What the NHL’s biggest trade deadline deals mean for the rest of the NHL
Due to the high-speed nature of the NHL, it can take a little while to see how huge events like the trade deadline can impact teams. The trade deadline and, indeed, the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, didn’t disappoint. Big deals like Dion Phaneuf’s trade to the Los Angeles Kings from the Ottawa Senators came as early as February 13 but there was still plenty left for fans to enjoy on February 26. With some time having passed and players having been given time to integrate into their new lines, it’s much easier to see exactly what the traded skaters now offer their new jersey. So, these are some of the biggest deals of the last month of trading in the NHL, and what they mean to the teams going forward.
Lightning get McDonagh and Miller
Claiming one of a team’s highest scorers is one thing but getting their captain as well is superb. That’s exactly what the Tampa Bay Lightning managed to pull away from the New York Rangers by taking full advantage of the Rangers’ transition into a rebuild, per NHL. While the Bolts did have to send talented and versatile forward Vladislav Namestnikov to New York, they picked up two very experienced players, one who has scored just as many points as the young Russian in J.T. Miller, as well as one of the most respected two-way defensemen in the league, Ryan McDonagh. Tampa Bay was already the most complete looking hockey team in the NHL. They’re high scoring, have a solid and mobile defense, and are backed by an incredibly talented goaltender: this trade only makes them heavier favorites to win it all this year.
Penguins get Brassard
In what was quite a tricky three-team trade, the Pittsburgh Penguins managed to get Derick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators while the Vegas Golden Knights retained 40 percent of the center’s salary, per CBS Sports. With two elite, even legendary, centers on their first and second line, having a player with the ability of Brassard on line three makes Pittsburgh rock solid through the middle. Through his first three games for the Pens, the 6’1’’ playmaker claimed one goal and one assist. This was the Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford’s way of saying that they want to make history. With other teams emerging as superpowers this season, the Penguins are at +1200 to win the Stanley Cup with Betway, while the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights are at +500 and +650, respectively, as of March 4. Despite this, given the experience of the team and quality in depth, the Pens could very well achieve the three-peat.
Golden Knights u-turn on preseason plans
The Vegas Golden Knights have produced the story of the season. In their inaugural season, they’ve not only become the best expansion team of all-time but also often stand atop the Western Conference – even on top of the entire league at points. Given that their picks from the expansion draft featured players who appeared to be trade bait, Vegas were expected to trade a lot in February. But, due to their unprecedented success, they decided to turn into buyers. The Golden Knights were heavily linked to Ottawa’s immaculate defenseman Erik Karlsson but that fell through. In the end, the Golden Knights came out with a very good get in Tomas Tatar from the Detroit Red Wings, as well as brute Ryan Reeves as a part of the three-team trade for Brassard. With yet another classy scorer in their lines, who is contracted through 2020/21, Vegas have bettered their chances of finishing their fairytale start in the NHL with the cup.
Other top trades
Many incredible trades went through at the deadline but one stuck out as a real statement to the league. The Winnipeg Jets almost came out of nowhere to snatch Paul Stastny from their fellow Central Division contenders, the St. Louis Blues. The Jets paid a hefty first-round pick, promising left winger Erik Foley, and a conditional fourth-round pick for the center, who winds up being their third line pivot, but it undoubtedly showed that the Jets are here to contend. In his first two games as a Jet, Stastny notched his first assist and goal for the Canadian outfit. Another big trade and one of the smartest of the window was that of Evander Kane to the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have been around second place in the Pacific Division almost all season, greatly due to their superb goalie Martin Jones and new defense-first ethos. Evander Kane was the most coveted sniper on the trade bait list and has already started to fill that scoring void with three assists in his first two games. Built on solid defense, the Sharks could be a dark horse for the Stanley Cup this year.
It was an emphatic end to the NHL trade window in 2018, with teams that are vying for the cup making big moves to better their chances. Now, as the remainder of the season unfolds and playoff places are sealed, we’ll get to see if these big trades were worthwhile for the cup contenders.