A (not so) Thorough Recap of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

February 26, 2020

The trade deadline: A favourite for many due to the absolute mayhem and speculation that precedes these transactions followed by the intrigue and endless discussion over the overall winners. This season is no different, for the most part. They may not have the star power available that were rumoured in 2019 with Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, or even 2018 when reports were made of a possible Erik Karlsson trade. 

 

Basically — Ottawa made the trade deadline exciting with numerous elite talents and...now they’re all gone. 

 

But regardless, there’s plenty effective players that are universally coveted and that alone makes for an exciting portion of the season. Teams prepare themselves to make all types of trades big or small to bolster a part of their organization. Whether it’s picks and prospects to expedite the rebuilding process or players to maximize a cup window, there are plenty of teams interested in making moves at this time of year.

 

One of those teams would be Los Angeles.

 

It began with a small albeit still relatively impactful trade between the Kings and Leafs. The Leafs acquired a much needed backup goaltender and got some grit with a very effective bottom-6 forward. The Kings, in return, received picks and a young forward. That’s the trend of events for the Kings. Following that transaction, the Kings traded veterans Tyler Toffoli and Alex Martinez. Both packages netted the Kings with an accumulated three second round selections alongside a quality prospect in Tyler Madden.

 

Following the Kings-Leafs transaction was the Zucker trade. Jason Zucker has been long involved in speculation dating back to the offseason. The rebuilding Minnesota Wild team received Calen Addison who like Madden is a quality prospect with legitimate upside. The Wild also received Pittsburgh’s 2020 first which could pay dividends with the sheer strength of the draft class. 

 

New Jersey likely wanted to jump into the fun and did so on February 16th with two big and unexpected trades. First was the trade that sent team captain Andy Greene to the Islanders in exchange for a second in what was thought to be an overpayment. The real blockbuster however was the Coleman trade. Blake Coleman was sent to Tampa for Vancouver’s protected 2020 first round pick and Tampa’s 2019 first round selection Nolan Foote. I had my own thoughts on this trade but the overall sentiment followed what many thought. Fantastic haul for the Devils.

 

That was the trade that likely started the avalanche.

 

The very next day, the Canucks and Kings finalized the aforementioned Toffoli trade. 

 

Toffoli who won the Stanley Cup with LA in 2014 is on the final year of his contract. Due to LA’s positioning in the standings, Toffoli’s expiring contract, and their intentions to rebuild, the Kings were willing to part ways with him for a return of future assets, despite his desire to remain with the Kings

 

Going the other way is prospect Tyler Madden, a 2020 second round pick, and depth forward Tim Schaller. The centrepiece of this package for the Kings is likely Tyler Madden. Madden was drafted 68th overall in the 2018 draft and has progressed significantly since arriving at Northeastern. Currently, he leads the Huskies in points and is coming off his second consecutive Beanpot victory with the team. His upside is certainly debatable, especially with his wiry frame, but he’s certainly got a high ceiling. Realistically, he becomes an offensively oriented middle-six forward. He’s got great hands and a skillset that thrives in the middle. Great celly’s too!

 

The Canucks’ acquisition of Tyler Toffoli from the Los Angeles Kings is representative of a desire to win by Canucks management. The trade is likely just a rental as the Canucks currently lack any cap to re-sign him — even if they might have the appetite to. His success has been fairly well documented. After scoring two goals on Saturday, he has now reached the twenty goal plateau four times in his career. The fit may be strange for the teams perceived window of contention but he’s certainly a quality player.

 

Speaking of strange, the Vancouver Canucks are symbolic of what fans find interesting in the trade deadline: pure chaos.

 

This isn’t their first rodeo either. Last year, Vancouver’s interest in making a move peaked near the 2019 draft when they were interested in numerous players. Some members of that list included defenders such as Shayne Gostisbehere and Tyson Barrie. They eventually settled with JT Miller whom they spent a 2020 protected first round draft pick along with a 2019 third to acquire. 

 

Following Vancouver’s surprising acquisition of Tyler Toffoli, one that was completely unexpected, the team has been found in various reports, most of which making no sense at all. I mean Trocheck? Seriously?

 

The most puzzling aspect of all this is that Benning himself admitted that it was unlikely they would make moves earlier this season. The sudden change in philosophy could be attributed to a few factors but the one that TSN insider Bob McKenzie alluded to is the infamous impatience of Canucks ownership. After all, these rumours seem almost panic driven. That’s something to ponder.

 

Anyways, following the Toffoli move were a few smaller scale transactions which consisted mostly of depth defenders. 

 

The addition of Demelo to the Jets was sneakily good value relative to the price of a third round pick. Analytically, Demelo has been fantastic this season so I am interested in seeing how that translates and how he performs with more minutes.

 

Dillion appears to be a fantastic fit on Washington as his physical style coupled with his defensive capabilities will bode well for the Capitals. 

 

The Scandella trade was indicative of brilliant asset management by the Canadiens as the original price to acquire him was a paltry fourth rounder. They got a second in return. 

 

The Keane and Gauthier swap was an interesting one. I quite easily lean towards the Rangers winning, especially when accounting for age, but Keane is certainly a high upside asset. Will he ever exceed the value of Gauthier? That remains to be seen.

 

Then, on February 21st, the Bruins made a splash by acquiring Ondrej Kase while offloading most of Backes contract. Kase is an interesting case, mostly due to his inability to remain healthy for prolonged periods over the past few seasons but when healthy, he’s extremely effective. Only 24 too. The Bruins also shed 75% of the David Backes contract which will aid them in their efforts to re-sign key players like Krug. The Ducks also get a 2020 first round pick in return which, as stated, is a very nice commodity to have.

 

Following the Kase trade were a few minor though worthwhile additions. Eakin who carries a large cap hit and is struggling this season was acquired by Winnipeg for a fourth due to a dire need of centres. Meanwhile, Ilya Kovalchuk is united with his Russian brethren as the Caps cannot stop acquiring talented Russians. Montreal’s commendable asset management has already been commended but this is another instance of it. Kovalchuk was signed as a free agent mid-season and the Habs were able to garner a third round pick out of it.

 

Also: Mike Green to the Oilers who will certainly appreciate another offensive contributor from the backend. 

 

That leads us to the deadline day itself.

 

Beginning the day was a major move that sent Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders. In exchange, the Senators who regularly collect picks as if it were a hobby, received a protected 2020 first, a 2020 second, and a 2020 third that is conditional on a Stanley Cup victory this season. Pageau later signed a six year extension with an average annual value of 5 million per season. Certainly a hefty sum but that’s the price the Islanders felt they had to pay.

 

But seriously, look at these picks:

Nearly half an hour later, Florida sent centre Vincent Trocheck to Carolina in exchange for Haula, Wallmark, and two prospects. The Trocheck deal may have appeared surprising to some, especially with a 75 point season in 2017-18, but a devastating ankle injury last season may have resulted in some unfortunate regression. Currently, Trocheck is on pace for a mere 53 points. This trade provides the team with a some more much needed depth. The Panthers are also operating with the understanding that they need to slash their cap hit by 10 million for next season, which certainly could have been another reason for the trade.

 

A few depth trades soon followed with the biggest ones likely being the Patrick Marleau trade to Pittsburgh for a conditional third and the Wayne Simmonds trade to Buffalo for a fifth.

 

At approximately 9:30am PST, the Bruins and Ducks swapped Danton Heinen and Nick Ritchie. Both are young, third line forwards who play different styles. I suppose that the objective of this trade was to get both players back on track while each team gets a player that fits their style of play better. Time will tell with transactions like this one.

 

At 10:20am PST, the Edmonton Oilers received Andreas Anthanasiou and prospect Ryan Kuffner. The Detroit Red Wings who are currently on pace for a historically bad season, are also giving the Senators serious competition in draft picks capital accumulation and acquired two second round picks with veteran Sam Gagner. 

 

The Oilers followed this by acquiring Tyler Ennis from Ottawa who got a fifth round pick in return. What an intense competition!

 

The next fairly major move sent New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen to Carolina for a few assets. Those assets being Kuokkanen, Claesson, and a conditional fourth. Vatanen was an interesting one as I was unsure who the possible suitors would be. He’s an offensive defencemen who is most effective when sheltered in an offensive role. Carolina might not be the greatest fit for that but he was a relatively cheap addition so it’s worth the risk.

 

Now for the deadline...

 

The Knights, Blackhawks, and Leafs combined to make a three-way deal. The Knights acquired Robin Lehner, Blackhawks got a bundle of assets including a second round pick, and the Leafs received a fifth for retaining some cap.

 

Two lopsided trades followed. The first trade sent Brady Skjei to Carolina for a first round pick. I can say with moderate confidence that this is a huge overpayment for the Hurricanes and I can conclude with full confidence that this is, as of now, the worst trade of the deadline. Skjei’s regressed heavily since signing his extension and his contract coupled with recent performance led me to believe that his value would be negative. A first in return is a heist. Who really knows though. If Carolina is able to get Skjei back to where he once was, then this trade could pay dividends for them as a nice win-win trade. As of now however? Not good.

 

The second one involved Tampa sending another first with the recipient being San Jose. Tampa got Barclay Goodrow and a third in return. Cheap, solid depth is always valued and that was likely what Tampa sought from this. Definite overpayment in the opinion of many but certainly not as lopsided as the formerly mentioned trade.

 

The remaining trades trickled in and some weren’t even official until three hours after the deadline. The biggest of the rest would likely be the Sprong-Djoos swap between the Ducks and Capitals. Otherwise, that’s it. That’s it for the trade deadline.

 

Here's who I have as the winner and loser of this years deadline:

 

Winners: Edmonton Oilers

I really like what the Oilers were able to accomplish this deadline. They were able to add two fast wingers with skill which was a deficient of the team and added an offensive blueliner alongside them. Neither of the trades were overpayments either and I thought that the Ennis and Green trades were terrific value moves for the team. Overall, they were able to improve their team without sacrificing many meaningful assets and are better prepared to make a run and separate themselves from a packed Pacific division. That's some really nice work, Edmonton. Really nice.

 

Losers: Toronto Maple Leafs

I would like to preface this by stating that there weren't any universally accepted losers of the deadline. No team stands out for their incompetence. Sure, I strongly disliked the Skjei trade but the Vatanen one was quite good. Carolina did as they sought out to do and bolstered their defence which was weakened by injuries. Tampa Bay made two huge trades and both were perceived to be overpayments but they accomplished their goal of bettering contention opportunity this postseason. Montreal held onto assets that likely could have gotten them numerous picks in return but it's hard to harp on a team that has created value out of nothing like they did with the Scandella and Kovalchuk trades.

 

Toronto, unlike those teams, didn't really do anything. They were coming off an embarrassing loss in Carolina where their own zamboni driver, David Ayres, stole the show and led the Hurricanes to victory. The main focus of the Leafs management group should have been to acquire a top-4 defender who excels at defending. Whether that was through trading prospects and picks or moving Tyson Barrie who hasn't been a fit, it was a priority for the team that has allowed the fifth most goals against per game in the league. That didn't happen though as the team limited themselves to depth moves.

Now to direct attention to line up construction along with the development of chemistry. The next big part of the season is playoff time so the race is what we will await as teams try to put it together and make an extended push. 

 

And until then, let’s watch some hockey!

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