I'm already itching for the 2021-2022 NHL regular season to start. I want more hockey to fill the time, keeping me occupied in my sports universe. However, the free agency period has had plenty of fireworks to keep me entertained. Here's who I think won and lost the off-season in hockey.
Winner: Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings: The squad that the Captain assembled in Tampa Bay repeated as Stanley Cup champions. Not only that, but he got his current group, the Red Wings, a younger goaltender in Alex Nedelijkovic from Carolina. Out went Jonathan Bernier and in came a netminder who had a save percentage of .932 and a GAA of 1.90 last season. Hockeytown has plenty of reasons to be excited about the future as their former star leads them to new heights as the general manager.
Loser: Colorado Avalanche: Letting Vezina Trophy finalist Phillipp Grubauer go to Seattle hurts the Avs immensely. Losing Brandon Saad to their division rival, the St. Louis Blues doesn't make matters better. What did Colorado do to rectify the situation? Acquire Darcy Kuemper, who's on the wrong side of 30. The former Coyote goaltender had a GAA of 2.56, while the Avalanche gave up defenseman Conor Timmins and two draft picks.
Winner: Seattle Kraken's Free Agency: Speaking of Grubauer, hockey's newest team wasted no time picking up the big names, including the former Avs netminder. Granted, the NHL rejected the deal due to a stipulation involving front-loaded contracts. But the Kraken rectified the error, putting money aside for the second year instead of the third year. Also, Seattle added goal scorers, picking up Jaden Schwartz and Alex Winnberg, who'll help the young squad.
Loser: Seattle Kraken's Expansion Draft: I understand passing on Carey Price, significantly with his contract and age. But you could've taken a flyer on Vladimir Tarasenko, giving your team even more goal scorers. Instead, we got a boring expansion draft that had no substance. At least the Kraken's social media was hilarious about some of the players traded for draft picks.
Winner: Tampa Bay Lightning: The back-to-back champions retained key players such as Brayden Point, keeping the core together. Extending the center helps to offset the losses during the off-season, which includes Yanni Gourde. But keep the main players will help the Bolts fight for another Stanley Cup next season.
Loser: Vegas Golden Knights: Just for the way they dissed Marc-Andre Fleury. How do you give thanks to the goalie who helped make hockey relevant in Sin City? You trade him to the Chicago Blackhawks and have him find out on Twitter. Ouch.