Evaluating the Winners and Losers of the NHL Trade Deadline

The NHL trade deadline delivered more mania than what might have been expected. Who were the biggest winners and losers?
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Jean-Gabriel Pageau returned a king’s ransom for the Senators. The Rangers took the deadline’s biggest potential target off the board and extended Chris Kreider. For a second, it seemed like Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello was going to reunite the post-lockout Devils until Zach Parise rumors fell flat. And, Johnny Gaudreau spurred trade speculation by taking a bathroom break. There was all of that and more, including Robin Lehner and Sami Vatanen finding new teams, during Monday’s trade deadline that delivered more mania than expected. Here are some winners and losers now that all the deals are official:

Winners

Bruins

After Boston was burned by making the flashy acquisition and adding Rick Nash in 2018, GM Don Sweeney has stayed away from landing a big-ticket rental at the past two deadlines. That’s OK. The Bruins addressed its need for forward depth by bringing in Ondrej Kase, an oft-injured but talented 24-year-old winger, while also freeing cap space to sign Torey Krug in the offseason by sending away David Backes’s $6 million cap hit in the same deal and saving $1.3 million in swapping Danton Heinen for Nick Ritchie. The Ducks didn’t snag any of Boston’s top prospects and, while losing a first-round draft pick isn’t easy, the Bruins kept the franchise’s contending hopes alive past next season.

Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald

Even though ex-GM Ray Shero shipped off Taylor Hall before Tom Fitzgerald assumed control, Fitzgerald extracted more value out of less talent compared to his predecessor. The Devils now have an extra two picks in the first two rounds of the next two drafts—the Canucks’ first in 2020 and the Isles’ second in 2021—courtesy of a 28-year-old winger having the best year of his career (Blake Coleman) and an aging team captain whose defensive contributions have dwindled in recent years (Andy Greene). The next test is, hopefully, not whiffing as hard in free agency this upcoming offseason.

Jean-Gabriel-Pageau-islanders-trade

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Pageau’s compete level and two-way prowess haven’t faltered since breaking out in the 2017 postseason—this year, he ranks top five among forwards in defensive zone blocked passes, loose puck recoveries and puck battles won per game, according to The Point Hockey—but he has scored a career-high 24 goals this season, shooting 17.8% while playing top-line minutes. That production might not continue playing as a third-line center and the Isles potentially overpaid for this year’s output, but Pageau picked the perfect year to up his offensive game. He left the trade deadline with a fresh six-year, $30 million extension and cashed out with more money than the Senators would’ve given him.

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More From The Hockey News:
* NHL Trade Deadline 2020: Complete Tracker and Analysis
* The Hockey News' Trade Deadline Winners, Losers | Podcast
* Muzzin Inks Extension But Leafs Still Have Blueline Needs
* The Worst Post-Lockout Deadline Moves for Each NHL Team

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Losers

Lottery-bound teams who made moves early

The one time when procrastination would’ve helped and not hurt. Both the Kings and Sabres saw Ilya Kovalchuk (waived) and Marco Scandella (traded for a fourth round pick) return better assets (a third and second round pick, respectively) in the leadup to the trade deadline. Considering that the Rangers took Kreider off the market and the haul the Senator received for Pageau, it’s hard not to imagine that the Devils could have tried to get more for Hall.

Sabres

Eight points out of a playoff spot, the Sabres are a near-lock to miss the playoffs for the ninth season in a row. The solution? Become buyers, go after a rental and send a fifth round pick to New Jersey for deadline darling Wayne Simmonds. OK, maybe Simmonds isn’t the answer and Buffalo isn’t any closer to rejoining the playoff race. To be fair, adding Dominik Kahun is a plus for Buffalo, but the team’s problems extend beyond this year’s trade deadline and the front office has been largely negligent in building a complete forward group around Jack Eichel.

Flames

Calgary wasted a fourth round pick on Derek Forbort and sent away a third for Erik Gustafsson in order to patch a defense dealing with injuries to Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic. The Gustafsson move isn’t criminal considering the price of defensemen like Marco Scandella and Alec Martinez, but Calgary is banking on its current forwards to recapture last year’s form to launch them on a playoff run. There isn’t evidence that will happen this season.

To Be Determined 

Hurricanes

When a team comes away from the trade deadline with Sami Vatanen, Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei, that should constitute a clear-cut win. The Hurricanes needed help on the blue line after losing Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce to injury and GM Don Waddell’s acquisitions represent a move to go all-in on this Carolina team. If the Hurricanes reach the Stanley Cup or find a way to get the most out of Skjei and Trocheck? Mission accomplished. If not? Carolina added $10 million in salary through 2022 with extensions for Hamilton and Andrei Svechnikov on the horizon and a tenuous goaltending situation.

Honorable Mentions 

The Sharks (winners) added a first and second round pick in this year’s draft and a third round selection in the 2021 Draft, boosting San Jose’s system after a lost season … With Nazem Kadri out indefinitely and more cap space than all-but four teams, the Avalanche (losers) failed to upgrade down the middle and added only Vladislav Namestnikov to gear up for a playoff run … the Red Wings (winners) furthered its rebuild efforts by taking three draft picks from the Oilers (to be determined), who also finally made moves to improve by adding Andreas Athanasiou and Mike Green.