We're only roughly a week and a half beyond the NHL trade deadline, so naturally any trades that occurred on Feb. 29 have no real winners or losers yet. Hockey analysts have certainly talked exhaustively about who they think did better in those deals, but that's all predictive rather than reflective. At the same time, there were some big trades made earlier in the season and this seems like a good time to look back at a few of them with the benefit of some hindsight.
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Let's start with the Edmonton Oilers acquiring Zack Kassian on Dec. 28 from Montreal in exchange for Ben Scrivens. At the time the hope was that Kassian would provide some grit to the Oilers' lineup, but he was a bit of an X-factor after spending three months in the NHL's substance abuse program. Since then Kassian has been something of a mixed bag with his role on the team regularly rising and diminishing. While he's not going to be one of the team's top scorers, I think the hope is that he'll also contribute a bit more offensively than he has thus far (six points in 23 games). At the age of 25, Kassian isn't really a prospect anymore, but he isn't without potential. This deal has been fine for Edmonton, but in part that's because of what the cost was.
Scrivens had fallen from grace in Edmonton by the time the Oilers traded him, but he had been strong in the past and Montreal was likely hoping he'd be a solid stopgap measure with Carey Price out. Ultimately Scrivens has had some good games with the Canadiens, but he couldn't stem the Canadiens descent as his 3.00 GAA and .902 save percentage in 11 starts has left much to be desired. Additionally, Cam Talbot has so far validated Edmonton's decision to shed goaltending as Talbot has a solid 2.52 GAA and .919 save percentage in 46 contests, making him one of the bright spots on what has been a weak Oilers team.
So even if Kassian doesn't prove to be everything Edmonton hopes he can be, the Oilers still ultimately proved to be in the position of trading a player that was expendable to them for a position of need. Montreal was acting similarly, but whereas Kassian is more of a long-term pickup for Edmonton, Scrivens was a short-term option for Montreal and one that hasn't worked out.
Not too long after that on Jan. 6, there were two bigger trades that were made. Starting with the smaller of them, Los Angeles acquired Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn from Philadelphia in exchange for Jordan Weal and a 2016 third-round pick.
We can't really evaluate what this trade will ultimately mean to the Flyers yet, but at the time this was seen as a pretty bad move for Los Angeles because they were taking on undesirable contracts. Schenn is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer anyways, but Lecavalier is 35 years old and signed through 2017-18. Philadelphia did retain part of his salary so that the Kings would only be responsible for $2.25 million annually worth of Lecavalier's cap hit, but that's still a lot for an aging player that couldn't seem to earn even a bottom-six role with the Flyers.
The Kings gave Lecavalier the opportunity that he had been craving for much of his stint with the Flyers and he actually has managed to do something with it. Lecavalier hasn't been a standout player, but with seven goals and 12 points in 27 contests, he's been respectable and arguably worth the Kings' share of his salary. Whether or not that remains true of him going forward is still a big test though because, again, the length of this deal was as much of an issue as anything, but he's certainly made this look like a much better trade than it appeared at first glance.
Meanwhile, Luke Schenn has two goals and five points in 27 contests while also delivering 100 hits and blocking 42 shots. He's performed largely as advertised, which is to say that he can make contributions without the puck, but he's not great. He does provide the Kings with some defensive depth if nothing else, which is a worthy consideration on a team that hands Drew Doughty over 28 minutes per game.
Finally let's touch on the Nashville Predators acquisition of Ryan Johansen from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Seth Jones. With the dust settled on the trade market, I don't think it's a controversial statement to say that this proved to be the biggest deal of the 2015-16 campaign. In this case though, two months doesn't seem like enough time to really judge it because both teams got a player that they hope will be a major factor for the next decade.
We can say that Johansen moving to Nashville and getting out from under coach John Tortorella, who from the outside looking in seemed to have issues with the forward, has not provided a major offensive spark. Johansen has five goals and 19 points in 28 contests since being acquired by Nashville, which is roughly on par with the PPG pace he was putting up in Columbus prior to the deal (six goals and 26 points in 38 games). It's not bad, but it's not at the same level he enjoyed in 2013-14 or 2014-15 when he recorded 63 and 71 points respectively. We'll have to see if he bounces back next season.
In the meantime, Seth Jones has gone from averaging 19:38 minutes per game in Nashville to 24:07 with Columbus. Jones has also seen his offensive production increase with the Blue Jackets as he has a goal and 15 points in 26 contests since the trade. And as an aside, it's obviously not ideal for Nashville that the 21-year-old defenseman isn't much behind the star forward he was traded for in terms of points. That quirk aside though, it's really not fair to be hard on either of these teams. Both of these teams made a move that made a fair amount of sense for their franchises. Nashville needed a top-end forward like Johansen more than it did another promising blueliner while Columbus hopes that Jones can be a cornerstone of its defense.
This is one trade that will likely be revisited years from now and even then there might not be an obvious winner or loser.