(Puck Daddy presents its annual look back at the year in hockey. Check back every day through the New Year for our many lists and hot takes.)
We continue our look back at 2016 with the top 10 most shocking NHL transactions.
From firings to hirings to resignations to mysterious trades, t`e were some transactions in 2016 that were quite surprising — some even head scratching. June 29, 2016 will be remembered for three major moves in a 30-minute span, all of which can be found on this list.
So what was the most shocking NHL transaction of 2016?
10. Arizona Coyotes fire Don Maloney, hire 26-year-old John Chayka as GM
They occurred three weeks apart, but these two moves saw the Coyotes begin to move in a new direction as a franchise.
Maloney was canned after nine seasons that saw turbulence in the franchise but also some light at the end of the tunnel with the number of prospects that can be found in the Coyotes’ cupboard. But the team wanted to take a more analytics-based approach to things, so they then went ahead with hiring assistant GM John Chayka – all of 26 years of age – to replace Maloney.
Before joining the Coyotes, Chayka co-founded Stathletes, Inc., a hockey data-tracking firm that used video analysis.
9. Chicago Blackhawks free salary by dealing Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell to Carolina Hurricanes
The annual summer tradition of the Blackhawks needing to shed salary continued in June when GM Stan Bowman managed to find a taker for Bryan Bickell’s contract. The only catch was that in order for the Hurricanes to take on that cap hit Chicago needed to toss in a sweetener. That’s where the 21-year-old Teravainen came in with two draft picks going to the Blackhawks.
Teravainen has 13 points through 29 games and is averaging 16:03 of ice time per game. Sadly, Bickell only played seven games with the Hurricanes this season before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November. It’s unclear if he’ll ever play again.
8. Florida Panthers fire Gerard Gallant
Five months after he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, Gallant found himself waiting for a taxi outside PNC Arena in Carolina hours after being dismissed as head coach following another Panthers loss.
Florida got off to an 11-10-1 start after guiding the Cats to their best season in franchise history. He was replaced on an interim basis by GM Tom Rowe as the organizational changes continued.
7. Pavel Datsyuk retires from NHL, joins KHL
Wanting to play at home closer to his teenage daughter, Datsyuk announced in April that the 2015-16 NHL season would be his last in North America. He would head to the KHL to play for SKA St. Petersburg while leaving the Detroit Red Wings and Ken Holland with his $7.5 million cap hit to deal with. Fortunately for the Red Wings, they found a taker in the Coyotes.
6. Steven Stamkos re-signs with Tampa Bay Lightning
The final transaction on a wild June 29 afternoon that rocked the hockey world saw Stamkos agree to an eight-year extension to stay in Tampa. Months of speculation and rumors and pie-in-the-sky thoughts had the Lightning captain wearing many different NHL uniforms for the 2016-17 season.
Contract talks between the Lightning and Stamkos went on so long and inched closed to the July 1 opening of free agency that many of his own teammates thought he was a goner. Two days later, Victor Hedman signed his own eight-year extension, with the strong bond between the two being a big reason why they stayed.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators swap Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones
We knew that after a summer contract stand-off that Johansen’s time in Columbus wasn’t going to last. Even when he signed, the forward jokingly Tweeted that there was no way the Blue Jackets could trade him now.
— Ryan Johansen (@RyanJohansen19) August 3, 2015
But with the Nashville Predators looking for some help offensively, Jarmo Kekalainen found a perfect match and a good old 1-for-1 hockey trade was made in early January. After they bumped into one another at the Columbus airport on the way to their new destinations, both settled into their new homes and have been key cogs for their teams.
4. John Scott mysteriously dealt to Montreal Canadiens
The John Scott All-Star campaign took an odd turn in January when the Coyotes dealt the Pacific Division’s leading vote getter to the Canadiens. The move caused conspiracy theorists to put on their tinfoil hats and wonder if this was a way for the NHL to prevent Scott from making the game. Eventually, the matter was resolved – after plenty of drama – and he did get a trip to Nashville.
3. Patrick Roy abruptly quits Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche found themselves in the market for a new head coach a little over a month before NHL training camps opened up after Roy announced he was leaving. Citing a vision that didn’t “perfectly align” with that of the Avs, the Hockey Hall of Famer took his puck and went home following a second straight playoff-less season.
Colorado GM Joe Sakic found Jared Bednar, fresh off a Calder Cup title in the AHL, and hired him two weeks after Roy’s resignation.
2. Edmonton Oilers trade Taylor Hall to New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson
This was the first of the three major transactions that went down on June 29, and as Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt wrote, had it been the only one that day we would have been able to gnaw on it for months. Despite all their young talent, GM Peter Chiarelli decided to break up the Oilers’ young core and address a need to improve his blue line. The trade didn’t sit well with Hall at the time with Hall saying, “You get attached with a team, and when that’s taken from you, it’s disappointing. I feel like I’ve been a good solider for six years. I did as much as I felt I could on the ice.”
Hall added he felt even more motivated following the trade. He’s doing just fine in New Jersey with 20 points in 20 games.
1. Montreal Canadiens trade P.K. Subban to Nashville Predators for Shea Weber
Nearly six months after it was consummated, this trade is still being debated – and probably will continue to be talked about for years to come. Much has come out since as to why the Canadiens felt like they needed to trade Subban, and while Subban was a great ambassador for the game in Montreal, it’s clear he’s already feeling at home in Nashville. Just look at what he did in his first hours in Music City.
Weber hasn’t let the trade from the organization he grew up in affect him. He’s off to a great start with the Canadiens with eight goals (7 on the power play) and 18 points in 29 games.
Who won this trade? We won’t know a definitive answer for a long, long time.
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