From multiple A’s to one F

How to make the NHL All-Star Game even better

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To win the Stanley Cup, the NHL trade deadline is a necessary evil.

The cost of doing business is high, the market is volatile and it’s a leap of faith that players teams acquire will pass the chemistry test. But the numbers don’t lie: The last 10 teams to win the Stanley Cup have made a trade around the deadline.

Some of those moves appeared immediately impactful, like the Los Angeles Kings adding Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik. Others would end up becoming part of championship lore, like the Tampa Bay Lightning trading for Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.

Of course, along with these moves were hundreds that teams felt would put them over the top but didn’t.

Which trades before Monday’s deadline were smart decisions? Which ones were overpayments? Which ones were tactical errors? Which ones level up their teams to championship status?

Here are our report cards for all 32 NHL teams and their trade deadline decisions:

Note: Kristen Shilton graded teams from the Atlantic and Central divisions, and Greg Wyshynski graded the Metro and Pacific divisions. Clubs are listed alphabetically by grade, with separate groups for teams with plus grades, regular grades and minus grades within each letter. Stats are collected from sites such as Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference and Evolving Hockey. Cap space figures are per CapFriendly

Jump to a team:
ANA | ARI | BOS | BUF
CGY | CAR | CHI | COL
CBJ | DAL | DET | EDM
FLA | LA | MIN | MTL
NSH | NJ | NYI | NYR
OTT | PHI | PIT | SJ
SEA | STL | TB | TOR
VAN | VGK | WSH | WPG

A grades

Key additions: G Calle Clang, D Drew Helleson, F Zach Aston-Reese, F Dominik Simon, D Urho Vaakanainen, 2022 first-rounder, four second-rounders
Key subtractions: F Nicolas Deslauriers, D Hampus Lindholm, D Josh Manson, F Rickard Rakell

Our take: It’s absolutely staggering to think about all of those trade deadlines where former GM Bob Murray dilly-dallied with his core players, hoping against hope that the Anaheim roster he built could contend and tethering valuable players to the franchise rather than moving them at the height of their value. You could hear the spurs jangling on new GM Pat Verbeek’s boots as the new sheriff walked into town, declared that no pending free agent would leave without something coming back and landed a massive haul at his first NHL trade deadline.

Getting Helleson, a solid defenseman prospect, and a second-rounder from Colorado was a good return for Manson. The first-rounder and two second-rounders for Lindholm were good enough; if 23-year-old Vaakanainen amounts to anything on the Ducks’ blue line, it’ll be gravy. They had to retain some money on Rakell to get him to the Penguins but landing a second-rounder and a decent goalie prospect in Clang was a good return — and hey, maybe they hang onto Simon or Aston-Reese. A third-round pick for a one-dimensional player like Deslauriers is incredible.

Verbeek might have been flirting with an A+ had the Evgenii Dadonov trade with the Golden Knights gone through, as the Ducks could have gotten a middle-six winger and a second-rounder for two injured players (John Moore and Ryan Kesler, whose career is done) in a Vegas salary dump. Alas, Dadonov had Anaheim on a no-trade list, and it’s expected the deal could be canceled. Also, who has Anaheim on their no-trade list? Maybe he just prefers Walt Disney World?

Key additions: 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick, D Justin Barron, F Emil Heineman, F Tyler Pitlick, F Ty Smilanic
Key subtractions: D Ben Chiarot, F Artturi Lehkonen, F Tyler Toffoli

Our take: GM Kent Hughes couldn’t have had a better first deadline.

First of all, the return Hughes got out of Florida for Ben Chiarot was highway robbery. Chiarot is a pending unrestricted free agent, and has had an often-terrible season in Montreal. To get a first, a fourth and Ty Smilanic for a player you weren’t going to keep anyway? Incredible. Top marks.

Artturi Lehkonen is a pending restricted free agent and again, hardly a lock to be in the Canadiens’ long-term plans. Hughes shipped Lehkonen to Colorado and received a second-round choice plus defense prospect Justin Barron, a potential rising star who will be a nice fit in the Canadiens system.

If the loss of Lehkonen and Toffoli (traded to Calgary last month for a first-rounder, a fifth-rounder, Heineman and Pitlick) makes Montreal a worse team this season, the massive return of picks and prospects Hughes has here is the perfect way to build a strong foundation for the Canadiens. A job well done.

Key additions: F, Tyler Toffoli, C Ryan Carpenter, F Calle Jarnkrok
Key subtractions: 2022 second-rounder, 2023 third-rounder, 2024 fifth-rounder

Our take: The Flames had to ante up a bit more for Jarnkrok than one might anticipate given the season he’s had — a second and a third — but that’s a product of the Kraken retaining salary and how early the trade was made (March 16). Jarnkrok’s a smart addition down the lineup, due to his versatility and offensive pop. If he can find his defensive game again, which one assumes will happen under Darryl Sutter, this is a great get. Carpenter is a nice addition to the fourth line and brings some added physicality.

Ideally, it would have been nice to see the Flames add another veteran defenseman to the mix, but that was going to be difficult given their cap situation. It also would have been nice to see them remedy that cap situation by trading Sean Monahan‘s $6.375 million AAV contract, considering he’s a 14:14 per game player now. Perhaps in the summer. Bottom line, the Flames made their big trade when they brought in Toffoli from Montreal in February. And that’s better than 99% of the trades made on Monday.

Key additions: F Andrew Cogliano, F Artturi Lehkonen, D Josh Manson, F Nico Sturm
Key subtractions: D Justin Barron, F Tyson Jost

Our take: So what if Colorado didn’t land Claude Giroux? GM Joe Sakic still addressed his team’s (few) needs with some smart maneuvers. And he did it all without losing a first-round pick. Nice.

Manson was the first player in via trade, adding size and physicality to an Avalanche blue line already boasting the likes of Cale Makar. He’ll make Colorado harder to play against, which is a must-have asset when you’re gunning for a long Stanley Cup run.

The real work though was done on Colorado’s forward depth. The Avalanche have elite talents up top; Sakic needed to surround them with role players. Lehkonen (traded from Montreal), Sturm (from Minnesota) and Cogliano (from San Jose) bring versatility and defensive acumen to complement the fast-paced, high-scoring brand of hockey at which Colorado is already so good. Lehkonen in particular is able to play up and down the lineup and provides a strong offensive upside throughout. Sturm and Cogliano will be solid fourth-line additions.

Jost is the only roster player Colorado lost, and Sturm will basically be his replacement. Barron was the Avalanche’s first-round pick in 2020 and the defenseman might develop into a solid contributor for Montreal. Sakic is trying to put Colorado over the top now though and he was able to make great strides in that respect.

Key additions: F Nicolas Deslauriers, G Marc-Andre Fleury, F Tyson Jost, D Jacob Middleton
Key subtractions: G Kaapo Kahkonen, F Nico Sturm

Our take: GM Bill Guerin understood the assignment.

He nabbed reigning Vezina Trophy winner Fleury from Chicago for a second-round pick (that could become a first) to make better a goaltending situation that has been fluctuating for weeks. That is outstanding work.

In the process, Guerin flipped Kahkonen to San Jose for bruising defenseman Middleton. The Wild have lacked physicality on the blue line and especially in their march toward the playoffs, Middleton’s skill set will be a real asset.

Then there’s the trade with Anaheim for Nicolas Deslauriers, a 31-year-old forward with a mean streak. Can’t have too many of those types come postseason.

All in all, Minnesota comes away from this deadline in a greater spot than it was previously.

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Kevin Weekes discusses why he believes Marc-Andre Fleury will be a natural fit after being traded to the Minnesota Wild.

Key additions: F Andrew Copp, F, Nick Merkley, F Tyler Motte, D Justin Braun
Key subtractions: C Morgan Barron, 2022 second-round picks, 2023 third-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick

Our take: Had things worked out differently, this might be a different analysis and a different trade. If Tomas Hertl hadn’t decided to remain in San Jose. If the price to pay for J.T. Miller wasn’t so grandiose. Instead, the Rangers played some small ball instead of swinging for the fences, and it paid off.

Copp might be viewed as a poor man’s Miller, although his offensive prowess is nowhere near the level of the Canucks forward. He can play all three forward spots, up in the lineup with skilled stars like he did in Winnipeg this season or down the lineup in a more defensive role. He can play on both special teams. He has an expiring contract, as does Motte, who is one of the better depth forwards available at the deadline. Braun appears to be insurance for rookie defenseman Braden Schneider on the third pairing, but his 100 games of playoff experience could also come in handy for a burgeoning contender.

Some nice tweaking here from GM Chris Drury without surrendering a top prospect or a first-rounder — although one of the conditional picks they gave Winnipeg for Copp upgrades to a first if they win two rounds and he plays 50% of those games. I think they’ll take that gamble.

Key additions: F Rickard Rakell, D Nathan Beaulieu
Key subtractions: F Zach Aston-Reese, F Dominik Simon, G Calle Clang, and a 2022 second-round pick

Our take: The Rakell trade was one of the best of the day. The three players that were sent to Anaheim were expendable: Aston-Reese as an all-defense forward with an expiring contract; Simon, who didn’t amount to much in two tours with the Penguins and had an expiring contract; and Clang, who could be a decent prospect but is stuck in a Pittsburgh goalie pipeline.

So it’s Rakell for a second-rounder, essentially, and that’s fantastic. While he doesn’t offer much defensively, Rakell is adept at both getting into scoring areas and creating offense off the rush. According to Stathletes data, Rakell is 25th in the NHL in shots off the rush in all situations among forwards. His offense has rebounded significantly this season — not a shock, given it’s a contract year.

We graded that trade with an ‘A’ but have to give a demerit here for their acquisition of Beaulieu for a (probably very late) seventh-rounder, as there’s a good case he was the worst defenseman in the NHL this season.

Key additions: C Victor Rask, F Daniel Sprong, four second-round picks (three in 2022, one in 2023), two third-round picks
Key subtractions: D Mason Appleton, F Colin Blackwell, D Mark Giordano, F Marcus Johansson, D Jeremy Lauzon, F Calle Jarnkrok

Our take: The Kraken were roundly criticized in the offseason for not using the leverage of the expansion draft to their benefit, failing to secure draft picks or prospects. They drafted veterans and will likely end up in last place in the Pacific Division. But was it all part of a larger plan? It’s worth asking, considering that Seattle now has 25 picks in the next two NHL drafts, after a windfall at the trade deadline.

A few of the returns were expected. Giordano and Blackwell should warrant at least two second-rounders and a third from the Maple Leafs, especially since Giordano could steer where he wanted to end up. But some were significant wins: Lauzon for a second-rounder; a second-, third- and seventh-rounder for Jarnkrok and 50% salary retention; and Sprong with two picks for Johansson.

Would it have been better to snag a first-rounder, especially for Giordano? Sure. But not only can the Kraken build a prospect pool, they can use this war chest to acquire players to turn around their fortunes quickly. As GM Ron Francis said: “We want to be every bit as competitive as any other team in the league as we start next season moving forward.”

B grades

Key additions: D Josh Brown, D Hampus Lindholm
Key subtractions: D Urho Vaakanainen, 2022 first-round pick

Our take: Boston’s primary need to address at the deadline was defense and the Bruins certainly did not hold back. That blockbuster trade to acquire Lindholm from Anaheim was big; signing him to an eight-year, $52 million extension was even bigger. Lindholm will be a key top-four defender and stabilize a group too often in flux this season. Adding Brown from Ottawa will help there too, giving Boston more backend depth but plus some size (he’s 6-foot-5) and grit for what the Bruins hope is a long spring ahead.

Then there’s the Jake DeBrusk contract. DeBrusk requested a trade out of Boston last fall, but instead he signed a two-year, $8 million extension on deadline day; at the end of the contract, DeBrusk will be an unrestricted free agent. It doesn’t mean he won’t be moved at some point down the line, of course. The deal just removes uncertainty in the short term, and allows DeBrusk and the Bruins to focus on the playoffs.

Now, what GM Don Sweeney didn’t do before the deadline was add anyone at forward. That was less of a priority, but given the injury issues Boston has dealt with — and continues to navigate — having some insurance up front would have been nice. Sweeney said the right deal just wasn’t out there, so the Bruins will ride with what they’ve got.

Key additions: F Max Domi, D Tyler Inamoto
Key subtractions: F Egor Korshkov, D Aidan Hreschuk

Our take: The Hurricanes weren’t looking to do anything as dramatic as some of their Eastern Conference rivals. They didn’t want to trade anybody off of their roster and they didn’t want to ship out any top prospects. They did want to add a forward who could fit their style of play and under their salary cap. After the Blue Jackets kept 50% of Domi’s salary and the Panthers took another 25% of it, the Hurricanes pulled off their only deal very close to the 3 p.m. deadline.

Domi doesn’t give you much on the defensive end but could have some offensive upside as a playmaker. He’s best known for his tenacity, which is probably why coach Rod Brind’Amour blessed the trade. But as a low-cost addition in salary and assets — Korshkov is in the KHL and Hreschuk is a midrange NCAA prospect — Domi should be fine as a fill-in for the injured Jordan Martinook. After that, he’s an unrestricted free agent.

Key additions: F Brandon Hagel, F Nick Paul
Key subtractions: F Boris Katchouk, F Mathieu Joseph, F Taylor Raddysh, 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick

Our take: We will never accuse the Tampa Bay Lightning of playing it safe. That alone earned GM Julien BriseBois a little bump to his grade.

The Lightning wanted Brandon Hagel and wanted him bad. Chicago moved him to Tampa for a massive haul: Two first-round picks, Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk. Hey, if you’re going to three-peat now, who cares about the future? BriseBois can put that on a T-shirt.

Hagel is just 23 years old and already a good player (he has 37 points in 55 games this season with Chicago). Tampa knows from past experience that if you don’t load up on key middle-six guys before a playoff run (see: Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman) you might not go all the way. The Hagel deal was Tampa’s proverbial chips-to-the-middle move. Don’t sleep on the Nick Paul trade, either. He’s a pending UFA who adds size (at 6-foot-3) and snarl to Tampa’s lineup, plus Paul can play on the wing or at center and is a tenacious forechecker. Really, the prototypical playoff grinder Tampa has coveted in the past.

Did BriseBois give up a lot to get his deals done? Sure. The Lightning’s core isn’t getting any younger, though. The time to chase another championship is now. Onward.

Key additions: F Marcus Johansson, C Johan Larsson
Key subtractions: F Daniel Sprong, 2023 third-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick, 2023 sixth-round pick

Our take: We’re suckers for reunions, which makes this reacquisition of Johansson bittersweet. Back in 2017, he was an ideal complimentary player to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. He’s not that player anymore offensively but slightly above average on defense. I’m not his biggest fan as far as postseason production. But again, my hopes are slightly higher given the comfortable fit here; and with Sprong, a fourth and a sixth moving to Seattle, it was for a minimal cost.

The cost was slightly higher for Larsson, with a third-rounder going to Arizona, but then the impact should be higher, too. He was having a really promising season prior to his injury and should be an asset in the Capitals’ bottom six when he returns for the postseason. He’s a strong defensive center, but it’s expected they’ll use him on the wing to replace an injured Carl Hagelin.

Key additions: F Boris Katchouk, F Taylor Raddysh, 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick
Key subtractions: F Brandon Hagel, G Marc-Andre Fleury

Our take: New GM Kyle Davidson wasted no time getting to work ahead of the deadline with the massive Hagel trade. Reeling in a pair of first-round draft picks along with both Katchouk and Raddysh was tidy work.

Clearly the Blackhawks are in a rebuild, which if you didn’t know would be long-lasting before the Hagel trade, you certainly know now. The emotional effect of that trade can already be felt by players in Chicago, who can sense a few more rough years ahead. But the two firsts should cushion the blow and it was an exceptional return by Davidson to get what he did.

Because Fleury had a 10-team no-trade list, Davidson had limited options on a partner for that transaction. Minnesota still delivered, with a second-round choice that could become a first if the Wild reach the Western Conference finals and Fleury is a major factor in the previous two rounds. It was about as strong a deal for which Davidson could have hoped.

What Davidson didn’t do was find a new home for either Dominik Kubalik or Calvin de Haan. Had he found the right returns, it would have really put this deadline over the top for Chicago.

Key additions: D Aidan Hreschuk
Key subtractions: F Max Domi, D Tyler Inamoto

Our take: Tyler Inamoto, we hardly knew ye! The Blue Jackets retained 50% of Domi’s salary and traded him to Florida for NCAA fifth-year senior defenseman Tyler Inamoto of Wisconsin. They traded Inamoto to the Hurricanes for Hreschuk to complete the three-way deal that delivered Domi to Raleigh. Hreschuk, who completed his freshman season at Boston College, is undersized (5-foot-11) but plays well with the puck. He’s a better prospect than Inamoto and could eventually make the NHL as a low-end offensive defenseman.

But the Blue Jackets get knocked down a half grade for not finding a taker for goaltender Joonas Korpisalo during the season. At the deadline, they almost had to keep him, given Elvis Merzlikins‘ injury issues. While it’s true Korpisalo has done absolutely nothing to encourage anyone to seek his services with a ghastly .878 save percentage in 21 games, being unable to move him during the last summer’s robust goalie market when he wasn’t in the plans for the future wasn’t ideal.

Key additions: F Oskar Sundqvist, D Jake Walman, 2023 second-round pick
Key subtractions: D Nick Leddy, F Vladislav Namestnikov

Our take: The centerpiece of GM Steve Yzerman‘s deadline was the Nick Leddy trade to St. Louis, and it was a decent one. Leddy is an aging defender who has had a poor season with the Red Wings and he’s a pending UFA they weren’t going to re-sign. Getting a second-round pick out of the Blues is solid. Add in the potential of prospect Walman and the chance that Sundqvist’s game could rebound next season and this trade could age nicely. We’ll see.

It’s a bit surprising that all Yzerman could pull out of Dallas for Namestnikov was a fourth-round pick. Namestnikov is a pending UFA but he has provided consistent secondary scoring in Detroit. Compared to the return on Marcus Johansson (he went to Washington from Seattle for a roster player, a fourth-rounder and a sixth-rounder) just the fourth for Namestnikov seemed low.

Regardless, the Red Wings have plenty of young talent and growing that group through ample opportunities is where Detroit’s focus is, as it should be.

Key additions: D Ben Chiarot, F Claude Giroux, D Robert Hagg
Key subtractions: F Owen Tippett, 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick

Our take: It’s been a week and I’m still not over the Ben Chiarot trade.

Panthers GM Billy Zito wanted Chiarot — a 30-year-old pending UFA — so badly, he gave up a first-round pick, a fourth-round pick and Tyler Smilanic. Mind-blowing. In a way, it shows how much Zito wants to win this season. It also might go down as one of the worst trades this year. Time will tell.

The fact that Claude Giroux would waive his no-trade clause for Philadelphia to play in Florida helped negotiations there. Parting with another first-round choice and a former top prospect like Owen Tippett is an easier sell when the guy coming in has Giroux’s pedigree and is playing terrific hockey. He’s already slotting onto Florida’s top line with Aleksander Barkov, so good luck to all comers there.

Since Aaron Ekblad is sidelined by another injury, bringing in Hagg from Buffalo made sense. He’ll be a good depth piece for the back end. The Chiarot move really hangs over this whole deadline for Florida, though. Fascinated to see how it plays out.

Key additions: D Travis Hamonic, F Mathieu Joseph, F Zach Senyshyn
Key subtractions: D Josh Brown, F Nick Paul

Our take: The Senators did a lot of stuff before the deadline. How much of it will translate into making the team better? That’s the lingering question.

Nothing got social media riled up like the acquisition of Hamonic from Vancouver for a 2022 third-round pick. Hamonic has played only 24 games this season and Ottawa could have had him for free off waivers earlier this year. Not the best look by GM Pierre Dorion.

Joseph is a better one. He’s been around a winning program in Tampa, has good speed and brings a bit of ferocity to the Sens’ lineup. Joseph is a pending RFA and Ottawa should have no trouble re-signing him.

Shipping Brown to Boston for a conditional seventh-round pick and Senyshyn was intriguing. Senyshyn was drafted 15th overall by Boston in 2015 but has been categorized as a bust since then, having appeared in just 14 NHL games. Getting any player out of the Brown trade was good though and was certainly no guarantee heading into the deadline.

Dorion also locked up goalie Anton Forsberg on a three-year extension, which was a key contract to have done given the uncertainty surrounding Matt Murray‘s status moving ahead.

Overall, Ottawa did just fine.

Key additions: D Anthony Bitetto, G Kaapo Kahkonen
Key subtractions: F Andrew Cogliano, F Nick Merkley, D Jacob Middleton

Our take: Interesting deadline for the Sharks. Obviously, the big headline is who they kept around: Tomas Hertl, the 28-year-old center who signed an eight-year, $65.1 million extension. I know there were critics of this deal for San Jose, but he’s so much more part of the solution than the problem. It’s not like they can hop in a time machine and un-sign Marc-Edouard Vlasic to make a deal for a better player make sense.

Middleton emerged as the “defensive defenseman with the minuscule cap hit everyone suddenly wants” of this deadline. The Wild sent a fifth-rounder and Kahkonen for him. Kahkonen, who was expendable after the Marc-Andre Fleury trade, is a restricted free agent after this season and is only 25 years old. That’s a fortuitous return for the Sharks on this trade. So was getting a fifth-rounder for Cogliano thanks to salary retention.

The only mystery here: Do they know productive winger Alexander Barabanov is re-signing or is there a chance they lose him for nothing as an unrestricted free agent?

Key additions: F Colin Blackwell, D Mark Giordano, D Ilya Lyubushkin
Key subtractions: D Travis Dermott, F Nick Ritchie

Our take: On one hand, GM Kyle Dubas orchestrated a great trade acquiring Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell. On the other, that’s really all Dubas did to make Toronto better this season (and give it the best chance to finally win a playoff round). It doesn’t seem like enough.

Now, Dubas can’t be faulted for Arizona claiming goaltender Harri Sateri off waivers on Monday. Dubas convinced the Finnish netminder to sign a one-year deal with Toronto and bolster its flagging goalie situation, but alas, the Coyotes stole him away. And Dubas did not pull off any other deals for a goaltender. So, it’ll be Erik Kallgren and Petr Mrazek until Jack Campbell returns from injury. The latter two have been varying degrees of bad over the past two months, but Dubas believes they can rebound. He’ll have to hope that’s the case.

Back to Giordano. Dubas didn’t have to give up a first-round draft pick to Seattle (just two seconds and a third), which was an automatic win. Adding a recent Norris Trophy winner who can immediately elevate your top four and provide veteran leadership is even better. Plus, Blackwell should be a nice depth addition to the Leafs’ bottom six with his strong forechecking.

The goaltending drama still looms. If Campbell returns to form when healthy, it’ll be a moot point. Today, it’s still a concern that’s gone unaddressed.

Key additions: D Travis Dermott
Key subtractions: D Travis Hamonic, F Tyler Motte

Our take: What the Canucks’ trade deadline lacked in fireworks it made up in shrewd asset management. Vancouver was listening on pending RFA forward Brock Boeser and forward J.T. Miller, who’s an unrestricted free agent in 2023. No one was willing to meet their demands, so they remain with Vancouver for their nascent playoff push.

The asset management, meanwhile, was exemplary. They found a taker for Hamonic in the Senators, who inexplicably traded a third-rounder (that originated with Vancouver) for him. They then traded Winnipeg’s 2022 third-rounder to the Maple Leafs for defenseman Travis Dermott, who is younger and cheaper and better than Hamonic. He’s also an RFA in 2023 while Hamonic is a UFA. They pulled a 2023 fourth-round pick from the Rangers for Motte, a pending UFA depth player.

Key additions: D Troy Stecher
Key subtractions: None

Our take: The Kings were one of the most fascinating teams on Monday, notably for not doing anything notable. They made a couple of minor-league deals. They sent a seventh-rounder to Detroit for Stecher, potentially to reunite him with Alexander Edler. Their hands were tied by the humbling amount of injuries on the roster — and GM Rob Blake has been steadfast in not wanting to take away opportunities from young players or sacrifice them for temporary fixes.

Still, we thought there was a chance the Kings would land someone like Arizona defenseman Jakob Chychrun at the trade deadline, to help now and in the future. Instead, they’ll keep playing with the house money they have in being an unexpected playoff contender.

Key additions: G Andrew Hammond
Key subtractions: F Nathan Schnarr

Our take: Our own Kristen Shilton had the Devils as one of the deadline’s losers, and I think there’s an argument to be made to that end. There was never going to be a market for P.K. Subban, even if others could have helped share his $9 million cap hit. But defenseman Damon Severson, who is entering the walk year of his contract, might have brought some immediate help given some of the other returns on defensemen on Monday. Same goes for pending RFA Pavel Zacha, who’s rounding into an effective middle-six player. But his injury near the deadline might have messed with the process.

That they didn’t move doesn’t mean they won’t in the summer. In fact, I think the trade for Hammond is a tell that the Devils just want to finish as strongly as possible and enter a critical offseason — from evaluating the roster to the coach — with positive momentum. The Hamburglar can shelter Nico Daws a bit and stabilize the team’s crease for the rest of the season before hitting UFA status.

C grades

Key additions: D Brett Kulak, F Derick Brassard
Key subtractions: D William Lagesson, conditional 2022 second-round pick

Our take: The Oilers didn’t trade for a goalie. There were many indications along the way that they wouldn’t do so. We all understood the reasons why they wouldn’t, from hesitation to trade a first-round pick or top prospect to the thinness of the market to their own salary cap crunch. But a team that can’t afford to miss the playoffs will still attempt to make them with Mikko Koskinen, Mike Smith and cameo appearances by Stuart Skinner.

Instead of trading for a goalie, the Oilers did what we expected them to do, which is to trade for a defenseman instead. They got a good one. Kulak isn’t worth Lagesson and a second-rounder alone, but he is when the Canadiens retain salary. He’s a really solid defensive defenseman who excels in a depth role and playing larger minutes with offensive D-men. He’s 28 years old and might be someone to keep around beyond his expiring contract. Brassard, 34, is a solid contributor offensively at 5-on-5 in a fourth-line role but does not kill penalties.

Like the Flames, the Oilers’ biggest move came weeks before the trade deadline when they signed Evander Kane, who has 13 goals in 24 games.

Key additions: F Mason Appleton, F Morgan Barron, F Zach Sanford
Key subtractions: D Nathan Beaulieu, F Andrew Copp, F Bryan Little, F Nathan Smith (rights)

Our take: Is GM Kevin Cheveldayoff all-in on the Jets making the playoffs this season, or not? Based on his deadline moves, the answer is murky.

Cheveldayoff didn’t really touch the Jets’ current roster, other than to move pending UFA forward Copp to the Rangers for a pair of conditional second-round picks. That was good business. He also sent Beaulieu to Pittsburgh for a conditional seventh-round choice.

Otherwise, Cheveldayoff just stayed the course. Appleton (from Seattle) and Sanford (from Ottawa) will help fill the void left by Copp. Barron (part of the Copp deal with New York) is a prospect with potentially high upside down the road. And Little hasn’t played since November 2019, so shedding the final two years of his contract (with a $5.29 million AAV) to Arizona was smart.

But Paul Stastny is still in Winnipeg. That suggests Cheveldayoff has some hope of Winnipeg requiring a versatile veteran forward down the stretch here, enough that he did not see the need to send Stastny to a contender for future contributors.

Maybe the market wasn’t there for it. Maybe Cheveldayoff felt letting go of Copp was enough turnover for now. Where Winnipeg sits in a month will tell the tale.

Key additions: F Jack McBain (rights), F Nick Ritchie, F Nathan Smith (rights), G Harri Sateri, F Bryan Little
Key subtractions: F Johan Larsson, D Ilya Lyubushkin, F Riley Nash, G Scott Wedgewood

Our take: It’s the elephant in the room; Arizona did not trade Jakob Chychrun or Phil Kessel.

GM Bill Armstrong said he tried on Kessel, but the $8 million cap hit that went along with him wasn’t so appealing. As for Chychrun, Armstrong had a big ask for the top-four defender, and no suitor stepped up with an offer he deemed worthy. Too bad.

The best move Armstrong made was getting Ritchie from Toronto earlier this month in exchange for Lyubushkin. Ritchie was having a terrible season for the Leafs but perked up immediately in the desert sun to score five goals and seven points in his first 11 games. That Ritchie also has another season of reasonable value (at $2.5 million) makes the transaction even sweeter.

If Arizona is able to sign both McBain and Smith, two top college centers, it’ll be a major boon for the Coyotes’ long-term outlook. McBain has 33 points in 24 games for Boston College this season and Smith has 49 points in 34 games at Minnesota State.

Another notable of the day for Arizona was signing goaltender Karel Vejmelka to a three-year extension. He’s been good this season (.905 save percentage), and along with waiver claim Sateri, could form a really nice tandem for the Coyotes, who also parted ways with Wedgewood (traded to Dallas).

Key additions: None
Key subtractions: D Robert Hagg

Our take: Not much to see here. We all expected Buffalo to trade some players, but whatever calls GM Kevyn Adams was taking must not have been too compelling. All Adams did was send Hagg to Florida for a 2022 sixth-round draft choice. Defenseman Colin Miller was rumored to be on the move, but his injury history may have curdled some teams’ offers.

Anyway, now Buffalo has 10 picks to use in the upcoming draft, which will be helpful in continuing to rebuild the organization. Development does seem to be Adams’ focus. He’s really stuck on “The Plan” for Buffalo and feels the final stretch of regular-season games will be important for his group. We’ll see if he’s right.

Key additions: F Owen Tippett, 2024 conditional first-round pick, 2023 third-round picks, 2023 fourth-round pick
Key subtractions: F Claude Giroux, C Derick Brassard, D Justin Braun

Our take: There’s not much you can say about the Giroux deal. Whether you believe the grand conspiracies about what it would’ve taken for him to waive his trade protection — like a return to Philly next season, something his agent Pat Brisson denied was the case to ESPN — the fact is that the market for Giroux was “ultimately very limited,” as GM Chuck Fletcher put it. There are better prospects than Tippett in the Panthers organization, but landing him, a first-rounder (that could end up being in 2025 if the conditions aren’t met!) and a third was the best they could do.

A third-rounder for Braun from the Rangers in a hot defenseman market seems low. A fourth-rounder for Brassard from the Oilers seems right, although maybe not with 50% salary retention. No takers for goalie Martin Jones at the asking price Fletcher wanted. It’s a deadline that’ll be forever remembered for what left rather than what came back.

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Check out the unconventional but hilarious locations in which Kevin Weekes broke NHL trades throughout the week.

Key additions: F Vladislav Namestnikov, G Scott Wedgewood
Key subtractions: None

Our take: For some reason, John Klingberg is still a Dallas Star.

Why? Well, because Miro Heiskanen has mononucleosis, apparently. The Stars’ top defenseman has been out indefinitely with the illness and GM Jim Nill didn’t think it prudent to part with pending UFA Klingberg given Heiskanen’s condition.

That would be all well and good if Dallas was a slam-dunk playoff team. But it isn’t. Klingberg has expressed publicly his unhappiness with the lack of contract movement before now. He’s not likely to re-sign with the Stars this summer, but Nill could have gotten something for Klingberg now to make Dallas better into the future. Oh, well.

The Stars have no cap space to play with, so there wasn’t much else they could do by way of acquisitions. Namestnikov from Detroit for a fourth-rounder is a fine pickup for a capable secondary scorer. Bringing in Wedgewood from Arizona was necessary given the injury to Braden Holtby and general goaltending-depth issues.

Underwhelming, to say the least.

Key additions: D Jeremy Lauzon
Key subtractions: None

Our take: The only card GM David Poile had up his sleeve was netting depth defenseman Lauzon from Seattle for a 2022 second-round pick.

Yes, that means Filip Forsberg is still a Predator. And he’s still a pending UFA who will merit the type of max-term, max-dollar extension that Nashville may or may not have the ability to offer. Forsberg is the team’s leading scorer and will be a critical part of Nashville’s potential playoff push. Poile did sound optimistic on Monday that he can get a deal over the line with Forsberg. If that doesn’t happen, Nashville could have missed a major opportunity by keeping him in the fold past Monday.

Key additions: D Nick Leddy
Key subtractions: F Oskar Sundqvist, D Jake Walman

Our take: St. Louis is a good team having a strong season. GM Doug Armstrong just didn’t make it much better.

Leddy from Detroit for a 2023 second-round pick and Sundqvist and Wallman was the Blues’ highlight move. There’s always a possibility that Leddy, who is minus-33 on the year and a pending UFA, can take on some significant role on St. Louis’ blue line. But will that be what the Blues truly need? Defensive consistency has been an issue for the Blues all year, and they were more in the market for a top-four contributor. That’s going to be a reach for Leddy.

Being rid of Sundqvist’s $2.75 million cap hit next season does admittedly help St. Louis. And Walman, 26, hasn’t caught on with the Blues and appeared in only 32 games this season. Losing a second-round pick for Leddy could come back to bite St. Louis, though.

D grades

Key additions: None
Key subtractions: None

Our take: The last trade Lou Lamoriello made was on Nov. 4, when he dealt retired defenseman Johnny Boychuk‘s cap hit to the Sabres for “future considerations,” which still haven’t been specified and may be a Starbucks gift card for all we know. He didn’t make a trade before Monday’s deadline, which is a bewildering move for a team that’s undoubtedly one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL this season. Instead, he doubled down on retaining forwards Zach Parise and Cal Clutterbuck with contract extensions — although the Islanders did get the latter on a better AAV for two years.

Look, there probably wasn’t a vigorous market for Andy Greene (39) and what’s left of Zdeno Chara (45), although it’s probable Lamoriello assured them they weren’t going anywhere anyway. His logic behind keeping Semyon Varlamov ($5 million AAV through next season) is that he’s important to the “growth and maturity” of Ilya Sorokin, who turns 27 in August, and that the Islanders didn’t want to weaken one position to improve another. But when Marc-Andre Fleury nets a potential first-round pick with his extremely limited trade market, one wonders what Varlamov could have returned.

Lamoriello said he’s not satisfied with the team’s season but will take the rest of it to evaluate where it is. Here’s where the Islanders are: They are a team with 11 forwards signed through the 2023-24 season, none of whom are Mathew Barzal. Nine of them are 28 years old or older. Five of them make north of $5 million annually against the cap. Three of them have trade protection. Maybe Lamoriello thinks this season is an anomaly. Maybe he’s too in love with his players — which has been a criticism for most of his NHL tenure. But the deadline was a chance to start reshaping a flawed roster and he didn’t take it.

F grade

Key additions: None (for now)
Key subtractions: None (for now)

Our take: We can only judge the trade deadline on the business completed before this report card. Maybe the Golden Knights deserve an “incomplete,” since the saga involving Evgenii Dadonov has yet to be resolved. But there’s no getting around the potential disaster of this trade.

The Knights tried to move a player with a $5 million cap hit — and let’s face it, acquiring Dadonov’s contract in the first place last summer was questionable — with a conditional second-round pick sweetener to the Ducks for the injured John Moore and the contract of Ryan Kesler, whose career is done. Instead, Dadonov and his agent claimed Anaheim was on his limited no-trade list. The Golden Knights didn’t know he had one, as the Senators didn’t disclose it on their trade call last summer. Their assumption, and that of the NHL, was that the list was no longer valid. But it was filed on time. So the expectation is that the trade will be canceled, and the Knights will be stuck with a $5 million cap hit tied to a player they tried to throw overboard.

The Golden Knights’ injury crisis is out of their hands. Their salary cap headache is their own making. What seemed like a remedy might end in embarrassment. It may not be their fault. But it is what it is.

Source: ESPN NHL

    

Author: Ellen Garcia