Skip to Main Content
Season Preview

16 faces in new places

P.K. Subban, Taylor Hall, Keith Yandle among those who changed teams during offseason

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / Senior Managing Editor

It was a dizzying summer of player movement in the NHL, with two of the biggest trades in years happening within minutes of each other on June 29.

The Edmonton Oilers traded forward Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson. Less than 20 minutes later, the Montreal Canadiens traded defenseman P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Shea Weber.

But that was far from the only major change that took place over the offseason. With the 2016-17 season on the doorstep, here is a list of 16 of the most prominent faces who are in new places (in alphabetical order):

Frederik Andersen, G, Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs have been searching for a No 1 goaltender for years, and general manager Lou Lamoriello hopes the search ends with Andersen. Lamoriello acquired Andersen from the Anaheim Ducks on June 20 for a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft (No. 30, center Sam Steel) and a second-round pick in 2017. The Maple Leafs immediately signed Andersen to a five-year, $25 million contract.

David Backes, C, Boston Bruins

Backes left the St. Louis Blues after 10 seasons to sign a five-year, $30 million contract with the Bruins on July 1. Backes, 32, had 45 points (21 goals, 24 assists) in 79 games last season, his lowest point production in a full season since he had 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in 72 games in 2007-08. But Backes produced in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 20 games, and plays the type of heavy game that is adored in Boston.

Bruce Boudreau, coach, Minnesota Wild

Boudreau was hired by the Wild on May 7, exactly one week after he was fired by the Ducks. He has coached an NHL team from the beginning to the end of eight seasons, four with the Washington Capitals and four with the Ducks, and won his division every time. That might be a tall order for the Wild in the difficult Central Division, but Boudreau has set the bar high.

Derick Brassard, C, Ottawa Senators

Brassard was acquired by the Senators along with a 2018 draft pick from the New York Rangers for center Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 draft pick on July 18. Brassard, 28, is still in his prime, coming off an NHL career-high 27 goals, and is under contract for three more seasons. Zibanejad can become a restricted free agent after the season.

Brian Elliott, G, Calgary Flames

The Flames acquired Elliott in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on June 24 for a second-round pick in the 2016 draft (No 35, center Jordan Kyrou) and a conditional third round pick in 2018. Elliott led the NHL with a .930 save percentage last season and is fourth over the past three seasons combined (.923) among goalies who have played at least 50 games. The Flames had the worst team save percentage in the League last season (.893).

Loui Eriksson, LW, Vancouver Canucks

Eriksson left the Bruins to sign a six-year, $36 million contract with the Canucks, the same $6 million annual average salary Boston gave Backes. Eriksson, 31, had 30 goals and 63 points in 82 games with Boston and will play next to Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin on the Canucks top line. An elite two-way forward, Eriksson should be able to fill multiple roles for Vancouver.

Taylor Hall, LW, New Jersey Devils

Hall, 24, is coming off the first 82-game season of his NHL career. That's a good sign for the Devils, who need a jolt of his offensive ability on a regular basis this season. Hall's career has been marred by injuries, but his combination of speed and shooting will be a welcome addition on a team that needs help putting the puck in the net. New Jersey finished 30th in the League with 182 goals scored last season.

Andrew Ladd, LW, New York Islanders

Ladd, 31, was one of the top forwards available on the unrestricted free agent market and the Islanders secured the veteran leader on July 1 with a seven-year contract reportedly worth $5.5 million per season. Ladd will play next to captain John Tavares on the Islanders top line, providing a physical, two-way presence. He scored 25 goals and 46 points in 78 games with the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks last season.

Adam Larsson, D, Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers had a dire need for a top end, right-shooting defenseman, and paid a big price to land Larsson to fill that role, trading Hall to the Devils to get him. Larsson, 23, is entering his sixth NHL season and will get top pair minutes with the Oilers, continuing a progression that has seen his ice time climb in each of the past two seasons from 17:47 per game in 2013-14 to 20:57 in 2014-15 to 22:30 last season.

Milan Lucic, LW, Edmonton Oilers

Lucic, 28, signed a seven-year contract with the Oilers on July 1 to provide a measure of skill and protection on the left side of franchise center and newly named captain Connor McDavid on Edmonton's top line. Few players in the League can fill that role as well as Lucic, who is skilled enough to have scored at least 20 goals in four of his nine NHL seasons and physical enough at 6-foot-3, 233 pounds to make opponents think twice about hitting McDavid.

Kyle Okposo, RW, Buffalo Sabres

Okposo, 28, was signed to a seven year contract reportedly worth $42 million to help improve scoring depth for the Sabres, who finished last season (199 goals) and 30th (153) the season before. Okposo has scored at least 20 goals three times, including 22 goals and 64 points in 79 games last season.

Eric Staal, C, Minnesota Wild

Perhaps the best bargain signing on July 1, Staal agreed to a three-year, $10.5 million contract to help resurrect his career in Minnesota. Staal, 31, is coming off a season with 13 goals and 39 points in 83 games between the Carolina Hurricanes and Rangers, his lowest numbers since his rookie season in 2003-04, when he had 11 goals and 31 points in 81 games as a 19-year-old. But Staal had 23 goals and 54 points two seasons ago, and the Wild must hope last season was an anomaly and not the start of a decline.

P.K. Subban, D, Nashville Predators

Subban, 27, arrives in Nashville in the prime of his career and fits an organizational philosophy of speed and strong transitional play. The early indication is that Subban will be paired with Mattias Ekholm, with Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis making up the other half of what could be the best top two defensive pairings in the League. The Predators sacrificed their captain, Weber, to get Subban, but made their team faster and more dynamic offensively in the process, which is a perfect fit for how coach Peter Laviolette wants them to play.

Shea Weber, D, Montreal Canadiens

In much the same way Subban is a philosophical fit in Nashville, the same could be said of Weber in Montreal, which preaches defensively sound, risk-free hockey. Weber, 31, is coming off an excellent performance in the World Cup of Hockey 2016, helping Team Canada win the tournament by regularly matching up against the opposition's top offensive threats and neutralizing them. He will be asked to do the same in Montreal, with the added benefit of protecting the Canadiens' most valuable asset, goaltender Carey Price.

Keith Yandle, D, Florida Panthers

The Panthers aggressively acquired Yandle from the Rangers before he hit unrestricted free agency and signed him to a seven-year contract worth $44.45 million (average annual value of $6.35 million per season). Yandle, 30, will start as Aaron Ekblad's defensive partner on the Panthers top pair and should help a power play that finished 23rd in the League last season.

Mika Zibanejad, C, New York Rangers

Zibanejad, 23, is five years younger than Brassard and is a right-handed shot, something the Rangers were lacking down the middle. In his fourth full NHL season, Zibanejad set career highs for goals (21), assists (30), points (51) and shots on goal (184), so he appears to be on the cusp of a breakout. He looks too be slotted into the second-line center spot for now, but the Rangers may have acquired their future top-line center.

View More

The NHL has updated its Privacy Policy effective January 16, 2020. We encourage you to review it carefully.

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.