Hockey expert Jourdon White gives an overview of the most significant changes in the 2018 NHL offseason.
When we last left the NHL, we saw the Washington Capitals do the (nigh) impossible and finally win their first Stanley Cup, leaving Pittsburgh and mostly-bandwagon Vegas fans salty. Aside from Alexander Ovechkin’s lengthy celebration binge, trades, rumors and intrigue filled the offseason. With the official season starting back up this Wednesday, here’s a quick roundup of major offseason stories.
Summer is free agency time, where many teams either extend their players’ contracts or see some big names move to unlikely places. This summer, many star players were traded due to their impending free agency. Two of the biggest names were defenseman Erik Karlsson and center John Tavares. Both were star players on their respective teams and some of the best in the game at the moment. After a couple of weeks of speculation and rumors, the New York Islanders traded Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are making moves to steadily improve their lineup, but still need that extra push to get past the first round of the playoffs.
Around mid-July, Karlsson was in talks for a trade to either Tampa Bay or Dallas, though these went silent after a week. After a month of “will they, won’t they,” the Ottawa Senators traded Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks. It will be interesting to see how Karlsson can fit in the Sharks’ more offensive dynamic, but I think we can confirm Ottawa will be out of playoff contention until the Senators’ upper management can clean up their act.
Aside from these large trades, the offseason was, well, the offseason. There were other small happenings in and around the league. The current head of the NHL, Gary Bettman, was formally inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer despite the controversy surrounding he and his high-up cronies. The Philadelphia Flyers introduced their newest mascot, Gritty, which looks like the physical manifestation of Philly’s rage as a sports city. His bizarre appearance and kooky antics have taken the hockey world by storm.
The regular season starts on Wednesday, Oct. 3. I am more than excited. Though this offseason was filled with more big names traded than usual, it will hopefully pay off for most of the teams in the regular season.