Round 1 of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft was held Thursday night at Bell Centre in Montréal, Québec marking the first time since the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver that the selections were made in person in front of a live audience as the 2020 and 2021 editions of the draft were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coverage of this year’s first round began Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and streaming on ESPN+ in the United States, as well as on SN and TVAS in Canada.
Rounds 2-7 will be televised on NHL Network and ESPN+ in the U.S., while viewers in Canada can tune to SN or TVAS starting at 11 a.m. ET Friday morning.
Here’s a quick recap of the First Round in case you had other things going on Thursday night.
2022 NHL Entry Draft Round 1
Montréal Canadiens – LW Juraj Slafkovsky, TPS (Liiga)
New Jersey Devils – D Simon Nemec, Nitra (Slovakia)
Arizona Coyotes – C Logan Cooley, USA U-18 (USHL)
Seattle Kraken – C Shane Wright, Kingston (OHL)
Philadelphia Flyers – C/LW Cutter Gauthier, USA U-18 (USHL)
Columbus Blue Jackets (from Chicago) – D David Jiricek, Plzen (Extraliga)
Chicago (from Ottawa Senators) – D Kevin Korchinski, Seattle (WHL)
Detroit Red Wings – C Marco Kasper, Rögle BK (SHL)
Buffalo Sabres – C Matthew Savoie, Winnipeg (WHL)
Anaheim Ducks – D Pavel Mintyukov, Saginaw (OHL)
Arizona Coyotes (from San Jose Sharks) – C Conor Geekie, Winnipeg (WHL)
Columbus Blue Jackets – D Denton Mateychuk, Moose Jaw (WHL)
Chicago (from New York Islanders via Montréal Canadiens) – C Frank Nazar, USA-U18 (USHL)
Winnipeg Jets – RW Rutger McGroarty, USA U-18 (USHL)
Vancouver Canucks – RW Jonathan Lekkerimäki, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
Buffalo Sabres (from Vegas Golden Knights) – C Noah Ostlund, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
The Montréal Canadiens trade D Alexander Romanov and the 98th overall pick to the New York Islanders for a 2022 1st round pick (13th overall).
Montréal traded a 2022 1st round pick (13th overall, originally belonging to the New York Islanders) and a 2022 3rd round pick (66th overall)Chicago for D Kirby Dach.
The San Jose Sharks traded a 2022 1st round pick (11th overall) to the Arizona Coyotes for a 2022 1st round pick (27th overall), a 2022 2nd round pick (34th overall) and a 2022 2nd round pick (45th overall).
Chicago acquired G Petr Mrázek and a 2022 1st round pick (25th overall) from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2022 2nd round pick(38th overall).
The Arizona Coyotes acquired F Zack Kassian, a 2022 1st round pick (29th overall), a 2024 3rd round pick and a 2025 2nd round pick from the Edmonton Oilers for a 2022 1st round pick (32nd overall).
Trades made earlier in the day prior to the first round of the draft:
The Colorado Avalanche acquired G Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2022 3rd round pick, a 2022 5th round pick and a 2023 3rd round pick.
The Ottawa Senators traded a 2022 1st round pick (7th overall), a 2022 2nd round pick (39th overall) and a 2024 3rd round pick to Chicago for F Alex DeBrincat.
Additions: F Jean-Sébastien Dea, F Christian Dvorak (acquired from ARI), F Mike Hoffman, F Cedric Paquette, F Mathieu Perreault, D Louis Belpedio, D Sami Niku, D David Savard, D Chris Wideman, G Sam Montembeault (claimed off waivers from FLA)
Subtractions: F Phillip Danault (signed with LAK), F Charles Hudon (signed with TBL), F Jesperi Kotkaniemi (offer sheet signed with CAR, not matched), F Jake Lucchini (signed with Laval Rocket, AHL), F Corey Perry (signed with TBL), F Tomas Tatar (signed with NJD), F Jordan Weal (KHL), D Cale Fleury (expansion, SEA), D Erik Gustafsson (signed with CHI), D Otto Leskinen (Liiga), D Jon Merrill (signed with MIN), D Gustav Olofsson (signed with SEA), G Vasili Demchenko (KHL), G Charlie Lindgren (signed with STL)
Still Unsigned: F Joseph Blandisi, F Michael Frolik, F Eric Staal
Re-signed: F Joel Armia, F Brandon Baddock, F Alex Belzile, F Laurent Dauphin, F Artturi Lehkonen, F Michael Pezzetta, F Ryan Poehling, F Lukas Vejdemo, G Michael McNiven
Offseason Analysis: After back-to-back miracle runs to the postseason aided by the circumstances of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Montréal Canadiens are expected to fall back to Earth in 2021-22.
The Canadiens were a .500 team that upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, then Montréal was a below .500 team that benefitted from the four teams per division playoff format in 2021.
Any of the 16 teams that make the playoffs can win the Cup and the Canadiens almost bested the 2012 Los Angeles Kings in terms of being a long shot to do so, but the Tampa Bay Lightning had other plans in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
Instead, the Bolts repeated as back-to-back Stanley Cup champions while Montréal was eliminated in five games in a Game 5 that was decided by one goal– the only goal, scored by Ross Colton a little past the midpoint of the second period, as the Lightning emerged victorious with a, 1-0, win on home ice to secure their third Stanley Cup ring in franchise history.
Corey Perry lost to Tampa in back-to-back years and, as such, as taken the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mantra to heart in the offseason, signing a two-year contract worth $1.000 million per season with the Lightning.
Fear not, Habs fans, unlike when Marian Hossa bounced from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Detroit Red Wings before landing in Chicago ahead of the 2009-10 season, Perry’s already won a Cup ring. He’s just in search of his second before the twilight of his career reaches sunset.
Montréal’s cast of characters in Perry, Eric Staal and others that joined the leadership of captain, Shea Weber– whether via free agency ahead of the 2020-21 season or prior to the 2021 trade deadline– has mostly disbanded.
Whether or not Canadiens General Manager, Marc Bergevin, planned on making an appearance in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final or not as the 56-game regular season approached last season, it’s hard to say that he didn’t give the Habs their best roster in recent years.
They replaced Claude Julien with Dominique Ducharme behind the bench after a shaky start and rode the waves of change into a fourth-place finish in the one-off Scotia NHL North Division to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2021 First Round.
They didn’t surrender when they trailed in the series 3-1, as Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi followed the examples of Perry, Staal, Joel Armia, Tyler Toffoli and other veterans that led the charge.
Montréal beat Toronto in seven games. They swept the Winnipeg Jets in the Second Round and upset the Vegas Golden Knights in six games in the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals.
Then David faced Goliath, but Goliath won.
Because of the nature of the salary cap era, Bergevin couldn’t hold onto all of his puzzle pieces.
Perry, Staal, Jordan Weal, Phillip Danault, Charlie Lindgren, Jon Merrill, Tomas Tatar, Kotkaniemi and Erik Gustafsson are all gone for one reason or another, while Mike Hoffman, Cedric Paquette, David Savard, Chris Wideman, Mathieu Perreault, Sami Niku and Sam Montembeault have all been signed to take their place on the depth chart.
The heart of the Canadiens– however recently formed– is changing. The identity of the team last season– forged with the additions of Perry and Staal to the already existent tenures of Danault, Weber, Price and Co. is in transition.
Whereas Suzuki was already leading the charge in Montréal’s new core, this offseason has solidified the inevitable. It may not be a rebuild, but it may be a few more stagnant years in-between before long term success and growth.
It’s crazy to write about how the Habs– a team that made the 2021 Stanley Cup Final– are not going to be as “good” as they were good enough to reach the Final, but it also makes the most sense.
Again, in a normal 82-game season without the pandemic, the Canadiens likely wouldn’t have even made the playoffs in the last two years.
The fact that they have has provided valuable experience for Suzuki, Jake Evans, Ryan Poehling and more, but the veteran turnover from last season to this season is palpable.
The additions of Hoffman, Paquette, Savard, Wideman and Perreault signal a distinct shift in character.
Heart and grit be damned– Montréal is wholly embracing the speed and skill era. Sort of.
Hoffman joined the St. Louis Blues on a one-year deal last season after amassing five consecutive seasons with at least 55 points or more dating back to the 2015-16 season. His play in an Ottawa Senators uniform was consistent, but his dressing room presence earned him a ticket to the San Jose Sharks in a trade before being flipped to the Florida Panthers ahead of the 2018-19 season.
After amassing 70 points in 82 games with the Panthers in his first season in Florida, Hoffman had 59 points in 69 games in the 2019-20 regular season that was cut short by the ongoing pandemic.
Then he had 17-19–36 totals in 52 games with the Blues last season after a slow start.
As a top-nine forward, Hoffman’s one-dimensional game as a sniper isn’t that bad as long as he scores.
Since being traded by the Lightning, Paquette had a little bit of a journey on his way to Montréal. First, in nine games with the Senators last season he had one goal. Then in 38 games with the Carolina Hurricanes, he amassed seven points (three goals, four assists) for a grand total of 4-4–8 totals in 47 games combined between his Sens and Canes tenure.
As a fourth liner, it’s a low-risk, high-reward move for the Habs, but that’s assuming he’ll be in the lineup from night-to-night as the Canadiens have a backlog of bottom-six talent looking to earn a regular role.
Savard might just be the best value signing this summer by Bergevin. The 30-year-old defender was signed to a four-year contract worth $3.500 million per season and had six points (one goal, five assists) from the blue line in 54 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Lightning last season en route to winning his first Stanley Cup ring.
Don’t let his offensive shortfalls fool you, Savard is a quality shutdown defender of the top-four variety.
Seriously, it’s a good signing by the Canadiens.
Wideman hasn’t made an appearance in the NHL since the 2018-19 season, when he played for the Senators until the infamous Uber ride, then was traded to the Edmonton Oilers and finally traded again to the Panthers.
In 181 career NHL games, he’s had 16-29–45 totals from the point and spent 2019-20 in the American Hockey League with the San Diego Gulls after signing with the Anaheim Ducks and missing out on the roster after training camp and spending last season in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia.
While in the KHL, Wideman reinvented his game– compiling 9-32–41 totals in 59 games with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.
With Niku on the injured reserve to start the season and Weber’s career in doubt, Wideman is a welcome addition to the bottom pairing as Montréal looks to hold things together in their own end with Carey Price out indefinitely (Price entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program last Thursday) and Jake Allen as their last resort as the de facto starting goaltender.
Meanwhile, Perreault’s arrival shores up the fourth line and Montembeault should provide an added cushion as a backup option to Allen in the crease.
By now, you’ve read almost 1,300 words on Montréal’s summer and we haven’t even gotten around to talking about the ongoing feud with the Hurricanes as a result of the Kotkaniemi offer sheet, as well as the Christian Dvorak acquisition.
Let’s try to keep this brief, O.K.?
Carolina signing Kotkaniemi wasn’t revenge (allegedly) for Montréal signing Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet, but it was an offer that was too good to refuse (for Kotkaniemi, anyway).
A one-year deal worth about $6.100 million with a $20 signing bonus (symbolism!) means that Kotkaniemi will be due for a decent payday if he’s tendered a qualifying offer next summer.
The Canadiens didn’t have the cap space and even the Hurricanes had to make a move to finagle his salary on the books. The Habs will gladly take Carolina’s 2022 1st round and 2022 3rd round draft picks, despite losing one of their better centers for the future.
It was hard enough to let Danault walk to the Los Angeles Kings in free agency, surely things only got harder for Montréal to find a replacement after Kotkaniemi left too– oh.
After swapping draft picks on the second day of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft in three separate trades, Bergevin made his only trade that resulted in a change to Montréal’s roster this offseason on Sept. 4th.
The Canadiens dealt a conditional 2022 1st round pick and a 2024 2nd round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for Dvorak and with that brought in his 17-14–31 totals in 56 games from last season to their top-six forward group.
Since making his league debut in 2016-17, Dvorak has never reached the 40-point plateau, but with teammates like Toffoli, Hoffman, Jonathan Drouin, Josh Anderson, Caufield and anyone else that might bounced around inside the top two lines on any given night– Dvorak is sure to have a more consistent supporting cast around him than in his Coyotes days.
It’s not a great look to have mismanaged Kotkaniemi over the years– culminating in the loss of his talent via an offer sheet, but what’s more concerning for the Canadiens is just how much of what made them pernicious in their Cinderella run to the Final last year that they lost.
It wasn’t just one or two minor moves that were made to improve from last season to this season– Bergevin made some sweeping changes, by necessity or otherwise.
The top-six forward group should be fine, but do the Habs have the same level of depth that they had last season? That’s another question entirely.
At the very least, they’re not getting caught up having an overstayed welcome with replacement level talent, yet their window in the Price era may be coming to a close.
Hopefully Price gets the help that he needs most as there’s a lot more to life than just hockey. In the meantime, time marches on as the 34-year-old goaltender is susceptible to the inevitable fallout from a goaltender’s prime.
Montréal may very well win another Cup someday soon, but Price might be in a more limited role as the club’s backup by then, if all things go according to plan with this ideally seamless transition from a team that lucked into postseason runs.
The Habs need to improve in the regular season in a division that’s already tough enough to compete in with Tampa, Toronto, Florida and Boston expected to be in the playoff hunt in the Atlantic Division.
Eliminated in the Stanley Cup Semifinal by Montréal
Additions: F Sven Baertschi, F Evgenii Dadonov (acquired from OTT), F Brett Howden (acquired from NYR), F Nolan Patrick (acquired from NSH, re-signed), G Laurent Brossoit
Subtractions: F Reid Duke (signed with Henderson Silver Knights, AHL), F Cody Glass (traded to NSH), F Tyrell Goulbourne (signed with Belleville Senators, AHL), F Mikael Hakkarainen (acquired from VGK, signed with TPS, Liiga),F Tomas Nosek (signed with BOS), F Danny O’Regan (signed with ANA), F Ryan Reaves (traded to NYR), F Dylan Sikura (signed with COL), D Carl Dahlström (signed with TOR), D Nick DeSimone (traded to NYR), D Nick Holden (traded to OTT), D Jimmy Schuldt (signed with Rochester Americans, AHL), G Oscar Dansk (KHL), G Marc-Andre Fleury (traded to CHI)
Still Unsigned: F Tomas Jurco
Re-signed: F Patrick Brown, F Mattias Janmark, F Gage Quinney, D Dylan Coghlan, D Alec Martinez
Offseason Analysis: Well, at least Vegas didn’t try to sign the market’s best free agent to a long-term deal this summer and instead chose to do some introspection.
Looks like that didn’t last too long (on a technicality, of course).
Sure, the Golden Knights didn’t sign anyone to a massive contract this summer, but they did dump quite a hefty salary in an otherwise inexplicable trade this offseason.
Rather than lose out on recent acquisitions and stay the course with Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner as a goaltending tandem, Golden Knights General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon, did the one thing Vegas’ majority owner, Bill Foley, promised would never be done– McCrimmon traded Fleury.
The move stunned the goaltender and nearly made the Sorel, Québec native retire, but after a quick tour of Chicago, Fleury decided to play out the remainder of his contract as a pending-unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 season.
With an additional $7.000 million to spend towards the cap ceiling, McCrimmon was able to keep Mattias Janmark and Alec Martinez in Vegas– despite likely angering some locals with the loss of Fleury.
Before we discuss the extensions for Janmark and Martinez, let’s talk goaltending.
Whereas Fleury had a 26-10-0 record in 36 games last season with six shutouts, as well as a 1.98 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage en route to his first Vezina Trophy in his 17-year NHL career, Lehner had a 13-4-2 record with one shutout, a 2.29 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in 19 games last season.
If you want a starting goaltender to be around 2.00 in goals-against average and about .920 in save percentage, while your backup is pegged around a 2.50 in goals-against average and .910 or so in save percentage, then the dynamic duo did just that last season for the Golden Knights.
For the first time since his time with the New York Islanders in the 2018-19 season, Lehner is back to being a starting netminder. Back then, he went 25-13-5 in 46 games with six shutouts, a 2.13 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
Now, he’ll be tasked with handling anywhere from four additional games to about a dozen more (give or take a few), since McCrimmon signed Laurent Brossoit on a two-year deal worth $2.325 million per season as Vegas’ backup.
Last season, the Golden Knights spent about $12 million on goaltenders. This season, they’re spending a little more than Fleury’s cap hit alone– $7.325 million for Lehner and Brossoit, compared to Fleury’s $7.000 million price tag against the cap.
Brossoit hasn’t been able to maintain consistency from year-to-year, but he’s a durable backup coming off of a solid performance with the Winnipeg Jets in 2020-21, amassing a 6-6-0 record in 14 games with a 2.42 goals-against average, one shutout and a .918 save percentage.
Vegas was always going to transition from Fleury to Lehner once Lehner became a part of the equation for the future. Doing so now may look bad in the manner that they did it, but it was always going to be inevitable as long as the Golden Knights were spending close to the salary cap.
Anyway, Janmark and Martinez are staying in town– Janmark on a one-year extension worth $2.000 million and Martinez on a three-year deal with a $5.250 million cap hit.
In 56 games last season, Janmark had 11-13–24 totals between Chicago and Vegas, where he went on to contribute eight points (four goals, four assists) in 16 playoff games as the Golden Knights advanced to the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal before being eliminated by the Montréal Canadiens in six games.
Martinez, meanwhile, amassed 9-23–32 totals in 53 games in his first full season with the Golden Knights since Vegas acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings ahead of the 2020 trade deadline.
He had twice the points in 2020-21 than he had in 2019-20 in roughly the same number of games and chipped in six points (four goals, two assists) from the blue line in 19 playoff games in 2021 for Vegas.
At 34-years-old, signing Martinez until he’s nearly 37 is both a risk and an assurance that he pretty much won’t be playing anywhere else for the rest of his career (unless Vegas flips him later on or he decides to sign elsewhere in the summer of 2024.
For now, the extensions bolster Vegas’ vital depth for both regular season play and postseason clutch performances when you need it most from players you might otherwise least expect down the lineup.
Among other choices made this offseason, McCrimmon was busy working the phones for trade calls and landed a pair of reclamation projects for the 2021-22 season and beyond in Nolan Patrick and Evgenii Dadonov, but first a quick recap of all the trades Vegas made this summer.
On July 17th, the Golden Knights dealt defender, Nick DeSimone, and a 2022 4th round pick to the New York Rangers for forward, Brett Howden.
That same day, Vegas completed a transaction with the Nashville Predators, acquiring Patrick in exchange for Cody Glass and sealed the door on trading all three of their 2017 1st round picks (Glass, Nick Suzuki and Erik Brännström) for other assets.
At the second day of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, McCrimmon got in touch with Detroit Red Wings General Manager, Steve Yzerman, and swapped draft picks all day– sending 2021 2nd round pick (36th overall) to Detroit for a 2021 2nd round pick (38th overall) and a 2021 4th round pick (128th overall) in one trade, as well as dealing a 2021 4th round pick (114th overall) and a 2021 5th round pick (155th overall) to the Red Wings for a 2021 4th round pick (102nd overall).
A few days later on July 27th, the Golden Knights traded Fleury to Chicago for forward, Mikael Hakkarainen, who went unsigned and joined a team in Finland instead.
The next day, Vegas traded defender, Nick Holden, and a 2022 3rd round pick to the Ottawa Senators for Dadonov.
Then on July 29th, McCrimmon shipped fourth line forward, Ryan Reaves, to the Rangers for a 2022 3rd round pick.
Alright, back to Patrick and Dadonov for a second.
Last season, Patrick amassed 4-5–9 totals in 52 games with the Philadelphia Flyers in his first season back since missing all of 2019-20 due to migraines stemming from post concussion syndrome. The 23-year-old is feeling refreshed and looking for a career rejuvenation in the desert with the Golden Knights.
Meanwhile, Dadonov is coming off a down year in which he recorded 20 points (13 goals, seven assists) in 55 games with the Ottawa Senators after amassing 25-22–47 totals in 69 games with the Florida Panthers in 2019-20 after back-to-back seasons with at least 65 points.
The 32-year-old forward is looking to avoid further decline as he is soon to enter the twilight of his prime– approaching his mid-30s having yet to reach the 30-goal plateau or live up to his $5.000 million cap hit through 2022-23.
Time will tell if Vegas can help right the ship.
Trading Fleury in the way that they did is hard to swallow– especially since it broke up one of the better goaltending tandems in the league from last season to this season.
At the very least, moving on from Fleury allowed Vegas to hold onto Janmark and Martinez in the manner that they did rather than court this summer’s top free agent, thereby forcing their own hand by trading another “core” player due to salary cap restraints and possibly disrupting the chemistry in the dressing room.
Overall, McCrimmon’s moves this summer seem like lateral transactions for a team that has $0 in salary cap space and should be contending for a Cup ring, but always seems to fall short for one reason or another.
Entering their fifth season of existence, the Golden Knights have this two more years to beat or match the Flyers’ record for the fastest expansion team to win their first Stanley Cup championship in league history.
Though their offseason may be unconvincing on paper, let’s hope they’ll prove us wrong and surprise the hockey world like they did when they made the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in their first season, but with a different outcome.
Additions: F Jesperi Kotkaniemi (signed to an offersheet, not matched by MTL), F Josh Leivo, F Maxim Letunov, F Sam Miletic, F Stefan Noesen, F Andrew Poturalski, F C.J. Smith, F Derek Stepan, D Ethan Bear (acquired from EDM), D Ian Cole, D Jalen Chatfield, D Tony DeAngelo, D Eric Gelinas, D Josh Jacobs, D Brendan Smith, G Frederik Andersen, G Alex Lyon, G Antti Raanta
Subtractions: F Warren Foegele (traded to EDM), F Morgan Geekie (expansion, SEA), F Dave Gust (signed with Chicago Wolves, AHL), F Egor Korshkov (KHL), F Saku Maenalanen (Liiga), F Brock McGinn (signed with PIT), F Cedric Paquette (signed with MTL), F Sheldon Rempal (signed with VAN), D Jake Bean (traded to CBJ), D Jani Hakanpää (signed with DAL), D Dougie Hamilton (signed with NJD), D Rolan McKeown (signed with COL), D Joakim Ryan (SHL), D David Warsofsky (DEL), G Jonathan Bernier (rights acquired from DET, signed with NJD), G Petr Mrázek (signed with TOR), G Alex Nedeljkovic (traded to DET), G James Reimer (signed with SJS)
Still Unsigned: F Max McCormick, F Drew Shore, G Jeremy Helvig, G Dylan Wells (acquired from EDM, CAR reserve list, AHL- Chicago Wolves)
Re-signed: F Jordan Martinook, F Spencer Smallman, F Andrei Svechnikov, D Maxime Lajoie
Offseason Analysis: Whoa boy, what didn’t the Canes do this offseason?
Carolina was all over the place– both in transactions and scrambling to assemble some semblance of a message in press conferences afterward while trying to convince everyone (perhaps more so themselves, at times) that they’re still a competitive team heading in the right direction and that they totally didn’t overreact.
Unlike how the New York Rangers reacted to one player on another team apparently dismantling their franchise, the Hurricanes reacted to– egad! The salary cap! The horror, the horror!
Canes General Manager, Don Waddell, didn’t like the optics of a team that’s been improving in each of the last three seasons despite First Round exits in back-to-back years after making the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.
Though owner, Tom Dundon, denies having any say in the approach to the offseason short of just signing the cheques, Carolina didn’t want to spend more than they absolutely had to on fielding a roster that can probably make the playoffs, generate some additional revenue and peter out before anyone catches Stanley Cup fever.
At the very least, the team is spending more than when Peter Karmanos, Jr. spent from season-to-season on a team that made the postseason in 2009, then again in 2019, with nothing happening in-between, for example.
The team didn’t have to lose both Dougie Hamilton and Alex Nedeljkovic while re-signing Andrei Svechnikov this offseason, but they did.
Hamilton received a low-ball offer and got what he felt he deserved on a seven-year deal with the New Jersey Devils worth $9.000 million per season. Compared to the rest of the defenders on the market and other extensions that begin in 2022-23 for Seth Jones with Chicago and Zach Werenski in Columbus, Hamilton’s deal with the Devils is a steal.
He could’ve made $10.000 or $11.000 million per season and you might say “what’s the difference of a couple million dollars” and well, everything in the sense that he’s saved New Jersey a couple million to spend on glue guys on the roster, like Tomas Tatar.
Carolina could’ve done that, but with a few more additional steps required to make space.
Fine, move on from Hamilton, then re-sign Nedeljkovic– oh.
The Hurricanes were not willing to spend $3.500 million per season on a two-year deal for the goaltender they drafted and brought up the ranks as their “goaltender of the future”.
Instead, Waddell traded him to the Detroit Red Wings for the rights to unrestricted free agent, Jonathan Bernier, who also joined Hamilton in New Jersey.
Petr Mrázek and James Reimer were both turned loose as the former went to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the latter joined the San Jose Sharks.
Waddell then signed Frederik Andersen– who’s had about as much playoff success as Nedeljkovic, regardless of the number of games played– to a two-year deal worth $4.500 million per season and Antti Raanta to a two-year contract worth $2.000 million per season.
Make it make sense.
Add to that, Carolina lost depth in the departure of Brock McGinn to the Pittsburgh Penguins via free agency and traded Jake Bean to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the draft.
In their place, enter a mixture of bottom-six talent in Derek Stepan, Josh Leivo and others, as well as bottom-six defenders in Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith.
At the very least, Carolina’s not spending much to “replace” what they’ve lost in an asset for asset sense.
They spent their money on goaltenders, an eight-year extension worth $7.750 million per season for Svechnikov and signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet from the Montréal Canadiens for one-year at $6.100 million.
That makes up for signing DeAngelo to a one-year, $1.000 million contract, right?
Not even close.
Last year’s roster carried the threat of Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Bean and Haydn Fleury until he was traded for Jani Hakanpää at the 2021 deadline.
Only three defenders are returning to Carolina’s core on the blue line as Ian Cole, DeAngelo and Smith were brought in via free agency and Warren Foegele was dealt for Ethan Bear.
Oh and the same three defenders returning from last season are the only defenders under contract through next season.
There’s just no logic for whatever reaction– overreaction or, perhaps, under-reaction is going on here.
It begs the question that Canes fans have heard for far too long, “what, exactly, is the plan?”
The Hurricanes had a challenging, yet simple premise heading into the offseason– add without subtracting and limit the inevitable damage in the loss of a key player.
Instead, they chose violence (that’s a phrase kids say on Twitter these days, I’m told).
Keeping Svechnikov, Hamilton and Nedeljkovic satisfied was going to be a challenge and it was going to be the most strenuous negotiations that Waddell would have to go through in recent summers as Carolina continues building towards Stanley Cup contenders.
It’s likely that the Canes could’ve kept Svechnikov, Nedeljkovic and still added to the roster this offseason– whether they’d land Andersen, Raanta or someone else as a solid counterpart in the crease.
In any case, Hamilton was likely going to walk due to the constraints of the salary cap era and possible looming extensions for Martin Necas, Nino Niederreiter, Vincent Trocheck, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teräväinen and Sebastian Aho in one-to-three summers from now.
After the marketing and promotions team led the way in showing the rest of the league how Pride Night could feel more like a celebration for the local fan base and not just a corporate shill– an organization that took the pledge to Get Uncomfortable by teaming up with Black Girl Hockey Club– the values of a kinder society were tossed aside in the interest of signing noted actual jerks.
This team did not get better. No matter the rehabilitation that may or may not occur with Rod Brind’Amour as head coach.
Additions: F Brian Boyle (signed to a PTO), F Michael Chaput, F Filip Hållander (acquired from TOR), F Danton Heinen, F Brock McGinn, F Dominik Simon, D Matt Barkowski (signed to a PTO), D Taylor Fedun, G Louis Domingue
Subtractions: F Pontus Åberg (signed with Belleville Senators, AHL), F Josh Currie (KHL), F Frederick Gaudreau (signed with MIN), F Mark Jankowski (signed to a PTO with NJD), F Jared McCann (traded to TOR), F Sam Miletic (signed with Chicago Wolves, AHL), F Colton Sceviour (signed to a PTO with EDM), F Brandon Tanev (expansion, SEA), D Lukas Bengtsson (KHL), D Cody Ceci (signed with EDM), D Kevin Czuczman (signed with MIN), D Jesper Lindgren (HockeyAllsvenskan), D Andrey Pedan (KHL), D Zach Trotman (retired), D Yannick Weber (NL), G Maxime Lagacé (signed with TBL), G Emil Larmi (Liiga)
Still Unsigned: None
Re-signed: F Zach Aston-Reese, F Kasper Björkqvist, F Teddy Blueger, F Evan Rodrigues, F Radim Zohorna
Offseason Analysis: Penguins General Manager, Ron Hextall, had a realtively quiet offseason outside of the announcements that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin would miss some action to start the 2021-22 season.
After making some depth signings, Pittsburgh is left with about $121,800 in cap space. In other words, it might be a little bumpy out of the gate without Crosby and Malkin– especially since the Pens dealt Jared McCann to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Filip Hallander and a 2023 7th round pick ahead of the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
In retrospect, perhaps it would’ve been worth keeping McCann and convincing the Seattle Kraken to take almost anyone else– there’s still a chance they would’ve taken Brandon Tanev anyway, especially if Pittsburgh had crafted a deal with the Kraken to agree to not select McCann in exchange for some draft picks or something.
Nevertheless, Hextall made a conscious decision to move on from McCann’s 14-18–32 totals in 43 games last season and Tanev’s 7-9–16 totals in 32 games with the Penguins in 2020-21 and live with the consequences of his own actions. At least there’s Jeff Carter.
At some point, the magic will wear out in Pittsburgh.
Though the Penguins may have calmed the waters of the Malkin trade rumors under the previous regime ruled by Jim Rutherford, there’s the reality of a post-Crosby and Malkin era soon to sink in.
Malkin is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end and Crosby is under contract through the 2024-25 season.
If the Penguins aren’t able to escape the First Round in 2022, and Malkin determines there’s no future in sight for success in a Pittsburgh jersey, there’s a good chance he could leave– not in search of a big cheque, but rather another chance at one more Cup ring on a contender’s roster.
But let’s not get too bogged down by the grips of reality.
Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, has some juggling to do with the lineup– like always– and with a new cast of characters that includes Hållander, Danton Heinen, Brock McGinn and the return of Dominik Simon– there’s a lot of depth to go around.
At 21-years-old, Hållander might be ready for some NHL action, whether out of necessity or to simply prove his skill level.
Heinen, meanwhile, is looking for a fresh start after the Anaheim Ducks chose not to tender him a qualifying offer, leading him to sign a one-year deal with the Penguins worth $1.100 million.
In 43 games with the Ducks last season, Heinen had 14 points (seven goals, seven assists), scoring fewer points than he had in the previous season for third-straight season since he broke out with 16-31–47 totals in 77 games for the Boston Bruins in 2017-18.
McGinn was due for a payday and cashed in on a longer contract than he could’ve expected from the Carolina Hurricanes, signing a four-year deal worth $2.750 million per season with Pittsburgh this summer.
In 345 career NHL games, McGinn’s had 51-55–106 totals, including 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 37 games while battling injury last season.
He remains to be an effective penalty killing fourth liner and should fit Sullivan’s mold well as a means of ensuring his top-six forwards are rested and ready to go between shifts.
Simon begins his second stint with the Penguins after taking part in 11 games with the Calgary Flames last season and yielding four shots on goal, as well as no points in that span.
As for the biggest question mark entering the 2021-22 season for Pittsburgh, can Tristan Jarry come into his own as a starting goaltender?
Last season, Jarry went 25-9-3 in 39 games, which at first glance is great! He had 25 wins in almost 40 games played in the midst of a 56-game regular season schedule– backstopping Pittsburgh to a postseason appearance before losing in six games to the New York Islanders.
But in 39 games last season, Jarry had a 2.75 goals-against average, a .909 save percentage and two shutouts in that span, whereas he went 20-12-1 in 33 games with a 2.43 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and three shutouts in 2019-20.
In his most recent season as Pittsburgh’s backup, Jarry has a goals-against average below 2.50 and a stellar save percentage over .920, but in all his other cumulative appearances each season since breaking into the league with a game in 2016-17, he’s been all over the place statistically speaking.
Casey DeSmith, meanwhile, broke into the league in 2017-18, and went 6-4-1 in 14 games with a 2.40 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and one shutout– following things up with a 15-11-5 record in 36 games played in 2018-19, when he had a 2.75 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and three shutouts.
Last season, DeSmith was back as the backup goaltender to Jarry and posted an 11-7-0 record in 20 games with a 2.54 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage and two shutouts.
At 30-years-old, it’s likely that DeSmith won’t have as high of a ceiling as Jarry, who’s only 26, but then again goaltenders vary in the crux of their prime.
For Jarry, he may soon start to peak, while DeSmith may simply be an outlier as one of those goaltenders that comes into fruition later than even the most “average” of delayed primes for goalies.
In either case, it’s certainly not an enviable position to be in for Sullivan to have to figure out.
Offseason Grade: C
Let’s be real here, the Penguins didn’t go out and attract any stars and they didn’t lose that much (though McCann was a great piece of depth and Tanev probably exceeded his expectations due to the “Crosby factor”, both should make fine additions to the Kraken).
Pittsburgh had an average offseason for an average team that made the playoffs and had an average early ending.
They’re not a dominant force, though they finished atop the MassMutual NHL East Division last season. Sullivan has his ways of commanding his team in the regular season, but the roster lacks something to drag them across the line in the postseason these days– to take their play up a notch and crank it at 11.
The Pens aren’t as much of a concern for missing out on the playoffs in the Metropolitan Division race this season, but it should be harder to compete for dominance with the sustained improvement from the Islanders and the emergence of another team like the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers or New Jersey Devils that could breakout and play spoiler among the division leaders.
Missed the postseason for the first time since 2020
Additions: F Justin Dowling, F Jason Dickinson (acquired from DAL), F Phil Di Giuseppe, F Sheldon Dries, F Conor Garland (acquired from ARI), F Nic Petan, F Sheldon Rempal, F John Stevens, D Kyle Burroughs, D Oliver Ekman-Larsson (acquired from ARI), D Brad Hunt, D Brady Keeper, D Tucker Poolman, D Luke Schenn, D Devante Stephens, G Jaroslav Halak, G Spencer Martin (acquired from TBL)
Subtractions: F Sven Baertschi (signed with VGK), F Jay Beagle (traded to ARI), F Travis Boyd (signed with ARI), F Loui Eriksson (traded to ARI), F Tyler Graovac (KHL), F Jayce Hawryluk (SHL), F Kole Lind (expansion, SEA), F Lukas Jasek (Liiga), F Marc Michaelis (signed with Toronto Marlies, AHL), F Petrus Palmu (Liiga), F Antoine Roussel (traded to ARI), F Jake Virtanen (buyout, KHL), D Jalen Chatfield (signed with Chicago Wolves, AHL), D Alexander Edler (signed with LAK), D Mitch Eliot (signed with Rochester Americans, AHL), D Brogan Rafferty (signed with ANA), D Nate Schmidt (traded to WPG), D Ashton Sautner (signed with Abbotsford Canucks, AHL), D Josh Teves (signed with Rochester Americans, AHL), G Braden Holtby (buyout)
Still Unsigned: F Elias Pettersson (RFA), F Jimmy Vesey, D Quinn Hughes (RFA), G Jake Kielly
Re-signed: F Justin Bailey, F Brandon Sutter, D Guillaume Brisebois, D Travis Hamonic, D Olli Juolevi
Offseason Analysis: Canucks General Manager, Jim Benning, has been busy this offseason undoing past misjudgments and moving Vancouver forward in other areas (however small they may be).
At least he didn’t sign anyone to a head-scratching long-term contract the day that free agency began on July 28th this year.
With about $10.664 million in cap space currently and Elias Pettersson as a restricted-free agent alongside Quinn Hughes, the Canucks still have some work to get done before the season begins or else they risk falling behind even further in the standings.
While Pettersson would probably love to make about $9.000 or $10 million per season, he hasn’t exactly reached that status yet as a 22-year-old center with 153 points in 165 career games.
A solid bridge contract is more likely in his future than, say, a long-term seven or eight-year deal.
It may be kicking the can down the road to pay him later, but with 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 26 games last season, there’s always the risk that his wrist injury might quite literally hurt his skilled hands in the near to long-term future.
A bridge deal insures the Canucks of avoiding prolonging the salary cap hell that they’ve been through until Benning was able to dump most of it in Arizona via the trade with the Coyotes for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland.
That said, Pettersson is worth paying a premium for to build off of Vancouver’s young core. He had 28-38–66 totals in 71 games in his first season in the league in 2018-19 and amassed 27-39–66 totals in 68 games prior to the COVID-19 pandemic being declared in the 2019-20 season.
Hughes, on the other hand, is important to Vancouver’s future, but had a dip in production from 53 points (eight goals, 45 assists) in 68 games in his first full season in 2019-20 to 41 points (three goals, 38 assists) in 56 games last season.
Nevertheless, for a defender to wrack up 40 or more points in a season is pretty good all things considered.
Especially since Hughes is only 21-years-old and has plenty of track left on route to his potential.
It should be easier to get a deal done with Hughes than Pettersson if the sticking point is that one sees themselves more valuable to the team than the other.
If, for some reason, things went south between the Canucks and Pettersson, the Canucks could survive– albeit reminiscent of the last days of Pavel Bure with the franchise.
In other words, you probably don’t want that to happen again.
All right, what about what Vancouver has already taken care of this offseason, shall we?
Jaroslav Halak left the Boston Bruins for the Canucks via free agency this summer and signed a one-year deal worth $1.500 million with another $1.500 million in performance bonuses to become the backup to Thatcher Demko, though Vancouver may prefer to utilize Halak and Demko as some sort of a 1A/1B tandem.
Despite Halak’s 9-6-4 record in 19 games last season, he maintained a quality 2.53 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage with two shutouts in that span as Boston’s backup until Jeremy Swayman entered the conversation.
In 2019-20, Halak and Tuukka Rask captured the William M. Jennings Trophy as the goaltender(s) with 25 or more games played that allowed the fewest goals against in that season.
Halak went 18-6-6 in 31 games and had a 2.39 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and three shutouts in that remarkable regular season run.
It served as a reminder that Halak was once a surefire starting goaltender and could very well, in the event that was necessary, command a team from the crease as a starter once more.
This after a 22-11-4 record in 40 games played with Boston in 2018-19, in which he had a 2.34 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage and five shutouts.
But at 36-years-old, Halak’s time in the league is dwindling as he continues about the twilight of his career.
At the very least, he brings in more stability in the crease than Braden Holtby did for Demko– and that’s precisely why the Canucks felt is was O.K. to buyout the remaining year of Holtby’s contract.
The bulk of Benning’s work this offseason came via making trades.
He most recently acquired goaltender, Spencer Martin, from the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 31st for future considerations to solidify depth in the event of injury or to at least provide the Abbotsford Canucks (AHL) with a quality starter.
But earlier this summer, Benning kicked things off with a small grab for top-nine depth by sending the Dallas Stars a 2021 3rd round pick (73rd overall, Ayrton Martino) for forward, Jason Dickinson, on July 17th.
Six days later, Benning phoned Bill Armstrong in Arizona and executed a trade that saved the Canucks almost $5.000 million in valuable cap space after sending Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, a 2021 1st round pick (9th overall, Dylan Guenther), a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2023 7th round pick to the Coyotes for Ekman-Larsson and Garland’s signing rights before re-signing the latter to a five-year extension worth $4.950 million per season.
Arizona retained 12% of Ekman-Larsson’s salary, thus shaving $990,000 off of his cap hit for Vancouver, who is assessed a cap hit of $7.260 million per season for Ekman-Larsson through 2026-27.
With change coming to the blue line in Vancouver, Nate Schmidt reconsidered a trade he had initially rejected and informed Benning he would be fine being moved after all in a deal where the Canucks sent Schmidt to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2022 3rd round pick on July 27th.
If Ekman-Larsson’s able to rebound from his decline– reaching 55 points in 75 games in 2015-16, then 39 points in 79 games the following season before rebounding with 42 points in 82 games in 2017-18 and 44 points in 81 games in 2018-19 prior to his dropoff again in 2019-20, where he had 30 points in 66 games and 2020-21, where he had 24 points in 46 games– then Benning might just be a mastermind after all.
At the very least, Ekman-Larsson’s 24 points last season with Arizona was more than Schmidt had in 54 games with Vancouver, as Schmidt dropped from 31 points in 59 games with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2019-20 to 15 points in 54 games with the Canucks.
If the Canucks had signed Pettersson and Hughes to extensions already– and assuming they weren’t overpaying them– then Vancouver probably would get an “A” overall for their willingness to free themselves from past mistakes and try something new.
Will they be as bad as they were last season? Probably not.
Will they be “blow other teams out of the water” good this season? Also probably not.
But at the very least, they’ve given themselves enough to work with in the next year or two to fill out the rest of their core and supplement their best players with better pieces of the puzzle.
If, however, everything falls on their face, then I guess Vancouver is just cursed like that then, huh.
Additions: F Viktor Arvidsson (acquired from NSH), F Brayden Burke (acquired from ARI), F Phillip Danault, F T.J. Tynan, D Alexander Edler, G Garret Sparks
Subtractions: F Michael Eyssimont (signed with WPG), F Bokondji Imama (traded to ARI), F Matt Luff (signed with NSH), F Tyler Steenburgen (acquired from ARI, signed Liiga), D Mark Alt (signed with San Jose Barracuda, AHL), D Daniel Brickley (signed with Chicago Wolves, AHL), D Cole Hults (traded to ARI), D Kurtis MacDermid (expansion, SEA), G Troy Grosenick (signed with BOS)
Still Unsigned: F Drake Rymsha
Re-signed: F Lias Andersson, F Andreas Athanasiou, F Blake Lizotte, F Trevor Moore, D Kale Clague, D Jacob Moverare, D Austin Strand, D Christian Wolanin
Offseason Analysis: The Kings looked competitive and ahead of schedule, but couldn’t carry the momentum down the stretch and make a surprise appearance in the playoff hunt.
Los Angeles has a great pool of prospects and Quinton Byfield is shaping up to make an impact in his first full season, while General Manager, Rob Blake, was tasked with finding the right fit for a few pieces in the offseason that very well might put the Kings over the edge and back into Stanley Cup Playoff contention.
In a few years, they might be trending down the path of a Cup contender instead of going through a long, strenuous, rebuild.
Despite Anze Kopitar’s $10.000 million cap hit (which runs through 2023-24) and Drew Doughty’s $11.500 million cap hit (which expires after the 2026-27 season), Los Angeles was able to add without subtracting and could salvage the remnants of Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown from the Kings’ glory days to their current days while Cal Petersen continues to emerge in the crease.
The addition of Alexander Edler on a one-year, $3.500 million contract brings some stability to the blue line and valuable experience to leave an impression on the younger defenders, like Michael Anderson and Tobias Björnfot.
Edler’s presence and shot blocking capabilities should also prove vital in shaping how guys like Olli Määttä, Matt Roy, Sean Walker and Christian Wolanin– already in their defensive primes– compete with each other for their jobs and evolve.
But Edler alone wasn’t the biggest move that Blake made in the offseason.
Sure, there’s the Viktor Arvidsson trade that brings the 28-year-old winger to Los Angeles after breaking into the league with the Nashville Predators in the 2014-15 season and scoring 10-15–25 totals in 50 games in 2020-21 with the Preds, but Blake went a step further and found the answer to a hole down the middle.
The Kings signed Phillip Danault to a six-year contract worth $5.500 million per season, bringing the 28-year-old Victoriaville, Québec native to Los Angeles’ second line for a good stretch of his prime.
Though his production was down from 47 points (13 goals, 34 assists) in 71 games with the Montréal Canadiens in 2019-20 to 5-19–24 totals in 53 games with the Habs in 2020-21, Danault has reached 40 or more points in three out of his last five seasons with varying degrees of talent around him.
Now in Los Angeles, Danault could suit up between guys like Alex Iafallo, Arvidsson, Adrian Kempe or Brown– bringing a balance of youth, speed, experience and playmaking abilities to go with the scoring prowess of any of the aforementioned wingers.
Arvidsson and Danault bring more of a two-way, contemporary, game that aligns well with Kopitar’s two-time Frank J. Selke Trophy winning style
Brown recorded 17 goals in 49 games last season, while Iafallo had 13 goals in 55 games and Kempe notched 14 goals in 56 games. There’s no reason to believe that all three players can’t reach the 20-goal plateau in a full 82-game schedule.
But for all the improvements made among their skaters, the Kings might continue to encounter some growing pains in net as Petersen continues to make his mark on the league as a starting goaltender, while Quick’s dominant days wane in the twilight of his career.
Petersen went 9-18-5 in 35 games last season and had a 2.89 goals-against average, as well as a .911 save percentage in that span.
Through 54 games at the NHL level, Petersen has a career 2.79 goals-against average and a career .916 save percentage and only one shutout.
For comparison’s sake, Quick has a 2.81 goals-against average in his last two seasons combined (64 appearances), but a .902 save percentage in that span.
Quick was Los Angeles’ starter in 2019-20 and had a 16-22-4 record in 42 games played with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage in that span, as well as one shutout.
Last season, Quick went 11-9-2 in 22 games and recorded two shutouts to go along with his 2.86 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage.
For all the promise that Petersen showed in his collegiate days at Notre Dame, he’s yet to make the transition to the professional game and as the years go by, so does his chance at emerging in the average goaltending prime.
If Los Angeles is to make the playoffs next season, Petersen will need to improve.
If the Kings falter, Petersen still has a chance at redeeming himself, though he won’t see much of a pay raise next offseason– but he could still be a late bloomer and sign a short-term bridge extension, awaiting a larger payday after sustained success and better numbers at the NHL level.
This is where it’s important to note that Petersen is a pending-unrestricted free agent come July 1, 2022, while Quick’s contract expires after the 2022-23 season.
If winning with the remnants of their 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup championship core is important to the Kings, then winning again sooner rather than later is paramount.
The Danault signing alone is an exceptionally good contract for a player that could really come into his own with the depth and talent of the Kings around him.
Blake’s given Todd McLellan some better pieces to work with– now it’s up to Los Angeles’ head coach to find the right chemistry among his players to get them back into the hunt.
The return of the usual division alignments for 2021-22 is a welcome sign for the Kings’ chances of making the playoffs in 2022, as they should be better than their counterparts in California, as well as the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes and stagnant teams north of the border in Vancouver and Calgary.
Now as for how far things will go? Well, that depends on if they make the playoffs first and whether or not Los Angeles lucks out having to face a relatively inexperienced team in the postseason.
The Florida Panthers dealt forward, Brett Connolly, defender Riley Stillman, the signing rights to forward, Henrik Borgström, and a 2021 7th round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday in exchange for forward, Lucas Wallmark, and defender, Lucas Carlsson.
Thursday’s move comes as the Panthers are in the midst of their best season in about 25 years and prime for further addition by next Monday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
From Taylor Hall speculations to strengthening their blue line due to the loss of Aaron Ekblad to injury, Florida freed up cap space by moving Connolly’s $2.425 million cap hit off the books as a result of moving him to the taxi squad prior to the trade with Chicago.
Nothing is imminent, but Panthers General Manager, Bill Zito, has ushered in an era of proactivity that we’re all just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Meanwhile, the Panthers reunited with a familiar face in Wallmark as he was previously acquired by the team in a transaction with the Carolina Hurricanes as part of a larger package in exchange for Vincent Trocheck on Feb. 24, 2020.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, bolstered their bottom six depth and taxi squad members as a result of the deal in the wake of their surprise contention for a playoff berth this season.
Most experts agreed entering 2020-21, that this season would be one in which Chicago General Manager, Stan Bowman, would have to navigate an impending rebuild, but that might not be the case as the Blackhawks have had pleasant surprises in production and NHL readiness in Pius Suter, Kevin Lankinen and others.
Connolly, 28, had four points (two goals, two assists) in 21 games with the Panthers this season at the time of the trade on Thursday. He has 100-92–192 totals in 517 career NHL games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Panthers since being drafted in the 1st round (6th overall) by Tampa in 2010, and making his league debut with the Lightning in 2011-12.
A native of Campbell River, British Columbia, the 6-foot-3, 198-pound right wing carries a $2.425 million cap hit this season, as well as a $2.375 million cap hit from 2021-22 through 2022-23, when he will then be an unrestricted free agent.
While Connolly is on pace for three goals this season, he experienced a career resurgence with Washington, tallying career-highs in goals (22), assists (24) and points (46) in 81 games with the Capitals in 2018-19.
He recorded 19-14–33 totals in 69 games with Florida last season prior to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shortening the regular season.
In 42 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Connolly has 8-3–11 totals, including nine points (six goals, three assists) in 24 games with the Caps en route to their 2018 Stanley Cup championship.
Stillman, 23, had no points and 14 penalty minutes in eight games this season with Florida to go along with his plus-2 rating.
The 6-foot-1, 196-pound native of Peterborough, Ontario and son of two-time Stanley Cup winner, Cory Stillman, has five assists in 43 career NHL games since making his league debut with the Panthers in the 2018-19 season after being drafted by Florida in the 4th round (114th overall) in 2016.
Stillman has appeared in three career postseason games, has no points and was a minus-3 in Florida’s 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier series loss to the New York Islanders.
As he went from the taxi squad on the Panthers to the taxi squad on the Blackhawks, he currently does not count against Chicago’s salary cap and is a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end.
Borgström, 23, has 11-8–19 totals in 28 games with HIFK in Liiga over in Finland this season. The 6-foot-3, 199-pound Helsinki native was originally drafted by the Panthers in the 1st round (23rd overall) in 2016, and made his league debut in the 2017-18 season.
In 58 career NHL games with Florida, Borgström had 9-10–19 totals and has yet to appear in a Stanley Cup Playoff game.
Wallmark, 25, had three assists in 16 games with Chicago this season at the time of the trade on Thursday and has 23-36–59 totals in 183 career NHL games with the Carolina Hurricanes, Panthers and Blackhawks.
Originally drafted by Carolina in the 4th round (97th overall) in 2014, the 6-foot, 178-pound native of Umea, Sweden is in his second stint with the Panthers organization.
He had a career-high 12 goals with the Hurricanes and Panthers in 67 games last season and set career-highs in assists (18) and points (28) in 81 games with Carolina in 2018-19, recording five points (one goal, four assists) in 15 playoff games with the Hurricanes en route to their 2019 Eastern Conference Final appearance.
He had no points in two postseason games with Florida in 2020 and is a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end with a $950,000 cap hit if he weren’t already on the taxi squad.
Carlsson, 23, had one assist in 12 games with Chicago this season at the time of the trade and has two points (two assists) in 18 career games since making his league debut last season with the Blackhawks.
A native of Gävle, Sweden, the 6-foot, 189-pound defender was originally drafted by Chicago in the 4th round (110th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft and has appeared in one career postseason game in 2020.
Carlsson had 5-21–26 totals with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL) in 48 games last season, as well as three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games with Rockford in 2020-21.
Though he technically carries a $792,500 cap hit, the Blackhawks won’t be charged anything against their cap as long as he is on the taxi squad. He is a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end.
Round 1 of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft was held virtually Tuesday night after the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic changed plans from hosting the draft at Bell Centre in Montreal to a properly socially distanced from home event.
Coverage of this year’s first round begins Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN in the United States, as well as SN and TVAS in Canada. Rounds 2-7 will be televised at 11:30 a.m. ET on NHLN in the U.S. and SN1 in Canada.
As always, there were plenty of surprises and (possibly) a lack of trades. Here’s how it all went down.
2020 NHL Entry Draft Round 1
1. New York Rangers–> LW Alexis Lafrenière, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
2. Los Angeles Kings–> C Quinton Byfield, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)–> C/LW Tim Stützle, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
4. Detroit Red Wings–> RW Lucas Raymond, Frölunda HC (SHL)
5. Ottawa Senators–> D Jake Sanderson, USA U-18 (USHL)
6. Anaheim Ducks–> D Jamie Drysdale, Erie Otters (OHL)
7. New Jersey Devils–> RW Alexander Holtz, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
8.Buffalo Sabres–> RW Jack Quinn, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
9. Minnesota Wild–> C Marco Rossi, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
It’s June October and the Stanley Cup has been awarded and already cleaned more than a few times from all of the beer and other things that the Tampa Bay Lightning have done with it, which means it’s the perfect time to gather in a city around your TV screen and be ready to throw on any of the 31 National Hockey League team draft hats (excluding the Seattle Kraken– we’ll deal with them next season) when your name is called.
Well, if you’re one of the 31 prospects lucky enough to go in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft on Tuesday night, at least. Rounds 2-7 will take place Wednesday, starting at 11:30 a.m. ET as always– kind of.
For the first time in NHL history, this year’s draft is virtual thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Montreal was set to play host to the 2020 NHL Draft at Bell Centre back on June 26th and 27th, but it’s 2020 and with the global pandemic still going on, the league originally postponed the event back on March 25th before announcing it as a virtual draft at a later date (this week).
It’s also the first time that the draft is being held outside of June since the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, which was held at the Westin Hotel Ottawa in Canada’s capital city– Ottawa, Ontario– on July 30th of that year and it’s the first time that the draft is being held completely on weekday(s) for the first time since the 1994 NHL Entry Draft in Hartford, Connecticut, which was on Tuesday, June 28th of that year (remember the Whalers?).
The projected first overall pick– Alexis Lafrenfière– will get his moment in the spotlight sometime once the 2020-21 regular season begins, but until then he’ll have to settle for whatever lights his parents have in the living room.
Coverage of this year’s first round begins Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN in the United States, as well as SN and TVAS in Canada. Rounds 2-7 will be televised on NHLN in the U.S. and SN1 in Canada.
1. New York Rangers–> LW Alexis Lafrenière, Rimouski, (QMJHL)
Considered the best player to come out of the Québec Major Junior Hockey League since Sidney Crosby– who also played for Rimouski Océanic back in his Junior days– Lafrenière is a no-brainer for the New York Rangers.
He might be the best player in the draft since Connor McDavid was selected 1st overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2015, and for good reason.
Lafrenière had 35 goals and 77 assists (112 points) in 52 games for Rimouski this season until the rest of the regular season, as well as all of the postseason and Memorial Cup were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.
There’s nothing wrong with the Rangers stacking up on talent on the left side with Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider already in play. Simply put Lafrenière on the third line if you must and watch the forward depth lead the club into a playoff contender.
2. Los Angeles Kings–>C Quinton Byfield, Sudbury (OHL)
Byfield had 32-50–82 totals in 45 games with the Ontario Hockey Leagues’s Sudbury Wolves this season. His 6-foot-4 , 215-pound frame will help ease the transition for the Los Angeles Kings from Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter down the middle to whatever’s next with Byfield taking center stage.
His speed and skating ability is already a cut above the rest in the draft and having a two-time Frank J. Selke Trophy winner (Kopitar) as a teammate should further elevate Byfield’s game into one of the better two-way centers as he’ll be sure to learn a thing or two from him.
3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)–>C/LW Tim Stützle, Mannheim(DEL)
The best German prospect since Leon Draisaitl, Stützle amassed 7-27–34 totals in 41 games with Adler Mannheim in the DEL last season. He’s a dynamic forward that plays a mature game for his age, which is a promising sign for the Ottawa Senators that ensured they’d be having “unparalleled success from 2021-25”.
It’s not off to that promising of a start for the Sens, but with their rebrand, Stützle at 3rd overall and the 5th overall pick at their hands, Ottawa’s brighter days are ahead if not now. They’ll just need to find a new starting goaltender to really make them a playoff contender with Craig Anderson’s departure as part of Ottawa’s plan.
4. Detroit Red Wings–>D Jamie Drysdale, Erie (OHL)
While Detroit Red Wing General Manager, Steve Yzerman, could make a splash later in the week trying to attract Alex Pietrangelo or Michigan native, Torey Krug, to Detroit’s blue line, it’s about time the Red Wings took another defender to potentially anchor the defensive zone in the future with last year’s first round pick, Moritz Seider.
Drysdale checks off all the boxes for the Red Wings as the best defender in the draft and you know what wins championships in “Hockeytown”? Defense.
That said, he had 9-38–47 totals in 49 games with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League in 2019-20 and is capable of utilizing his 5-foot-11, 175-pound build to his advantage in a two-way game.
5. Ottawa Senators–>RW Lucas Raymond, Frölunda (SHL)
Everybody loves Raymond and his playmaking abilities– drawing comparisons to Ottawa’s intra-province rival, Toronto Maple Leafs forward, Mitch Marner, according to scouts and mock draft experts alike.
His skill, two-way style and high hockey IQ are what sets him apart from other players his age and pairs well with Stützle in the picture for the Sens as a pair of players that could change the face of a franchise on their own. In 33 games last season with Frölunda HC, Raymond had 10 points (four goals, six assists) playing as a teenager among men in the SHL.
He has one goal and one assist (two points) in four games this season already.
The Anaheim Ducks need some scoring power as they stockpile youth on the roster and Perfetti brings the right amount of scoring prowess combined with an all-around ability that sets him apart as a forward.
Perfetti’s vision is one that will generate scoring chances– whether for himself or a teammate– as he amassed 37 goals and 74 assists (111 points) with the Saginaw Spirit (OHL) in 61 games last season.
At 5-foot-10, 177-pounds, he’s not flashy, but he creates space for his own game and that’ll compliment well with Anaheim’s need for a true top-six forward in the coming years– be it first or second line center or just a solid option at left wing.
7. New Jersey Devils–>C Marco Rossi, Ottawa (OHL)
Like the Senators, the New Jersey Devils have three picks in the first round of this year’s draft and if everything goes according to plan, the Devils will make off with a pretty solid core of forwards to intersperse among their organizational depth.
Rossi lit up the OHL in scoring last season with 39 goals and 81 assists (120 points) in 56 games with the Ottawa 67’s, while drawing comparisons to that of Claude Giroux. Meanwhile, he could join the likes of Thomas Vanek, Michael Grabner and others as one of few Austrian born players to be drafted in the first round.
8.Buffalo Sabres–>C Anton Lundell, HFIK (Liiga)
Lundell had 10-18–28 totals in 44 games with HIFK last season in Finland’s top professional league (Liiga) and has a knack for protecting the puck rather well.
One of the better two-way centers in the draft, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound 19-year-old has some room to grow into a top-six role with the Buffalo Sabres in the near future– especially if Casey Mittelstadt and/or Tage Thompson can’t solidify their game in terms of a long-term second line center companion to Jack Eichel’s standout status as the first line center.
The Sabres need to shore up their strength down the middle– regardless of Eric Staal’s presence for this season on the second or third line.
Jarvis had 98 points (42 goals, 56 assists) in 58 games with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League last season before the pandemic cut things short.
He’s a crafty new-age center that has room to grow and has shown he can be more of a second-half of the season player that could one day peak at the right time for something the Minnesota Wild haven’t seen in a while– a deep playoff run.
With the Wild moving on from Mikko Koivu, Minnesota will need to replenish the pipeline down the middle both in the immediate and for the future.
10. Winnipeg Jets–>D Jake Sanderson, USA U-18 (USHL)
Sanderson could go higher in the draft or lower reminiscent of how Cam Fowler fell from 5th in the final rankings coming into the 2010 NHL Draft to being selected 12th overall by the Ducks.
He plays with aggression and has a 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame that could make losing Dustin Byfuglien prior to last season a little bit easier for the Jets– though Sanderson has big shoes to fill on a diminished Winnipeg blue line, unless GM Kevin Cheveldayoff flips Patrik Laine for an incredible return to shore up some own zone help for 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winning goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck.
With some polishing of his skills at the University of North Dakota whenever the 2020-21 season is expected to begin, Sanderson could improve from his 7-22–29 totals in 47 games with the U.S. National Development Program into a power play specialist that loves to use the body.
11. Nashville Predators–>D Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert (WHL)
One of David Poile’s strengths as Nashville Predators GM has long been drafting defenders and Guhle is no exception to the rule. At 6-foot-2, 186-pounds, he could fit in with reigning Norris Trophy winner, Roman Josi, as well as Mattias Ekholm and friends on the blue line.
With 11-29–40 totals in 64 games for the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL last season, Guhle is a consummate two-way defender that can grind his way out of battles and move the puck out of his own zone– a strong suit of Nashville’s defensive core for at least the last 15 years.
12. Florida Panthers–>RW Alexander Holtz, Djurgårdens (SHL)
Holtz had 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 35 games with Djurgårdens IF last season in the SHL as a pure goal scorer that’s waiting to emerge with a plethora of shots to take.
He led players 18 and under in Sweden’s top league in scoring and has decent size (6-foot, 192-pounds) to go with adapting well to the increased intensity of NHL-level hockey in due time, though he’ll probably use another season to develop as a more prominent scorer with Djurgårdens in 2020-21.
That said, new Florida Panthers GM, Bill Zito, will take to stocking up prospects in Florida’s new affiliation with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) with pleasure if the American Hockey League is able to make a season happen in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
13. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto Maple Leafs)–>RW Jack Quinn, Ottawa (OHL)
Though the Carolina Hurricanes could go with taking a goaltender in the first round, GM Don Waddell just might be satisfied enough with how Alex Nedeljkovic continues to develop with Carolina’s new AHL affiliate– the Chicago Wolves– and instead opt for the next best available player in Quinn.
Carolina is much more satisfied crafting a plan via free agency or through a trade to add a goaltender this offseason for what could hopefully bolster their chances as a Cup contender– that’s right, it’s time for the Canes to unleash a storm on the rest of the league as a big improvement from last season to this season.
Quinn was one of two 50-goal scorers in the OHL last season as he finished the year with 52 goals and 89 points in 62 games. He’s also one of eight OHL players to score at least 50 goals in their first NHL draft eligible season since 2000-01.
You know who else did that? Guys like Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jeff Skinner and Alex DeBrincat. Not too shabby.
14. Edmonton Oilers–>G Yaroslav Askarov, SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL)
The best goaltender in the draft, Askarov had a 12-3 record in 18 games in Russia’s second-tier league last season. He amassed a 2.45 goals against average and a .920 save percentage in the process and has a .974 SV%, as well as a 0.74 GAA through three games with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL this season.
As the Edmonton Oilers continue to find their way while trying to avoid wasting the primes of once in a generation talents like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, it’d make perfect sense for the Oilers to nail down a solid goaltending prospect for once.
Especially as there’s an immediate need for someone to replace Mikko Koskinen and/or whoever Edmonton chases after in free agency.
While the team that beat the Oilers in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final passed over him in this hypothetical mock first round, Edmonton was sure to snag Askarov before anyone else could.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs(from Pittsburgh Penguins)–>D Braden Schneider, Brandon (WHL)
While serving as an alternate captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) for the second year of his three full Junior seasons thus far, Schneider brought forth a solid two-way game to contribute to his team on the ice in addition to his leadership in the dressing room.
He had 7-35–42 totals in 60 games last season with the Wheat Kings, while utilizing his 6-foot-2, 202-pound body to shutdown opponents with his two-way game.
Schneider won’t be ready to hit the NHL ice in 2020-21, but he should be able to slide into a prominent role with the Toronto Maple Leafs in due time.
16. Montreal Canadiens–>C/RW Dawson Mercer, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Mercer is a versatile forward that could be beneficial to fitting in with the Montreal Canadiens current game plan– find as many Nick Suzuki’s as possible among their forwards and roll four lines while hoping for the best in Shea Weber, Jeff Petry and others on defense, as well as Carey Price in goal.
The Habs are at a transition point from their old core to a new-age dynamic with the added bonus of head coach, Claude Julien, reconstructing his coaching strategies to propel the Canadiens forward from their .500 season in 2019-20, to hopefully a more legitimate standing as a playoff team in 2020-21.
Mercer amassed 60 points between the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Chicoutimi Saguenéens in 42 games in the OHL last season and should be able to add a little bit of a power forward component to Montreal’s roster in the near future.
17. Chicago Blackhawks–>D Justin Barron, Halifax (QMJHL)
Barron missed a chunk of time last season with the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) due to a blood clot issue, but still managed to put up 4-15–19 totals in 34 games from the blue line while playing an efficient physical game.
The Chicago Blackhawks have a solid group of young forwards emerging that it’s about time they start focusing a little more on developing a defense– whether it’s from within by selecting Barron or through free agency and making trades. In either case, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook aren’t getting any younger and they can’t play forever.
18. New Jersey Devils (from Arizona Coyotes)–>RW Jacob Perreault, Sarnia (OHL)
With their second pick in the first round, New Jersey snags a versatile winger with a knack for shooting the puck and scoring. Perreault had 39-31–70 totals in 57 games with the Sarnia Sting (OHL) last season and should be ready to make an impact on the Devils’ NHL roster sooner rather than later.
He also led Sarnia with 15 power-play goals last season and could help load up New Jersey’s talent pool on the special teams.
19. Calgary Flames–>C Connor Zary, Kamloops (WHL)
If the Calgary Flames are serious about making some big changes to their core, they’re going to need to find a long-term solution down the middle and, luckily, Zary brings just that.
A dynamic skater with decent hands, he had 38 goals and 48 assists (86 points) in 57 games with the Kamloops Blazers (WHL) last season and lends himself to a suitable role as a team player with his 6-foot, 178-pound build at center.
20. New Jersey Devils (from Vancouver Canucks via Tampa Bay Lightning)–>C Hendrix Lapierre, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Upper body injuries limited Lapierre to 19 games last season, but he managed to put up 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) in that span as one of the better playmakers his age.
The Devils complete their trifecta of first round picks with a bit of a gamble, but a high upside if everything works out and Lapierre’s health doesn’t end up being a concern. New Jersey’s influx of speed, skill and youth should be able to get them to attract some key role players in the coming years to fill out bottom-six roles on a playoff contending roster.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets–>C/LW Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin (NCAA)
The Columbus Blue Jackets have taken to college hockey players with a lot of love in recent years and there’s no love lost for scooping up Holloway and his 6-foot, 203-pound frame as either a center or left wing in the near future in Flavortown.
He had 8-9–17 totals in 35 games in his freshman year with the Wisconsin Badgers and will likely need at least one more year under his belt in the college program before making the jump, but with the addition of Max Domi via trade ahead of the draft on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets can take their time to craft a heavy hitting lineup down the middle.
22. New York Rangers (from Carolina Hurricanes)–>C Ridly Greig, Brandon (OHL)
Despite being 5-foot-11 and 163-pounds, Greig can play in any role and has a good hockey IQ that comes in handy at both ends of the rink. His 26-34–60 totals in 56 games with the Wheat Kings last season should be decent enough for the Rangers to supplement their first round choice in Lafrenière in due time.
23. Philadelphia Flyers–>C Brendan Brisson, Chicago (USHL)
Brisson had 24-35–59 totals in 45 games with the Chicago Steel (USHL) last season and will be attending the University of Michigan to further develop his two-way game.
His consistency should only improve, as well as his scoring ability, which is promising for the Philadelphia Flyers as Claude Giroux peaks in his prime about the time Brisson could make his NHL debut.
24. Washington Capitals–>LW Rodion Amirov, Ufa (KHL)
In what’s not a surprise to anyone, the Washington Capitals aren’t afraid to take a shot on a Russian forward as Amirov had 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in Russia’s second-tier league last season. His shot and playmaking skills are good, but he’ll need a little time to develop and get stronger before hitting the ice at the NHL level.
At 6-foot-2, 194-pounds, Foerster brings some size to the Colorado Avalanche’s pool of prospects to go along with his 80 points (36 goals, 44 assists) in 62 games last season with the Barrie Colts (OHL). He’s also a decent playmaker, which fits right in with the team mentality of the Avs in their current era.
26. St. Louis Blues–>LW John-Jason Peterka, München (DEL)
Peterka led Germany with four goals in seven games at the 2020 World Junior Championship and has an impressive skating ability for his age, which lends itself to playing amongst the professionals in the DEL. He had 7-4–11 totals in 42 games with EHC München last season and is expected to continue to develop his game and work on using his size (5-foot-11, 192-pounds) to his advantage.
27. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins)–>D Jérémie Poirier, Saint John (QMJHL)
With their second pick in the first round, the Ducks don’t mind taking a defender and letting him take his time to get better in his own zone before making an impact in Anaheim. Poirier had 20 goals and 33 assists (53 points) in 64 games last season with the Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) and plays a “live by the sword, die by the sword” game that can really come into its own as a shutdown defender with some more development.
28. Ottawa Senators (from New York Islanders)–>D Helge Grans, Malmö (SWE J20)
Grans is a right-shot defender that has a great understanding of the game and decent vision to go along with his 4-23–27 totals in 27 games in Sweden’s junior lead last season, as well as one goal and two assists for Malmö in 21 games in the SHL last season.
He impressed coaches enough to begin the 2020-21 season in Sweden’s top league and should round out a great first round draft for the Senators.
29. Vegas Golden Knights–>D Ryan O’Rourke, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
A two-way defender, O’Rourke has a good hockey sense and had 7-30–37 totals in 54 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) last season. The Vegas Golden Knights already have a solid defensive core, but would be establishing an even better foundation for the future by taking the 6-foot, 178-pound defender.
30. Dallas Stars–>C Thomas Bordeleau, USA U-18 (USHL)
Bordeleau had 16-30–46 totals in 47 games with the U.S. National Development Program last season and has room to grow, but has time to develop within the Stanley Cup runners’ up, Dallas Stars’, system. A native of Texas, he’ll be attending the University of Michigan this fall.
31. San Jose Sharks (from Tampa Bay Lightning)–>D William Wallinder, MoDo (SWE J20)
Rounding out the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning sent the San Jose Sharks the 31st overall pick for Barclay Goodrow back when the global pandemic hadn’t put an early end to the regular season and before the Bolts won the Cup. As a result, the Sharks have the last pick in the first round since they traded their 2020 1st round pick to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade.
As such, it’s only fitting that San Jose continue to build up their defense with Wallinder as a solid option for moving the puck out of his own zone– either by carrying it on his own or finding an open teammate, while shutting down opponents with his 6-foot-4, 191-pound build.