The Best and Worst Moves of the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2015

The Best and Worst Moves of the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

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    Michael Martin/Getty Images

    The NHL's 2015 trade deadline has come and gone. It remains to be determined which deals were the best and which were the worst.

    A number of trades involved players eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, making them merely playoff rentals. Players with time remaining on their contracts will have an effect upon their new rosters beyond this season.

    The following slideshow looks at the best and worst moves of the 2015 trade deadline. The quality of the players involved and the benefits to both clubs were factored into this compilation. Due to the limited number of deals involving top talent, this list includes some trades made during the weekend leading up to deadline day.

Worst: Simon Despres to the Ducks

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    Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

    The trade: The Pittsburgh Penguins trade defenseman Simon Despres to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Ben Lovejoy.

    Analysis: Despres, 23, is a promising defenseman who struggled to earn a full-time spot on the Penguins defense. Perhaps Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau can help unlock his potential. Lovejoy returns for his second tour in Pittsburgh. He brings experience to the Penguins blue line but lacks Despres' upside.

    Verdict: The Ducks receive another skilled, young blueliner while the Penguins get a less-talented 31-year-old rearguard. While this move addresses a short-term need for experience on the Penguins defense, the Ducks could reap the long-term benefits if Despres reaches his full potential.

Best: Michal Neuvirth to the New York Islanders

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    The trade: The Buffalo Sabres trade goaltender Michal Neuvirth to the New York Islanders for goaltender Chad Johnson and a conditional 2016 third-round pick. 

    Analysis: The Islanders needed a reliable backup for starting goalie Jaroslav Halak. Neuvirth has more NHL goaltending experience and better stats than Johnson. The Sabres risked losing Neuvirth this summer to free agency. Johnson is signed through next season and could get his career back on track with the rebuilding Sabres.

    Verdict: One of the few actual hockey trades involving a player-for-player swap. The Islanders improve their goaltending depth down the stretch. The Sabres add a netminder who will remain part of their roster beyond this season. 

Worst: Curtis Glencross to the Washington Capitals

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    The trade: The Calgary Flames trade left wing Curtis Glencross to the Washington Capitals for a second-round pick and a third-rounder in the 2015 NHL draft.

    Analysis: Glencross should provide depth at left wing to the Capitals' second line, but Washington still lacks sufficient scoring at right wing. The Flames had to get something for Glencross or risk losing him this summer to free agency. They didn't add a player who could help them in their push for a playoff spot.

    Verdict: Neither club really addressed its specific needs. The Capitals failed to land a top-six right wing. The Flames didn't get a return that boosts their postseason chances. 

Best: Braydon Coburn to the Tampa Bay Lightning

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    The trade: The Philadelphia Flyers trade defenseman Braydon Coburn to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Radko Gudas, a 2015 first-round pick and a third-rounder in 2016.

    Analysis: The Lightning boost their blue-line depth with Coburn, a big, experienced shutdown defenseman. He's also signed through 2015-16 so he's no playoff rental. The Flyers get back a physical blueliner in Gudas, though he's out for the season with a knee injury. An additional first-round pick in a deep draft is a plus for the rebuilding Flyers.

    Verdict: This deal works well for both clubs. The Flyers shed salary and make room for younger players. The Lightning add an experienced stay-at-home defender. 

Worst: Jeff Petry to the Montreal Canadiens

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    The trade: The Edmonton Oilers trade defenseman Jeff Petry to the Montreal Canadiens for a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2015.

    Analysis: Petry is a good puck-moving blueliner who should prove to be a solid rental addition to the Canadiens defensive corps. Expect him to see action on their second defensive pairing. The Oilers had to move Petry or lose him this summer to unrestricted free agency. 

    Verdict: It's a good short-term move for the Canadiens, but the Oilers failed to land a promising prospect or young player for Petry. As per HockeyDB, the Oilers have a lousy draft record beyond the first round in recent years. If that trend continues, the picks they received for Petry might not pan out.

Best: James Wisniewski to the Anaheim Ducks

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    The trade: The Columbus Blue Jackets trade defenseman James Wisniewski and a 2015 third-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks. In return, the Jackets receive left wing Rene Bourque, center William Karlsson and a 2015 second-round pick.

    Analysis: The Blue Jackets managed to shed Wisniewski's $5.5 million annual cap hit. He brings valuable experience and a right-handed shot to the Ducks young defensive corps. While the Jackets take on Bourque's $3.3 million cap hit through 2015-16, they still save $2.2 million. They also get a promising center in Karlsson and a decent draft pick.

    Verdict: Both clubs get what they wanted. The Ducks add an experienced top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. The Blue Jackets free up salary-cap room while acquiring a couple of young assets.

Worst: Chris Stewart to the Minnesota Wild

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    The trade: The Buffalo Sabres trade right wing Chris Stewart to the Minnesota Wild for a 2017 second-round pick.

    Analysis: Stewart was a fixture in the rumor mill since November. If Buffalo's management held onto him until deadline day in hopes of driving up his trade value, the move backfired. Stewart plays a physical game, but he's an inconsistent scorer. It's uncertain how much he can help the Wild clinch a playoff berth. 

    Verdict: Not a terrific deal for either team. Stewart's inconsistency casts doubt on his effectiveness as a rental player for the Wild. The Sabres get very little return for a supposedly valuable asset.

Best: Antoine Vermette to the Chicago Blackhawks

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    Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    The trade: The Arizona Coyotes trade forward Antoine Vermette to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2015 first-round pick and defenseman Klas Dahlbeck.

    Analysis: Vermette won't replace the offensive wizardry of sidelined superstar Patrick Kane, but he's a skilled two-way forward with a good scoring touch. The Coyotes risked losing Vermette to free agency in July. They get a decent defensive prospect in Dahlbeck plus another first-round pick in a deep draft.

    Verdict: Both clubs got what they wanted in this deal. The Blackhawks got a short-term veteran replacement for the sidelined Kane. The Coyotes got two pieces for their rebuilding process.

Worst: Brett Connolly to the Boston Bruins

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    Scott Audette/Getty Images

    The trade: The Tampa Bay Lightning trade winger Brett Connolly to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a second-round pick in 2015 and a second-rounder in 2016.

    Analysis: The struggling Bruins needed a proven top-six right winger but lacked the cap space and available assets to land one. Connolly has scoring ability but so far he's struggled to reach his potential. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is gambling that a change of scenery will improve Connolly's production. 

    Verdict: If Connolly's consistency issues continue, this move won't help Boston's playoff hopes. In which case, Chiarelli will come under fire for giving up two picks for a streaky scorer. It could cost him his job. 

Best: Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The trade: The Arizona Coyotes trade defenseman Keith Yandle, minor-league defenseman Chris Summers and a 2015 fourth-round pick to the New York Rangers. The Coyotes receive defenseman John Moore, prospect winger Anthony Duclair, a 2015 second-round pick and a conditional 2016 first-round pick.

    Analysis: Yandle is a skilled puck-moving blueliner who should prove to be a valuable addition to the Rangers defense. He's no rental player, as he's signed through 2015-16. Duclair was a linemate of Coyotes prospect Max Domi on Canada's gold-medal team at the 2015 World Juniors. Moore is a promising (though inconsistent), young rearguard.

    Verdict: The Rangers win this deal in the short term, getting a top defenseman to bolster their blue line for another run at the Stanley Cup. The Coyotes, however, could be the long-term winners by reuniting Duclair and Domi. If the Coyotes end up selecting Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel at this year's draft, they'll have a dynamite, young first line.

    Player information via NHL.com. All trade information via NHL trade tracker. Salary information via NHLNumbers.

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