Weeks of rumors and speculation are over. The trade deadline is finally upon us.
The Hockey News’ Trade Deadline Central offers up-to-the-minute analysis for every March 2 trade as soon as it happens. Our experts break down the ins and outs of every deal from the minor deals to the newsmakers of the day.
From the time the first deal of the day is made, make sure you head back to The Hockey News, the authoritative source for hockey, for immediate insight and information.
(To see deals that happened prior to March 2, check out THN’s Trade Log, maintained by The Sports Forecaster.)
TO MINNESOTA: Jared Knight
TO BOSTON: Zack Phillips
THN’s Take: Maple Leafs fans remember Jared Knight, a right winger, as one of the pieces Boston drafted with picks received in the Phil Kessel trade. Knight flashed good goal-scoring ability with the London Knights in junior. He’s barely cut his teeth even at the AHL level by age 23, however. Injuries have knocked him down repeatedly. His game really plummeted this season, as he’s scored a single goal in 35 games with Providence.
The Bruins throw in the towel on Knight and so do the Wild with Zack Phillips, a 2011 first-rounder. Phillips also scored a ton in junior. He was a force on the Jonathan Huberdeau-led Saint John teams that played in the 2011 and 2012 Memorial Cups. Like Knight, Phillips hasn’t yet elevated his game to an NHL caliber. Still, the edge should go to Boston here. Phillips has shown more in the AHL. He showed more as a junior, too, and he’s bigger than Knight. – ML
TO ANAHEIM: Michael Sgarbossa, conditional 2015 seventh-round pick
TO COLORADO: Mat Clark
THN’s Take: Sgarbossa has some speed, shiftiness and heart. He was a pretty prolific scorer in junior and proved in the Avalanche system that he can put up points at the AHL level. Clark is a big boy on defense that will languish in the AHL. He gives Anaheim more organizational depth on defense, something GM Bob Murray pursued repeatedly on deadline day. – ML
TO ANAHEIM: Korbinian Holzer
TO TORONTO: Eric Brewer, 2016 fifth-round pick
THN’s Take: Holzer gives Anaheim a body, nothing more. He has nice size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. He’s a battler who hits and blocks shots. He shoots right. He’s sidelined with a concussion-like symptoms right now but can slide into the Ducks’ depth chart as the No. 7 or 8 option. He’s an acceptable stopgap if an injury emergency strikes during the playoffs. He isn’t the fleetest of foot, though.
Eric Brewer joining the Leafs fray: just a salary dump by Anaheim. He’s a pending unrestricted free agent. That he’s a throw-in of that caliber says a lot about how far Brewer’s star has fallen. He does turn 36 in April. Time flies! – ML
TO ANAHEIM: James Wisniewski, 2015 third-round pick
TO COLUMBUS: Rene Bourque, William Karlsson, 2015 second-round pick
THN’s Take: The Anaheim Ducks have a lot of solid defensemen of varying skills, but most of them are young. In James Wisniewski, the Ducks get an experienced player who plays with an edge and owns a blistering point shot. He has also played for Anaheim in the past, so there is familiarity with both the market and a good chunk of the roster.
Rene Bourque may be the most well known of the players Columbus got in return, but at this point he’s a depth winger who balances off some of the salary that Wisniewski brings with him to Anaheim.
William Karlsson, who has played his first NHL games this season, is the better return for the Jackets. Quick and skilled, the young Swede has split time between Anaheim and the AHL, where scoring has naturally been much easier. Other than nine games with Norfolk at the end of last season and a brief AHL playoff run, however, this is his first foray into North American hockey. So he’s off to a nice start. – RK
TO COLORADO: Jordan Caron, 2016 sixth-round pick
TO BOSTON: Maxime Talbot, Paul Carey
THN’s Take: The Boston Bruins didn’t shake the Earth with their deadline day moves, but Max Talbot makes sense. He’s capable of playing in the top nine and is an experienced, feisty two-way forward. He’ll probably play higher on the depth chart in the short term with David Krejci out. Talbot was a crucial part of the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup run and should fit nicely into Boston’s mentally mature room with his character, affability and experience. Talbot, 31, has a year left on his deal at a $1.75-million cap hit. He hasn’t played center much in recent seasons but still can if Boston needs him to.
Jordan Caron is a decent add for Colorado, too. Boston took him 25th overall in the 2009 draft, and he spent several seasons among the organization’s highest-rated prospects. He brings nice size to the right wing at 6-foot-3 and 204 pounds. He was stuck with the wrong franchise, though. It was a combination of not quite being ready for the NHL and not being able to crack a roster constantly contending for the Stanley Cup. He gets a fresh start in Denver and, at 24, he still has time to become a full-time NHLer. – ML
TO VANCOUVER: Sven Baertschi
TO CALGARY: 2015 second-round pick
THN’s Take: Sven Baertschi came to Calgary from the 2011 draft as the great Swiss hope. He scored three goals in his first five games in an emergency recall from junior near the end of the Jarome Iginla–Miikka Kiprusoff era. But when Bob Hartley took over as coach the next year, then Brian Burke moved in as acting GM, Baertschi fell out of favor because of his one-zone, one-way play. Burke called him out publicly in training camp of 2013. Flames GM Brad Treliving said Baertschi’s agent told him his client wouldn’t be re-signing with Calgary when he became an RFA this summer. That forced Calgary to trade Baertschi or potentially lose the Swiss-born player to pursuing a career in Europe next season.
The Canucks get a skilled, crafty offensive player who averaged two points per game in his final junior season with Portland. Vancouver GM Jim Benning said Baertschi can eventually be a top-six forward in the Canucks lineup. The Flames get their third second round pick in the deep 2015 draft and now have six selections in the first three rounds. – BC
TO PITTSBURGH: Ben Lovejoy
TO ANAHEIM: Simon Despres
THN’s Take: Not long ago, Ben Lovejoy was playing on the top defense pairing with Cam Fowler, then he found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch. He goes back to Pittsburgh, which dealt him to the Ducks for a fifth-round draft pick two years ago. Lovejoy goes to a dressing room where he was well liked and can offer some steady play on the blueline.
The deal is a wash financially, with Lovejoy having one year left on his deal at $1.1 million and Simon Despres with another year at $900,000. The Ducks are suddenly pretty young on the blueline, which can be a recipe for disaster in the playoffs. Despres was the last pick of the first round in 2009, but hasn’t made much of a career impact yet. – KC
TO MINNESOTA: Chris Stewart
TO BUFFALO: 2017 second-round pick
THN’s Take: Ending deadline day with Chris Stewart on the Sabres roster would’ve been quite a failure for GM Tim Murray, as Stewart is a pending unrestricted free agent with no future in Buffalo. At the last minute, however, Murray pulled the trigger, sending Stewart to Minnesota. The Sabres reportedly will eat half Stewart’s salary.
You never know what you’re going to get with Stewart. He’s a beefy, mean power forward with a first-round draft pedigree. He’s become a whipping boy in recent seasons for his inconsistency, with questions abound about his desire, but he’s still talented. He led the St. Louis Blues in scoring just two seasons ago. Stewart is also an emotional player who can get piping hot if he feels energized in the right situation. After the mega-deal that sent him from Colorado to St. Louis in 2011: 15 goals in 26 games. So he’s probably worth the gamble for Minnesota.
The question is where Stewart fits in the Wild’s deep forward corps. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get a shot in their top six. Otherwise, why surrender a second-round pick for him? Maybe Stewart finds chemistry with center Mikael Granlund or Mikko Koivu. There’s nowhere to go but up with Stewart landing in a hockey town with playoff aspirations and full buildings every night. As Stewart told THN in a summer interview, “Tanking is not in my DNA.” It didn’t sit well with him. So maybe we see a new, rejuvenated Stewart in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. – ML
TO MONTREAL: Torrey Mitchell
TO BUFFALO: Jack Nevins, 2016 seventh-round pick
THN’s Take: In Torrey Mitchell, the Habs get a bottom-six forward who works hard and skates well. Clearly Montreal is stocking up as much as possible for the post-season and Mitchell is another piece in which coach Michel Therrien can toy around with. On a horrible possession team, Mitchell was one of the better Sabres, so that’s a good look for Montreal, which also struggles in that realm.
Nevins, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound winger, has played 32 games with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs this year in his first full professional season, totaling 88 penalty minutes. – RK
TO ST. LOUIS: Olli Jokinen
TO TORONTO: Joakim Lindstrom, 2016 conditional sixth-round pick
THN’s Take: Olli Jokinen wasn’t stoked to come to the Maple Leafs in the first place and just a couple weeks later, he has his ticket out of town. Now heading to his 10th NHL franchise, the big veteran center will head back to a playoff team in St. Louis. The Blues already have an impressive cadre of forwards and Jokinen barely made a dent in Nashville earlier this season, so chalk this up to a depth move for a team hoping for a long, grueling post-season.
Joakim Lindstrom is a veteran winger who spent most of his career in Sweden, but has played in about half of St. Louis’ games this year. He’s an offensive winger with good hockey sense, though the points didn’t come on a deep Blues team. Toronto will be a tryout for him.
The conditional sixth-rounder Toronto gets from St. Louis can become a fourth-rounder if Jokinen helps the Blues get to the Stanley Cup final. – RK
TO ARIZONA: David Leggio
TO ISLANDERS: Mark Louis
THN’s Take: David Leggio, 30, is an undrafted journeyman goalie with no NHL experience to date. He looked good in the Sabres’ system a few years back but didn’t have the same success with Bridgeport, the Islanders’ AHL affiliate. He’s best known for deliberately dislodging his net during a 2-on-0, leading to an AHL rule change. This isn’t really an NHL trade. Arizona’s affiliate, the Portland Pirates, is in a playoff hunt. Leggio gives them insurance in case the Coyotes want to experiment with recalls of Michael Lee or Mike McKenna. The Isles, rather the Sound Tigers, get a tough guy in Mark Louis, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defenseman. – ML
TO MINNESOTA: Jordan Leopold
TO COLUMBUS: Justin Falk, 2015 fifth-round pick
THN’s Take: Jordan Leopold has been a depth player this year, first for St. Louis and more recently for Columbus. He will resume that role for Minnesota now, but there is something to say for the experience he brings to the table. As good as the Wild defense has been, it’s still a fairly inexperienced group and Leopold has a Stanley Cup final appearance on his resume from his Calgary days. And yes, that was a long time ago, but for minimal loss, Minnesota gets a mobile puck-mover with poise.
In Justin Falk, Columbus gets a rather safe blueliner with enviable size at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. He has played most of the season in the AHL and at this point should be considered an NHL/AHL tweener.
Leopold is an unrestricted free agent this summer while Falk is a restricted free agent. – RK
TO VANCOUVER: Cory Conacher
TO ISLANDERS: Dustin Jeffrey
THN’s Take: In his NHL rookie season, Cory Conacher posted 11-18-29 in 47 games. In the 94 games since then: 8-21-29. That’s why Conacher was playing for the Islanders minor league affiliate for much of this season. Suddenly, Conacher has become a journeyman, joining his fifth NHL organization in five years. With the players involved, this is clearly a minor league trade. – KC
TO BUFFALO: Chad Johnson, 2016 third-round pick
TO ISLANDERS: Michal Neuvirth
THN’s Take: This goalie swap makes plenty of sense. Johnson is under contract for next year at a $1.3-million cap hit. He’s a warm body and, with Jhonas Enroth gone and Neuvirth’s contract expiring, not to mention Anders Lindback’s, the Sabres needed someone to man the crease next season. Johnson was outstanding as Tuukka Rask’s backup in Boston last year but looked exposed with the Isles, posting a subpar 3.08 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. This is a win-win setup for the Sabres: if Johnson keeps struggling, he helps them tank further in the standings. If Johnson plays his way into a starting job next season, he’s a cheap No. 1 until an Andrey Makarov or Matt Hackett is ready, and that’s good news for the Sabres, too. Better yet, the Sabres get a third-rounder in this spring’s draft.
Interestingly enough, Neuvirth was traded for Jaroslav Halak at last year’s trade deadline. Neuvirth deserves a medal for posting a .918 SP with Buffalo this season – not to mention a .938 mark in February, the month Enroth was dealt. Neuvirth is a clear upgrade behind Halak. The Isles’ goaltending is as good as it’s going to get for now. – ML
TO COLORADO: Freddie Hamilton
TO SAN JOSE: Karl Stollery
THN’s Take: San Jose ships out Dougie Hamilton’s older brother, Freddie, who is a restricted free agent this summer. The Sharks pick up depth puck-moving D-man Stollery, whose contract expires this summer. The deal is more likely to affect each team’s AHL affiliate than anything else. It’s interesting to see the Sharks give up on Hamilton, though. He was their No. 8 prospect in Future Watch 2015. He just couldn’t migrate his offense to the NHL level, however. – ML
TO ST. LOUIS: Robert Bortuzzo, 2016 seventh-round pick
TO PITTSBURGH: Ian Cole
THN’s Take: Very little separates defensemen Roberto Bortuzzo and Ian Cole. Bortuzzo, now a member of the St. Louis Blues, is bigger and a little nastier, plus he’s a right-handed shot and cheaper. Cole, the new Pittsburgh Penguin, is more mobile, but still plays with an edge and shoots left. Both players are restricted free agents this summer and played depth roles on their respective teams. – RK
TO ISLANDERS: Tyler Kennedy
TO SAN JOSE: Conditional 2017 third-round pick
THN’s Take: It’s a nice feeling for the Islanders that they’re in a position to acquire Kennedy, a.k.a. a versatile piece who can help a team on a Stanley Cup push. He’s a depth forward who can slot onto the third or fourth line and chip in a bit of surprise offense on occasion. He’s a winner, having been part of several deep playoff runs in Pittsburgh. He has a Cup, not to mention 12 goals and 27 points in 76 games of post-season play, all with the Pens. His experience should come in handy, and he’s a warm body to help out while New York waits for Kyle Okposo (eye) and Mikhail Grabovski (upper body) to return. Kennedy, 28, is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The Sharks continue to sell off fringe pieces, hedging their bets in case they continue slipping out of the Western Conference playoff race. – ML
TO DETROIT: Marek Zidlicky
TO NEW JERSEY: 2016 third-round pick and conditional 2015 fifth-round pick
THN’s Take: As broken by THN’s Ken Campbell, the Red Wings grabbed the defenseman we all assumed they wanted – maybe not specifically him, but you get the point. Zidlicky gives Detroit another right-handed shot on the blueline (which they have a dearth of) and he can be a solid contributor to the power play thanks to his heavy shot. He hasn’t played very difficult minutes for New Jersey this season, but the veteran will be part of a larger collective in Detroit, so expectations aren’t too high.
Detroit has been a surprise this season, killing it in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings have managed to spruce up their roster without giving up much in return in the last 24 hours, first with Erik Cole and now with Zidlicky.
The draft choice going to New Jersey is conditional. If the Red Wings go to the Eastern Conference final, the Devils also get a 2015 fifth-round pick. If the Wings reach the Cup final, they get Detroit’s second-rounder in 2015 but the fifth-rounder goes back to Detroit. – RK
TO SAN JOSE: Ben Smith, conditional 2017 seventh-round pick
TO CHICAGO: Andrew Desjardins
THN’s Take: A rare player-for-player swap between teams vying for playoff pushes. The Chicago Blackhawks up their sandpaper with the Desjardins acquisition, no doubt. He hits, he’s willing to drop the gloves when necessary and he’s a proficient faceoff man at .534 for his career. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Hawks try him at center. They’re already stacked at the position with Jonathan Toews, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards and Marcus Kruger. Desjardins, 28, is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
In Smith, 26, San Jose acquires a player with more offensive upside. Desjardins has 15 career goals, whereas Smith scored 14 times last season alone. Smith teased with three goals in seven games during Chicago’s first-round playoff loss to Vancouver in 2011. He chipped in four goals and six points last spring, too. Smith, however, just didn’t have an identity on the team anymore. He’s not big enough to be a high-end checker or talented enough for regular top-six scoring line minutes. He is, however, under contract another year for $1.5 million.
It seems GM Doug Wilson is hedging his bets with his team sliding out of a playoff position, selling off a UFA for one extra year of Smith, who can also play center. It’s a minor deal that nets one team a mild grit boost and the other a mild spike in offensive potential. Oh, and it takes $1.5 million off the Hawks’ cap payroll next season. – ML
TO ST. LOUIS: Zbynek Michalek, conditional 2015 third-round draft pick
TO ARIZONA: Maxim Letunov
THN’s Take: We know the Blues are going for it again and with an almost inevitable playoff showdown with Chicago on the horizon, St. Louis has to cover all the bases. In Zbynek Michalek, the Blues get a hard-working shutdown defenseman who blocks shots and can log decent minutes. He’s a right-handed shot going to a team that has put a lot of stock in matching lefties with righties recently. Michalek has missed the past six games due to a suspected concussion, but, assuming he returns, he will provide the Blues with some excellent depth to what was already one of the premier blueline corps in the NHL. (The conditional pick is dependent upon whether Michalek plays this season.)
In Maxim Letunov, the Coyotes get a very good prospect who is still a few years away. The Russian import plays for Youngstown in the United States League and is committed to Boston University, where the Terriers will make good use of his hockey sense and offensive acumen – he is currently one of the top scorers in the USHL. Still physically underdeveloped, Letunov stands 6-foot-3 and just 168 pounds, which is why he was ranked ninth among Blues prospects in our upcoming edition of Future Watch. But definitely one to watch down the line. – RK
TO MONTREAL: Brian Flynn
TO BUFFALO: 2016 fifth-round pick
THN’s Take: The first two trades this morning belong to the Montreal Canadiens. In Flynn, a pending restricted free agent, they acquire a depth piece. The checker brings decent size, at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, and the Habs can sure use that. He’ll bolster the fourth line as a guy who can grind it out on the forecheck and chip in a bit of offense. His 17 points in 54 games on a horrible Sabres team are nothing to sneeze at given the role he plays. Flynn can also kill penalties.
Getting him gives Montreal the option of sliding Jacob de la Rose to the wing, as the rookie has looked overmatched on draws in his first 13 games, winning at a 42.8 percent clip. Flynn operates at a more respectable 47.6. A fourth line of Flynn between de la Rose and Dale Weise could be a nice, disruptive unit for the playoffs.
As for the Sabres, why not? Checking forwards are easy enough to find. Flynn, 26, wasn’t a major part of their future. A fifth-round pick in 2016? Sure. Fine. – ML
TO MONTREAL: Jeff Petry
TO EDMONTON: 2015 second-round pick, conditional 2015 fifth-round pick
THN’s Take: The East is wide open this year and the Canadiens know they have the goaltending to make a huge run. But supporting Carey Price means adding pieces and GM Marc Bergevin did just that by snagging defenseman Jeff Petry from Edmonton.
Petry logged tough minutes for the Oilers and brings puck-moving ability to a Habs team that already has pretty good mobility. Definitely a top-four blueliner, he gives Montreal some very nice depth back there and comes in as a “rental,” since he’s an unrestricted free agent come this summer. Having said that, Petry is still in his prime and would be a nice re-sign if the Habs can make it work.
Edmonton continues to strip down with this deal and if the Oilers are going to land one of the two coveted centers in this summer’s draft – either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel – jettisoning Petry will help. That loss of depth this season might end up being just as important to the Oilers as the second-round pick in 2015 they got back for the big defenseman.
The conditional fifth-rounder can become a fourth-rounder if Montreal wins a playoff round this year and a third-rounder if the Habs win two, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. – RK