Ranking the 10 Most Significant Moves of the 2013 NHL Offseason
They are still celebrating the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup triumph in the Windy City.
While the Blackhawks are cavorting with the Cup and reminiscing about the highlights of their magical season, the business of the NHL keeps marching forward. This year's offseason is flying by, in part because the 2013 season ended so late.
Here's our ranking of the 10 most significant events of the offseason.
10. Luongo Stays in Vancouver
Trades are regularly a big part of the action on draft day. Many teams will concentrate on adding the best young talent, but others will offer veteran players in trades.
It was not surprising that the Vancouver Canucks were involved in one of those trades, especially when a goaltender was involved. However, instead of sending former starting goalie Roberto Luongo out of town, the Canucks shocked the hockey world by trading Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the ninth pick in the NHL draft.
That means Luongo will remain with the Canucks and return as the No. 1 goalie. Luongo thought he was the goalie who would be traded, and he has to readjust to life with the Canucks.
9. Coyotes Remain in Phoenix
The Phoenix Coyotes have been the NHL's mystery team in recent years—not so much because of their play on the ice, but because they have been run by the league due to their unstable ownership situation.
As the Stanley Cup Final got under way in mid-June, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman admitted that the Coyotes could be on the move and might not play the 2013-14 season in Phoenix.
However, just as the Coyotes were on their last legs in the desert, a new three-man ownership group headed by George Gosbee won a new lease from the Glendale City Council. That means the Coyotes will not move to Seattle, Quebec City or any other location before the 2013-14 season.
They are staying in Phoenix.
8. Canucks, Rangers Exchange Coaches
Most expected the New York Rangers to be one of the dominant teams in the Eastern Conference in 2013. However, they struggled to make the playoffs. After the Rangers beat the Washington Capitals in seven games in the opening round, the Boston Bruins dumped them in the conference semifinal.
The Vancouver Canucks had a decent regular season, but the San Jose Sharks swept them in the first round. It marked the second straight year the Canucks were eliminated in the first round.
Shortly after their seasons ended, New York fired head coach John Tortorella, and the Canucks did the same to Alain Vigneault.
Neither move was unexpected. However, when the Canucks hired Tortorella and the Rangers hired Vigneault, the two teams had basically traded coaches. The moves may be dubious, but they will be worth watching in 2013-14.
7. Horton Leaves Bruins
Nathan Horton was a legitimate playoff hero for the Boston Bruins. He had won two overtime games against Montreal in 2011 and closed out Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final later that season.
Horton had another excellent run in the 2013 playoffs.
However, Horton did not want to stay with Boston. He was a free agent after the season, and he let the contending Bruins know that he was not interested in staying with them.
Instead, he signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that has been to the postseason once in its history.
6. Seth Jones Slips to No. 4 in the Draft
Seth Jones was one of the top stories leading up to the draft. The 18-year-old American defenseman appeared to be the favorite to be drafted with the No. 1 pick.
However, the Colorado Avalanche decided to pass on Jones with the top pick. Instead, he slipped to the No. 4 pick, where the Nashville Predators selected him.
If Jones had been taken with the No. 1 pick, he would have been the first African-American player to be selected first overall. While that did not happen, he appears to be an excellent match for the defensive-minded Preds.
5. Avs Select Nathan MacKinnon with the No. 1 Pick
The Colorado Avalanche defied the pundits when they selected Nathan MacKinnon with the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft.
MacKinnon was a surprise selection because the Avs have a lot of young offensive talent and appeared to have major weaknesses on defense. That's why many thought they would take American-born defenseman Seth Jones.
However, they could not pass up on the talent of MacKinnon. He scored 32 goals and 75 points for the Halifax Mooseheads last year. MacKinnon has the ability to become a dominant offensive star for years to come.
4. Alfredsson Leaves Senators
Daniel Alfredsson shocked the hockey world this summer when the longtime Ottawa Senators star left the only NHL team he had ever played for and signed a free-agent contract with the Detroit Red Wings.
Alfredsson, 40, signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with Detroit. Most expected that Alfie would remain with the Sens, but he decided to leave because he thought Detroit had a better chance to win the Stanley Cup.
"I'm really excited to get this opportunity at this stage of my career to go for a Stanley Cup and fulfill a longtime dream," Alfredsson said on a conference call after the signing.
The Sens and their fans were heartbroken by their longtime star's decision to leave.
3. Bruins Trade Seguin to Stars
Tyler Seguin appeared destined to become a star when the Boston Bruins selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft.
While he had some exciting moments for the Bruins in the 2011 playoffs and scored 29 goals in 2011-12, he only scored one goal for Boston in the 2013 playoffs.
The Bruins were not happy with Seguin, and they traded him to Dallas for dependable Loui Eriksson and three prospects.
It was a shocking move because Seguin, 21, is one of the fastest skaters in the game and has so much potential. It's a move the Bruins could regret for years to come.
2. New Divisions Implemented
The NHL will realign in 2013-14. Instead of two conferences with three divisions apiece, the NHL will play with two divisions in two conferences.
The NHL announced that realignment would take place prior to the end of the year, but when the league announced the 2013-14 schedule, it provided the names of the new divisions.
In the Eastern Conference, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto will comprise the Atlantic Division. Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington will form the Metropolitan Division.
In the Western Conference, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg form the Central Division. Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver make up the Pacific Division.
There are two fewer teams in the Western Conference. Detroit and Columbus moved to the Eastern Conference, while Winnipeg moved to the West.
1. NHL to Play in 2014 Olympics
Few expected the NHL to bypass the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Still, the announcement did not come in the regular season or the playoffs. The NHL and the International Olympic Committee along with the International Ice Hockey Federation went through lengthy negotiations on whether the NHL would allow its players to participate.
The decision finally came in mid-July. The NHL will take a break in its regular-season competition from Feb. 9 through Feb. 26 so its players can participate in the Olympic tournament.
"The players are very pleased that an agreement has been reached that will allow the world's best hockey players to compete at the Winter Games in February," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr told NHL.com. "Having the opportunity to wear their nation's sweater in Sochi is something the players look forward to."