Wrapping up the NHL Trade Deadline

A lot of changes. How many will make a difference?

One thing before I dive into the deadline day dealing: while there has been plenty of condemnation for the Buffalo Sabres in the wake of the Taylor Hall trade, getting a second-round pick in return, it is important to note - and I didn’t in my review of the trade - that Hall’s no-movement clause gave him power to dictate where he would and wouldn’t go. If he had a list that was longer than just Boston, well then the blame for the modest price would fall on any other team that was not willing to meet that price. If it was only Boston that was acceptable to Hall, as was his negotiated right, then the Sabres kind of have to throw up their hands and take what they can get.

Remember what the Calgary Flames got for Jarome Iginla? Kenny Agostino, Ben Hanowski and a late first-round pick that was used to select Morgan Klimchuk. When the player has a no-move clause, team leverage can fade away in a hurry.

Anyway, on to the deadline deals, the best of which came at the end.

DEADLINE DAY

WAIVER CLAIMS

The Stars Get: D Sami Vatanen

Vatanen, 29, has seen his game stagnate in New Jersey and then his role was dramatically reduced this season. After playing more than 21 minutes per game for six straight seasons, his ice time is down to 17:14 per game this season. The Stars can slide him into the third pairing and he could contribute to the second power play unit, if need be. It has not been a part of his game this season but 86 of Vatanen’s 200 career points have come with the man advantage.

Vatanen, making $2 million this season, will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer.

The Senators Get: D Victor Mete

Mete is a 22-year-old who, despite likely being an NHL-calibre defenseman, has been stuck as an extra on Montreal’s defensive depth chart this season and in four seasons in the National Hockey League the Canadiens have outscored opponents by 30 goals at evens with Mete on the ice.

In Ottawa, he should have a great opportunity to play. The Sens traded Mike Reilly to Boston and Mete could easily slot into those minutes for the rest of the season. Given the state of Ottawa’s defense, there is a real opportunity here for Mete to rise to the challenge and become a legitimate top-four defenseman.

Mete is making $735,000 this season and will be a restricted free agent in the summer.

For their part, Montreal acquired Jon Merrill and Erik Gustafsson so it’s not like they didn’t need NHL depth defensemen, they just wanted different NHL depth defensemen.

CANUCKS AND BLACKHAWKS SWAP DEPTH FORWARDS

The Blackhawks Get: C/RW Adam Gaudette

Gaudette is a 24-year-old forward who took a step back this season after breaking through for a career-high 33 points in 59 games last season. 12 of those points came on the power play but Gaudette’s 5-on-5 scoring last season was 1.84 points/60 – the same as Anders Lee and Ondrej Palat, more than Brayden Schenn, Clayton Keller, John Tavares, and Logan Couture. No, that does not mean that Gaudette is better than those players. It does mean it might be worth finding him a role in the top nine to find out if he can really score at that rate.

He is making $950,000 this season and will be a restricted free agent in the offseason.

The Canucks Get: LW Matthew Highmore

A 25-year-old winger with good speed, Highmore has 10 points in 75 career games in the NHL over the past three seasons. Maybe he fits in a fourth-line role but it does not look like he has upside higher than that.

In Vancouver, he will compete for playing time with a bunch of wingers in that fourth line mix. He make $725,000 on a two-way deal this season but the deal converts to a one-way deal in 2021-2022 so he can get a look in Vancouver but there is limited upside here.

Verdict: I’m not sure if Adam Gaudette can be anything more than a fourth-liner but it appears that there is a better chance of him finding a top-9 role with some power play time so that gives Chicago a slight edge in this deal.

OILERS ADD DEFENSIVE DEPTH

The Oilers Get: D Dmitry Kulikov

The 29-year-old has settled into a defensive role in the past couple of seasons and he has been reasonably effective so Kulikov adds some reliability to the Oilers blueline.

He is earning $1.15 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. His steady defensive play should help him draw some free agent interest.

The Devils Get: A conditional fourth-round pick

A pick in the middle part of the fourth round has maybe a one-in-five chance of turning into an NHL player.

The Devils have moved out Kulikov and Vatanen, opening up room on the blueline for Jonas Siegenthaler and maybe Will Butcher to see regular time down the stretch.

BOLTS BOLSTER THEIR BLUELINE

The Lightning Get: D Fredrik Claesson

A 28-year-old left shot defenseman, Claesson has been a spare part type for most of his career. He has played nine NHL games in the past two seasons and has played more than 40 games in a season once in his career. In his role he is serviceable defensively but has little impact offensively.

Making a league-minimum $700,000 he can fill the eighth or ninth spot on the Lightning’s defensive depth chart.

The Sharks Get: G Magnus Chrona

Chrona is a 20-year-old who just finished his sophomore season at the University of Denver. He had better results as a freshman but if he is going to be a prospect at all, it is going to take some time for him to develop.

Verdict: Not a big win in either direction. A little more familiar with Claesson, given that he has played in the league for a while so I might side with the Lightning getting a little more depth for a playoff run.

GOLDEN KNIGHTS GET CREATIVE

The Golden Knights: LW Mattias Janmark, D Nick DeSimone and a fifth-round pick

The 28-year-old winger has never been more dangerous than he was as a rookie in 2015-2016. Not only was he a sound defensive winger but he was an offensive threat, too but then he had a serious knee injury that cost him the entire 2016-2017 season and Janmark has not been the same player since. What he has been is a reliable checking winger who, with some finishing luck this season, does have 19 points (10 G, 9 A) in 41 games.

Janmark fits into a third-line role with Vegas, and comes at a reasonable cost after the deal was laundered through the San Jose Sharks, leaving Janmark with a $562,500 cap hit. He will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

DeSimone is a 26-year-old AHL defenseman and maybe that’s all he is going to be, an AHL salary to offset some of the cost for the Sharks but, given Peter DeBoer’s history with the Sharks organization, maybe there is a chance that he is interested in DeSimone for a depth role on the blueline.

The fifth-round pick offers about a 15% chance of becoming an NHL player.

The Blackhawks Get: A second-round pick and a third-round pick in 2022

Having traded for Vinnie Hinostroza and Adam Gaudette, Chicago could afford to move Janmark and if the deal nets them a second and third-round pick, that’s pretty nice value given Janmark’s limited contributions.  

A pick late in the second round has nearly a one-in-three chance of turning into an NHL player and it’s closer to one-in-four for the third-round pick.

The Sharks Get: A fifth-round pick in 2022

For facilitating the trade, the San Jose Sharks pick up a fifth-round pick in 2022. It’s not much but, for a team acting as a weigh station for an inconvenient contract, it gives the Sharks another roll of the dice. A fifth-round pick is closer to a 15% chance of becoming an NHL player.

Verdict: This seems like a steep price for the Golden Knights to pay so credit Chicago for getting the return that they did. For a rental player who is suited to the third line, getting a second and third-round pick is decent value.

WELCOME BACK, SODA

The Avalanche Get: C Carl Soderberg

Soderberg, 35, is a veteran center who has scored 35 or more points six times in his career. He’s a useful depth forward who can chip in a little offensively while playing center or wing. His defensive play has slipped in recent seasons but he can provide reasonable forward depth for an Avalanche team that has designs on a Stanley Cup.

Soderberg played for Colorado from 2015-2016 through 2018-2019 and he has an expiring contract that comes with a $1 million cap hit.

The Blackhawks Get: Ryder Rolston and Josh Dickinson

Rolston is the 19-year-old son of former NHLer Brian Rolston and Ryder was a fifth-round pick of the Avalanche in 2020. He had six points (1 G, 5 A) in 28 games as a freshman at the University of Notre Dame so he will need to improve quite a bit to have a shot at the NHL.

Dickinson is the 23-year-old brother of Dallas Stars forward Jason Dickinson and the younger Dickinson has spent his pro career splitting time between the ECHL and the AHL, with more time in the ECHL.

Verdict: The Avalanche didn’t give up much, like you could consider prospects as lottery tickets but these two are lottery tickets in which the grand prize is $10 or something.

FRESH START FOR BENNETT

The Panthers Get: C/LW Sam Bennett and a sixth-round pick in 2022

Bennett, 24, has seen his career go sideways since he was the fourth overall pick in 2014. He scored 36 points as a rookie in 2015-2016 but has not approached that modest total since. He had five assists in his last four games with Calgary, giving him 12 points (4 G, 8 A) in 38 games this season. He has some toughness and some skill and could reasonably fill a role in Florida’s top nine. His defensive numbers aren’t bad but, over the course of his career in Calgary, Bennett was outscored by 62 goals at evens.

Bennett has a $2.55-million cap hit and will be a restricted free agent.

The Flames Get: C Emil Heineman and a 2022 second-round pick

Heineman is a 19-year-old who was a second-round pick in 2020. He put up 13 points (7 G 6 A) in 43 SHL games this season and is probably a few years away from challenging for a spot in the NHL.

The second-round pick coming from Florida brings with it a one-in-three chance of turning into an NHL player.

Verdict: It is probably a worthwhile gamble for the Panthers. At the very least, they know that Bennett can play in the NHL and really it is how much (and to what effect) he can play that is the question. The Flames effectively get two second-round picks which is solid value for a player that has had a hard time producing enough to justify his contract.

MORE D FOR THE HABS

The Canadiens Get: D Erik Gustafsson

Gustafsson is a 29-year-old puck-moving defenseman whose season in Philadelphia is considered a complete disaster and yet the Flyers outshot and outscored opponents with him on the ice as he contributed 10 points (1 G, 9 A) in 24 games.

A pending free agent who is making $1.5 million this season, Gustafsson can play either side and that makes him a reasonable depth option for Montreal.

The Flyers Get: A seventh-round pick in 2022

As noted, the Flyers’ experience with Gustafsson was considered a mess so they are happy to get a seventh-round pick next year, a pick that offers about a 1-in-10 chance of becoming an NHL player.

Verdict: Gustafsson has enough positives in his track record to not write him off entirely because his 24 games with the Flyers wasn’t great, so as a depth pickup, Montreal should feel okay about what they are getting from this deal.

TORONTO GETS DEFENSIVE DEPTH

The Maple Leafs Get: D Ben Hutton

Hutton is a 27-year-old who is a good skater and puck move. He had a terrible defensive season in 2018-2019 when the Canucks played him in a top four role but otherwise, in a third pair or depth role he has been fine. He is an inexpensive ($950,000) option as a seventh defenseman for the Maple Leafs.

The Ducks Get: A fifth-round pick in 2022

A late fifth-round pick has about a 13% chance of becoming an NHL player. The Ducks shuffled their defense a bit and if they were not going to re-sign Hutton, getting something for him still made sense.

Verdict: A low-risk veteran addition to give Toronto more blueline depth and Hutton can skate, so that’s all good. The Leafs are dropping a lot of draft picks in the next two seasons though.

CAPITALS ADD A VETERAN WINGER

The Capitals Get: LW Michael Raffl

Raffl, 32, is a steady fourth-line winger who won’t hurt a team defensively. He doesn’t do much offensively any more though he did in his first few years in the league. In any case, he is an easy addition to the Capitals roster, capable of playing on either wing and is a no-frills legit NHL forward. He has a $1.6 million cap hit and the Flyers are retaining $400,000.

The Flyers Get: A fifth-round pick

That’s worth about 15% chance of becoming an NHL player.

Verdict: Nice depth move for the Capitals and, appropriately didn’t pay much to get him.

HURRICANES AND DUCKS DEAL D

Ducks Get: D Haydn Fleury

Fleury is a 24-year-old who has been okay in a third-pair role when he has had the chance but has 24 points in 167 games and is averaging less than 15 minutes of ice time per game in Carolina. Whether he breaks through in the NHL or not, he is not likely to live up to his draft slot, seventh overall in 2014.

Going to Anaheim should present Fleury with an opportunity to play and prove whether or not he is a bona fide NHL defenseman. He is signed through next season with a $1.3 million cap hit and could conceivably get protected in the expansion draft if the Ducks thought that Cam Fowler’s long-term deal would not be appealing to Seattle.

Hurricanes Get: D Jani Hakanpaa and a 2022 sixth-round pick

Hakanpaa, 28, is an NHL rookie and is a steady defensive defenseman who happens to be a black hole offensively. He also happens to be a right-shot defenseman and while Fleury can play both sides, Hakanpaa is a natural on the right side. He is making $750,000 this season and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. An early sixth-round pick has a one-in-seven chance of becoming an NHL player.

Verdict: The Hurricanes might have felt that they would lose Fleury in the expansion draft so Hakanpaa and a pick is better than losing him for nothing, especially if they feel that Hakanpaa’s defensive work fits better on the right side of their third pairing.

NASHVILLE THE LATEST STOP FOR GUDBRANSON

The Predators Get: D Erik Gudbranson

Gudbranson is a 29-year-old who is 6-foot-5, shoots right, plays a physical game, and was a high first-round pick so there is always a team willing to give him a shot. In this case, Nashville is looking for depth, especially with Dante Fabbro out and they can likely keep Gudbranson to a third pair or seventh defenseman role when the team is healthy. The Predators are his fifth team in the past three seasons.

The Senators Get: A seventh-round pick in 2023        

A seventh-round pick two years from now is practically giving Gudbranson away. From the Sens perspective, they can use the rest of the season to give their prospects a chance to play in the NHL and on the right side they could just roll out Nikita Zaitsev, Artem Zub, and Josh Brown.

Verdict: Gudbranson is reportedly a great teammate so hopefully he finds a role in which he can thrive. Playing third pair and penalty killing in Nashville might be a decent fit. It’s worth the low cost to find out.

SHARKS-LEAFS FORWARD SWAP

The Sharks Get: LW Alexander Barabanov

A 26-year-old rookie winger, Barabanov has appeared in 13 NHL games for the Maple Leafs. In that time, he has looked like a capable defensive player, not sure that he can provide any offense in the NHL.

The Maple Leafs Get: C Antti Suomela

Suomela, 27, has played parts of the past three seasons for the Sharks, contributing 15 points in 51 games. He plays a sound defensive game and has been a reasonably successful fourth-line center when given the chance. He is probably just organizational depth for the Leafs but they could plug him into the lineup if needed and he would be a low-risk option.

Verdict: Barabanov makes more in the NHL ($925K to $700K) than Suomela but Suomela makes more in the minors ($350K to $92.5K) and both will be unrestricted free agents.

DEFENSIVE DEPTH FOR JETS

The Jets Get: D Jordie Benn

Benn is a 33-year-old stay-at-home type of blueliner who had some pretty solid seasons in a defensive role but his past couple of years have been a little rough. He should probably be a third-pair defenseman but the Jets really needed a top-four type of upgrade, if possible.

Benn is making $2 million this season and will be a UFA in the offseason.

The Canucks Get: A sixth-round pick.

Whenever the Canucks get back to playing, they can give their defense prospects – Olli Juolevi, Jalen Chatfield, a little more playing time. A sixth-round pick brings about a one-in-seven chance of becoming an NHL player.

Verdict: It’s an underwhelming deal for the Jets. Maybe there were not great Top 4 defensemen available but the Jets have third-pair defensemen. As it pertains to this trade, specifically, at least the price was reasonable.

CANUCKS TRY OUT ANOTHER D

The Canucks Get: D Madison Bowey and a fifth-round pick

So maybe the Canucks won’t give their other defense prospects playing time and instead give Bowey a look. He is a 25-year-old who has played 156 games with Washington, Detroit, and Chicago but has not shown that he is deserving of a regular spot. Can he be a seventh or eighth defenseman? Perhaps.

Chicago Gets: A fourth-round pick

A fourth-rounder brings about a one-in-five chance of becoming an NHL player while a fifth-round pick is about a one-in-seven chance. Neither are likely to amount to much but Chicago gets a little bit better chance.

Verdict: I get that the Canucks might want to give Bowey a test drive, to see if there is something that his other three organizations may have missed, but this is probably worth it from Chicago’s perspective.

BLOCKBUSTER OF DEADLINE DAY HAPPENS LAST

The Red Wings Get: LW Jakub Vrana, RW Richard Panik, first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick

Vrana, 25, has not been getting significant power play time in Washington so most of his damage comes at evens. In the past three seasons, he has scored 58 goals at even strength, the same number as Brad Marchand and more than Artemi Panarin, Mark Scheifele, and Steven Stamkos. This despite a recent slump in which he has managed one goal in his past 15 games.

Vrana got off to a strong start this season, scoring 18 points (10 G, 8 A) with 56 shots on goal in 24 games. Since then, he has seven points (1 G, 6 A) with just 12 shots on goal in 15 games.

The declining shot rate is an issue but it’s also a rather small sample of games given Vrana’s 5-on-5 scoring rate over the past few years. Vrana has a $3.35 million cap hit this season and will be a restricted free agent in the offseason. He should get all the ice time he needs in Detroit and if he can step up and respond to that opportunity his point production could get a boost.

Panik is a 30-year-old reliable checking winger who has, at times, been a solid offensive contributor, too. Not so much this season, with nine points (3 G, 6 A) in 39 games, but he has had three seasons with at least 14 goals and more than 30 points. Panik has two more seasons with a $2.75 million cap hit left on his contract. If he finds a spot as a third-line winger in Detroit, the cost of that contract won’t be prohibitive at all.

A later first-round pick still has a 60% likelihood of becoming an NHLer. A late second-round pick has about a one-in-three chance.

The Capitals Get: RW Anthony Mantha

Mantha is a 26-year-old winger with two 48-point seasons to his credit, scoring 24 and 25 goals, respectively, in those two years. 27 of his 95 career goals have come on the power play but he is an offensive driver of results at evens, too.

He is signed for three more seasons, at a cap hit of $5.7 million, which is not unreasonable if he is delivering 20-plus goals per season and that should be the expectation for Mantha because, in addition to his scoring talent, he is going to get a serious upgrade in playmaking centers as Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov are two premier playmakers.

Verdict: There is a good value to be had in both of the main players involved. Vrana could get more ice time in Detroit and produce even more than he has. Mantha could finally reach his potential with an elite playmaking center, though he is probably looking at a second unit role on the Washington power play right now. But, the Red Wings getting a first and second-round pick in the deal, presumably in part for taking Richard Panik, a guy who can play for them, is where Stevie Y really does some smart business.

Salary information from Cap Friendly.

Data from Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Viz.