Brandon Saad (via Columbus Blue Jackets/Twitter)
There was no shortage of trades in 2015 and some big names were on the move this past year. Some trades made significant post-season impact while others were deals to build for the future.
Be it trade deadline deals or big off-season moves, 2015 wasn’t short on big names getting moved in the hockey world. Cap crunches and playoffs misses yielded the trades of core players, while some big name deals had the hockey world shocked at how quickly things can change.
Here are your top 10 trades of 2015:
10. Yandle to the Rangers
New York Rangers acquire: Keith Yandle, Chris Summers, 2015 4th
Arizona Coyotes acquire: Anthony Duclair, John Moore, 2015 2nd, 2016 1st
There were several teams after Yandle at the trade deadline, but few saw a deal to the Rangers coming. Most saw the Boston Bruins as the frontrunners, but the Blueshirts, who were Stanley Cup finalists the year prior, went all-in and picked up Yandle at the deadline. The price was steep — losing youngster Duclair might hurt down the line — but it gave the Rangers some added punch on the blueline in the chase for another chance at a Stanley Cup.
Did it work? Almost, actually. The Rangers got two goals and 11 points out of Yandle in the post-season, and they came within one game of advancing back to the final. It was not to be, though, as they were beat out by the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.
9. Oshie out of St. Louis
Washington Capitals acquire: TJ Oshie
St. Louis Blues acquire: Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley, 2016 3rd
Something had to give in St. Louis after three consecutive post-season exits and Oshie’s name had come up, but him landing in Washington didn’t seem like a possibility. The Capitals forked over big-bodied middle-six winger Brouwer, prospect goaltender Copley and a draft pick to get Oshie. The price wasn’t awfully steep, and it looks like it may have been just right. Oshie has been good, not great, but is on pace to surpass his career high for goals.
Brouwer has been a nice addition in St. Louis, too. He brings a much different element than Oshie — he’s physical and plays a more straight-line game. Brouwer has been a 20-goal scorer each of the past two seasons, but it doesn’t look like that’ll be the case in 2015-16. He has six goals in 38 games and is on pace for 13 this season.
8. Sharp heads to Texas
Dallas Stars acquire: Patrick Sharp, Stephen Johns
Chicago Blackhawks acquire: Trevor Daley, Ryan Garbutt
Chicago’s cap crunch was eventually going to claim one of the Blackhawks core, veteran players, and Sharp ended up being the odd man out. His $5.9-million annual cap hit didn’t work for the Blackhawks any longer, so they packaged him with prospect blueliner Johns and sent them to the Stars. Sharp adds to the incredible firepower in Dallas and is on pace for a near 30-goal campaign.
As for the Blackhawks side of the deal, Daley was thought to be a replacement for Johnny Oduya — who, coincidentally, jetted off to Dallas as a free agent — but it didn’t pan out. By December, Daley was shipped to Pittsburgh in a cap space-saving deal. Garbutt has been in and out of Chicago’s lineup.
7. Boston flips Lucic to Los Angeles, San Jose nabs Jones
Los Angeles Kings acquire: Milan Lucic
Boston Bruins acquire: Martin Jones, Colin Miller, 2015 1st
San Jose Sharks acquire: Martin Jones
Boston Bruins acquire: Sean Kuraly, 2016 1st
This trade is a two-parter, the first of which saw the Lucic packing his bags and heading out of Boston after his second underwhelming season in three years. His 18-goal, 44-point performance was far from what the Bruins were expecting, so they ditched the free-agent-to-be in a deal that brought emerging goaltender Jones, defenseman Miller and a first-round pick to Beantown.
Lucic has fit in well in Los Angeles and looks like he could be a 20-goal, 50-point player again. There’s a chance he’s brought back by the Kings, too, which will make an already strong lineup even better.
As for Miller, the rookie has shown some signs that he could be a contributor in the future, but it’s still too early to tell. The same can be said for the first-round pick, which the Bruins used to select defenseman Jakub Zboril.
There’s another part to this deal, though, and that’s Jones. The Kings likely didn’t want to see the netminder back in the Pacific Division, but the Bruins, well, they didn’t care so much about that. With Tuukka Rask, there was no need for Jones, so the Bruins flipped him to San Jose for a Kuraly and a 2016 first-rounder.
Jones has been good, not great, for San Jose in his first run as a starting netminder, but it was a massive improvement for the Sharks between the pipes. They traded former starter Antti Niemi to Dallas in the off-season and their plan looked to be Alex Stalock. Stalock has instead been Jones’ backup.
6. O'Reilly dealt to Buffalo in massive draft day deal
Buffalo Sabres acquire: Ryan O’Reilly, Jamie McGinn
Colorado Avalanche acquire: Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, JT Compher, 2015 2nd
O’Reilly’s relationship with the Avalanche had been contentious over the past few seasons, including a hold out prior to the 2012-13 season. O’Reilly finally came to terms on a two-year, $10-million deal, which was followed up by a two-year, $12-million contract. But with O’Reilly one year away from unrestricted free agency, the Avalanche knew they wouldn’t be re-signing the pivot and chose to send him to the Buffalo Sabres in a massive pre-draft deal.
Going to Colorado were defenseman Zadorov, struggling prospect Grigorenko, prospect Compher and a second-round pick. The trade hasn’t worked out yet for the Avalanche as Zadorov and Grigorenko are both stuck in the AHL. In Buffalo, O’Reilly has been excellent. He’s on a 73-point pace and has been the perfect top-line center for the Sabres.
5. Wild turn season around with Dubnyk
Minnesota Wild acquire: Devan Dubnyk
Arizona Coyotes acquire: 2015 3rd
When the Minnesota Wild acquired Dubnyk, they were in a post-season position but falling fast. They had lost seven straight games by a combined score of 29-10. The goaltending situation in Minnesota was ugly, and neither Darcy Kuemper nor Niklas Backstrom could do anything to turn their season’s around. Dubnyk was a backup in Arizona and it took only a third-round pick to pry him away from the Coyotes.
Upon arriving in Minnesota, Dubnyk went on an absolute tear. He posted a 27-9-2 record, five shutouts, 1.78 GAA and .936 SP and earned himself a top-three finish in Vezina Trophy voting and took home the Masterton Trophy.
4. Jets trade Kane to Sabres in eight-player deal
Buffalo Sabres acquire: Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Jason Kasdorf
Winnipeg Jets acquire: Brendan Lemieux, Joel Armia, Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, 2015 1st
Trouble had been brewing in Winnipeg with Kane from what felt like the moment he arrived to the Jets. He was often the center of trade negotiations. Shortly after the infamous tracksuit incident, Kane was packing his bags and heading to Buffalo. But he wasn’t going alone as longtime Atlanta/Winnipeg blueliner Bogosian was packaged, as well as prospect goaltender Kasdorf, headed to the Sabres, as well.
Unfortunately for Buffalo, Kane and Bogosian have been injured for much of their time with the Sabres and a recent sex-offense investigation involving Kane has marred his first full season with the Sabres.
In exchange, the Jets got Myers and Stafford — both big pieces of the Sabres at the time — as well as a first-round pick and prospects Lemieux and Armia. The play of Myers and Stafford helped propel the Jets into the post-season.
3. Hamilton leaves Boston for Calgary as free agent
Calgary Flames acquire: Dougie Hamilton
Boston Bruins acquire: 2015 1st, 2015 2nd, 2015 2nd
Hamilton had his coming out party in Boston during the 2014-15 season, and he appeared to be the clear successor to Zdeno Chara on the Bruins blueline. However, Hamilton’s contract was up following the season and he wanted a significant pay raise coming out of his entry-level deal. Instead of inking him to a new deal, though, Boston delivered a draft-day shocker by dealing Hamilton to the Calgary Flames.
Landing Hamilton cost the Flames a pretty penny, though. In order to pluck him out of Beantown, Calgary gave up a first-round pick which was used to draft Zach Senyshyn, a second-round pick used on Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and an additional 2016 second-round pick. Days after being dealt to Calgary, Hamilton signed a six-year, $34.5-million deal.
2. Kessel dealt to Pittsburgh in Canada Day blockbuster
Pittsburgh Penguins acquire: Phil Kessel, Tim Erixon, Tyler Biggs, 2016 conditional 2nd
Toronto Maple Leafs acquire: Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling, 2016 conditional 1st, 2016 3rd
The biggest deal on the opening day of free agency wasn’t a signing but the long-rumored trade of Kessel. The deal came out of nowhere and seemed to happen within a matter of minutes: Kessel was sent to the Penguins for Spaling, prospects Kapanen, Harrington and two picks in the 2016 draft.
Kessel has been one of the better players on a Penguins team that has struggled all season, and he’s second on the club with nine goals. His 18 points are also the third-best on the squad, but Pittsburgh has been having a difficult time finding perfect linemates for the speedy winger.
The trade wasn’t going to bring an immediate impact player to Toronto, but they’re rebuilding and that’s not what was needed. Young players who could factor into the lineup down the road is exactly what the Maple Leafs were looking for.
1. Saad traded to Columbus in deal no one saw coming
Columbus Blue Jackets acquire: Brandon Saad, Alex Broadhurst, Michael Paliotta
Chicago Blackhawks acquire: Marko Dano, Artem Anisimov, Corey Tropp, Jeremy Morin, 2016 4th
Saad was primed to breakout in 2014-15 and he did in a big way. Alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, Saad formed one of the best lines in hockey and scored 23 goals and 52 points during the regular season. In the post-season, he continued to be a scoring threat, notching eight goals and 11 points in 23 games. He was thought to be an immovable piece of Chicago’s core after the Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six years. The off-season cap crunch made him a casualty, though.
For much of the off-season, the Blackhawks and GM Stan Bowman said they’d get Saad under contract but it seemed as though the cap situation would make signing the then-22-year-old tricky. Saad was a restricted free agent and due a hefty raise. With the threat of an offer-sheet looming and the Blackhawks not wanting to lose Saad for nothing, Saad was sent to Columbus in a massive seven-player deal in what was easily the most shocking deal of 2015. Saad signed a six-year, $36-million deal with the Blue Jackets three days after being acquired.
Coming the other way in the trade were Anisimov, Dano, Tropp and former Blackhawk Morin, as well as a fourth-round pick in 2016. Anisimov was the perfect fit as a second-line center in Chicago and Dano could very well turn out to be a good performer in the NHL given some time to grow. Neither Tropp nor Morin have found their way to the NHL this season.