The St. Louis Blues will look a lot like the team that won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup when the puck drops for the NHL’s season-opening game against the 2018 champion Washington Capitals.
Ryan O’Reilly, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, knows the season won’t be quite the same even if many of his teammates are still together.
“It’s going to be very different,” O’Reilly said.
St. Louis held onto much of its roster during a quiet off-season, hoping it will be enough to compete for another title. The Blues will raise their championship banner during a pregame ceremony Wednesday night.
But the Blues made one major move last week, acquiring offensive-minded defenceman Justin Faulk from Carolina for Joel Edmundson and a prospect. The team then signed the 27-year-old Faulk to a $45.5 million, seven-year extension, banking on him being a key part of its future.
Here’s a look at some of the other major moves in the off-season on the ice, behind the bench and in the front office:
BYE, BLUE JACKETS
Columbus lost a trio of stars in free agency, the only unrestricted free agents to sign seven-year contracts with other teams.
Dynamic forward Artemi Panarin received an $81.5 million deal from the New York Rangers. Two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky took his talents to the Florida Panthers for $70 million just after Roberto Luongo retired. And two-time All-Star centre Matt Duchene signed a $56 million deal with the Nashville Predators.
Columbus has a lot of cap space, perhaps planning to make a splash next summer, because it didn’t spend a lot of money chasing success with free agents. The Blue Jackets did add 30-year-old winger Gustav Nyquist with a $22 million, four-year contract after he had a career-high 60-point season.
The Dallas Stars have built a Cup-caliber team and know now is the time to spend in free agency. They added a pair of veterans motivated to prove they can still play after spending their entire careers with one team.
The Stars lured three-time All-Star forward Joe Pavelski away from the San Jose Sharks with a three-year deal worth $21 million. They made a much smaller investment in 34-year-old winger Corey Perry, whose contract was bought out by the Anaheim Ducks. Perry’s $1.5 million, one-year contract could be quite a bargain if he can provide more scoring depth for Dallas.
TAKING A FLYER
Minnesota missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years and made an aggressive move to pay 32-year-old Mats Zuccarello $30 million over five years even though he has only one 20-goal season and that was three years ago.
Vancouver gave 29-year-old defenceman Tyler Myers a $30 million, five-year deal after he had consecutive seasons with 30 points for the first time since his first two years in the league. The Canucks are trying to avoid the first five-year playoff drought in franchise history.
FOLLOW THE LEADER
Shortly after Florida’s season ended, the Panthers hired three-time Stanley Cup winning coach Joel Quenneville to take perhaps the top leader in the league off the market.
Three former Edmonton coaches Todd McLellan (Ottawa), Dallas Eakins (Anaheim) and Ralph Krueger (Buffalo) are getting another shot to lead teams.
The Oilers, meanwhile, are hoping former Adams Award winner Dave Tippett can get the most out of Connor McDavid’s supporting cast and guide them into the playoffs for the just the second time in 14 years. Alain Vigneault, another former NHL Coach of the Year, landed a job in Philadelphia.
The rebuilding Ottawa Senators are taking a chance on former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant D.J. Smith, giving him his first opportunity to be a head coach in the NHL.
The Detroit Red Wings brought Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman back to be their general manager. The former Tampa Bay Lightning general manager replaced Ken Holland, who later left to lead the Oilers’ front office.
The Wild are giving two-time Stanley Cup winner Bill Guerin his first opportunity to run an NHL front office after he helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win two Cups as assistant general manager.
AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.
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Larry Lage, The Associated Press