The NHL’s trade deadline often sees a flurry of deals made in the final hours leading up to the 3 pm ET cutoff point. However, several noteworthy trades took place in the month leading up to deadline day that could affect the remainder of this season, the playoffs, and perhaps beyond.
Here’s a look at the winners and losers of the most significant deals made in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline.
Winners – Columbus Blue Jackets
In danger of losing their grip on a playoff spot, the Jackets bolstered their offense by acquiring forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from the Ottawa Senators. They did it without sacrificing a core player, giving up (in total) struggling winger Anthony Duclair, two prospects, a first-round pick, a conditional first and two second-round picks. If Duchene meshes well with leading scorer Artemi Panarin, the Jackets will have a powerful first-line scoring punch.
Losers – Ottawa Senators
The rebuild continues in Ottawa. The bottom-feeding Senators shipped out Duchene and Dzingel for futures and hung a “for sale” sign on pending free agent forward Matt Stone. General manager Pierre Dorion is asking for patience but that’s cold comfort to his club’s disillusioned fans.
Winners – Carolina Hurricanes
Granted, the acquisition of left wing Nino Niederreiter from the Minnesota Wild took place over five weeks (Jan. 17) before the trade deadline. Nevertheless, his addition provided a much-needed boost to the Hurricanes’ offense, helping them surge into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference.
Losers – Pittsburgh Penguins
Shipping pending free agents Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan to the Florida Panthers on Feb. 1 for younger forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann were supposed to make the Penguins better and faster. With both signed beyond this season, perhaps they still will. So far, however, this move hasn’t improved the Penguins in the standings, going 5-5-2 since the deal went down.
Winners – Toronto Maple Leafs
Adding Jake Muzzin on Jan. 28th from the Los Angeles Kings didn’t address the Leafs need for right-side blueline depth. Nevertheless, he brings an invaluable measure of championship experience and all-around defensive skill. They didn’t have to part with a roster player to get Muzzin, giving up two prospects and a first-round draft pick. He’s also signed through 2018-19 at an affordable $4 million.
Losers – Los Angeles Kings
With their playoff hopes all but dashed, the Kings are getting an early start on a long-overdue rebuild. They shipped out Muzzin to Toronto for two prospects and a first-round pick and traded winger Carl Hagelin to Washington for a third-round pick in 2019 and a conditional sixth in 2020. It could take a couple of seasons before at least one of those returns become possible NHL players.
Winners – Boston Bruins
The Bruins filled a need for a third-line center by shipping little-used forward Ryan Donato and a conditional fifth-rounder in 2019 to the Minnesota Wild for Charlie Coyle. The 26-year-old Coyle is a versatile forward who can play center or wing, has a decent scoring touch and is signed through next season at an affordable $3.2 million.
Losers – Minnesota Wild
The Wild are jockeying for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference but GM Paul Fenton has already decided to shake things up. Recently-acquired Ryan Donato has provided a bit of an offensive spark. Victor Rask, acquired from Carolina in exchange for Nino Niederreiter, was still struggling to score before being sidelined by a lower-body injury. These moves probably won’t help them nail down a playoff berth this year.
Winners – Washington Capitals
The defending Stanley Cup champions aren’t content to rest on their laurels. They added speed and postseason experience by landing winger Carl Hagelin from the Kings and shored up the right side of the blueline by sending Madison Bowey and a draft selection to Detroit for Nick Jensen, signing him to a four-year contract extension.
Losers – Detroit Red Wings
The Wings wanted to re-sign Jensen but couldn’t reach an agreement on a new contract. While they got a promising younger rearguard from the Capitals in Bowey, the Wings continue to build toward a future that could still be a couple of years away.
Winners – Buffalo Sabres
With defenseman Marco Scandella sidelined week-to-week with an upper-body injury, the Sabres shipped a conditional first-round pick and a prospect to the Anaheim Ducks for Brandon Montour. While his defensive game needs work, the 24-year-old Montour is a skilled puck-moving blueliner with consecutive 32-point seasons on his resume. He’s also signed through 2019-20 with an average annual value of over $3.38 million.
Losers – Dallas Stars
GM Jim Nill addressed his need for a scoring winger on Saturday by acquiring right wing Mats Zuccarello from the New York Rangers. Unfortunately, Zuccarello injured his arm in his first game with his new club and is sidelined at least four weeks. He’ll hopefully return before the end of the season but his absence still left the Stars in need of offensive depth.