The biggest winners and losers of the NHL trade deadline
Matthew DeMille, Staff Writer
In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the National Hockey League’s (NHL) trade deadline has sped on by. While the deadline itself landed on March. 3, many clubs didn’t wait till the final day to make their moves. As a matter of fact, deals started to roll through as early as Jan. 30 — when former Vancouver Canuck team captain, Bo Horvat, was sent to the New York Islanders.
The beautiful thing about the trade deadline is that it’s nearly impossible for clubs to hide their true intentions as they get ready to gear up for a Stanley Cup Playoffs push or a long, hot summer on the golf links. Other clubs, analysts and fanbases are all able to see which teams have put all their chips in the pot, which are on the fence, which are selling their store, and, lastly, which have no-flipping-clue what direction their crew is headed.
Now, as the 32 general managers get tucked into bed following a handful of chaotic afternoons in the office and sleepless nights, most likely still in their offices, we will examine all 59 swaps made this deadline in order to highlight a few clubs who struck it rich and a few who fell short this go-round.
Fear the east
Prior to the deadline, there was a commonly shared belief across the hockey community that a team from the Eastern Conference would win the Stanley Cup. And that was before superstars, who once ran the opposing Western Conference, migrated over to the east. The likes of Bo Horvat, Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O’Rielly, Timo Meier, Tanner Jeannot, Jesse Puljujarvi, Patrick Kane and Jakob Chychrun, all found new homes with Eastern Conference clubs.
Beantown or bust
If you didn’t already have the Boston Bruins as your favourites to win the Stanley Cup, now is the time to change your pick. Boston — who was already atop the NHL standings prior to the trade deadline — added even more toughness, grit and tenacity to their roster by acquiring Garnet Hathaway and Dmitry Orlov from the Washington Capitals and Tyler Bertuzzi from the Detroit Red Wings. While results aren’t usually instantaneous, blueliner Dmitry Orlov is already proving us wrong. In his five games as a Bruin, Orlov has already recorded three goals, six assists and was given the NHL’s First Star of the Week honours on March 5. We sure feel bad for the poor wildcard team that gets stuck playing the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
The ‘Big Apple’ gets bigger
The New York Rangers are staking the claim that a pure offensive strategy is enough to make a deep push in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They reiterated this belief through their trade deadline acquisitions this year, acquiring one- and three-time Stanley Cup champions, Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane. Taresenko and Kane will join the Rangers’ already star-studded forward core that includes Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Alexis Lafreniere.
Pair that with 2021 Norris Trophy recipient, Adam Fox and 2022 Vezina Trophy winner, Igor Shesterkin, and the New York Rangers may have just found themselves a Stanley Cup winning combination.
Just because a team is not in the position to buy at the trade deadline, doesn’t mean they have to keep quiet. The Nashville Predators are perfect examples of how teams looking to shake up their roster can have a successful deadline as a team not looking to make a run in the playoffs.
Sitting just six points out of a wildcard spot in the Western Conference, the Predators kickstarted their retooling process at the trade deadline, selling four rostered players to cup contenders for a slew of draft picks. After sending Nino Niederreiter, Tanner Jeannot, Mikael Granlund, and Mattias Ekholm out the door, Nashville welcomed in a total of nine draft picks, Rasmus Asplund, Tyson Barrie, and prospect Reid Schaefer. With the addition of the nine draft picks, Nashville now has two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and three third- and fourth-round picks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
While Nashville’s postseason hopes remain up in the air for this season, they’ve already built a remarkable foundation for a rebuild in the years to come.
Left in the dust
The trade deadline didn’t favour the Carolina Hurricanes this year, but it wasn’t because of shoddy moves made but the team’s general manager, Don Waddell. Instead, the Hurricanes were caught in a ‘left-in-the-dust’ scenario by not only their Metropolitan Division rivals but almost every Eastern Conference club that is slowly solidifying a playoff spot.
While Waddell managed to buff up the Hurricanes forward and defense depth with the additions of Jesse Puljujarvi and Shayne Gostisbehere, other clubs were locking down former Stanley Cup champions. In the Metropolitan Division alone, the Hurricanes are now tasked with competing against the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, who acquired Timo Meier and Patrick Kane plus Vladimir Tarasenko, respectively.
The good old days are long gone in Pittsburgh. But, it seems that their upper brass, led by general manager Ron Hextall, have yet to realize or act on it. Although still elite, longtime Penguins — Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang — are not getting any younger, with Crosby and Letang clocking-in at 35-years-old and Malkin sitting at 36. The Penguins, who currently sit in the Eastern Conference’s second wildcard slot, should have followed the Nashville Predators’ path and sold an asset or two for a handful of picks. Instead, the club added three skaters to their roster — Nick Bonino, Mikael Granlund, and Dmitry Kulikov — all of which are over the age of 30. In exchange, the Penguins shipped out 29-year-old Brock McGinn and five draft picks.
It’s clear that Crosby and company want a couple of more tries for another ring, but at one point or another, management needs to put a priority on rebuilding instead of winning another championship.