The Good and Bad from the NHL Trade Deadline
Nearly all of the biggest moves before Monday's 3 p.m. NHL Trade Deadline were made within the last hour, while some other significant trades were made in the days leading up to it. With just over a month to go in the regular season, it’s time to buckle up and enjoy the ride to the finish line. Here are the winners and losers from the day:
Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas general manager George McPhee made the best trade of the day, acquiring the 26-year old Mark Stone and immediately signing him to an eight-year extension worth $72 million.
Stone has scored 20 or more goals for five straight seasons and his all-around game fits perfectly in coach Gerard Gallant’s puck pressure forechecking style. The Golden Knights had to give up top prospect Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a second-round pick, but Stone immediately becomes the Golden Knights' go-to forward.
The right winger slides in perfectly with Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson on the Golden Knights' top line, which has regressed this season after dominating in the franchise’s inaugural season. Stone will allow Reilly Smith to drop down the lineup, likely to the team's second line with Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny.
He’s 6-foot-4 and is a very good defensive player with a keen ability to knock pucks away from opponents. He was plus-15 on the Ottawa Senators, one of the league’s worst defensive teams. Stone should also bolster the Knights' No.23-ranked power play (17.1).
Columbus Blue Jackets
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen was the most active executive of this year’s trade deadline and appears to be going all-in on winning now.
Earlier in the week, the Jackets paid a steep price of potentially two first-round picks to acquire center Matt Duchene. However, Duchene’s 1.16 points per game this season would be the highest rate of his career, and his shooting percentage of 21.4 is fifth in the NHL.
The Blue Jackets had only 18 points from centers this month, which was tied for 24th in the NHL. With Pierre-Luc Dubois and Duchene in the middle now, the Jackets have something that better stacks up against other contenders in the East.
Columbus then added Ryan Dzingel, also from Ottawa, whose 22 goals and 22 assists would rank him third and sixth, respectively, on the Jackets this season. He also has the versatility to play all three forward spots.
Kekalainen then added goalie Keith Kinkaid, who brings a veteran presence alongside 24-year-old Joonas Korpisalo. He finished the day by adding defenseman Adam McQuaid.
There is a risk involved to this all-in approach, but for a franchise that's never been to the second round of the playoffs, the bold approach was the right one for Kekalainen.
San Jose Sharks
The third-best scoring offense in the NHL just got even scarier with the addition of forward Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings.
Although his meager eight points in 35 playoff games are a concern, Nyquist’s ability to play either wing means he could be slotted in several ways across the Sharks' lineup. Pairing him with Joe Thornton, however, could establish an excellent third scoring line behind the Joe Pavelski (32 goals) and Evander Kane (27 goals) lines.
For the Sharks' all-star talent, from the forwards down to Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson on the blue line, goaltending and forward depth were the two major concerns leading up to the deadline. Nyquist provides a major boost to the latter.
For the second year in a row, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff addressed its biggest deficiency by acquiring a premium second-line center at the deadline. Last year, he landed Paul Stastny, who played a key role in leading Winnipeg all the way to the Western Conference Finals. However, Stastny departed for Vegas in free agency last offseason.
Now the Jets add Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers and only gave up Brendan Lemieux and their first-round pick, which should be low. They'll also lose a fourth-rounder in 2022 should they win the Stanley Cup, which they'll gladly surrender.
The 26-year old Hayes is a physical center who should fare well in the Western Conference playoff run and is an upgrade at that second-line center slot.
Also important is that the Jets did not have to give up any top young players like Jack Roslovic, which might have been required to get Mark Stone.
With its division rival Winnipeg upgrading its biggest need, Nashville general manager responded with two big moves of his own. The Predators traded for center Mikael Granlund from Minnesota and Wayne Simmonds from Philadelphia.
Granlund can play on the wing and center, and that versatility will be needed for a team that has had some middle-six issues. Although he is a bit streaky, Granlund will add to Nashville’s secondary scoring.
Simmonds will improve the Predators’ second line and, more importantly, their dead last power play scoring rate. He gives the Predators a formidable net-front presence and is physical enough to help protect his teammates. The Predators were exposed in last year's playoffs for being too one-dimensional on offense, but Simmonds should help change that.
What is even better is that general manager David Poile pulled off these transactions for a negligible price. Nashville loses Kevin Fiala, a forward who has sputtered, and Ryan Hartman, a bottom-six forward for whom they overpaid the last deadline.
Mats Zuccarello was one of the most coveted scoring wingers on the block, and Dallas, which ranks 29th in the NHL in scoring, landed him from New York. Zuccarello looked excellent for the first period and a half in Dallas against Chicago until he blocked a shot and broke his arm. Zuccarello is now out a minimum of four weeks.
What’s worse is that the Stars are a team without an abundance of quality prospects and will be without its second and third-round picks for each of the next two seasons.
Dallas currently owns the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, but a lot more can go wrong by the time Zuccarello is able to return.
The Hurricanes resisted the temptation to move on forward Micheal Ferland, who has been a terrific complementary scoring option to Sebastian Aho. However, it was a bit puzzling to see general manager Don Waddell elect not to add some secondary scoring behind Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Justin Williams.
The good news is that the rest of the Eastern Conference, outside of Columbus did very little to get significantly better at the deadline. However, Carolina, which is tied with Pittsburgh for the second wild-card spot, is hardly a lock to make the playoffs, so adding nothing was not the best thing Waddell could have done.
New York Islanders
It’s counter-intuitive to criticize general manager Lou Lamoriello since he has a long history of making great managerial decisions. However, the Islanders have played so surprisingly well that it was rather shocking to see that he didn’t add them any offensive help for the playoffs.
The Islanders are the top defensive team in the league but rank just 23rd in scoring offense. They are atop the Metropolitan division for now, but that may not be a sustainable formula come playoff time.
The Bruins needed to add a center and a second-line wing. Charlie Coyle might end up being better as the latter than the former, and cost the Bruins Ryan Donato, who is still 22 years old and just scored an overtime winner for the Wild.
Marcus Johansson is a talented all-around player but streaky offensively. He had 12 goals and 15 assists in 48 games for the Devils this season and has also struggled to stay healthy. Even more ironic is that Brad Marchand concussed him, costing him three months.
Johansson called the hit "stupid" and said the hit "has nothing to do with hockey and it's sad to see." Now Marchand and Johansson are teammates. Boston has the firepower to make a run in the Eastern Conference, but the fit doesn’t entirely make sense for either acquisition.
Will Desautelle is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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