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Winners and losers at the NHL trade deadline

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Winners and losers at the NHL trade deadline

To the delight of many hockey fans and pundits alike, it was an extremely active NHL trade deadline day on Monday with big names like Ryan McDonagh, Evander Kane and Tomas Tatar involved in deals even as much of the action had taken place in the days prior to the actual deadline. In fact a bevy of first round picks changed hands on deadline day, which speaks to just how many teams believe they have a legitimate shot at a Cup run in a wide open season.

Here is a rundown of the winners and losers from the 2018 NHL trade deadline with the simple truth being that we won’t truly know until after this season has concluded:

WINNERS

Tampa Bay Lightning – Steve Yzerman is at the top of his game as an NHL general manager, and he showed why again on Monday by doing whatever it took to close the deal and land Rangers frontline defenseman Ryan McDonagh. You add McDonagh to a star-studded roster of Nikita Kucherov, Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Ryan Callahan, Brayden point and Andrei Vasilevskiy, and you’re talking about the best team in the Eastern Conference, on paper anyway. The Lightning had to pay a steep price including Vladislav Namestnikov, a first round pick and a wealth of prospects, but Tampa Bay is absolutely in “win now” mode with their group of players. Dealing for McDonagh and JT Miller is exactly that kind of trade that could put a team over the top, and that puts them squarely in the “winners” category.

New York Rangers – Speaking of Ryan McDonagh, the struggling Rangers decided they were going to flip a number of core veteran players and reload with a group of younger prospects and prime draft picks. So Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton shipped out Nick Holden, Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, McDonagh and JT Miller to the Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils, and turned that into a haul that included Vladislav Namestnikov, Ryan Spooner, two first round picks, a conditional third first round pick, a second round pick, a third round pick, a seventh round pick and five young prospects of varying degrees of promise. That’s a tremendously quick makeover for a Rangers team that was going nowhere fast with their previous core group after a run that fell just short of a Stanley Cup title, and a lot of young assets for New York to turn into an exciting young hockey club. Gorton and the Blueshirts starred at the NHL trade deadline, and they maximized their return on the veteran pieces that they traded away.

Boston Bruins – Don Sweeney had a couple of goals going into the deadline. One was a veteran top-6 power forward winger that could play with David Krejci, and the other was a number of veteran depth pieces to augment the NHL roster mix of proven veterans and exciting rookies that have taken the NHL by storm over the last three months. The Bruins turned a 2018 first round pick and a number of extra pieces into landing the premier rental winger on the trade market in 33-year-old Rick Nash, who could be a truly dangerous offensive player on the second line with David Krejci during a playoff run. The Bruins also signed or traded for Brian Gionta, Nick Holden and Tommy Wingels, who give the Bruins proven, veteran depth at the wings, on the back end and up-front in case the young players can’t hold up their end of the bargain in the pressure-packed playoffs. The bottom line for the Bruins is that they’re a much better team coming out of the deadline than they were going into it, and that’s the name of the game for every NHL team.

Winnipeg Jets – Winnipeg looked like they were going to be frustrated in their attempts to land a center when they lost out on the sweepstakes for Derick Brassard and Tomas Plekanec, and that would have been a shame given how good the Jets have been this season. Instead the Jets pulled a rabbit out of their hat and somehow managed to pry Paul Stastny out of the St. Louis Blues with a first round pick and local college hockey prospect Erik Foley, and added an important piece to a Winnipeg team that’s already teeming with talent even prior to this trade. Give Kevin Cheveldayoff credit for working diligently until the right deal was finalized for the Jets, and now Winnipeg is set up for a potentially long run in the Western Conference this season.

LOSERS

Ottawa Senators – The Senators teased and tricked their way to everybody thinking that franchise D-man Erik Karlsson was going to get moved ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, and teams were lining up with their offers. But it didn’t happen even as things are falling apart in Ottawa, and some desperate teams appear to have even been willing to take on Bobby Ryan’s albatross of a contract to make it happen. Instead the Senators opted to hold onto a player in Karlsson that may already have one foot out of the door mentally, and continue prolonging a futile limbo where Ottawa certainly isn’t competitive, and probably needs to begin rebuilding things from the ground up. For a team as completely out of it as the Senators are this season, they did surprisingly little with their roster to start any kind of a rebuilding campaign outside of trading Derick Brassard to Pittsburgh. They didn’t move Mike Hoffman or JG Pageau and now have a player in Karlsson that everybody knows is going to be moved this summer in a blockbuster decision. The Bruins could have picked up the speed on their rebuild with some bold moves this week, but it simply didn’t happen for Pierre Dorion.

Washington Capitals – While other Eastern Conference teams in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Boston added to their rosters with significant upgrades at the trade deadline, the Capitals did absolutely nothing to improve a team in playoff position. Certainly some of it is about a Capitals team that’s already pretty well put together for the playoff haul, but it’s also about a Washington group that was never really in the mix for any of the big names despite their place in the standings. Perhaps Washington has decided they’re not going to waste valuable future assets on rental players leading up to what’s been a challenging playoff atmosphere for the Capitals, But doing nothing is pretty unforgivable for a Washington team in decent playoff position, and with as good of a chance as anybody in a wide open Eastern Conference. Washington was one of the teams that was outmaneuvered by the Lightning for Ryan McDonagh at the deadline.

Buffalo Sabres – Sabres GM Jeff Botterill got only a conditional second round pick for Evander Kane as a prime rental piece, and wasn’t able to move Josh Gorges, Robin Lehner or Benoit Pouliot as deadline deals. It looks nobody was really interested in Buffalo’s spare parts. Who could have ever guessed that? It certainly looks like the San Jose Sharks could benefit greatly from a rental like Kane that will be on his best behavior for the next couple of months while looking for a big contract, but they were the only NHL team that reportedly showed serious interest in Kane. Perhaps it was just as well that the Sabres sat out this trade deadline aside from flipping Kane to the San Jose Sharks, and focus instead on trying to organize their remaining young pieces into a hockey team that might actually win a few games down the stretch and into the postseason.

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Bruins trade target Hanifin traded to Calgary

Bruins trade target Hanifin traded to Calgary

Former Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin, a Bruins trade target who they once tried to trade up to get in the 2015 draft, has been traded from the Carolina Hurricanes to the Calgary Flames in a deal that includes former B's defenseman Dougie Hamilton going to Carolina.

The 'Canes sent center Eric Lindholm and Hanifin, both restricted free agents who rejected Carolina's most recent contract offers, to Calgary for Hamilton, winger Micheal Ferland and prospect defenseman Adam Fox, who was a third-round pick in 2016 now playing at Harvard,

The Bruins have a longstanding interest in Hanifin that goes back to their efforts to trade up for him in when he was the fifth overall pick three years ago. The Canes likely sought Bruins left winger Jake DeBrusk in the hefty package they were seeking for Hanifin. 

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Bruins choose Swedish D-man, Czech forward with first two picks

Bruins choose Swedish D-man, Czech forward with first two picks

DALLAS – On the second day, the Bruins finally got involved in the NHL draft at the American Airlines Center and made a few picks. The day started in the second round (57th overall) with the B’s selecting young Swedish defenseman Axel Andersson from Djugardens, a 6-foot, 183-pounder from the Swedish junior leagues who's put up pretty good offensive numbers with what’s said to be pretty good skating ability.

"It meant a lot to me and my family," Anderson said. "My mom is in tears right now, and we just hugged each other. It was a big day for me."

In the third round (77th overall), the Bruins took Czech center/left wing Jakub Lauko, who played for Team Czech in the World Junior tournament this past season. Lauko, 18, is 6-foot, 179 pounds and is a speedy, tenacious forward from the assorted scouting reports on him. Lauko was expected to be drafted higher than the third round and certainly didn’t lack for confidence in saying he’s one of the fastest skaters in the draft.

“My speed is my biggest strength. I think I’m one of the fastest players in the draft, so I want to use my speed to help a team like Boston,” said Lauko, who said he only spoke with the Bruins scouts at the NHL combine earlier this month in Buffalo. “[Detroit Red Wings'] Dylan Larkin is the same like me. He’s a really fast guy that likes the breakaways. I think in this way we are the same.”

Lauko compared himself to Larkin and the speed game is certainly one that the Bruins are continually interested in with their prospects.

There was a very funny moment when the Czech-born Lauko was asked what his parents do (for a living), and he misunderstood the question and answered: “I don’t know? Maybe they will drink tonight.”

In the fourth round (119th overall), the Bruins took big center Curtis Hall, a 6-foot-3, 191-pounder who's committed to Yale next season and who scored 13 goals and 31 points in 54 games last season for the USHL Youngstown Phantoms.  

In the sixth round with the 181st pick, the Bruins selected 6-2, 188-pound defenseman Dustyn McFaul out of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. McFaul is considered a strong two-way D-men with good size and skating ability and is committed to play at Clarkson University. 

With their final pick (seventh round, No. 212), the Bruins selected forward Pavel Shen from Russia. The 6-1, 183-pounder got into 29 KHL games last season with 12 goals and 14 assists.  

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