Chip Packard on the biggest NHL stories of the offseason

After an impressive and unexpected, yet ultimately unsuccessful Stanley Cup playoffs for the New York Islanders, players have traded in their sticks for golf clubs. While the offseason usually brings up social media posts from the golf course, the pool, orsimply hanging with family, front office action behind the scenes provides the drama needed to sustain fans until the next whistle blows in October. Chip Packard highlights the trades, transactions, and stories getting the most attention from fans all over the league.

‌‌The Expansion Draft

The newly minted Seattle Kraken take the ice this fall, so they spent the offseason making moves — notably, the expansion draft in July. Although most of the team-building strategy seemed to center around building depth, some key players will find themselves sporting Kraken sweaters this fall. Familiar faces include Calgary’s Mark Giordano and the Isles’ Jordan Eberle. The team also poached Yanni Gourde from the Stanley Cup champs, who scored an impressive 80 goals last season.

Vezina Trophy Finalists Traded

The Golden Knights’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and the Avalanche’s Philipp Grubauer may have been named finalists for the Vezina Trophy (which Fleury won), but that wasn’t enough to keep either of them in their respective clubs. Fleury is headed to the Chicago Blackhawks, shocking the hockey world after his stellar performance in the playoffs. Grubauer will now be playing between the pipes of the Seattle Kraken.

The Blue Jackets Suffer a Tragedy

Hockey fans were shocked and saddened when Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was killed in an accident on the Fourth of July. The Latvian hockey player was relatively new to the NHL, but had an impressive record in international play as part of team Latvia. His former teammate Pierre-Luc Dubois will reportedly change his number this season to honor his late friend.

The Isles Scored Raty in the Second Round

Once considered a potential top pick for the 2021 draft, AatuRaty was still available in the second round. With the 52nd pick of the draft, the Islanders picked up the young Finn. Despite showing promise, Raty struggled last year playing center for a professional league in Finland. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello likely still sees potential.

Dougie Hamilton Heads to the Devils

Known as one of the best available free agents of the 2021 offseason, several teams were vying for Dougie Hamilton. Ultimately, he signed with the New Jersey Devils. Hamilton joins P.K. Subban and fellow Devils newcomer Ryan Graves on New Jersey’s defense.

The Devils have been building their core around young, upcoming players, and Hamilton was signed to boost the defense and to help develop these players. He seems like a good fit, but we’ll know when the 2021-2022 puck drops.

‌‌It’s been an offseason full of expected and unexpected trades, highlighted by a new team. Will Seattle prove to be a manufactured dream team like the Golden Knights in their inaugural season? Will Aatu Raty help the Islanders reach the Stanley Cup Finals? These questions and more will be answered in two short months. 

Charles Packard
Charles Packard writes about travel