Eventful NHL 2021 offseason has fans on edge of their seats

Blaise Noble-Schueller, Staff Reporter

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Matthew Tate

It’s the most wonderful time of the year  — nope, not quite the holiday season, but it could be even better. If football, postseason baseball and preseason basketball wasn’t an enticing enough offer, just wait … there’s more. That’s right, you guessed it, we’ve got hockey on the way.

The NHL season is set to begin on Oct. 12, when the Tampa Bay Lightning face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins and when the NHL’s newborn franchise, the Seattle Kraken, play the Vegas Golden Knights. Both games have incredible story lines as the Lightning will look to begin its quest of defending its third Stanley Cup and the Kraken look to win its first ever game.

With the expansion draft taking place, the league will look a whole lot different this year, not only will there be a 32nd team but the other 31 teams only have the option of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. Considering the NHL is built on 23-man rosters, this left many players open for the taking, creating a seismic shift in how the rosters look. 

Though, it will be tough to top the last expansion team, the Golden Knights in their inaugural season, where they went 51-24-7, made it all the way to the Stanley Cup but lost to the Washington Capitals. 

The Kraken seemed to assemble a solid team, as they tried to find some diamonds in the rough this off-season. With the likes of Mark Giordano, Yanni Gourde, who they snatched from the defending champs and Chris Driedger, the Kraken will be a fun team to watch this year. 

Not only will the league look different by means of the Kraken picking people up, but there were also several signings, re-signings and trades that shook around the landscape of the league quite a bit. The Kings traded a second- and third-round draft pick for right-wing Viktor Arvidsson, a two-time 30-goal and 60-point scorer, from the Nashville Predators. 

On the East Coast, the New Jersey Devils landed right-handed defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton was arguably the best player available this offseason scoring 10 goals, 42 points and a +20 rating. 

Hamilton, though coming with a hefty price tag of a seven-year, $63 million contract will surely help the Devils as they look to improve on a disappointing 2020 season where they went a game below .500, missing the playoffs. 

The other notable signings were the Blue Jackets resigning defenseman Zach Werenski to six-year, $57.5 million extension, the Avalanche re-signing Gabriel Landeskog to an eight-year, $56 million contract along with signing defenseman Cale Makar to six-year, $54 million contract. The Blackhawks also made some moves, trading and then extending defenseman Seth Jones to eight-year $76 million contract extension. 

The offseason was so loaded with moves I could probably write a novel on the trades and signings alone, but these were just a handful of the big deals that went down.

The season is sure to be an eventful one. The Lightning will be looking to be the first team to three-peat since the Islanders did it in 1982, and the Kraken will look to put their initial stamp on the league. The trades, re-signings and extensions will give the league a new, fresh look that hockey fans simply won’t be able to resist.

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