The first week of free agency led to some shifts in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Check out what happened in the NHL this past week! And be sure to keep on the lookout for updated NHL odds this next season!
NHL Updates of the Week – July 5th Edition
New York Rangers become respectable again
The New York Rangers drafted a ready for the NHL right now player in Kaapo Kakko with the second pick. This past Monday, they pulled another big move by signing Artemi Panarin away from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Panarin is a big reason the Blue Jackets made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. He accumulated 87 points made up of 28 goals and 59 assists. Without Panarin, the Jackets wouldn’t have swept favored Tampa Bay in Round 1.
Now, he’s a New York Ranger. NYR shelled out a ton of dollars for Panarin’s services. The contract, 7-years for $81.5 million, makes Panarin the top paid left-winger in the league. Did the Rangers make a good deal?
They most definitely did. Not only will Panarin and Kakko help the Rangers to become respectable again, but by handing Panarin the contract, they kept him away from the rival New York Islanders. That makes the Rangers, possibly, the top team in New York again. Good news for a storied franchise that finished with a 32-36 record and only ahead of the New Jersey Devils in the Metropolitan Division.
Dallas Stars improved their scoring
The Dallas Stars pushed eventual Stanley Cup champs St. Louis to 7 games in the Western Conference Semifinals this year. Dallas did that by leaning on a defense that only allowed 2.44 goals per game. That was second in the National Hockey League.
Dallas averaged 2.55 goals per, though. That ranked twenty-eight in NHL. They had to get more scoring. The Stars didn’t spend a ton of money by signing 34-year-old former Shark Joe Pavelski to a 3-year $21 million deal. Pavelski might be north of 30, but he still racked up 64 points last year.
Pavelski had 38 goals and 28 assists. He could be the player the Stars need to get some separation on the scoreboard. They played in way too many 1-goal games during the regular season and playoffs. With Pavelski, if he stays healthy, Dallas should be on the short list of contenders to win the Western Conference.
Colorado Avalanche are on that list as well
Also on that list most definitely will be the Colorado Avalanche. The surprise Avalanche, they battled St. Louis in the Western Conference Finals this past season, moved up in Round 1 to draft defenseman Bowen Byram.
Colorado didn’t have a bad defense last season, allowing 2.98 goals per. The defense should be much better this season with Byram on the ice. The Avalanche bolstered their bench with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Joonas Donskoi. Colorado is looking to make a Stanley Cup run this season.
Nashville adds scoring but gives up defense
The Nashville Predators traded away 2013 James Norris Memorial Trophy winner P.K. Subban to free up cap space to sign Matt Duchene. Duchene scored 31 goals and dished 39 assists for 70 points this past season. He most definitely will help the Predators on the scoreboard, but will he help Nashville get to the Stanley Cup?
Duchene and Panarin played together last season and the Blue Jackets couldn’t get by the Boston Bruins. On paper, it looks like Nashville made the right move. The Stars beat the Preds in the playoffs. They improved their offense by not sacrificing their defense.
The Predators might not have done that by signing Duchene. We shall see.
Have a great week!