A flurry of trades highlight NHL's deadline day
It was an exciting trade deadline day with lots of deals made. Divisions have as many as 6 teams competing for a playoff spot so there were lots of reasons for teams to buy. However, for this exact reason one would be cautious not to sacrifice too much of the future for an uncertain chance. Nevertheless, there were moves made and they will have an impact on the playoff picture this season. Here's a look at the big ones:
Tampa Bay Lightning: Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller
New York Rangers: Vladislav Namestnikov, Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2019 conditional first-round pick.
This was the big trade of the day that everyone has a take on. It is very complex so not an easy one to pick sides for who got better value or if they each got the same. The Rangers have committed to the rebuild by picking up multiple solid futures for vets Nick Holden, Michael Grabner and Rick Nash. Today they waited until the clock struck 12:00 to complete this blockbuster. Out of all their trades, this seems like the lightest return given that McDonagh is a #1 defenseman with 26 points this year and Miller is a top 6 forward with 40 points thus far. Tampa Bay already were the Cup favourites for me and this move just pushes them even further ahead of the pack. The two prospects and picks won’t be a big loss as their window is now and McDonagh is locked up for one more year. Miller is an RFA this summer and Rangers dealt him to avoid a big payday and will have Namestnikov at a cheaper price coming off the 20-goal season he’s had so far. Hajek and Howden are both very strong prospects who will make an impact for the Rangers in the future. However, none of them are elite prospects which has some questioning the return. The conditional 2019 pick will become a second-rounder if the Lightning do not win the Stanley Cup by then. I would grade this trade as a win for the Lightning.
San Jose Sharks: Evander Kane
Buffalo Sabres: Dan O'Regan,a 2019 conditional first-round pick, and a 2019 fourth-round pick
The San Jose Sharks needed this deal. Despite excellent goaltending and defense, they have the 24th ranked goal scoring offense at even strength. Evander Kane is a high-level goal scorer who has 20 goals already this season. He is also a stable penalty killer and ranks 10th among forwards in Goals Allowed per 60 on the PK. He’s had 3 straight years with 20 goals for the lowly Buffalo Sabres and will now get the chance to fight for the first playoff games in his career.O’Regan is not an elite prospect but he does offer considerable upside and is close to the big leagues. The 24-year-old German has had 83 points in 94 games in the AHL the past two season and looks to break into the lineup. The 2019 first-round pick to Buffalo becomes a second-round pick if Kane does not re-sign with the Sharks this summer as he is a pending free agent. San Jose should feel happy about this complete top 6 forward rental that could become a long-term fixture in their lineup if he shows out well at a less than premium price. For this reason, one has to think Buffalo failed to capitalize on having a premium rental asset with just a B level prospect and a risky 2019 pick.
Vegas Golden Knights: Tomas Tatar
Detroit Red Wings: A 2018 first-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick, and a 2021 third-round pick
Most of the trades on the day worked out in favour of the buyers but this one is a controversial one. Vegas is defying all expectations with an overachieving lineup and needed improvements if they wanted to make a run this year despite their rebuild status as a new team. The team is rich in draft picks but this is a clear move towards contending immediately. These picks make it seem like a steeper price than it actually is because they are spread out over the next 4 drafts. Tatar is not a rental acquisition as he stands to earn $5.3 million per year for the next 3 years. He is currently in his worst full season in the league with under 0.5 PPG but is on pace for his 4thconsecutive 20 goal season. Detroit would have liked to have kept Tatar through the rebuild but this offer was too good to pass up. After decades of success the Red Wings are spiralling down and this is a great move for their new direction.
Winnipeg Jets: Paul Stastny
St. Louis Blues: 2018 first-round pick, rights to forward Erik Foley
This was another surprising trade given the fact there was zero buzz around a Stastny trade. Even more peculiar is that this deal involves the Blues who are right on the edge of a playoff spot. The Blues have had an abysmal February in terms of offense so trading away their 2nd line center is strange. However, it is believed that they couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract so St. Louis decided to be proactive and deal the 40-point man for a nice return. The Jets missed out on getting Derrick Brassard but Stastny is a nice addition for their 3rd line in a deep lineup. The Jets do have trouble attracting payers to play for them but Stastny was willing to move there and will look to make a positive impact for the team.
Other trades: Ryan Hartman went to Nashville for a nice haul including a first round pick. He may be a young forward but this is a step in the right direction for Chicago. The Atlantic division also had some additions with Patrick Maroon and Michael Grabner heading to the Devils and Thomas Vanek to the Blue Jackets. The past few days also saw some big trades. As I mentioned before Rick Nash was dealt to the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs responded by getting Tomas Plekanecso shore up their forward depth. The Pittsburgh Penguins made another big move by acquiring Derrick Brassard as they gear up for another Stanley Cup Run.