The NHL on July 1st

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Canada Day is officially here! And with the fireworks not happening until night, there was still some excitement surrounding some Canadian teams on NHL free agent signing day.

Leading up to July 1st, one team locked up two big key pieces of their puzzle, and two franchise players who are making some good cash ended up switching teams.

BIG SPENDERS

Heading into Canada Day, the hype was already over about where Steven Stamkos would go, after the Tampa Bay Lightening had already re-signed him to an 8-year deal, for $68 million dollars. But the Lightening didn’t stop there though, as they continued to lock up their future on Canada Day by re-signing 25 year old defenceman Victor Hedman to an 8-year, $63 million dollar contract extension.

Sticking with big bucks, the top two highest paid defensemen in the NHL found new homes on Wednesday, as the Montreal Canadiens have dealt P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Shea Weber.

It was just a couple summers ago on August 3rd, 2014, when the Montreal Canadiens signed P.K. Subban to an 8-year contract, for $72 million dollars. Before that, not knowing what was going to happen whether Subban would re-sign with the club or not, Habs fans were chanting – “WE WANT SUBBAN!”

Since earning a full-time roster spot with the Habs in 2010-2011, Subban has been the club’s top scoring defenceman from 2010-2016.

In 2013, Subban also became the first Montreal Canadien to win the James Norris Memorial Trophy since defenceman Chris Chelios (1989), which is awarded to an NHL defenceman who demonstrates throughout the season as the best all-around ability in his position.

Defenceman Shea Weber, who served as captain of the Nashville Predators for the past six seasons, finished second in points amongst team defenceman this season with 51.

This season, the 30 year old became the first Nashville Predator to win the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.

Now we look at what happened on July 1st!

OH, CANADA

With forwards Milan Lucic and Loui Eriksson being the top two players available on this year’s free agents list, both of them have signed with Canadian teams.

It didn’t take long after 12 noon, when forward Milan Lucic found a new home by signing a 7-year, $42 million dollar contract with the Edmonton Oilers, a team that has not made the postseason since 2006, when they lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. Since then, the Oilers have picked first overall in the NHL Draft four times, by selecting Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), Nail Yakupov (2012), and Connor McDavid (2015).

Taylor Hall not to mention, who was coming off his second best season with the Oilers, putting up 65 points through 82 regular season games, was dealt to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday in exchange for defenceman Adam Larsson.

Hall’s 65 points were also the most on the Oilers this season.

Lucic, who spent this past season with the Los Angeles Kings, spent his first eight NHL seasons with the Boston Bruins, the team that drafted him in the 2nd round (50th overall) during 2006, and was coached under Blind River, Ontario native Claude Julien.

The 28 year old will bring championship experience to the Oilers as they get set to move into their brand new arena in 2016-2017.

During his final season in the WHL in 2006-2007, Lucic was an assistant captain of the Vancouver Giants and led them to a Memorial Cup title.

He was also the recipient of the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy, as the most valuable player during the Memorial Cup Tournament.

During the 2006-2007 regular season, Lucic also led his Memorial Cup champion Vancouver Giants in scoring with 68 points through 70 games.

In the 2011, Lucic helped lead the Boston Bruins to their first Stanley Cup title since 1972, after eliminating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games during the Stanley Cup Final.

Now we look at the next best player available on this year’s free agents list!

He was not traded on trade deadline day, but Boston Bruins forward Loui Eriksson has signed a 6-year, 36 million dollar contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

This past season with the Bruins, the 30 year old from Goteborg, Sweden finished second in team scoring with 63 points through 82 regular season games.

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Matt Stefano
Matt had graduated from Sault College in the General Arts and Sciences program in 2011 and has been working in the sports field ever since. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native has worked as an Athletics Assistant in the Sault College Athletics Department during his final year of school in 2011. After graduating, Stefano worked for two years at the George Leach Centre from 2011-2013 for the Algoma University Thunderbirds Varsity Basketball Games as an Athletics Assistant. From 2013 on, Stefano has been working as the Soo Thunderbirds communications person and has also been volunteering with Shaw TV Sault Ste. Marie since 2014, doing Soo Thunderbirds TV Segments.