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Stamkos, Subban, Hall: Teams make flurry of blockbuster moves as free agency looms

Stamkos, Subban, Hall: Teams make flurry of blockbuster moves as free agency looms

With NHL free agency set to begin on Friday, many teams are not waiting to make blockbuster moves. Tuesday saw a flurry of moves involving big name players.

Steven Stamkos chooses to remain in Tampa Bay

Free agency just got a tad less exciting with the news that Steven Stamkos will be staying put in Tampa Bay. Stamkos was the biggest name on the market in free agency, but the Lightning were able to re-sign him to an eight-year deal for $68 million for a cap hit of $8.5 million per season. The news was first reported by TSN's Bob McKenzie. Craig Custance of ESPN also reports that the deal includes a no-movement clause.

By staying with his current team, Stamkos was allowed to sign for the maximum length of eight years. Had he gone elsewhere, the longest he could have signed for was seven years. There was talk of possibly Tampa attempting a sign-and-trade deal if it looked like they were not going to be able to sign Stamkos, but this deal will put an end to that speculation. Stamkos is in Tampa for the long haul.

In the end, this was the destination that made the most sense. Stamkos is one of the best scorers in the NHL and, at 26 years old, he's entering his prime. Though there has been talk of tension between him and Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, Cooper has made the Lightning a Stanley Cup contender. Tampa came within one win of two consecutive conference championships despite Stamkos missing all but one playoff game. Any of the other teams thought to be in the chase for Stamkos this summer do not have nearly as much talent as Tampa's roster currently boasts. If Stamkos wants to win, Tampa makes the most sense.

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Montreal Canadiens trade P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber

The Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators swapped all-star defensemen as the Canadiens shipped the mercurial P.K. Subban in exchange for Shea Weber, as first reported by Nick Kypreos of SportsNet. The move comes just before Subban's no-movement clause was set to kick in on Friday.

There were a lot of rumors flying around about possible trades involving Subban, but much of the speculation surrounded Montreal's desire to trade up in the draft. The fact that Shea Weber could be on the table caught everyone by surprise, but it's a deal Nashville absolutely had to make.

Weber is a phenomenal player and was the captain of the Predators. He has spent his entire career in Nashville and was the team captain. But how could they pass this up?

Nashville gets Subban, who won the Norris Trophy in 2013 as the NHL's top defenseman, a player who is just as good if not better than Weber, and who is nearly four years younger. Subban's cap hit is $9 million, which is steep, but one in which Nashville can easily absorb after shipping out Weber's hit of just over $7.8 million. Oh, and Weber's contract doesn't expire until 2026.

Subban didn't seem to fit with the culture of Montreal, but the Canadiens may soon regret chasing out one of the top defensemen in the NHL.

Edmonton Oilers trade Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson

The Edmonton Oilers were in desperate need of a defenseman and they got one...at an enormous price. The Oilers announced they have traded former No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Adam Larsson.

Let's be clear. Larsson is a very good defenseman, a promising blue liner who is just 23 years old. After getting the No. 1 draft pick in seemingly every draft for the past 50 years, someone was bound to be the odd-man out and it turned out to be Hall. Edmonton got a bright young talent at a position of need in exchange for a player that was likely not in their long-term plans.

Having said all of that, Edmonton got swindled.

Hall tallied 65 points in 2015-16 (26 goals, 39 assists). That kind of offensive talent is hard to come by and it certainly should have netted them a greater return than just Larsson.

General manager Peter Chiarelli also now has the dubious distinction of having traded the first two picks of the 2010 draft as he also traded Tyler Seguin as the general manager in Boston. How'd that trade work out?

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Capitals send Christian Djoos to Anaheim for Daniel Sprong in minor league trade

Capitals send Christian Djoos to Anaheim for Daniel Sprong in minor league trade

ARLINGTON, Va. -- While Ilya Kovalchuk was the last NHL trade for the Capitals before Monday's 3 p.m. deadline, it was not technically the team's last trade. Defenseman Christian Djoos was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Daniel Sprong in what the team referred to as a "minor league deal." Details of the deal were first reported by Frank Seravalli.

Djoos, 25, was a part of the team's Stanley Cup run in his rookie season and played 22 out of Washington's 24 playoff games that year on a third-pair role with Brooks Orpik. Last season, however, he missed several weeks after suffering compartment syndrome in his thigh and his play never seemed to recover. Djoos has always been an undersized player and that seemed to be a major issue for him last season, more so than when he was a rookie. In the 2019 postseason, he was eventually replaced in the lineup by Jonas Siegenthaler.

During a brief call-up after the Christmas break, Djoos played in only two games before suffering an upper-body injury. During those two games, he did not have a single defensive zone start either on a faceoff or on the fly, reflecting a lack of trust by the coaches in defensive situations. That was a sign that his NHL future was likely done in Washington.

Despite his struggles in Washington, Djoos has been very good in the AHL this season scoring five goals and 27 assists in 42 games for the Hershey Bears. He leads all Hershey defensemen in points with 32.

In exchange, the Caps receive forward Daniel Sprong, 22, who has played the majority of the season in the AHL with the San Diego Gulls where he had 11 goals and 16 assists in 39 games. He also played eight games for the Anaheim Ducks with one goal and one assist. He has 97 total games of NHL experience between Anaheim and the Pittsburgh Penguins with 19 goals and 11 assists.

Sprong will be assigned to Hershey, per a team official.

Sprong is on the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1.

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The 4 most important things Caps GM Brian MacLellan said about new Capitals forward Ilya Kovalchuk

The 4 most important things Caps GM Brian MacLellan said about new Capitals forward Ilya Kovalchuk

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Brian MacLellan did not make any further additions to the Capitals' roster on Monday before the 3 p.m. trade deadline, leaving the Ilya Kovalchuk trade as the last piece for what he hopes will be another championship roster.

"I think he's a good fit for what we need," MacLellan said. "He's an established player. So many good reports and viewings of what he did in Montreal. I think he's a fit for our team. We think he can add a lot offensively, playmaking. So many good things have been said about him on and off the ice in Montreal that we basically thought it was a no-brainer to add him."

Here are the four most important things MacLellan had to say about Kovalchuk.

Kovalchuk will start on the third line

This should perhaps come as no surprise with Washington ranking third in the NHL in offense, but Kovalchuk will not step into a top-six role for the Caps. Instead, he will play on the third line.

While MacLellan was careful to say lineup decisions would be left to Todd Reirden, he was very specific with where he felt Kovalchuk fit.

"I probably start him third line, right wing," MacLellan said. "Start him there, see how it goes, and we can move him around."

Don't take the addition of Kovalchuk as an indictment of the third line

MacLellan knew he was not going to get as much offensive production from the third line without Andre Burakovsky and Brett Connolly this season and was quick to defend the performance of the Carl Hagelin, Lars Eller, Richard Panik line.

"I think the third line's been good recently," MacLellan said. "I think the intention of it, the way we put it together, was that it wasn't gonna be as offensive (as) last year but you could trust it more against top-six players from other teams. They've had reasonable offensive output and played a pretty solid two-way game for most of the year."

Yet, MacLellan pegged Kovalchuk for the third line.

When asked if this meant he was changing his philosophy for that line he said, "It could be. I mean we don't have to go with it. I think the Kovalchuk thing gives us just options to -- if we need offense, we can use him in that situation, and if we don't we can leave the line the way it is."

Look, you don't trade a third-round draft pick for nothing. There's a reason MacLellan sought out Kovalchuk and it is for his offense. What this points to most likely is that Kovalchuk will play on the third line, but that the Hagelin, Eller, Panik trio will be used in defensive situations when needed.

Kovalchuk is willing to accept a smaller role

Kovalchuk was playing nearly 19 minutes per game in Montreal. That's significantly more than he should expect in a third-line role with Washington, but, per MacLellan, Kovalchuk understands this.

"I think he views our team as having a chance to win a championship and that's his main priority," MacLellan said. "I think he likes the style of play that we have. I've talked to him a couple times about accepting a role and he's pretty clear in his mind that he'll do anything as long as he has a chance to win a championship."

MacLellan added, "Having conversations with Ilya about will he be willing to accept a certain type of role -- I know in Montreal he was playing probably a little bit more than he's going to play here -- and would he be able to accept that role and be OK with it? He's pretty clear in his mind that he'll do whatever's asked of him."

Kovalchuk will be used on the power play

Washington's power play has struggled significantly this season. At times, the team has tried to use the second unit more than in the past, but when the player Evgeny Kuznetsov is setting up for one-timers is Brendan Leipsic, well, that's not a unit you can really expect much offensive production from. Kovalchuk should provide a more dangerous option for that second power play unit.

"He's a power-play player," MacLellan said. "Probably a second-power play player for us unless something's going on and we want to change it up. We can start him in our bottom six, we can move him up for shifts depending on the coaches. I just think it gives our coaching staff a lot of flexibility to use the player."

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