It was a pretty great year for jaw-dropping transactions in the NHL. The Mikhail Grabovski buyout, which greyed the hair of more than a few bloggers. The subsequent overpayment of Tyler Bozak. The David Clarkson contract. The firing of Brian Burke. The trade for Jonathan Bernier.
And these are just transactions that didn't make our top 10 -- from one city. (You so crazy, Toronto.)
Here are the transactions that shocked us in 2013.
We all saw it coming, but it was still pretty audacious. After two disastrous seasons in Philadelphia, and just one start shy of 100 in the orange and black, Ilya Bryzgalov was disappeared from the Flyers' organization. Only two summers earlier, Ed Snider had crowed about the signing, a $51 million deal that ran through 2020, saying, "for me, the goaltender is the final piece on this team.” Now, the Flyers were paying $23 million to rid themselves of a huMANGous mistake.
Most of the NHL's players returned from Europe in early January, when the league finally agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement with the player's association. (The end of the lockout: Puck Daddy's least shocking transaction of 2013, by the way, since it shouldn't have taken until this year.) But O'Reilly stayed behind, playing two more games for Magnitogorsk in Russia on Jan. 21 and Jan. 23 as he awaited a contract extension from the Avalanche.
Finally, nearly two months later, O'Reilly signed -- but not with the Avalanche, with the Calgary Flames, who inked the centre to a $10 million, two-year offer sheet. The Avalanche quickly matched. This in itself was not shocking.
Then we learned that, even if they hadn't, O'Reilly may not have been able to join the Flames. Those two extra games he played made him waiver-eligible if he signed elsewhere. As Chris Johnston pointed out, "That would have created a potentially disastrous situation where the Flames had to send two decent draft picks to Colorado before losing the rights to O’Reilly immediately afterwards."
That was shocking. Jay Feaster has since been fired, which probably makes some sense.
8. Capitals trade Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat
It's even more shocking in hindsight, with Erat demanding a trade from the team to which, only months earlier, he demanded to be traded. But it was plenty shocking at the time too, as the Capitals made a big splash at the trade deadline by sending one of the top prospects in the game to Nashville for the long-time Predators' winger.
It didn't work out. Erat played just four playoff games for the Capitals, who didn't make it past the first round. And now he wants out. Meanwhile, Forsberg remains 19 years old and good.
Last year's Islanders appeared to take a step forward, making the postseason for the first time in ages and then giving the Pittsburgh Penguins a scare in the first round before bowing out. So you can understand why general manager Garth Snow might think it was time to add a big piece. And you can understand why he might make the deal nice and early: Evgeni Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky are evidence he's good at convincing players to stick around if he has enough time.
It could work out. Vanek could click with Tavares and give the Islanders a truly formidable top line, then decide he wants to keep doing it and re-sign. Or he could head to Minnesota, as many suspect he will, leaving the Islanders with nothing but the hole where beloved Matt Moulson used to be.
6. Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators
The Senators' acquisition of power forward Bobby Ryan should have been the big jaw-dropper in Ottawa on July 1 -- it's not often that you see a four-time 30-goal scorer in his prime change teams -- but suffice it to say, this move was overshadowed by another shocking transaction that we won't mention just yet for fear of spoiling the bottom half of this countdown.
This was a fun night. In late March, it became clear that the Calgary Flames were about to part with the greatest player in their history, and on Wednesday, March 28, it looked like they were going to be moving him to the Boston Bruins. That's even what TSN reported, courtesy the reliable Aaron Ward. Stories were written.
And then, in a stunning switcheroo, Iginla went to Pittsburgh instead. Boston was as shocked as anyone. “A few days before [Wednesday] we had submitted a firm offer with those two players – Alexander Kokhlachev and Matt Bartkowski – and we were informed around noon yesterday that we had the player," said a shocked Peter Chiarelli in a press conference the next day.
But that was before Jay Feaster consulted Iginla on where he wanted to go, and he wanted to go to Pittsburgh. Again: Jay Feaster is no longer employed by Calgary.
Even more stunning than watching a power forward in his prime change teams: watching a 21-year-old projected first-line center change teams. But the Seguin trade was more tha just a hockey transaction. According to reports, the Bruins had grown weary of Seguin's hard-partying ways, and after posting guards outside his hotel room one night in the playoffs, according to one wacky report, they decided it was best to be rid of the kid. (He would never, ever grow up, you see. Once a 21-year-old, always a 21-year-old. That's how it works. Time, and the maturity that comes with it, is neither constant nor permanent. It is static.)
And so the Bruins sent Seguin to Dallas, as part of a package that saw Loui Eriksson come back the other way.
One could argue that it was never going to work out for Seguin in Boston, and it took the trade for the kid to realize it and smarten up. One imagines that's how Boston will spin it either way, especially if Seguin's total goals remains ahead of Eriksson's total points.
As we said off the hop, it was a good year for jaw-droppers, and the proof is in this stunner only coming in at number three. No one saw this coming. Alfredsson looked like a Senator-for-life, like in a dictatorship that only looks like a republic. But instead, on the first day of free agency, he signed with Detroit, much to the shock, horror and outrage of the Ottawa fanbase. It still boggles the mind. It still feels weird to see him wearing the wheel. I doubt we'll ever get used to it.
After a saga fit for a feature-length film, we got an ending straight out of a Hitchcock horror. The Cory Schneider trade was hockey's version of Norman Bates in a dress.
We all knew the Vancouver Canucks were going to trade a goalie at the draft. But we all assumed it was going to be the one that had asked out, the one that looked near tears when he wasn't traded at last year's deadline, the one that had been supplanted as the starter by his understudy.
Nope. Instead, after much effort, the team gave up on trying to get a return for Luongo's noose of a contract and moved Schneider for the ninth overall pick in the draft instead. Schneider was stunned. Luongo didn't speak for months, presumably because he had nothing nice to say.
But, as unexpected as that was, nothing in 2013 surprised us quite the way Ilya Kovalchuk's retirement did. We used "shocker" in the headline. We used "shocking" in the lede. We were surprised.
Kovalchuk had $77 million remaining on his massive contract, one the Devils fought to get approved by the NHL, and one the club was still paying for, in terms of draft picks lost. He left it all behind.
His motive soon became clear: after tasting the life of a KHL superstar during the lockout, Kovy decided he liked it, and wanted more of it. Shortly thereafter, he signed with SKA and, like Keyser Soze, poof, he was gone.
- - - - - - -