New Faces in New Places
99 days after the Tampa Bay Lightning secured their 2nd straight Stanley Cup, we’re back for opening night of the 2021-2022 NHL regular season.
A short but eventful summer saw Seattle hold their expansion draft, the Sabres get yet another top pick, defencemen across the league sign gigantic contracts, and of course, trouble in paradise for Leaf fans.
In honour of the first slate of games happening tonight, including Seattle’s first ever game, against the next most recent expansion team, Vegas, let’s take a look at all the New Faces in New Places across the league.
Let’s begin in Edmonton since they have the game’s best player in Connor McDavid. The Oilers decided they wanted to be more like the 2019-2020 Leafs, bringing in Cody Ceci and Zach Hyman, and re-upping Tyson Barrie, who is coming off a great year in Oil Country. Edmonton also added Duncan Keith and Warren Foegle, while shipping out young D-men in Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear.
Since the aforementioned Ethan Bear ended up in Carolina, let’s switch gears to the Canes next. Tony DeAngelo, in, Antti Raanta, in, Freddie Andersen, in. Alex Nedeljkovic, Calder nominee last year, was sent to Detroit, while perennial Norris contender Dougie Hamilton signed a major deal up in Jersey.
Speaking of major deals, Seth Jones was sent to Chicago, and promptly signed a lengthy deal that us average folk were drooling over. The Hawks weren’t done there however, adding reigning Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes.
On the topic of tendies, Braden Holtby signed in Dallas after being bought-out by the Canucks. Ryan Suter was in the same boat, as he joined the Stars following an expensive buy-out at the hands of the Minnesota Wild. The Wild felt similarly about Zach Parise, and executed a buy-out of his contract as well, leading to him signing in Long Island.
Good old Lou brought in Parise for some veteran presence, but decided that wasn’t quite enough, so he signed big Zdeno Chara to a deal – bringing him back to the team he started his career with.
Across the city, the Rangers decided they needed to get tougher in order to stand up to a certain fellow named Tom Wilson – prompting them to add Ryan Reaves, Barclay Goodrow, and trading the skilled forward Pavel Buchnevich to St.Louis in return for Sammy Blais.
The Blues didn’t get up to too much aside from adding Buch, signing James Neal off a PTO, and welcoming the return of star sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. But speaking of snipers, Taylor Hall re-upped in Boston after a strong finish to the year, while the Bruins also added Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, and menacing D-man Derek Forbort.
Sticking to D-men here, Coyotes Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson was shipped to Vancouver, along with Connor Garland, in return for the most expensive fourth line ever in Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel. The Yotes also added Anton Stralman and the Ghost Bear, because, well why not I guess.
Staying down south, the Panthers had a heck of a season so didn’t feel the need to change much – but made a splash with Sam Reinhart, and added Jumbo Joe Thornton for some depth, while expecting some big results from the young Spencer Knight in net.
The Leafs also had some turnover in net, with Petr Mrazek coming to town to create a strong but injury prone tandem with Jack Campbell. The loss of Hyman allowed for them to add Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase, Michael Bunting, and David Kampf.
Their fellow Northern team Winnipeg made a few sneaky additions, bringing in the smooth skating Nate Schmidt and the ever-physical Brenden Dillon – along with Riley Nash for some center depth, and a full healthy season from Pirere-Luc Dubois should see strong returns.
The Habs impressed with a Stanley Cup Finals appearance, but now have Price, Weber, Byron, and Hoffman all set to miss significant time. They lost Danault to free agency, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi to Carolina via the ever-rare offer sheet, and added Christian Dvorak, Mathieu Perreault, and David Savard.
We might as well finish up the Canadian teams here in one go – the Sens made some small splashes signing veterans Nick Holden, Michael Del Zotto, and Tyler Ennis, whilst the Flames added some big bodies in Nikita Zadorov, Trevor Lewis, and most notably Blake Coleman.
The Lightning are coming off back-to-back cups wins as we said, but will have to battle this year without their famed 3rd line of Gourde, Goodrow, and Coleman. Instead, the Bolts added everyone’s favourite Corey Perry, and bringing back Zach Bogosian from a few years ago.
Despite being another city with great weather, San Jose has had a little less to cheer about than Tampa has. They did revamp their netminders by adding Adin Hill and James Reimer, but Andrew Cogliano and Nick Bonino likely won’t be big enough additions upfront to spur a playoff run from the Sharks.
One team looking to make another playoff run though is Pittsburgh, who added Brian Boyle and Danton Heinen to their forward corps. Their Pennsylvania cohorts made a lot more noise however, getting Cam Atkinson, Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, Keith Yandle, and parting ways with former top draft choice Nolan Patrick.
Keeping it in the Metro, we noted the Devils adding Dougie Hamilton, but they also joined forces with Jonathan Bernier and Ryan Graves who will both get solid opportunities on this budding young team. Likewise, the Blue Jackets were busy – naming Boone Jenner as captain, getting Jake Bean and Adam Boqvist for the backend, and reuniting with Jakub Voracek.
To wrap up the Metro, Washington kept everything pretty well status quo. As did their former Stanley Cup Finals combatant the Golden Knights – who signed Brossoit after dealing Fleury, and adding Nolan Patrick while subtracting Cody Glass in the 3-team trade.
Also involved in that 3-team deal were the Predators, who had to replace long-time netminder Pekka Rinne’s role with David Rittich. Cody Glass will get a fresh start in Smashville, while youngster Phillip Tomasino seemingly will be getting his first real shot in the show.
Detroit? Not much aside from Nedeljkovic. Anaheim? Bit of a youth movement, nothing too noteworthy here. Buffalo? Don’t even get me started. Set Jack Eichel free.
On a lighter note, LA will be looking to take a step, with Danault, Arvidsson, and Edler joining the troops out in California. Similarly, the Avalanche will be counting on a step forward from their young studs, following a disappointing playoff exit. Ryan Murray and Darren Helm are new to the Mile High City, as is Darcy Kuemper who could challenge for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team with a strong start in Colorado.
Last but certainly not least – the Seattle Kraken, and well, everyone here is new here. We’ll dive into them shortly in blogs specific to them, but really excited to see how they do this year. Hakstol behind the bench and the defensive depth they have should provide for a pretty solid and tight team – the question will be can they score enough? Gourde, Eberle, Schwartz, and Donskoi will do some of the heavy lifting up front, but their scoring depth isn’t too crazy. Then again, no one thought Vegas’ was either a few years ago.