Twitter Sports reveals the NHL off-season's most mentioned and followed teams and players.
With the new NHL season dawning, everyone is looking forward—writers and news outlets of all kinds have been putting together previews and predictions (you can find our Crystal Ball right here). But it's also a good time to look back. Thanks to the folks at Twitter Sports, we know which players and teams have had everyone buzzing since the Kings raised the Stanley Cup in June.
Our Take: Justin Williams, when you're the Conn Smythe Trophy winner and your nickname is "Mr. Game 7," you can be sure that—even if you hate the moniker—you will get a lot of attention. Claude Giroux made headlines when he stated his belief that he's the NHL's premier franchise player, and then made even more when he suffered an injury on the first day of training camp that sidelined him for the majority of the preseason. The always engaging P.K. Subban recently revealed that he likes to distract opposing goalies by breaking wind in front of them. Thankfully, Patrick Kane got a few TV spots out of the way before taking a few stitches to his grill because of a knock he took in a recent scrimmage. The fat contracts that he and Jonathan Toews signed this summer garnered him plenty of attention as well.
Our Take: The Blackhawks made plenty of noise in the off-season (and quieted some as well) by inking Kane and Toews to matching eight-year deals, and bringing in Brad Richards to center their second line. Chicago's summer moves made the Hawks a popular choice for Stanley Cup favorite. For the Maple Leafs, the significant changes happened off the ice with the hiring of assistant GM Kyle Dubas and the creation of an advanced statistics crew, a signal that one of hockey's oldest and richest teams is positioning itself for change. And, of course, when you play an exciting Cup finals, you're bound to be the subject of plenty of off-season conversations, as Los Angeles and the Rangers have been.
Our Take: There's not a whole lot of surprises here, as these players are among the NHL's most personable young talent. Many of them had eventful off-seasons: Ovechkin made headlines for his recent sushi date with a young fan and Subban's prolonged contract negotiations also kept him in the spotlight. Stamkos shot pucks through football goalposts—from 91 yards away—and Henrik Lundqvist shared his thoughts with David Letterman.
Our Take: Again, not many surprises. The Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, Canadiens and Bruins are Original Six teams that know how to cater to their fans. Toronto, along with the Penguins and the Canucks, made big off-season moves that included changes in philosophy, in the front office and on the ice.