Biggest Winner: Tampa Bay Lightning
Steve Yzerman made five trades during deadline week, all of which improved the Lightning’s long-term salary cap situation. Unloading upcoming UFAs Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle will free up the cap space the Lightning need to re-sign Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin. He accomplished this all while keeping a team together that can make a playoff push.
In addition to clearing up long-term cap space, Yzerman also solved the Lightning’s expansion draft issue. Had he not gotten rid of Valtteri Filppula and his NMC, Yzerman would have had to expose Alex Killorn or Vladislav Namestikov, something he did not want to do.
By clearing up cap space and protecting players from exposure, Yzerman has created cap flexibility, as well as roster stability, for this team going forward. Now, he has the ability to retain the “triplets,” as well as bring in pieces to become a contender in the near future. That is why Yzerman made the Lightning the undisputed winners of the trade deadline.
Winner: Washington Capitals
Gained: Kevin Shattenkirk, Pheonix Copely
Lost: 2017 1st, 2019 conditional, Zac Sanford, Brad Malone
Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan landed the most coveted asset at the deadline in Kevin Shattenkirk. Not only does this improve one of the best defenses in the NHL, it also kept Shattenkirk away from other contenders.
It didn’t seem like the Capitals would need to make much noise at the deadline to make a strong Stanley Cup run. The Caps will now go into the postseason with impressive defensive depth and an explosive offense. McLellan did this with just two picks, a depth player, and a middle-tier prospect. Great deadline for Washington.
Winner: Minnesota Wild
Lost: 2017 1st, 2018 2nd, 2019 4th, Grayson Downing
The Wild added the most valuable center to be traded at the deadline in Martin Hanzal. This move gives the Wild a solid group of scoring threats down the middle. Don’t sleep on Ryan
White, either. He registered two points in his debut, and provides energy to the fourth line.
By going for one of the top deadline targets, the Wild also send the message that they are going for it this year. Minnesota has a great fan base, and I’m sure this move will excite the fans. Minnesota should be a powerhouse going into the postseason.
Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins
Lost: 2017 2nd, 2017 4th, 2018 4th, Eric Fehr, Steve Olesky, Danny Kristo
The Penguins added exactly what they needed at the deadline. They needed defensive depth, so they added Veterans Mark Streit and Ron Hainsey to fill in for Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley. Once the Penguins get healthy, they will have one of the deeper bluelines in the league.
Jim Rutherford also decided to keep Marc-Andre Fleury around for one more cup run, a move driven by a market that did not see as many goalies moved as expected. Even though Fleury would like to see more playing time, this move ultimately benefits the Penguins. They will have a solid 1-2 punch in net for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and will get a decent return for Fleury in a more inviting pre-expansion draft market.
Winner: Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks were able to get some depth on D, bringing back two-time cup winner Johnny Oduya. Oduya was the best available option for the Hawks, since he just recently played for Chicago and can pair back up with Niklas Hjalmarsson. To make this happen, all Stan Bowman had to let go of was Marc McNeill and a 4th. Compared to other blueline deals at the deadline, this is a steal.
Adding depth up front was also a priority for the Hawks, so Bowman went out and landed young winger Tomas Jurco. Though Jurco has yet to make a big splash in the NHL, the 24 year-old has upside. Chicago has a way of bringing out the potential of young wingers (See Richard Panik).
At the end of the day, these moves position Chicago to be a contender in the Western Conference once again.
Biggest Loser: Colorado Avalanche
The Avs were unable to make any significant moves at the deadline, despite shopping both Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene. It appears that Joe Sakic’s asking price was unrealistic, as he may have been looking for four assets for either player. Regardless, the struggling Avs did absolutely nothing to help their current situation. Look for the Colorado to continue being the worst team in hockey by far, with no end in sight.
Loser: LA Kings
Gained: 2017 5th, 2017 conditional, 2018 conditional, Ben Bishop, Jarome Iginla
Lost: 2017 7th, 2018 conditional, Peter Budaj, Erik Cernak, Dwight King
The Kings may have landed the best goalie on the market, but did little to help their offensive struggles. Aside from Jeff Carter’s performance, consistent offense has been hard to come by. Both Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik have struggled immensely at producing points, despite being consistent producers in the past.
GM Dean Lombardi added Jarome Iginla, and though his presence will be welcomed for a postseason run, his performance has been on the decline. It looks like Iggy will be playing on the top line with Kopitar and Gaborik, but I would not expect top-line numbers from Iginla. So far, he only has 16 points on the season.
In the end, the Kings had a glaring issue to address if they wanted to become contenders, but missed the mark. If they wanted to do that, they should have given up a third rounder and a middling prospect for Thomas Vanek.
Loser: Arizona Coyotes
Gained: 2017 1st, 2017 3rd, 2018 2nd, 2018 5th, 2019 4th, Jeremy Morin, Grayson Downing, Teemu Pulkkinen, Joe Whitney
Lost: 2017 4th, Ryan White, Martin Hanzal, Stefan Fournier, Michael Stone, Brendan Ranford
The Coyotes were able to get a nice return for Ryan White, Michael Stone, and Martin Hanzal. Although they got rid of three contracts, the Coyotes are still over the cap and will be losing Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata after this year. They would have been wise to get rid of both, and take a return rather than losing them for nothing.
In what is a lose-lose situation, Arizona neither produced hope for their team, nor provided any excitement for the future. With talks of relocation surrounding the team and a stadium deal being shot down, the management would have been smart to make a decisive decision to move their UFAs and acquire future assets. Instead, all the Coyotes fans have to look forward to is being the second worst team in the NHL for the foreseeable future.
Loser: Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens certainly made a lot of changes at the deadline, but did they really get any better? Adding King, Ott, Benn, and Martinsen make the Habs a much bigger team, but I’m not sure it actually made them any more competitive.
Montreal needed to add some scoring threats to bolster their roster for the postseason. It was rumored that they were in on both Matt Duchene and Radim Vrbata, but ultimately were unable to work out a deal. In failing to land a consistent offensive weapon, the Habs leave their offense suspect to stronger defenses within the Eastern Conference. Carey Price will likely be leaned on heavily once again.
Loser: New York Islanders
The Islanders were rumored to be looking to make a big splash in Matt Duchene, but stood pat at the deadline. While they did not get any worse, the Islanders did not bring in any new talent to play alongside John Tavares. This comes after GM Garth Snow was unable to bring back Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen. You would think that the organization would want to give John Tavares more of a reason to stay after his contract is up next year.
The Islanders are another team having stadium issues. Publicly they have been having major issues with their current home in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Not only is the ice rink inside not up to NHL code, but it was recently reported that the Barclays Center no longer wants to be the home of the New York Islanders.
With the stadium issues surrounding the team and relocation rumors starting to emerge, the Islanders should have given fans a reason to get excited. The product on the ice has been good this year, as the Islanders are currently only one point out of the playoffs. Had they made a splash and shown that they are making a greater effort to win, they would draw a larger crowd.
Instead, the Islanders continue down a path of hockey mediocrity.
Featured image is credit of Chis O’Meara, AP