The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang have concluded, but the final 19 games of the NHL’s regular season are shaping up like the final few laps of a short track speed skating race in which the competition is jockeying for positions before the final sprint to the finish.
Now that the eight teams in the Metropolitan Division have made their moves, let’s grade their deadline deals.
Added: Goalie Petr Mrazek; defenseman Johnny Oduya
Lost: Defenseman Mark Alt
Ron Hextall acted swiftly and decisively in acquiring Mrazek from the Red Wings following the injury to Michal Neuvirth. It was essential for the Flyers to upgrade the position after losing their top two goaltenders. I’m not sure the Flyers get much of an upgrade with 36-year-old Oduya over the 26-year-old Alt, but he certainly adds playoff experience with 106 postseason games played. It will be interesting to see if Oduya assumes Alt’s role or takes playing time away from Brandon Manning. Regardless, it’s a slight upgrade.
Added: Forwards Derick Brassard, Josh Jooris, Tobias Lindberg, Vincent Dunn; 2018 third-round pick
Lost: Forwards Ryan Reaves, Greg McKegg; defenseman Ian Cole; 2018 first-round pick, 2019 third-round pick
Brassard slots in perfectly onto the Penguins' third line. He plays a solid two-way game and can bring some scoring punch to Pittsburgh’s bottom six. Reaves played really well in two games against the Flyers. It will be interesting to see if the Pens miss Reaves' physical presence. Eventually, giving up first-round picks has to catch up to Pittsburgh management. At 27, Jooris has been a journeyman. GM Jim Rutherford typically goes big and bold on this day, but did neither.
Added: Defensemen Michal Kempny, Jakub Jerabek
Lost: 2018 third-round pick, 2019 fifth-round pick
Kempny moves into the Capitals' everyday lineup while Jerabek adds depth in the system, but is not expected to contribute right away. Washington simply didn’t have the cap space to make a major move without unloading salary at the same time.
Added: Forwards Thomas Vanek, Mark Letestu; defenseman Ian Cole
Lost: Forwards Jussi Jokinen, Tyler Motte, Nick Moutrey; 2018 fourth-round pick, 2020 third-round pick
As the second wild-card team right now, the Blue Jackets are looking to make that playoff push by adding scoring winger Vanek coupled with veteran depth and leadership. Ranked 29th in goals scored, the Blue Jackets were desperate to add offense. Solid penalty killer Letestu rejoins the Jackets after leaving in 2015. Cole was a player I thought the Flyers might pursue to provide some depth in the event of injury. Columbus now has a rather solid three defensive pairs moving forward and didn’t give up a draft pick in the top two rounds.
Added: Forwards Michael Grabner, Patrick Maroon
Lost: Defensemen Igor Rykov; 2018 second-round pick, 2018 third-round pick
The Devils want to play with pace and they added one of the fastest players in the league in Grabner, who scored 25 goals this season prior to the trade. Grabner can also chip in on the penalty kill. The second-round pick seems to be a steal considering what Vegas forked over for Detroit’s Tomas Tatar. New Jersey also added size with Maroon, who played sporadically with Edmonton this season. The Devils needed depth at the forward position and they got it.
Added: Forwards Vladimir Namestnikov, Brett Howden, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey; defensemen Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren, Rob O’Gara; 2018 first-round pick, two 2018 second-round picks, 2018 third-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick
Lost: Forwards J.T. Miller, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash; defensemen Ryan McDonagh, Nick Holden
A mass Manhattan exodus as the Rangers' rebuild is now in full swing. They could have as many as eight picks in the first three rounds of the 2018 draft. They traded the captain McDonagh and received the Lightning’s top two selections (Howden, Hajek) from the 2016 draft, plus a first-rounder. It’s a good return but will this put the Rangers back on track in four to five years? Difficult to say. McDonagh is the toughest loss. If you’re grading purely on the return, the Rangers did well.
Added: Forward Chris Wagner; defenseman Brandon Davidson
Lost: Foward Jason Chimera; 2019 third-round pick
The Islanders gave up a third-rounder for a defenseman who was placed on waivers earlier in the season. Wagner isn’t much of an upgrade over Chimera, if any, but he’s younger and cheaper. For a team that has surrendered more goals than any other team in the league, the Islanders did very little to improve in that area.
Added: Forward Greg McKegg
Lost: Forward Josh Jooris
A week ago, the Hurricanes were still pushing for a wild-card spot, but since then, they've faded fast, having lost five straight. Carolina GM Ron Francis had some pieces that he could have moved whether that was Justin Faulk, Justin Williams or even goaltender Cam Ward, who’s in the final year of a contract. Ward would have been a good fit with the Islanders.