By: Luke Johns, KCOU Sports
The NHL Trade deadline has come and gone, and everyone has opinions about who did well making trades. My disclaimer is that obviously nobody knows for sure who the winners and losers are until the teams actually play games with the new players and the sample size is larger than, say, ten games. Despite that, there’s still editorial analysis that can be discussed. So without further adieu, here are my top three winners and losers of the NHL trade deadline.
Buffalo Sabres— No doubt that this year was a seller’s market, and it’s evident that they got rid of just about everyone with value. They got rid of contracts in Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford earlier in the month, as well as getting some value for Chris Stewart who has an expiring contract. With them in full tank mode, they set themselves up to be in good position when they (likely) get Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel to play with Evander Kane.
Arizona Coyotes— They are another team that is fully playing for next year and got rid of all their players that serve no use to them in their rebuilding process. To me, the fact that they were able to get a first round draft pick and a prospect for Antoine Vermette is mind-boggling. Additionally, Arizona being able to get some draft picks and prospects for Keith Yandle was a good move. With the Coyotes presumably in tank mode as well, clearing the house is the way to go for the remaining 20 games of the regular season. They did a good job doing so.
Anaheim Ducks— A notable “buyer” at the deadline was Anaheim. The Ducks added some solid defensive depth in James Wisniewski and added Tomas Fleischmann as an intriguing winger who brings his 12 +/- rating to the first place Ducks. With the Ducks in prime position to win the Pacific Division, these two guys fit in perfectly with their already stable core leading the way.
Boston Bruins—The Bruins have been a borderline playoff team all season and recently put David Krejci on long-term injured reserve to free up cap space, and in the end their only acquisitions were Brett Connolly and Max Talbot. With Boston battling for a playoff spot, what was the point of putting Krejci on LTIR if GM Peter Chiarelli wasn’t going to make a splash at the trade deadline? Acquiring a guy who “has a high ceiling” and a player who’s a borderline third line center doesn’t make the team better today or tomorrow. If the Bruins are still the second wild card or completely miss the playoffs by seasons end, Chiarelli is gone. Mark my words.
Pittsburgh Penguins—Jim Rutherford didn’t exactly need to make a blockbuster trade, but there was no reason to trade Simon Despres for Ben Lovejoy. Despres is younger and has much more potential. Pittsburgh already tried an experiment with Lovejoy and it didn’t pan out the way they wanted. Additionally, Ian Cole doesn’t do much for the Penguins besides act as a skill defenseman on the blue line. So for a team expected to make a solid playoff run, they got worse.
Calgary Flames—They’re on my loser list only because there’s no reason for them to act as sellers, yet they did. One of the guys they shipped out of town,Curtis Glencross, was a quality contributor. Sure they’re a borderline playoff team, but they play in the weak Pacific and aside from a March collapse, they’ll avoid barely getting in with a wild card spot and won’t have to face a heavy weight in the first round. Their minor league system has a ton of talent so it’s not like they had to improve in that category. I get that Mike Giordano is out for the year. But when you’re in position to make the playoffs for the first time in five years, you don’t act as a seller because you’re on the brink.
Like I said, we actually have to see how it all shakes up before we truly know how the teams did. Maybe Brett Connolly will turn into a staple on the Bruins top line or James Wisniewski will turn out to be an atrocious bust.