As the window of the NHL Trade Deadline slammed shut at 3:00pm ET on Friday, fans were left with little excitement after a tumultuous week of acquisitions.
While Friday featured moves like John Klingberg going to Minnesota and the first pair of brothers ever traded for each other (Nick Ritchie to Calgary while brother Brett Ritchie went to Arizona), most of the major deals had been completed in the days leading up to the deadline.
Legendary names like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Quick swapped teams while prized assets like Timo Meier, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Ryan O’Reilly all needed to find new real estate.
Some teams put themselves in a better position to fight for a Stanley Cup while others moved on from great players in order to rebuild – or even tank for top talents like Connor Bedard. As always, some teams did better than others, some teams failed to make good moves, and others will need time to decide their fate.
With that in mind, DailyMail.com took a look at the last two weeks worth of trades and picked the winners and losers.
Teams in the Eastern Conference lead our picks for winners at this NHL Trade Deadline
Winner: The Eastern Conference
Sure, this deadline essentially made the Western Conference an open race to the top, but the Eastern Conference asserted its control over the league and should set up a must-see postseason.
There are some top teams like Boston and Toronto that loaded up more than others – creating what could be called a ‘talent gap’ – but overall, the Stanley Cup playoffs look pretty exciting from this side of the continent.
Both conferences are now poised for a great postseason – with both being competitive for different reasons. But this ‘arms race’ of a trade deadline among the top six teams in the East – the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Rangers, Lightning, Devils, and Hurricanes – should provide for some exciting playoff hockey.
It’s a great time to be a fan in the Eastern Conference, as top contenders only got stronger
TBD: Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche didn’t take a major step forward or backward this trade deadline, picking up depth pieces like defenseman Jack Johnson and backup goaltender Keith Kincaid – while upgrading their third line with the acquisition of C Lars Eller.
Colorado is banking on their core and the hopes that the team that won the Stanley Cup last season could still perform as advertised, when healthy.
It’s that last aspect that makes them a TBD team. If Joe Sakic’s gamble pays off, the Avs could likely be back in the Western Conference Finals – if not the Stanley Cup Finals – come June. If not, fans might be left scratching their heads wondering why they didn’t do more.
Colorado decided to ‘check’ at the NHL’s blackjack table, but will that allow them to cash in?
Loser: Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher had one job and one job only this deadline: sell, sell, and sell some more. Philadelphia is in dire need of a rebuild but seems to be operating under the assumption that everything is fine.
James van Riemsdyk and Justin Braun are unrestricted free agents this summer. Cam York and Morgan Frost are restricted, but could be in for a pay day. Some players like Ivan Provorov have been rumored to be moved for a while to necessitate a Marie Kondo-esque deep clean of the locker room.
Instead, Fletcher did next to nothing at the deadline: trading away Zack MacEwen and Patrick Brown on Friday only to get pending-free-agent Brendan Lemieux and two late round draft picks. In fact, a deal for van Riemsdyk going to Detroit was announced just before the window closed – only for the Red Wings to back out on the offer, leaving JVR in Pennsylvania.
Fans in Philadelphia are – to put it lightly – not happy at all, as seen below:
Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher’s inability to move critical players to rebuild could cost him his job
Winner: Boston Bruins
What do you do when you’re a team in the most successful sports city in America this century, with a slowly closing Cup window and a fanbase frothing at the mouth for a title after losing in the finals twice in the last ten years? Simple. You swing big.
The Boston Bruins are the fastest team in NHL history to reach 100 points and have done so with an aging core that many thought would be limping their way into the playoffs in a eat-or-be-eaten Atlantic Division. Instead, Boston is thriving.
Just before the window slammed shut, the Bruins acquired three players: defender Dmitry Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway from the Washington Capitals and Tyler Bertuzzi from the Detroit Red Wings.
Critics of the Orlov move thought that Boston didn’t necessarily need him, and that he might even throw off the chemistry in the locker room. Well, in four games in a Bruins uniform, Orlov already has three goals and five assists for eight points. Fellow arrival Hathaway has two assists in the same timeframe.
While Bertuzzi has yet to play, his acquisition is an indication of Boston’s intentions. GM Don Sweeney – who has never hesitated to give away his first-round picks – did so in both of these trades, doubling down that the Bruins need to win now.
Dmitry Orlov has shone for Boston since being moved there, scoring eight points in four games
TBD: New York Rangers
A controversial choice, for sure, but this requires some explanation. On paper, the Rangers won at the deadline – grabbing Vladimir Tarasenko from the Blues and Patrick Kane from the Blackhawks. They’re both flashy moves for sure. But the question is: did New York really need both of them?
Of the six teams currently in non-Wild Card playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, only the Tampa Bay Lightning have allowed more goals than the New York Rangers. When goaltender Igor Shesterkin is [rarely] off his game, New York suffers and backup netminder Jaroslav Halak is showing signs of regression.
Outside of getting Niko Mikkola packaged in the Tarasenko deal and Wyatt Kalynuk from Vancouver for future considerations, the Rangers did not improve their defense in spite of all the talented blueliners rumored to be on the market.
Beyond the top pairing of Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren (who boast a +/- of +23 and +27 respectively), the Rangers don’t have another defenseman with a rating above +10. The second and third pairings could have seen an improvement a la Boston, but failing to do so could leave New York top-heavy come playoff time.
The Rangers got big names, like Patrick Kane, but failed to upgrade their defensive unit
Loser: Florida Panthers
Last year’s President’s Trophy winners did not make a single move at the deadline as they cling to what are surely slim hopes of getting a Wild Card spot.
Sure, the Cats are cash-strapped as their cap isn’t helped by two goalies who are making a lot of money. One of those two, Sergei Bobrovsky, hasn’t been consistent. The other, Spencer Knight, is currently undergoing treatment for an undisclosed reason and likely won’t play again this season.
The Panthers score at a rate of 3.38 goals per game. They allow goals at a rate of 3.41 per game. You don’t have to be a math major to know that doesn’t add up well. Considering the lack of investment, expect the Panthers to be in some kind of limbo for the rest of the campaign.
The Florida Panthers didn’t make any significant additions, and could be left behind in the East
Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto GM Kyle Dubas knows what’s required of him: to put together a team to break one of the most embarrassing streaks for one of hockey’s proudest clubs.
The Maple Leafs haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967. The Leafs haven’t made the second round of the playoffs since 2004. They’ve suffered defeats in not one, not two, not three, not four, but five straight winner-take-all playoff games.
So Dubas made moves this deadline in an attempt to end the suffering once and for all. He got a star center in Ryan O’Reilly. He got defensive reinforcements in Jake McCabe, Erik Gustafsson (at the cost of young talent Rasmus Sandin), and Luke Schenn. Dubas even moved on from players who didn’t fit like Joey Anderson and Pierre Engvall for a decent return.
With each playoff failure, the calls for Dubas’s job grow stronger. On paper, these moves should be enough for Toronto to make a strong run. But with this team, expecting the worst has become modus operandi.
A tortured Maple Leafs fanbase can feel happy with the work Kyle Dubas did this deadline
TBD: Minnesota Wild
It’s hard to determine exactly what the Minnesota Wild are doing these days. The team is second in the Central Division, but they made some moves that only teams which are tanking would make.
Minnesota helped to facilitate deals for Toronto and Boston in the O’Reilly and Orlov deals by retaining salary at the cheap price of a few draft picks. Usually, a move like that is reserved for a team that is in a race to the bottom.
But in the days following those moves, they suddenly decided to bulk up on their depth – seemingly in the hopes for a playoff run. They grabbed Marcus Johansson from Washington, Gustav Nyquist from Columbus, and Oskar Sundqvist from Detroit over the last four days – and made the biggest move of deadline day by getting John Klingberg.
However, they moved struggling, but previously productive Jordan Greenway to the Buffalo Sabres and failed to get prodigal son Brock Boeser out of the seventh circle of Hell that is the Vancouver Canucks. Overall, it’s a confusing window for Minnesota and only time will tell if it works out.
Minnesota’s moves confuse and confound, but they might not be totally out of the running yet
Loser: Vancouver Canucks
Speaking of the Canucks… what exactly is this team doing?
Back in January, the team moved on from captain Bo Horvat, indicating that it was time for a rebuild. They doubled down on that push for the future by picking up young talent like Vitali Kravtsov from the Rangers and Josh Bloom from the Sabres. Vancouver even further signaled their time was up when they moved Luke Schenn to Toronto for picks.
But the day after Schenn was moved, they decided to trade for Filip Hronek, a defenseman with one year left on his contract after this season ends – who has a cap hit of $4.4m/year. Even more puzzling, the Canucks gave up a first-round pick and a second-round pick for him.
Then, on deadline day, GM Patrick Allvin and President Jim Rutherford failed to move forwards J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser – players rumored to be on the chopping block for at least the last two seasons.
In a season where the Canucks have looked like a tragic comedy, they compacted that with a deadline that doesn’t signal a clear direction forward to future success. The team needs a complete tear down – from ownership to management to players – but it seems the only people unaware of that are the Canucks themselves.
Lack of direction will hurt the Vancouver Canucks both now and in the coming years
Winner: Edmonton Oilers
Considering the ferocity in the East, the Edmonton Oilers could stand as Canada’s best chance to break the country’s 30-year Stanley Cup drought.
For starters, the team moved on from winger Jesse Puljujarvi – who had struggled in Edmonton – in exchange for a third-round pick from Carolina that’s currently lighting up the Finnish junior league.
Then, they swapped defenseman Tyson Barrie for Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm. Barrie is considered more of an offensive-minded defenseman, while Ekholm is known for his strong abilities all over the ice.
Finally, they bulked up their depth by acquiring Nick Bjugstad from Arizona – who provides veteran experience and two-way ability to help their bottom six lines.
Overall, these moves make an Oilers team that’s been known for its offense more well-rounded. That could be the difference between getting swept in the Western Conference Final, like they did last season, and reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2006.
Mattias Ekholm is the latest fresh face on an Edmonton team looking to return to prior glory
TBD: Jakob Chychrun
After being sidelined for half the month of February, Jakob Chychrun was finally freed from the Arizona desert following a trade request he put in last season.
Just days before the deadline, Chychrun was moved to the Ottawa Senators and won in his debut at Madison Square Garden over the Rangers last night.
So why is Chychrun here? It’s because he got moved to the Ottawa Senators. Sure, the Sens are in the playoff hunt, but as things stand, they’re the fifth best team in the Atlantic Division. By seasons end, they could fall as low as seventh – considering they’re tied on points with Buffalo and Florida and only one point ahead of Detroit.
Ottawa as a franchise isn’t exactly known for its success come playoff time and while Chychrun will surely boost their odds of making it, this doesn’t seem like the upgrade a move to other rumored suitors like Pittsburgh or Edmonton would have been.
Jakob Chychrun finally moved out of Arizona, but Ottawa might not be much of an upgrade
Loser: Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks must have figured there would be little to no chance that Patrick Kane would return to Chicago after his contract expired at the end of the season. Unfortunately for them, Kane didn’t make a decision on whether or not he would depart the Windy City until early this week.
That put Chicago in a weak position – where they knew they wouldn’t be able to keep Kane at the United Center, but also knew that they wouldn’t get much of a return for him.
Kane made it clear that he would waive his no-movement clause for one team and one team only: the New York Rangers. Chicago, stuck knowing that they could only send him there, asked for New York to make them a fair offer.
New York gave them a couple prospects, a conditional second-round pick, and a fourth-round pick. Hardly the return Chicago wanted for its No. 2 all-time point scorer.
The end of an era left Blackhawks fans dejected at the loss of franchise icon Patrick Kane