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NHL’s 2018 Trade Deadline: For Better Or Worse

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Although much happened, the deadline was also highlighted by what didn’t happen.

This year’s trade deadline has come and gone, and while there was a bevy of first-round picks moved, there seemed to be a small hint of disappointment. Erik Karlsson and Max Pacioretty stayed put despite rumors of their departures, but unexpected trades including Ryan Hartman and Paul Stastny bolstered some of the league’s best teams. The deadline was full of winners and losers, but these four teams by far affected their futures the most with deals they made (or didn’t make).

Ottawa Senators

It would be remiss to not talk about the Senators after what has happened in the last few weeks. The team has been a mess and everyone seemed to be on the block, including their franchise cornerstone in Karlsson. While they can still trade him in the offseason and receive a nice haul for his services, they failed to move anyone else to bolster their future prospect pool or stock up on draft picks.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

That is not to say Ottawa didn’t make any moves. They did send Derick Brassard to Pittsburgh in one of the most complicated deals in NHL history and later moved newly-acquired Ian Cole for a third rounder. However, they were forced to put players they were aiming to trade on waivers. By burying Alex Burrows and his $2.5 million salary in the minors and sending Johnny Oduya to the Flyers for nothing, Ottawa did as much harm as good.

In addition, the team failed to trade valuable, young players like Mike Hoffman or Zach Smith for future pieces. The owner reconfirmed his commitment to keeping the Senators in Ottawa, but this came after reports the team wanted Bobby Ryan, along with the $35 million left on his contract, to be included in any deal involving Karlsson, which would heavily diminish their return. Also, a friendly reminder that Ottawa will have to give up their first-round pick to Colorado this year or next, which could figure to be a top-10 selection in 2018 and possibly even worse in 2019.

The team is in limbo, and if they are not financially committed to paying for a cup contender, they should be committed to selling and starting over with young players, surplus draft picks, and a new direction. By only getting rid of two players for any sort of value at the deadline, the Sens come out as losers. 

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks, again, failed to launch into rebuilding mode. First off was an extension to Erik Gudbranson, who has logged 10 total points and a -20 plus/minus in 76 games as a Canuck. Next, they traded Thomas Vanek, who has been quietly putting together a good season with 41 points through 61 games, for a small return. Trading the veteran was the right call, as he was on an expiring deal, but for whatever reason, the Canucks did not get full value for him. Last year, the return for Vanek was a third-round pick going from Florida to Detroit, which is about standard for a rental in today’s NHL. Instead, all the Canucks could snag from the Blue Jackets was a mystery box in Tyler Motte and a player who is joining his fourth team this year in Jussi Jokinen.Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Like Ottawa, they failed to capitalize on an opportunity by not moving players that would have been attractive to other teams. Although a long shot, the Sedin twins are both on expiring contracts and could have been moved for assets. Defenseman Chris Tanev was rumored to be moved and would have provided a nice haul.

Also similar to Ottawa, they are on the hook for a big contract as well, with $24 million owed to Loui Eriksson beyond this season. It is also reasonable to think that if the Sedins do choose to return, they will command a salary above their market value, and take away more playing time from the younger players in the farm system. Whatever the case may be, Vancouver could have done more at the deadline to accelerate their rebuild.

New York Rangers

Whether the Rangers could have gotten more or less in each of their deals is up for debate. The important part was their commitment to a full-scale rebuild. After teasing some possible moves with an open letter to their fans, the New York brass finally made moves to secure the future success of the franchise. Gone from the team: Rick Nash and Nick Holden (Boston), Michael Grabner (New Jersey), and J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh (Tampa Bay).   

Outside of maybe David Desharnais, the team got value for all of their decent payers on expiring contracts. Every piece the team got back will help them in the future. In picks alone, the Rangers received two firsts, a second, and a third, as well as a future pick that will either be a second or first rounder, dependent on if Tampa Bay wins a Stanley Cup.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to the picks, the Rangers got good, young pieces, highlighted by Vladislav Namestikov, and supported by prospects Brett Howden, Libor Hajek, and Ryan Lindgren. The Rangers did what so many teams are afraid to do, and they may not be done yet. They are in a position to wheel and deal come draft day, with the expiring contract of Mats Zuccarello, players with expiring contracts that will be under team control, and a boatload of prospects and draft picks. Whatever they choose to do, the Rangers now have the assets, and the mindset, to do it.

Tampa Bay Lightning

If leading the entire league in points wasn’t enough, the Lightning went out and got a number one defenseman without, in theory, giving up any of their current roster to get him. The team dove into their deep prospect pool, ranked seventh by ESPN at the start of the season, to bolster their blue-line.

If you consider Namestikov and Miller swapped for one another, the Lightning essentially gave up two prospects and two draft picks for McDonagh. While it means the world to the Rangers, the Lightning made off like bandits. With their aforementioned strong pool, they still hold on to top guys like Cal Foote and Taylor Raddysh for the future.

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Their first round pick this year will more than likely be one of the last five in the first round, and if they win the cup this year or next, they will surrender another low first round pick to New York in 2019. If no cup, the second pick will be a second-rounder.

If the addition of Mcdonagh ends up bringing Tampa Bay to the promise land, then it looks like a genius move. If not, then the team can just hope none of their picks or prospects pan out. Either way, Tampa Bay is the ultimate deadline winner, as they gained the most in the present, even if they will lose the most in the future.

Edited by Jeremy Losak.

After Being Traded To Vancouver on Deadline Day in 2018, Jussi Jokinen Has Played For How Many Team?
Created 3/2/18
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