Plenty of off-ice action during NHL pre-season

There was enough off-ice action during the past week to keep headline writers busy before the NHL’s preseason officially faced off with games between the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames in China. The most intriguing stories involved the trading of two team captains, the resignation of one of the league’s best young general managers and the retirement of a well-respected veteran.

Both the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators sent their captains packing as Habs’ forward Max Pacioretty was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights and the Senators shipped blue liner Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks. The 29-year-old Pacioretty was traded to Vegas in return for 27-year-old forward Tomas Tatar as well as 19-year-old forward prospect Nick Suzuki and a second-round draft pick in 2019. Pacioretty was entering the last season of a six-year contract with Montreal that was worth $4.5 million a campaign.

When arriving in Las Vegas, the Golden Knights promptly signed Pacioretty to a four-year extension worth $7 million a season. Pacioretty was originally drafted 22nd overall by Montreal in 2007. He appeared in 626 regular-season games and notched 226 goals and 222 assists for 448 points, including 17 goals and 20 assists last season. He also added 10 goals and nine assists in 38 playoff outings. Tatar was drafted 60th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 2009 and was acquired by Vegas at last season’s trade deadline.

He scored 20 goals and 14 assists last year, but managed just four goals and two assists in 20 games with Vegas. Tatar was also a minus-11 and and appeared in only eight playoff games in the Golden Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup Final with a goal and assist to his name. He’s an accomplished scorer though with four straight 20-goal seasons under his belt while scoring 19 in his other full year. Tatar’s totals read 119 goals and 109 assists for 228 points in 427 games with four goals and five assists in 25 postseason outings.

As for the Senators, the dealt all-star defenceman Karlsson and prospect Francis Perron for defenceman Dylan DeMelo and forward Chris Tierney from San Jose along with and forward prospects Rudolfs Balcers and Josh Norris. They also acquired a first-round draft pick in 2019 or 2020 and a second-round draft pick in 2019. If San Jose misses the playoffs this season then the first-round pick will be in 2019. If they make the playoffs the pick will be in 2020. The deal also involves conditional draft picks which involve the Sharks re-signing Karlsson and reaching this season’s Stanley Cup Final.

The 28-year-old Karlsson was originally drafted 15th overall by Ottawa in 2008. He won a pair of Norris Trophies as the NHL’s top defenceman and was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Karlsson chipped in with nine goals and 53 assists last season for 62 points in 71 games and had 126 goals and 518 points in 627 regular-season games in Ottawa and added six goals and 31 assists in 48 playoff games. The 24-year-old Tierney scored 17 goals and 23 assists for 40 points last season and has 41 goals, 63 assists and 104 points in his 284 regular-season games after being drafted 55th overall by the Sharks in 2012.

The 25-year-old DeMelo played 63 games with San Jose last year and notched 20 assists. Norris was drafted 19th overall by San Jose in 2017 while the 21-year-old Balcers taken with the 142nd pick in 2015. He scored 23 goals and 25 assists last season for the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL to lead the team in goals and points as a rookie. It’s hard to tell how the prospects and draft picks will turn out for Senators, but the Sharks added a future hall of fame defenceman to their roster and now have two of the best blue liners in the league in Karlsson and Brent Burns.

In a bit of a surprise move, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman resigned from his position. He’ll now see out the last year of of his contract as a senior adviser with the club while former assistant GM Julien Brisebois takes over Yzerman’s job. Yzerman, a hall of fame player with the Detroit Red Wings, joined Tampa Bay in 2010 as the franchises GM and vice president. The former centre was named the NHL general manager of the year for 2014/15 when he lead his team to the Stanley Cup Final, only to be ousted by the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s unclear if the 53-year-old will remain with Tampa after this season, but it’s believed he wants to spend more time with his family.

In other news, Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who was drafted 210th overall by the club in 1999, announced his retirement due to a back injury. The 37-year-old Swedish forward came in second in team scoring last season with 11 goals and 45 assists for 56 points. He appeared in 1,082 regular-season games and racked up 960 points on 337 goals and 623 assists. He also played in 137 playoff contests and added another 57 goals and 63 helpers for 120 points. Zetterberg led the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2007/08 and was rewarded for his excellent performance by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the postseason.

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