The five biggest deals of the NHL trade deadline
By Josh Werle, Staff Writer
The NHL trade deadline is historically one of the busiest weekends in hockey. The trade deadline represents the last day that general managers can trade their players before the summer, and more importantly, before the playoffs. This year’s trade deadline weekend has come and gone and it was no different than previous years. There were a number of big moves that are sure to shake up the entirety of the NHL. Let’s take a look at the five biggest deals of this year’s NHL trade deadline.
Calle Järnkrok to the Calgary Flames
Formerly a member of the Nashville Predators who was taken by the Seattle Kraken in their expansion draft this summer, Järnkrok has been dealt to the Calgary Flames. Oddly enough, this deal made all the sense in the world given his ties to some of the other members in the locker room. Järnkrok was born in Sweden and now joins two other Swedish players on the Calgary Flames lineup: Jacob Markström and Elias Lindholm.
The relationships between these three players goes beyond hockey, as Lindholm and Järnkrok are cousins and Markström is a childhood friend. The odds of these three Swedish pals playing together on the same NHL team were slim to none but the Calgary Flames managed to get the deal done. Although Lindholm and Markström surely advocated to make it happen, Järnkrok’s stellar play has earned him a chance to go to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Järnkrok currently sits at 27 points in 52 games this season and has already picked up a point with the Flames. Järnkrok is sure to be a good fit in the Flames’ lineup as the chemistry is already there with some of his best teammates.
Rickard Rakell to the Pittsburgh Penguins
A career-long member of the Anaheim Ducks, Rickard Rakell was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline. Rakell has been a staple of the Ducks since 2012 and has been a core contributor during their many playoff appearances over the years. Rakell’s veteran presence will only bolster the already strong Pittsburgh team and his strong play this year will help the Penguins during their inevitable playoff appearance.
Rakell has 28 points in 52 games this season, and will look to keep up this pace alongside Sidney Crosby and Evegeni Malkin. Pittsburgh is opting to run with Tristan Jarry as their number-one goaltender, and although it’s surprising that they didn’t try to upgrade at that position, improving the team’s offence is never a bad idea.
Mark Giordano to the Toronto Maple Leafs
The former longtime Calgary Flames captain, and now former captain of the Seattle Kraken, has been traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto’s star defenseman Jake Muzzin has been on the long-term injury reserve since late February, leaving a massive hole to fill on the Leafs’ defensive unit. Giordano will certainly fill that void, and will heavily improve the Leafs’ defence heading into the playoffs. Once Muzzin is back the Leafs will have Morgan Rielly, T.J. Brodie and Giordano to work with.
Brodie and Giordano are longtime friends, and former teammates and they should have great chemistry if they play on the same line. Giordano has 23 points in 55 games this season and is still one of the better defenseman in the league. The former Norris Trophy winner will look to aid the Maple Leafs in the playoffs as they attempt to make a deep run.
Marc-André Fleury to the Minnesota Wild
The NHL’s reigning Vezina champion is on the move to Minnesota. The Minnesota Wild are currently situated in a playoff spot in the Central Division. With a stellar offensive and defensive line, the Wild decided to upgrade the one area of their team that needed it. Cam Talbot was an all-star representative this year and Marc-André Fleury joining the fray gives Minnesota one of the best goalie tandems in the entire league. With Fleury and Talbot at the helm, Minnesota traded their young goalie Kaapo Kähkönen to the San Jose Sharks.
Fleury started this season with the Chicago Blackhawks, and although the team had a lot of promise on paper, Fleury really struggled early on in the season. He finished his tenure with the Blackhawks with a 19-21-5 record with a .908 save percentage. Expect these numbers to go up with the Minnesota Wild as Fleury will now have star defensemen Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin to protect him. On top of that, the Wild have a lot of offensive firepower with the reigning Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala and Joel Eriksson Ek on the offensive line. This is a brilliant move for Minnesota in the short term and should make them true cup contenders with two very experienced goaltenders guarding the crease.
Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers
By far the most impactful trade of this year’s deadline was Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers.
Claude Giroux has been the longtime captain of the Philadelphia Flyers and has been an integral part of the organisation since 2007. Giroux has consistently been one of the best players in the NHL since his draft year, and if it weren’t for players like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, Giroux would have been a household name.
Giroux currently has 42 points in 57 games played this season. Although that number is already impressive, look for the numbers to shoot up if Giroux gets to play alongside Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau on Florida’s top line.
Giroux has won many individual awards over the years but there is still one honour that he is missing: the coveted Stanley Cup championship. Giroux now has a chance to make that dream come true; at the time of writing, the Florida Panthers sit at the top of the Eastern Conference with 90 points. With the addition of Giroux, the Panthers arguably have one of the best offensive lineups in the league and will almost undoubtedly be one of the favourites to win the Stanley Cup this year.
It will be strange seeing Giroux in anything other than a Flyers jersey but this trade to Florida might be his greatest chance at a Stanley Cup championship.