If you took your eyes off of your TV or Twitter feed on Wednesday in a feeble attempt to accomplish something productive with your life, you may have just missed missed the wildest half-hour transaction-wise in the history of the NHL.
Media, fans, and general managers from Oil Country to La Belle Province seemingly lost their collective minds as frantic news of trades and signings involving some of the games biggest stars broke at an (almost) un-trackable pace.
Around 330pm EST reports of the first trade were confirmed, and what followed were the confirmation of two more transactions that still have the hockey universe in a world of surprise.
Hall has been a fixture on the Oilers top line since being drafted first overall in 2010. Putting up 80 points including 27 goals in 2013-2014, he has been one of the few bright spots on a club that has been the league’s doormat for the last half-decade.
Larsson is a 23-year-old blueliner who is also a former first round pick, going fourth overall in 2011. A right-handed shot with offensive upside, Larsson is the type of player most teams have ranked high on their radar.
Although the potential is there, it has been a slow and rocky start to Larsson’s NHL career. Last season was his second full NHL campaign, playing all 82 games with the Devils while registering 18 points and 77 penalty minutes.
The next trade was confirmed about 20 minutes later, and due to the names involved – the news of this deal was even more shocking and polarizing than the first.
Just before 4pm, it was reported by multiple sources that P.K. Subban had been traded to Nashville for fellow perennial Norris candidate Shea Weber. The two play a similar offence-focused, heavy-shot style with Weber being a little more polished in the defensive zone, while Subban at 27 years of age is three years his junior.
Subban was drafted 43rd by the Canadiens in 2007 and has been a fan-favorite and a staple in the community since. He has 278 points in 434 career games with the Habs, while winning the Norris trophy as the league’s best defenceman in 2013.
Weber was a second round pick by Nashville in 2003, arguable the strongest draft of all-time. In 11 NHL seasons, all with the Predators, Weber has put at least 50 points up eight times and has notched 166 goals in 763 career games, nearly half of them on the power play.
If that wasn’t enough to keep everyone in the hockey world busy, Steven Stamkos decided to throw his hat into the headline hot-stove. Signing an eight-year, $68-million deal, this years biggest expected free agent took himself off the market while remaining with the only franchise he’s ever skated for.
Highly rumoured to have been leaving the sunshine state for quite possibly the Maple Leafs or Canadiens, Stamkos and Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman laid those rumours to rest with the swipe of a pen.
Although extremely rare for a pending UFA to resign with their incumbent club just hours away from free agency, it happened in this unique case with this special player. According to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, his new deal includes a full no movement clause, and an interesting structures where 60 of the $68-million Stamkos is owed will be paid out in July 1st bonuses. He is set to collect a cool $8.5-million this Friday.
Stamkos has been one of the top snipers and most-feared goal scorers in the world since being drafted first overall in 2008. Averaging almost a point per game over his eight seasons with the Lightning, he is already a 2-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner, while putting up four seasons with 40+ goals and two seasons with 50+.
Whether or not the Maple Leafs coveted Stamkos as much as was reported at times is a question, but unquestionable is how valuable number 91 is for any team when he has the puck on his stick. It will most likely be considered a loss for the Maple Leafs who have otherwise had an almost perfect off-season.
While fans in Toronto will not get to see the GTA kid lace up in the blue and white, Edmonton and Montreal are saying goodbye to a couple of homegrown superstars of their own in Subban and Hall.
A big shake up day with sure-to-follow implications for three teams, five star players, and several million fans from coast-to-coast.
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Follow author: @KyleCants