AVALANCHE MOVE OUT A DEFENSEMAN
The Devils Get: D Ryan Graves
Graves, 26, is a defensively focused blueliner who plays all right without the puck but does not create much offensively so, for best results, he needs to be paired with a puck-moving partner. In Colorado, that partner was frequently Cale Makar, which is just about ideal, but New Jersey does not have anyone on that level to play with Graves.
Nevertheless, with Graves on the ice, Colorado outscored opponents 112-71 during 5-on-5 play in his 149 games for the Avalanche.
In New Jersey, Graves is likely to be one of three defensemen protected for the expansion draft, along with Damon Severson and Jonas Siegenthaler, leaving P.K. Subban and Will Butcher potentially available for the Seattle Kraken. Graves should be expected to handle a top-four role on the Devils blueline.
While the Devils are likely going to be inclined to play Graves in a top-four role, he is reasonably priced for that slot, with two years remaining on a contract that has a cap hit of $3,166,667.
The Avalanche Get: LW Mikhail Maltsev and a second-round pick
Maltsev is a 23-year-old winger who was one of many young forwards to get an opportunity to play for the Devils in 2021 and he was a serviceable pro winger, contributing nine points (6 G, 3 A) in 33 games. Maltsev has some skill but his appeal for the Avalanche is that he does not need to be protected in the expansion draft and he has a year left on a deal with a cap hit of $809,167. For an Avalanche team that has some tough contract situations coming up, finding NHL talent on entry-level deals is a worthwhile endeavor.
The second-round pick has decent value, too. The pick originally belonged to the New York Islanders, so it will be 61st, one pick behind the Islanders pick that they acquired from Colorado last season in the Devon Toews trade. Picks in that range have about a one-in-three chance of playing at least 100 games in the NHL.
Verdict: The Devils saw an opportunity to get an established NHL defenseman at a reasonable price because of the upcoming expansion draft. The question is how much difference Graves will make on the New Jersey blueline. Like, he should make the Devils better but by a relatively small amount compared to the gap that the Devils need to overcome if they are going to seriously challenge for a playoff spot.
RED WINGS BRING IN VETERAN BLUELINER
The Red Wings Get: D Nick Leddy
Leddy, 30, is a veteran smooth-skating puck-moving defenseman, who has been on the wrong end of 5-on-5 on-ice impacts for most of the past five seasons, with the past three seasons counting as especially difficult. Leddy can put up some points, recording 31 points (2 G, 29 A) in 56 games last season, and has played more than 20 minutes per game in each of the past seven seasons.
In Detroit, Leddy joins a team that has quite a few holes on the blueline so for whatever flaws Leddy might have, he figures to see significant minutes on the Red Wings blueline and with an expiring contract, he is a prime candidate to get traded against before next season’s trade deadline (assuming that the Red Wings are not in the playoff hunt).
Leddy’s contract comes with a $5.5 million cap hit but the actual salary is $7 million so this is a little different, a contract that pays more at the end.
The Islanders Get: RW Richard Panik and a second-round pick
Panik is a 30-year-old winger who has had three seasons in his career with more than 30 points but he had just 13 points (4 G, 9 A) in 48 games last season. The puck consistently moves the right way when Panik is on the ice, so he does offer value even in a depth role.
The Red Wings retained half of Panik’s salary, so his cap hit is a reasonable $1.375 million per season for the next two years.
Verdict: Given the situation that the Islanders were in – they either had to protect Leddy or Scott Mayfield for the expansion draft – the Red Wings do seem like they are doing a favor, particularly when retaining half of the salary on Panik’s contract.
MAPLE LEAFS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PENGUINS’ PROTECTION CHALLENGES
The Maple Leafs Get: C/LW Jared McCann
McCann, 25, is coming off what might be the best season of his career and it looked like the Penguins weren’t going to protect him in the expansion draft. Not only has McCann been a consistent defensive player for much of his career, but he also had 32 points (14 G, 18 A) in 43 games and handled the second-line center role effectively while Evgeni Malkin was injured.
In Toronto, McCann may get the opportunity to play left wing on one of the top two lines, which would be a real opportunity to put up some numbers, but he would also be an option for the third-line center spot if Alexander Kerfoot departs either via expansion or trade.
McCann is in the final year of a contract that comes with a $2.94 million cap hit and he will be a restricted free agent at season’s end.
Another ex-Sault Ste. Marie Greyhound, McCann could be a long-term piece for the Maple Leafs, provided that he is productive next season.
The Penguins Get: C Filip Hallander and a seventh-round pick
Hallander is a 21-year-old who was actually drafted in the second round by the Penguins in 2018 but was traded to Toronto as part of the Kasperi Kapanen trade. He had 24 points (11 G, 13 A) in 51 games for Lulea in the Swedish Hockey League last season and is a legit prospect, but he is also a prospect that does not need to be protected in the expansion draft.
Verdict: The Penguins appear to be protecting Teddy Blueger and Chris Tanev ahead of McCann, so the Maple Leafs really made the most of the opportunity. It might be difficult for McCann to produce at the rate he did last season (2.41 points/60 during 5-on-5 play) but if he ends up skating on one of Toronto’s top two lines, he very well could produce at a significant rate and for the price of a prospect, it’s a smart value play for the Leafs.
FLYERS MAKE MAJOR MOVE TO UPGRADE DEFENSE
The Flyers Get: D Ryan Ellis
Ellis, 30, has been an excellent defenseman for quite a while, playing more than 23 minutes per game with positive results for five straight seasons. He is a legit top-pair guy but does have six years left on a contract that comes with a $6.25 million cap hit. That is a real commitment but given Ellis’ style of play, he could age reasonably well.
In Philadelphia, Ellis should add a steady presence at the top of the depth chart. He is a smart player who can move the puck and could very well get an opportunity to quarterback the Flyers’ first power play unit.
The Predators Get: D Philippe Myers and C Nolan Patrick
Myers is a 24-year-old, 6-foot-5 right-shot defenseman who has some tools and has made impressive progress as an undrafted player but he’s still a work in progress. He is a legitimate NHL defenseman, but the hope is that at some point he proves that he can handle 20+ minutes per game.
In Nashville, the Predators have quality depth on defense, so they can manage Ellis’ absence but there will be some competition for spots, especially on the right side, where Myers will join Dante Fabbro and Alexandre Carrier as the likely regulars on the right side and the top two will get opportunities to play alongside Roman Josi or Mattias Ekholm.
Myers has two years left on his current deal, with a $2.55 million cap hit. He will be a restricted free agent when the contract expires.
22-year-old Nolan Patrick has mostly been a disappointment since he was drafted second overall in 2017. He missed all of the 2019-2020 season due to migraines and struggled in 2021, producing just nine points (4 G, 5 A) in 52 games, but he has had a couple of seasons with 30 or more points and would be something of a distressed asset at this point.
He is still young enough that, if he is healthy, there is a chance for Patrick to show that he is a legitimate middle six center.
Patrick is a restricted free agent who had a cap hit of $874,125 last season. Given his relative production, his new deal will likely not bring a huge raise.
He is not going to be playing for Nashville, but that will be discussed with the next trade.
Verdict: This is a bold move by the Flyers and they have to be given credit for improving their defense. Given their defensive woes last season that’s a step in the right direction. As for Nashville, they save some money and get younger with this move but if the Predators are going to be aiming for the playoffs next season, they have taken a legitimate risk by moving out a proven veteran defenseman for a younger defenseman who has some potential but is not nearly as reliable at this point.
VEGAS, NASHVILLE TAKE SHOTS WITH YOUNG CENTERS
The Golden Knights Get: C Nolan Patrick
There is an opportunity for Patrick to step in as Vegas’ third-line center and it’s reasonable to place that expectation on Patrick. If he gets his career back on track, there may still be a chance for him to play higher on the depth chart, too.
The Predators Get: C Cody Glass
Glass, 22, was the sixth overall pick in the 2018 draft and has failed to make a real difference in his limited time in the National Hockey League, producing 22 points (9 G, 13 A) in 66 career games, with 11 of those points coming on the power play. He has struggled during 5-on-5 play in the NHL and has contributed 17 points in 22 career AHL games. He has upside but it’s mostly unrealized thus far.
In Nashville, there is an opportunity for Glass to start in a third-line role but if he starts to live up to his potential he may be able to challenge Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen for playing time, too.
Glass is still on an entry-level deal that has a cap hit of $863,333 through next season, at which point he will be a restricted free agent.
Verdict: The Golden Knights have a little leverage in the expansion process because they do not need to contribute any players to the new Seattle Kraken franchise and that means they can acquire players without concern for their protection status. It’s fair enough if they have decided to move on from Cody Glass – the time to make those decisions is early enough so that they can still bring value – and in this case it looks like the Golden Knights will take another relative disappointment and hope that the new location brings out better results for Patrick. In Nashville’s case, it’s a smart move to start adding younger talent in the middle of the ice because Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene can’t be cornerstone pieces for the Predators.
CANUCKS ADD A SOLID PIECE
The Canucks Get: C Jason Dickinson
Dickinson is a 26-year-old forward who can play center or wing and has moved around the Stars lineup quite a bit. He has not scored a whole lot, putting up 63 points in 221 career games, but has still had net positive value at evens because he offers quality defensive value.
In Vancouver, Dickinson can slide into the third-line center role and should come at a reasonable price. He is a restricted free agent whose last deal had a $1.5 million cap hit and his lack of point production should prevent him from getting a massive boost in pay.
The Stars Get: A third-round pick
It was looking unlikely that the Stars would be able to protect Dickinson in the expansion draft so it is worthwhile to see what kind of value they could get for him via trade. A third-round pick, generally, has a little better than a one-in-four chance of becoming an NHL player.
Verdict: The issue here for Dallas is that moving Dickinson also means that the Stars are going to lose someone else in the expansion draft. That could mean someone like prospect Adam Mascherin becomes more appealing to Seattle and it would be fair to wonder if it is a net positive to the Stars to lose both Dickinson and Mascherin (for example) with a third-round pick coming in return, when they could have just lost Dickinson straight up. So, while there may be some questions on how this plays out for the Stars, the Canucks ought to be feeling pretty good about the addition of Dickinson.
SAN JOSE ADDRESSES GLARING GOALTENDING ISSUE
The Sharks Get: G Adin Hill and a seventh-round pick
Hill, 25, has appeared in 49 games for the Coyotes over the past four seasons and has hovered around average performance in that time, posting a .909 save percentage.
In San Jose, there will be an opportunity for Hill to at least be part of a tandem, but he could potentially take the starting job because, well, Martin Jones has been awful in recent seasons for the Sharks.
Hill was a prime candidate to go to Seattle in expansion, but he is a very reasonable option for the Sharks. He is a restricted free agent, coming off a deal that had an $800,000 cap hit.
The Coyotes Get: G Josef Korenar and a second-round pick
Korenar is a 23-year-old who was not drafted and has played 75 games in the AHL, posting a .901 save percentage. He got into 10 games for the Sharks last season and had below average results, including a .899 save percentage, but he could be fine as a No. 3 on the Arizona depth chart next season.
The move up in the draft does have value for Arizona, especially since they do not have a first-round pick in 2021. A second-round pick has about a one-in-three chance of playing 100 games in the NHL, compared to a seventh-round pick having about one-in-ten chances.
Verdict: While the second-round pick is a significant price to pay, there is at least a positive in the Sharks trying to address their problem area in net. For the Coyotes, since they were facing the prospect of losing Hill via expansion, and they don’t have a great protected list, so this is a reasonable path to improving their draft assets (with more to come).
RANGERS GRAB RIGHTS TO CHAMPIONSHIP WINGER
The Rangers Get: LW Barclay Goodrow
Goodrow is a 28-year-old winger who has been a solid third-line piece on back-to-back Stanley Cup champions in Tampa Bay. He’s defensively sound and brings a physical presence so that has some appeal to the Blueshirts. At least enough that they are willing to offer up a pick for the privilege of negotiating with Goodrow.
The Lightning Get: A seventh-round pick in 2022
It was highly unlikely that the Lightning could afford to keep Goodrow so getting any value for his rights is a net positive, even if a seventh-round pick has about a one-in-ten chance of becoming an NHL player.
Verdict: Acquiring the rights to Goodrow is fine. The trouble is if he gets signed to what is rumored to be a six-year deal. That’s an eternity for a player that provides so little offensively.
VEGAS KEEPS ADDING
The Golden Knights Get: C Brett Howden
Howden, 23, was a first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2016 and has been with the Rangers since he was included in the trade that sent Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to the Lightning.
Through 178 career games, Howden has struggled to provide value in the NHL and he is coming off a season in which he managed seven points (1 G, 6 A) in 42 games.
He will have a chance to re-establish his value in Vegas but this is a relatively low risk investment for the Golden Knights. Howden has one year left on his contract, which carries an $885,000 cap hit.
The Rangers Get: D Nick DeSimone and a fourth-round pick in 2022
DeSimone is a 26-year-old, right shot defenseman who has yet to play in the National Hockey League, but he did put up 46 points in 65 AHL games during the 2018-2019 season.
The fourth-round pick likely offers more value and that is a little worse than a one-in-five shot at yielding an NHL player.
Verdict: It might be worth it for Vegas to try to resurrect Howden’s career but the most valuable asset in this deal may well be the fourth-round pick going to Vegas.
ISLANDERS BUY CAP SPACE FROM COYOTES
The Coyotes Get: LW Andrew Ladd, 2021 2nd round pick, 2022 2nd round pick, and 2023 3rd round pick
Ladd, 35, is a veteran winger who has played just 30 NHL games in the past two seasons and Arizona may not have big plans for him but it’s possible that Ladd could fulfill a checking role if he is healthy and given the chance. If not, the Coyotes will get to use Ladd’s $5.5 million cap hit while he has a cap hit of $4 million for each of the next two seasons.
The price for taking Ladd is three draft picks and while there are no guarantees, two second-round picks and a third-round pick should yield at least one NHL player, it’s likely going to be a while before a player taken in one of the next three drafts finally becomes an NHLer.
The Islanders Get: Nothing.
Verdict: While the Islanders don’t really receive anything in the deal – not even a perfunctory “future considerations” - the value of getting Ladd’s contract off the books can’t be ignored. Provided that the Islanders spend their newfound cap space wisely, that will easily justify this maneuver.