Every trade deadline has winners and losers – even the uneventful ones. Monday’s deadline day produced tiny ripples on the trade front and little else but, hey, bodies did move. The proof is here in our trade tracker. Some teams upgraded, some added pieces for their futures and many failed to acquire sorely needed players or picks.
With that, here are THN’s 2016 trade deadline winners and losers. To make this exercise more interesting, any moves made within the past seven days will count as “deadline deals.” Close enough, right?
1. Chicago Blackhawks
This one’s a no-brainer. The Hawks were already emerging as the team to beat in the Western Conference for the umpteenth year and fortified their chances of another deep run with some astute moves by GM Stan Bowman. Andrew Ladd was obviously the crown jewel of this year’s deadline, a two-time Stanley Cup winner and captain who can play comfortably anywhere from the first to the third line and was a key member of Chicago’s 2010 Cup run. He checks off every last box and, for a win-now juggernaut like the Hawks, he’s absolutely worth a first-round pick and a quality prospect in Marko Dano.
Bowman then scooped Christian Ehrhoff from the L.A. Kings for Rob Scuderi in a move tailored to each team’s needs. Ehrhoff is nowhere near the player he was even a few years ago but brings mobility and depth to the blueline. In another coup of a deal, Bowman turned second-tier prospect Phillip Danault and a 2018 second-rounder into Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann, acquired from the Habs. The Hawks have significantly strengthened their top nine forwards, and no other teams matched their upgrades over the past week. Not even close, really. They’ll only get scarier when Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger return from injury.
2. Florida Panthers
So we can all agree the return for Brandon Pirri, a 2016 sixth-rounder, was underwhelming. Aside from that, though, the Panthers sent an exciting message over the past week. Second- and third-round picks in 2016 and a 2018 fourth-rounder bought them Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell. The Cats have been stocking up their farm system for several years now, so GM Dale Tallon had to make some aggressive win-now moves sooner or later. Why the heck not do it this year? The Eastern Conference is wide open, especially on the Atlantic Division side of the bracket. It doesn’t take a massive mental leap to picture Florida in the Conference final.
3. Anaheim Ducks
Here come those Ducks. No NHL team has been hotter over the past month, and the Ducks paid relatively little to further bolster their top-nine forward group. Pirri cost them a mere sixth-rounder, and Jamie McGinn a 2016 third-round pick that becomes at 2017 second-rounder if (when?) the Ducks reach the conference final and if McGinn plays in more than half the Anaheim playoff games. Good stuff. January’s David Perron trade really reinvigorated Anaheim, as has Rickard Rakell’s breakout season, and the depth additions make this team that much more dangerous. Pirri and McGinn are the kinds of players who occasionally flirt with top-six duty on mediocre teams but could be championship-caliber third- or fourth-liners. Best of all for GM Bob Murray, he avoided selling off one of his key restricted free agent defensemen. Yes, it will be hard to pay Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen this summer, but that’s a problem for another day. The Ducks can contend for the Cup right now and need all their good young D-men. It would’ve been nice to make room for Shea Theodore in the lineup, as he’s ready, but defensive depth is a nice luxury in the post-season anyway. Maybe an injury forces him back up to the big club at some point.
4. Winnipeg Jets
The Jets already have an elite farm system. Young guns like Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba have graduated to the NHL, but plenty more blue-chippers are on the way. Connor Hellebuyck, the team’s long-term starting goalie, looked great in his call-up when Ondrej Pavelec was injured. There’s Kyle Connor, Brendan Lemieux, Nic Petan, Jack Roslovic, Eric Comrie, Josh Morrissey…the list goes on, and it gets longer with that lovely return for Ladd. On top of a first-rounder, the Jets took home Marko Dano, who is NHL-ready but was a victim of playing on talent-rich Chicago. The Jets have room for him right away.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
The pessimistic take would be that Toronto failed by not moving pending UFAs P-A Parenteau, Michael Grabner and Brad Boyes. But a team can only ship out so many assets in one week. Toronto still managed to unload Shawn Matthias, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, James Reimer and Daniel Winnik, netting three second-round picks and a pair of fourths in the flurry of deals. The Leafs are currently slated to pick 14 times at this June’s draft.
Also deserving pats on the back…
1. Calgary Flames – The return for Kris Russell was outstanding.
2. Colorado Avalanche – They have no hope at a Cup, but there’s no denying Matthias, Mikkel Boedker and Eric Gelinas make them better than they were a week ago.
3. Carolina Hurricanes – Like the Leafs, they’ve loaded up on picks by selling off veteran assets.
1. Vancouver Canucks
This year’s trade market lacked mega-star names. In theory, then, right winger Radim Vrbata and defenseman Dan Hamhuis were particularly valuable rental assets as pending UFAs. They weren’t the easiest players in the world to unload, as Hamhuis had a full no-trade clause and Vrbata a limited no-trade allowing him to submit a list of five teams to which he’d accept a deal. It’s difficult to know this early what caused the moves to collapse – Did Vancouver want too much? – but not moving those expiring assets was a failure nonetheless. Benning said the Canucks got no concrete offers from teams on Vrbata’s list, but we do know Hamhuis would’ve accepted a trade to Chicago or Dallas, as he told reporters that after the deadline.
Now both players remain Canucks for the rest of the season, and tough to buy the notion of Hamhuis and Vrbata aiding a late playoff push in Vancouver. The Canucks are eight points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth, albeit with games in hand on Colorado.
2. St. Louis Blues
The Blues were undoubtedly hamstrung by their cap situation. And GM Doug Armstrong said he had no desire to keep injured veterans such as Alexander Steen and Brian Elliott on long-term injured reserve until the playoffs, as he wanted them for the stretch run if they were healthy. A big-ticket trade was unlikely. It doesn’t make the deadline any less disappointing for St. Louis, though. It has the second-lowest goal total of any Western Conference team currently in a playoff spot. The Blues needed a shot in the arm, especially with Steen sidelined, and they’re under immense pressure to win a round or two this spring after so many early exits in recent years.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
Sure, GM Steve Yzerman has proven he won’t be strong-armed. But winning takes priority over pride, doesn’t it? Taking the plunge on pending UFA Steven Stamkos announced to the league the Bolts wanted to push hard for a Cup this spring. They had offers on Jonathan Drouin but couldn’t get a trade done. They’ll have more opportunities to do so, but if Stamkos leaves in free agency and Tampa doesn’t make noise in the playoffs, we’ll always wonder whether Drouin could’ve netted the piece to put the Bolts over the top.
4. New York Islanders
The Islanders behaved like a team not overly interested in making the playoffs over the past week. They likely will, as they have a six-point cushion over Philadelphia with a game in hand, so they were in a position to add some veteran help. It was established pre-deadline they didn’t want to move a first-round pick, but should that have stopped them from picking up a P-A Parenteau type? No way the Leafs asked for a first-rounder.
5. Boston Bruins
Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles cost Boston a 2017 second-rounder, a 2016 fourth-rounder, a 2016 third rounder, a 2017 fifth-rounder and Anthony Camara. Consider again that Pirri cost the Ducks just a sixth-round pick. Boston mortgaged a lot for marginal pieces. Stempniak can score in bunches and was enjoying a nice year with New Jersey, but (a) he averaged a career-high 18:44 of ice there and won’t see that much in Boston and (b) he has crashed back to Earth with two goals and five points in 13 games after the all-star break. Liles brings mobility, but also a $3.875-million cap hit. Couldn’t GM Sweeney have called up Colin Miller instead? He is fleet of foot, like Liles, but far younger and far cheaper.
Also deserving head shakes of disapproval…
1. Philadelphia Flyers – Caught in no man’s land between buyer and seller. Ended up doing nothing.
2. Dallas Stars – Kris Russell is useful but overrated and cost Stars far too much in Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock and a conditional second-rounder that becomes a first if Dallas reaches conference final.
3. Detroit Red Wings – Inactivity unsurprising but disappointing nonetheless. East is so ripe for the taking among the sea of teams behind Washington.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin