A look at the weekend trades in the National Hockey League leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline Monday.
LIGHTING GET DEFENSIVE
The Lightning Get: D David Savard, D Brian Lashoff
Savard, 30, is a right-shot defenseman who is effective in a shot suppressor role though he has really become one dimensional in recent seasons. Even as recently as 2018-2019, Savard was still able to contribute a little something offensively. In the past two seasons, though, he has 17 points (1 G, 16 A) in 108 games and has a 26.8 GF% this season, the worst among defensemen to play at least 400 5-on-5 minutes. He also had a .937 PDO, which is also worst among defensemen to play that much, so Savard is due for favorable regression but it is at least worth noting that his xGF of 44.9% is worst among Blue Jackets defensemen. He has also been tasked with more defensive zone starts, so some of his results are related to circumstances and some if it due to poor percentages. He joins a strong Tampa Bay team that will allow him to focus on that defensive aspect and is probably strong enough that his offensive shortcomings are not an issue.
Lashoff is a 30-year-old who has played 136 NHL games but is an AHL defenseman at this point. He isn’t even leaving Grand Rapids, so he is included in this deal merely as a cash savings for the Red Wings though he would theoretically be available for the Lightning if they need defensive depth.
The Blue Jackets Get: A first-round pick and a third-round pick in 2022.
Tampa Bay’s pick may be a late first-rounder but getting that for Savard, who is going to be an unrestricted free agent and didn’t make sense to re-sign, is a smart play for Columbus under the circumstances. The first-round pick has about a 50% shot at reaching the NHL.
A late third-round pick is closer to 25%.
Who steps into Savard’s role on the blueline? Mikko Lehtonen and Dean Kukan could see bigger roles but Andrew Peeke might also be in line for a role on the Columbus blueline.
The Red Wings Get: A fourth-round pick.
A fourth-round pick has close to a one-in-six chance of becoming an NHL player but the Red Wings get it merely for facilitating the trade. They have cap space, could retain half of Savard’s salary to make the deal work and by getting the Lightning to pay Lashoff’s salary, it really didn’t cost much at all.
Verdict: The Lightning are a contender with or without David Savard but it’s a reasonable bet to think that he can help them because they should be able to handle his limitations. Columbus made out well, too, getting a first-round pick for a defenseman who is okay but, given their circumstances, would not have been worth re-signing to a long-term deal. And the Red Wings buying a fourth-round pick for minimal cost is smart business.
PANTHERS FIND BLUELINE HELP
The Panthers Get: D Brandon Montour
Montour is a 27-year-old who showed some promise early in his career with Anaheim but things have gone sideways in Buffalo. He struggled last season but was propped up by high on-ice percentages (103.3 PDO).
The one thing to be wary of, especially when it comes to defensemen, is that defensemen on terrible teams can be buried by team results Montour gives the Panthers a replacement for Aaron Ekblad. He’s obviously not nearly as good as Ekblad but Montour can skate and handle the puck and the Panthers have enough of a defense core in place that he does not have to step into first-pair minutes.
The Sabres Get: A third-round pick.
A late third-round pick brings about a one-in-four chance of yielding an NHL player. That’s not bad value for a defenseman with questionable defensive metrics from whom the Sabres probably needed to move on.
Verdict: There isn’t a huge winner in this deal. The Panthers made the deal under some duress, having lost Ekblad to a broken leg, and the team needed some reinforcements on the blueline. The Sabres need to look to the future and even if Montour is still just 27, he wasn’t playing well enough in Buffalo to commit to him long-term.
AVS KEEP THROWING DARTS AT BACKUP GOALTENDERS
The Avalanche Get: G Devan Dubnyk
Dubnyk, 34, has really struggled in the past couple of seasons after a pretty good run for more than four years before that. The Avalanche have been in a tough spot, playing Philipp Grubauer a lot since Pavel Francouz has been out all season and while Grubauer has played very well, he could use a break. Colorado traded for Jonas Johansson from Buffalo but he has started a total of 11 games in the NHL. Dubnyk doesn’t have to be great because he will be playing behind a team that looks every bit of a juggernaut right now so if he is merely adequate, that will be enough.
The Sharks Get: D Greg Pateryn and a fifth-round pick.
For a goaltender that wasn’t playing very well this season and was headed for unrestricted free agency, the deal makes sense though it does leave the Sharks rather shorthanded in net at the moment. They have called up 23-year-old Josef Kolenar from the AHL but a .901 save percentage in 75 AHL games hardly indicates that he is ready to thrive in the NHL.
Pateryn is a 30-year-old who was acquired by Colorado earlier this season in a deal that sent Ian Cole to Minnesota. He’s a big-bodied defensive defenseman who had a really strong season with Dallas in 2017-2018 but has not been as effective in that past couple of seasons. Nevertheless, his salary helps to offset the cost of Dubnyk and that probably matters more than anything for his involvement.
The fifth-round pick offers a one-in-seven or one-in-eight chance of playing in the NHL.
Verdict: Again, not a huge win for either team. Dubnyk is not a great option for the Avalanche but might be enough. By all rights, the Sharks should be moving their pending free agents but they are also within four points of a playoff spot, with a game in hand, which is close enough to not just throw in the towel altogether. Do they have a plan to add another backup goaltender?
DEVILS LOOKING FOR DEFENSIVE VALUE
The Devils Get: D Jonas Siegenthaler
Siegenthaler is a 23-year-old defenseman who had been quite effective in a defensive role for Washington in the past couple of seasons but, after all of their offseason acquisitions, he suddenly was on the outside looking in for most of this season, playing in only seven games.
He is well worth a look for the Devils because he may have actual long-term value. For a team that has Ryan Murray, Dmitry Kulikov, and Sami Vatanen headed for unrestricted free agency, Siegenthaler figures to have an opportunity to establish himself as a fixture on the New Jersey defense. Maybe he is a third-pair guy who can kill penalties or maybe he could stick as part of a shutdown pairing. He is making $800,000 this season and will be a restricted free agent at season’s end.
The Capitals Get: A third-round pick
The pick originally belonged to Arizona, acquired as part of the Taylor Hall trade, and a pick in the middle of the third round brings a 25-30% chance of getting an NHL player.
Verdict: Given Siegenthaler’s trouble getting into the lineup for Washington, they are really doing him a solid by moving him to a team with which he will have a better chance to play regularly. The price also isn’t bad for New Jersey because there are rental defensemen going for third-round picks and Siegenthaer, while he might not have huge upside, is still going to be under Devils control for several more seasons.
HABS ADD STEADY VET ON BLUELINE
The Canadiens Get: D Jon Merrill
Merrill, 29, is a left-shot defenseman who has been an extra for most of his career, playing more than 60 games in a season once. He has become a very solid defender in a depth role. With Victor Mete on waivers and Ben Chiarot injured, there is a spot for Merrill to step into the Habs lineup.
He is making $925,000 and will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer.
The Red Wings Get: LW Hayden Verbeek and a fifth-round pick
Verbeek is a 23-year-old winger who has 10 points in 61 career AHL games so he is not exactly making his mark as a prospect. His uncle, Pat Verbeek, is an Assistant GM in Detroit. The fifth-round pick brings a one-in-seven or one-in-eight chance of becoming an NHL player.
Verdict: This acquisition is entirely reasonable for Montreal if they feel the need to improve their defensive depth. It does seem incongruous, though, that they could not net anything in return for Mete, who is admittedly not as sound defensively as Merrill but is also just 22-years-old. Detroit does not really have a need to invest in Merrill long-term so it made sense to get something for him.
MAPLE LEAFS GRAB FOLIGNO FOR VERSATILE TWO-WAY GAME
The Maple Leafs Get: LW Nick Foligno and RW Stefan Noesen
Foligno is a 33-year-old veteran forward who plays more on the wing but can play center as well. He has been a sound defensive forward for most of his career but his offensive contributions have been limited, too. He’s a net positive player, which may seem like damning with faint praise for a player that cost a first-round pick, but he can move around the lineup and gives the Maple Leafs some options.
Foligno is in the last year of a deal with a $5.5 million cap hit, so he will be a free agent in the summer, but the Maple Leafs are only on the hook for a quarter of that price because they laundered the deal through the San Jose Sharks.
Noesen is a quality defensive winger though the 28-year-old has played in just five games this season. He may have been included more for the salary ($925,000) than anything else but is still viable organizational depth if the Maple Leafs ever need a fourth-line checking winger.
The Blue Jackets Get: A first-round pick and a fourth-round pick in 2022
This deal might have been difficult from an emotional perspective for the Blue Jackets since Foligno was their captain but if Columbus could secure a first-round pick for Foligno, just as they did for David Savard, that would make the most long-term sense for the franchise. Like the pick that the Blue Jackets acquired from Tampa Bay, the pick acquired from Toronto figures to be late in the first round, potentially late enough that the odds of getting an NHLer might drop under 50% but that will depend on how the playoffs shake out. The fourth-round pick from Toronto helps to offset the fourth-round pick being sent to San Jose in order to get the Sharks to retain half of Foligno’s salary.
The Blue Jackets may look like they are playing out the string for the rest of the season, there is an opportunity to give young forwards more reps down the stretch. Alexandre Texier, Liam Foudy, and Kevin Stenlund are among the candidates to get more ice time. Emil Bemstrom, too, if he can get healthy.
The Sharks Get: A fourth-round pick
The deal costs the Sharks a little bit of money as they are retaining the equivalent of one quarter of Foligno’s cap hit and by sending Noesen to Toronto, that net cost becomes relatively negligible. To get any value in return for a player that the team had shown little interest in playing is a smart small move by the Sharks.
Verdict: This move does come with some risk, as Toronto offered up a first-round pick for a player who should probably be playing in their bottom six most of the time. Foligno is a highly-regarded veteran who should respond to the opportunity to play for a contender but a first-round pick plus a fourth is a significant price to pay, significant enough that the Blue Jackets practically had to do it. San Jose doesn’t gain a lot out of the deal but enough to make it worthwhile.
MAPLE LEAFS IMPROVE GOALTENDING DEPTH
The Maple Leafs Get: G David Rittich
“Big Save Dave” is a 28-year-old netminder who has a .908 save percentage in 130 career games, a little below average, but not bad as a backup goaltender.
Considering the health of Jack Campbell and Frederik Andersen, the Maple Leafs needed some insurance at the position and Rittich should be able to handle a limited role. If he needs to carry the team to the Stanley Cup, that would appear to be a problem, but if he needs to make a few starts here and there, that’s fine.
The Flames Get: A third-round pick in 2022
Rittich is a pending UFA so it’s rather nice price for the Flames to get in return. Louis Domingue is likely to step into the backup role behind Jacob Markstrom for the rest of the season.
The late third-round pick brings about a one-in-four chance of becoming an NHL player.
Verdict: The Maple Leafs paid a significant price for a backup goaltender but it speaks to their desperation – they can’t afford to have their playoff run undone because they can’t keep their goaltenders healthy – that they absolutely must have depth in goal and were willing to pay with that draft pick if the Flames could provide it while retaining half of Rittich’s $2.75 million salary.
BOSTON ADDRESSES GLARING HOLES ON BLUELINE
The Bruins Get: D Mike Reilly
Reilly is a 27-year-old defenseman whose career had been relatively uneven in his previous stops with Minnesota and Montreal but he has been much better for the Senators, driving play and picking up 31 points in 70 games since he was acquired last season.
Reilly will be needed to play and potentially play a lot for a Boston team that has been decimated on the blueline. Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, and Brandon Carlo are out of the lineup right now, with a cast of unproven young options left to handle the defense without them. Reilly should step into that group and offer some stability, which seems like quite a development – like three years ago, if someone said the Bruins were adding Mike Reilly to stabilize their blueline, it would have been impossible to believe.
Reilly will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer and if he can play well down the stretch and into the playoffs that surely won’t hurt his bargaining power on the open market.
The Senators Get: A third-round pick in 2022
Yes, the Senators should have traded Reilly but it feels like a third-round pick for next year is kicking the can down the road a bit. Was it a conscious decision, that the Sens look at the 2021 Draft with greater uncertainty because of the challenges for junior hockey prospects, especially in Canada? In any case, the pick brings about a one-in-four chance of becoming an NHL player.
Verdict: Reilly addresses an immediate need for Boston so this counts as a win for the Bruins. The price paid was not unreasonable, at all, and Reilly has been a lot better than anyone would have expected before he landed in Ottawa last season. His career has been rehabilitated and now gets to play some meaningful hockey.
ISLES ACQUIRE VETERAN WITH STANLEY CUP EXPERIENCE
The Islanders Get: D Braydon Coburn
Coburn is a 36-year-old who has played 980 career games but, as one might expect, has been in decline for a while. He is a veteran who can offer blueline depth and has championship experience from last season with Tampa Bay.
The Senators Get: A seventh-round pick
This move is probably more about doing right by Coburn, giving a veteran another shot to be part of a contender, because a seventh-round pick offers about a one-in-ten chance of becoming an NHL player.
Verdict: If Coburn is filling a seventh defenseman role for the Islanders that’s fine. If he is playing more regularly that would be less than ideal. For the Senators, having moved Reilly and Coburn, there will be more minutes available on the blueline, so Erik Brannstrom and Jacob Bernard-Docker, recently signed after his season ended at the University of North Dakota, should see some significant ice time for the rest of the season.
BRUINS GET A BARGAIN IN HALL DEAL
The Bruins Get: LW Taylor Hall, C/RW Curtis Lazar
Hall, 29, is a star play-driving winger who can carry the puck through neutral ice and then pressure effectively on the forecheck but has had massive problems putting the puck in the net, scoring just two goals in 37 games this season. However, Hall is still pushing play in the right direction and can not possibly continue scoring on just 2.3% of his shots, as he has this season. Even for Hall, a player who is notably not an elite finisher, he has scored on 10.0% of his shots throughout his career so the Bruins should expect some statistical regression in their favor after making this deal. Hall’s defensive play has also declined in the past couple of seasons while playing for bad teams. The 2017 Hart Trophy winner needs to provide a more complete package to the Bruins.
Hall is going to be an unrestricted free agent in the summer and desperately needs a strong finish with Boston to help re-establish his value in the marketplace. The Bruins have forever been looking for wingers to complement David Krejci on the second line and that figures to be where Hall fits in Boston.
Lazar is a 25-year-old fourth-liner who does not score much – he has 19 points (10 G, 9 A) in 71 games with the Sabres going back to last season but he has also been a reliable checking forward for Buffalo. He is currently week-to-week with a lower-body injury but when healthy he can compete with Chris Wagner and Trent Frederic for playing time on Boston’s fourth line. Lazar is signed through next season with an $800,000 cap hit.
The Sabres Get: LW Anders Bjork and a second-round pick
Bjork, 24, is a reliable checking winger whose offensive contributions are rare. He has 39 points (16 G, 23 A) in 138 games for the Bruins over the past four seasons. Even if he is an asset defensively, that limited production does put a ceiling on what kind of impact he can have on the game.
Bjork has a cap hit of $1.6 million for the next two seasons. If he can skate in a regular third-line role for the Sabres that would at least be okay value. If his offensive contributions limit him to a fourth-line and penalty-killing role, that will not be great value.
A pick in the second half of the second round brings about a one-in-three chance of yielding an NHL player. It’s something but it’s not a first-round pick and that should have been the starting point for a Hall trade if Nick Foligno and David Savard were commanding first-round picks.
Verdict: This is an entirely underwhelming return for Hall and some of that is his own fault because he has scored just two goals in 37 games and there are teams that can’t get past that but for a play-driving winger who has been going through a terrible run of percentages, he is a good bet to make for the Bruins and, at this price, it was a no-brainer. If Hall bounces back and has a big playoff run, other teams will look at this price and ask, “Why didn’t we do that?”
PENGUINS ADD VETERAN SCORER
The Penguins Get: RW Jeff Carter
Carter is 36 years old and, naturally, his production has been declining. He has 19 points (8 G, 11 A) in 40 games but is scoring on 6.8% of his shots, his lowest shooting percentage since 2006-2007. Thing is, he still generates a lot of shots, 2.93 per game this season, and can still skate. I saw him chase down Minnesota’s star rookie Kirill Kaprizov on a breakaway last month, like Kaprizov had at least a couple of strides on Carter at the outset and Carter’s long stride just reeled him in.
If he can still skate like that, Carter could fit in the Penguins’ top six, where he would likely get better quality chances than he has been getting in Los Angeles in recent seasons.
The Kings are retaining half of Carter’s salary, which means that the Penguins are on the hook for a cap hit of $2.636 million through next season. He should provide some secondary offense and, if his percentages bounce back, could be a useful addition.
The Kings Get: A conditional third-round pick in 2022, and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2023
The value for the Kings is getting anything for Carter so that his contract is off the books. The Kings have a bunch of young forward prospects that will need opportunities to play this season and next so it was not ideal to have a 36-year-old forward blocking the path.
Verdict: I like the Kings side, willing to eat half of Carter’s remaining contract in order to get a deal done but it’s also a deal that opens up one prominent spot on their roster for a prospect to get some real minutes down the stretch. It’s not like it’s a bad deal for the Penguins. Carter can still play but I am more intrigued by what the Kings could do now that Carter has moved on than I am about the Penguins finding another potential scoring option on the wing.
I will have much more to come after the deadline, breaking down the winners and losers of the deals.