NHL 2013-14 Off-Season In Review

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The “Young Stars” tournaments have already gone under way, which means hockey season is just around the corner. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the big moves that have happened since the end of the 2013-14 season.

The Big Trades

The first big trade to happen was San Jose Sharks letting go of offensive defenseman Dan Boyle. Boyle’s rights were traded to the New York Islanders in exchange for a 2015 4th round draft pick, though those rights were subsequently given to the Isles’ cross-state rivals, the New York Rangers. Now some say they shouldn’t have let him go because he still could have been of use to the team by mentoring the younger defensemen.

Others say based on his performance last season, he’s lost his touch and his time in SJ was bound to come to end eventually. Because of the trade, the Sharks now have defenseman Brent Burns – who had been transitioned to the right wing at forward – to fill the void left by the absence of Boyle.

Another big trade was Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets for RJ Umberger. Hartnell was everything that resembled what Flyers hockey was: grit and physicality, intimidating the opponents to their core. Unfortunately, he was also a slow skater. Whether or not he’d fallen out of favor with new Flyers’ GM Ron Hextall, we’ll never know. Certainly, though, Hextall was eager to pull the trigger to get Umberger and improve the speed at forward position.

At the start of the 2015 NHL Draft, Ryan Kesler finally got his wish of opting out of Vancouver in a trade with a third-rounder to the Anaheim Ducks. In return, the Ducks gave up Nick Bonino and defenseman Luca Sbisa along with a first and third-rounder. Originally the Sharks’ 6th round draft pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Bonino put up career numbers last season with 22 goals and 27 assists totaling 49 points in a span of 77 games played for the Anaheim Ducks.

Among other Draft Day trades – aside from all the pure draft picks – were Jason Garrison and contract rights to Jeff Costello plus a 2015 7th-round pick from Vancouver to the Tampa Lightning for a 2014 2nd-rounder, former Ranger Derek Dorsett out of New York for the 2014 3rd-round pick Vancouver got from Anaheim in the Kesler trade, and James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

Making Improvements

It’s definitely safe to say that with the exception of the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Los Angeles Kings, every team has been trying to restock and improve their rosters in hopes for either a better year or another shot at hockey’s Holy Grail; some very successfully, others not at all. For the Detroit Red Wings, who’re looking to extend their playoff streak to 24 straight seasons, they look to their young guns like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist to step it up and have even better seasons than their previous.

For the Dallas Stars who’d made the postseason for the first time in six years, it’s about going further than they did in 2014. Along with current stars (both literally and figuratively), Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, they’d acquired former Captain Jason Spezza and Ludwig Karlsson in a trade with the Ottawa Senators for Alex Chiasson, Nicholas Paul, and Alexander Guptill along with a 2nd-rounder in the 2015 NHL Draft.

In addition, the Stars signed former Senator forward Ales Hemsky to a three-year deal, making them even more dangerous up front. Though in 20 games played Hemsky only tallied 4 goals and 13 assists with a  -2 rating last season, he’ll get a chance to play with even better players and a perhaps a chance to finally return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006, when he was still a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

The Penguins have not had a Cup Final appearance since 2009, and they’re looking to turns things around. After the second round exit to the eventual Stanley Cup Finalists, the New York Rangers, former GM Ray Shero was fired. Former Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford took the helm, and not long after former head coach Dan Bylsma was back on the unemployed list.

As mentioned before, James Neal was traded from the Penguins to Nashville. Mike Johnston, who was the head coach and GM of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, was named head coach for Pittsburgh. Things are definitely changing, and only time will tell what other moves lie ahead for the franchise.

Looking Ahead

It’s been an interesting offseason, and it’ll be an even more interesting 2014-15 season. Which teams will benefit from trades? Which players will have bounce-back seasons and who will have even better seasons?

I can barely even contain my excitement! There are only 24 days left until puck drop. Are you ready for hockey season?

Follow Felix on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!

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