With the 2016 Trade Deadline now done and over, we thought we would take a look at the winners and losers of the deadline.
1. Chicago Blackhawks
This was definitely the no brainer. The Blackhawks were already emerging as the team to beat in the Western Conference and they really solidified that, thanks to bold moves by GM Stan Bowman. Andrew Ladd was obviously their big grab of this year’s deadline, a two-time Stanley Cup winner and captain who can play comfortably anywhere from the first to the third line and was a key member of Chicago’s 2010 Cup run. He checks off every last box and, for a win-now juggernaut like the Hawks, he’s absolutely worth a first-round pick and a quality prospect in Marko Dano.
Bowman then traded for Christian Ehrhoff from the L.A. Kings for Rob Scuderi, in a move covering each team’s needs. Ehrhoff is nowhere near the player he was a few years ago but brings mobility and depth to the blueline. He knows how to play, and can run a power-play. In another deal Bowman turned second-tier prospect Phillip Danault and a 2018 second-rounder into Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann, acquired from the Habs. The Hawks have significantly strengthened their top nine forwards, and no other teams matched their upgrades over the past week. Not even close. They’ll only get better when Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger return from injury.
2. Florida Panthers
So…yeah, how about that return for Brandon Pirri? Aside from that, the Panthers sent an exciting message over the past week. Second- and third-round picks in 2016 and a 2018 fourth-rounder got them Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell.
Florida has been stocking up their farm system for several years now, so GM Dale Tallon had to make some aggressive win-now moves sooner or later. So I guess why not now? The Eastern Conference is wide open, especially in the Atlantic Division. It doesn’t take too much to see Florida ending up in the Conference final.
3. Anaheim Ducks
How about the Ducks? The hottest team in the NHL over the last month, the Ducks paid very little to further build their top-nine forward group. Pirri cost them a whopping sixth-rounder, and Jamie McGinn a 2016 third-round pick that becomes a 2017 second-rounder if (when?) the Ducks reach the conference final. McGinn also has to play in more than half of Anaheim’s playoff games. Definitely a good job by the Ducks. January’s David Perron trade really turned Anaheim around, as has Rickard Rakell’s breakout season. The depth additions make this team that much more dangerous. Pirri and McGinn are the kinds of players who occasionally can handle top-six duty on mediocre teams but could be championship-caliber third- or fourth-liners.
Best of all for GM Bob Murray, he avoided selling off one of his key restricted free agent defensemen. Sure, it’ll be hard to pay Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen this summer, but that’s a problem for another day. The Ducks can contend for the Cup right now and need all their good young D-men. It would’ve been nice to make room for Shea Theodore in the lineup, as he’s ready, but defensive depth is a nice luxury in the post-season. Definitely not a bad problem to have. Maybe an injury forces him back up to the big club at some point.
4. Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets definitely have one of the best farm systems. Young guns like Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba have made it to the NHL, but plenty more are on the way. Connor Hellebuyck, the team’s future starting goalie, looked great in his call-up when Ondrej Pavelec was injured. There’s Kyle Connor, Brendan Lemieux, Nic Petan, Jack Roslovic, Eric Comrie, Josh Morrissey…the list is long, and talented.
It only gets longer with that lovely return for Ladd. On top of a first-rounder, the Jets get Marko Dano, who is NHL-ready, but was stuck on a very talented Chicago team. The Jets will have room for him right away.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
The wrong way to look at it would be that Toronto failed, by not moving pending UFAs P-A Parenteau, Michael Grabner and Brad Boyes. But a team can only trade so many assets in one week. Toronto still managed to move Shawn Matthias, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, James Reimer and Daniel Winnik, netting three second-round picks and a pair of fourths in those deals. The Leafs are currently slated to pick 14 times at this June’s draft.
Also deserving winner status;
1. Calgary Flames – Definitely an awesome return for Kris Russell.
2. Colorado Avalanche – Great additions in Matthias, Boedker and Gelinas.
3. Carolina Hurricanes – Good job at moving veteran players for picks.
Also the New York Rangers, adding Eric Staal definitely makes them a very dangerous team. The LA Kings adding Versteeg definitely increases their playoff hopes. Watch out, come playoff time.
1. Vancouver Canucks
This year’s trade market definitely lacked the big names. You would think then, that right winger Radim Vrbata and defenseman Dan Hamhuis should have been valuable rental assets, as pending UFAs. They weren’t very easy players to trade though, as Hamhuis had a full no-trade clause and Vrbata a limited no-trade allowing him to submit a list of five teams to which he’d accept a deal. It’s difficult to know this early what caused the moves to collapse – Did Vancouver want too much? – but not moving those expiring assets was a failure. Benning said the Canucks got no concrete offers from teams on Vrbata’s list, but we do know Hamhuis would’ve accepted a trade to Chicago or Dallas, as he told reporters that after the deadline.
Now both players remain on the team for the rest of the season, and they definitely won’t be aiding a playoff push for Vancouver. The Canucks are eight points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot, although they do have games on Colorado.
2. St. Louis Blues
The Blues were definitely handcuffed by their cap situation. GM Doug Armstrong said he had no desire to keep injured veterans such as; Alexander Steen and Brian Elliott on long-term injured reserve until the playoffs, as he wanted them for the stretch run if they were healthy. A big-time trade was unlikely. It doesn’t make the deadline any less disappointing for St. Louis, though. They have the second-lowest goal total of any Western Conference team currently in a playoff spot. The Blues needed a highly skilled forward, especially with Steen sidelined, and they’re under immense pressure to win a round or two this spring after so many early exits in recent years.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
GM Steve Yzerman wasn’t kidding, he is not afraid to wait out this Jonathan Drouin situation. But winning takes priority over pride, I would think. Deciding not to move pending UFA Steven Stamkos proved the Bolts want to push hard for a Cup this spring.
They had offers on Jonathan Drouin, but couldn’t get a trade done. They’ll have more opportunities to do so, but if Stamkos leaves in free agency and Tampa doesn’t make noise in the playoffs, we’ll always wonder whether Drouin could’ve netted the piece to put the Bolts over the top. Expect to see Drouin moved at the draft.
4. New York Islanders
The Islanders played this week with ease, and didn’t seem too interested in making moves. They likely will make the playoffs, as they have a six-point cushion over Philadelphia. They definitely could’ve added some veteran help though. It was said pre-deadline they didn’t want to move a first-round pick, but should that have stopped them from picking up a P-A Parenteau type? No way the Leafs asked for a first-rounder. The said asking price was a second round pick, but the Islanders didn’t have one.
5. Boston Bruins
Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles cost Boston a 2017 second-rounder, a 2016 fourth-rounder, a 2016 third rounder, a 2017 fifth-rounder and Anthony Camara. Consider again, Pirri cost the Ducks just a sixth-round pick. Boston gave up way too much for rentals. Stempniak can score in bunches and was enjoying a nice year with New Jersey, but (a) he averaged a career-high 18:44 of ice there and won’t see that much in Boston and (b) he has crashed back to Earth with two goals and five points in 13 games after the all-star break. Liles brings mobility, but also a $3.875-million cap hit. Couldn’t GM Sweeney have called up Colin Miller instead? He is fleet of foot, like Liles, but far younger and far cheaper. Sweeney definitely made some questionable decisions at the deadline.
Also deserving the loser title;
1. Philadelphia Flyers – Ended up doing nothing, Hextall didn’t want to add.
2. Dallas Stars – Extremely overpaid for Kris Russell, a rental.
3. Detroit Red Wings – Was quite inactive, which was not a surprise.