The NHL trade deadline has passed without anything that truly qualifies as a blockbuster trade happening, unless you want to go all the way back to December when Arizona acquired Taylor Hall. That doesn’t mean it was a quiet deadline – far from it. There were a ton of trades and plenty of them will have significant implications for years to come.
Now that the dust is settling, let’s assess who won and lost the trade deadline. Just a quick disclaimer before we get started: This is merely a snapshot take based on what we know today. I fully acknowledge that in many cases, it takes a very long time before we can definitively say what the full impact of a trade was. I’ll also specify that I’ll be factoring in all trades that happened from February onward, so that means everything from Toronto acquiring Jack Campbell and beyond are fair game.
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San Jose Sharks – The Sharks were in a terrible position. They have built themselves to be a Cup contender this season, but now they aren’t going to even make the playoffs. To make matters worse, they don’t even control their first round pick, so this season’s collapse won’t even help them at the deadline. Still, the Sharks made the most of their bad situation at and around the deadline, trading Brendan Dillon to Washington for a second-round pick and a conditional third, Patrick Marleau to Pittsburgh for a conditional third-round pick, and Goodrow along with a third-round pick to Tampa Bay for a first rounder. Those are all good returns for the assets they dealt off. It doesn’t make this season any less painful for the Sharks, but at least they can restock their prospects pool a bit.
Ottawa Senators – The Senators made a flurry of trades and while most of them don’t stand out, getting at least a first-round pick and a second rounder (they also get a third-round pick if the Islanders make the playoffs) for Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who is a player they definitely sold high on. Ottawa’s a pretty bad team, but they’re projected to have three first-round picks and four second-round picks in the upcoming draft. Two of those picks – their own and the Sharks – should be very good. This will be a critical draft for them to say the least, but if they do well in it, it could be a turning point for the franchise.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Jason Zucker is already proving to be a great fit with the Penguins, scoring three goals and five points in seven games since he was acquired. They also added some good role players in Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary, and Evan Rodrigues. Marleau in particular is interesting. He’s not the star he once was, but he should be good in the locker room and his presence could motivate the team. He’s a 40-year-old who had a great career, but despite playing in 191 career NHL games, the one thing he hasn’t done is win the Stanley Cup. The Penguins, many of who are already champions, can rally around the idea of winning for Marleau.
Edmonton Oilers – The Oilers added Mike Green, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Ennis and they got all of them for reasonable prices. Edmonton didn’t give up a significant prospect or their first-round pick. Those players should work out fairly well for the Oilers too, particularly Athanasiou. The speedy forward could mesh very well with Connor McDavid and given that Athanasiou will be a RFA this summer, this is more than a rental addition. All-in-all, the Oilers are among the most improve teams thanks to the deadline.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes were able to add Vincent Trocheck, who comes with a reasonable $4.75 million cap hit through 2021-22 in exchange for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Eetu Luostarinen and Chase Priskie. That’s a lot of pieces, but none of them are substantial, making Carolina the clear winner in that trade. Carolina also helped bolstered their defense, which has been battered by injuries, by acquiring Brady Skjei from the Rangers and Sami Vatanen from New Jersey. Giving up a first rounder for Skjei is significant, but it makes sense given that he’s just in the second season of a six-year, $31.5 million deal. In other words, the two biggest players they added during the trade line are now under Carolina’s command for quite a while, setting them up to not just compete this season, but for years to come.
Tampa Bay Lightning – The Lightning gave up two first-round picks and a top defensive prospect in Nolan Foote, who was taken with the 27th overall pick in 2019. What did they get in return? Blake Coleman, who is a solid role player, and Barclay Goodrow, who is a bottom-six center. I get that the Lightning are very much in win now mode, but if you’re going all in – which giving up essentially three first-round picks implies – then you should be getting considerable value in return. This isn’t that. There’s nothing wrong with Coleman and Goodrow. Coleman in particular is a nice guy to have on a contender, but they’re just not high impact enough to justify the cost. Of course, the obvious counter to all that is if the Lightning win the Cup this year, then they won’t really care that they overpaid. If they don’t win it all this year though…
Nashville Predators – If I’m faulting Tampa Bay for basically doing too much, I’m faulting the Predators for doing…well nothing. They swapped Ben Harpur-for- Miikka Salomaki with Toronto, but neither player is in the NHL at this time. The Predators have been disappointing this season, but they’re still very much in the playoff race, so it’s surprising to see them stay quiet. To be fair to the Predators though, this isn’t necessarily a make-or-break campaign for them. The vast majority of their core is locked up and young enough that they’ll get another shot next season. The one exception is Pekka Rinne, who is showing his age and probably won’t be any better in 2020-21.
New York Islanders – I’m pretty much on the fence about everyone I list as a “loser,” but especially with the Islandes. Andy Greene should be a good locker room presence and he’s still a capable defender. Jean-Gabriel Pageau should similarly look nice in an Islanders uniform. As is the case with Tampa Bay though, I see the costs and it gives me pause. Especially with Pageau; they’re sending the Senators at least a first and second-round pick in exchange for him and on top of that signed him to a six-year, $30 million deal. Pageau has 24 goals and 40 points in 60 games this season, so at first glance that looks reasonable, but he’s shooting at an unsustainable 17.8% success rate and he was logging 19:18 minutes with the Senators, which is meaningfully more minutes than he’s likely to get with the Islanders. This seems like a recipe for a significant regression, which wouldn’t be shocking given that he had 12 points in 39 games last season and 29 points in 78 contests in 2017-18. To make matters worse, it muddies the Islanders’ cap situation ahead of Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock’s big paydays this summer.
Dallas Stars – The Stars are almost certainly going to make the playoffs this year, but their offense has left something to be desired. Dallas were unable to correct that though, simply trading away AHL defenseman Emil Djuse to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round pick. The Stars are in a weird position overall. They might not be in win-now mode per se, but Alexander Radulov, Joe Pavelski, Ben Bishop, and Anton Khudobin are all either in or entering their mid-30s, so they’re not in a great position to simply look to a brighter the future either.
Florida Panthers – The Panthers are in the hunt for a playoff spot, but their only significant move was trading Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Eetu Luostarinen and Chase Priskie. That’s not a great return for Trocheck, who is locked up to a reasonable $4.75 million cap hit through 2021-22 and it’s something of a bad move for the team given their position in the standings. It’s also a mixed messages move because it’s neither really a buyer nor a seller move. In fact, the Panthers weren’t truly buyers or sellers around the deadline. They didn’t improve their team now or in the future, and they didn’t turn their pending UFAs, such as Mike Hoffman, Evgeni Dadonov, or – now – Erik Haula, into assets. The Panthers seem stuck in neutral and that’s not a great place to be.