Trade Deadline Winners, Losers, and TBDs
(Photo from nhl.com)
It seems like the NHL Trade Deadline was so long ago now. What was once a sense of eager anticipation leading up the 25th of February, has now turned into a distant memory of excitement from all the blockbuster trades that went down. Now with three weeks gone since that day, looking back in hindsight on the biggest day of the NHL regular season, we have a better picture of who the winners and losers of that day are.
(Photo from rotoworld.com)
Let's begin with the winners. There were a few teams that made a splash on deadline day, but none came close to the magnitude of the deal pulled off by the Vegas Golden Knights. The day seemed to be winding down to an almost expected disappointment, until the league had made it official that George McPhee, GM of the Golden Knights, had made a trade for highly sought after all-star, Mark Stone. Stone was at the top of almost everyone trade bait board, and was expected to be acquired by a playoff team in hopes of putting them over the hump of cup contenders and pretenders. He did just that when the Knights traded for him.
Since February 25th, the Knight have a record of 8-1-0, scoring a total of 34 goals, with Mark Stone being involved in 7 of them. He has been a +4 since being acquired by the Knights and is averaging 18 minutes of ice time. He plays on the teams first powerplay unit and contributes on the penalty kill as well. Easy to say, the Knights acquired a top-tier level talent without having to mortgage their future and have also been able to extend Stone to an 8-year contract. The true winners of this year's deadline.
Some other winners of the Deadline include the Boston Bruins, who added the likes of Charlie Coyle to bolster their depth down the middle of the ice without having to give up any significant pieces of their current roster and future. Unfortunately, they did lose their other star acquisition in Marcus Johansson, a few days after acquiring him to an upper body injury. His return for the playoffs, however, will give them another scoring option after their big three, making them one of the favourites to make it out of the East.
The other winner is an unlikely name, as their season hasn’t panned out as hoped. The Ottawa Senators found themselves in a bit of pickle at the beginning of the season. With Erik Karlsson being dealt for mostly future picks and spare parts, the fan base was uneasy with the direction the team was headed in. It’s safe to say that some of that doubt can be put to rest after the mass accumulation of prospect and picks the Senators acquired by the deadline. With the young Swedish defenceman, Erik Brannstrom, leading the list of highly praised prospects, the Senators were able to come out winners at the end of the deadline and made the best of a previously bleak situation. If they continue to make smart moves as they made in this year's trade deadline day, maybe it will instil some more hope in the fans.
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Hockey fans be weary, sometimes a big name acquisition isn’t always the best thing for your team. We saw this in years past with the likes of Kevin Shattenkirk going to the Capitals and doing a less than stellar job for them, even being a healthy scratch for a few games. This year had similar moves, which thus far, have not panned out as hoped.
The biggest loser so far has been the Nashville Predators. They acquired 2 players at the deadline this year, both of which are still struggling to find their fit in the lineup. The first move pulled by GM, David Poille, was for speedy centreman Mikael Granlund. The Swede was expected to fill the shoes of Kyle Turris, who has seen his production drop as of late, as the team's second line centre. He has done a moderately decent job on the score sheet, scoring 4 points in 7 games, but it is his -4 rating that really puts a damper on things. He is averaging 18 minutes of ice time, and has 12 shots on goal in his 7 outings with the Preds. The other player acquired was power-forward, Wayne Simmonds. He was acquired in exchange for 2018 deadline acquisition Ryan Hartman (who was traded for a 2018 1st and 4th round pick) along with a 2020 conditional 4th round pick. Simmonds has easily been the biggest disappointment amongst all deadline day acquisitions. After 8 games with the Predators, he has 1 point to his name. He is averaging under 15 minutes of ice time and has 12 shots on net. The team was hoping for some added scoring with the two players added to the roster, but have yet to find it. The team is 5-4-0 since the deadline and have lost the title of Western juggernaut to the Flames and Sharks in the process. Hopefully their two deadline acquisitions can turn it around and help in the post season before Simmonds hits free agency and Granlund enters his final year of his contract.
Other losers of the deadline include the Winnipeg Jets, who dealt their first round pick, Brendan Lemieux, and a conditional 2020 4th round pick for Kevin Hayes, who thus far has 5 points in 9 games (3 of which came in a 5-3 victory over the Predators). A steep price to pay for a second line centre who hasn’t been producing as well as he had on the Rangers, even with the upgraded talent on his wings. Along with the other lesser-known names, the Jets didn’t do very much to put themselves past the competition in regards to talent on the ice. Other losers consist of the Ducks and Kings, who failed to acquire any future assets for expiring and dimensioning assets. Nearing the end of what has been a very forgetful season for both clubs, they failed to take advantage of acquiring picks and prospects to sparks some enthusiasm for the future in their fans.
On the Brink of Either Or
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Two teams that fell on either side of the deadline spectrum are the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Jackets managed to steal a lot of the spotlight leading up to the deadline by acquiring two pending UFA’s from the Senators. The acquisition of Duchene and Dzingel gave the team some life in making a push for the playoffs and eventually a cup, but their recent play seems to show the opposite. Their record of 5-5-1 since the deadline is less than acceptable from a team that acquired two pending UFA’s to add to their already existing two, adding more question marks to their already cloudy pending off-season. There is a lot of pressure on management now for the team to make the post season and prove that the moves they made weren’t for nothing.
Jackets GM, Jarmo Kekäläinen, finds himself in a unique situation where he can be in contention for GM of the year, or be fired as the final whistle goes of the Blue Jackets' final season, depending on what the team does in these finals weeks of the regular season. For that reason, I have placed the Columbus Blue Jackets on the brink of falling in the category of potential winners or losers of the NHL trade deadline.
The other team in this category are the Toronto Maple Leafs. GM, Kyle Dubas, didn’t make a big splash on deadline day, making the lone acquisition of 4th line centre, Nic Petan, which posed the question, did the Leafs make the right decisions on deadline day? It will all depend on how the team fairs in the playoffs. If the team finds themselves ousted in the first round for a third consecutive post-season, the Leafs can be deemed trade deadline losers as they would have not addressed their lack of depth on the back end and paid the price for it once again, for a second consecutive playoff defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins. However, if the Leafs manage to defeat the Bruins in a 7 game series, an argument can be made that the Leafs were deadline day winners as they didn’t make any rash decisions to add players to the roster and in the process, give up larger pieces of their future (be that draft picks or prospects such as Sandin or Liljgren).
Like the Jackets, they ride a fine line and it’ll take a little longer than 3 weeks for me to determine whether either team was a winner or loser of this year's Trade Deadline.
Here’s to the next article post Playoffs.