Another NHL trade deadline has come and gone, featuring a handful of major moves along with some depth deals.
As usual, most of the noteworthy players traded are pending free agents swapped for draft picks and prospects. Time will tell if these moves have any effect upon this season’s playoff race, let alone play a contributing role in determining this year’s Stanley Cup champion.
Here’s a look at deadline day’s winners and losers.
Winner – Vegas Golden Knights
After failing to pry Erik Karlsson away from the Ottawa Senators at last year’s deadline, Golden Knights GM George McPhee managed to land right wing Mark Stone and reached an agreement with him on an eight-year contract extension. One of the best two-way forwards in the league, the 26-year-old Stone will be an indispensable part of the Golden Knights lineup for years to come.
Loser – Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs’s late-January acquisition of left-side defenseman Jake Muzzin brought invaluable depth and experience to their blueline. However, they’re still thin on the right side and could’ve used an extra measure of grit on their forward lines. GM Kyle Dubas made only a minor move on deadline day, picking up forward Nic Petan from the Winnipeg Jets. The Leafs aren’t in any danger of falling out of the playoffs, but leaving those glaring weaknesses unaddressed could hurt their 52-year Stanley Cup drought.
Winner – Nashville Predators
Predators GM David Poile lived up to his reputation as a savvy wheeler-dealer. First, he traded promising (but inconsistent) winger Kevin Fiala to the Minnesota Wild for left winger Mikael Granlund. He followed up by sending a conditional draft pick and young winger Ryan Hartman to the Philadelphia Flyers for veteran power forward Wayne Simmonds. Poile has loaded up his roster for another run at the Stanley Cup Final.
Loser – Minnesota Wild
GM Paul Fenton already shipped out two core players in recent weeks in Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle. Moving out perennial 60-point winger Mikael Granlund to the Nashville Predators for Kevin Fiala raised some eyebrows. Fenton knows the 22-year-old Fiala from his days as an assistant GM with the Predators and seems keen on his offensive potential. Still, Granlund’s departure could prove fatal to the Wild’s playoff hopes this season.
Winner – Winnipeg Jets
GM Kevin Cheveldayoff pulled off six trades on deadline day. For the second straight year, he made a big move to boost his depth at center, sending forward Brendan Lemieux and two draft picks to the New York Rangers for Kevin Hayes. The 6’5″, 217-pounder has good offensive skills and can play all three forward positions. Cheveldayoff’s other additions, including Nathan Beaulieu, Par Lindholm, and Matt Hendricks, should provide invaluable depth for the playoffs.
Loser – New York Rangers
For the second straight trade deadline, the Rangers parted ways with a pending free-agent forward, sending Kevin Hayes to Winnipeg. They also shipped blueliner Adam McQuaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Two days prior, they moved winger Mats Zuccarello to Dallas for two conditional draft picks. The returns from these moves could benefit the Rangers in a few years but won’t provide any short-term help.
Winner – Columbus Blue Jackets
It wasn’t enough for Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen to make a big splash before the deadline by picking up forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel. Loading up his roster for a possible Stanley Cup run, Kekalainen subsequently brought in defenseman Adam McQuaid from the New York Rangers and goaltender Keith Kinkaid from the New Jersey Devils. Kekalainen gutted his draft picks for this season to swing these deals but it could prove worthwhile if they carry the Jackets to the Stanley Cup.
Loser – Ottawa Senators
Having already shipped out forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to Columbus, everyone knew Senators GM Pierre Dorion was going to move right wing Mark Stone on deadline day. Sure enough, Dorion shipped Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights for a prospect and two draft picks. The Senators now have a plethora of draft picks, including 12 in the 2020 draft, and perhaps some future stars will emerge from those. However, it’s difficult for Sens fans to feel optimistic over their future after seeing their roster gutted this season.
Winner – San Jose Sharks
Sharks GM Doug Wilson strikes again, this time making the first significant deadline-day deal by shipping two draft picks to the Detroit Red Wings for Gustav Nyquist. A versatile forward on pace for a 60-point campaign, Nyquist will provide an already powerful Sharks offense with a bigger bite.
Loser – New Jersey Devils
This season’s disappointing performance prompted GM Ray Shero to part ways with some of his pending UFAs. Leading up to the deadline, he shipped Brian Boyle to Nashville and Ben Lovejoy to Dallas. The purge continued on deadline line, peddling backup goalie Keith Kinkaid to Columbus and winger Marcus Johansson to the Boston Bruins.