The 2019 NHL trade deadline was like studying for finals back in high school: Hours of procrastination followed by an overwhelming few moments of frantic cramming. Nearly all of the day’s biggest moves were made within the last hour of Monday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline, while some other significant trades were made in the days leading up to it.
Who won? Who lost? Here are our picks:
As card-carrying members of Team Shoot Your Shot, we applaud the Jackets for keeping Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky and adding Ottawa Senators pending free agents Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to go for it this spring. The price for Duchene ends up being steep if they re-sign him — two first-rounders join two decent prospects — and two seconds for Dzingel was a high return for Ottawa, probably because Columbus intends to sign the Ohio State product.
And then the Blue Jackets traded fourth- and seventh-round picks in 2019 for defenseman Adam McQuaid, and a 2022 fifth-rounder for goalie Keith Kinkaid. To put it in perspective, there are 14 draft rounds in 2019 and 2020, and the Jackets potentially have five picks in them, and two of those are in the seventh round. But for a franchise that’s only heard rumors of a second round in the playoffs, having never seen it in person, the all-in push was the right path for GM Jarmo Kekalainen.
Mats Zuccarello was one of the most coveted scoring wingers on the block, and Dallas (29th in the league in goals per game) landed him. Congrats. The Stars didn’t need to overpay, either. Even better. And Zuccarello looked terrific for the first period and a half as a Star on Sunday, tallying a goal and an assist against Chicago.
Then he blocked a shot, broke his arm and is out a minimum of four weeks. The deadline is all about gambles, and this one soured quickly. A team with a dearth of prospects is without its second- and third-round picks for each of the next two seasons.
The 26-year-old winger loved being an Ottawa Senator, but ultimately the money (and the team’s long-term outlook) necessitated a trade for GM Pierre Dorion. There were several suitors, but few offered Stone a better situation than the Vegas Golden Knights. He reunites with assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon, who had him in junior with the Brandon Wheat Kings.
He could slide onto the Knights’ top line with Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson. He joins a franchise that’s third in the Pacific after making the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season, and a franchise that’s the envy of many for its facilities and ownership. Not to mention the biggest lure in Vegas: the jackpot. Stone will sign an eight-year extension worth $9.5 million annually which, considering Nevada’s lack of state income tax, will net him significantly more money than anything Ottawa would have given him. A win all around for Stone.
Mark Stone reacts to being traded from Ottawa to Las Vegas, saying that he’s ready to get going with the Golden Knights despite some mixed feelings.
Ottawa was cautious in recent games in scratching players who could be on the move, and that includes Cody Ceci. Oh, some teams had surely inquired about Ceci. But nobody wanted him. The defenseman has some of the worst metrics in the league. He could probably benefit from a change of scenery, and a coach who will put him in more favorable situations. Instead, he’s stuck toiling away on the worst team in the league.
Winner: Ottawa Senators
The Senators had three high-profile players they wanted to move, and managed to unload them all — and get a decent return in each case, even in a year when teams were more inclined to hold on to high draft picks. In other words, they’re slowly making up for their November 2017 fleecing, in which they questionably agreed to give up their high first-rounder to the Colorado Avalanche in the Matt Duchene deal.
Oh, they still have to give that pick up, but at least they’ve added a few more first-rounders, second-rounders and an elite prospect in Erik Brannstrom to soften the blow.
This one might be a little controversial, and really depends on how much one admires the skills of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. The Bruins needed to add a center and a second-line wing. Coyle might end up being better as the latter than the former, and cost them Ryan Donato, who promptly scored an overtime winner for the Wild. Johansson simply doesn’t have the same pop as some of the other wingers who moved around the deadline.
The good news for Boston is that its rivals in the East didn’t really add much, outside of the Columbus shopping spree. The bad news is that the pieces the Bruins acquired don’t necessarily fit snugly.
At most, the Sharks will trade two second-rounders to the Detroit Red Wings for Gustav Nyquist (if they make the Stanley Cup Final or re-sign him), who has 49 points in 63 games and is having his most productive offensive season since 2013-14. His playoff numbers are a concern, sure, but his acquisition goes a long way to helping San Jose’s forward depth and establishing a third scoring option behind the Evander Kane and Joe Pavelski lines.
While it’s true that the Penguins needed healthy bodies on the blue line, they traded for one of the worst defensemen (by the numbers) in the NHL in Erik Gudbranson, seeking physicality over effectiveness. It’s entirely possible that they’ve managed to downgrade from Jamie Oleksiak. And Gudbranson is signed through 2021.
You thought Predators GM David Poile would be satisfied having Brian Boyle and Cody McLeod as his only February moves? Yeah, OK. The boldest GM in the league lived up to his reputation, keeping up with other Western Conference contenders like the Jets and Golden Knights by acquiring Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds.
What’s more, the Predators did it for a negligible price. They lost Kevin Fiala, a forward who had sputtered, and Ryan Hartman, a bottom-six forward for whom they overpaid last deadline (at least Poile was able to admit a mistake here). Simmonds should help on the power play and Granlund is a serious upgrade over Fiala, and under contract through next season as well.
Loser: The deadline-day forward market
What happened to all of those first-round picks who were going to move on the rental market? Just three of them moved unconditionally. As one source said, “This year was really dicey for some reason … everyone wanted to hang on to their picks.”
That was never more evident than on deadline day itself, as the presumably high-ticket rentals like Wayne Simmonds, Derick Brassard and Marcus Johansson all went for less than expected. Kudos to the Senators, Rangers and Red Wings for getting ahead of that market depression and getting value back before the clock struck Monday.
Winner: Teams that stood pat?
Could the best move be doing nothing at all?
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in hockey. The New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames are all on the upswing this season. What do the latter three have in common? They all have a new coach who instilled a new system and forged chemistry among players. All three teams had been cited as being players in the market (especially for top-six forwards), but each decided not to pay a high price and instead ride it out with its existing group.
Every Stanley Cup winner since 2010 has made a move during the week preceding the trade deadline, so we’ll see if any of these teams can buck the trend. With due respect to Michael Del Zotto, the St. Louis Blues should also be categorized in this group.
Loser: The goalie market
The goalie possibilities at this year’s deadline felt endless. After all, two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky has been on the block all season. There had been murmurs about Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Quick, Semyon Varlamov, Brian Elliott, Jake Allen and Keith Kinkaid moving as well.
In the end, the only one from that group who ended up moving was Kinkaid, to Columbus — and the return was laughable. A fifth-round pick … in 2022. Everyone else is stuck with what they have.
Winnipeg knew its biggest deficiency was at second-line center (again). Paul Stastny plugged in so seamlessly last spring, the Jets tried to sign him in free agency (he chose Vegas instead).
This year, Winnipeg homed in on the Rangers’ Kevin Hayes. Winnipeg gave up only Brendan Lemieux (who was a bottom-six redundancy) and its first-round pick (which should be low) to acquire Hayes. The Jets will also lose a fourth-rounder in 2022 should they win the Stanley Cup, which they’ll gladly surrender.
Importantly, the Jets didn’t need to part with more prized youngsters, like Jack Roslovic, which might have been a necessity to get Mark Stone. In other words, Hayes was a cheaper but serviceable option. History tends to favor modesty over splash. Winnipeg also added depth pieces — notably defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, for a cheap price — to set the pace in the West.
Loser: Ridiculous conditions and long-range picks
The “conditional pick” is an NHL trade deadline tradition, but some of these conditions were … a little far-fetched or a little far-flung.
Such as the Mats Zuccarello trade, in which the Rangers get a first if Dallas wins two playoff rounds, which the Stars haven’t done in a decade; and a 2020 third-round pick that becomes a first if the Stars re-sign Zuccarello, which they won’t. Meanwhile, the Rangers get a fourth-round pick for Kevin Hayes if the Jets win the Stanley Cup … a fourth-round pick in 2022, that is.
That was actually the second 2022 draft pick traded on deadline day, as the Devils landed one for Keith Kinkaid. Will there even be an NHL in 2022? Who’s to say?!