive side.
Subban is an energetic player who can do it all, the new Pred possesses great offensive ability which will help Nashville’s powerplay – scoring 51 points last year. The oldest of the three Subban brothers is obviously a very physical defenseman, who plays a great two-way game. Nashville have all the pieces in place, let’s see how this move pays off for them.
Florida locked up their top three defensemen by adding Keith Yandle and Jason Demers. Now with Yandle, Demers, and Ekblad the Panthers have a solid defensive core, with a great set of goaltenders behind them, Roberto Lungo and James Reimer. Florida struggled defensively last year, but adding Yandle’s 45-50 points a year and big piece to their powerplay will be a major key to Florida’s success this year. Demers is not a flashy player who is going to put up big numbers, but he’s definitely going to add stability to that Florida defensive core.
Other Big Deals
A few other notable off-season moves that are just too hard not to mention are ones like the Buffalo Sabres signing forward Kyle Okposo. Buffalo is doing anything to get this team back on track and be a potential playoff contender. The Minnesota Wild also made a big move, signing forward Eric Staal, Staal still has a lot of upside to his game, and being able to play with Zach Praise will be a major key to the Wild’s success during the year. An under the radar move that will help the Vancouver Canucks this season is the signing of forward Loui Eriksson. Eriksson now has the chance to play with the Sedin twins. Whilst everyone knows what they are capable of, they just added another talented forward in Loui Erikkson.