NHL Trade Deadline Report Cards
There are always winners and losers at the NHL trade deadline. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a team is going to win a Stanley Cup, obviously, and some of the big winners at the deadline are lousy teams loading up on draft picks and assets for the future.
Still, it’s better to be moving and shaking at the trade deadline like a Carolina Hurricanes team that added Vincent Trocheck, Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen than be a non-playoff team like the Wild that made one early Jason Zucker trade with Pittsburgh before closing their shutters for the week. The biggest winner of all might have been the New York Rangers in retaining Chris Kreider with a seven-year contract rather than making him the biggest trade target on the market.
But each team received a grade for what they did leading up to Monday’s NHL trade deadline and we didn’t mince any words:
The Ducks were sellers and moved out Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, Devin Shore and Derek Grant while managing to bring in a first-round pick, a fourth-round pick, Danton Heinen and Sonny Milano along with Bruins defenseman prospect Axel Andersson.
The biggest asset acquired is the B’s first-round pick that will be toward the back end of the first round, but at least they have young forwards in Heinen and Milano who might develop further with a fresh start in Anaheim. Considering the middle-tier assets they had to deal, Bob Murray did pretty well for the Ducks.
The Coyotes made their big move months ahead of time when they landed Taylor Hall, who has nine goals and 25 points in 30 games with the Desert Dogs and still has Arizona in a wild card playoff spot right now.
It’s certainly kept them in the mix for the playoffs with six weeks left to go in the regular season and Hall has been a strong, healthy producer since arriving, so it’s mission accomplished. But it won’t be a complete success story until the Coyotes get into the postseason.
The Bruins accomplished a series of big objectives for them even if they didn’t make a massive move at the trade deadline. They saved over $3 million on the salary cap by moving David Backes’ contract to the Ducks, they addressed their 5-on-5 offensive needs by nabbing Ondrej Kase in that same Backes deal with Anaheim and they addressed their lack of big, heavy wingers with the deal for Nick Ritchie on Monday afternoon.
They did have to surrender their first-round pick to carve out the cap space and they waved goodbye to Danton Heinen in the process, but they are also a better team than they were just a couple of days ago.
The Sabres waived a player in Zach Bogosian in whom other teams clearly were interested prior to the Tampa Bay Lightning signing him to a one-year deal, got lesser value for Marco Scandella when they traded him to Montreal months ago and then inexplicably bought on Wayne Simmonds when he was offered up by New Jersey.
The one saving grace was that they got a pretty good player from Pittsburgh in Dominik Kahun when they shipped Evan Rodrigues and Conor Sheary to the Penguins.
The Flames got a fourth-round pick for Michael Frolik a couple of months ago and dealt a third-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Erik Gustafsson on Monday’s deadline day. They also sent a fourth-round pick to Los Angeles for Derek Forbort.
None of those trades are going to put the Flames over the top in their pursuit of a playoff spot and instead it feels like a Flames team that’s hedging their bets in case Calgary goes on a sudden nose-dive in the Pacific Division over the final six weeks. These were very average moves.
The Hurricanes have been beset by injuries with defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce both going down with significant injuries, and goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer getting injured over the weekend as well. The Hurricanes responded by moving four pieces to get Florida center Vincent Trocheck, who has slumped the last couple of seasons, and then wheeled out assets to collect D-men Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen.
The Hurricanes paid, of course, by giving up their first-round pick, several blue chip prospects in the Trocheck deal and Erik Haula off their NHL roster, but they also showed their fan base they are going for it again this season. Once they get healthy, they are going to be dangerous.
The Blackhawks didn’t deal Brandon Saad and weren’t full blown sellers at the trade deadline despite falling out of the race in the last few weeks. What they did do was bring in Malcolm Subban as their backup goaltender while picking up a second-round pick and a prospect while sending Robin Lehner to Vegas.
I’m a little surprised the Blackhawks decided Lehner wasn’t going to be their guy after a decent season in Chicago. It certainly doesn’t feel like Corey Crawford is going to be the long-term guy for the Hawks much longer either. They also accumulated a third-round pick for Erik Gustafsson, so that wasn’t so bad.
The Avs have a legit Stanley Cup contending roster, but Joe Sakic didn’t do anything impressive at all at the trade deadline. He gave up a fourth-round pick to Ottawa for Vladislav Namestnikov and dealt Calle Rosen for failed Maple Leafs backup goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
The Avs were linked to Chris Kreider and other big name items ahead of the deadline, so it makes one wonder if they had no backup plans once the big names didn’t move on Monday. Either way it feels like Colorado didn’t do nearly enough, with Namestnikov nothing more than a decent depth piece for Colorado.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets dealt the underachieving Sonny Milano to Anaheim for center Devin Shore and shipped defenseman Markus Hannikainen for a conditional seventh-round pick. I guess it was a good move to part ways with Milano where a change of scenery might benefit the player, but it’s in stark contrast to last season when Columbus was arguably the biggest mover and shaker at the NHL trade deadline landing players like Matt Duchene.
The injury to Josh Anderson certainly hampered some of the trade talks they were having. Amazing what a difference a year makes.
The Stars did zilch at the trade deadline. They had interest in Jumbo Joe Thornton, but he reportedly didn’t want to go there while hoping other teams were going to step up and show interest in his Hall of Fame services.
Other than that, they didn’t bring in any new blood for an organization that’s vying for the playoffs and would seem to have a decent chance to go on a run in the West. Maybe they spent all their resources to bring in players like Joe Pavelski ahead of the season rather than making deadline deals, but it feels like Jim Nill should have done something to energize his roster.
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings shipped out the speedy Andreas Athanasiou for Sam Gagner and a couple of second-round picks despite the fact that Athanasiou was a ridiculous minus-45 this season. They also got a fourth-round pick from the Oilers again in exchange for Mike Green, so it’s clear that the Red Wings' pipeline to Ken Holland is still pretty active.
They got decent value for a couple of rental players they weren’t going to retain, but the worst team in the NHL didn’t manage to get any first-round picks with the assets they were selling. I would call it a fairly average deadline for the NHL’s worst team.
The Oil didn’t make any massive moves ahead of the deadline, but they did add some depth players who could potentially grow into bigger factors in the playoffs to come. They landed Mike Green on the back end for the mere pittance of a fifth-round pick and they brought in the speedy, skilled Andreas Athanasiou as well for two second-round picks and Sam Gagner.
Athanasiou is one of the fastest players in the NHL and it could be a lot of fun to watch him out on the ice with the equally speedy Connor McDavid at the same time. Tyler Ennis for a fifth-round pick is another modest trade that insures the Oil against the kind of attrition a hockey team can expect during a playoff run.
I really need an explanation from Dale Tallon as to what exactly was going on with trading Vincent Trocheck to a Carolina Hurricanes team they are four points behind in the standings for a playoff spot. It certainly doesn’t seem like the Panthers are sellers at this deadline and that this was instead a hockey trade with Florida hauling in Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark and a couple prospects in exchange for sending Trocheck to Carolina.
Granted Trocheck hasn’t been the same since suffering an ankle injury a couple of seasons ago that’s slowed him down considerably, but this is still a valuable center at a pretty decent salary cap tag. Other than that, Florida stood pat at the deadline and didn’t even pick up defensemen depth. Odd.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings were active as a seller this time around after curiously declining to sell on players last year at the deadline. So at least they have made peace with where they are as an organization, and it allowed them to pick up three second-round picks for rentals Alec Martinez and Tyler Toffoli as well as picking up Northeastern University center Tyler Madden in the Toffoli deal with the Canucks.
Earlier in the week, the Kings also collected assets for gritty forward Kyle Clifford and backup goalie Jack Campbell, so Los Angeles managed what they could out of a situation with their NHL club going nowhere presently. The only knock would be that they didn’t get a first-round pick within their haul.
The Wild could have done a lot more, but Bill Guerin didn’t pull the trigger on anything beyond trading Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh for a first-round pick, Alex Galchenyuk and a prospect. They had nibbled around a bigger trade moving Zach Parise to the New York Islanders in a reunion with Lou Lamoriello, but instead sat out the rest of the trade deadline after getting the early deal done. The Wild could have been much bigger sellers given their place in the standings and they really should have been all things considered.
It’s always a bummer in Habs land when the Canadiens are a seller at the trade deadline, but it did allow them to turn a player they signed for nothing into a third-round pick in Ilya Kovalchuk. It was basically found money when they dealt him to Washington. They got a fourth-round pick for Nick Cousins and a fifth-rounder for Nate Thompson as well, and ended up with more for Marco Scandella than they had to give up when acquiring him from Buffalo.
Say what you will about Marc Bergevin, but he’s pretty good at maximizing value returned for assets when he trades them away. Now he just needs to turn those found assets into in-house talent.
One would think Nashville might have been a little bit more of a seller given how their team has underachieved this season, but instead their only trade was moving defenseman Matt Irwin and a sixth-round pick to Anaheim for Korbinian Holzer.
Aside from having one of the best names in the NHL, there really isn’t much to say about what Nashville did over the last few days. There were interested parties in Colton Sissons, but he wasn’t moved by Nashville.
New Jersey Devils
Clearly in a sell mode all season, the Devils really hit the mark by maximizing their returns for Taylor Hall earlier this season and then doing it again by dealing away Blake Coleman, Andy Greene and Sami Vatanen ahead of the deadline.
The first-round pick and prospect Nolan Foote in exchange for Coleman was a big haul for Tom Fitzgerald and he did will with the draft pick returns for Greene and an injured Vatanen. The Devils could have as many as three first-round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft and that’s a credit to the moves Fitzgerald made over the last few days while in a difficult interim position.
New York Islanders
Lou Lamoriello got his guy in Jean-Gabriel Pageau as he surrendered a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick in exchange for the Ottawa third line center, and then signed Pageau to a six-year, $30 million contract.
Pageau is the perfect type of player for the system favored by Lamoriello and Barry Trotz, and he should be a staple for the Islanders for years to come. That’s good news for an Islanders team clearly looking to add leading up to the trade deadline, but they also had to give up a ton to land the player. True greatness would have been paying less of a premium.
New York Rangers
The Rangers weren’t the big seller that many hoped they would be at the deadline and instead opted to sign Chris Kreider to a team-friendly seven-year deal. That took the biggest trade target off the market and sent other teams in different directions to tackle their top-9 winger needs.
The Rangers did make one trade that netted them a future asset when they secured a first-round pick from Carolina in exchange for defenseman Brady Skjei, so they did continue to build up their asset war chest while keeping one of their longtime players as well.
The Senators maximized their horrendous position at the bottom of the Atlantic Division by piling up assets. Ottawa now has nine draft picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 NHL Draft and they hit a home run getting a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick for third line center rental Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who then signed an extension with the Islanders.
That might have been the best haul over the course of the entire deadline. Given the talented young core group in Ottawa and the future assets accumulated over the days leading up to the NHL trade deadline, the Senators did as well as they possibly could have with their moves.
The Flyers didn’t have much cap space and hold a young roster that has the talent level to push for the playoffs this year. What they needed was gritty veteran-types that could help lead them to the Stanley Cup Playoff promised land, and they may just have acquired that with the deals for Derek Grant and Nate Thompson.
Both Grant and Thompson will add to Philly’s grit, penalty kill and bottom-6 forward group and they aren’t going to put a strain on the salary cap as rental players at the deadline. The big trade deadline pick-up could be Nolan Patrick if the Flyers can finally nurse the talented young player back to health.
The Penguins got an early start by landing Minnesota winger Jason Zucker last week, and then doubled down by acquiring both Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues along with Sharks center Patrick Marleau. They did give up a player in Dominik Kahun who's been a solid performer for them in the deal with Buffalo, but they had to adequately build up their forward group with Jake Guentzel a legit health question mark these days.
As trade deadlines go, Jim Rutherford went for it with a Penguins team that’s shown they deserve the investment all season.
San Jose Sharks
It would have been an even higher grade for the Sharks had they been able to deal Jumbo Joe Thornton for a draft pick as well, but nabbing a first-round pick from Tampa Bay for bottom-6 grinder Barclay Goodrow was a coup for Doug Wilson. He also acquired a second -and third-round pick for gritty D-man Brenden Dillon and a conditional third-round pick for Patrick Marleau.
The Goodrow deal turned the deadline into an unmitigated success for a Sharks team that’s gone through an entirely disappointing season at the bottom of the Pacific Division.
St. Louis Blues
Injuries and the cardiac issue with Jay Bouwmeester forced the Blues to make a move for a defenseman ahead of the deadline, and they paid a heavy expense in a second-round pick and fourth-round pick to Montreal in exchange for Marco Scandella. Still, the reigning Stanley Cup champs are in a good spot right now and had to do something to fortify their ranks ahead of what’s expected to be another bruising, challenging playoff run.
They didn’t need to do a ton, but they might have wanted to add another forward considering the health question of Vladimir Tarasenko. They must be confident he’ll be back soon, and that will be a big development in St. Louis.
Tampa Bay Lightning
If there was any question whether or not the Tampa Bay Lightning were going for it, it was clear by the players they acquired at the deadline. They landed Zach Bogosian as defensemen depth after he was waived by the Buffalo Sabres, and they spent a pair of first-round picks on gritty, playoff-style players in Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.
Coleman is a speedy, pesky player who's been a pain in the butt whenever he’s played against the Bruins, and Goodrow is a strong, heavy player that’s going to be super-hard to play against in the postseason. Add that to the wagon already built in Tampa Bay and the Lightning did everything they needed to for a team right in their Stanley Cup window.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Kyle Dubas was on it early in nabbing Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell from the Los Angeles Kings to address a need for a little more sandpaper, and a dire need for a backup goalie that’s been a problem all season. But it felt like this Maple Leafs team needed a lightning strike trade to shake up the team in the dressing room and that never happened with the young GM who feels like he’s struggling at the Toronto rudder.
For a team with unlimited resources and a Team President in Brendan Shanahan that favors bold thinking, the Leafs kind of turtled at the deadline while playing some of their worst hockey in losing the debacle with the 42-year-old Zamboni driver.
The Canucks landed Tyler Toffoli in a much-needed trade for a scoring winger, but they paid pretty dearly with a second-round pick and highly touted center prospect Tyler Madden headed to Los Angeles.
Unfortunately for the Canucks now it looks like Brock Boeser and Jakob Markstrom have come down with injuries as well and there wasn’t enough time to make depth deals in case it’s a worst-case scenario with either one of them. They did deal for Louis Domingue at least. Still, credit Jim Benning for getting what his team needed at the time, even if it might have been a slight overpay.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Knights wanted to beef up their blue line, solidify their depth and shore up their backup goaltending situation with an aging No. 1 in Marc-Andre Fleury. They did exactly that in a complicated three-way swap with the Maple Leafs that netted them Robin Lehner from Chicago, while they also landed L.A. defenseman Alec Martinez for a pair of second-round picks and they paid little for gritty Montreal forward Nick Cousins.
None of the moves are big ticket items, but the additions of Martinez and Lehner could factor in greatly during the expected playoff run for the Golden Knights.
The Capitals have a roster jam-packed with talent and they have a fairly tight salary cap situation, but they still managed to pull off a couple of moves with big upsides for the playoffs. They gave up a second-round pick and two third-round picks for physical, gritty defenseman Brenden Dillon and surrendered just a third-round pick for Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk could be dynamic in situations with Russian countryman Alex Ovechkin and Dillon is exactly the kind of player who could be a factor in a nasty playoff series. Credit the Capitals for doing the best they could while giving up very limited assets.
Winnipeg is another team that made minor moves for a team that hasn’t really lived up to its potential this season. The Jets sent out third-round picks for Dylan DeMelo and Cody Eakin, a couple of useful role players who will add to the depth situation this season.
But it’s further confirmation that Winnipeg management believes that the answers for the Jets are inside their dressing room and it’s up to the players in there to find them.