The 2023-24 NHL season is now less than two months away, and it has been a long offseason with several significant moves. More than a few big names changed teams, and one could be forgiven for missing out on some of the summer transactions.
Before training camps open and the puck drops on opening night, let's review some of the most impactful moves of the offseason. Legitimate stars like Alex DeBrincat and Erik Karlsson got traded in a couple of blockbuster deals, and other contenders tried to find the missing piece that will help them lift the Stanley Cup.
The Winnipeg Jets sent Pierre Luc-Dubois to the Los Angeles Kings, a team trying to get over the postseason hump after back-to-back first-round exits. Similarly, the New Jersey Devils are trying to capitalize on their own Stanley Cup window, and landing Tyler Toffoli should help them do just that.
There will be some familiar faces in unfamiliar places this winter, so let's take a look back at the biggest transactions of the 2023 NHL offseason.
1. Alex DeBrincat | RW | Detroit Red Wings
Former team: Ottawa Senators
New team: Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings were 24th in goals scored last season, and general manager Steve Yzerman addressed that issue by acquiring Alex DeBrincat from the Ottawa Senators in a trade that sent Dominik Kubalik and a couple of draft picks the other way.
In the 2021-22 season, DeBrincat tallied 41 goals with the Chicago Blackhawks for the second time in his young career. His 2022-23 season with the Senators wasn't quite as strong, but he still finished the year with 27 goals and 66 points. DeBrincat also finished second on the team in scoring chances with 177, per Natural Stat Trick.
DeBrincat will bring some pop to the top of a Detroit lineup that has been in need of that over the last few years. He should slot in quite nicely alongside speedy Red Wings center Dylan Larkin on the first line.
2. Erik Karlsson | D | Pittsburgh Penguins
Former team: San Jose Sharks
New team: Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to keep their Stanley Cup window open, and they did that by trading for Erik Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner. It was a splashy move by new general manager Kyle Dubas, and the only question now is whether Karlsson will be enough to get the Penguins their fourth ring of the Sidney Crosby era.
The Penguins haven't reached the second round of the playoffs since 2018, and their 16-year playoff streak came to an end last season. In recent years, Pittsburgh has been tinkering around the edges of its roster, but landing Karlsson is a very impactful addition. The 33-year-old proved he still has plenty of gas left in the tank with 101 points on a bad San Jose Sharks team in 2022-23. Karlsson should still be very effective with more talent around him on the Penguins.
Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are all in the twilight of their careers and looking for their fourth Stanley Cup. Karlsson, on the other hand, has done just about everything in his career except lift the Stanley Cup. That .
3. Pierre-Luc Dubois | C | Los Angeles Kings
Former team: Winnipeg Jets
New team: Los Angeles Kings
In each of the last two postseasons, the Kings have been bounced by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round. Adding Dubois down the middle of their lineup might be good enough to level the playing field and get them over the hump in the 2023-24 campaign.
Dubois is a big two-way center, and that will come in handy with Los Angeles battling the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl every spring. Last season, Dubois notched 27 goals and 36 assists while making an impact in all three zones. With Dubois on the ice at five-on-five, the Winnipeg Jets had a plus-13 goal differential, per Natural Stat Trick.
Being strong down the middle is a key component of Stanley Cup contenders, and the Kings can now check that box, if they choose to play Dubois at center. Los Angeles could now deploy Anze Kopitar, Philip Danault and Dubois as its top three centers, or the team could load up its top-six forward group by playing Dubois on the wing.
4. Tyler Toffoli | RW | New Jersey Devils
Former team: Calgary Flames
New team: New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils have all the makings of a Stanley Cup contender, and they only strengthened their status as one of the most exciting teams in the league by landing Tyler Toffoli in a trade from the Flames. The goals should come early and often for the Devils in the 2023-24 season.
It seems like every year you can set your watch to Toffoli scoring at least 20 goals and notching anywhere between 40-50 points. This past season, Toffoli bumped those totals up to 34 goals and 73 points, despite the Flames' disappointing results overall. The point here is that Toffoli has proven to be a reliable scorer for a decade now, and he will thrive with even more young talent around him in New Jersey.
The Devils can now ice a lineup that includes Jack Hughes, Timo Meier, Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, Dawson Mercer and Toffoli as their top six forwards. Few, if any, other teams can match that kind of firepower.
5. Dmitry Orlov | D | Carolina Hurricanes
Former team: Boston Bruins
Current team: Carolina Hurricanes
Speaking of teams that keep loading up to maximize their Stanley Cup window, the Carolina Hurricanes are trying to do the same thing. Carolina fortified a position of strength by signing defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a two-year deal worth $15 million this offseason.
Orlov, now 32, has remained a rock solid puck-moving defenseman throughout his career. In fact, the 2022-23 season was one of his best. His 29 assists and 36 points were career bests. On top of that, Orlov posted a plus-nine goal differential at five-on-five in just 23 regular season games with the Boston Bruins. That type of effectiveness isn't out of the question on a Hurricanes team that is among the best at possessing the puck in the NHL.
Adding Orlov gives the Hurricanes a wealth of options on the blue line. Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce are among two of the best shutdown defenders around, and Brent Burns and Brady Skjei both have a penchant for chipping in offensively. Orlov's presence only makes Carolina tougher to beat on the back end.
6. Tyler Bertuzzi | LW | Toronto Maple Leafs
Former team: Boston Bruins
New team: Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs managed to reach the second round of the playoffs last season, but they only got one more win after that. In the hopes of finally making the most out of a talented roster, the Maple Leafs inked Tyler Bertuzzi to a one-year deal in order to add a bona fide power forward to the lineup.
Bertuzzi battled injuries the last few years, but he has been effective when healthy. Last season, Bertuzzi totaled just eight goals and 30 points in 50 games, but his numbers got a significant bump after the Red Wings dealt him to the Bruins. In 21 games with the Bruins, Bertuzzi notched four goals and 16 points. Despite Boston's disappointing first-round playoff exit, Bertuzzi was excellent. He tallied five goals and five assists in a seven-game series.
The Maple Leafs always seem to be on the lookout for the old hockey cliches like grit and sandpaper. Those moves haven't always worked out (see: Wayne Simmonds), but Bertuzzi has plenty of skill to go along with his rough edges. Bertuzzi brings a different dynamic to a skilled Toronto forward group with Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner and John Tavares already in the mix.
7. Vladimir Tarasenko | RW | Ottawa Senators
Former team: New York Rangers
New team: Ottawa Senators
After failing to sign Alex DeBrincat to a contract extension, the Senators had to ship one of their best young scorers to the Red Wings. With a spot in the top six open, the Sens signed Vladimir Tarasenko to a one-year contract in July.
Tarasenko is six years older than DeBrincat, but he is just two years removed from a 34-goal season in 2021-22. Last year, Tarasenko experienced some peaks and valleys as he split 69 games between the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. Tarasenko ended the season with 18 goals and 50 points, and he can provide Ottawa with some scoring touch and experience.
Tarasenko might not be at the top of his game anymore, but he can still be a productive player in Ottawa, especially with so much young talent around him. Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle and Drake Batherson are all rising stars in the sport, and Tarasenko will only be asked to provide support.
8. Matt Duchene | LW | Dallas Stars
Former team: Nashville Predators
New team: Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars should be considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender in the 2023-24 season, especially after signing Matt Duchene at a bargain bin price. After the Nashville Predators bought out Duchene earlier this summer, the Stars swooped in and got a skilled offensive player for just $3 million.
Duchene, 32, had an uneven tenure in Nashville, but he has shown that he still has what it takes to make a big impact in the offensive zone. In the 2021-22 season, Duchene set the franchise record for goals in a single season with 43. He also added another 43 assists for 86 total points. Last season, Duchene's numbers came back down to Earth with 22 goals and 56 points, but Dallas would be thrilled with that given the low cost of acquisition.
The Stars' offense took a step forward last season, the team's first under head coach Peter DeBoer, and that should continue in 2023-24. DeBoer now has Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Wyatt Johnston and Duchene at his disposal on a nightly basis.