Roundtable: Who were the biggest winners and losers at the trade deadline?
Greg Wyshynski, senior writer:
Winners: New York Rangers
The Rangers traded three rentals — Rick Nash, Michael Grabner and Nick Holden — as well as captain Ryan McDonagh and center J.T. Miller. They did so after declaring they were purging the roster in an effort to rebuild and reload the team, having raised the white flag on the season.
Their haul: Forward Vladislav Namestnikov, 25, who has 123 points in 263 NHL games; center Ryan Spooner, 26, with 144 points in 254 NHL games; 20-year-old WHL defenseman Libor Hajek; 20-year-old KHL defenseman Yegor Rykov; 20-year-old NCAA defenseman Ryan Lindgren; 19-year-old WHL center Brett Howden; 24-year-old AHL prospect Rob O’Gara; the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s 2018 first-round pick; the Lightning’s 2019 second-round pick, which becomes a first if they win the Stanley Cup in the next two seasons; the Boston Bruins‘ 2018 first-round pick; the New Jersey Devils‘ 2018 second-round pick; a 2018 third-round pick from Boston; and a 2019 seventh-round pick from the Bruins — which is, of course, the key to everything.
Obviously, there’s no telling how this will all pan out. But if you’re rebuilding, there are some prime construction materials. It was a strong deadline showing for Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton.
Winner: Rick Nash
Boston was at the top of Nash’s trade list, and he’s a seemingly perfect fit with the Bruins. Center David Krejci has excelled with big forwards who play at Nash’s pace, and Nash can settle into a second-round role, with the Patrice Bergeron line shouldering most of the offensive load. Boston is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, and Nash has played 1,050 games while looking for a ring.
Loser: Erik Karlsson
We might need to pool our money together for an Edible Arrangement or something just as nice for EK. The Ottawa Senators‘ star defenseman was twisting in the wind right up until the trade deadline, with the Lightning — his preferred destination — opting for McDonagh and the Vegas Golden Knights negotiating until the end before being driven mad by Karlsson mania and trading three picks for Tomas Tatar. Enjoy the next few months of incessant questions about your future and playing out the string with Ottawa, Erik. See you at the draft (in a new uniform, hopefully).
Losers: Dallas Stars
The Stars had a need for a veteran winger and didn’t like the prices. “We started to see that they were very high,” said GM Jim Nill. “Unless we got some major injury that would force us to make a trade, I didn’t think we’d be doing anything major.” OK, great, but this lineup could have been significantly bolstered by any of the left wings who moved at the deadline; and it’s hard to ignore what the rest of the Western Conference contenders did to bolster their Stanley Cup chances.
Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski discuss the Paul Stastny trade. Video by Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan, national NHL writer:
Winners: Winnipeg Jets
The Jets were starting to look like losers this deadline. The young, plucky group has been such a terrific story this season, and they’re surging toward the playoffs as one of the best teams in the West. But they could really use center depth, and for a while it appeared that they were going to lose out on everyone available: Derick Brassard, Mark Letestu, Tomas Plekanec. And then, something shocking happened: the St. Louis Blues dangled Paul Stastny, and the Jets swooped in. Stastny had not been mentioned as a trade target at all, and the Blues were supposed to be buyers, not sellers. (St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong told reporters that he had no intention of trading Stastny until his team’s recent six-game slide.) A player with Stastny’s experience and talent in the faceoff circle plugged in on the third line? Yeah, we like the Jets a lot more now as a team to emerge from the West.
Losers: Philadelphia Flyers
Look, it’s not that the Flyers had a bad deadline. They had previously addressed their biggest area of need — goaltending — by acquiring Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings at a fair price. But Philadelphia didn’t do anything else. This is a team that probably deserved a little more help from its front office. After an uninspired start, the Flyers haven’t just turned things around, soaring to a playoff position. They’ve been red hot. They’re on a 9-0-2 run. They haven’t lost in regulation since the Super Bowl. And with Wayne Simmonds (upper body) injured for an extended stretch, this was a team that could have sneakily been in on Evander Kane. A bottom-six winger would have been fine: Grabner, Patrick Maroon or Tatar, to name three. And then the Flyers saw a team chasing them — the New Jersey Devils — pick up two of those players. The division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins only got stronger, as well, with Brassard. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is left with what it has and must hope that’s enough to sustain its run.
Winner: Ken Holland
The GM should have been selling low on Tatar. The winger’s production is down significantly in points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 from last season to this season (1.85 to 1.01) with essentially the same ice time. His deal ($5.3 million, three more years) is too much for most teams to take on. Not only did Holland find a willing partner in the Golden Knights, but Holland made out like a bandit with a first-rounder, a second-rounder and a third-rounder. Yes, the first-round pick in 2018 will be low considering the Golden Knights’ record this season, but we were impressed he mustered this much.
Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski break down the Red Wings moves (and non-moves), including dealing Tomas Tatar to Vegas. Video by Emily Kaplan
Loser: Ken Holland
The Detroit Red Wings had one of the few decent defensemen available in Mike Green. Several teams (Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Washington, to name a few) were in a strong need of defensemen at the deadline. And somehow, Holland couldn’t find a taker. Now Green will likely walk away in free agency, and Detroit — in the process of a long rebuild — will recoup nothing. Part of this is circumstance; Green hasn’t played since he suffered a neck injury on Feb. 15 against Tampa Bay. Even still, it’s an unfortunate turn for a team that is straddled by big contracts and needs to be collecting assets.
Chris Peters, NHL prospects writer:
Winner: Kevin Cheveldayoff
We don’t expect big surprises out of Winnipeg, usually. Cheveldayoff, the Jets GM, has put his stamp on the team, more through the draft than through making trades. But this was a big ol’ swing-for-the-fences deal. Not only that, it’s a deal within the division with a team still contending for the playoffs. That’s not an easy trade to make, regardless of the itchy trigger finger of frustrated Blues GM Doug Armstrong. Cheveldayoff also deserves credit for building a contender more through the draft, where he could more easily part with a first-round pick and a quality prospect in Erik Foley. This should get Winnipeg’s GM some serious street cred as he puts his team in a better position to contend.
Winner: Pierre Dorion
He doesn’t have to be known as the GM who traded away Erik Karlsson yet. Maybe it happens in a few months, but getting through this deadline without dealing the popular star probably brought a collective sigh of relief in Ottawa. Senators fans don’t have much to be excited about right now, and there’s no telling what happens next, but the pall over Ottawa had Karlsson been dealt would have been difficult for everyone to get through. Now, the Senators can make a less-rushed decision about the long-term future of the franchise, with or without Karlsson. I doubt Dorion has slept much in the past few weeks. He should rest at least a little easier tonight.
Official numbers on NHL trade Deadline Day:
Clubs made 18 trades involving 37 players today prior to the 3 ET deadline.
In the 5 seasons prior to this one, an average of 20 trades, involving 36 players, were made on Deadline Day.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 27, 2018
Losers: Toronto Maple Leafs
I don’t have a problem with the Leafs being a little quieter at the deadline, adding only Tomas Plekanec, but it’s going to be awfully hard to make a run based on what the Lightning and Bruins did within their division. Toronto is still in the relatively early stages of its ascent, so not trying to keep up with the titans of the division was probably the right call — but boy, is that ever going to be a grind to get through this spring.
Losers: Buffalo Sabres
The return for Evander Kane couldn’t have been what the team was hoping for. The conditional pick that could become a second-rounder in 2019 — unless the Sharks win the Stanley Cup or re-sign Kane — might have been the best that Buffalo could do. Sabers GM Jason Botterill told reporters after the deadline that he received only one legitimate offer for Kane and it was the one he took. Meanwhile, the Sabres weren’t able to collect any other assets for other players such as Benoit Pouliot or Josh Gorges. This deadline didn’t appear to offer a ton of relief or optimism for Buffalo.
Ben Arledge, NHL prospects and fantasy editor:
Winners: New Jersey Devils
Good for New Jersey. The Devils weren’t expected to be in the Metropolitan Division mix this season, but here they are, buyers at the deadline. They currently sit in the top wild-card spot, with 72 points, and they landed Grabner and Maroon before the buzzer. Both wingers bring a ton of speed and scoring, and the acquisitions only cumulatively cost New Jersey a second-rounder, a third-rounder and a pair of prospects. When you consider that Ryan Hartman cost the Nashville Predators a first-rounder and more, those look like phenomenal gets, particularly the Grabner move.
The guy never fails. The Lightning lead the league with 87 points at the trade deadline, and then they went out and added Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller at the 2:59 p.m. mark on Monday. McDonagh provides a tough defensive force on the blue line with offensive upside, likely sliding in on the second pairing and No. 2 power play. Miller is versatile, able to play center in a middle-six role or potentially slide in on the wing with Steven Stamkos on the Lightning’s top unit. Tampa Bay certainly gave up a decent haul to New York, but it was able to hang onto Mikhail Sergachev, which can be considered a win. For a team currently leading the Stanley Cup contender talk, it was a worthwhile move. What’s more, the Bolts’ division challengers failed to land a top-tier defenseman at the deadline. The Toronto Maple Leafs did not address the blue line, failing to get McDonagh, and the Boston Bruins only added Holden on the back end. Tampa Bay did what it had to do.
Oh, so close. These two will stay with the Montreal Canadiens, rather than bolting out the door for a potential Cup contender. Pacioretty was one of the bigger names in the deadline discussion, but the scorer stays put. Galchenyuk also was discussed to a degree, but he also remains with the Habs in a disintegrating relationship with head coach Claude Julien. Pacioretty has one year left on his contract, while Galchenyuk is signed through the 2019-20 season. The American forwards are stuck in Montreal until at least the offseason.
Losers: Washington Capitals
The Caps are somewhat quietly leading the Metropolitan but strangely didn’t do much at the deadline, even as other Eastern Conference foes added pieces. Instead, Washington traded a third-round pick for Michal Kempny and sent a fifth-rounder to Montreal for Jakub Jerabek. Mike Green and his expiring contract went nowhere, so you have to wonder what Washington was thinking here, not pushing more to bring the former Capital back. The Penguins, Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets all made moves, so the Caps’ brass appear happy with what they have. But for me, the silence on Monday was a loss for Washington.
Victoria Matiash, Fantasy writer:
Winner: Evander Kane
While San Jose isn’t in the same league as Los Angeles or Vegas in terms of lifestyle, it’s a very different animal from Buffalo and one that Kane is likely to appreciate by comparison — judging by the 26-year-old’s social media content. Then there’s the chance to score up a storm on a top line and power play with Joe Pavelski and/or Logan Couture, eventually Joe Thornton and Brent Burns on a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. A strong push from Kane this spring will go a long way in earning the pending unrestricted free agent his next and possibly quite rich deal — one that we’re sure to rip for being bloated in years to come.
Winners: Winnipeg Jets
A round of applause for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff for pulling off the most surprising transaction of the day in acquiring Stastny from the Blues. If the Jets’ top nine weren’t the most dangerously balanced ahead of this deal, they are now. The deal was well worth the price of a first-round draft pick and a prospect. Now why Blues GM Doug Armstrong felt compelled to ship off his second-best center while sitting a single point out of a playoff spot inspires its own set of questions. For one, Blues forward Brayden Schenn appears to be wanting for answers.
Loser: Mike Green
How is Green still a member of the Red Wings? Having reportedly green flagged a potential deal to either Washington or Tampa, the 32-year-old veteran defenseman probably spent Monday sitting on a packed suitcase in anticipation of joining a contender. Yet, despite managing to swindle three draft picks — including a 2018 first-round selection — from Vegas for Tatar, Detroit GM Ken Holland couldn’t make it happen. Then there’s talk of the defender himself blocking a deal that would have sent him to the Maple Leafs. The playoff-bound Maple Leafs. So instead of enjoying the chance to make a favorable impression with a dynamic, winning team (3.23 goals per game) down the stretch and into the postseason, the pending unrestricted free agent has 20 games left in Detroit (2.60 goals per game) to earn his next NHL contract. If it’s true that Green did slam the door on a deal to Toronto, I’d love to hear the reasons why.
Losers: Ottawa Senators
Never mind estranging their fan base by threatening to trade a two-time Norris Trophy winner and then not going through with it, the retooling Senators are one Derick Brassard deal short of doing not much ahead of the deadline. Flipping defenseman Ian Cole and moving forward Nick Shore doesn’t cut it. Forward Mike Hoffman was reportedly on the trade block, as was Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Zack Smith. Bobby Ryan has been publically labelled an unmovable albatross. They’re all still there. Maybe meddlesome owner Eugene Melnyk is to blame for expecting too much in return for his assets. It doesn’t matter. Senators fans can’t be faulted for not caring about the why.