Change location: from Hyman to Edmonton, from Chara to Isles

A call from Connor McDavid was all Zach Hyman needed to put the unfinished business with the Toronto Maple Leafs behind him when he joined the Edmonton Oilers.

Hyman left his hometown team to sign a seven-year, $ 38.5 million contract with McDavid and the Oilers, who are also trying to overcome the playoff bump. McDavid immediately invited him to practice with him and other teammates, so it didn’t take long for Hyman to feel welcome and enjoy the reigning NHL MVP’s play.

“It was awesome,” Hyman said. “It’s not just a natural ability. It’s his drive and determination to keep pushing and improving, which was really great to see. “

Hyman fell victim to the salary cap in Toronto, where he spent his first six seasons in the NHL playing a jack-of-all-trades role that included playing time on the front row. A 20-goal double scorer, he should add much-needed offensive depth to Edmonton, which lacked a secondary scorer being swept away by Winnipeg in the first round of the playoffs.

Hyman chose Edmonton after having the chance to tour the city with his wife once the Maple Leafs made it clear they would not be renewing him.

“I said to my wife, ‘Looks like this is where I want to play from a hockey point of view, like this is where I think I have the best chances,” he recalls. “And my wife is all about winning. She said to me ‘Go and win.’ “

Another factor behind choosing to stay in Canada was knowing that his family and friends could travel to see him play, given the uncertainty of cross-border travel restrictions during the pandemic.

The Oilers also got three-time Cup-winning defenseman Duncan Keith of Chicago, acquired Carolina forward Warren Foegele for Ethan Bear, and signed defenseman Cody This and forward Derek Ryan.

The signing of forward Nick Ritchie was one of the Maple Leafs’ most significant gestures of the offseason.

“He’s a great man who moves well on the ice,” said Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner, who attended high school with Ritchie. “He’s a guy who also brings bullying. He’s not afraid to throw his body all over the place. “

OLD MINUTES CONTINUE

When Zdeno Chara wondered if he was going to play another season in the NHL at the age of 44, it came down to one thing.

“I love the game,” said the great defenseman after signing with the New York Islanders. “I have a passion for gambling and I believe I can still play.”

He’s not the only gray beard to play at least one more season, even though Chara won the Stanley Cup. Still in pursuit at 42, Joe Thornton signed with the Florida Panthers.

“It’s not like he’s going to Florida to sunbathe or something,” said Tomas Hertl of San Jose, who played with Thornton for several seasons. “I think Florida have a really good team, and they’ve proven that, I think, over the last couple of years. … He wants the Cup. “

The Panthers also traded to Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart, charging after losing to eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.

KK TO CAROLINA

Center Jesperi Kotkaniemi left Montreal and signed a one-year, $ 6.1 million offer with the Carolina Hurricanes that the Canadiens refused to match. Two years ago, the Canadiens extended an offer to Hurricanes star Sebastian Aho two years ago, which was matched by Carolina.

As it turns out, Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet included a $ 20 bonus, which is Aho’s number.

“It’s pretty funny,” Aho said. “I mean, everyone’s talking about it.”

Carolina also added free play goaltenders Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta and let defenseman Dougie Hamilton go. Hamilton signed the richest deal as an unrestricted free agent: $ 63 million over seven years with the New Jersey Devils.

BIG CHANGES

Chicago: The Blackhawks, who welcome back captain Jonathan Toews after missing all of last season, acquired defenseman Seth Jones and signed him for a long-term extension; got the reigning goalkeeper Marc-André Fleury, winner of the Vézina trophy; and increased their depth to the point that they could now be playoff contenders.

“It makes the team with these few acquisitions much more relevant,” said star winger Patrick Kane. “Obviously the goal is to make the playoffs and hopefully do some damage.”

New York Rangers: Since last season’s infamous game when Washington’s Tom Wilson injured Artemi Panarin and was fined for brutalizing Pavel Buchnevich, the Rangers have carried out a tenacity review. They fired general manager Jeff Gorton and chairman John Davidson and replaced them with Chris Drury, fired coach David Quinn and replaced him with Gerard Gallant, traded Buchnevich for Sammy Blais, acquired and extended Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Reaves, and signed great defenders Patrik Nemeth and Jarred Tinordi.

“I think it’s good,” Wilson said. “They obviously wanted to play hard. They wanted to bring grain. “

Philadelphia: The Flyers have revamped their blue line with Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and Keith Yandle entering, and Shayne Gostisbehere, Philippe Myers and Robert Hagg exiting. They also traded Jakub Voracek in Columbus for Cam Atkinson.

“At the end of last season I swore we would make changes and that was unacceptable and I think I kept my word,” said general manager Chuck Fletcher. “We were aggressively looking to change our team. We have made a lot of changes. We like to think we’ve improved our club, and time will tell. “

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