Breaking Down the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline: Part 1
The trade deadline is always one of the most exciting moments on the hockey calendar. Contending teams look to acquire the last piece that will put them over the top. Rebuilding teams sell off their players, usually pending UFAs, and receive prospects and picks that excite their fanbase. Bubble teams either play it safe and stay the course, play the long game and sell, or, every once in a blue moon, say "bleep it," and go all in.
With Taylor Hall dealt to the Coyotes all the way back in December, this year's class didn't have nearly as much excitement surrounding it as most years, especially compared to 2019's star-studded deadline. However, some important transactions were still made during the first three weeks and three days that could have a major impact on a franchise, now or in the future. To make this easier to read, and since there were about as many notable moves made on February 24 as the weeks leading up to it, I'm breaking this into two parts: one for deals before deadline day, and one for deals made on them. Here are my thoughts on the deals made leading up to the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline.
LA Acquires: C Trevor Moore, 2020 CBJ 3rd, 2021 TOR 3rd*
*If Campbell wins six plus games AND TOR makes the 2020 playoffs OR Clifford re-signs, the pick upgrades to a 2021 TOR 2nd.
TOR Acquires: G Jack Campbell, LW Kyle Clifford (50% Salary Retained)
This was a trade Toronto had to make. Frederik Andersen has had a rough month and was dealing with a neck injury at the time, and Michal Hutchinson hasn't been nearly good enough as their backup. Enter Campbell, who has replicated his stellar 18-19 season so far in Toronto. Kyle Clifford will also shut up any boomers who complain the Leafs don't have enough grit to go deep. LA knew Toronto was dealing from a position of weakness and took advantage. Moore has some skill and can kill penalties, and there's a good chance the 2021 3rd upgrades to a 2nd. That's a pretty good haul for your backup goalie and a 4th line grinder.
MIN Acquires: C Alex Galchenyuk, D Calen Addison, 2020 PIT 1st*
PIT Acquires: LW Jason Zucker
*If PIT misses 2020 playoffs, the pick becomes a 2021 PIT 1st.
I know just about anyone can succeed on Sidney Crosby's wing, but the Penguins did need some help in that area with Jake Guentzel on the shelf and Alex Galchenyuk failing to deliver. Enter Zucker, who in addition to being really fast and really good is under contract for two more seasons at a reasonable $5.5 million cap hit. Wild GM Bill Guerrin used to be an assistant GM for Pittsburgh, so he knows what he's getting in Calen Addison - a skilled defenseman that can move the puck and has a lot of upside. If Galchenyuk can fit in with the Wild, this has the chance to be a steal, but otherwise it looks more win-win than anything, even if the Penguins did give up a lot of futures.
NJ Acquires: D David Quenneville, 2021 NYI 2nd
NYI Acquires: D Andy Greene
Tom Fitzgerald is making a strong case for New Jersey to remove the interim tag from his GM title (more on that below). Greene, 37, isn't what he once was, but he is a capable shutdown defenseman. I get the Islanders wanted a replacement for Adam Pelech (who's done for the year), but their main issue is offense, and a second-round pick isn't cheep. Lou Lamoriello might have overpaid for familiarity - after all, he signed Greene as an undrafted free agent in 2006.
NJ Acquires: LW Nolan Foote, 2020 VAN 1st*
TB Acquires: C Blake Coleman
*If VAN misses 2020 playoffs, the pick becomes a 2021 VAN 1st.
Blake Coleman is a better player than you think. Coleman had 37 points in 51 games with the Devils, is a good penalty killer, strong by analytics, and, perhaps most importantly, is under contract through next season at a bargain $1.8 million cap hit. That being said, the Lightning almost certainly overpaid to get him. Nolan Foote isn't having the best draft plus one season ever, but he was a 1st round pick in 2019 and still has upside. The first round pick New Jersey acquired belongs to Vancouver (Tampa Bay had it from the JT Miller), so it's a lot more likely to be in the late teens than late twenties. Hard to argue with the haul the Devils received.
LA Acquires: C Tim Schaller, C Tyler Madden, 2020 VAN 2nd, 2022 VAN 4th*
VAN Acquires: RW Tyler Toffoli
*LA receives the pick if Toffoli re-signs with VAN; if he does not, VAN retains the pick.
With Brock Boeser and Michael Ferland out for maybe the rest of the season, Jim Benning had two courses of action. He could've stayed pat, and be content if the surprising Canucks fell off down the stretch - after all, this isn't an all-in year for them. But Benning decided to reward his group and acquire Toffoli, a legitimate sniper fresh off recording the first hat-trick outdoors in NHL history. Toffoli isn't Boeser good, but he's a very solid scorer. Going the other way, Madden is nearly top-10 in the NCAA in points, and a 2nd rounder is nothing to scoff at. I don't know if Vancouver will have enough cap space to pursuit signing Toffoli, but it would nice if they could keep him around.
OTT Acquires: 2020 WPG 3rd
WPG Acquires: D Dylan DeMelo
This year was clearly a seller's market for blue-liners. So how did Ottawa only get a 3rd for DeMelo, a capable, growing right-handed defenseman making just above league-minimum? Winnipeg desperately needs help on their blue-line, and while DeMelo isn't the difference maker guys like Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba have been, he's still a solid top-four option. I wonder if his new coach will like him?
SJ Acquires: 2020 COL 2nd, 2021 WSH 3rd*
WSH Acquires: D Brendan Dillon (50% Salary Retained)
*If WSH wins 2020 Stanley Cup, 2021 WSH 3rd becomes 2021 ARI 3rd instead.
Hey, it's the slightly more expensive version of the Michal Kempny trade that helped the Capitals win the Cup two years ago. Dillon isn't dramatically better than Kempny, but the Sharks had plenty of bidders and were able to acquire their desired sum. Dillon is a solid defensive defenseman, and the Capitals have desperately been looking for another top-four option thanks to a disappointing season for Nick Jensen. Lucky for them, Dillon is just that.
MTL Acquires: 2020 STL 2nd, 2021 STL 4th*
STL Acquires: D Marco Scandella
*MTL receives the pick if STL re-signs Scandella OR STL advances to 2020 WCF and Scandella plays at least 50% of STL's playoff games. If neither condition is met, STL retains the pick.
How can the Sabres get a grade in this trade if they weren't even involved? On January 2nd, Buffalo traded Scandella to Montreal for a 4th... only to see flipped for a 2nd and a (conditional) 4th! The Sabres basically just gave Montreal a free second round pick! For a Sabres franchise already in disarray, asset mismanagement like that is stunning, even for them. As for the more recent Scandella trade, he should help to fill the void left by Jay Bouwmeester's sudden cardiac arrest (may he have a speedy and full recovery), but it's hard not to call Montreal the clear cut winners here.
LA Acquires: 2020 VGK 2nd, 2021 VGK 2nd
VGK Acquires: D Alec Martinez
Alec Martinez isn't as bad as fans think, but he's not as good as hockey men think. Fans will point to Martinez's unimpressive analytics and defensive play-style that hasn't aged well. NHL teams will point to his big-game pedigree (remember that time he scored in double OT to win the Stanley Cup?), grit, and leadership. The answer is probably somewhere in the middle, but two seconds is a lot to give up, especially for a Vegas team that hasn't been frugal when it comes to trading picks and prospects.
ANA Acquires: 2020 BOS 1st, D Axel Andersson, C David Backes (25% Salary Retained)
BOS Acquires: RW Ondrej Kase
This is a trade I could see working out really well for both sides. Kase was a popular breakout pick this season, and although he hasn't lit it up this year (partially due to injuries, a recurring problem for him), he's still a good player. Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson fit in seamlessly with Boston last season and Kase, who's an RFA after next season, should do the same. But the price wasn't cheap. Andersson is a decent defensive prospect and a 1st round pick is always solid. Anaheim has the cap space that they were able to take on 75% of David Backes' albatross contract. There's a lot of upside in this deal for both teams.
VGK Acquires: 2021 WPG 4th*
WPG Acquires: C Cody Eakin
*If WPG makes the 2020 playoffs OR Eakin re-signs with WPG, the pick upgrades to a 2021 WPG 3rd.
Eakin hasn't had an amazing season, but he's still a good bottom-six center than can help kill penalties (Winnipeg's PK is 25th in the NHL). A fourth round pick isn't much, but if the pick upgrades to a 3rd (and if I had to bet, I'd say it does), the return looks a lot better for the Golden Knights.
MTL Acquires: 2020 WSH 3rd
WSH Acquires: RW Ilya Kovalchuk (50% Salary Retained)
If only this trade had happened ten years ago. Imagine prime Kovalchuk and Ovechkin bombing away on the power play; that would be a sight to see. Kovalchuk's start in Montreal couldn't have gone better, but he's coming to Washington on a cold streak, with 0 goals and 1 assist in his last 7 games. Hindsight is 2020, but Montreal probably should've sold high a few weeks ago.
DET Acquires: C Kyle Brodziak, 2020 EDM 4th*
EDM Acquires: D Mike Green (50% Salary Retained)
*If EDM advances to 2020 WCF and Green plays in at least 50% of EDM's playoff games, the pick upgrades to a 2021 EDM 3rd.
This is the second example of a GM acquiring a defenseman he signed for a previous team. In Green's case, the return is much fairer. Brodziak is nothing more than a warm body, and a fourth round pick isn't much. It would take a lot to go right for that pick to become a third. Green isn't the force he once was, but he's still a solid offensive/two-way defenseman that will add stability to a notoriously below-average Edmonton blue-line.
*Thumbnail Photo from Gene J. Puskar (Associated Press)