The NHL trade deadline is one of the most wild days of the hockey season, but the most important moves in the chase for the Stanley Cup have already been made.
These blockbuster trades had been contemplated for months, and the addition of all of the following players to their new teams makes each franchise serious championship contenders heading into the postseason.
Jarome Iginla, RW, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins are the best team in the Eastern Conference, but instead of leaning on the talent the team already had on its roster, the franchise made a blockbuster trade to acquire former Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla (h/t ESPN).
While the addition of a former Maurice Richard Trophy winner (2002 and 2004) is a great move for any franchise, the blow of the recent injury to Sidney Crosby—a broken jaw has the star center out indefinitely (h/t Sporting News)—has been eased by the play and leadership of Iginla in the Penguins’ lineup.
Not only did Pittsburgh take Iginla from the rival Boston Bruins (h/t Boston.com), the timing of the trade with Crosby’s injury and the depth the right wing provides for the team in the long-term are benefits that most players couldn’t provide an organization.
Plain and simple; adding Iginla made the Penguins Stanley Cup favorites.
Jaromir Jagr, RW, Boston Bruins
After losing out on the Iginla Sweepstakes, the Boston Bruins got a fantastic deal of their own by acquiring 41-year-old right wing Jaromir Jagr from the Dallas Stars (h/t ESPN) to add scoring depth to the forward lines and a power-play specialist.
Boston only gave up two prospects (Lane MacDermid and Cody Payne) and a conditional second round pick in 2013 in the deal, and with Jagr’s 26 points—14 goals and 12 assists—in 34 games, the veteran is the spark the team was looking for in the offensive end.
Despite sitting comfortably in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, Boston’s offense has been mediocre at times this season, ranking 12th in overall offense (2.7 goals per game) and 24th in power-play percentage (14.7).
The addition of a legendary scorer like Jagr (679 goals and 1000 assists in his career) will make the Bruins a serious threat to not only unseat the Penguins as the best in the Eastern Conference, but to win the Stanley Cup.
Jay Bouwmeester, D, St. Louis Blues
While the St. Louis Blues acquisition of former Calgary Flames defender Jay Bouwmeester (h/t CBC) didn’t get the same fanfare as many other trades, this could be the fundamental move that helps shake up the Western Conference.
The Blues are currently situated in eighth place in the conference standings, but the addition of Bouwmeester—as well as the trade for veteran defender Jordan Leopold (h/t STL Today)—has upgraded the defensive unit that was the team’s major weakness.
St. Louis’ offensive unit is already one of the most impressive in the NHL (2.8 goals per game and the league’s sixth-best power-play unit), but the Blues rank 19th in goals allowed and their penalty kill has struggled mightily at times this season.
Not only will Bouwmeester’s addition to the defense bring an offensive touch to the St. Louis’ blue line, his defensive prowess will help the Blues become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.