Now that the NHL Trade Deadline is behind us the rosters are now set for the stretch run of the regular season. We are now going to look back at the major trades that took place leading to the deadline and grading each team's performance.
The big move here was adding Anthony Mantha from the Detroit Red Wings in a deadline blockbuster. Mantha is signed long-term, is an outstanding player and should be a fantastic fit for the way the Capitals play as he brings an incredible mix of size, strength, and skill to the roster. In a deadline that was full of minor moves and small-time rentals, the Capitals swung for the fences and added another impact player to their roster.
The great thing about the Anthony Mantha trade is that it is the type of hockey trade where fans of both teams should be happy as they got exactly what the team needed. While the Capitals get another major piece to push for the Stanley Cup, the Red Wings get four assets that can quickly aid their rebuild.
Richard Panik may not be a great long-term fit, but they have the salary cap space to handle his contract and he should be a strong trade chip over the next year or two. Jakub Vrana is going to immediately be one of the most skilled players on the roster and could break out offensively with a bigger role. He is due a big raise after this season, but again, the Red Wings can afford it. It would also not be a shock if he, too, becomes a significant trade chip. The first-and second-round picks also add to Detroit's overflowing cupboard of draft assets. Good deal all around.
The Red Wings also got involved in the David Savard-to-Tampa Bay trade by becoming the third team to eat some of Savard's salary, essentially buying a draft pick. Good moves.
Carl Soderberg is a decent depth addition to a team that is already loaded at forward, while Devan Dubnyk addresses the goaltending depth issue behind Philipp Grubauer. Nothing major here, but the Avalanche did not really need anything major. Minor tweaks for a contender that already has the league's best roster.
They back themselves into a corner by giving a free agent on a one-year deal (Taylor Hall) a full no-trade clause, greatly limiting their options. Add in the fact that free agent had an awful season on an awful team and, well, you get an underwhelming return (Anders Bjork and a second-round pick) for one of your biggest trade pieces.
Really, though, this deadline is an example of just how much the Sabres' entire season failed. They added Hall and Eric Staal (traded to Montreal) on one-year deals to a team that had little chance of competing in a loaded division. Both players struggled, the team dealt with major injuries (Jack Eichel and Linus Ullmark specifically), and it ended up being the worst team in the league, likely kicking off another rebuild in Buffalo. Just a brutal trade deadline in a brutal season.
Say what you will about Hall's season, he is still Taylor Hall and he still has the ability to produce. A lot. His underlying numbers in Buffalo were still strong and he was still getting assists. He simply could not buy a goal. That shooting percentage is going to revert back to something more normal eventually, and now he gets to play on a good team with great players around him. Plus, the Bruins paid nothing to get him. Mike Rielly was also a solid addition to the team's defense.
For the second year in a row, the Lightning went in for a major addition at the trade deadline, this time getting defenseman David Savard in a three-team trade with Columbus and Detroit. They gave up three draft picks, including a first-round pick, to get him. A year ago they traded two first-round picks for Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, two additions that helped drive them to a Stanley Cup. Will Savard have a similar impact this season? Savard adds even more depth to an already strong defense, and the Lightning were able to get him for a quarter of his remaining salary cap number due to Columbus and Detroit retaining most of his salary. Nice creativity there for the Lightning, who still have a Nikita Kucherov return ahead of them for the playoffs.
They are still waiting for some major players (Evgeni Malkin, Brandon Tanev, Kasperi Kapanen) to return to the lineup, and the current roster is already playing extremely well. With limited salary cap space and few picks or prospects to trade, there was not a need to do much. They still managed to get Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings to add some forward depth. When everyone is healthy Carter figures to center the team's third line, which should allow Teddy Blueger and Zach Aston-Reese to form a heck of a fourth line. They also resisted the temptation to alter the identity of the team too much by going too overboard on size and toughness, something that seemed to be suggested in the weeks leading to trade deadline day. The Kings are retaining half of Carter's salary cap hit through the end of next season which makes it even more helpful for the Penguins.
When Anders Lee went down for the season with a leg injury it was obvious Lou Lamoriello was going to have to do something. He did exactly that in picking up Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils for the low cost of a first-round pick, a conditional second-round pick, and two minor league players. He also managed to get the Devils to retain half of the contracts going back the other way. Palmieri is an outstanding fit for the way the Islanders play, blending a 25-goal offense with very underrated defense. Zajac may not be the player he was at his peak, but he can still add some depth. The Islanders also added Braydon Coburn from the Ottawa Senators for a late pick.
Don't expect Nick Foligno to be a game-changer, but he is a really nice addition to a lineup that is already loaded with difference-makers and game-changers. The Maple Leafs are all in on this season and given the playoff format and division they play in it might be their best shot to make a serious run with this core. Go for it when you can.
It's not that the Devils did terrible at the deadline, I just don't know that it was all that great. They did not get a ton in return for Palmieri and Zajac (what will probably be a late first-round pick is the most valuable asset there) and everything else (trading Dmitry Kulikov; adding Jonas Siegenthaler) does not really move the needle much for this team. If you are going to return that much salary I would have at least liked to have seen an actual prospect come back to New Jersey instead of just two minor league filler players.
The season has gone south in a hurry, but they managed to get first-round picks for David Savard and Nick Foligno. That is good long-term value.
The trade that will make or break this season, though, is still the earlier move that brought Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic to Columbus for Pierre-Luc Dubois. If the Blue Jackets can ever figure out how to use Laine and stop trying to turn him into something he has not they might have an actual impact player. Maybe that changes with a coaching change after the season?
Kind of an underwhelming performance at the trade deadline. They moved out Brett Connolly's contract to create a massive amount of salary cap space to use at the deadline, and their additions were Brandon Montour and Sam Bennett. That just seems ... underwhelming. This might be the best team the Panthers have ever had, they have two stars in the prime of their careers on cheap contracts (Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau), and they had salary cap space to do anything. Their additions were a defenseman that does not defend well and a draft bust that wanted out of Calgary.
Montreal's most significant addition to the roster will probably end up being top prospect Cole Caufield. As for their actual trade deadline acquisitions ... underwhelming. Eric Staal is the biggest one, but I am not sure how much he has left in the tank given what we have seen from him so far this season. Marc Bergevin has become one of the most aggressive general managers in the league in terms of making moves, but it really has not done much to dramatically improve the overall state of the team.
This was never supposed to be a playoff team this season, or really anything even close to it. They turned a couple of low-level free-agent signings in Carl Soderberg, Mattias Janmark, and Madison Bowey into three draft picks (a second, third, and fourth) and a prospect (Ryder Rolston). That is getting something (or at least a small chance at something) for what was basically nothing. Stan Bowman has had a tough few years in Chicago, but he did okay here.
They moved some of Carter's contract (though they could get hit with a cap recapture penalty if he retires after this season -- Carter said he has no plans to do so, however) and picked up two draft picks to add to their stockpile. They also managed to re-sign Alex Iafallo to a pretty fair contract to remain with the team.