The NHL Trade Deadline passed and it was BUSY
NHL Trade Deadline Recap
The NHL trade deadline featured many key players moved to different teams around the league. The prices were unusually high, and many teams paid a premium for a rental. Some of the players that were expected to be traded, were traded, but some unexpected names were also on the move. 31 players, as well as 18 draft picks were swapped. Let’s look at some of the key trades and give grades for each.
Boston Bruins receive defender Nick Holden
New York Rangers receive Rob O’ Gara and a 2018 third-round pick
The Bruins currently sit sixth in the NHL with points and were buyers as many expected. They started off acquiring thirty-year-old Nick Holden, who is in the last year of his contract. Holden is a left-handed defender, who had been with the Rangers since 2016. The veteran defender offers the Bruins depth at defense; something they missed during last year’s playoff run when they lost Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, and Adam McQuaid. Holden is figured to play a bottom six role with the Bruins or be used in case of an injury. Before being traded, Holden was playing top four minutes in New York, and had 12 points in 55 games, and was a minus three.
The Rangers received twenty-four-year-old Rob O’ Gara and a 2018 third-round pick. After stating in an open letter to their fans that they were going to be sellers at the deadline to get picks and prospects, Holden was the first rental player they moved. O’ Gara had played in 11 career games prior to his trade to New York and registered no points. The left-handed defender, is expected to play a role in the American Hockey League (AHL) for the Rangers minor league team, The Hartford Wolfpack. The real asset the Blueshirts received is the 2018 third-round pick. With the upcoming draft expected to be deep, the Rangers want as many picks as they can get.
Grades for Each Team
The Bruins get a B+ adding a veteran defender who has playoff experience. They gave up fair value for a bottom six defender who hasn’t had the best of times in New York. Questions remain on if Nick Holden can turn it around with a change of scenery, but if he can, the Bruins won’t have depth problems, should injuries occur.
The Rangers get an A- for acquiring Rob O’ Gara and a third-round pick. While O’ Gara isn’t expected to be in the long-term plan of the Rangers, the third-round pick is a great return for a struggling defender and a team looking to rebuild. The Rangers had acquired Holden from Colorado before the 2016-2017 season in exchange for a fourth-round pick, so as of now they got more for Holden then they paid for him.
Boston Bruins receive Rick Nash
New York Rangers receive Ryan Lindgren, Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, and a 2018 first-round pick
A few days later, the Bruins made their biggest splash at the trade deadline by once again pairing with the rebuilding New York Rangers. The Bruins acquire 33-year-old winger Rick Nash and the Rangers retained 50% of his salary. Nash is on the last year of his contract, that sees him earn an average of 7.8 million. Nash has skated in over 1000 NHL games, and has recorded 800 points. Nash’s best season with the Rangers was the 2014-2015 season, where the power forward registered 42 goals and 27 assists.
However, Nash is not that player from the 2014 season and the Bruins know that. The Canadian forward played 60 games with the Rangers this season and only registered 18 goals and 10 assists. Nash fits in on the B’s second line with David Krejci and Jake Debrusk. Nash will create scoring chances and will be a big presence on the forecheck. However, one thing Nash is not known for, is his defensive skills which are very underrated. Over the last few years, Nash has become one of the best 200-foot players in the entire league. While it is not impossible to resign the 6’2 winger, it is more likely this will just be a rental for the Bruins.
Jeff Gorton’s rebuilding New York Rangers received twenty-year-old Ryan Lindgren, veteran forward Matt Beleskey, forward Ryan Spooner, and the Bruins 2018 first round pick. The Bruins also retain 50% of Matt Beleskey’s salary who has one year left at 3.8 million dollars. Beleskey was in the minors and was dead cap for the Bruins. The Rangers may look to call Beleskey up and try to raise his trade value, so they can get something for the 29-year-old at the draft. With the acquisition of Nash, Ryan Spooner no longer fit in the Bruins roster and the Rangers got a roster player to replace Nash. Additionally, Spooner was also moved to help create the cap room necessary to bring Nash in.
While Spooner is an asset for the Rangers, the part that makes this deal worthwhile is defender Ryan Lindgren and the first round pick. Lindgren currently plays his hockey for the University of Minnesota. Lindgren has 7 points in 33 games and is a minus two for the Golden Gophers. As well, Lindgren also played for Team USA in the World Juniors tournament this year. Lindgren went in the second round and is a stay at home defenseman. The 6-foot-tall defender, is well known for his physical presence and high IQ. This would become the second first-round pick the Rangers own, including their own. The Rangers have made it clear, they want to acquire as many draft picks and young prospects as possible.
Grades for Each Team:
The Bruins get an A for acquiring Rick Nash. They get a veteran presence, who has playoff experience with the potential to provide a great offensive presence.The Bruins are contenders this year and are one of the favorites to come out of the East along with Tampa Bay, and Toronto. They did give up a lot for what most likely will be a rental, but to get something you must give up something. The Bruins got an upgrade and good secondary scoring for their playoff bound team. If the Bruins can find a way to sign Nash in the offseason without losing any other assets, this A will increase to an A+.
The Rangers also get an A for this trade. This was one of those trades where both teams benefitted from. The Rangers were able to replace Nash, with the younger Spooner. In addition, they got a smart young defender in Lindgren, and a first-round pick. The Broadway Blueshirts received great value for a veteran who is set to become a free agent in the offseason.
Boston Bruins receive Tommy Wingels
Chicago Blackhawks receive a 2019 Conditional 5th round pick
The final trade the Bruins made was announced after the 3PM deadline. They acquired forward Tommy Wingels minutes before the deadline was up. Wingels fits into the Bruins bottom six forwards and will most likely center the third line. Wingels had seven goals and five assists and was a minus ten in fifty-seven games with the Blackhawks. Wingels logged a goal and an assist in his Bruins debut. This trade was made by the Bruins as a clear depth move incase they have injuries up front. They also signed veteran forward Brian Gionta, who just captained Team USA in the Olympics.
The Blackhawks received a 2019 conditional fifth round pick which will become a fourth-round pick if the Bruins advance past the first round or they resign Wingels when his contract expires after this season. The Blackhawks have had a very disappointing season and it comes with no surprise they move a rental.
Grades for Each Team
The Black and Gold receive a C for this trade. The Bruins last year were in the middle of a youth movement, and with this final trade they continued to get older. They added 33-year-old Rick Nash, 30-year-old Nick Holden, 29-year-old Tommy Wingels, and 39-year-old Brian Gionta. While the Bruins did get a depth forward for the playoffs, there were much better options around the same price such as Tobias Rieder or Brandon Leipsic. Wingels had struggled like the rest of the Blackhawks this year. Wingels has a faceoff win percentage of 43.6%. Wingels is not an elite face-off winner and cannot be relied upon in key situations. This trade makes little sense other than acquiring some depth.
Chicago receives a B for this deal. They unload a rental player who was having a disappointing year and get a conditional 5th in return. They got fair value back and will be happy to receive a 4th or a 5th round pick.
Other Trades Around the League
Tampa Bay Lightning receive Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller
New York Rangers receive Vladislav Namestnikov, Brett Howden, Libor Hajek, a 2018 first-round pick and a conditional first-rounder in the 2019 draft.
The biggest trade of this year’s deadline was finalized minutes before time was up. In a blockbuster deal, the Lightning who are already tied for the most points in the league, acquired New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and winger J.T. Miller. The Lightning add a top two defender and a top 9 winger to a team many had considered the favorite to win it all, prior to this deal. The Lightning will most likely reunite McDonagh with long time defensive partner Dan Girardi on the second pairing. This was the Rangers top defensive pair for many years, including when they went to the Stanley Cup finals back in the 2013-2014 season. McDonagh has one more year left on his contract after the conclusion of this season. He is making only 4.7 million and will get paid a significant amount of money in two seasons. When the Minnesota native returns from injury in a week, the Lightning can expect to get one of the best two-way defenders in the game who can be relied upon in any situation, including special teams and overtime. Entering the year, McDonagh was listed as a top 20 defender in the league by NHL.com.
In addition to acquiring Ryan McDonagh, the Lightning also were able to add 24-year-old J.T. Miller. Miller is a former first round pick back in 2011. He is a versatile player with offensive upside who can play center or the wing. Miller can slot in anywhere on the first three lines and make an impact. Miller had 13 goals and 27 assists in 63 games with 18 points coming on the power play. Miller is a great addition to the Bolts and was a name that was not expected to be moved.
On the other hand, the Rangers finished their fire sale for this year by moving on from their captain and their 1st round pick from the 2011 draft. The Rangers did come away with a nice-looking package. First, they acquired Vladislav Namestnikov who will replace J.T. Miller in the lineup. Namestnikov is one year older than Miller and he is having a career year. The winger had 20 goals and 24 assists in 62 games with the Lightning.
The rest of the package is what really makes this deal for the Broadway Blueshirts. They acquired prospects Brett Howden, and Libor Hajek. Howden was a first-round pick in 2016 and he currently plays hockey in the WHL for the Moose Jaw Warriors. He currently has 59 points in 39 games for the Warriors. Howden also played for Team Canada’s world junior team and he registered 7 points in 7 games on route to the gold medal. Libor Hajek was the player the Rangers wanted, and it was reported they would not go through with the deal without Hajek. The Czech Republican defender currently plays in the WHL for the Regina Pats. In this campaign, he has 35 points in 52 games. He also played in the world junior tournament for the Czechs registering 8 points in 7 games. The 20-year-old was an early second round pick in the 2016 draft.
Lastly, the Rangers also received the Tampa Bay 2018 first round pick, and a conditional first round pick in 2019. If the Lightning win the cup this season or next season then the pick stays in the first round. If the Lightning fail to win the cup, that pick will become a second rounder. By acquiring the Lightning’s first round pick this year, the Rangers now have three first round picks in the upcoming draft.
Grades for Each Team
Tampa Bay receives an A for this trade. They bolstered their core adding a top defender in the league and a young winger who can contribute on many levels. The Lighting gave away a good haul, but they have prospects in their system to be able to pull this off. The Bolts also managed to keep top prospects Mikhail Sergachev and Callan Foote. The one part of this trade that does not make sense were the teams swapping Namestnikov and Miller. Tampa Bay traded a player who was comfortable in their system and having a career year. There is no guarantee Miller will be an easy fit in their system. The window for the Lightning will never be bigger with this core then it is right now. In two years the Lightning will have to resign star forward Nikita Kucherov, Ryan McDonagh, Yanni Gourde, Brayden Point and Anton Stralman. The year after that Tampa Bay will have to resign starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is in the running for the Vezina Trophy. These players will all be due for a pay raise, and with under one million dollars left in the cap, it will be impossible for Tampa Bay to resign everyone.
The Rangers receive an A- for their large haul. The Rangers are in the middle of rebuilding and were able to acquire two very good prospects and potentially two first round draft picks. Acquiring Namestnikov makes little sense for the rebuilding Rangers because he is an older player then Miller. The Rangers either want to flip Namestnikov in the future, or they did not want to sign Miller to a long-term deal.
Winnipeg Jets receive Paul Stastny
St. Louis Blues receive Erik Foley, a 2018 first round pick, and a conditional 4th round pick in 2020.
The most surprising trade of the deadline came when the Jets acquired Paul Stastny from the Blues. The Jets were looking for depth at center, but it was never thought that Stastny would be on the move. Stastny is on the last year of his contract and played for division rival St. Louis Blues. In addition, the Canadian center also had to waive his full no trade clause for this trade to work. The Jets are one of the leading contenders to come out of the West and they now have one of the best forward cores in the entire league. The Blues also retained 50% of Stastny’s contract. Stastny had 40 points in 66 games for the Blues and 635 points in 805 career games. The Quebec native will provide the Jets with secondary scoring and a reliable man in the faceoff circle.
The Blues made a surprising move and decided to get younger by acquiring Erik Foley and two draft picks. The Blues were only one point out of a playoff spot and decided to move on from one of their top forwards. However, in terms of the future they got former fourth round pick Erik Foley who has 34 points in 32 games for Providence college. In addition, they acquired a first round pick and conditional fourth which the Blues only get if they do not resign Foley. Blue’s center Brayden Schenn did not seem thrilled about this trade. “One or two points out [of a playoff spot], move a guy that does a lot for us. But at the end of the day, you know, that’s [management’s] decision. I guess we’ll see what happens.”
Grades for Each Team
The Jets get an A- for acquiring Paul Stastny. The Jets made it clear they are Stanley Cup contenders and went out and got a veteran for their young core. This grade can also go up if the Jets can sign Stastny in the off season for a reasonable contract. They gave up a lot for the center, but they got what they wanted, and head coach Paul Maurice thinks he is the kind of player that fits the Jets game and how they want to play.
The St. Louis Blues get a C in this trade. The return they got for rental was fair value, but the Blues were only two points out of a playoff spot and losing Stastny decreases their odds to make the playoffs. The Blues are currently struggling but they are not a rebuilding team. It might also be that the Blues coming to terms that they are no longer Stanley Cup contenders. To make matters worse, it has been reported that this trade has divided the Blues locker room.
Erik Karlsson stays in Ottawa
Lastly, the Ottawa Senators were unable to trade franchise defender Erik Karlsson, who was the number one player on the TSN trade tracker. Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion decided to hang on to the two time Norris Trophy winner. “Erik is a franchise player and we felt there was not a franchise deal out there.” NHL insiders expected Karlsson to now be on the move before the start of next season. The Las Vegas Golden Knights appeared to be the front runner for the Swedish defender but could not reach an agreement.