Winners and Losers from the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline
The trade deadline has come and gone and there were no shortage of big names changing addresses, some of them more surprising than others.
Dating to Sunday, Ryan Miller, Jaroslav Halak, Marian Gaborik, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Callahan, Thomas Vanek, Roberto Luongo and Matt Moulson were some of the hockey luminaries who were sent packing to new homes.
Which teams were the big winners of the trade deadline? Who were the losers who could have done better?
Check out this slide show for the verdict and analysis for the biggest winners and losers of the trade deadline sweepstakes.
Winners: Montreal Canadiens
Big move(s): The Canadiens acquired Thomas Vanek and a fifth-round pick from the Islanders in exchange for a second-round pick and a prospect.
Analysis: This is an absolute fleecing by the Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin. Some thought Lars Eller would have to go the other way in this deal, but instead, the Canadiens gave up next to nothing for the top available forward on the market.
The Habs rank 20th in the league in goals per game (2.48) and Vanek, a nine-time 20-goal scorer with 53 points in 60 games this season, makes the Habs a true contender in the Eastern Conference.
Losers: New York Islanders
Big move(s): The Islanders traded Thomas Vanek and a fifth-round pick to the Canadiens in exchange for a second-round draft pick and a prospect. They also shipped defenseman Andrew MacDonald to the Flyers for a third-round pick in 2014, a second-round pick in 2015 and a prospect.
Analysis: The return on MacDonald was fine, but the Islanders were caught with their pants down in regards to Vanek.
It was October when the Islanders dealt Matt Moulson along with a first- and second-round pick to the Sabres in exchange for Vanek. It was a move intended to help the struggling Islanders with the caveat of if it didn't work, they can always swap Vanek at the trade deadline to recoup lost assets.
Instead, all they were able to receive was a second-round pick and a prospect from Montreal.
In essence, the Islanders dealt Moulson, Vanek, a first and a second for a second- and fifth-round pick and a prospect.
That's about as bad as it gets.
Winners: Minnesota Wild
Big move(s): The Wild acquired goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from the Oilers for a fourth-round pick on Tuesday, then landed Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick from the Sabres in exchange for draft picks and Torrey Mitchell.
Analysis: The Wild had a pair of glaring concerns heading into the home stretch—goaltending and scoring—and general manager Chuck Fletcher addressed both.
There was a lot of talk the Wild would land Jaroslav Halak from the Sabres, but the price was reportedly deemed too high. They got a bargain in Bryzgalov, who should be helpful with Niklas Backstrom out for the season, Josh Harding's status in doubt due to his multiple sclerosis and rookie Darcy Kuemper playing well but lacking experience.
The Wild have the 25th-ranked offense and Moulson should help in that area. He's a three-time 30-goal scorer and has 17 goals in 55 games with the Sabres and Islanders this season.
When the playoffs roll around, teams should be wary about a first-round matchup with the Wild.
Losers: Calgary Flames
Big move(s): The Flames sent forward Lee Stempniak to the Penguins for a third-round pick and sent goalie Reto Berra to the Avalanche for a second-round pick.
Analysis: The Flames had one big pending unrestricted free agent in Michael Cammalleri who in no way fits into the future of a team that will likely finish in the bottom five of the NHL for the next couple years. Yet team president Brian Burke didn't pull the trigger on a deal for the 31-year-old who is in decline.
The return on Cammalleri wasn't going to instantly fix all the Flames' problems, but it was a no-brainer trade the team failed to execute.
Winners: Buffalo Sabres
Big move(s): In all, the Sabres' fire sale included trading Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, Jaroslav Halak, Matt Moulson, Cody McCormick, Brayden McNabb, Jonathan Parker, two second-round picks and a third-round pick in return for Michal Neuvirth, Chris Stewart, Rostislav Klesla, Nicolas Deslauriers, Hudson Fasching, a first-round pick, two second-round picks, a conditional third-round pick and a partridge in a pear tree.
Analysis: The pear tree should bear fruit (ha) along with the picks and players the Sabres acquired. They were in a tough position, a team holding a slew of UFAs in what has proven to be a buyer's market. One look at what Vanek fetched has to make the Sabres feel good about the haul they got from the Blues for Miller and Ott.
Neuvirth has shown the ability to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL and with a $2.5 million cap hit through next season is worth the gamble. Stewart is signed through next season on a $4.15 million cap hit and brings size and toughness. Klesla is a veteran defenseman with an expiring contract who is likely only thrown in to alleviate some cap issues for the Capitals.
The Sabres picked up some nice pieces that should help their ongoing rebuild.
Losers: Tampa Bay Lightning
Big move(s): The Lightning dealt Martin St. Louis to the Rangers for Ryan Callahan, a first-round pick in 2015 and a conditional second-round pick in 2014 that become a first-rounder if the Rangers reach the conference finals.
Analysis: St. Louis put Yzerman's back to the wall with his trade demands, but instead of massaging the situation with his captain, Yzerman felt he had no choice but to trade St. Louis. The return is quite underwhelming as well, as Callahan is a solid, gritty player but can't possibly replace the offense of St. Louis and the picks are likely to be late in the first round at best.
He's also likely to test the free-agent market this summer as he reportedly looks for a six-year, $37 million contract, per Kevin Oklobzija of USA Today.
If the Lightning were in the shoes of the Sabres, for instance, there's nothing wrong with this trade. But the Lightning are in the playoff hunt with the Rangers chasing them, making this deal less than appealing.
Winners: Los Angeles Kings
Big move(s): The Kings picked up Marian Gaborik from the Blue Jackets for Matt Frattin, a second-round pick and third-round pick.
Analysis: The Kings are desperate for offense, as they rank 27th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.32. The oft-injured Gaborik could be the answer to the problem. He has six goals and 14 points in 22 games this season and has missed time with a knee injury and broken collarbone. But he's a bona-fide goal scorer who can help in a big way if he stays healthy.
Gaborik is 32 and in the final year of his contract. The Kings found themselves hoisting the Stanley Cup the last time they acquired a scoring forward from the Blue Jackets (Jeff Carter for Jack Johnson in 2012) and history could be repeating itself this season.
Losers: Vancouver Canucks
Big move(s): The Canucks sent Roberto Luongo and a prospect to the Florida Panthers in exchange for goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias on Monday. On Wednesday, the Canucks sent defenseman Raphael Diaz to the Rangers for a fifth-round pick.
Analysis: There's nothing wrong with those moves if the Canucks are embarking on a rebuild (or retool or refresh or whatever spin word you prefer to describe what a bad team does when it needs to deal veterans), but the move they didn't make is the real head scratcher.
Ryan Kesler reportedly wanted out of town and the Penguins appeared ready to oblige, according to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, but the potential deal was nixed by Canucks ownership. If that was the deal on the table and the Canucks balked at it, then there appears to be no rhyme or reason to what general manager Mike Gillis is doing.
The Canucks can always deal Kesler during the summer, but it's doubtful the deal will get much better than that one.
Winners: New York Rangers
Big move(s): The Rangers acquired Martin St. Louis from the Lightning for Ryan Callahan, a first-round pick in 2015 and a conditional second-round pick in 2014 that becomes a first-rounder if the Rangers reach the conference finals. In another move, the Rangers added defenseman Raphael Diaz from the Canucks for a fifth-round pick.
Analysis: The Rangers held strong in their desire to trade Callahan if a deal could not be worked out with the pending UFA, and they pulled the trigger on a deal that makes them much stronger this season. St. Louis is 38 and signed through next season and as long as continues to play at an elite level, it's a great move for the Rangers.
“There’s a lot of contenders right now," Rangers general manager Glen Sather said after the deal, per Andrew Gross of NorthJersey.com. "If you look around the league, it’s very close. Where we sit right now is very close. Hopefully this is going to push us over the edge and it’s going to make us a little closer to achieving our goal.”
Picking up Diaz is a small but necessary move for a defensive corps that lacked depth.
Losers: Columbus Blue Jackets
Big move(s): The Blue Jackets sent Marian Gaborik to the Kings for Matt Frattin, a second- and third-round pick.
Analysis: The Jackets are in the playoff hunt in the East and have a chance to do damage in the weak conference, yet elected to shed salary of a pending free agent without getting anything of value in return. Frattin has two goals in 40 games and the picks obviously aren't helping right now.
Even if Gaborik didn't fit into the Blue Jackets' system, he's better than nothing. And if the Blue Jackets are truly in it to win it, they could have acquired another player.
It's a confounding trade deadline of nothingness for a team that has never won a playoff game in franchise history.
Winners: Washington Capitals
Big move(s): On Tuesday, the Capitals acquired Dustin Penner from the Ducks in exchange for a fourth-round pick, then shipped Martin Erat and John Mitchell to the Coyotes for Rostislav Klesla, Chris Brown and a fourth-round pick. On Wednesday, the Capitals picked up Jaroslav Halak and a third-round pick for Michal Neuvirth and Klesla.
Analysis: The Capitals were in a tough spot, with Erat and Neuvirth demanding trades since the early part of the season. But they acquired a No. 1 goaltender in Halak (what happens with Braden Holtby remains to be seen) and some help up front with the acquisition of Penner.
“He’s obviously only been in play about a week,” general manager George McPhee said of Halak, per Katie Carrera of The Washington Post. “He’s played well in Montreal, he’s played well in St. Louis and we hope he can come here and play well. He’s a good goalie and he can get hot. The objective was to try to upgrade the tandem and we did.”
Sure, the Capitals didn't address their need for help on the blue line, but they are now better up front and in net. In the mess that is the East, those inexpensive upgrades could be enough to put them into a playoff spot.
Losers: San Jose Sharks
Big move(s): None. Not a one. Not a big deal, not a small deal. Nothing.
Analysis: The Sharks are set up as a squad that can win a Stanley Cup but the window is closing (I'm sure you've heard that before) on those chances. Dan Boyle is 37, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are 34, Antti Niemi is 30 and Joe Pavelski is 29. The team is among the elite in the West this season, yet general manager Doug Wilson decided to stand pat.
When you see what some of the top forwards on the market worth (very little in most cases), there's no reason the Sharks couldn't have added an Ales Hemsky or even Thomas Vanek, who was only worth a second-rounder.
With the Kings, Ducks and Blues upgrading at the deadline, it can't be encouraging to fans—and perhaps the players—that the team didn't do a thing at the deadline.
Winners: Edmonton Oilers
Big move(s): The Oilers sent Ales Hemsky to the Senators for a third- and a fifth-round pick, and in a separate move, shipped Ilya Bryzgalov to the Wild for a fourth-round pick. They also traded a fifth- and third-round pick to the Ducks for Viktor Fasth.
Analysis: They are all relatively minor moves, but the good news here is the Oilers didn't panic and trade Nail Yakupov or Jordan Eberle. They got a nice return on Hemsky, a fourth-rounder for a goalie they signed off the scrap heap mid-season and solidified their 2014-15 goaltending situation with Fasth behind Ben Scrivens.
It's been a year to forget in Edmonton, but it's nice to see nobody overreacted.
Losers: Colorado Avalanche
Big move(s): They added Reto Berra from the Flames in exchange for a second-round pick.
Analysis: The Avalanche are one of the more surprising teams in the NHL, but it's perhaps even more surprising that general manager Joe Sakic decided against solidifying a roster that's in a battle for the Central Division title.
Colorado is allowing the fifth-most shots in the NHL, and an improvement on the blue line could have gone a long way toward making the Avs a stronger contender. It's commendable that Sakic didn't deal pending UFA Paul Stastny, but it has to be a beat disheartening that a backup plan for the backup goalie was all the Avs pulled off.
The future is bright for the Avs, but the immediate future could have looked a whole lot better.