NHL Trade Deadline Roundup

The trade deadline this year has been pretty interesting. It’s been an arms race for most of the East, while the West has lost a lot of talent, with one or two teams bulking at the others’ expense. This year, most big-time trades happened before the deadline, some even a month in advance. Let’s review what each team has done on the trade block in the past month and change, shall we?

Boston, predictably, was loading and loading some more this deadline. They were linked to Columbus for a while, but their big trade came about two weeks ago when they reached down and got Dimitri Orlov and Garnet Hathaway for a cap dump in Craig Smith. They then got Tyler Bertuzzi on deadline day to make that forward core even deadlier. They’re a wagon going into March and April, but the playoffs are always a different animal. If they don’t make it at least to the conference finals this year, this will be a massive, massive failure. Just saying.

Toronto is, yet again, bolstering their latest attempt at winning a playoff series for the first time in the cap era. This time, they’ve gone for one of the big fish of the Deadline in Ryan O’Rielly. They also exiled Pierre Engval to Long Island in a cap dump move. This was to make space for depth adds like Erik Gustavson from Washington, Sam Lafferty from Chicago, and Luke Schenn from the Vancouver tirefire. Another year of miserable failure will not be tolerated in Ontario. Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe, consider this your Pickett’s charge. Win or forever live in infamy.

Tampa Bay is also getting into the mix but doesn’t need to do much adding to maintain their championship roster from years past. This year, they’ve returned to the well in the form of their big annual trade. This time, it’s for Tanner Jeannot. FOR A FIRST, A SECOND, CAL FOOTE, AND FIVE TOTAL DRAFT PICKS? Jesus Christ, I know Poile is stepping away after this year, but you didn’t need to double his retirement fund! Tampa is cooked if they don’t make it back this year. All those lost picks will be significant assets for Nashville should they come up short.

Buffalo is a team that’s in the middle of an identity crisis. They’re a talented team, there’s no doubting that, but consistency has been a major issue. They’re sitting 4 points out of a playoff spot, and are doing what every up-and-coming team does in their position: Trade late-round draft picks for depth pieces to try to make a run at the wild card. Boston would destroy them in the playoffs, but Buffalo wasn’t supposed to even be in this position this year. Just take this season as a learning experience.

Ottawa is another team in the Buffalo situation of being right on the cusp of greatness. They have a talented roster but are sitting a few points out of a playoff spot, but unlike the Sabres’ dumpster diving, they have chosen to go big game hunting. Enter Jacob Chychrun, the Arizona refugee who has spent the last two years demanding a trade out of that desolate hellhole. Chychrun is a talented player and will bolster a roster in dire need of defensive help. Senators, you may be getting out of the woods this year. A first-round exit awaits!

And then we get to the Panthers. Another fringe team that has come nowhere near expectations is the reward for South Beach this season. They’ve been struggling all season and aren’t even in playoff position. What did the Panthers do at the deadline to rectify this? Nothing! Because a group that has underachieved dramatically doesn’t need a shakeup, am I right? The Panthers are back to being the league’s gong show, and this year proves it. It’s just a continuation of last year’s playoffs, nothing to see here.

Detroit is in a similar situation to the three teams above but has chosen a different course in selling off most of their valuable assets at bargain bin prices. Tyler Bertuzzi, we don’t need to extend him. Let’s ship him off to Boston for a 4th round pick. Jacob Vrana, we don’t need you either. Pack your bags for St. Louis, buddy. They want to buy now for some reason. Detroit will just finish this year and build for the next. You might as well write off this last month, as they’ll have a lot of cap space to work with this offseason. The empire might rise again.

Montreal is the only team in the Atlantic that is utterly out of the playoff race. Most of their core pieces are either injured or underachieving, and they did next to nothing to try and add to it. I approve of such actions. Joel Edmundson is a fan favorite and a core piece of their team, which will be great next year once they bring in actual players to support him, Wifi and Caufield. They’re probably out of the Bedard hunt, so they might as well play these last games and try to play spoiler.

Carolina didn’t do much this deadline, but they didn’t need to. The only things they did were add Shane Ghostisperre and Jesse Pullijarvi. They were on a roll even before this and are gearing up for what they hope will be another deep playoff run. They won’t screw this up… right?

Two points behind them are the Devils. Jersey has been very busy this trade deadline, unlike their division overlord in Carolina. They started by confirming what hockey fans had been discussing for weeks by adding Timo Meier in a trade with the Sharks that included over 15 players and assets. They also brought Curtis Lazar from the Canucks, a nice depth piece that should shore up their bottom six going into the playoffs. They’re in a dogfight with Carolina for the Metro Division crown right now, and it’ll be interesting to see how everything shapes up.

Then we get to the Rangers. They’re sputtering a bit, but they’ve tried to rectify that through huge splash moves. They started in early February by bringing in Vladimir Tarasenko, but they weren’t done yet. They capitalized on Chicago’s desperation to acquire Patrick Kane for a ridiculous sum that didn’t even include a first-round pick. They also added a depth piece in familiar face Tyler Motte and exiled Vitali Kravtsov to the Canucks in a cap dump to clear space for Kane. The goal is clear: Stanley Cup or bust. There’s no option C here.

The other New York team has been making moves too, but most were before deadline day. Right around the All-Star Break, they got Bo Horvat from Vancouver, and on deadline day, they got Engvall from the Leafs for a cap-dump discount of a 3rd round pick. The Isles are currently in a Wild Card spot and are storming the Metro after a disastrous start. They’re interesting going into the playoff push. Interesting.

The Pens made moves too, but they were mainly focused on adding depth pieces. They brought back the old playoff hero Nick Bonino and reached down to nab Mikail Granlund from the Predators. They were linked to JT Miller for a while, but their deal with Vancouver fell through, and the Pens came away with nothing. It might even be better in the long run. They’re on an absolute heater right now, and it might be best not to change that. A first-round loss to Boston in 6 awaits!

Washington is nearing the end of an era. They will retool this offseason and started it already by trading away Garnet Hathaway, Dimitri Orlov, and Erik Gustafson to contenders. They can still make the playoffs but have nowhere near the horses for a deep run. This offseason will be critical for maintaining their prolonged regular season success.

Then there’s the Flyers. Chuck Fletcher has a lot of eggs to deal with this deadline. Carter Hart, Travis Konecny, and James Van Riemsdyk were all rumored to be on the trade block. Did the Flyers trade any of these guys? No, because, of course not! Tortorella believes in old-school, hard-nosed tactics, and trading away potential franchise cornerstones isn’t a part of that. But that’s not to say Chuck Fletcher didn’t try. He had a deal in place with the Red Wings involving JVR, but talks broke down, and the Flyers filed the trade after the 3:00 PM Deadline. Well done, sir. This guy is going down as one of the worst GMs in NHL history, and this entire season backs up that claim.

Then there’s Columbus. They’ve had more issues this season than the Broncos in the football realm, and their shopping of top defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov backs that up. Apparently, they had several high-profile deals in place but balked in favor of sending him to LA in a package that included their best goalie in Jonas Korpisalo. They had to acquire Kings legend Jonathan Quick to make the trade work. However, after Quick stated that he wouldn’t even report to the Jackets after being banished to Ohio by Rob Blake, the Jackets quickly flipped him to Vegas for a ridiculous sum, and will you look at that, he’s spry and ready to play for the Golden Knights. Mission accomplished, boys. You get nothing. You lose. Good day sir. Kindly report to the draft lottery to also take the L in the tank bowl. God, this team can’t catch any breaks, can they?

Leading the Central is Dallas. They’ve had a bit of a slide lately and have been knocked off the #1 seed by Vegas. They haven’t done much, but their one move involved a nice top-six anchor in Max Domi. Hopefully, this will put them over the top and take them on a deep playoff run. It’ll be interesting to see how everything clicks when it comes to them.

Right behind them are the Minnesota Wild. Overcoming a slow start, they have surged back to contending status and have been busy this trade deadline. They started by trading away perennial underachiever Jordan Greenway to Buffalo and getting depth pieces in MoJo and Oskar Sunqvist. The Big Fish, though, came at the end of Deadline Day. They reached down and acquired John Klingberg from Anaheim for several picks. Klingberg is a good player and will bolster that defense for the playoff push in front of an increasingly overpowered Filip Gustavsson. Perhaps they can take this franchise to uncharted territory: The Conference Finals.

If they do, it’ll have to be through the Avalanche. They seem to have woken up from their cup hangover and are again making the rest of the league their piñata. For a team that has been this inconsistent this year, though, I’m surprised by the moves they made, or lack thereof. They did next to nothing at the deadline besides a random prospect swap with the Rangers. We all know what they can be if they click, but who knows? Dallas and Minnesota look excellent right now, and they’ll probably have to face both if they are to defend their title.

The Jets are in freefall. Once atop the Central Division in December, they have since nosedived to the point where they’re barely clinging to a playoff spot. The Jets’ thing has always been to go after a nice top-6 piece to bolster their scoring. This year, Nino Niettereiter was stolen from Nashville for several draft picks. He should be an immediate boost to their forward core and an excellent addition to pair with Wheeler, Schieffle, Connor, and co. Maybe they can win another playoff series this time.

Nashville is in an era of transition, and a soft rebuild is underway. There’s no doubt about it. This year, they were sellers at the deadline, and they did it in style. They traded away Nick Bonino, Mikhail Granlund, and Nino Nietereitter. Unfortunately, David Poile, the franchise’s only GM throughout its history, will be abdicating to the Eggman at the end of the year. He went out in a blaze of glory by committing highway robbery on Tampa for Tanner Jeannot and securing his retirement fund for the next 20 years. They probably won’t make the playoffs, but they had the best deadline possible. Nice work on that front.

St. Louis, this is the sound of your playoff-contending window slamming shut on your fingers. Many major pieces of the 2019 Cup Squad were shipped off weeks before the deadline for middling returns. These were guys like Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. Come deadline day, the Blues added to the pile of lost souls by dealing Ivan Barbashev to Vegas for a bargain-bin rate. They did get Jacob Vrana from Detroit, but this is a hollow victory. Binnington will probably never get back to his peak form, and the entire roster has gone through a nuking over the last month and now has to deal with the fallout. This includes Craig Berube, who will probably find himself under a guillotine this offseason for reasons of the NHL shuffling through coaches like a deck of cards. We’ll see you back here in another 50 years.

ROLL IN THOSE BEAUTIFUL TANKS, THE SUN DEVILS, I mean COYOTES, ARE PLAYING SIX-DIMENSIONAL CHESS THIS DEADLINE. The latest genius strategy from the Disaster in the Desert is in attempting to assemble the 2014 All-Star team. They traded away Jacob Chychryun for scraps, gave Carolina Shane Ghostisperre for even less of a return, and took on dead cap like nobody’s business. The newest members of Arizona’s franchise mode crew? The contracts of Shea Weber and Patrick Kane and the LTIR tragedy that is Jacob Voracek. They join other Coyotes pressbox legends like Pavel Datsyuk and Marion Hossa to go back in time and contend for the Chel 14 title. And Bettman has the audacity to claim there isn’t tanking in this league. At this point, why even deny it? It’s beautiful for 31 other fanbases to witness. The Coyotes only have like eight fans anyway, so who even cares?

Another group of tank enthusiasts is the Blackhawks. Unlike Arizona and the clown show they’re dealing with, Chicago has gone for a more traditional approach. Trading away pending free agents Patrick Kane, Max Domi, and Sam Lafferty will do that. But Jonathan Toews he’s not getting traded. He wants to stay in Chicago! Translation: You get nothing. You lose. This is karma for Kyle Beach, guys. Get used to losing.

Vegas has been on a tear since the turn of the new year. The Golden Knights have regained their form from the beginning of the season and are showing no signs of stopping. Rather than go after big splash names this deadline, Vegas chose to bulk up by acquiring depth in Ivan Barbashev and trading away Shea Weber’s contract to the aforementioned All-Star team. They look dangerous going into these playoffs.

Close behind them are the LA Kings. Like they were expected to do, they’ve leaped into their cup-contending window in style. Unfortunately, this is not what they’re known for anymore. Let’s say they took a longtime face of the franchise and completely screwed him over. Jonathan Quick wanted to retire a King. He’s said it himself. So why on earth did they flip him to Columbus? A team he had no interest in playing in? And wouldn’t you know it, the Jackets flipped him to Vegas, so not only is he back in the division, but they will probably face him in the first couple rounds of the playoffs. This scandal will follow LA around for the rest of the season and enraged a good portion of the fanbase. Well done.

Then there is the Kraken. Their torrid start has tapered off, but they’re still a good team and are in playoff contention. The lifeless bore turned Jack Adams candidate Dave Hakstol has turned this team into one of the scariest in the West. These guys are exactly what a city like Seattle needs to embrace the Kraken, and some playoff games in April and May will do the trick on that front, too. In terms of deadline moves, Seattle did nothing. Perhaps they realized that there are flaws on the team and that it’s probably going to be a learning experience year for them, and decided not to give up assets for a team that will be doomed in the later rounds if they make it that far. Still a great season by expansion standards, though. Keep it going.

Edmonton has always struck me as a team one piece away from greatness. Their issues have never been in scoring but in being scored on. In defense, besides the pylon albatross of Darnell Nurse, there’s really not much else back there. The Oilers hope to fix that by bringing in a proven commodity from Nashville in Matias Ekholm. He should be an immediate boost to their top four back there and provide needed reinforcement and locker-room presence after Edmonton exiled Jesse Pullijarvi to Carolina for crimes against the Boys’ Club.

Calgary has horrifically underachieved this year, but that can all be fixed with some Playoff Hockey. Jacob Markstrom hasn’t been his Vezina self this year, and the Flames have fallen off with him. They didn’t do much this deadline besides nabbing Nick Ritchie from Arizona in exchange for his brother Brett Ritchie. It’s okay. They’ll just swap apartments now. Nothing to worry about.

The Canucks are not in the situation like the rest of the conference above them. They spent the deadline dangling JT Miller around like bait, only to refuse a trade to the Penguins at the eleventh hour. They are in a state where it’s in their best interest to lose to attain infamy with the first overall pick. The only good thing they did this deadline was acquiring Kravtsov from the Rangers for a cap dump discount.

The smaller-market California Teams are battling it out for who gets the prize of worst in the Pacific division. Up first is Anaheim. Instead of trading any former rangers who have been problems this year, they traded John Klingberg to Minnesota for peanuts. This was a horrible deadline for them, and it firmly cemented their place as this league’s greatest tank other than the Disaster in the Desert.

Speaking of disasters, the Sharks are begging not to be left behind in the tank race. Timo Meier had been rumored to be dealt for a while, and he eventually was to the Devils in a huge trade that didn’t even get any good prospects out of Jersey. There were rumors that they would trade Erik Karlsson, but talks fell through, and San Jose held onto him. They are in a long, arduous rebuild right now, and who knows when they’ll get out of it. Please free Logan Couture from this hell for all of us.


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