As of October 9, 2020, Free Agency is underway, and some guys like Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Torey Krug, and TJ Brodie have signed contracts, but what would it be like to rewind all the way back to one year ago. October 2, 2019. The St. Louis Blues raising the cup banner, the Vegas Golden Knights playing against their rival San Jose Sharks. On that date no one knew that everything would than go from a perfect 82 game schedule to the entire sports world going on shutdown and not returning until August.
The top teams having all eyes on them at the start of the season, and than you skip to March 11, when the whole hockey world was suddenly screeching to a halt, leaving NHL fans thinking when, a whole 132 days without NHL games, and than came the NHL Bubble, an imperfect way to have the NHL players play the sport they love to the fans that they adore so much. Now fast forward to September 28, 2020 where the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars are playing in the Stanley Cup Final, in Edmonton. Tampa leads 1-0 midway through the second period, the shutdown Tampa 4th line comes on, Patrick Maroon, a homegrown St. Louis man who won with his hometown Blues last season has the puck at the blue line, Dallas native Blake Coleman opens up for a one-timer, pass comes from Maroon, BANG! Coleman has just given Tampa a key 2-0 lead, against all odds, against all doubt, against everything the Tampa Bay Lightning had to overcome after their shocking upset by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019, they were just 23 minutes and change away from winning the Stanley Cup, now we are in the third period, less than 20 seconds, Dallas net pulled, and trade deadline acquisition Barclay Goodrow attacks Dallas star John Klingberg, Goodrow pokes the puck loose, and because of that tip, the clock rounds from under 10 and than you hear the Lightning in absolute hysterical’s, and Goodrow begins to skate the fastest he’s ever skated to Vezina Trophy Finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy, and the team who was always up in the Power Rankings is now finally buried any doubts made by hockey fans, per Lightning radio announcer Dave Mishkin “They’ve reached the top of the mountain. They are the Stanley Cup Champs.” The amount of fans in Tampa cheering onto their team, remarkable.
Now let’s go to the evening of October 6, 2020 where the 2020 NHL Draft will be held virtually from the NHL studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. The New York Rangers won the lottery after winning the one pick, phase two draft. The Rangers, than Los Angeles Kings, and than the Ottawa Senators (who have arguably the prettiest “tarps” you will ever see at this moment) hold the top three picks. The Rangers took consensus number one pick Alexis Lafreniere, the Kings took 6’4 center Quinton Byfield, and the Senators took German stud Tim Stutzle. The Florida Panthers under new GM Bill Zito, took Finnish 2-way center Anton Lundell, sound familiar, a Finnish 2-way center on the Panthers, oh I know Aleksander Barkov, now you might be asking well David why is this such a good pick, Lundell was a projected top 10 pick all season, it just so happens his role model is Barkov, so that is why Bill Zito is exceeding all expectations. Than the two days later trades Cliff Pu to his former team the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Markus Nutivaara, the 26 year old defenseman had a good year for him as he put up a 9 point season in 37 games, but for Nutivaara it is not about points it is his play, he had a plus 25 +/- for the whole season, that means in his 37 games, he has been on the ice for more goals than he has given up. As of October 9, 2020 at 10:34pm at the time of writing Day 1 of Free Agency has been sort of quiet, big names are still there, guys like Mike Hoffman, Evgenii Dadonov, Corey Crawford, Taylor Hall, Tyler Toffoli, and Alex Pietrangelo. The Panthers have been once again at it with good depth signings such as forwards Alexander Wennberg, Ryan Lomberg, Carter Verhaeghe, Vinnie Hinistroza, and shutdown tough defenseman Radko Gudas. Other teams like the Blues, Canucks, Capitals, Flames, Maple Leafs, and Stars made big signings, by the Blues getting top defenseman Toey Krug, Canucks getting 2018 Cup winner Braden Holtby, the Capitals get a KING in Henrik Lundqvist, Flames get former Canuck Jacob Markstrom, Maple Leafs get good defenseman TJ Brodie, and Stars re-sign playoff star goaltender Anton Khudobin. With a target date set for January 1, 2021 this weirdly timed offseason will be a fun start for the NHL during this COVID-19 time.