If you’re a fan of the Vegas Golden Knights, Winnipeg Jets or Columbus Blue Jackets, you’re a pretty happy person today. Because in each case your team basically said to you, “Look, we’re in it to win it this season and we proved that by what we did at the trade deadline.”
Whether or not that actually comes to fruition remains to be seen, but we know that it at the very least, two of those three teams will not win the Stanley Cup this season. Such are the perils of making a big splash at the trade deadline. But for purposes of instant analysis, who won and who lost? Well, we’ve grouped teams into three categories – winners, losers and neither. And we’ve listed the status for each team. For details and in-depth analysis on each of the trades made today, consult our trade tracker.
Anaheim Ducks – Loser: Prior to last season, the Ducks had Brandon Montour, Shea Theodore and Sami Vatanen on their defense corps and now they have none of them. They dealt Montour for a decent prospect in Brendon Guhle and a first-round pick, largely for budget reasons.
Arizona Coyotes – Neither: It’s pretty clear the Coyotes blundered with the Dylan Strome-to-Chicago deal, so perhaps they were a little reticent, dealing Jordan Weal to Montreal for Michael Chaput, who has six goals in 167 games.
Boston Bruins – Neither: There was talk of the Bruins being in on big-name talents such as Artemi Panarin or Mark Stone and those didn’t materialize, but they did land Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. The Bruins are a good team that is trending upward and they likely didn’t want to mess with what they had.
Buffalo Sabres - Winner: The Sabres went into this trade deadline with three first-round picks, which allowed them to use one of them to get defenseman Brandon Montour from the Anaheim Ducks. Montour has a year left on his deal before he becomes a restricted free agent, which means the Sabres hold onto his rights for at least two more seasons after this one. That helps them both in the present and the future.
Calgary Flames – Loser: The Flames had a bid for Mark Stone fall through and instead only added depth on defense in the form of Oscar Fantenberg. Will it be enough to get them through the Pacific Division? Well, hockey changes a lot during the playoffs and there are questions that linger about whether the Flames have what it takes to prosper in the post-season.
Carolina Hurricanes – Neither: The Hurricanes were relatively quiet, opting to hang onto Michael Ferland for the stretch run and (maybe) the playoffs rather than deal him for futures. They had already done much of their heavy lifting in the Nino Niederreiter deal a month ago.
Chicago Blackhawks – Neither: The Blackhawks were quiet, knowing that they’re probably overachieving a little this season just by being in the fringes of the playoff race. The Strome trade has worked out more spectacularly than they could have imagined and there wasn’t much left there to deal away.
Colorado Avalanche – Neither: They picked up a second-line center in Derrick Brassard which will bolster their top six. It was a buy-low transaction for a player who has seen his worth plummet in the past year.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Winner: Actually, we’ll know their status a lot better once all the dust settles in the playoffs end. GM Jarmo Kekalainen went all in on his team for this season, acquiring expiring contracts instead of shedding them. It was a bold move for a fan base that is desperate for some taste of playoff success, and probably a necessary one.
Dallas Stars – Winner: You cannot base their status on the fact that Mats Zuccarello broke his arm in his first game with his new team and is now out a month. That’s just terrible luck.
Detroit Red Wings – Loser: If there had been a better deal out there for Gustav Nyquist, GM Ken Holland would have gotten it. But the return was still rather underwhelming for a player who was having a very good season.
Edmonton Oilers – Neither: After the season of tumult the Oilers had, the best thing interim GM Keith Gretzky could likely do was stand pat. The Oilers probably would have preferred to shed some salary, but there wasn’t a lot they could do. Their major surgery is going to have to come in the off-season.
Florida Panthers – Neither: The Panthers didn’t do much, which pretty much cements their status as one of the most meh teams in the NHL today. Not very good, not very bad, just kind of there. And that basically held true for the trade deadline.
Los Angeles Kings – Neither: Currently mired in roster hell, the Kings had no realistic expectation they could either upgrade their organization or get rid of some of their onerous contracts.
Minnesota Wild – Neither: Getting Kevin Fiala, a player with whom GM Paul Fenton is familiar with from his Nashville days, will be a terrific move for the future. So is acquiring Ryan Donato, who never seemed to have a chance in Boston. But by trading Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund (and Niederreiter last month), the Wild look as though they’ve essentially tossed in the towel on this season.
Montreal Canadiens – Neither: You might be tempted to put the Canadiens in the winner category because they didn’t sacrifice any of their picks or prospects to bolster their lineup this season. Jordan Weal will help them on the fourth line.
Nashville Predators – Winner: There were few GMs who went into this trade deadline under more pressure to improve his roster than David Poile and he did so by landing Granlund and Wayne Simmonds. The Predators have underachieved much of this season and needed to shake themselves out of the doldrums. To get Simmonds without giving up a first-round pick was a coup that should pay dividends in the playoffs.
New Jersey Devils – Neither: GM Ray Shero knows where his team is in its evolution and knows last year was an aberration. So he got rid of three expendable players in Keith Kincaid, Marcus Johansson and Brian Boyle for four draft picks, two of them second-rounders.
New York Islanders – Neither: But they could very well turn out to be a winner in that they didn’t sacrifice any of their future for short-term gain. The Islanders are in this for the long haul and know that anything they achieve this season is a bonus.
New York Rangers – Winner: It’s hard for a seller to be a winner at the trade deadline, but the Rangers managed to do that, parlaying their assets on expiring contracts into some decent futures. It’s now up to their scouting staff, who traditionally goes into the draft with a dearth of picks, to ensure they make the most of the picks they have.
Ottawa Senators – Neither: Yes, they got an outstanding prospect in defenseman Erik Brannstrom from Vegas, but they countered that by not getting a first-round pick for Mark Stone and only middling prospects for Matt Duchene. They did what they had to do, but their fans are still left wanting.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Loser: GM Jim Rutherford had best get his fingers out of that sill because that window is going to slam down on them very soon. The deal to get Erik Gudbranson gives them a little more sandpaper on the back end, but doesn’t do much for the quality of their blueline corps. And the Penguins, while still possessing some awesome talent up front, face a bleak long-term future.
Philadelphia Flyers – Loser: Weren’t we talking not long ago about Simmonds being worth a first-round pick? The return for him was underwhelming, largely because the Flyers waited too long to deal him. He didn’t help their cause by having a mediocre season.
St. Louis Blues – Neither: There probably aren’t too many Blues fans who are going to have an issue with the fact that the Blues had a pretty quiet deadline. They don’t have a ton of cap room and no first-round pick in 2019, not to mention that they’re one of the league’s hottest teams of late.
San Jose Sharks – Winner: Speaking of hot teams, there might not be a less desirable playoff opponent than the Sharks at the moment. And they managed to bolster their forward corps by landing Nyquist, who will fit in there just fine because just about everyone fits in just fine in San Jose.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Neither: When you’re 13 points ahead of the next best team in the league and on pace to challenge for the NHL record in points, there is no reason to make a move for the sake of making a move.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Loser: The Leafs made their significant acquisition when they picked up defenseman Jake Muzzin a month ago, but they did nothing to address their deficiencies on the right side of their blueline or add some size and/or snarl to their forward corps.
Vancouver Canucks – Neither: It’s a little difficult to figure out why they gave up so quickly on Jonathan Dahlen, but GM Jim Benning did manage to ship out Gudbranson, for which many Canuck fans might be willing to throw a parade.
Vegas Golden Knights – Winner: Or, as they say, winner-winner-chicken-dinner. When you get the crown jewel of the trade deadline, then sign him to an eight-year contract extension, you can’t be classified as anything but a winner. The Golden Knights have yet to prove it, but they’re actually a better team now than they were at this time last year, and a large reason for that is the acquisition of Stone.
Washington Capitals – Neither: By acquiring Michal Kempny last season, the Capitals are living proof you don’t have to make a huge splash at the trade deadline. Nick Jensen might be Michal Kempny 2.0, even though they did give up a pretty good prospect in Madison Bowey.
Winnipeg Jets – Winner: Acquiring Kevin Hayes basically duplicated their move at the trade deadline last year when they traded for Paul Stastny. Hayes is a big, fast and reasonably productive center that moves Bryan Little into the third-line center spot. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff also made a couple of minor moves to give his team some depth on the blueline.