Here are your winners and losers of the 2015 NHL trade deadline

Antoine Vermette (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Another NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and whenever it passes, there’s the urge to judge which teams were winners and which ones were at the other end of the competitive spectrum. Of course, any hockey fan paying close attention from year-to-year understands that 99 percent of all trades have to be judged over the long-term to be judged fairly. So bear that in mind as we do our best to break down the teams that came away from this season’s deadline – including the days leading up to it, when many of the biggest deals took place – looking great, and which ones came away looking questionable or worse.

Winners:

Arizona Coyotes: There were two types of winners on Deadline Day 2015 – the winners who are loading up for a long playoff run, and the winners who stripped down their roster as part of a long-term rebuild. The Coyotes are clearly part of the latter group, and GM Don Maloney did a ton of work that will quicken the franchise’s turnaround: he shook down Rangers counterpart Glen Sather for (among other things) a top prospect (Anthony Duclair) and first-round draft pick; he also landed Chicago’s first-rounder and a prospect for Antoine Vermette. Read more

Maple Leafs want Brendan Smith in Dion Phaneuf deal with Red Wings

Ken Campbell
Brendan Smith (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings continue to negotiate a deal which would see captain Dion Phaneuf going to Detroit today, but the sticking point now appears to be Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith.

The possible deal would see the Leafs get Smith and forward Stephen Weiss in a deal for Phaneuf with the Red Wings assuming the remaining six years on Phaneuf’s deal at $7 million per season. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Bernier, Stewart among five top remaining trade targets

Jonathan Bernier.  (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL trade deadline is only hours away. With Antoine Vermette dealt to Chicago and Curtis Glencross shipped off to Washington, the pool of available trade talent is quickly drying up. Here’s a look at the notable players who could be on the move and the clubs they’re linked to.

Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils. The 38-year-old blueliner has a no-trade clause which will limit where the Devils can ship him. He’s an experienced puck-moving defenseman with a right-handed shot, which could interest the Ducks and Red Wings. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty suggests the Bruins could also make a pitch. Read more

Could Dion Phaneuf become the next Larry Murphy?

Ken Campbell
Phaneuf

The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs traded a maligned defenseman to the Detroit Red Wings it was Larry Murphy, who went on to win two more Stanley Cups in Detroit and cement his credentials as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. After all, four Stanley Cups looks a lot better than two on the career resume.

That was 1996-97 and Murphy was being booed every time he stepped on the ice in Toronto. The Leafs were so desperate to part with Murphy, they gave up the ubiquitous “future considerations” which turned out to be Detroit picking up part of his salary and allegedly sending then-GM a bottle of wine to then-GM Cliff Fletcher that summer.

A year later, the Maple Leafs made out a little better when they gifted another defenseman to the Red Wings in the form of Jamie Macoun. They at least got a fourth-round pick that turned out to be the useful Alexei Ponikarovsky in that deal. Macoun, meanwhile, went on to be a top-four defenseman for the Red Wings and helped them to their second consecutive Stanley Cup in 1998. Read more

The leftovers: how Jonathan Bernier and the remaining Maple Leafs cope with a rebuild

Matt Larkin
Jonathan Bernier.  (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s often a disconnect between rumor and result as the NHL trade deadline approaches. No so with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the month of February. Name the rumored departure and it’s happened so far like clockwork. Unrestricted free agents-to-be Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli and Daniel Winnik were supposed to go, and they did. Early. No dillydallying from GM Dave Nonis. Off they went for picks, a prospect and warm bodies Zach Sill and Olli Jokinen.

The moves signalled the beginning of a rebuild but not a demolition of the team’s core just yet. It was obvious Nonis would ship out the UFAs to ensure he got something with his team way out of playoff contention.

Then came the David Clarkson bombshell. Essentially buying out Clarkson’s contract by acquiring the injured Nathan Horton, who doesn’t count against the cap, sent a message to the rest of the team: Toronto truly wants to shake up its nucleus. The operation is broke and needs fixing.

Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier played arguably his best game of the season Thursday night, turning away 47 Philadelphia Flyer shots in a 3-2 victory, and it was all the more impressive considering he and his teammates learned of the Clarkson news shortly before game time.

The team called a meeting and Clarkson wasn’t there. Bernier said he and the players knew something was up at that point.

Read more

David Clarkson: No regrets signing with Toronto

Ryan Kennedy
David Clarkson (Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

If all goes according to plan, right winger David Clarkson will be in the lineup Saturday night when the Columbus Blue Jackets take on one of his former teams, the New Jersey Devils. But it’s not his time in Newark that folks like to pontificate on, it’s his brief tenure in Toronto after Clarkson signed a big free agent deal with his hometown team.

Now that the dust has settled on the shocking trade that sent him to Columbus in exchange for injured winger Nathan Horton, Clarkson has revealed his thoughts on the turbulent times he had as a Maple Leaf, and they’re not as bad as you might think.

Read more

Clarkson-for-Horton trade a legal, and brilliant, circumvention of the salary cap

Ken Campbell
Nathan Horton  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

So much for the untradeable player with the unmovable contract. That species of player, thought to be alive and well in the salary cap era, does not exist. In fact, he never has because GMs such as David Nonis and Jarmo Kekalainen can cook up deals like the one they did Thursday afternoon.

In swapping the ill-suited and much maligned David Clarkson for the seriously and likely permanently injured Nathan Horton, Nonis and Kekalainen conspired to help each other out of contractual straitjackets that were paralyzing their rosters. This deal was so much more than just swapping one bad contract for another one. Read more

Never say any NHLer is untradeable again: Leafs deal David Clarkson to Columbus for Nathan Horton

Adam Proteau
(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs did the unthinkable Thursday – at least, in the eyes of hockey watchers and amateur salary capologists – when they traded highly-paid, underachieving right winger David Clarkson to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for severely injured right winger Nathan Horton, who may never play another NHL game due to a bad back.

Many believed Clarkson’s contract, which has a cap hit of $5.25 million through the 2018-19 season, would be impossible for Leafs management to move. But to Toronto’s credit, they recognized a situation in which they could use their corporate heft to their advantage: Read more