The deadline is drawing near, so let’s look back at several of last season’s most significant acquisitions and how they worked out for contending teams.
Over the next two weeks, trade action across league is down to pick up as teams stock up for the stretch run and the post-season.
As always, there are several top targets on the market, ranging from powerful offensive forwards such as Evander Kane, talented puck-moving defensemen like Mike Green and even a few goaltenders who could potentially be on the move, including Petr Mrazek and Robin Lehner. Of course, much will be made of the teams who go out and land the big-name talent and there will be plenty of speculation about the impact each acquisition can have on a Stanley Cup contender.
But the actual impact might be far less than one would expect. Here’s a rundown of several of the big trades from last season’s deadline and the effect those respective deals had on contending teams:
Minnesota Wild receive: Martin Hanzal, Ryan White, 2017 fourth-round pick
Arizona Coyotes receive: 2017 first-round pick, 2018 second-round pick, 2019 conditional fourth-round pick, Grayson Downing
When ownership openly admits they regret a trade, you know things didn’t work out for the best. Minnesota was in on and acquired the top rental prize at the 2017 deadline, and at first, it looked like the trade was going to work out for the Wild. In 20 games to end the regular season, Hanzal scored four goals and registered 13 points while skating as a second- or third-line pivot. However, when the playoffs arrived, Hanzal’s game slipped significantly. Statistically, his effectiveness was limited as he scored just one goal in five games, but, even worse, the defensive skill that he had been brought in to display proved to be mediocre at the best of times during his playoff stint with Minnesota.
Making matters worse, the Wild slipped out of top spot in the Central Division and had a date with the St. Louis Blues in the first round. St. Louis didn’t exactly take Minnesota to task, but the Blues disposed of the Wild in five games. In effect, Minnesota bought a big and were left with nothing but a fourth-round pick to show for it.
Washington Capitals receive: Kevin Shattenkirk, Pheonix Copley
St. Louis Blues receive: Zach Sanford, Brad Malone, 2017 first-round pick, 2019 conditional second-round pick
From an offensive standpoint, Shattenkirk was exactly as advertised for the Capitals. He joined the team days ahead of the deadline and proceeded to score 2 goals and 14 points in 19 games while skating more than 20 minutes per game. He continued to score at a solid rate in the playoffs, putting up one goal and six points in 13 games. The problem, however, was that while Shattenkirk could be relied upon to put up points and quarterback a power play, he wasn’t exactly shutdown defender. That led to a decrease in ice time come the post-season, as he averaged 18:27 per game, which included seven games with less than 17 minutes of ice time. Effectively, he was a fifth defensemen even though Washington had given up a top-defenseman quality package.
The Capitals reportedly paid as much as they did in order to outbid the Pittsburgh Penguins. That’s what makes it that much worse that it was Pittsburgh that posted Washington from the post-season. And, as if to rub some salt in the wound, the Blues ended up flipping the first-round pick they received in the deal to land Brayden Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers, making this trade look like an even greater steal for St. Louis.
Los Angeles Kings receive: Ben Bishop, 2017 fifth-round pick
Tampa Bay Lightning receive: Peter Budaj, Erik Cernak, 2017 seventh-round pick
This was an insurance move for the Kings with Jonathan Quick having missed much of the season with injury. It was also a move made by Los Angeles in hopes that bringing an extra goaltender aboard might help the Kings somehow get into the playoffs. As one might expect, the gambit didn’t pay off. Bishop wasn’t out-and-out bad in Los Angeles, but he wasn’t exactly good, either. He managed a mere .900 save percentage to go along with his 2.49 goals-against average across seven games for the Kings. And, despite their best efforts, Los Angeles missed the playoffs once again, and Bishop was gone by the early off-season.
Luckily, losing Budaj and a seventh-round selection wasn’t all that tough to stomach for the Kings. However, Cernak was one of Los Angeles’ 10-best prospects. On a team starved for depth in their system, giving up such a player could prove costly in years to come.
New York Rangers receive: Brendan Smith
Detroit Red Wings receive: 2017 third-round pick, 2018 second-round pick
The Rangers need to get stronger on the blueline, and when it became clear that New York had missed out on landing Shattenkirk, who has since signed with the Blueshirts, attention turned to Smith. The belief was that he could be Shattenkirk-light, which is to say he could provide some offense while also helping to move the puck up ice. During his stay in New York to end the season, Smith did just that. In 18 games, he scored one goal and four points while averaging 20-plus minutes per night. He even had a decent postseason, picking up four assists across 12 games while maintaining a similar average ice time. Really, it’s not the trade itself that looks bad, even if the Rangers had to give up two picks in the top three rounds. Rather, what makes the deal look disastrous is that Smith’s tenure was enough to convince New York to sign him to a four-year, $17.4 million contract.
How regrettable is that deal today? Well, the Rangers have since waived Smith and buried his contract in the AHL. The hope is he can rediscover his game and get back up to the big league before the end of the season, but there’s no guarantee that happens. He could even be a buyout candidate in the summer.
Calgary Flames receive: Michael Stone
Arizona Coyotes receive: 2017 3rd round pick, 2018 5th round pick
It was the first trade of major note ahead of the deadline and one that saw Calgary get stronger on the blueline. Stone found a fit on the Flames’ blueline fairly early in his tenure and settled into a role as a second-pairing defenseman across the final quarter of Calgary’s season. He even chipped in a bit, registering two goals and six points in 19 games before the campaign came to close. Stone did help the Flames earn themselves a wild-card berth into the post-season, as well. However, Calgary’s run in the playoffs was short-lived. The Flames were swept out by the Anaheim Ducks.
The good news is that the trade has had some lasting effect for Calgary. Stone signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract ahead of free agency, which resulted in the Flames sending a fifth-round selection to Arizona. It was one of the rare deals, particularly considering the signing, that worked out for both sides. The Coyotes landed picks, while the Flames landed a post-season spot and depth defenseman who remains with the club.
Florida Panthers receive: Thomas Vanek
Detroit Red Wings receive: Dylan McIlrath, 2017 third-round pick
Realistically, given his production, Vanek should have been a hotter commodity at the deadline. He had 15 goals and 38 points in 48 games with Detroit when the trade freeze came around, and even if he was playing Limited minutes to produce those points, the fact he had managed to do so at all seemed to make him a potentially savvy pick up for any team seeking a boost to their power play. Of all teams to land him, though, it was Florida who stepped up with the best offer. Vanek didn’t make much of a difference at all for the Panthers in their pursuit of a wild-card spot, unfortunately. He scored twice in 20 games and finished with 10 points while skating less than 14 minutes a night, and the Cats finished 14 points back of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Maybe the trade would have made more sense if Florida manage to keep him around through the summer, but Vanek decided to take his game north of the border and ink a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks.
San Jose Sharks receive: Jannik Hansen
Vancouver Canucks receive: Nikolay Goldobin, 2017 conditional fourth-round pick
Hansen was an interesting acquisition in that he wasn’t exactly a top scorer, but consistently a player who could provide solid two-way play and contribute here and there offensively. At the time of the trade, Hansen had missed much of the campaign due to injury, but his six goals and 13 points made him a near half point per game scorer. Given the price tag, it wasn’t too expensive a purchase for the Sharks. That said, San Jose hasn’t gotten great value out of Hansen.
Yes, he contributed down the stretch, potting two goals and seven points in 15 games, but he had just one assist in six games in the Sharks’ first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers, a series San Jose lost. And Hansen’s value has since taken an even greater dive. In 30 games this season, he has five points, all assists. That’s not great, but looks even worse considering he counts for $2 million against the cap.
Chicago Blackhawks receive: Johnny Oduya
Dallas Stars receive: Mark McNeill, 2018 conditional fourth-round pick
The only thing that prevents this from being an unmitigated disaster for Chicago is that they didn’t really have to give up all that much in order to bring Oduya to town. To say he had any impact on the Blackhawks, though, wouldn’t be at all accurate. Brought in primarily for his familiarity with the team and more specifically defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, Oduya was projected to be a potential second-pairing rearguard. That’s where he skated during the regular season, too. But in the playoffs, Oduya was more of a liability than a strength for Chicago. He averaged more than 19 minutes per night, but he couldn’t help slow down the Nashville Predators’ attack at all. He finished with zero points in four games as Chicago, who entered the post-season as the Central’s top seed, was swept by the Western Conference’s eighth-seed.
Anaheim Ducks receive: Patrick Eaves
Dallas Stars receive: 2017 conditional second-round pick
If it seems as though large portion of these trades didn’t work out for the team buying, that’s fair. But Anaheim’s acquisition of Eaves was one of those deals that absolutely made a difference. In the midst of a career year with Dallas, Eaves was moved and proceeded to catch fire. He already had 21 goals in 59 games with the Stars, but he scored more than half a goal per game once he came over to the Ducks. He finished out the regular season with 11 goals and 14 points in 20 games before contributing another two goals and four points in seven playoff games before he fell injured.
Eaves enjoyed his time in Anaheim enough that he decided to come back, signing a three-year, $9.45 million contract to remain a Duck. However, disaster struck this season when he was sidelined with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which has cost him most of his campaign. He has been skating again in recent weeks, though, which could mean his return happens at some point before Anaheim’s season comes to a close.
Keep in mind, this deal worked out for Dallas, too. By virtue of the Ducks earning a spot in the Western Conference final, the conditional second-round pick became a first-round selection. The Stars then used that pick to trade up the draft board and select goaltender Jake Oettinger, who is now considered the top netminding prospect in Dallas.
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