Lost in the web of offseason trades and free-agent signings? Let us walk you through what happened in the NHL over the summer.
After tearing it up in the Western Conference in the regular season, finishing third-overall in the NHL in points, the Anaheim Ducks were shocked in the first round by the seventh-seeded Detroit Red Wings. 2012-13 GM of the Year nominee Bob Murray and Coach of the Year candidate Bruce Boudreau will once again rely heavily on the offensive output of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry this season, but they’ll have to do without the sniping capabilities of four-time 30-plus goal scorer Bobby Ryan, who was traded to Ottawa for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a first round pick in 2014 this summer. At the other end of the ice, the X-factor for the Ducks this season might just be whichever goaltender finally earns the starting job between last year’s breakout star Viktor Fasth and established veteran Jonas Hiller.
After the departure of long-time captain Jarome Iginla at the tail end of the 2012-13 season, the major flooding which damaged the Scotiabank Saddledome and the retirement announcement of Miikka Kiprusoff, a new-look Calgary Flames team will emerge in 2013-14. The organization is in the midst of a rebuild, having finished 13th in the Western Conference, and has created a President of Hockey Operations position filled by Brian Burke to oversee the transition. Mark Giodano takes over the captaincy, while Mike Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross will be the assistant captains.
Since their last postseason appearance in 2006, each season thereafter could have been a productive one for the Oilers. Having selected young phenoms at the NHL Draft over the last few years, Edmonton should see Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle and Ryan-Nugent Hopkins come out in force this season. Over the summer, general manager Craig MacTavish and his new administration were active, acquiring David Perron to enhance the squad’s already potent offense even further. In goal, Devan Dubnyk will more often than not be called upon to stand tall and hold down the fort for an up-and-coming group in Oil Country.
Los Angeles Kings
The defending champions ahead of the 2012-13 campaign, Los Angeles took some time to get going again last season before eventually finishing fifth in the western conference. With an almost identical lineup to the one that claimed the Stanley Cup, Darryl Sutter’s squad showed its playoff muscle once again by reaching the Conference Finals. They were defeated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in five games.
Now assured to be remaining in Glendale for years to come, the Coyotes can leave distractions related to relocation behind beginning this season. After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008-09 last year, the Coyotes will go up against formidable opponents in their division with the arrival of teams like the Canucks. During the offseason, general manager Don Maloney acquired Mike Ribeiro, who will likely become the team’s top centerman. On the blue line, Phoenix will count on the outstanding duo of Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the power play. In goal, German Thomas Greiss, formerly of the Sharks, will provide netminder Mike Smith with a helping hand during the 2013-14 campaign.
San Jose Sharks
Among the elite franchises in the Western Conference, the Sharks go in search of a 10th straight postseason berth in 2013-14 after reaching the second round of the playoffs last year. Over the summer, general manager Doug Wilson signed offensive standouts Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski to long-term contract extensions, and also traded for forward Tyler Kennedy at the NHL Entry Draft. San Jose, however, will be deprived of forward Martin Havlat’s services for the foreseeable future after the Czech forward underwent groin surgery during the offseason. Fortunately, the Sharks also boast stars Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau who remain among the top point producers in the league. Head coach Todd McLellan can also rely on workhorse Antti Niemi, who earned his first career Vezina Trophy nomination last season after posting a 24-12-6 record and a 2.16 goals-against average in 43 regular season games.
The arrival of new head coach John Tortorella in Vancouver will likely be beneficial for goaltender Roberto Luongo in 2013-14 as the veteran netminder should be the club’s starter on a permanent basis. Mixed up in a goaltending saga last season with Cory Schneider, who left Vancouver for New Jersey over the summer, Luongo will have the chance to get his confidence and concentration back after a pair of disappointing seasons the last two years. Faced with high expectations every year, the Canucks will have to find their touch on a power play that was ranked 22nd in the NHL in 2012-13.
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