2023 NHL Trade Deadline: Trade Tracker and Analysis of All Moves
2023 NHL Trade Deadline: Trade Tracker and Analysis of All Moves
The 2023 NHL trade deadline materializes at 3 p.m. ET Friday. For some teams, that will mean reinforcing the ranks with game-changers and depth pieces. Others will unload players in pursuit of a better future. It's a significant juncture that will determine the fates of contenders immediately and sellers in the bigger picture.
While some of the biggest moves of the season were already executed, there are still a number of key deals to be made. In fact, early depletion of the market often creates opportunities for unforeseen movement. With so much time remaining, teams that were in on Bo Horvat, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O'Reilly will have the runway to explore and devise creative deals beyond the low-hanging fruit. Tampa Bay and Chicago's surprise trade last season involving Brandon Hagel could never have been negotiated in a tight window.
As the early action has demonstrated, moves can and will be completed well before the leadup to the deadline. We'll update this page with news and analysis of every notable trade shortly after each is announced.
Reported trades via NHL.com's trade tracker.
Wild Take Chance on Klingberg
Trade: Anaheim Ducks trade John Klingberg to Minnesota Wild for Andrej Sustr, rights to Nikita Nesterenko and 2025 fourth-round pick
Once a premier offensive defenseman, John Klingberg did not have the season he wanted in Anaheim after settling for a one-year contract. His eight goals and 16 assists in 50 games are fine but also reflect Anaheim giving him of a lot of playing time despite subpar performance. Klingberg did not drive possession at even strength and is one of the worst defensive defensemen in the NHL.
Minnesota is a strange fit for him as the Wild already have Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon to run the power play. General manager Bill Guerin had plenty of cap space to work with, and the cost here isn't much. Maybe Klingberg catches lightning in a bottle and gets back to All-Star form. If not, he may spend more time in the press box than on the ice in Minnesota.
The Ducks and Klingberg were on the same page when the two agreed to a $7 million deal. They'd give him a lot of playing time and eventually move him at the trade deadline.
It didn't quite work out as hoped. With a number of offensive defensemen on the market such as Dmitry Orlov, Shayne Gostisbehere and Mattias Ekholm, he fell way down the priority list.
Nikita Nesterenko, 21, is a junior at Boston College. The center has 11 goals and 19 assists in 32 games. Drafted by the Wild in the sixth round four years ago, Nesterenko is free to sign with any NHL team in August. The Ducks will get an early shot at locking him up.
A fourth-round pick and a fringe prospect is not what the Ducks had in mind when they drew this up over the summer, but assets are assets and no harm was done.
Predators Steal Asplund from Sabres
Trade: Buffalo Sabres trade Rasmus Asplund to Nashville Predators in return for 2025 seventh-round pick
There is a lot to like here for Nashville. Asplund is a good two-way forward. No, he does not produce points—Asplund has just 49 points in 164 career games—but he does move the puck through the neutral zone. The Swede is also high-caliber defensively.
The 25-year-old carries an $825,000 cap hit and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. The Predators moved out multiple forwards in recent days, but they replenished the depth chart with a quality bottom-six forward who will be cheap and will be under team control through at least 2025.
Asplund fell out of favor in Buffalo and has played only 27 games this season. A seventh-round pick three years out is a pittance for a young player like Asplund. This feels like general manager Kevyn Adams doing Asplund right by moving him to a team that will give him an opportunity.
Flames, 'Yotes Swap Ritchie Brothers
Trade: Calgary Flames trade Brett Ritchie, Connor Mackey to Arizona Coyotes in return for Troy Stecher, Nick Ritchie
This is an interesting one if only for the storyline: Brett and Nick Ritchie, who are brothers, were traded for each other.
Nick, whom the Flames acquired, is a 6'3" wing. He is not as defensively sound as his older brother but is a better goal scorer. Nick scored 10 goals in 24 games last season and has nine in 58 this season. Calgary will get more offense in its bottom six with this addition.
Stecher was once a favorite of the analytics community, but his game has since dropped off. The 28-year-old was in a bad situation in Arizona, however. He's still a competent defensive player who can play a role as No. 7 defenseman. Calgary needed help on defense with Oliver Kylington out with injury.
Brett Ritchie, 29, is a decent defensive winger who is on a $750,000 contract that expires at the end of the season. Connor Mackey, 26, was once a highly sought-after free agent out of Minnesota State, but the defenseman has topped out as an AHLer who can fill in once in a while as a temporary call-up.
There isn't much in this trade for Arizona. The primary appeal, one can guess, was moving Nick Ritchie's $2.5 million cap hit that expires at the end of the season.
Wild Send Greenway to Sabres
Trade: Minnesota Wild trade Jordan Greenway to Buffalo Sabres in return for 2023 second-round pick, 2024 fifth-round pick
Greenway, whom the Wild drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft, is a massive checking-line forward. Listed at 6'6", 231 pounds, Greenway can dominate board battles, shield the puck and thrive above the crease looking for deflections and rebounds.
The left wing has good hands considering his size but has been inconsistent. Greenway has had good and bad moments, but he always seemed to end the regular season with numbers on par with a third-line checking forward. He's looked lost this season, tallying just two goals and five assists in 42 games and fell into head coach Dean Evason's doghouse.
This move is a major risk. Greenway has a $3 million cap hit through 2025. Should he not find his form, the Sabres will be paying for an expensive fourth-liner. And to surrender a second-round pick plus another pick is a major investment.
If nothing else, Greenway is a phenomenal defensive winger. No matter what, the Sabres are getting an NHL player in Greenway. At 26 years old he can be a contributor for multiple years. The big question is whether head coach Don Granato can help him find his offensive form again; he scored between 24 and 32 points in each of the last four seasons. Granato has successfully rehabilitated Tage Thompson, among others. There is a good two-way wing on the third line to unlock in Greenway.
General manager Bill Guerin is in the tricky position of having to balance giving the Wild a chance to make a deep playoff run while also keeping the team's finances healthy; the Ryan Suter and Zach Parise buyouts still loom large.
Moving Greenway will go a long way. He had fallen out of form in Minnesota, and that contract was a liability as far as the team was concerned. The Wild have added forward depth at the deadline in Marcus Johansson, Gustav Nyquist and Oskar Sundqvist. In combination with those moves, the Wild will have more salary-cap space to work with over the next two summers without having sacrificed the team's ability to win in 2023.
Senators Acquire Fourth-Line Center Brown
Trade: Philadelphia Flyers trade Patrick Brown to Ottawa Senators in return for 2023 sixth-round pick
The Senators seem to understand where they are as an organization: a long shot to make the playoffs but still relevant enough to stay competitive. General manager Pierre Dorion also has to placate Claude Giroux and a young group of players who have been part of too many losing seasons.
Brown is a cheap rental. He's a fourth-line center who kills penalty and is very good in the faceoff dot. A late-round pick for some help on the fourth line reinforces the lineup without pulling any meaningful assets away from a build that should really escalate in the next two seasons.
It's a sixth-round pick for a bottom-of-the-lineup rental. There's not much else to say except that if this constituted the whole of the Flyers' business today, then general manager Chuck Fletcher will have a lot of explaining to do.
Wild Add More Forward Depth with Sundqvist
Trade: Detroit Red Wings trade Oskar Sundqvist to Minnesota Wild in return for 2023 fourth-round pick
General manager Bill Guerin continues to add to the end of the forward depth chart. Sundqvist, 28, is a fourth-line forward who plays defensive minutes and is capable of 10-plus goals in a full season. For the cost of a fourth-round pick, he'll help to replace the loss of Jordan Greenway.
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings have all but conceded their playoff hopes for this season. Sundqvist will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The Red Wings garner a mid-round draft pick for a depth forward they were probably not going to re-sign.
Penguins Reunite with Bonino
Nick Bonino embarks on his second stint with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The first went well: Bonino contributed to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.
Now 34 years old, Bonino is not the player he was during those seasons. Stylistically, his game maintains the same look. Bonino is a shutdown center who kills penalties and holds his own in the faceoff dot, particularly on crucial defensive-zone draws.
Bonino knows head coach Mike Sullivan well. He'll arrive in Pittsburgh knowing what role is expected of him and how Sullivan likes to deploy his centers. While the Penguins' deadline philosophy has been bizarre, Bonino is a worthy addition who will replace Teddy Blueger on the fourth line.
The Penguins aren't knocking it out of the park during this trading period, but this move makes a lot of sense.
San Jose Sharks
Bonino turns 35 in April and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Fifth- and seventh-round picks are a disappointing return for a capable bottom-six center with two Stanley Cups on his resume, but if that was the best offer on the market, then so be it.
Penguins Move McGinn, Add Kulikov
Trade: Pittsburgh Penguins trade Brock McGinn, third-round pick to Anaheim Ducks in return for Dmitry Kulikov
This move has some good and some bad for Pittsburgh. The Penguins allocated a baffling amount of money to depth players and have worked to clean house. Kasperi Kapanen went to St. Louis via waivers, and they traded Teddy Blueger to Vegas.
The 29-year-old McGinn, signed to a $2.75 million cap hit through 2025, becomes the latest player exiled. He is a decent bottom-six forward, but that contract is prohibitive. He cleared waivers yesterday, which speaks to how unappetizing that contract is. Moving McGinn will help Pittsburgh down the line.
Dmitry Kulikov is a veteran defenseman who has, in seasons past, provided competent defensive play in depth roles. He has been horrendous this season in Anaheim, though being asked to play the third-most minutes among Ducks defensemen was cruel. In Pittsburgh, he'll play a depth role but it's equally likely that he proves to be a liability as it is that he helps.
Certainly, he's not the player who will tip the scales against the top teams in the East.
Moving McGinn's contract is worthwhile, and Kulikov is not nothing, but a team with a barren prospect pool loses another relatively high draft pick.
It's good business by general manager Pat Verbeek. Kulikov, a 32-year-old on an expiring contract, did his job. He ate minutes on a young team while the organization waits for its many top defensive prospects to make the transition to the NHL.
While McGinn was a major liability for the Penguins, the Ducks can absorb him. Anaheim still needs to reach the salary-cap floor and field a lineup. It gets a third-round pick and a chance to rebuild the value of a player who has played quality depth minutes in the past.
Sharks Flip Namestnikov to Jets
Trade: San Jose Sharks trade Vladislav Namestnikov to Winnipeg Jets in return for 2025 fourth-round pick
The Jets needed to add forward depth, but particularly with the injury to Cole Perfetti.
Namestnikov is the Platonic ideal of a depth forward. He can play center or wing, he is a highly intelligent defensive forward, and he can add the occasional goal or assist. His cerebral, no-frills game is a good fit for head coach Rick Bowness' tactics.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks picked up Namestnikov from Tampa Bay two days ago in return for journeyman Michael Eyssimont. They flip him to a playoff team in return for a fourth-round pick. It's another draft pick in the arsenal for the rebuilding Sharks.
Devils Acquire Lazar from Canucks
Trade: Vancouver Canucks trade Curtis Lazar to New Jersey Devils in return for 2024 fourth-round pick
New Jersey Devils
The Devils made their big move in Timo Meier, but rounding out the roster was a no-brainer.
Lazar, 28, was a former first-round "bust" who completely reformed his game and has built a nice NHL career. A sniper at the junior level, Lazar is now a dedicated checking forward. He's a heavy forechecker and one of the league's top hitters. Lazar is also a staunch defensive forward. He can play both center and wing and that versatility makes him all the more useful.
New Jersey gets great value here. A fourth-round pick is the standard rate for renting a depth forward, but Lazar is signed to a frugal $1 million annual cap hit through 2025.
It's extremely difficult to parse out any sort of plan in Vancouver. Lazar is 28 years old and fourth-liners are replaceable, but a team that refuses to rebuild and with some ugly contracts on the books now moves a reliable player sooner well sooner than was necessary. A fourth-round pick is an adequate return for Lazar, but it's another weird anecdote in a bigger picture that lacks any sort of focus.
Blues Give Vrána Second Chance
Trade: Detroit Red Wings trade Jakub Vrána (contract 50 percent retained) to St. Louis Blues in return for Dylan McLaughlin, 2025 seventh-round pick
St. Louis Blues
Jakub Vrána went into the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program at the beginning of the season.
He returned recently, cleared waivers and tallied 11 points in 17 AHL games before the Red Wings recalled him. Vrána then collected a goal and an assist in five games with the parent club.
Entering this season, he was a bona fide first-line wing. In the previous four campaigns, Vrána totaled 107 points in 145 games. He is equal parts shooter and playmaker and is a big creator of offense.
The 27-year-old cost the Blues a seventh-round pick, and only half of his $5.5 million annual cap hit through 2024 will go on St. Louis' spreadsheet. If he is ready to move forward with his career and returns anywhere near his previous form, then this is a steal.
Detroit Red Wings
For unclear reasons, general manager Steve Yzerman felt it was best for the team to move on from Vrána. It's hard to analyze this trade for Detroit without knowing the full details of what could be a private affair. It's unfortunate that Vrána's promising start in Detroit ends this way. Hopefully, the change of scenery works out both for him and the Red Wings.
Domi Heads to Dallas
Trade: Chicago Blackhawks trade Max Domi and Dylan Wells to Dallas Stars for Anton Khudobin and 2025 second-round pick
Almost all of the heavy hitting has been conducted by the Eastern Conference. This has left the top teams in the West to make moves like this. The Dallas Stars are arguably the best team in the Western Conference and an addition was highly called for.
With most of the big names off the board, Domi qualified as the "best of the rest." On the surface, he is a big addition. The 2013 first-round pick signed with Chicago on a one-year, $3 million contract and outperformed it by tallying 18 goals and 31 assists in 60 games.
The 28-year-old inherited the edgy, scrappy game from his father, Tie, but has much better hands. However, his numbers this season are somewhat misleading. Domi produced in Chicago in part because he got opportunities there that he will not in Dallas. He played first-line minutes, and 16 of his points have come on the power play. He is also a liability on the defensive side.
Domi will give the Stars some offensive punch down the depth chart. A second-round pick is a heavy price to pay for a rental of his ilk, but that's a reflection of how watered-down the market has become.
The Blackhawks could have re-signed Domi. Yes, they are in a rebuild, but head coach Luke Richardson also has to field a lineup.
General manager Kyle Davidson didn't really have a choice in the face of a second-round pick. The Blackhawks now own total 14 picks in the first two rounds through 2025.
Oilers Add Bjugstad for Forward Depth
Trade: Arizona Coyotes trade Nick Bjugstad (salary 50 percent retained), Cam Dineen to Edmonton Oilers in return for 2023 third-round pick, Michael Kesselring
Nick Bjugstad has endured a roller-coaster career. Drafted 19th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2010, Bjugstad was a top prospect who began to build a nice career with the Panthers before a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suffered injuries, his game fell off a cliff, and he barely clung to his NHL career, moving to the rebuilding Coyotes on a one-year, $900,000 contract.
Now 30 years old, the 6'6" center has refound his game. The Coyotes offered him the most ice time he's ever seen in his career (16:59 average), and Bjugstad rewarded them with 13 goals and 10 assists in 59 games.
More importantly, the Minneapolis native has become staunch defensively. The Coyotes gave up just 2.03 goals per 60 minutes with Bjugstad on the ice at five-on-five; an amazing turnout in any situation but particularly on a porous Coyotes team that allows an average of 2.75.
Bjugstad now goes to Edmonton, where his role will diminish. He's probably fine with that, as a bottom-six checking role fits his game perfectly. Something tells me that the Oilers won't have a problem getting offense from other centers. Head coach Jay Woodcroft will ask Bjugstad to lock it down defensively and chip in with the occasional point, something he is capable of.
The Coyotes gave a chance to a talented player who hasn't caught a break in years. He played well and now they reap the rewards. A third-round pick is a nice haul for a depth center whom the team nabbed out of the bargain bin less than eight months ago.
Quick Heads to Las Vegas
Trade: Columbus Blue Jackets trade Jonathan Quick to Vegas Golden Knights in return for Michael Hutchinson, 2025 seventh-round pick
Vegas Golden Knights
No doubt, Vegas has a conundrum in net. Robin Lehner is out for the season following hip surgery in August. Logan Thompson has been a surprise but is now out with an injury.
So Quick comes to Vegas. Unfortunately, he is nowhere near the player he once was. Per Evolving Hockey, Quick would be expected to give up roughly 82 goals based on the shot quantity and quality he has faced. The two-time Cup winner has instead allowed 99. Statistically speaking, Quick is one of the worst goaltenders in the league.
Consider how bad things must have been for the Kings to send a franchise legend to Columbus.
If Vegas has one morsel of hope, it's that Quick has something to prove. Right or wrong, he is deeply unhappy with being traded by L.A., and he joins a Pacific Division rival. He'll be determined to show the league he still has gas in the tank.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Quick was a necessary financial addition for the Kings to acquire Vladislav Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo. One can assume Quick did not want to ride out the season with a lottery team. Columbus did the right thing and flipped him to a playoff team. It receives a minor league goaltender and a draft pick as a reward for its cooperation.
Bruins Add Yet Again, Acquire Bertuzzi
Trade: Detroit Red Wings trade Tyler Bertuzzi to Boston Bruins in return for conditional 2024 first-round pick (top-10-protected), 2025 fourth-round pick
The rich get richer. The best team in the league made a monster move for Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway a little over a week ago. If the Bruins had done nothing else, then that would have sufficiently qualified as a successful trade-deadline period.
General manager Don Sweeney is apparently not done. Tyler Bertuzzi is now a Bruin.
Bertuzzi is a modern-day power forward. The nephew of former NHLer Todd Bertuzzi plays a similar game, marrying skill with physical fortitude. The 28-year-old throws hits, uses his body as leverage to win and shield pucks, and he thrives in front of the net. Above the crease is where he does most of his goal-scoring.
Bertuzzi broke out last season with 30 goals and 32 assists in 68 games. He hasn't reached those heights this season—14 points in 29 games—but he has also dealt with a string of injuries.
Bertuzzi is a 45-point-caliber winger who drives offense. The Bruins will presumably play him on the third line, which is a luxury. Anything can happen in the playoffs, but Boston is the heaviest of favorites for the Stanley Cup as the league has seen in some time.
Detroit Red Wings
Wednesday's trade of Filip Hronek, who is 25 and under contract through 2024, signaled that general manager Steve Yzerman is ready to punt this season. Thus moving Bertuzzi, an unrestricted free agent in July, was an obvious move.
A first-round pick with a mid-round pick sweetener is fair value for Bertuzzi, on par with what St. Louis received for Vladimir Tarasenko. But collecting draft picks will not, in itself, satisfy Red Wings fans. Probably not Yzerman, either. Detroit now has four first-round picks in the next two seasons as well as three second-round picks in 2023. Expect to see Yzerman use his accumulated capital to add to the roster during the offseason.
Penguins Underwhelmingly Add Granlund
Trade: Nashville Predators trade Mikael Granlund to the Pittsburgh Penguins in return for 2023 second-round pick
The Penguins were in a slightly better but similar position to the Washington Capitals when the Caps decided to cut bait and become a seller. Pittsburgh is fighting for a wild-card spot and only has so many windows remaining to win with a few aging franchise legends.
Unlike the Capitals, the Penguins decided to invest in the current group. First, general manager Ron Hextall needed to trim the fat. Kasperi Kapanen went to St. Louis via waivers. Brock McGinn cleared waivers and was demoted to the AHL. Teddy Blueger went to Vegas in a trade. This opened up an additional $7 million in cap space for a big move. Would it be J.T. Miller from Vancouver? Jakob Chychrun from Arizona?
No. The Price is Right loser's horn blared as the Penguins acquired Mikael Granlund.
There was a time when Granlund was a bonafide first-line winger. That time was three-plus years ago. Now 31, Granlund's complete game has disintegrated. The 11-year NHL veteran is still putting up decent numbers. Granlund has 36 points in 58 games, but the rest of his game is lacking.
His skating has taken a hit, and he no longer drives offense the way he used to. More concerningly, he is now a defensive liability; Evolving Hockey ranks him in the bottom one percent of all NHLers by defensive performance this season, and that's a carry-over from a similarly dreadful 2021-22 season in that vein.
The Penguins saw far better teams in the East swinging for home runs and decided to include themselves in the group by adding a player who is a very good playmaker in the offensive zone but hurts his team otherwise.
That's not the worst of it. Granlund is signed for two more seasons at a bloated $5 million cap hit. And a team already scraping the bottom of the barrel for prospects moved a second-round pick for this privilege. Nino Niederreiter, who is younger, better, and on a friendlier contract, went to Winnipeg for the same price.
The Penguins are not good enough to seriously challenge for the Stanley Cup, nor are they getting their ducks in an order to move up the Eastern Conference pecking order in the next couple of seasons. Hextall has put this team in no-man's land.
General manager David Poile will formally hand the reins over to Barry Trotz following the season. First, he's doing everything he can to clear the books and add as many assets as possible.
Granlund could have been part of the next couple of seasons in Nashville. As previously noted, his game is in sharp decline, and that contract is a burden at this point.
Poile did a tremendous job moving Granlund out and getting Pittsburgh to overpay. Between the trades of Niederreiter, Mattias Ekholm and now Granlund, Trotz has an abundance of draft picks as well as an extra $15 million of cap space in each of the next two seasons.
Senators Pay Coyotes Little for Chychrun
Trade: Arizona Coyotes trade Jakob Chychrun to Ottawa Senators for conditional 2023 first-round pick, conditional 2024 second-round pick and 2026 second-round pick
Ottawa Senators @Senators
Conditions: The '23 1st-round pick is top-5 protected. If met, pick becomes '24 1st-round unprotected. Additionally, should <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Sens?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Sens</a> reach '23 ECF, the 2nd-round pick becomes '24 1st-round top 10-protected. If that condition is met, the pick becomes '25 1st-round unprotected. 2/2
Jakob Chychrun finally gets out of the desert.
Long speculated to be on the move, Chychrun was far and away the top defenseman on the market. That counts both for his impact this season as well as in the long term.
Chychrun, whom the Coyotes drafted 16th in 2016, is a complete defenseman. Having made the NHL right away as an 18-year-old, the Florida native has played seven seasons, averaging 37 points per 82 games. In the past three seasons, that average jumped to 53 points.
He's a goal scorer, he's a playmaker, and Chychrun generally makes plays with the puck in all three zones. Need someone who can start the rush from the defensive end? He is your guy. Chychrun can run a power play, carry the puck himself through the neutral zone and become the third man to create three-on-two transition rushes.
Chychrun is equally strong defensively. He defends the neutral zone well. The 6'2", 220-pounder holds up just fine physically. He collects pucks and moves them out of the defensive zone and he wins puck scrums.
Evolving Hockey's model puts him in the 82nd percentile of NHL players since 2020-21 by offensive contributions and 78th by defensive. He is a bona fide first-pairing defenseman who can play in every situation. He showed very well on a desolate team. Ottawa isn't exactly a top team, but there is certainly more talent to work with.
The only knock on Chychrun is that he has had trouble staying healthy. Most recently, he missed the first month-plus of this season after undergoing ankle surgery.
But he's shown more than enough for the Senators to believe he will be a key piece for a while. Chychrun is signed through 2024-25 for a $4.6 million cap hit, which is a steal.
The price of a first-round pick and what will probably amount to two second-round picks is painless for general manager Pierre Dorion. Look at some of the other trades completed in recent weeks, and one will see similar or even bigger packages moved for rentals or inferior players.
The move is an unequivocal A-plus.
Chychrun's departure from Arizona had been telegraphed for at least a year. The only question was where he would go.
After all that time and anticipation, the saga ended with a thud. At least it did for Arizona. Just a couple of weeks ago, the reported asking price for Chychrun was two first-round picks and a notable prospect.
The Coyotes came away with no prospect and a Hail Mary chance at a second first-round pick. To be fair, Ottawa's first-round pick will likely be in the mid-teens, but that is still a miserable return for a player of Chychrun's caliber who is 24 and signed to a team-friendly contract.
TSN's Chris Johnston reported that the move was influenced by Arizona's not having to retain any salary. That might be important to the organization and its accountants, but it's no silver lining for the fanbase.
Perhaps, too, general manager Bill Armstrong overplayed his hand. Teams such as Boston, Edmonton and Los Angeles were interested in Chychrun but made alternative plans in recent days.
It's a bad ending to a drawn-out saga. If nothing else, at least the organization has ended this invasive, prolonged storyline.
Tampa Bay Trade Namestnikov to San Jose
Trade: Tampa Bay Lightning trade Vladislav Namestnikov to San Jose Sharks in return for Michael Eyssimont
Tampa Bay Lightning
This move was about excess and, potentially, creating salary-cap space. The Lightning signed Namestnikov to a one-year, $2.5 million contract this past summer. The 30-year-old was a respectable depth forward for Tampa Bay this season and chipped in with 15 points in 57 games.
The acquisition of Tanner Jeannot from Nashville added an important bottom-six forward, which diluted Namestnikov's place in the lineup. The Lightning moved him and opened up cap space. Perhaps another addition is coming to Tampa.
San Jose Sharks
Namestnikov is a counterintuitive addition to the rebuilding Sharks. A 30-year-old depth player who will be a free agent in a few months doesn't fit the blueprint.
But they only gave up Michael Eyssimont, a 26-year-old who has spent most of his pro career in the AHL. Eyssimont totaled eight goals in 20 games with San Jose.
General manager Mike Grier may attempt to flip Namestnikov to another team in the next day. If not, they acquired a respectable veteran who can fill a lineup spot and bring stability to a young roster.
Penguins Move Blueger to Vegas, Free Up Cap Space
Trade: Pittsburgh Penguins trade Teddy Blueger to Vegas Golden Knights for Peter DiLiberatore and 2024 third-round pick
Vegas Golden Knights
Blueger, 28, encapsulated what the Penguins have been about for many years. He's visually an unspectacular player, but he was a perfect fit for head coach Mike Sullivan's system. He's a top defensive forward who can chip in offensively. Blueger has two goals and eight assists in 45 games, which is below his usual standard.
Blueger can play both center and wing but shines in the middle. Vegas paid a moderate price to rent a great bottom-six forward.
Blueger is struggling this season, which explains why the Penguins viewed him as expendable. But this move is not about Blueger. The Penguins sent Kasperi Kapanen and his $3.2 million cap hit to St. Louis via waivers and also waived Brock McGinn, who has a $2.8 million cap hit. Now Blueger and his $2.2 million cap hit head out.
Something is brewing. General manager Ron Hextall has to be lining up a big move. Expect to hear more soon.
Canucks, Red Wings Agree to Stunning Filip Hronek Trade
Trade: Detroit Red Wings trade Filip Hronek, 2023 fourth-round pick to Vancouver Canucks for conditional 2023 first-round pick and 2023 second-round pick
Filip Hronek isn't branded as a star player, but maybe he should be.
The right defenseman had a breakout season in 2021-22, registering five goals and 33 assists in 78 games. He's blowing those numbers out of the water this season, having already reached that 38-point mark in 60 games, including nine goals.
Hronek is great at rushing the puck up the ice and is a major creator from the point. This season, his defensive impacts have been spectacular as well.
For sure, Hronek is a top player. The trade is nonetheless problematic for the Canucks for multiple reasons.
First, the Canucks are buying Hronek at what is probably his peak value. Though he has scored nine goals, Evolving Hockey's model shows he is expected to have 5.8 based on his shot quantity and quality. Generally speaking, Detroit has scored 55.8 percent of the goals at five-on-five with Hronek on the ice. His expected goals percentage is 46.8. To put it in simple terms, Hronek is getting a lot of bounces, so to speak, and that fortune is unlikely to continue.
Hronek's underlying numbers are great this season, but that is not the trend. The Czech was more of an offensive-zone capitalizer in the previous two seasons rather than a high-end possession driver. Maybe his game has significantly improved. Or maybe that is another aspect of his season that will regress in the coming years.
But the bigger problem is that, while the value of the deal is OK, the Canucks are in no place to make this type of trade. Yes, Hronek is only 25 years old, but Vancouver is not a year or two away from contending for the Stanley Cup. The organization needs a rebuild from the ground up. The Canucks' first-round pick (via the Islanders) is likely to be in the mid- to late teens, while their second-round pick should be in the Nos. 35-42 range. Those are massive building blocks for a theoretical five-year plan.
Instead, they have Hronek. A good defenseman who is probably outperforming his actual abilities. A player who will require a big extension at the end of next season.
And, most importantly, a player who does not materially change the Canucks' future. President of hockey operations Jim Rutherford remains in denial regarding the state of the franchise. The organization's perpetual refusal to wave the white flag and start over is exactly why it is in this position. It sure looks like the Canucks are continuing to dig this hole.
Detroit Red Wings
Well, this move was unexpected. Though unlikely, the Red Wings have an outside shot at earning a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Even if not, Detroit is on the rise, and Hronek, under contract on a reasonable $4.4 million cap hit through 2023-24, fit the timeline. There was no public indicator that general manager Steve Yzerman had Hronek on the block.
There is a lot of logic to the move. As noted previously, while Hronek is a good defenseman on a reasonable contract, there are yellow flags regarding how repeatable his play is. If the Red Wings had doubts about whether he'd be part of the long-term picture, then this was the time to move him.
Unlike the Canucks, the Red Wings are playing respectable hockey and have a number of highly talented young players at the NHL level or nearly there. Chances are that Yzerman goes back to the market in these next few days or over the summer in hopes of finding a different young NHL player.
Maybe Yzerman moved Hronek to make room on the blue line for Jakob Chychrun. If not, bet on a similar type of player taking the flight to Detroit before next season begins.
Kings Acquire Goaltending Prospect Portillo
Trade: Buffalo Sabres trade Erik Portillo to Los Angeles Kings in return for 2023 third-round pick
Los Angeles Kings
General manager Rob Blake plugged a hole in the crease with the acquisition of Joonas Korpisalo earlier in the day, but that's likely a temporary move. The team needs goaltending help for future seasons.
Erik Portillo isn't a guaranteed savior, but he is an option. The Sabres drafted Portillo in the third round of the 2019 draft and his stock has since increased. The 6'6" netminder posted .935 and .926 save percentages in his first two NCAA seasons and backed Michigan to a national championship last season.
His play has dropped this season—Portillo owns a .908 save percentage in 31 games—but he is still a respected goaltending prospect.
Portillo is free to sign with any NHL team in August and so the Kings might be taking on some risk here. Alternatively, they may have reason to believe he is prepared to sign in Los Angeles. If he does, then the 22-year-old will turn pro and might not be too far off from his NHL debut.
The Sabres have Ukka-Pekko Luukkonen, 23, who has struggled this season with a .893 save percentage in 25 games. He did show well in shorter stints the previous two seasons and Buffalo still have high hopes for their former second-round pick.
Devon Levi, whom the team acquired from the Florida Panthers in the 2021 trade involving Sam Reinhart, is one of the five-best goaltending prospects in the world. He won the NCAA's Mike Richter Award for the NCAA's best men's goaltender in 2022 and should coast to that award this season as well.
The Sabres have options in net for the future. Perhaps Portillo looked at the depth chart and informed the Sabres that he intended to sign elsewhere in August. Maybe the Sabres decided he was a surplus piece. In either case, the Sabres move him out for a third-round pick. That's fair value for a good-but-not-great goaltending prospect whom they were at risk of losing for nothing.
Gostisbehere Moves to Carolina
Trade: Arizona Coyotes trade Shayne Gostisbehere to Carolina Hurricanes for 2026 third-round pick
The Hurricanes appear to have missed out on the top players available. There is still time to go big, but it appears they are settling on quantity.
Gostisbehere is maybe the league's most underappreciated offensive defenseman. The 29-year-old has averaged 48 points per 82 games in his career and has reached the 10-goal mark in four different seasons; last year, Ghost produced 14 goals and 37 assists.
He is somewhat of a liability on the other side of the puck. The Hurricanes know this. He's joining a team that is otherwise locked in defensively, and head coach Rod Brind'Amour won't have a problem sheltering him for offensive opportunities while giving the heavy lifting to Jaccob Slavin, among others.
Gostisbehere gives the Hurricanes more offensive punch at a moderate cost.
It's little surprise that the Coyotes are selling at the deadline. Gostisbehere was their most lucrative rental available. He will turn 30 in April and will be a UFA at the end of the season.
A third-round pick is good value. Traditionally, teams don't want draft picks so far in the future. The Coyotes should be fine waiting until 2026, though. General manager Bill Armstrong hilariously possesses 16 picks in Rounds 2 and 3 through 2025. Spreading those picks across a longer timeline is for the best.
Patrick Kane Forces His Way to New York
Vince Z. Mercogliano @vzmercogliano
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYR?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NYR</a> just made the official announcement that they're acquiring Patrick Kane and Cooper Zech from the Blackhawks.<br><br>Full details:<br><br>To CHI (retains 50% on Kane)<br>- 2023 conditional 2nd rd pick<br>- 2025 4th rd pick<br>- D Andy Welinski<br><br>To ARI (retains 25% on Kane)<br>- 2025 conditional 3rd
Editor's note: Read analysis of the Kane trade here.
Avalanche Address Center Need with Lars Eller
Trade: Washington Capitals trade Lars Eller (salary 31 percent retained) to the Colorado Avalanche for 2025 second-round pick
The big gap in the Avs lineup is the second-line center spot following the departure of Nazem Kadri in the summer. The problem has trickled down the lineup. Darren Helm suffered a long-term injury and went on injured reserve Monday, while Ben Meyers has one point in 32 games.
Eller won't fix the second-line problem, but he is a big addition to the bottom six. Despite this being an "off" season for the Dane, Eller still has contributed seven goals and nine assists in 60 games. His reputation as a shutdown center holds up. Per Evolving Hockey, the Capitals had an expected goals-against average of 2.33/60 at five-on-five. That ranks fourth among all Capitals forwards. InStat shows Eller as having won 55.6 percent of all defensive-zone faceoffs this season.
Eller is a reliable bottom-six center with 96 playoff games to his name. He'll plug a hole in the lineup and won't be intimidated by joining a team expecting to win a second straight Stanley Cup.
The Capitals continue the teardown.
Eller was an important player for seven seasons and played a key role in the team's 2018 Stanley Cup victory. But he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and turns 34 years old in May. It was time to move on.
For a rental center that belongs on the third line at best, a second-round pick is an excellent return. Consider that Nino Niederreiter, a younger and better player under contract through 2023-24, netted the same return for the Nashville Predators.
The Capitals are stocking the cupboard.
Kings Trade Quick to Columbus, Acquire Gavrikov and Korpisalo
Trade: Los Angeles Kings trade Jonathan Quick, conditional 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick to Columbus Blue Jackets for Vladislav Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo
Condition: First-round pick becomes second-round picks in 2023 and 2024 if the Kings miss the playoffs
Los Angeles Kings
Vladislav Gavrikov has the reputation of a second-pairing, two-way defenseman. He certainly played like one in previous seasons. In 2021-22, Gavrikov tallied 33 points in 80 games. The Russian is a capable puck-mover from the point.
The 6'3", 221-pounder defends well in the neutral zone. Teams are hesitant to attack his side of the ice, fearing his intuition, positioning and long reach.
His performance this season has been in sharp decline. According to Evolving Hockey, among the eight Columbus defensemen who have played at least 300 minutes at five-on-five, Gavrikov ranks seventh by expected goals. He has only 10 points through 52 games, and the Blue Jackets had a 3.12 goals-against average with Gavrikov on the ice.
In fairness to Gavrikov, he has been asked to play well above his means. The season-ending injury to Zach Werenski forced him into the No. 1 role. His most common defense partners have been Andrew Peeke and Marcus Björk, nobody's idea of first-pairing defensemen. He's played over 22 minutes per game while matching up against the opposition's top players with little help around him.
Los Angeles will provide a better environment. He'll partner with Drew Doughty or play down the lineup. Look for him to earn back his moniker as an above-average two-way defenseman.
The optics of trading Jonathan Quick are brutal. Dealing a franchise legend is unsettling no matter the circumstances. In this case, L.A. moved him against his desires. It did so as it gears up for a playoff run. And the Connecticut native is now with a team at the bottom of the league standings.
It's a ruthless but necessary decision. Quick, now 37, has regressed. He owns an .876 save percentage in 31 games and is arguably the worst goaltender in the NHL. Combined with Cal Petersen's struggles and demotion to the AHL, the Kings' goaltending situation was a five-alarm fire.
Joonas Korpisalo, in contrast, sports a .911 save percentage in 28 games despite playing on a bad team. Per Evolving Hockey, the Finn ranks 16th by goals saved above expected. The Kings had virtually zero chance of going anywhere this season without a single NHL-caliber goaltender.
It's an ugly divorce and it could backfire should Quick's departure upend locker room dynamics. But general manager Rob Blake inherited a declining goaltender on a contract he did not give out. Quick signed without any trade protection. In truth, his play warranted a breakup four or five years ago. As important as the two-time Stanley Cup winner is to the franchise, sentimentality can't get in the way of winning.
We'll see how Quick responds to this move and whether the Blue Jackets find another team to move him to.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The dynamics for Columbus are far less complex. Gavrikov, 27, and Korpisalo, 28, will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Both are in line for raises. The Blue Jackets have the lowest point total (46) in the NHL. Re-signing either makes no sense. Certainly not compared to the alternative of moving them for assets.
And that's even without considering whether the duo had interest in remaining with Columbus.
The Blue Jackets moved both for what many believe the Boston Bruins were prepared to pony up for Gavrikov alone before they pivoted to Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway.
General manager Jarmo Kekäläinen had to quickly find a plan B. This deal may not be ideal, but a first- and third-round pick for two players on expiring contracts is still good business.
The Blue Jackets have one of the top prospect pools in the league, are in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes and now (probably) have another second first-round pick for 2023. Expect Kekäläinen to get in the market for a young player under control for multiple years; could Jakob Chychrun be headed to Ohio?
Edmonton Makes Major Move for Ekholm
Trade: Edmonton Oilers trade Tyson Barrie, Reid Schaefer, 2023 first-round pick, and 2024 fourth-round pick to Nashville Predators in return for Mattias Ekholm (salary 4 percent retained), sixth-round pick
Ken Holland was under major pressure to make a splash at the deadline. McDavid and Draisaitl are in their prime years and it's time to start truly contending. This is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Mattias Ekholm, 32, is a solid two-way defenseman. He is one of the top defensemen in the league when it comes to taking care of the puck. He loves to carry up the ice but can also distribute to teammates. He creates offense from the point by setting up teammates and getting pucks toward the net. His 13 points in 57 games this season might not indicate offensive capabilities, but he is a product of a bad environment in Nashville. Ekholm has five 40-point seasons to his name, including 44 last season.
Ekholm is also a strong shot suppressor. Consider this: The Predators were expected to give up 2.50 goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five this season, per Evolving Hockey. That ranks second on the Predators only to Dante Fabbro, who played far more sheltered minutes. Ekholm is pulling above his weight in Nashville. Per Evolving Hockey, Ekholm's 5.2 goals above replacement by defensive contributions rank 13th among all NHL defensemen this season.
Tyson Barrie scored 10 goals and added 33 assists in 61 games in Edmonton this season. No doubt, he is a significantly better player in the offensive zone, particularly on the power play.
But let's be real: The Oilers are going to be dominant in that regard without him given the talent on the roster. Edmonton is a poor defensive team receiving miserable goaltending. What they need is a defenseman who plays at a high level in all three zones. Ekholm is exactly that.
Ekholm's $6 million cap hit (Nashville retains $250,000) through 2026 provides a moderate risk as his play drops off and they give up a first-round pick and a prospect. But so what? This is the window of opportunity in Edmonton, and Ekholm makes them a more threatening playoff team.
The mass exodus from Nashville continue. Ekholm spent his entire career with the organization since it drafted him in 2009. His contract did not demand an immediate trade. This departure will hurt Predators fans on an emotional level.
It's also the right decision. This team needs, if not a rebuild, at least a transition. General Manager continues to open up cap space and add youth.
Barrie, 31, is a phenomenal offensive defenseman. He is signed on a favorable $4.5 million cap hit through 2024. Depending on how the next 12 months play out Barrie could either be a big part of a quick Nashville turnaround or another player to trade for picks and prospects. He's a downgrade from Ekholm, but it's very rare that a selling team acquires a player of this caliber as part of the deal.
Reid Schaefer was a major reach by the Edmonton Oilers at the 2022 draft. The 19-year-old is already 6'3", 213 pounds. He plays a physical game, he works hard every shift, and he has a scoring touch around the net.
His upside is limited by poor skating and no particular ability to process the play. His play is plateauing this season; 23 goals and 24 assists in 44 WHL games are lukewarm numbers for a player of his age and draft position. There are deep concerns regarding whether he'll be able to succeed at the pro level once he can no longer succeed with size and shooting alone.
That the Oilers reached for him is not the Predators' problem. He should have been a late-third or early-fourth-round pick, and that's the caliber of prospect usually paired with a first-round pick in these types of trades.
The Predators will not be a serious threat for at least another season and Ekholm's contract could have become a problem down the line. They move him out while he still has a high value, netting a first-round pick, a B-level prospect and a top offensive defenseman who will help the team either on the ice or via another trade down the line.
Wild Make Creative Trade for Nyquist
Trade: Columbus Blue Jackets trade Gustav Nyquist to Minnesota Wild in return for 2023 fifth-round pick
Gustav Nyquist suffered a significant shoulder injury in late January and is not expected back for the rest of the regular season.
His inability to help through the last stretch of the regular season is bad news. But it does provide an interesting wrinkle. Because Nyquist will presumably finish the season on injured reserve, he will not count against the cap. The salary cap and roster limits disappear during the playoffs.
In other words, the Wild are acquiring a player with a $5.5 million cap hit but will not have to count a single cent toward their limit. They have just as much cap space available as they did prior to the trade.
Aside from his lack of presence during the regular season, his ability to show anything during the playoffs is a massive question. The 33-year-old winger has ten goals and 12 assists in 48 games played. If the 11-year NHL veteran comes back during the playoffs as good as new, then Minnesota will have added a solid third-line winger.
Will he be able to return from injury and immediately contribute? That's a major wild card, and the low price of a fifth-round pick reflects as much.
Columbus Blue Jackets
A long-term injury that surpasses the regular season would usually eliminate the possibility for a team to trade him. Nyquist's potential return date and the salary-cap crunch around the league provided the Blue Jackets with a break.
Nyquist is an older NHL player who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Even in ideal circumstances, he would have netted Columbus a draft pick in the third round at best. To get any sort of compensation for an injured player is a win.
Islanders Add Engvall for Forward Depth
Trade: Toronto Maple Leafs trade Pierre Engvall to New York Islanders in return for 2024 third-round pick
New York Islanders
The Islanders, an aging team on the outside of the playoff picture, made an extremely risky move trading away major assets for Bo Horvat.
For better or worse, they are committed to trying to make a push this season. Granting that, this is tidy business by general manager Lou Lamoriello.
Engvall, 26, is a capable depth forward. He makes all of the little plays that help his team control play. He's mature and cerebral both on and off the puck in all three zones. He'll win his share of puck battles, show finesse in possession, and chip in offensively; Engvall has 12 goals and nine assists in 58 games this season.
There are two knocks on the Swedish winger. First, despite his 6'5", 219-pound frame, observers often accuse him of shying away from contact and not using that size to his advantage. Secondly, despite how often he creates offensive opportunities, he does not finish on them often enough.
The Islanders needed help on the wings. Particularly with Oliver Wahlstrom and Cal Clutterbuck injured. Engvall will help with strong defensive play and complementary offense.
Toronto Maple Leafs
General manager Kyle Dubas is not messing around. This is his fifth trade of the season and the fourth in the last 48 hours.
Having added O'Reilly, Acciari, and Lafferty, the Leafs' roster was bloated at forward. Something had to give. He addresses that with Engvall's eviction to Long Island. Engvall was a valiant contributor in Toronto for four seasons but the Leafs' bottom-six was dysfunctional this season. As Dubas' flurry of moves indicates, he wanted to change the makeup. Engvall was an expendable part and Toronto needed to add back to the cupboard after trading a number of draft picks in previous days. This trade provides a solution.
Leafs Reunite with Luke Schenn
Trade: Vancouver Canucks trade Luke Schenn to Toronto Maple Leafs in return for 2023 third-round pick
Toronto Maple Leafs
This is now the Maple Leafs' third addition on defense in less than 48 hours.
The Leafs grabbed the highly touted Luke Schenn fifth overall at the 2008 NHL draft. It didn't quite work out. Toronto traded him to Philadelphia in return for James van Riemsdyk in 2012.
Schenn returns to his original team under very different circumstances. Now 33 years old, the Saskatchewan native is one of the most respected veterans in the league. He has 918 NHL regular-season games to his name and was a part of the Tampa Bay Lightning's Stanley Cup roster in both 2020 and 2021.
The 6'3", 225-pound defenseman plays a heavy game. He is competent at making the requisite plays to get the puck out of the defensive zone. As his experience in Tampa Bay shows, he's a player contending teams love to have in the locker room and as an option in case of injury or another defenseman's poor performance.
A third-round pick is a heavy price to pay for a seventh defenseman. "In for a penny, in for a pound," Leafs management has clearly settled on. With Tavares, O'Reilly, Giordano and now Schenn on the roster, pundits can no longer claim that the locker room lacks leading, commanding voices who know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup.
Rumors swirled that the Canucks might opt to keep Schenn past the trade deadline. It didn't make much sense. He is a 32-year-old depth defenseman who becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer. No matter how good his attitude might be, the Canucks need future assets far more than they need him.
The Canucks handed a third-round pick to Toronto last season in order to acquire young defenseman Travis Dermott. They now receive the same value back in the return for an aging rental. Moving Schenn for a mid-round draft pick was general manager Patrik Allvin's free bingo space for this period, but he at least made the right decision in trading Schenn rather than keeping him.
Schenn wanted to re-sign in Vancouver, and there is nothing stopping him and the team from coming together again over the summer. Maybe the Canucks can have their cake and eat it too.
Maple Leafs, Capitals Swap Gustafsson, Sandin
Trade: Toronto Maple Leafs trade Rasmus Sandin to Washington Capitals in return for Erik Gustafsson, 2023 first-round pick
Toronto Maple Leafs
That came out of nowhere. Only a day ago did general manager Kyle Dubas make a big move to add Jake McCabe on defense.
He now adds to the blue line yet again. Erik Gustafsson, is one of the best surprises of the 2022-23 season. The offensive defenseman did collect 60 points in 70 games with Chicago in 2018-19 but has bounced around the league since. John Carlson's long-term injury opened up ice time for Gustafsson, particularly on the power play. He took advantage of the opportunity and registered seven goals and 31 assists in 61 games with Washington.
Where and how head coach Sheldon Keefe the left defenseman remains to be seen, but the Leafs lacked offense from the back beyond Morgan Rielly.
Sandin, whom the Leafs drafted 29th overall in 2018 has played well in his two full NHL seasons. The 22-year-old has a friendly $1.4 million cap hit through 2024. He was set to pose problems for the Leafs long-term, however. Sandin will command a sizable raise as a restricted free agent in July 2024 and the Leafs, up against the cap, would have had trouble making that work.
In Gustafsson the Leafs make an immediate upgrade for what they view as an optimal chance to win the Stanley Cup. The first-round pick mitigates the long-term loss of Sandin and replaces one of the two they had previously moved to St. Louis and Chicago this month.
Rasmus Sandin is a perfect fit for where the Capitals stand. On one hand, they need to reset and get younger. That being said, Alexander Ovechkin only has so many seasons left. Sandin provides a perfect balance. He's a major piece for the future who will contribute right away.
Sandin, 22, is a talented offensive defenseman. He has tremendous vision and efficiently starts rushes from the back. He is poised at the point and sets up teammates for high-end scoring chances. The Swede joins Washington with four goals and 16 assists in 52 games this season. Chances are that he's due for more. A third-pairing defenseman in Toronto, Sandin should see an elevated role in Washington. Given the current roster and Carlson's absence, he deserves to be on the top pairing.
This is an unorthodox trade, but it's a creative win-win for both sides. The Capitals turned a veteran who was likely to leave at the end of the season and what will be a very late first-round pick in return for a young defenseman who is not too far off from fulfilling his upside as the No. 2/3 defenseman on a good team.
Devils Complete Megatrade with Sharks for Timo Meier
David Pagnotta @TheFourthPeriod
Full Details:<br><br>To NJ<br>LW Timo Meier<br>LD Scott Harrington<br>LD Santeri Hatakka<br>G Zach Emond<br>2024 5th RD pick<br><br>To SJ<br>RW Fabian Zetterlund<br>LD Shakir Mukhamadullin<br>LW Andreas Johnsson<br>LD Nikita Ohotiuk<br>2023 1st RD pick<br>2024 cond 2nd RD pick<br>2024 7th RD pick<br>SJ retains 50% of Meier's deal
Editor's note: Read a complete analysis of the Meier trade here.
Wild Add Johansson for Depth
Trade: Washington Capitals trade Marcus Johansson to Minnesota Wild in exchange for 2024 third-round pick
The Minnesota Wild may not be at the forefront of anyone's mind as a Stanley Cup contender, but they are flirting with a 100-point season. They have about as good of a chance as anyone to win a wide-open Western Conference.
One issue in Minnesota this season has been how top-heavy they are. Particularly on the wings. As great as the likes of Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello and Matt Boldy are, head coach Dean Evason's secondary options thin out quickly.
Johnasson, who will undertake his second stint in the Twin Cities, provides much-needed help. The 32-year-old provides secondary offense; he's tallied 13 goals and 15 assists in 60 games this season. The Swede does not own high-end skill, but he complements a diverse toolbox with a pragmatic, intelligent game. He's also a responsible defensive winger.
It's a subtle acquisition, but Johansson addresses a sizable need at the reasonable cost of a third-round pick.
The Capitals recently waved the white flag on their season. Johansson, who is 32 years old and an unrestricted free agent in July, is not a priority beyond this season.
A third-round pick is market value for a high-end depth rental such as Johansson. It's another draft pick added to the stockpile for a team that needs fresh blood in its meager prospect pool.
Hurricanes Snag Puljujärvi from Edmonton
Trade: The Edmonton Oilers trade Jesse Puljujärvi to the Carolina Hurricanes in return for Patrik Puistola
Jesse Puljujärvi, drafted by the Edmonton Oilers fourth overall in 2016, has not lived up to the hype. He has averaged roughly one point for every three games in his NHL career. Last season was his best as he tallied 14 goals and 22 assists in 65 games.
He was in head coach Jay Woodcroft's doghouse this season. The Finnish winger leaves Edmonton with just five goals and nine assists in 58 games. That's despite having played a fair number of his shifts alongside Connor McDavid and/or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
That is not a full assessment of his game. While he may not be a point producer, Puljujärvi does a lot of little things to tilt the ice in his team's favor. He plays a part in combinations inside the defensive and neutral zones to move the puck up the ice. He is a top forechecker. The 24-year-old shoots often and generates rebounds. He is a very good defensive winger; Evolving Hockey's model puts him in the 94th percentile over the last three seasons by defensive output.
This trade leans into the Hurricanes' ethos on a number of levels. The analytically driven team is always after players whose underlying metrics show a player to be better than the basic box-score numbers.
A 6'4" forward who forechecks and dominates the neutral zone while keeping pucks in the offensive zone is the exact type of player who succeeds in head coach Rod Brind'Amour's tactics. Puljujärvi should be a great fit on one of the Hurricanes' bottom-six forwards.
Did it need to come to this point? Probably not. Puljüjarvi may not be what the Oilers imagined he'd become a few years ago, but he is still a strong possession driver who chips in on offense. The Oilers are not overflowing with forward depth.
Regardless, the relationship with the player had reached a breaking point. A move is unsurprising and perhaps warranted even if the circumstances leading up to it were avoidable.
Patrik Puistola, drafted in the third round in 2019, is a creative winger. He loves to have the puck on his stick and looks to create offense. He is a clever stick-handler who is unafraid to take on defenders and confuse the defense with a variety of manipulations. He owns a quick release but also can play the role of playmaker.
Puistola has improved with every season in the Finnish Liiga. This season, he leads Jukurit with 38 points in 56 games. Now 22 years old, he is not a high-end prospect, but he has an outside chance of turning into a depth NHL winger who provides secondary offense.
The Oilers lose this trade, but under the circumstances, they did OK to acquire a salvageable prospect.
Perhaps most importantly, the removal of Puljujärvi's $3 million cap hit opens up space for a sizable addition. Jakub Chychrun? Mattias Ekholm? Vladislav Gavrikov? We'll find out soon.
Sabres Add Stillman to Defense
Trade: Vancouver Canucks trade Riley Stillman to Buffalo Sabres in return for Josh Bloom
A year removed from the rock bottom that was Jack Eichel forcing his way out of Buffalo, the Sabres are surprisingly in the playoff mix as March approaches. Dom Lusczcyszyn of The Athletic projects their chances of earning an Eastern Conference playoff spot as 25 percent.
In Riley Stillman, general manager Kevyn Adams has added a 24-year-old defender with mixed results early in his NHL career. Drafted in the fourth round by the Florida Panthers in 2016, Stillman held his own as a depth defenseman in 34 games during the 2019-20 season and then again for 21 games combined in Florida and Chicago the next season.
His stint in Vancouver has been far less successful. He has not contributed offensively, which isn't particularly surprising. That is not his game. More concerning is that his defensive game has not held up. Per Evolving Hockey, Stillman's defensive performance has been worth -8.1 goals since 2021-22. That ranks ninth-worst among all NHL defensemen.
The Sabres are on the outside of the playoff picture. Big splashes and rentals don't make sense for where they are in their build. It makes sense to make a small move for a younger player on a $1.35 million contract for another season.
There is not much risk in terms of the investment, but it's just as likely that Stillman actively hurts the team on the ice as it is that he rediscovers his pre-Canucks form. If a change of scenery does revive his game, then he will give the Sabres 16-17 minutes per night as a defensive defenseman.
The Vancouver Canucks traded a second-round pick for Stillman in October. They are a rebuilding team in search of youth. Stillman is signed to a palatable $1.135 million contract through 2023-24, whereupon he will remain under team control via restricted free agency.
That pretext should hint at how poorly his stint went in Vancouver.
The Sabres drafted Josh Bloom in the third round of the 2021 draft. The 6'2" left winger has a lot of physical tools at his disposal. He is a great straight-line skater and beats defenders up the ice with quick accelerations. He has a solid wrist shot. Bloom produces offense from transition opportunities.
Bloom made some noise during the 2021-22 season when he tallied 30 goals and 31 assists in 67 OHL games. His performance has plateaued this season with 42 points in 40 games; tepid numbers for a 19-year-old in juniors. Will he make plays at the pro level once his physical advantages are mitigated? That remains to be seen.
Bloom isn't a top prospect, but he has the talent to find his way in the NHL as a bottom-six winger.
Leafs Add McCabe, Lafferty from Chicago
Trade: Chicago Blackhawks trade Jake McCabe (cap hit 50% retained), Sam Lafferty, conditional 2024 fifth-round pick, 2025 conditional fifth-round pick to Toronto Maple Leafs in return for conditional 2025 first-round pick (top-10 protected), 2026 second-round pick, Joey Anderson, Pavel Gogolev
Toronto Maple Leafs
It's not up to par with the acquisition of Ryan O'Reilly, but Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas just completed his second major move.
Jake McCabe, 29, is a big, imposing left-handed defenseman. Drafted in the second round by the Buffalo Sabres in 2012, McCabe has long been a reliable second-pairing shutdown defenseman. He is physical in his own end. He is one of the top defensemen in the NHL at defending through the neutral zone. McCabe held his own on a terrible Blackhawks team, leading the team in expected goals percentage despite playing difficult shifts. He'll play top shutdown and penalty-kill minutes for the Leafs.
Lafferty is enjoying a breakout season at age 27. The forward is a great straight-line skater who has chipped in with 10 goals and 11 assists in 51 games for the Blackhawks. Given his age and career—Lafferty previously accumulated 32 points in 140 NHL games—his production is largely a product of some good fortune and an increased role on a weak Chicago team. The Leafs will only demand a fourth-line contribution from him, which will mitigate his output but also lessen what his team requires of him.
The Leafs had given up first- and second-round picks in the O'Reilly trade, so one must assume Dubas did not move additional high picks without significant contemplation. McCabe will fill the void left by the injury to Jake Muzzin, while Lafferty will finalize the overhaul of the Leafs' bottom-six forward group, a weakness earlier in the season.
Yet the long-term impact likely nudged Dubas toward executing this trade. McCabe is signed through 2025, meaning that Toronto will employ him for an additional two seasons at a $2 million cap hit, well below his value. Lafferty is signed for next season at a $1.15 million cap hit. Both will be quality contributors to what the Leafs hope will be multiple Stanley Cup runs.
This represents good decision-making by Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson. That both McCabe and Lafferty were signed beyond this season meant he did not need to move either. But the fact that both will contribute to the acquiring team beyond this season increases their value on the trade market. The return on this trade indicates as much.
While the two can contribute to a winning team in various ways, neither is a premier player. The Blackhawks are in for a prolonged rebuild. Given the ages of these two, as well as their contract lengths, neither would have been in a position to be part of the Blackhawks' next window of opportunity.
Davidson moved them at peak value and hauled in another couple of high draft picks.
Lightning Make Big Investment in Tanner Jeannot
Trade: Nashville Predators trade Tanner Jeannot to Tampa Bay Lightning in return for Cal Foote, 2025 first-round pick (top-10-protected), 2024 second-round pick, 2023 third-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick and 2023 fifth-round pick
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning have valid reasons for targeting Jeannot. The 6'2" winger is fourth in the league in hits. He is an energetic forechecker. He gets to the net front and gets the puck on net from dangerous areas.
Beyond his abilities, the Lightning acquired the 25-year-old as part of a continuing philosophy of directing assets toward younger players whose cap hits will fit their tight financial situation and who can contribute to multiple Stanley Cup runs. It worked with Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman and currently Brandon Hagel.
The issue is not Jeannot. It's what the Lightning spent. Low salary and age accounted for, that is an absurd concession from general manager Julien BriseBois. A first-round pick alone is quite the price to pay for a fourth-liner. Add in the rest of the picks, and the Lightning gave up a package that is in line with what the Maple Leafs conceded for Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari.
Jeannot, a late bloomer who played in the ECHL as recently as 2021, broke out last season with 24 goals and 17 assists. That is not repeating this season, nor will it ever. Per Evolving Hockey, based on Jeannot's shot quantity and quality, he would've been expected to score roughly 16 goals. Still a good number, but nowhere near the mid-20s. The regression has set in this season, as he has scored just five goals through 56 games.
If the Lightning win another Stanley Cup, they won't care about the draft picks conceded. But a team with a barebones prospect pool just gave up most of its stockpile for the next three seasons. All for the sake of a fourth-liner. It's hard to justify.
It's a straightforward deal for general manager David Poile. The Predators, nowhere near a serious Stanley Cup run, are dismantling parts of the roster in pursuit of an offseason reset.
Jeannot's unlikely ascent in Nashville was a great story. As a 25-year-old and a restricted free agent at season's end, he could have played a role going forward, but he is a replaceable depth forward. This overwhelming haul of draft picks will go much further in providing the basis for a future build, whether that is fortifying the prospect pool in the draft or redirecting draft stock toward established players via trade. Could the Predators be a favorite to land Jakob Chychrun?
Avs Bring Back Jack Johnson
Trade: Chicago Blackhawks trade Jack Johnson to Colorado Avalanche in return for Andreas Englund
Jack Johnson has long been considered by the analytics community as one of the worst defensemen in the league.
This season is no different, with Evolving Hockey's model ranking him as the league's single-worst defenseman. He's an awkward skater, he struggles to connect on basic passing sequences, and teams target him when rushing the puck up the ice because they know he lacks the ability to defend at the blue line. He has zero goals and four assists in 58 games despite averaging nearly 20 minutes per game in Chicago
He did have a salvageable defensive impact for the Avalanche last season, although he benefited from a stacked team alongside him. But hey, he played 13 playoff games and won a Stanley Cup. Can't knock that.
The Avalanche are one of the most data-inclined teams in the league. That does not erase deep concerns about Johnson's abilities, but if general manager Joe Sakic understands the data and thinks Johnson's presence in the locker room is nonetheless worthwhile, then he'd know that better than any outsider.
The Avs just better hope their usual top-six defensemen are healthy for the playoffs.
Andreas Englund, 27, has 69 career NHL games on his resume, including 36 in Colorado this season. He had been filling in on the Avs' blue line following injuries to Erik Johnson and Cale Makar.
Englund, who has spent most of his career as a call-up option from the AHL, has actually played a decent defensive game in Colorado this season. The Blackhawks are acquiring the better defenseman here, and if they choose to re-sign him, then he'd be a decent No. 6/7 defenseman for next season.
In all likelihood, the Blackhawks made this trade as a gesture of goodwill to Johnson, who is going to his old team.
Vegas Overpay St. Louis for Barbashev
Trade: St. Louis Blues trade Ivan Barbashev to Vegas Golden Knights in return for Zachary Dean
Vegas Golden Knights
Barbashev, 6'1" and 195 pounds, plays a heavy game. He ranks 31st among all NHL forward in hits this season. He crashes the net and scores on quick releases from atop the crease. He gets physical behind the goal line.
The Russian forward makes nice passes during rush offense and pots home goals from the low slot. He makes quick decisions with the puck and makes nice combination plays when he and his teammates are moving the puck up the ice. These offensive talents were the basis behind a career year in 2021-22 in which Barbashev scored 26 goals and assisted 34. Those are first-line numbers.
He was a difference-maker down the depth chart for the Blues during their 2019 run to the Stanley Cup. Barbashev averaged 12:28 of ice time over the 25 games and tallied six points.
Here are three common reasons a team will overrate a player: He is big or physical, he has produced patently unsustainable numbers, or he has won a Stanley Cup.
The slot machine in Vegas shows three "7" symbols. Yes, Barbashev plays a physical game, but it's not as impactful as it is visual. Barbashev isn't that much of an asset in cycling the puck. What's critical to note is that Barbashev, despite the perception, is not a good defensive forward. In fact, he routinely ranks among the worst in the NHL; Evolving Hockey's model ranks him in the third percentile of all NHLers by defensive output.
Overcoming that level of liability requires outweighing them with offensive contributions. And while Barbashev's 60-point season in 2021-22 fits the mold, it was a complete fluke. Barbashev had scored just 42 goals in his previous 270 NHL games. This season he has returned down to earth and joins Vegas with 10 goals and 19 assists in 59 games.
Per Evolving Hockey, the Blues shot 11.7 percent with Barbashev on the ice at five-on-five last season, which ranked 18th among all NHL forwards. This season that number has regressed to 8.3 percent, which is in line with his career number. To put it in Vegas terms, Barbashev got an unlikely number of favorable dice rolls last season.
Don't get it twisted: The 27-year-old Barbashev is a good player. His utility as both a center and wing provide head coach Bruce Cassidy with a lot of flexibility. But Barbashev does not produce offense at the level of a top-six forward, nor does he play well enough off of the puck to place his value elsewhere. Yes, Barbashev won a Stanley Cup in St. Louis, but what's pertinent is how the Blues used him.
Those will not be the circumstances in Vegas. General manager Kelly McCrimmon gave up a top prospect in order to rent Barbashev with the presumed expectation that he will be a difference-maker in an elevated role. Vegas acquired a bottom-six forward at a similar price to that of the top players on the move. The pickings are slim and Vegas needed to add at forward, but they could have paid significantly less for offensive producers like Max Domi and James van Riemsdyk.
It's an overpay for a player whose reputation outweighs his on-ice effectiveness.
St. Louis Blues
Sometimes it's about being in the right place at the right time. With Bo Horvat and Vladimir Tarasenko off the market, plus Patrick Kane apparently forcing his way to Broadway, the rental market at forward favored the sellers. Barbashev, at least by reputation, became the best of the rest.
General manager Doug Armstrong took advantage. Barbashev will be an unrestricted free agent in July and, if he didn't choose to sign elsewhere on his own accord, would have been an unnecessarily expensive re-sign. The only option was to move him this week.
In return, St. Louis adds Zachary Dean. Drafted 30th overall by Vegas in 2021, Dean is an excellent handler of the puck. He uses a quick stick to create space away from defenders with which to operate. He'll start from the perimeter but make quick moves to bring the puck inside. He is a playmaker but also scores with soft hands and creative moves above the goal to get the goaltender out of position.
The 20-year-old has not quite produced in the QMJHL to the level Vegas had hoped. Dean just squeaked above a point-per-game pace last season and has tallied 49 in 38 games this season. Those are not the numbers of a future top-six forward in the NHL.
He is saved by the rest of his game. Dean has always played with a full effort, and he has become stronger on his feet since 2021. He won't become a top offensive producer, but his skill still stands out. With a 200-foot game to lean on, he currently projects as a good third-line center. In a 2021 redraft, Dean still goes in the 30-40 range. That's a really strong return for a rental of Barbashev's caliber, and that he'll be ready for the NHL much sooner than a player drafted this summer only adds on to his value.
The Blues will end the deadline having made a number of moves. This looks in line to be the best of them.
Stars Swap Gurianov to Habs for Dadonov
Trade: Dallas Stars trade Denis Gurianov to Montréal Canadiens in return for Evgenii Dadonov
This is the classic "change-of-scenery" trade: Two players whose careers are in limbo are swapped for each other, with each team hoping that a fresh start ignites something.
Once a promising young player in the NHL, Gurianov completely lost his game in the last few seasons and entered new head coach Pete DeBoer's doghouse. His 12:08 average ice time this season is his lowest since 2018-19, when he played in only 21 games. He just is not getting anything done offensively or defensively.
He was not going to be part of the Stars' plans this season or beyond. They moved him out and brought in Dadonov. He too is having a tough season, with just four goals and 14 assists in 50 games.
The Stars see his acquisition as worthwhile because of his track record. Coming into this season, the eight-year veteran had built a reputation as a second-line-caliber right wing., The Russian has tallied 20-plus goals four times in his career and totaled a career-high 70 points with the Florida Panthers in 2018-19. Just last season, in Vegas, Dadonov was good for 20 goals and 23 assists in 78 games.
Perhaps Dadonov, now 33, has simply run out of juice. Or maybe he was a misfit on a rebuilding Habs team and finds his offensive touch again on a better team. It's a worthwhile flier, and if nothing else, moving Gurianov's $2.9 million cap hit while paying only $2.5 million for Dadonov gives the team more flexibility for further deadline additions.
The Habs did not expect much from Dadonov, whom they brought in for the sole purpose of discarding pseudo-retired Shea Weber's contract to Vegas.
Still, general manager Kent Hughes would have preferred Dadonov provide some offensive support to his young players and build enough value so as to be flipped at the deadline for a draft pick. Dadonov floundered in Montréal, and despite plenty of ice time to be had on a team in midst of a hardcore rebuild, the talented winger did not earn the trust of head coach Martin St. Louis. A rental market did not manifest, and so the Habs are taking a chance on Gurianov.
Drafted 12th overall in 2015, Gurianov is a 6'3", 205-pound right wing. During the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons he performed to the abilities of a third-line forward. He hit the national radar during the Stars' surprising 2020 run to the Stanley Cup Final in which he scored nine goals and added eight assists over 27 playoff games.
With his size and strong skating ability, Gurianov is a north-south winger. He is a volume shooter who can let it rip from the exterior or push his way into traffic for rebounds.
Those abilities went into hiding last season and were even further decimated this one. The ostensible goal scorer has just two goals in 43 games. He has never been a playmaker nor proficient defensively. If he's not finding scoring opportunities as a shooter, then he's rendered useless.
The Habs are hoping that the 25-year-old will rediscover his game in a new environment where the head coach doesn't have to measure his playing time purely in line with his hopes of winning a hockey game. If St. Louis can help him regain his confidence and start threatening again as a shooter, then Montréal may have landed a third-line producer whose age allows him to stay part of the team's crescendo into a competitive window. If not, Gurianov is a restricted free agent over the summer, and the Canadiens can choose not to qualify him and let him walk away.
Jets Bulk Up with Niederreiter
Trade: Nashville Predators trade Nino Niederreiter to Winnipeg Jets for 2024 second-round pick
For all of the emphasis on heavy hockey, Nino Niederreiter does not get the respect he deserves.
At 6'2" and 218 pounds, Niederreiter is a true modern NHL power forward. The Swiss winger forechecks hard and uses his thick frame as leverage along the walls. He's a star in cycle offense. He gets to the net front and bangs home a number of goals from inside the slot.
Niederreiter scored 20-plus goals in the previous two seasons and has 18 in 56 games in 2022-23. Lack of real playmaking ability limits the assist totals. This, in part, explains why he's surpassed the 50-point mark only twice in his first 11 NHL seasons.
But 40-45 points are still respectable in conjunction with the rest of his game. Despite those average numbers, Evolving Hockey's model puts Niederreiter in the 84th percentile over the last three seasons by offensive impact. He may not be a high-end goal scorer nor create directly as a playmaker, but he will do the work to make sure his team has and keeps possession in the offensive zone. Niederreiter also plays a responsible defensive game.
In a vacuum, Niederreiter is not enthralling, but he is effective and brings out the best in his teammates. The Jets are a top-heavy team, and their best players are incredible offensive producers who are weak when not in possession within the offensive zone. Whether head coach Rick Bowness deployed him on the Mark Scheifele or Pierre-Luc Dubois line, Niederreiter will complement skilled players by driving possession and holding his own as a goal scorer.
In a weak forward market, getting a 200-foot, top-six winger like Niederreiter would have been quality business in a rental deal. But Niederreiter is signed through 2024 at a $4 million cap hit—a number that's roughly $1 million below his true value. Frankly, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff just made what will likely be, pound-for-pound, the best deal of this trading period.
Predators general manager David Poile did get one thing right. Last season, he made the mistake of becoming a buyer during a season in which they barely earned the final wild-card seed in the West before taking part in a swift four-game butt-whupping by the Colorado Avalanche. This time around, he did not make that same mistake. This is not the Preds' year, and they need to prepare for a better tomorrow.
That does not provide much help in making sense of this trade. Yes, Niederreiter is 30 years old and below an All-Star standard. Losing him isn't the issue, per se.
It's the return that's hard to swallow. In a weak forward market where teams are apparently prepared to overpay for Ivan Barbashev or Sam Lafferty, Poile had the perfect Plan B option for teams in the race for San Jose's Timo Meier. Given his quality and cost-efficient contract, the longtime NHL executive should have at least looked for an additional prospect or draft pick.
If the market wasn't offering that at the moment, then so be it. But why make the deal now? There is a full week until the deadline, and given the contract runs through 2024, a trade could have waited until the summer or the 2024 deadline. Poile had plenty of time left to at least see if the market changed. No reason to settle for an underwhelming return given the significant runway still ahead of him.
Canucks Give Kravtsov a Second Chance
Trade: New York Rangers trade Vitali Kravtsov to Vancouver Canucks for William Lockwood, seventh-round pick
New York Rangers
The Rangers drafted Vitali Kravtsov ninth overall in 2018. The Russian winger seemed to validate the Rangers' investment. Kravtsov registered eight goals and 13 assists in 50 KHL games for Chelyabinsk Traktor. Those numbers put him in the range of NHL stars Vladimir Tarasenko and Pavel Buchnevich at the same age.
It then went downhill at a rapid pace. The Rangers signed Kravtsov for the 2019-20 season with the expectation that he would at least challenge for a roster spot. He was instead demoted to the AHL and struggled to adapt. Once it became clear he would not see the NHL anytime soon, Kravtsov decided to head back to Russia, where his struggles continued. He did eventually return to North America with an improved all-around game, but his six goals and nine assists in 39 AHL games were massively disappointing.
Kravtsov's tenure in New York was a revolving door between the NHL, the press box and the KHL. Tensions between the team and the player arose. The gifted winger totaled a mere 10 points in 48 games with the Rangers. Kravtsov received permission to explore a trade in 2021 and then again this season.
Who is at fault for the failed realization of Kravtsov's talent? There is plenty of blame to go around. The team probably rushed him, but Kravtsov probably did not gain the benefit of the doubt from management given his responses to, deserved or not, demotions.
Lockwood, 24, is a good AHL forward who can hold his own in a checking role on the fourth line as a call-up. The seventh-round pick in 2026 is what he is. The Rangers get virtually nothing for a former top prospect, but they have bigger fish to fry. Moving Kravtsov was a necessary step in opening up the cap space that will make the acquisition of a certain Chicago Blackhawks forward possible.
There is no denying Kravtsov's talent. At least in the KHL, Kravtsov displayed uber-confidence with the puck on his stick. He would take defenders on and beat them clean with creative moves. He has a deceptive release that fools goaltenders, but he equally can sell the shot and then find teammates in scoring positions.
When the Rangers initially sent Kravtsov to the AHL, they wanted him to develop a more complete game. To his credit, he did as much. He became a hard worker in the KHL and his second AHL stint, pressuring the puck and hustling on the back check. In fact, he has been adequate off the puck this season. Per Evolving Hockey, Kravtsov ranks in the 68th percentile of NHL players by defensive performance. While he's not actually that good as a shutdown winger, he definitely isn't coasting.
His biggest issue remains his skating. He is slow from a standstill, which on the NHL's smaller surface inhibits his ability to create offense from the rush; a part of the game in which he thrived in Russia. His top speed at full stride is also mediocre.
He wanted and needed a fresh start. The Canucks need all of the help they can get. With nothing to lose, Vancouver will give him an audition over the rest of the season. Lack of forward depth and the potential trading of Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and/or Conor Garland should mean that he'll get the ice time the Rangers didn't consistently afford him.
If there is even a 10 percent chance that Kravtsov finds his game and turns into a 40- to 45-point middle-six winger, then it's worth a try at this negligible cost.
Bruins Pull Off Surprise Blockbuster for Orlov, Hathaway
Trade: Washington Capitals trade Dmitry Orlov (25 percent salary retained), Garnet Hathaway to Boston Bruins in return for Craig Smith, 2023 first-round pick, 2025 second-round pick, and 2024 third-round pick. Boston trades 2023 fifth-round pick to Minnesota Wild in return for retaining 25 percent of Orlov's salary
The Bruins are the best team in the NHL. Suffice to say this trade will make them even better.
Dmitry Orlov, 31, is a complete NHL defenseman. For his entire career, he has reliably contributed in the range of 7-10 goals and 30-35 points over an 82-game pace.
Those are good numbers, but they don't truly explain what makes Orlov tick. He is perfectly competent in the defensive zone and is quick to pucks when dumped into the defensive zone. He is one of the top transporters of the puck up the ice. The Russian is the defenseman you want holding the puck behind your own net in order to get it out of danger and set your team up for offense the other way. He carries the puck into the offensive zone. He is an intelligent passer from the point who sets up teammates for scoring chances.
Orlov is the type of second-layer player who takes an already strong team up another notch. The Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy pairing will still lead the way, but Orlov can do everything between the margins for 20 minutes per game that will sustain pressure even when the top guys are on the bench. The 2019 Stanley Cup champion would be a first-pairing defenseman on a number of NHL teams. That he'll likely play behind Grzelcyk and Hampus Lindholm on the left side gives Boston an embarrassment of riches. Line matching is going to be futile for opposing coaches, as no matter which defensive pairing the Bruins have on the ice it's going to give the opposition a tough time.
Garnet Hathaway may seem like the deal's toss-in, as one might view Mikkola to Tarasenko or Acciari to O'Reilly, but he is a remarkable player in his own right. The undrafted right wing is a true late bloomer, having not made his NHL debut in Calgary until age 26. He has since worked his way into a career as a bottom-six NHL grinder.
Hathaway scored 14 goals in 76 games last season and has nine in 59 in 2022-23. He'll get in front of the net and bang home a handful of deflections and rebounds. The Maine native is not a threat off the rush but he will create chances from cycle offense. He is an unspectacular but dependable provider of secondary scoring.
Beyond that, the 6'3" power forward plays the type of heavy game one would hope. He is a decent enough skater and it's impossible for defensemen to not hear footsteps coming when he's forechecking. He is one of the league's best hitters and uses not only his physicality but even the threat of his physicality to force turnovers. Hathaway is also a solid defensive winger who can feature on the penalty kill. The concept of "playoff-style hockey" is overstated and usually leads to teams drastically overpaying for size. In this case, the Bruins genuinely acquire the type of bottom-six grinder who can be key to a long, arduous playoff run.
Craig Smith is a capable depth forward whose $3.1 million cap hit was a necessary inclusion to make the math work. Giving up first-, second- and third-round picks is a heavy blow to an already barren prospect pool. But really, who cares? The Bruins are the league's best team in what could be Patrice Bergeron's and/or David Krejci's last hurrah. The Bruins should be all-in. Now they are.
Well, that escalated quickly. The Capitals were at least a decent bet to make the playoffs as recently as early February. The wheels have come off and, immediately after Orlov and Hathaway entered the public conscience, they were gone from D.C.
Let's first analyze the return. This isn't a perfect analysis, but the easiest way to digest the trade would be to separate its parts. Hathaway for a second-round pick is on the money. First- and third-round picks for a defenseman like Orlov is in the ballpark of fair value. Two seasons ago the Tampa Bay Lightning traded the same package to Montreal for defenseman David Savard. Orlov is significantly better, but the inclusion of Hathaway as well has to count for something.
The bigger influencer may have been the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Bruins had a deal in place to acquire defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov on the condition that Boston would find a taker for Smith's contract. That delay left the Capitals just enough time to decide to sell Orlov and swoop in. Perhaps Orlov could have netted the Capitals more from Boston or another team, but the market could have also collapsed on them just the same. They get heavy business done early and without drama.
General manager Brian MacLellan was in a difficult spot. The Capitals were absolutely within playoff range, and Alexander Ovechkin, 37, only has so many opportunities left.
But that's the point. Even if the Capitals managed to squeeze into a wild-card spot, what good would a first-round matchup against Boston or Carolina have been? The Capitals are going nowhere and MacLellan made the right call to cut his losses. He'll enter the offseason with lots of cap space and more draft capital to work with. Building a team that gives Ovi a really good shot for one or two seasons is a much better plan than toiling in mediocrity for five.
Senators Offload Zaitsev to Chicago
Trade: The Ottawa Senators trade Nikita Zaitsev, 2023 second-round pick and 2026 fourth-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in return for future considerations
It's the most humiliating type of trade the NHL has to offer. A team decides that a player and his contract are such a burden that it is willing to literally pay another team to take him.
Zaitsev, 31, was signed to a seven-year, $31.5 million contract by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017. Two years later, newly promoted general manager Kyle Dubas traded Zaitsev to Ottawa as part of a multiplayer swap.
Anyone with 15 minutes of time and access to a hockey analytics website could have easily figured out that general manager Pierre Dorion had just made a huge mistake. The Russian defenseman is irrelevant offensively and a massive liability defensively.
Dorion finally realized as much this season. The Senators waived Zaitsev in early November and, after clearing, briefly sent him down to the AHL. He has since returned but continued to play ineffectually.
The Senators have disappointed this season. Changes will come, and the team will look to make big additions, perhaps at the deadline and certainly in the offseason.
Offloading Zaitsev's $4.5 million cap hit removes an obstruction, but it comes with a huge penalty. Second- and fourth-round picks are the type of package that typically nets a team a very good player at the trade deadline. Instead, Dorion had to pay that price to erase a mistake.
The Chicago Blackhawks are about as deep into a rebuild as possible. They are a lottery team this season and probably don't envision making the playoffs next season, either.
Zaitsev's $4.5 million cap hit through 2024 is objectively ugly, but it's no problem for them. He'll be a warm body to fill a roster spot as the team moves out other players. If he refinds his game, then maybe they can even flip him for a draft pick in a year.
Of course, the true motivation behind this deal is the acquisition of draft capital. An early second-round pick in a deep 2023 draft will be a quality piece of the rebuilding effort. Chicago ownership has to pay his salary, but beyond that, general manager Kyle Davidson basically acquired free draft picks. It's a no-brainer move for the Blackhawks.
Rangers Reunite with Tyler Motte
Trade: The Ottawa Senators trade Tyler Motte to the New York Rangers in return for Julien Gauthier and a conditional 2023 seventh-round pick
New York Rangers
The Tarasenko and Mikkola trade filled the team's major needs, but with cap space to burn, many expected the Rangers might have at least one move to come to round out the roster.
For the second straight season, the Rangers have acquired Tyler Motte in advance of the trade deadline. Last season the Rangers shipped a fourth-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks in order to rent the left wing. He went pointless in nine regular-season games and scored twice—one an empty-netter—in 15 playoff games.
That does not indicate his impact. Motte is the epitome of an energy player. He is always at full throttle and works relentlessly on the ice. He closes down lanes in the defensive zone with speed and effort, throws himself in front of shots without a shred of hesitance, and wins puck races with his tantalizing north-south speed. He isn't going to produce points, but the Rangers don't need that from him. He's going to kill penalties, create transition rushes and keep pucks below the goal line. He's pure, distilled energy, and there is a reason he became a fan favorite in New York despite only a cameo appearance.
Though Gauthier made himself an NHL player this season, he did not fit the identity of a player the Rangers need on the fourth line. They had waived him earlier in the year, so management likely views his departure as negligible.
The Rangers traded a seventh-round pick that will turn into a sixth-round pick should the Rangers advance past the first round of the playoffs. It's a light price to pay for a bona fide fourth-line winger who is the perfect energy player for a seven-game series and who the team already knows will mesh with the coaching staff's tactics and the locker room dynamics.
The Senators scooped up Motte toward the very end of the offseason, penning him to a one-year, $1.4 million contract. The idea was that Motte was a risk-free addition who would fortify the end of the depth chart in what the Senators hoped would be a competitive season.
It hasn't quite worked out on that front. The Senators were knocked out of the playoff picture pretty quickly in large part thanks to a horrendous defensive corps. Motte was never going to a player to move the needle for an otherwise problematic team, but he hasn't been at his best, either. The Senators spent a lot of time in the defensive zone with Motte on the ice this season.
That probably explains the low return on the trade. Gauthier is a player the Senators could have had for free earlier in the season. That does not mean he is a throwaway, however. Gauthier is 6'3" and a tremendous north-south skater. He beats defensemen on the transition using his inertia and either draws penalties or creates partial breakaway opportunities while driving the net. In previous seasons he was chronically allergic to actually finishing on those chances. The former Hurricanes first-round pick had more success this season, scoring six times on 36 shots.
He is offensively inconsistent and defensively impaired, but he does have upside. The 25-year-old has the toolbox to be an effective bottom-six winger who draws penalties and creates secondary offense. The Quebec native is moving closer to home and will get a more consistent opportunity to play in Ottawa. Maybe he figures it out.
It's not the mid-round pick the Senators probably would have hoped for, but they didn't invest much into him to begin with. General manger Pierre Dorion took what he could get.
Leafs Make Blockbuster Move for O'Reilly, Acciari
Trade: The Toronto Maple Leafs receive Ryan O'Reilly (St. Louis Blues retain 50 percent of contract, Minnesota Wild retain 25 percent), Noel Acciari from the Blues and Josh Pillar from the Wild.
The Blues receive Mikhail Abramov from the Maple Leafs, Adam Gaudette from the Ottawa Senators, Toronto's 2023 first-round pick and 2024 second-round pick and Ottawa's 2023 third-round pick.
The Wild receive 2024 fifth-round pick from the Maple Leafs in return for retaining 25 percent of O'Reilly's contract.
Toronto Maple Leafs
After indicating that he did not intend to move a first-round pick for a rental, general manager Kyle Dubas ultimately decided to do so.
It's easy to see why. The Leafs get both quantity and quality in one transaction. The heart of the deal is certainly the acquisition of O'Reilly. The 14-year veteran has long been one of the top two-way centers in the NHL. Now 32, O'Reilly is no longer that player, but he is still high-quality. The baseline statistics don't show as much; he had just 12 goals and seven assists in 40 games with St. Louis.
But that does not give the full context. The St. Louis Blues have been a calamity from top to bottom this season. He's been forced to carry a significant load and take on some ugly minutes, matching up against the opposition's best players in defensive moments with little help around him. While he's not faultless, O'Reilly was put in an impossible situation. In better circumstances last season, the Ontario native tallied 58 points in 78 games while also excelling defensively.
His experience in Toronto will be very different. There are a number of ways in which head coach Sheldon Keefe can deploy him. He can make O'Reilly the third-line center—a massive upgrade over David Kampf. O'Reilly could either play shutdown minutes to open up favorable matchups for the Auston Matthews and John Tavares lines, or Keefe could throw his line on the ice to feast against the opposition's bottom lines. Alternatively, he can play left wing alongside Tavares and Marner. No matter how the Leafs use him he will simultaneously play in more favorable circumstances while also having significantly relaxed expectations. And given the pressure in Toronto, adding a player who captained the Blues to the Stanley Cup should bring a level-headed presence to the locker room.
Noel Acciari is not a gaudy addition to this trade, but he was one of the better depth forwards on the market. He chips in offensively and strives in defensive moments. He forechecks hard, he plays in traffic above the crease and grinds out penalty-kill minutes. Keefe has rotated a number of players into the fourth line without finding any combinations he was thrilled with. Acciari should help fix that.
The Leafs paid a heavy price for two rentals, but this needed to be done. The team has failed to win a playoff series in Dubas' four years as GM and this could be his last chance. But that isn't really the main point. Toronto have the fifth-best points percentage in the NHL. Irrespective of the past, this team is a bona fide contender, and a big splash was called for.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues need a massive retool. They have not been good for two-straight seasons and parts of the core were and are aging. They began the liquidating process with the moving of Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers. This move was equally necessary even if trading the player who captained the Blues to their first Stanley Cup in 2019 was a hard pill for GM Doug Armstrong to swallow.
O'Reilly, 32, and Acciari, 31, are both pending unrestricted free agents. For a team in need of major upheaval, their value on the trade market significantly outweighed what re-signing them to likely bloated contracts would have looked like.
First, second, and third-round picks represent a significant bounty for these two players and will likely come out as one of the best values any seller receives at the deadline.
In Mikhail Abramov, the Blues are getting a C-level prospect. Drafted by Toronto in the fourth round in 2019, the Russian was a scoring forward in the QMJHL and sits with 16 points in 34 games in the AHL. He is creative with the puck in space and is an agile skater. Holding him back is a diminished frame that keeps him to the perimeter and an inability to execute plays quickly enough for the NHL. He has an outside shot at making the NHL and will definitely have a better opportunity in St. Louis than he ever would have had in Toronto.
Rangers Fill Major Needs with Additions of Tarasenko and Mikkola
Trade: The St. Louis Blues trade Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers in return for Sammy Blais, Hunter Skinner, a conditional 2023 first-round pick and a conditional 2024 third-round pick
New York Rangers
The Rangers had cap space to burn, assets they could afford to part with and glaring holes at top-six right wing and third-pairing left defense. This early business from general manager Chris Drury got the job done quickly and neatly.
Vladimir Tarasenko had recently been mired with shoulder injuries, with St. Louis' treatment of them contributing to his request to go elsewhere. He recovered last season and produced at over a point-per-game clip. Though he had not been at that same level this season, the Russian still produced at a 60-point clip on a dysfunctional Blues team.
The Rangers badly needed to add a scoring winger to a team that had the impressive but low-producing Kaapo Kakko and depth grinder Jimmy Vesey leading the charge. Tarasenko adds a much-needed right shot who will complement the skill set of Artemi Panarin and give the team a lethal shooting option from the right circle on the power play.
Niko Mikkola is a big, physical defenseman. He provides zero offense, but that's not what the Rangers need from him. The left defense spot on the third pairing alongside Braden Schneider has been a black hole the entire season for the Rangers regardless of whether Zac Jones, Ben Harpur or Libor Hájek were on the ice. Mikkola pins puck-carriers to the board and forces turnovers. He clogs up shooting lanes. And he knows the limits of his game. He's an adequate third-pairing shutdown defenseman who should finally provide Schneider with stability.
The Rangers were heavily linked to both Timo Meier and Patrick Kane, but Drury definitely made the right choice in spending on Tarasenko. Given the prices the Islanders and Maple Leafs paid for Bo Horvat and Ryan O'Reilly/Noel Acciari, respectively, a late first-round pick and a third-round pick for a first-line right-wing plus depth defenseman is fantastic business.
The Rangers made two badly needed upgrades without having to break the bank. Drury is left both with cap space and assets available should he want to make one more addition to the lineup. None of this will matter if the Rangers are eliminated early in the playoffs, but on pure value alone, this could be the best deal of the deadline.
Here is further reading on what this trade means for the Rangers.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues made the mistake of thinking they were contenders last season and buying at the deadline. General manager Doug Armstrong was under no illusions this time around. The Blues have been a disaster from top to bottom and are probably not making the playoffs. Tarasenko and Mikkola were the first departures of what will be many.
Neither Tarasenko, 31, nor Mikkola, 26, were in the Blues' future plans. Both are unrestricted free agents in July. Particular to Tarasenko, the 2019 Stanley Cup winner had made it clear that he wanted out of St. Louis. Because the four-time NHL All-Star owned a full no-trade clause, the Blues had limited options.
The Rangers were among what is believed to be a very limited list of where Tarasenko would approve a trade. While the return is weak for a player of his stature, Armstrong's hands were tied. Had the Rangers eventually landed Meier or Kane, then the market for Tarasenko would have fallen off a cliff.
By moving him early the Blues avoid that potential headache. The assets may not be ideal, but a first- and third-round draft pick are nonetheless a good start to a much-needed organizational facelift.
Islanders Move Early for Bo Horvat
Trade: Vancouver Canucks trade Bo Horvat to New York Islanders in return for Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty and 2023 first-round pick
New York Islanders
It's hard to figure out what the Islanders are trying to do here. On its face, the cost of acquisition is significant but defendable. The trade itself is not the issue here.
The Islanders are not in any position to be the team that makes it. Let's look at where they stand. They are well outside the playoff picture; as of February 19, The Athletic gave them a 22 percent chance of making the playoffs. And if they do beat the odds, it will likely mean a lopsided first-round matchup against the league's best in the Boston Bruins.
Yes, the Islanders did sign him for eight years, but so what? This team is not good now, and it'd look far worse had goaltender Ilya Sorokin not bailed them all out with a Vezina Trophy-caliber season thus far. Eight other players on the roster are at least 28 years old and signed through 2025 or longer. It's a bad team on the decline and inhibitive contracts in the hopper. The Islanders needed to spend this deadline and the offseason doing some surgery to give the roster some financial breathing room and opportunities for a youth infusion.
Instead, the Islanders paid Horvat based on career-year numbers, and he'll carry an $8.5 million cap hit from ages 28-34. The Islanders, who already have one of the worst prospect pools in the league, moved their top prospect Aatu Räty. The first-round pick is top-12 protected, but moving a draft pick in the mid-to-late teens would be an outright debacle.
The Islanders were bad, old and financially handcuffed. By doing this deal, they are now even older and more cap-tied for the sake of becoming marginally better during a season in which it's not really going to matter.
It took a long, embarrassing road to get here, but the Vancouver Canucks are finally ready to admit that a rebuild, at least to some extent, is necessary. Trading captain Bo Horvat could not have felt nice, but there was no alternative.
It is a good return for Jim Rutherford. A first-round pick was the free bingo space in predicting this move, but contenders who end up with a first-round pick in the 25-32 range are usually the ones who execute this type of move. Given the Islanders' season, Rutherford could be drafting in the teens in 2023. Or if the Islanders drop into the bottom 12 and the pick moves to 2024, he could be the beneficiary of a lottery pick following a real possibility of another terrible Islanders season.
The Islanders drafted Räty in the second round of the 2021 draft, but that doesn't give the whole picture. The Finnish center had been the favorite to go first overall. Perhaps because of pressure or other reasons, he struggled the entire season and dropped out of the first round entirely. He has found his form since. Räty was a point-per-game player in Finland's Liiga last season. This season, the 20-year-old has played well in the AHL and scored twice in 12 games with the Islanders as a call-up.
Räty is strong on the puck, penetrates the interior of the offensive zone and has a hard wrist shot. While he won't have the career expected of him when scouts projected him as the top player of the 2021 draft, he appears well on his way to a lengthy NHL career as a second- or third-line center.
Anthony Beauvillier was included largely as a contract dump, but he gives the Canucks risk and potential reward. In his earlier years, Beauvillier was a second-line wing who played a complete game on both sides of the puck. He has fallen apart in the last two seasons. His production dropped to 54 points in 124 games with the Islanders since 2021-22. Meanwhile, his once staunch defensive game completely disappeared.
If he continues to struggle, then his $4.2 million cap hit next season will be a burden. He has played well since the move to Vancouver, though, tallying four goals and two assists through his first seven games. If a change of scenery catalyzes a reclaiming of his identity, then the Canucks may have finagled a quality player out of the leftovers pile.