NHL: All Aboard the Crazy Train

Marc-Andre Fleury is the de-facto Face of the Offseason for the NHL (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

By: Rossy Pasternak

I guess I’ll start with this: the NHL is fucking crazy right now. The Penguins just became the first team in the Salary Cap Era to win back-to-back Stanley Cups, Matt Murray became the first goalie since Jacque Plante to win 2 Stanley Cups in his rookie year, Auston Matthews got a tattoo of a crowned lion on his shoulder, and a whole new franchise is about to be admitted into the league. The Vegas Golden Knights are set to pick from a list of unprotected players, choosing one player per team, to form their expansion roster. Thus, the Golden Knights have controlled much of the happenings within the league since Sid the Kid raised Lord Stanley for his third time.

Even with all this craziness, SportsNak is here to make sure you get all the info and analysis you need to stay up to date.

Pittsburgh Penguins Win the Stanley Cup

Well, I won’t say that I’m surprised. Sure, they didn’t have Kris Letang for the playoffs, and Matt Murray hurt his hamstring in warmup for game 1 of the playoffs, but we all knew Pittsburgh was the team to beat. It’s almost comical how they probably wouldn’t have won the Cup if they had dealt Marc-Andre Fleury when many said they should have. Instead, he is probably the reason for them winning the whole thing.

I am happy for Sid, Geno, Phil and the gang, but I can’t help but also feel bad for the raucous Nashville crowd and exceptional Predators organization. Smashville, as some are calling it, was on fire throughout the whole playoffs – it was probably my favourite playoff run to follow since Michael Pecca, Dwayne Roloson and that 2006 Edmonton team made their miracle run to the Finals only to lose in devastating fashion.

I’m a pretty outspoken P.K. Subban hater, but this Nashville team even had me cheering for him to win. I absolutely love Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Filip Forsberg, and the young core that GM David Poile and his team have built. Poile has never been afraid of making the big, risky move, and his have paid off recently. When a franchise has only one GM in it’s 19 year existence, they probably have a good one. Think about it – David Poile has been Nashville’s GM for longer than I’ve been alive.

Nevertheless, the Penguins came out on top for the second year in a row. It was fitting that Fleury was one of the first to hoist the Cup, and handed it off to Matt Murray – a passing of the torch type of moment. Mario Lemuix, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin added to their already ridiculous resume’s. The Penguins are on top of the world once again, shotgunning beers and eating catfish– or, as they call it in Nashville, just a normal day at the office.

The Expansion Draft – Trades

Where to begin… I guess I’ll start with stressing that these are RUMOURS, and the details could end up changing through these next few days.

It is rumoured Vegas has already acquired 3 1st round picks in exchange for NOT taking certain exposed players in the draft. One of those picks is to come from Columbus, who will also send a prospect and possibly David Clarkson’s contract, so the Golden Knights won’t take any of their top players. That’s a great deal for the Golden Knights, even if they have to take whatever is left of Clarkson’s contract.

The Golden Knights also have a rumoured trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, where they will take on Marcus Kruger’s contract, and the Blackhawks will expose Trevor Van Riemsdyk in exchange. The Blackhawks are in serious salary cap troubles, and this trade will help them be able to keep the core they have enjoyed so much success with. On the other hand, the Golden Knights are able to get the player they want in exchange for taking an unfavourable contract.

The Golden Knights probably have many more trades worked out prior to drafting their team, but many of those trades haven’t been leaked to the press yet. George McPhee, the GM of the Vegas expansion team, seems to have a firm grasp on the whole process, and, from what we know, has done an exceptional job positioning the expansion team for success in the not-too-distant future. I think this team is really going to surprise people with how quickly they become competitive.

Arizona Coyotes Making Moves

The Coyotes made a pair of smart moves in the past couple of days. First, they acquired centre Nick Cousins and goalie Merrick Madsen from the Flyers in exchange for winger Brendan Warren and a 5th round pick in 2018. Cousins is really the biggest part of the deal, but Madsen gave the Coyotes enough depth in net to make their next move: trading Mike Smith. Smith was sent to Calgary in exchange for a conditional 3rd round pick in 2018, defensive prospect Brandon Hickey, and backup goaltender Chad Johnson.

The Coyotes managed to add a good two-way, grinding centre in Cousins, as well as get as much value as possible for Smith, who was a prime trade candidate. It must have been hard for ‘Yotes GM John Chayka to deal Smith, the Coyotes best player, but the deal will help further along the rebuild in the Desert.

OK Marc Bergevin…

Bergevin is quickly making himself a household name for all the wrong reasons in Montreal. First, there is the Subban trade that is looking like a huge loss for the team – Subban made it to the Stanley Cup Finals his first year away from the team while the ‘Habs struggled. Then, Bergevin goes and trades his top prospect – someone being compared to Victor Hedman – in Mikhail Sergachev. Well, now Sergachev – and the 2018 second round pick acquired with him – will have the opportunity to play alongside Hedman in the near future.

I realize I haven’t talked about Jonathan Drouin, the player the Canadiens received in exchange for the king’s ransom sent the other way. Drouin was quickly signed to a 6 year, $33M (5.5 per) contract extension, likely ruling out the return of fan favourite Alexander Radulov. Drouin better be able to replace Radulov’s 54 points, and more, if this trade is going to be worth giving up Sergachev. This trade could end up being much like the one in 2009, where the Canadians gave up Ryan McDonagh for Scott Gomez, a huge failure of a trade for Montreal, what with McDonagh’s success in the Big Apple, and Gomez’s struggles.

Look, I love Jonathan Drouin, I always have, but Sergachev was too steep a price to pay for him. Bergevin loves making these one-for-one trades, so-called “hockey deals”, but they could come to bite him in the ass if Subban and Sergachev out-perform Weber and Drouin.

*** The picks in the trade (MTL receives a 6th round pick, TB receives a 2nd round pick, both in 2018) only get exchanged if Sergachev plays less that 40 games for the Lightning next season. If he plays any more, no picks are exchanged.

The craziness of the NHL offseason has just begun. Make sure to check in throughout the summer for more news, reactions, and analysis.

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