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Catching you up on new faces in new places

by Dave Lozo /
Perhaps you spent the hockey offseason backpacking through the rolling hills of Ireland, your cell phone turned off, ignoring the outside world in an effort to find inner peace. Eight months of the NHL season can take a toll on a person, and sometimes going off the grid is the best way to recharge your batteries.

If that's the case, let me be the first to say welcome back to the civilized world. There have been a lot of changes in the NHL (Have you heard about the job Brendan Shanahan's been doing with player safety?) and I'm here to help you catch up with the big names who found new homes while you were trekking through Europe.

Let's start in Philadelphia, since that city seems to be the epicenter of the offseason hurricane.

Remember Jaromir Jagr? Big guy, left-handed, left to play in Russia three years ago, future Hall-of-Famer? Well, he's back in the NHL with the Flyers. Sounds like he's going to start the season on a line with Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk, who will have to carry a lot of more of the offseason load with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards no longer with the team.

Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski both joined the Blue Jackets' roster this summer. (Getty Images)
Oh, I should've mentioned that earlier -- the Flyers traded Mike Richards to the Kings and Jeff Carter to the Blue Jackets.

Crazy, huh? But the Flyers were looking to change things after being swept in the second round of the playoffs and wanted to sign a marquee goaltender, which they did with Ilya Bryzgalov. That's a lot to take in, so perhaps you'll want to pick up a program on opening night and familiarize yourself with the team.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. If you're looking at some preseason box scores for the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks, you might be confused and think there are names on the wrong sides of the score sheet.

Those teams were offseason best buddies. It started at the draft, when the Sharks sent Devin Setoguchi, top prospect Charlie Coyle and the 28th pick in the draft to the Wild for defenseman Brent Burns.

About a week later, the teams were at it again, with the Sharks sending Dany Heatley to Minnesota for Martin Havlat.

The biggest and most expensive move wasn't a trade but a free-agent signing. The Rangers landed the No. 1 center they've coveted for years when they gave Brad Richards a nine-year, $60 million contract on the second day of free agency.


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Richards will center a line with Marian Gaborik, who struggled to score last season. They've played together throughout the preseason and could turn out to be one of the deadliest duos in the League.

Semyon Varlamov might not be a big name, but the Avalanche made a big deal to land the goaltender. They gave the Caps a 2012 first-round pick and a conditional second-rounder, and then Varlamov signed him to a two-year deal.

This is the point where I wanted to catch you up on all the new faces on the Florida Panthers, but since there's about a dozen of them and nobody wants to read a 2,000-word story, just mosey on over to the team's website and click on their roster. After you soak it all in -- oh, they have a new coach, too, in Kevin Dineen -- come on back and we'll continue catching you up.

Hey, thanks for coming back. It's basically an entirely new team, right? If you're wondering where Tomas Vokoun went, he signed a one-year deal with the Capitals.

Moving on, remember how the Buffalo Sabres have a new owner, Terry Pegula? Well, after you left for your European vacation, he showed he was willing to spend his money in an effort to make the team better.

First, he landed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff by signing him to a 10-year, $40 million contract. Ehrhoff had his rights traded from the Canucks to the Islanders after it became apparent a deal could not be reached with Vancouver. Once the Islanders realized Ehrhoff didn't want to make his home on Long Island, they dealt his rights to the Sabres, who closed the deal.

After that, the Sabres landed Ville Leino with a six-year, $27 million contract. As you recall, Leino was with the Flyers last season, but his departure led to the Jagr signing that started this tale. 

There are some other new faces who found new homes during the summer -- Ray Emery is a backup goaltender with the Blackhawks, the Maple Leafs added defenseman John-Michael Liles and forward Tim Connolly to the mix, the Canadiens signed big forward Erik Cole from Carolina and the Atlanta Thrashers are now the Winnipeg Jets, so technically, that's an entire team of new faces in an entirely new place.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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