Last Night’s News 📰
CZECH ON YOUR AMERICAN FRIENDS: Czechia pulled off the upset of the 2022 World Junior Championship, knocking off Team USA 4-2. It will be only the second time in seven years that the Americans have failed to medal in the tournament as they watch Canada, Sweden, Finland, and the Czechs battle for gold.
NAZ SIGNS (FINALLY!): The Nazem Kadri free agent sweepstakes are over, as the 31-year-old Stanley Cup winner signed a seven-year, $49 million contract with the Calgary Flames. Kadri joins Jonathan Huberdeau atop a new-look Flames forward corps that has bid farewell to Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk.
COWBOY BOOTS & DRAFT PICKS: On Thursday, the NHL announced that Nashville will host the 2023 NHL Awards on June 26 and the 2023 Draft on June 28-29 at Bridgestone Arena. It will be the first time the Predators will host the awards and 20 years since the last time they held the draft.
TOUGH PRICE TO PAY: Poor Carey Price. After surgery last summer, a COVID setback, and a trip to the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, he finally returned to a struggling Montreal Canadiens team. Following his 700th career and final game of the 2021-22 season, Price admitted his knee was not healing as planned and that he may have played in the last game of his career. Yesterday, Canadiens GM Kent Hughes all but confirmed that is the case.
Engagement Rings & Wedding Things
It has been a busy, and dare I say romantic, summer for some of our favorite players. The offseason is synonymous with wedding season, and fans have seen plenty of players walk down the aisle and get down on one knee over the past few months. Please enjoy part two of Engagement Rings and Wedding Things.
The Tkachuk brothers took their sibling rivalry to a new level this summer. Younger brother Brady headed down to the jersey shore to offer his girlfriend Emma Farinacci a lifetime contract. Equipped with roses in one hand and a diamond ring from Genovese Jewelers in the other, he popped the question. While the family celebrated the newly engaged couple, older brother Matthew was traded from the Calgary Flames to the Florida Panthers in an unexpected blockbuster deal. You couldn’t let your brother have the spotlight could you, Matthew?
Meet Me in Minneapolis
Boston Bruins forward Charlie Coyle married his long-time girlfriend, Danielle, at The Whim, which was an NHL star-studded affair. Bruins teammates Taylor Hall and Craig Smith were on hand to celebrate, in addition to former teammates Erik Haula and Jason Zucker. Congrats to the happy couple!
Kissed by a Rose
Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin wanted to get in on the offseason action, proposing to his girlfriend Kenzy Wolfe on a dock covered by white roses. It was a scene straight out of the bachelor, but arguably even better as their Bernedoodle Ellie made an appearance. In April, Wolfe announced that the couple should have welcomed their son into the world but sadly suffered a loss back in November.
Calgary: Two In, Two Out
What a difference a summer makes. The Calgary Flames were coming off a Pacific Division-winning 111-point season on the strength of the top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Elias Lindholm, arguably one of hockey’s best. As we head into the 2022-23 campaign, two-thirds of that trio are gone, with GM Brad Treliving doing quick work to replace them and keep the contention window open.
Treliving sign-and-traded restricted free agent Tkachuk to Florida for Jonathan Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar in the blockbuster of the summer and, most recently, landed coveted free agent Nazem Kadri on a seven-year deal. Essentially, Treliving pivoted from Gaudreau and Tkachuk to Huberdeau and Kadri up front. Let’s compare, shall we?
Last Season’s Performance
Gaudreau and Tkachuk’s 219 combined points last season were the most of any teammates this side of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, so Calgary would do well to come close to that output with their new additions. That said, Huberdeau and Kadri were no slouches, producing a combined 202 points while performing integral roles on the Presidents’ Trophy winners and the Stanley Cup champions, respectively.
For the upcoming season, Calgary will pay more than $6 million less for their two new stars than their departed duo will earn. Then, however, things get expensive. With Huberdeau’s eight-year, $84 million contract kicking in, he and Kadri will count for $17.5 million against the cap for the foreseeable future. Gaudreau and Tkachuk will collectively come in a bit above that, but it’s close.
Another fascinating element of these high-profile moves is how complimentary they are. Calgary replaced Gaudreau with Huberdeau, a player with an identical point total from last year. After losing out on Tkachuk’s toughness and physicality, they added some sandpaper in Kadri. While losing a 24-year-old budding superstar in Tkachuk stings (to say nothing of Gaudreau), the contracts of Huberdeau and Kadri could look iffy through their respective age-38 and -37 seasons. For this season, though, there’s plenty of optimism that Treliving’s ambitious recoup of talent will pay off.
Best of the Rest
Nazem Kadri was the final marquee free agent on the board, but there are still plenty of unsigned players who can certainly contribute to a team. Here is a look at the top free agents remaining at each position as we reach the home stretch of the offseason.
Forward – Phil Kessel
Kessel isn’t the difference-maker he once was, but he still finished with 52 points (eight goals, 44 assists) in 82 games for the Arizona Coyotes last season. The 34-year-old, who has 956 points (399 goals, 557 assists) in 1,204 career regular season games and 81 points (34 goals, 47 assists) in 96 career playoff games, led Arizona in assists last season, finished third in points, and finished second in power-play points (14). A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Kessel would likely prefer to be a veteran presence on a playoff contender.
Defense – P.K. Subban
Like Kessel, Subban isn’t what he once was, but he can still be a key contributor to a team. The 33-year-old scored 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 77 games for the New Jersey Devils last season. For his career, he has 467 points (115 goals, 352 assists) in 834 regular season games and 62 points (18 goals, 44 assists) in 58 playoff games. As with Kessel, he’s probably looking to contribute to a playoff contender.
Goalie – Braden Holtby
Holtby is another veteran with extensive experience and a strong resume, winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender in 2015-16 and Stanley Cup in 2018. The 32-year-old is 299-143-50 with a 2.59 goals-against average (GAA) while posting a .915 save percentage (SV%) in 513 regular season games and is 50-47 with a 2.13 GAA and .926 SV% in 97 playoff contests. Holtby went 10-10-1 with a 2.78 GAA and .913 SV% in 24 games with the Dallas Stars before missing the final two months with an injury. He may not be a primary goalie anymore, but he can still contribute as a solid option between the pipes.
- Today’s newsletter was edited by Kyle Knopp, with contributions by Ben Fisher, Kristy Flannery, and Brooke LoFurno.
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