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Added July 4th, 2016 by Ian
NHL

NHL rocked by big trades prior to free agency frenzy

The NHL’s free agency period didn’t kickoff until July 1st, but there was a whirlwind of activity in the few days before it began. The biggest unrestricted free agent this summer was expected to be 26-year-old centre Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning as several teams were interested in his services and were willing to pay upwards of $10 million per season. However, Stamkos did the sensible thing and re-signed with Tampa for eight years at a total of $68 million on June 29th.

There were also two huge trades that day as the Montreal Canadiens sent defenceman PK Subban to the Nashville Predators for defenceman Shea Weber. This deal had many Canadiens fans up in arms since Weber is four years older than Subban and is under contract until he’s 40 years old. Subban’s deal expires when he’s just 33. Weber’s annual earnings use up $7,857,142 of the salary cap though while Subban’s is $9 million per season. Subban is the highest-paid defenceman per season and is entering the third year of an eight-year $72 million deal. Weber is entering the fifth year of a 14-year deal worth $110 million.

The 27-year-old Subban of Toronto is regarded as one of the best freewheeling young defencemen in the game, but has a habit of losing the puck at inopportune times. He scored six goals and added 45 assists last campaign for 51 points, was a plus-four and played over 26 minutes a game as the Habs missed the playoffs. Subban broke into the league as a regular in the 2010/11 season and has scored 278 points in 434 regular-season games on 63 goals and 215 assists. He also has 11 goals and 27 helpers for 38 points in 55 playoff games. Subban won the James Norris Trophy in 2012/13 as the NHL’s top defenceman. He had 38 points in the shortened 42-game season that year. Subban’s best campaign was in 2014/15 when he scored 15 goals and added 45 assists for 60 points.

The 30-year-old Weber of British Columbia has one of the hardest shots in the league and scored 20 goals and 31 assists last season for 51 points while averaging over 25 minutes of ice time per game, but was a minus-seven. The four-time all-star also had three goals and four assists in 14 playoff outings last season. Weber has 13 goals and 15 assists in 59 career playoff outings and has 166 goals and 277 assists for 443 points in 763 regular-season games. Weber has reached the 20-goal mark three times with his best season being 23 goals and 33 assists for 56 points in 2013/14. There was another odd trade the same day as the Edmonton Oilers dealt former 2010 first-overall draft pick Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenceman Adam Larsson.

Hall, a 24-year-old left winger, had 26 goals and 38 assists for 65 points to lead Edmonton in scoring last season. He has 132 goals and 196 assists for 328 points in 381 regular season games and is an offensively-gifted forward. Hall is entering the fourth year of a seven-season deal which is worth $42 million at $6 million per year. The 24-year-old Larsson was drafted fourth overall in 2011 and is entering the second season of a six-year, $25 million contract. Larsson had just three goals and 15 assists last season and has nine goals and 60 assists in 274 career games and is a plus-13. Larsson obviously isn’t an offensively skilled defenceman and most fans and experts believe the Oilers could have gotten lot more in return for Hall if they had shopped him around to each of the other 29 teams in the league.

 
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