One of the best teams in the EURO league since its inception three seasons ago looks like it’s changing course. The Copenhagen Tridents, under the direction of GM Dylan Callow, has flirted with the Cup every year but has never been able to latch onto it. They had 108 points in Season 1 to finish 4th overall, then 114 to capture the President’s Trophy in Season 2, and last season, they managed 111 points to place second overall before losing to Moscow in the Northern Conference Championship series. Now Callow has made a trade this off season that seems to indicate he’s going to try a different tack.
Roberto Luongo was dealt to Zurich for the rights to Brian Elliott. Luongo has two years remaining on a $5.3 million contract. In his three seasons in Copenhagen, the Canadian had a 91.1 save percentage and averaged 45 wins per season. He will make Zurich the best Swiss team in the league, at least for the moment. GM Dennis Sullo should have little trouble keeping his outstanding two forward lines together, but now Patrick Kane, Patrice Bergeron, Alexander Radulov, Patrick Sharp, Drew Stafford and Ilya Kovalchuk won’t have to do as much of the heavy lifting as they have in the past. In Copenhagen, Elliott is an unsigned Type 2 free agent who should be able to be secured for much less than Luongo’s salary. Elliott does not have great endurance and is used to playing a little more than 60 games per season.
The Luongo-Elliott trade is one of four made so far this off season. Goalies were also exchanged by Stockholm and Madrid. Tomas Vokoun, who was originally drafted by Athens, leaves Madrid to be Brayden Holtby’s expensive backup in Stockholm. Before the trade, the Eagles had three veteran free agent goalies, and it looks like Vokoun will replace all of them. Miikka Kiprusoff and Ray Emery are now expendable and Jonas Hiller went to Madrid, where he will be the number one ahead of Robin Lehner. Stockholm gained a second-round pick in the deal, which for the rebuilding club, is probably the main reason the trade was made.
Ryan Suter and Shea Weber were perennial all-stars along Nashville’s and then Oslo’s bluelines, but now both are playing in different cities. Weber was traded last season to London and then to Copenhagen and Suter moved this week to Gothenburg. The move heralded a youth movement in Norway. Young defensemen Morgan Rielly and Eric Gelinas, as well as a second round pick in 2017 came to Oslo in the deal. Suter, a great defensive defenseman who also put up an average of 50 points per season, anchors a Gothenburg defense corps that includes Erik Johnson, John Carlson and Alec Martinez. General Manager Chris Legge will be talking with Dan Girardi’s agent in hopes of teaming him with Suter on the team’s first pairing. Girardi, at age 30, will be one of the league’s most attractive free agents if he decides to test the market instead of playing with Suter.
Berlin shipped defensive defenseman Ryan Wilson to Munich for a third-round pick. Wilson, who has been a regular in each of his three seasons in the EURO League, was probably not going to see a lot of time this season. In Munich, he is the best of three blueliners currently under contract, although Dion Phaneuf should be able to be resigned as a Type 2 free agent. Wilson started his career in Frankfurt and has now made his way to all three German teams in the EURO.
UPDATE: Minsk GM Igor Kirunov must have noticed more than one gem while he was deciding who to take with his 9th overall pick in the draft. The veteran GM made a trade with Frankfurt this morning that will give him back-to-back picks at 8 and 9. Frankfurt gets three players for the one pick, although the 8th overall pick is sure to be better than any of the three. Nick Bjugstad, a 6-6 22-year-old center who has 21 games under his belt, will join Frankfurt along with Magnus Paajarvi, a 6-3, 23-year-old left wing. Both are considered power forwards. Paajarvi is considered to be poor in his own end of the rink, but he is only a minus 3 in his last 88 games with Minsk. And he has a lot of experience for such a young player. He has played in 156 games in three seasons, but has just 10 goals and 14 assists in total. Frankfurt also acquired Minsk’s other first-round pick, the 22nd overall, in the trade.