The trade deadline is just around the corner, but already we’ve seen quite a few noteworthy deals. Of course, Taylor Hall was traded all the way back in December, but more recently we’ve discussed the Maple Leafs’ acquisition of Jack Campbell and the Penguins landing Jason Zucker. Over the last week, Andy Greene, Blake Coleman, Tyler Toffoli, Brenden Dillon, Marco Scandella, Alec Martinez, and a host of other players/picks have changed hands. That’s created a lot of ground to cover today, but let’s try to hit the highlights.
We’ll go chronologically and start with the Devils trading Andy Greene to the Islanders in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick and prospect David Quenneville. That same day, New Jersey traded Blake Coleman to the Lightning in exchange for prospect Nolan Foote and a first-round pick that the Lightning previously received from Vancouver. That’s in addition to the Taylor Hall trade from December, so the Devils have been heavy sellers already.
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It makes sense for New Jersey to play this role. The Devils entered the season with the belief that their aggressive gains over the summer coupled with the team’s natural growth would enable them to make the transition from a rebuilding squad to a playoff contender. That’s out of step with what the reality of the situation ended up being and instead the Devils are on track to do nearly as badly as they did in 2018-19 when they finished with a 31-41-10 record. This will be the seventh time in the last eight years that they will have missed the playoffs.
So the Devils have shifted their gaze once again towards the future, trading away two great team players in the process. Coleman and Greene are both good role players who should fit in nicely with the Lightning and Islanders respectively. In the case of Greene, this also serves as something of a reunion given that former Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is now serving in that role with the Islanders. Both teams can be happy with what they added while the Devils should be satisfied with the returns they got, especially in the case of Coleman, who they managed to get a first for.
The Canadiens are set to play the Capitals at 7:00 pm ET tonight on NBCSN. You can also watch the game online.
New Jersey might end up with three first-round picks in the 2020 draft – though the pick they got from Coleman, which originally came from Vancouver, is either a 2020 or 2021 selection depending on if Vancouver makes the playoffs. Given that the Devils already have a great young core, they might opt to use one or more of those selections to acquire more established talent prior to the NHL Draft.
Before that though, the Devils are likely to continue to sell before the deadline. Wayne Simmonds and Sami Vatanen, both of who can become UFAs this summer, are the two most likely to still be on the block. The X-Factor with Vatanen is that he hasn’t played since Feb. 1st due to a leg injury, so that will have hurt his potential trade value.
The Kings are another big seller this year. They had already dealt Jack Campbell to Toronto and on Feb. 17th they moved Toffoli to Vancouver in exchange for Tim Schaller, prospect Tyler Madden, a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2022 conditional pick. Then on Feb. 19th, the Kings sent Alec Martinez to Vegas in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 second-round selection.
The Kings haven’t been able to get any first round picks thus far, but they are currently looking to enter the 2020 draft with three second-round picks, two third-round selections, and two fourth-round selections, so they do have quite a bit to work with. Moving Martinez and Toffoli have to hurt those. They were both figures from the Kings’ glory days who are now gone. The number of Kings players who were a part of the 2014 championship is dwindling, though given that the Kings are en route to miss the playoffs for the third time in four years, change has to come.
Martinez gives Vegas a reliable top-four defenseman, though Toffoli is the more interesting player to be dealt. With Brock Boeser (ribs) potentially out for the rest of the regular season, Toffoli has an opportunity to play a leading role in the Canucks’ offense the rest of the way. He made his Canucks debut on Feb. 19th and registered an assist while playing on a line with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller. If those are going to be Toffoli’s linemates for the rest of the season, then he should have a strong showing in the final weeks.
Circling back to Martinez though, he was part of a rush on defenseman that occurred over the last few days. The Jets took part in that too, adding some much needed blueline help by grabbing Dylan DeMelo from Ottawa in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick, but Washington and St. Louis made bigger defensive upgrades. Washington added Dillon from San Jose in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 conditional third-round selection while the Blues pried Scandella from Montreal in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2021 fourth-round selection.
Scandella, who will now play for his third team this season, is a third-pairing blueliner so that acquisition isn’t too exciting, but it is interesting because back in January the Canadiens got him from Buffalo in exchange for a 2020 fourth-round pick. In other words, Montreal got more in exchange for Scandella than they ever gave up and they turned that profit in the span of less than a month. Not a bad investment on their part.
Dillon, though, can slot in as a second-pairing defenseman. He’ll round out the Capitals’ top four after John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, and Michal Kempny. The Capitals don’t really have the cap space to entertain re-signing him though, so Dillon is almost certainly just a rental for Washington as they look towards winning their second championship in the span of three years. It also makes sense that the Capitals would be spending on rentals right now. While Alex Ovechkin has shown no signs of aging, he is nevertheless 34-years-old. Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie are marching deeper into their 30s too while John Carlson celebrated his 30th birthday in January. So this isn’t the end of the Capitals’ window, but it is fair to say that they might not have too many more seasons with this core playing at the top of their game, so now is the time to strike.
San Jose went into this season hoping to be a serious Cup contender as well, but instead this has been one of the most painful years for the franchise since it was founded. Dillon was their major trade chip, but the Sharks might also move Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau before the deadline.
There were a few other trades over the last week, but none that had a significant impact.
It’s worth noting though that even after all this movement, there are still some potential noteworthy names on the block. In addition to the ones we’ve previously mentioned, Chris Kreider is the headline player right now and Ilya Kovalchuk is another intriguing case. Also keep an eye on Ottawa, which might still trade both Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Vladislav Namestnikov in the coming days.