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The Tundra: Pre-Season Hockey Round-Up

The Tundra: Pre-Season Hockey Round-Up

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Hockey fans, you’ve all been feeling it. Football has started and right after that comes our glorious renewal of life that is hockey season. It’s like Christmas, but better!

All week, last-minute shifts have been giving us all mini heart attacks. From abrupt retirements, manager changes, coaches signing contract extensions, and baffling trades, it was all leading to tomorrow. Why? Because tomorrow is the beginning of preseason games. That’s right. TOMORROW!!! In fact, as I write this, the Bruins have already defeated the Flames in a shootout during an exhibition game in China. Those exhibitions are over and the home ice fun begins. So below, I will endeavor to quickly recap some big things to happen and the date and times you can really see those changes put to the test for the first time. Here we go!

Adam McQuaid traded from Boston Bruins to New York Rangers

            Let’s start with McQuaid. He was a strong, smart and seasoned 31-year-old defenseman. He had been a part of the 2011 Bruins Stanley Cup and had an emotional pull on his teammates and the fans to an extent. The trade was last minute and mostly being used to clear $2+ million in salary cap space. He was being paid a lot to be in the third pair.

But he’s out and in comes Steve Kampfer from the Rangers and two draft picks, a fourth-round and conditional seventh-round. To be honest, I think that the Rangers stand to gain a little more in this trade. They have a hole in the defense that McQuaid can actually fill. He’s a big physical player who has been playing second fiddle to youthful star Charlie McAvoy. Kampfer will likely play less than 30 games for the Bruins this season and end up in the minors.

The Rangers have always thrived on the kind of toughness McQuaid is known for. He’sbeen in the league for a long time and proved his ability to fit in a system but also step up and drop gloves when necessary, something younger players are less likely to do. I think he’ll thrive in NY. And they need a defensive leader.

Boston will see another strong season, but no stronger with Kampfer. But the following year, their salary cap space will be the talk of the town.

Steve Yzerman steps down as General Manager of Tampa Bay Lightning

Now onto a shocking drama: Steve Yzerman built the Tampa Bay Lightning into a powerhouse only to leave with one year left in his extension contract. He’s leaving a team that is a strongly talked about Stanley Cup contender every single season due to his hard work. He’s built a stacked roster of young talent who have become sought after seasoned vets. I honestly feel like he’s more commonly praised than head coach Jon Cooper.

There isn’t much else to sort out here. He didn’t have a falling out with the team. He even is planning on staying on in an advisory capacity, a mostly ceremonial position but the relationship remains. His assistant Julien Brisebois is taking over immediately. The team isn’t changing plans despite the change of management.

The big question is: what will Yzerman do next? I am in the minority. I think Yzerman is just gonna take a season or two off. I don’t see him taking over the office of Detroit GM Ken Holland. I do think he’ll take over in a few years but not soon. I could be wrong. But after over three decades in the league, I think he’s taking a break and setting himself up to take that office when it’s time. Until then, Stevie Y will be hanging at home in Michigan.

Erik Karlsson hanging with future teammate Brent Burns

Erik Karlsson traded from Ottawa Senators to San Jose Sharks

This has been the talk of the week!!! The Ottawa Senators dumped their captain and all around star player. They have ditched almost 70% of the roster and are just planning to start from scratch. I get that. I 100% understand after the disappointment they have been. But, if that is the case, why did you settle for so little for your biggest bargaining chip?! And he wasn’t even the only chip in this mediocre negotiating, they threw in left winger Francis Perron as well.

Karlsson could be debated in the top offensive defensemen in the league. Some would say he’s the best. I have opinions but no time in this article for the nitty-gritty. Either way, he’s really very, very, very good. He’ll be in the hall of fame one day. He had 53 assists in 71 games on a team that couldn’t win 30 games. Yes, he made it clear he wanted to move, making it possible that he seemed pushy to potential teams, uncommon in hockey compared to other sports. But the assets that were acquired didn’t add up to value lost.

Four ok players and some trades do not add up to one great player. It doesn’t work that way. And to be honest, even reading it, the contingencies and what-ifs of how they get those draft picks are so convoluted, I’d be shocked if the Senators really benefit off of either of those picks. And never forget, Henrik Zetterberg, the man we have been mourning the retirement of the last few days, was drafted in the 200s overall. The round of the draft is never a guarantee ofreturn.

They have acquired two roster players in Chris Tierney, a serviceable left winger, and Dylan DeMelo, a high penalty minute, physical but overall not reliable defenseman. Prospects Josh Norris and Rudolfs Nacers are the best parts of thisdeal. Both look very promising as strong careermen in a few years. Nacers couldonly be a year or so out before he makes his way into the league after animpressive minor season last year. Norris is 19 years old but post his NCAAtime at the University of Michigan, he could be a return.

The common word is “could”. All of this could pay off but it could also be a wash completely. Meanwhile, San Jose gets a cheap year of a superstar, sees if he fits and can reassess next year. Ottawa lost this by a lot. Many are calling to fire members of management. But that isn’t really new in Ottawa anymore.

Max Pacioretty traded from Montreal Canadians to Vegas Golden Knights

This is more a reminder than anything else. To trade a captain of such a traditional team is a little shocking but ultimately Pacioretty is going to be at home with an old Montreal coach in Vegas. Both teams stand to gain a little and it putsPacioretty on a real team contender for a Stanley Cup. That’s probably 90% of the trade. But Montreal lost a leader and we’ll see how they grow in the coming season.

And more importantly: who is gonna be the new leader for Montreal?

Henrik Zetterberg retires from the Detroit Red Wings

This one is purely emotional. Any Detroit fan should have seen the writing on the wall that Zetterberg was almost done. His gameplay has dropped steadily with chronic back issues. Described as a “degenerative back injury” that has plagued him for a few seasons, Zetterberg has stepped down, leaving behind 15 years of legend with the Detroit Red Wings.

It won’t affect much, but it will make us all very sad. My fellow Turf writer, Katie Pierce, wrote an amazing tribute. You can find it here.

Quieter News New and Old to Keep in Mind

  • Mike Babcock took the formerly last-place Toronto Maple Leafs to the playoffs last year. He’s released big scoring but consistently injured Joffrey Lupul and brought back hometown boy and star forward John Tavares. Can he make sweeping progress again this year?
  • Barry Trotz is the head coach of the New York Islanders after winning a franchise-first Stanley Cup with Washington Capitals. All I can say is, hoping for big things from the Islanders just cause and I would not want Todd Reirdan’s job in Washington.
  • John Tortorella signed another two-year agreement with the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is now his second longest tenure with a team, only outpaced by his eight-year stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • Top Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt has been suspended for twenty games for Performance Enhancing Drugs. There has been a great deal of controversy around it and ultimately, I don’t see it hurting the team long term but it is something to remember in the early part of the season.
  • Nashville Predators Austin Watson has been suspended without pay for the pre-season and first 27 games from domestic abuse. Nashville has publicly stood by the decision and encouraged the time to be used as healing and growth for his family.
  • Prospects, rookies, power scores: so another bunch of articles…get excited.
John Tavares sleeping under Maple Leafs sheets as a kid (shared on his personal twitter account: @91Tavares

Happy Hockey! And a Stanley Cup for all!

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