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The Best, and Worst, Early Returns from the NHL Trade Deadline

It’s impossible to know who the true winners and losers of the trade deadline are until the Stanley Cup is raised, but it's not too early to see the best and worst performers heading into the stretch run.
Claude Giroux

It’s impossible to know who the true winners and losers of the trade deadline are until the Stanley Cup is raised, and draft picks begin to pan out, but the immediate impact of acquisitions is becoming clear. Looking at the individual players, here is a plus-minus-even look at the early returns and impact key players from the 2022 NHL trade deadline are having.

Plus

Marc Andre Fleury, G (Minnesota)
The Minnesota Wild got the goalie they were looking for, and a better goalie than they were looking at. Fleury managed to improve upon his already impressive stats from a losing Chicago team to improve in both his GAA and save percentage with Minnesota.

Rickard Rakell, F (Pittsburgh)
So far, Rakell has been a smashing success in Pittsburgh scoring 10 points in 12 games. He looks ready to hit 20 goals for the first time since 2017-2018 when he scored back-to-back 30+ goal seasons. Even moderate production in the playoffs to support the Penguins stars would make this a valuable rental.

Brett Kulak, D (Edmonton)
Kulak has yet to play 20-minutes in a game for Edmonton, but he has provided decent middle pairing consistency for the Oilers. More importantly, Kulak has been a positive player when it comes to +/- and has even contributed a handful of points. He probably wasn’t the impact defender Edmonton needs, but he has been reliable, and that’s enough for a team that already has many high-risk players.

Andrew Copp, F (NY Rangers)
No one would have expected Copp, known for his two-way game to come in and score more than a point per game for the New York Rangers, but that’s what has happened so far. The true mark of this trade will come in the post-season. Copp has yet to deliver in the playoffs during his career with the Winnipeg Jets, but it’s hard to fathom his play to deteriorate when it’s on an upward swing.

Nick Leddy, D (St. Louis)
In Detroit this season, Leddy was awful. Then again, the Wings had to rely upon the offensively minded blueliner to play defense against top lines. In St. Louis, he’s piled up points collecting 7 in 12 games, and has gone from the league's worst +/- player, to simply a plus.

Jake Walman, D (Detroit)
The return for Leddy has also been a win for Detroit. With the Red Wings, Walman has seen his TOI jump by roughly 7-minutes per game. Right now, he’s playing for a contract extension with the Red Wings, and as a short-term solution, who could play his way into a regular bottom-six role, or as a trade chip at next year’s deadline, Walman is exceeding expectations.

Mark Giordano, D (Toronto)
When you see what other teams paid for rentals, Giordano looks like an absolute steal. Playing consistent minutes, picking up points, and most importantly, shepherding Timothy Liljegren and others on the Maple Leafs as the veteran professional he is. Giordano’s rental value has already been paid for, and whether Toronto hoists a Cup or not, this trade was worth its value.

Nick Paul, F (Tampa Bay)
A beloved veteran in Ottawa, Paul quickly endeared himself to Tampa Bay Lightning fans by immediately contributing offensively with 7 points in his first 12 games. He’s a character player, and although some questioned the cost to Tampa, the early returns look favorable, and Paul could turn into a key piece to a three-peat.

Claude Giroux, F (Florida)
It’s been a while since Claude Giroux scored at a point-per-game pace, but perhaps it’s also been a while since his team believed he was a point-per-game player. He has that in Florida and makes the Panthers look even more lethal upfront. The price Florida paid in Owen Tippett and a first-round pick will only be evaluated in the coming seasons when those prospects show their value, and Florida’s playoff success is known.

Ben Chiarot, D (Florida)
Producing at a slightly higher rate than he was in Montreal, which can be expected given Florida’s offense, Chiarot has fit in well. Questions were raised when part of his return, Ty Smilianic entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, but the real asset acquired in return for Chiarot was the first-round pick the Canadiens acquired. If Florida wins the Cup, no one will ever question the future they sacrificed for Giroux and Chiarot.

Frank Vatrano, F (NY Rangers)
With the players Florida acquired, Vatrano had to go. The New York Rangers, his newest team, could face Florida in the post-season and Vatrano has looked good. He has 6 goals and 10 points in 15 games after scoring only 19 points in 49 with Florida.

Minus

Brandon Hagel, F (Tampa Bay)
When it costs a team two first-round picks and a talented rookie (Taylor Raddysh) to acquire a player, in this case Hagel, you want results. Three goals in 13 games isn’t a sparkling early return, especially coupled with no assists and the fact he’s regularly playing around 13-minutes a night. Hagel provides cost security, but early returns are concerning.

Max Domi, F (Carolina)
No one questions Max Domi’s skill, but the enigmatic forward can’t seem to find a fit, and it doesn’t look like Carolina is that answer. He had 4 assists through 11 games with the Hurricanes, remaining on pace for his lowest offensive output in a complete season.

Derick Brassard, F (Edmonton)
Some will certainly question if Brassard was the best Ken Holland could do to bolster his forward depth. If nothing else, he provides significant playoff experience and a veteran presence to Edmonton. This trade won’t win fans for Holland. He has 2 goals through 10 games and no assists.

Tyler Motte, F (NY Rangers)
After not scoring a point in 9 contests with New York, Motte’s season looks to be over following a significant injury. In the trade world, this was a bust for New York, but at least it came at a low cost. Still, to get 9 scoreless games out of a pending unrestricted free agent and lose him for nothing is disappointing.

Andrew Hammond, G (New Jersey)
Everyone loves Andrew Hammond, except for New Jersey Devils fans who cringed through his two appearances this season thus far. Brought in to provide goaltending depth, he couldn't have started much worse with a 7.57 goals against average and .783 save percentage in a game and a half. Then again, he’s surprised people before.

Even

Oskar Sundqvist, F (Detroit)
The Red Wings lauded Sundqvist’s early play, but in truth, he’s not producing at a rate exceeding his time in St. Louis. Could he earn an opportunity to stay in Detroit’s bottom six on a short term contract? Perhaps. Is it worth re-signing him burning a spot that could be used for a prospect, likely not.

Josh Brown, D (Boston)
Big, stable depth. That is all. It’s a typical playoff addition for a contending team, and Boston lost little in return.

Owen Tippett, F (Philadelphia)
Adding a struggling prospect to a struggling team can sometimes work, but so far, Tippett has not seen a substantive change in his output. As the key piece, along with a first-round pick in exchange for Claude Giroux, expectations will be high for Tippett. Beginning next season as a core piece of a rebuild, Tippett will need to produce. Philadelphia could strike rich with the added first, and getting building pieces for Giroux who was scheduled to walk as a UFA is great, but for now, this one remains as a status quo trade for the Flyers until the assets pay dividends in the future.

Josh Manson, D (Colorado)
He is what Colorado wanted. A physical veteran presence. One concern is that he’s been on the ice for more goals against than he should be considering how hot the Avalanche are right now. A risk worth taking for the Avalanche, who after trading so many prospects and picks are in win-now mode.

Kaapo Kähkönen, G (San Jose)
Many feared this trade would haunt the Minnesota Wild long term. Early on in San Jose, Kähkönen has struggled. This trade will only truly be judged next season and beyond that.

Vlad Namestnikov, F (Dallas)
Adding Vlad was a low-risk, low-reward situation for Dallas. He’s depth scoring, and could move up their roster if needed. Luckily for the Stars, it has not been needed. With only 3 points in 11 games, it’s hard to call Namestnikov an impact acquisition.

Calle Jarnkrok, F (Calgary)
While he was acquired for his versatility, 2 assists through 8 games likely aren’t enough for the Flames who gave up a second and third round pick for the rental. However, if he effectively kills penalties and plays a checking game throughout the playoffs helping Calgary advance deep, or emerge from the Western Conference, the trade is a win for both Calgary and the Seattle Kraken. For now, this trade remains even. Calgary doesn’t need Jarnkrok to score, but it wouldn’t hurt.

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