The fast-approaching NHL season is sure to provide enough drama on its own, but the way this summer played out really seemed to increase the number of fascinating storylines.
Everything from the league green-lighting the Las Vegas expansion team, some of the big trades, free agent signings and teams revamping on the fly are going to have a major impact on how things play out this season.
However, as is the case every year, it is the players themselves that create the most compelling storylines and moments that make up an entertaining season. Some of what happened this summer contributes to the intriguing nature of a player's overall narrative heading into a season, but the individual still has an entire season to dictate where the story goes. So let's take a look at the 10 players that are going to be among the most fascinating to follow for the 2016-17 season.
His arrival in Nashville could be franchise-changing. The Predators have a good team already, perhaps one that is on the cusp of making a serious playoff run. However, adding Subban to the mix is also going to bring a level of exposure that the Preds aren't used to.
They're still not going to be on national TV much, which is a shame because they play a fun brand of hockey, but they are going to be a team national media and fans across the world will be paying attention to.
Subban has a chance to flourish on and off the ice in Nashville in ways that just were not possible in Montreal. If he plays up to his ability and retains the personality that has made him one of the game's most popular players, it's going to be an incredibly fun year in Nashville.
After missing half the year with an injury, hockey fans were robbed of what could have been the best rookie season since Crosby and Ovechkin in 2005-06. McDavid put up 48 points in 45 games in his injury-shortened campaign and there's reason to expect he'll be even better this season.
After showing off the unlimited toolbox of skills he possesses at the World Cup while captaining Team North America, he's coming into the season with a good warm-up. Assuming he stays healthy, it would not be surprising to see McDavid push for a scoring title already. The eyes and the numbers say that he's on his way to being everything everyone said he was before he got drafted.
Now the youngest captain in NHL history, McDavid has a chance to help the Oilers break free from a decade of disappointment. He won't be on national TV much in the U.S., but he's the kind of player that you have to find a way to see as much as possible. There aren't many players you can say that about, but he's absolutely one.
After looking like he may never leave Nashville, Weber going to Montreal in the Subban trade was one of the most shocking moments in recent years. The trade has been met with a lot of mixed feelings in Montreal, too.
Subban was such a popular figure and is younger, which increased the risk for the Habs to pull the trigger on the deal. Weber, however, comes in with a well-known pedigree and a playing style that will fit better with Michel Therrien's coaching style. What will be fascinating to watch here is if a player who fits into that style better actually makes the team better or if the system is what's broken instead of the personnel. That's what we'll be looking for all season.
The Habs are certain Weber is better than Subban. Only time will tell, but there will be no player more scrutinized this season than the Canadiens' newest defenseman.
After wowing the Toronto faithful at the World Cup of Hockey, Matthews showed that he was more than ready for this level. The No. 1 overall pick is the centerpiece of the Maple Leafs' rebuild, which comes with a lot of pressure. How he handles that level of attention is going to be as intriguing to watch as how he plays in his rookie season.
The Scottsdale, Ariz., native has all the tools to do something special right away. That may not mean the Maple Leafs are competitive right away, but they should expect an organizational step forward this year with their 19-year-old center leading the way.
The second most shocking trade of the summer was Hall, the Oilers' first of four recent No. 1 overall picks, getting sent to the New Jersey Devils. The most shocking thing was that the Devils only had to give up Adam Larsson, a promising defenseman who still has a fair amount to prove, to acquire a player that is arguably already a top-five left wing in the NHL.
Hall has not been quiet about his frustration with Edmonton shipping him out. The 24-year-old is coming off a season where he didn't miss a game after being hampered by injuries in previous years. Hall had 26 goals and 65 points for the second most productive season of his career, too. The chip on his shoulder might be a really good thing for a Devils squad that is investing more in its scoring attack.
In two of the last three years, Ben Bishop finished in the top three for Vezina Trophy voting. He also had back-to-back playoff runs where he was exceptional for the Lighting. However, the team's salary cap situation, Bishop's soon-to-expire contract, the looming expansion draft and the fact that Tampa has Andrei Vasilevskiy waiting in the wings all could lead to his exit from the Lightning while they're still well within their window.
What will be interesting to find out is if the Lightning just ride out the full year or if Steve Yzerman can find a fit and has enough confidence in Vasilevskiy to make the move during the season. It's such a difficult decision, as the team remains a real threat to win the Stanley Cup, but the likelihood of Bishop returning after his contract runs out next summer seems incredibly low. If he does move during the season, he could be the last piece for another contender's Stanley Cup puzzle.
After losing his starting job due to injury and later Matt Murray's incredible performance for Pittsburgh in the playoffs, Fleury is a goalie in limbo. Murray was injured at the World Cup, which means the veteran goalie is going to get some extended time early in the season. Once Murray comes back, watching how the goalie situation is handled will be intriguing to say the least, especially if Murray takes over the No. 1 job on a more permanent basis.
This season could go so many different ways for Fleury. From the goalie battle to the threat of a potential trade to possibly riding the bench a lot, what happens next is very difficult to predict. Especially since Fleury has had back-to-back seasons with a .920 save percentage or better. If it's not Pittsburgh, he could still help someone.
The Sharks are keeping the band together for one last shot at the Cup. After coming close last season with the franchise reaching their first Stanley Cup Final ever, they have to feel like they can get back. If they do, it will be Thornton playing a leading role once again.
Jumbo Joe showed that he can still be a dominant player in the league at 36 as he put up 82 points in 82 games and finished fifth in Hart Trophy voting. But he's still searching for that elusive Stanley Cup and, like running mate Patrick Marleau, is in the last year of his current contract. Thornton could still play for a few more years, no problem, but will those years be in San Jose? This season could mark the end of an important era for the Sharks and they'd love nothing more to end it with a title.
When is Jagr not fascinating? The 44-year-old future Hall of Famer is coming off of the best season by anyone over 43 in NHL history. Jagr had 27 goals and 66 points to show he still can play the game at a high level. Now we have to see how long he can keep it up.
Jagr needs just 20 points to surpass Mark Messier for second on the NHL's all-time scoring list. So it's probably not a matter of if, but when. He also has a shot at climbing into the top five on the NHL's all-time assist chart as ex-Penguins teammates Paul Coffey is only 16 assists ahead of him right now.
If Jagr has a season even close to what he had last year, he'll keep adjusting the history books, which was a lot of fun to watch as he did it in 2015-16. Meanwhile, the Panthers could make a bit of a run this year.
It has been four years since we last saw Radulov in the NHL. He appeared in nine regular-season games and eight postseason contests for the Nashville Predators in 2011-12, but it ended in a way that very well could have kept him out of the league for much longer than it did. But now he's back.
After expressing interest in a return to the NHL, the Habs signed him to a relatively low-risk one-year deal. Now he has to prove that he belongs and that he was worth the $5.75 million they're going to pay him this year. He also has to prove that he's grown from the incident that looked like it could end his chances at an NHL return.
Radulov had 65 points in 53 games last year for CSKA Moscow. His skill set is undeniable. The 30-year-old should make the Habs better up front, assuming he can get back to NHL pace quickly and stay out of trouble.