by Rob Joyce
The 2016-17 regular season is mere days away, with the Senators and Maple Leafs dropping the puck at 7:00 on October 12. It was a busier offseason than usual in the NHL, with the revival of the World Cup of Hockey and a hectic few days of free agency, more than usual. It led to a lot of moving parts around the league, including a few blockbuster deals.
With the pre-season winding down and the real action nears, here are five familiar faces who swapped sweaters in the offseason.
1/2) PK Subban & Shea Weber:
You can’t mention one without the other. In a shocking one-for-one trade on June 29, the Canadiens sent the 27-year-old Subban to the Predators in return for the 31-year-old Weber. It’s a deal that isn’t often seen anymore – two massive contracts straight-up swapped, with no salary retention, draft picks or prospects involved. Montreal had long been rumored to be shopping their former Norris winner, but normally a player of Subban’s caliber garners a hoard of picks and prospects. Instead, they get a five-time All-Star in Weber.
3) David Backes:
The longtime staple in St. Louis is now a Bruin after signing a five-year deal on July 1. The former Blues captain spent the first decade of his career with the organization, but moves on as St. Louis tries to get over the hump and compete for a Stanley Cup. Backes should fit the traditional Boston mold well, as he’s a gritty forward who is good for 45-60 points a season, though he is past his prime now at age 32.
4) Taylor Hall:
Another youngster who was shipped in a one-for-one deal, the former No. 1 overall pick was shipped from Edmonton to New Jersey in exchange for Adam Larsson. Hall was another player who was considered to be on the trade block for the right price, and in the Oilers’ case they desperately need help on the blue line. Whether they received enough in return is up for debate, but there’s no debating that the Devils get a star-in-the-making. At 24 Hall gives the team some much-needed youth, and he should improve upon his 65 points from a year ago, with the ability to collect his first 30-goal season.
5) Milan Lucic:
The longtime Bruin now makes his rounds to his third team in three years. After spending one season with the Kings, Lucic will essentially replace Hall’s production in Edmonton after signing a seven-year deal. Though different types of players – Hall is a speedster, while Lucic is a well-established grinder – the different in production is negligible. And though he’s already in the tenth year of his career, at 28 Lucic still has plenty of good years left, as he tries to use his Cup-winning experience to bring Edmonton out of the rut they’ve been in for a decade.