OPINION: Ranking the moves of the NHL trade deadline

By on March 5, 2019

Another eventful NHL trade deadline occurred on Feb. 25, and both buyers and sellers looked to maximize their profits for the near or distant future.

Typically, the deadline provides a level of drama and entertainment for hockey fans when a big name player could potentially be traded. Last year, Erik Karlsson was the big name player, this year, Artemi Panarin was the big name on the market.

I decided it would be fitting to take a look at the overall performance of a few team’s deadline deals and give them a grade based on trades that were or were not made.

Anaheim Ducks: F

I expected big moves from the Ducks before the deadline. They should have been huge sellers, but instead, they traded away Brandon Montour. Add him to the list with Shea Theodore and Sami Vatanen as a highly talented defenseman that isn’t protecting John Gibson anymore. Someone, please save Gibson before Anaheim breaks his back from carrying the team all season.

Boston Bruins: B-

I think Boston made a couple of solid moves at the deadline. They acquired Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild and Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils. Coyle is a depth forward that can improve Boston’s scoring beyond the first line. Johansson is a two-way forward that will kill penalties and put some points up. The two teams that are potentially preventing Boston from making the Eastern Conference Finals decided not to make a single trade. More could have been done, but not something to frown upon.

Buffalo Sabres: B

Buffalo is morphing into a winning team. They are sick of the constant rebuilding and retooling. The biggest issue Buffalo faces is their defensive pairings. Adding Brandon Montour to a defense that struggles beyond the first pair was a terrific move. Montour is a young puck-moving defenseman that plays a pile of ice time. He struggled with the Ducks this season, but everyone on that team, besides John Gibson, is struggling.

Chicago Blackhawks: A-

Not a single trade was made by Chicago this deadline. Why would a team that struggled to begin the season but now is making a playoff push shake it up? Patrick Kane is the reason. He has the second most points in the league and is my pick to win MVP (Hart Trophy). Chicago did not have a ton of options to choose from, but the offseason should be much more interesting once they have cap space to work with.

Columbus Blue Jackets: A+

Ah, the Blue Jackets, a team with a majority of the media attention as the deadline drew closer. The anticipation of an Artemi Panarin trade ran league-wide. Then, Jarmo Kekalainen shocked the hockey world when the Blue Jackets went all in and traded for Matt Duchene. They traded away fistsful of draft picks to acquire him, as well as Ryan Dzingel, Keith Kinkaid and Adam McQuaid. If Panarin leaves in the offseason, which is most likely to happen, I assume they will resign Duchene and keep the team’s core together.

Dallas Stars: B or F

Dallas made a trade that hit me right in the feels. Mats Zuccarello for a second and third round pick that could potentially be a second and first round. I am a proud Rangers fan and watching Zuccarello leave brought a tear to my eye. I watched his first game with Dallas where he scored a goal and tallied an assist. He then showed Dallas his dedication to any team he plays for by blocking a shot. The shot broke his arm, and he is now out for four weeks with a broken arm. The hockey gods are cruel way too often.

Edmonton Oilers: Is there a grade lower than F?

It’s no secret that Peter Chiarelli is the worst GM of all-time for making trades. However, he was fired before the deadline, you know right after he signed Koskinen to a three-year $13 million deal. They traded away Ryan Spooner and Cam Talbot for Sam Ganger and Anthony Stolarz. Edmonton needs to do something immediately to fix this spiral of failure. Connor McDavid will only stay for so long.

Nashville Predators: B-

Nothing too special here, just adding some more depth scoring and powerplay potential. Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund were good additions, no doubt, but I don’t know how effective they will be against fully loaded teams. Nashville has been a one-line team most of the season, and hopefully, this puts them over the edge, but I don’t see them beating the Jets or any of the teams in the Pacific.

New York Rangers: A-

It was an emotional weekend for Rangers fans. Losing a hometown favorite in Mats Zuccarello and then Kevin Hayes only a year after trading away the team’s captain and several homegrown players. The rebuild seems to be heading in the right direction though. They now have draft picks and a tremendous prospect pool that is developing nicely. Receiving Brendan Lemieux from Winnipeg should add some grit and fire to this young team. The future is bright for the Blueshirts.

Ottawa Senators: A+

I am convinced Dorion wants his fan base to die of heartbreaks. They trade away a fan favorite in Mark Stone, as well as Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel. Now the return for these players was terrific though, a lot of credit is due to Dorion. However, Duchene was traded for last year by Ottawa, in which they gave away their 2019 first round draft pick. That pick could very likely be number one as Ottawa is dead last in the league. Jack Hughes should enjoy playing hockey alongside Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen for the start of his career.

Vegas Golden Knights: A+++

This team loaded up big time. Trading away Eric Brannstrom hurts, but adding Mark Stone to a team built based off chip-on-the-shoulder type players is enormous. Stone is exceptionally talented and provides a lot of offense to an already stacked Vegas lineup. The Western Conference playoffs are shaping up to be a blood bath.

Washington Capitals: B

I like the addition of Carl Hagelin. He brings speed and hard forechecking to an offensively gifted roster. Hagelin kills penalties with a passion. I thought that the defending champions would do a little more to bring some physicality, but this was a substantial trade.

Winnipeg Jets: A+

This team seeks revenge for not making the finals last season. As predicted, they traded for Kevin Hayes to bolster their scoring depth. Adding Nathan Beaulieu, Matt Hendricks and Par Lindholm might have just put this team over the edge. The west looks to present some of the best playoff matchups, and Winnipeg stands as the team to be knocked off the top.

As a whole, I think the NHL benefitted from this year’s deadline. Most team’s general managers did a great job of getting their lineups ready for the playoffs or furthering a plan to get their teams back to the playoffs.

There are only five weeks remaining in the regular season, which is plenty of time for the playoff picture to adjust. It’s also just enough time for me to eat my words on some of the trades. Bring on the playoffs.

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