Breaking Down the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline: Part 2
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 on February 24, deadline day for the 2019-20 NHL season.
COL Acquires: LW Vadislav Namestnikov
OTT Acquires: 2021 COL 4th
Once again, I thought the Senators might be able to get a little bit more. Namestikov isn't quite as good as he was two years ago, when he put up 44 points in 62 games for Tampa Bay. However, he's still a nice third-line level scorer, and that usually goes for more. Even before Mikko Rantanen went on the shelf, you knew the Avs would be looking to add. They've got a great chance at going deep this year (as long as Philip Grubauer returns in peak shape).
NYI Acquires: C JG Pageau
OTT Acquires: 2020 NYI 1st*, 2020 NYI 2nd, 2022 3rd**
*If this pick wins a lottery (top 3 pick), OTT receives a 2021 NYI 1st instead.
**OTT acquires this pick if NYI wins the 2020 Stanley Cup; otherwise, NYI retains the pick.
This is a bittersweet trade for Sens fans. On one hand, Ottawa needs to start retaining players if that whole "unparalleled success" thing is ever going to come to fruition. Pageau was having an excellent season and was a beast for Ottawa in their 2017 playoff run. However, that return is pretty darn good. A 1st and a 2nd for a rental player is a lot, but if the Islanders can re-sign him, it looks a lot more reasonable. The Islanders' biggest problem has been offense, and Pageau gives them another legitimate scoring threat. New York signed Pageau to a slightly pricy 6-year, $30 million extension (the AMac special!), which makes the deal a little more fair.
CAR Acquires: C Vincent Trocheck
FLA Acquires: C Erik Haula, C Lucas Wallmark, D Chase Priske, C Eetu Luostarinen
The classic depth for a star trade. Yes, Vincent Trocheck is a star in my opinion. At the very least, he's capable of being one; he's two seasons removed from a 76-point season. He's also a great penalty killer and should become a fan favorite in Carolina. Florida does need more forwards - they've been dressing two defenseman on a forward line recently, and Haula and Wallmark are good ones. Priske, a prospect defenseman who signed with Carolina as a UFA and Luostarinen, a 2017 2nd rounder, are both having good inaugural AHL seasons. There's a saying that the team that acquires the best player in a trade usually wins the deal, and that should hold true for Carolina here.
PIT Acquires: LW Patrick Marleau
SJ Acquires: 2020 PIT 3rd*
*If PIT wins the 2020 Stanley Cup, the pick upgrades to a 2020 PIT 2nd.
Considering the younger, better scoring Namestikov went for a 4th round pick earlier in the day, Doug Wilson grades out pretty well here. Marleau is a classic veteran chasing a Stanley Cup, and heading to Pittsburgh gives him a great chance at achieving it. That being said, I'm not sure how well Marleau will fit. The Penguins play at a very fast pace, and at 38, Marleau isn't exactly a speed demon. He'll probably be fine because Pens.
BUF Acquires: RW Wayne Simmonds (50% Salary Retained)
NJ Acquires: 2021 BUF 5th* *If BUF makes the 2020 playoffs and Simmonds plays 10 regular season games for BUF, the pick upgrades to a 2021 BUF 4th.
This trade makes almost no sense to me. A lot of people will be surprised that Simmonds didn't go for more, but unfortunately, the Wayne Train is a shell of his former self. Power forwards generally don't age well, and Simmer is no exception. But why is Buffalo buying? Even with a recent hot streak, they're still eight points out of a playoff spot and have almost no chance of getting in. Teams like that don't usually trade for rentals. Poor Wayne. He deserves better.
ANA Acquires: C Danton Heinen
BOS Acquires: LW Nick Ritchie
An unexpected one-for-one trade here. Ritchie is a solid power forward that can score a little bit. I think there's some untapped potential, but Sportsnet's trade deadline panel called out his lack of effort, so that's something to keep an eye on. Danton Heinen had an outstanding rookie season two years ago, but he's been moved down the lines the last few seasons. If he gets an opportunity to play in Anaheim's top-six (and I don't see why he wouldn't), Heinen could thrive with the Ducks. He's a solid two-way center with some skill.
DET Acquires: 2020 EDM 2nd, 2021 EDM 2nd, C Sam Gagner
EDM Acquires: C Andreas Athanasiou, LW Ryan Kuffner
For the price the Oilers gave up and the cap hit ($3 million), there may not be a better line-mate for Connor McDavid than Andreas Athanasiou. AA has speed to burn and he and McDavid should wreak havoc on every defense they face. And he's an RFA, meaning the Oilers can keep him around. The return is solid for Detroit, but I can't help but wonder if they're selling low on the former 30-goal scorer. Two seconds is nothing to scoff at, but if Athanasiou could've regained form next year, Detroit probably could've gotten a lot more.
BUF Acquires: LW Dominik Kahun
PIT Acquires: C Evan Rodrigues, LW Conor Sheary
I think we all laughed out loud when we saw Sheary was heading back to the Penguins, even though he's arguably the smallest piece of the deal (average point production and a pending UFA). Rodrigues has versatility and skill - he seems like the exact kind of player that could benefit with a change of scenery, because man did he struggle to produce in Buffalo. Pittsburgh usually does well with those types of players. Kahun, the youngest player in the deal, was having a nice sophomore season for the Pens, scoring over half a point a game. Regardless, I need to see an all trade line of Marleau-Rodrigues-Sheary for the Penguins ASAP.
CAR Acquires: D Sami Vatanen (50% Salary Retained)
NJ Acquires: 2020 CAR 4th*, D Frederik Claesson, C Janne Kuokkanen
*NJ receives the pick if Vatanen plays at least 5 regular season games for CAR. If Vatanen plays in 12 regular season games OR at least 70% of 2020 playoff games for CAR, the pick upgrades to a 2020 CAR 3rd.
With Dougie Hamilton and now Brett Pesce falling to injuries, the Hurricanes needed to mend their blueline. The Vatanen trade would be the first of two moves to ensure this goal. Vatanen is a solid defenseman that contributes a lot offensively, but hasn't had a great season and is currently injured (hence the conditions on the pick), but he's close to being healthy. Kuokkanen is a 2016 2nd round pick who is scoring at close to a point-per-game pace in the AHL. He's the centerpiece of the deal for Jersey, and a pretty good one for the pending UFA Vatanen.
SJ Acquires: 2020 TB 1st, RW Anthony Greco
TB Acquires: LW Barclay Goodrow, 2020 PHI 3rd
Yikes, Tampa Bay. I understand embracing your window and going all in for a Cup. I realize that most people underrate players like Goodrow and Coleman. I know it's huge for a cap-strapped team like you to acquire cheap players with term. But three first round picks for Coleman and Goodrow, who has set a career-high of EIGHT goals? You can't convince me that's not an overpay. The Sharks did well at the deadline, but losing their first to Ottawa this year is a major blow to their retool.
CAR Acquires: D Brady Skjei
NYR Acquires: 2020 1st*
*NYR will acquire the lower of the two first round picks CAR owns, which belong to CAR and TOR.
After extending Kreider, it was a little confusing to see the Rangers sell Skjei strictly for futures. But this isn't the same Brady Skjei that made waves with a great rookie season in 2016-17. Skjei's advanced numbers aren't good (sub 48% Corsi and Expected Goals For%, per Natural Stat Trick), although he does score at a decent clip. If the Hurricanes can do to him what they did to Nino Niederriter, they could run away this deal, but for now it looks like Carolina has a slight edge, even assuming Skjei has at least a little bit of an uptick moving to Carolina.
CHI Acquires: G Malcolm Subban, 2020 VGK 2nd, D Slava Demin
VGK Acquires: G Robin Lehner (CHI and TOR Retain Salary)*
TOR Acquires: 2020 VGK 5th
The Blackhawks had to trade at least one of their two big pending UFA goalies, but I'm kind of surprised they didn't want to extend Lehner. It's even more surprising that Vegas, a team with a clear number one goalie (albeit a struggling one) went out and got him. The price was reasonable; Subban is a lesser goalie, Demin is a meh prospect (2018 4th round pick), and the 2nd is nice value. I just feel like there was probably a cheaper and more reasonable option to fix your goaltending. It's feasible to use them as a tandem for the rest of the regular season, but who will Vegas ride come playoff time?
*Oh, and a quick side note: Chicago technically traded Lehner to Toronto first so that the Leafs could retain 50% of Lehner's cap hit ($2.5 million). The Blackhawks retained an additional $1.1 million, bringing Lehner's cap charge for Vegas to $1.4 million. For eating the salary, Vegas traded Toronto their 2020 5th. The Leafs get an A just for turning cap space they weren't going to use into a free 5th round pick. Not a home run, but smart cap management.