NHL Trade Deadline 2017: Winners and Losers from Around the League
The 2017 NHL trade deadline has come and gone.
We saw some potential contending teams, such as the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks, add depth. Others looked to become tougher to play against—hi, Montreal Canadiens.
A number of sides made moves with an eye on the future, whether it was non-contenders like the Vancouver Canucks or playoff bubble teams like the St. Louis Blues and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With more than five weeks still to play in the regular season and many playoff positions far from secure, some trades that look good today will quickly go sour, while other head-scratching deals turn out to pay dividends.
When draft picks and prospects are involved, it can take years to assess the value of a trade-deadline deal.
But we don't have years—we only have a few hours.
Here's a first look at the winners and losers from the 2017 NHL trade deadline.
Washington Capitals: Winner
The rich got richer.
Already the top team in the NHL and well on their way to collecting their second consecutive Presidents' Trophy, the Washington Capitals strengthened an already-solid blue line when they acquired Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues.
Defensively, Washington is the league's top team by a mile, allowing an average of just 2.08 goals per game. But the Caps could use more offensive production, which is where Shattenkirk comes in.
Washington has just 19 goals by defensemen this year—eight less than league leader Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks has scored by himself this season.
Shattenkirk, 28, was on pace for a slightly better than usual year in St. Louis before he was traded, with 11 goals and 42 points in 61 games. His acquisition gives the already-dangerous Caps another useful scoring weapon.
Washington general manager Brian MacLellan scores bonus points for snatching Shattenkirk out of the claws of his division rivals. Per the New York Times' Allan Kreda, both the New York Rangers and, especially, the Pittsburgh Penguins were also looking for blue-line help, but it was the Caps that claimed the biggest prize in the stacked Metropolitan Division.
St. Louis Blues: Loser
Over in Missouri, St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong was so determined not to miss out on a return on a valuable asset that he put his team's playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.
Last season, Armstrong stuck with impending unrestricted free agents David Backes and Troy Brouwer at the trade deadline. He was rewarded with the Blues' first trip to the Western Conference Final in 15 years.
Backes and Brouwer did both sign with other teams as free agents, since the Blues didn't have enough salary-cap space to bring them back. But in addition to being one of the final four teams standing in the gruelling NHL postseason last year, St. Louis also registered one of the biggest moral victories in the history of the franchise with its first-round series win over archrival Chicago Blackhawks.
Apparently that wasn't enough for Armstrong to go down the same road this season. He chose to trade his best offensive defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk, even while his team's chances of even making the playoffs this year are uncertain. As of deadline day, the Blues hold a one-point edge for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference over the Los Angeles Kings.
Sure, the Blues miss Backes and Brouwer, but the team looked like it was getting back on track—with a 7-5-0 record since Mike Yeo took over behind the bench at the beginning of February. The coaching change seemed to indicate that the goal was for St. Louis to take another good run at the playoffs this year.
The trade return for Shattenkirk may prove valuable down the road, the Blues' immediate chances for success in this postseason have taken a big hit.
Vancouver Canucks: Winner
Maybe it had to be this way. Maybe Vancouver Canucks fans needed to endure several seasons of disappointment before they were ready to applaud their general manager for trading away two beloved long-term members of the team.
Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen are both underdog stories—unheralded prospects whose tenacity and work ethic took them further in the NHL than either could have imagined.
Burrows was originally undrafted, while Hansen was chosen in the ninth round in 2004. Both spent their entire careers with the Canucks until this week and rose up the depth chart to the point where they had their greatest successes on right wing with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
This week, Vancouver general manager Jim Benning cut ties, arranging agreeable deals for players who both had a degree of no-trade protection while bringing solid returns back Vancouver's way.
Jonathan Dahlen, acquired from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Burrows, is a blue-chip offensive prospect who shone for Team Sweden at the 2017 World Junior Championship. Nikolay Goldobin, acquired from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Hansen, is a former first-rounder with some flare of his own. Benning also negotiated a win-win additional clause with the Sharks—if they win the Stanley Cup this year, the fourth-rounder they threw in as part of the Hansen deal elevates to a first-round pick.
Though Benning acquired the promising Markus Granlund a week before the 2016 trade deadline, he was roasted for failing to bring back assets in return for his impending unrestricted free agents Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata.
This year, with his team eight points out of a playoff spot and once again battling injuries and illnesses, he's being praised for turning the page on Vancouver's glory days of the early 2010s and making a strong commitment toward developing the Canucks' next era.
Colorado Avalanche: Loser
The Colorado Avalanche have been behind the eight ball this season after Patrick Roy abruptly announced his resignation as head coach just over a month before the beginning of the 2016-17 training camp.
After hiring Jared Bednar to replace Roy, the Avs stumbled to a 12-23-1 record by the end of the 2016 calendar year and set up shop, unchallenged, at the bottom of the NHL standings.
For months, speculation has swirled that Colorado would reset the franchise by cutting ties with some of the talented-but-still-young stars who have been unable to help the team return to the heights it enjoyed during its glory period in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But here we are, with the trade deadline come and gone. Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog are still in Denver.
Certainly, general manager Joe Sakic is justified in hanging on to his valuable assets if he couldn't get a suitable return. But a player like Duchene, in particular, should have been of enormous value to a playoff-bound team—he's a versatile two-way forward and a winner, with a long list of gold medals from every level of international competition.
Sakic may be able to get better returns around the time of the draft, when many of the NHL's biggest trades now go down. His lack of significant activity at deadline time does nothing to offer hope to a fanbase that has just one playoff appearance to show for the last six years of rebuilding.
In Colorado's only significant move of deadline day, veteran Jarome Iginla was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, but that deal was done primarily for the player's benefit. The Avs received only a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018—and Darren Dreger of TSN reported that pick will disappear if the Kings don't make the playoffs this year or Iginla doesn't resign with the team next season.
Here's hoping Sakic is ultimately able to scare up a suitable return when he finally does move Duchene and Landeskog.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Winner
Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman raised eyebrows when he traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings on February 26 for a grab bag of unspectacular players and draft picks.
He got a little more love for dealing impending unrestricted free agent Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 28 in exchange for a second-round draft pick and center Byron Froese, but Yzerman was saving his best work for deadline day.
In an impressive sleight of hand, Yzerman was able to deal center Valtteri Filppula—with his $5 million cap hit and his no-movement clause—to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Mark Streit. Then, Yzerman flipped Streit to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a fourth-round draft pick.
In essence, Yzerman ended up giving up a seventh-round pick to free his team of Filppula's contract. The Lightning were facing terrible salary-cap constraints, with a number of important restricted free agents needing new contracts.
Additionally, Filppula's no-movement clause meant that he would automatically have been one of Tampa Bay's protected forwards at the expansion draft—quite possibly at the expense of a quality younger player.
The Lightning sit five points out of a playoff spot and their chances of getting into the postseason have been further weakened by the losses of Bishop, Boyle and Filppula. Nevertheless, Yzerman was able to make some deft moves on Wednesday to improve the overall status of his franchise moving forward.
New York Islanders: Loser
The New York Islanders are another team that has had a topsy-turvy season but still cling to the hope of a possible playoff position.
On Valentine's Day, the Islanders were mired in last place in the Eastern Conference when Jack Capuano was replaced behind the bench by Doug Weight. Since that time, the team has gone 4-3-0—hardly spectacular but good enough to move within one point of that second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders are duking it out with at least two other teams for that postseason berth—and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers both took solid steps to improve their rosters at the deadline.
Though Arthur Staple of Newsday reported that the Islanders were looking to add a forward who wasn't a rental, general manager Garth Snow made no deals at all on Wednesday.
Goaltender Jaroslav Halak, currently tearing it up in the AHL, could also have potentially provided an asset in return, but he finished the day still a member of the Islanders organization.
Now, the question is whether Snow's lack of action will cause the Islanders to end up on the outside looking in when this year's 16 playoff spots are finally claimed on April 9.
Jarome Iginla: Winner
The lure of chasing a Stanley Cup seems to burn brightest for veteran players who have fallen just short in their careers.
After his Vancouver Canucks fell to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Alex Burrows, 35, has just waived his no-trade clause to give himself another chance to chase the dream this year with the Ottawa Senators.
You might remember that Jarome Iginla was in a similar situation back in 2013—morosely agreeing to a trade away from the Calgary Flames after his team had also suffered a Game 7 defeat—in his case, at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.
Iginla reached the Eastern Conference Final in 2013 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, then tried his luck again the following year with the Boston Bruins, lasting two rounds. But the 39-year-old hasn't seen any further playoff action since joining the Colorado Avalanche to start the 2014-15 season. With the Avs well out of contention again, he let it be known that he'd like one more shot at hockey's biggest prize.
On Wednesday, Iginla was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings—currently one point out of a Western Conference wild-card spot, but a definite threat to move up now that starting goaltender Jonathan Quick is healthy once again and has a new Grade-A backup behind him in Ben Bishop.
The Kings have had good luck before with reclamation projects. To name just a couple, Vinnie Lecavalier wildly exceeded expectations by scoring 10 goals in his half-season with L.A. in 2015-16, and Willie Mitchell's career was thought to be all but over when the Kings signed him to a bargain two-year contract to start the 2010-11 season. Though he did miss some time with injury, Mitchell played three seasons with the Kings and was part of both Stanley Cup runs before finishing off his career with two seasons in Florida.
In addition to his 1,535 games of NHL experience, Iginla is a high-character person with a huge passion for the game of hockey. After three losing seasons in Colorado, his game should get a boost from being reunited with his old Flames coach from 2004, Darryl Sutter, for one more kick at the can.
Shane Doan: Loser
Back in 1995, Shane Doan was drafted four spots before Jarome Iginla—by the original Winnipeg Jets.
He has spent his entire 1,528-game NHL career with the Jets/Arizona Coyotes organization, a loyal soldier who has been captain for the last 13 seasons—14 years if you include the lockout-lost 2004-05 season.
But Doan has played just 55 playoff games in his entire career and has gotten out of the first round just once, when the Coyotes reached the Western Conference Final in 2011-12.
Arizona hasn't been back to the postseason since—so, with unrestricted free agency looming again this summer, the 40-year-old decided that he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the right deal came along.
But the trade deadline came and went without an Iginla-like deal for Doan, who was circumspect. "Not a big market for a 40-year-old (fourth-liner) who only wants to go to a contender," he said, per Arizona beat writer Craig Morgan when the dust settled on Wednesday.
The question now—will Doan re-up once again with his beloved Coyotes this summer? Will he sign a deal with a new club—perhaps Las Vegas? Or will he decide, at 40, that his best playing days are now behind him and move on to the next phase of his life?
All stats courtesy of NHL.com, current through games Tuesday, February 28. Contract, salary-cap and expansion-draft eligibility information from CapFriendly. Trade information via NHL.com's tracker unless otherwise noted.