With multiple star players on the market for teams aiming to capture the Stanley Cup in June, one would think that the NHL trade deadline would have been a lot more exciting than it was. There were some questionable moves with some teams having won their trades, while others will have to wait and see if the risk was worth it.
It is worth noting that some trades were made because of the impending rules of the expansion draft in June, which will see the NHL welcome its 31st team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Here are the winners and losers, and question marks, of the NHL trade deadline.
Winner: Los Angeles Kings
By trading for 6’7″ Ben Bishop, the Kings have definitely secured insurance at goaltender since two-time Stanley Cup champion goalie Jonathon Quick returned from a groin injury that sidelined him for almost five months. What makes this trade questionable is that the Kings are slowly getting older and they gave the Tampa Bay Lightning, Erik Cernak, a promising, 19-year-old right handed defenseman. The Lightning will gladly take Cernak in exchange for Bishop whom they would more than likely lose in the expansion draft anyway. While this does not hurt the Kings now, it could in the future.
In addition, LA sent a mid-round pick to Colorado for veteran forward, Jarome Iginla in a low-risk trade. Though Iginla will not be expected to fill a role similar to that of the 52-goal scorer he once was, he provides depth and veteran leadership that just might give LA enough momentum going forward to re-capture the Stanley Cup if they make it into the playoffs.
Winner: Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes
What makes this trade interesting is that both sides will benefit. Though Minnesota’s victory is a bit more costly and not a dramatic change, they are playing some of the best hockey in their franchise’s 17-year existence. In this scenario, less is more where big changes to the lineup are not necessary.
Adding two veteran centerman in Martin Hanzal and Ryan White, will address Minnesota’s one issue, physicality. The one stat the Wild are lacking in is hits where they sit 29th in the league at 969. Though it is a small sample size, through three games with the Wild, Hanzal and White lead the team in hits per game with 2.3 and 1.7 respectively. Suggesting this style continues, the two centermen should fill the role they need to during their tenure in Minnesota.
As for the Coyotes, who are in a rebuilding stage, selling Hanzal and White for a first round pick is huge. At the end of the day, these two players are depth and nothing more. Adding a second round pick for next year, a fourth round pick in 2019 and 24-year-old prospect Grayson Downing, it is a great trade for the future of Arizona. By pushing the two veterans in a competitive sellers market, the Coyotes will drastically speed-up their rebuild headed by young General Manager, John Chayka.
Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins
The reigning champion, Pittsburgh Penguins make it look easy sometimes. Despite being one of the best teams in the league, per usual, they went out and got two defenseman to help them chase their chance for the first repeat champion since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings. On February 23, Pittsburgh traded for defensive specialist, Ron Hainsey from the Carolina Hurricanes in an attempt to tighten up on defense.
In addition, Pittsburgh traded a fourth round pick for Tampa Bay offensive defenseman, Mark Streit on March 1. Streit was traded to the Lightning earlier that day from Philadelphia. Streit will aid Kris Letang and Justin Schultz for points on defense while Hainsey brings more of the physical edge. These moves should help the Penguins bolster up and get ready for a potentially deep playoff run for the second year in a row.
Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs did minor moves at the deadline that were subtle but will play a role in the future. In Toronto, the rebuild is ahead of schedule and their speed is unmatched throughout the league. Adding depth at offense to backup the young guns was the goal that General Manager Brendan Shanahan completed. Adding center Sergei Kalinen from the New Jersey Devils and veteran center Brian Boyle from the Tampa Bay Lightning, who has played 67 playoff games in his career, will go a long way.
When stars Auston Matthews and William Nylander hit the playoff ice in the near future, they will have Boyle to lead them and show them the ins and outs of playoff hockey.
Loser: Washington Capitals
How can the team who got the best available player at the deadline be a loser? Kevin Shattenkirk is an immediate top two defenseman that will help Jon Carlson and the Capitals solve their one problem that has plagued them year after year in the playoffs…their defense. Washington’s offense will put the puck in the net every night, but their defense simply is not good enough for a Stanley Cup run.
By acquiring Shattenkirk, the Capitals have made a serious effort to change their fortune. Shattenkirk’s defensive game cancels out the Capitals over payment of two high draft picks and two prospects, but only for the remainder of the season.
The issue is, if the Capitals don’t win with Shattenkirk now, they never will with him. The 28-year-old defenseman will almost certainly hit free agency when his contract expires on July 1 2017. There are rumblings that he will also sign with Metropolitan Division rival, New York Rangers making matters worse for Washington. They had a chance to get a superstar and they did just that. One can’t blame them for trying, but again, a team gave up a lot for a rental. The only way the Capitals could be regarded as “winners” of this trade, is if they are the last team standing, hoisting their first ever Stanley Cup this June.
Loser: Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche are in an odd situation. Their lineup is filled with a good mix of young talent and role players. However, the Avalanche are dead last in the NHL, and in the worst way. Colorado is also dead last in the league for goals for per game and goals against per game. The loss in this situation is that if they really want to sell the team, they missed out on an opportunity to sell high. The gamble of not selling any player other than Iginla is that at the draft they believe more teams will be interested in their other assets.
Both the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders had sizable offers on the table for highly coveted center, Matt Duchene. The Islanders, who have prospects to give, were willing to trade one top prospect, a high draft pick, top six winger and top four defenseman, however the Avalanche wanted two top prospects which broke the deal.
Despite Duchene’s talent, the deal the Islanders sent was already pretty steep for one player with no draft picks in return. Avalanche General Manager, Joe Sakic, has to come down to Earth on the asking price for his center. Even if more teams are interested at the NHL Draft, he won’t have any offers higher than the Islanders and the Canadiens. Montreal’s trade offer mirrored New York’s in terms of who and what was included.
The rest of the trades can be viewed here at the NHL trade tracker.