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With the trade deadline behind us, it’s time to figure out who comes away as the winners, and who lost out on the big day of deals.
A total of 26 trades were made on deadline day and the ones leading up to it. Normally there is a lot more action, but due to quarantine rules, budget constraints, and hesitancy with draft picks, this year was a real letdown.
It took 11 years but the Boston Bruins won the Taylor vs Tyler debate. Adding Taylor Hall isn’t necessarily the move Boston needed to make, but it’s the right one. Lazar and Bjork cancel out, meaning they only gave up a second round pick for Taylor Hall at 50 percent salary retained, which is a steal. Boston is really buying hope for an immediate bounce back and Hall should give them the secondary scoring depth that they desperately needed for one last push at a cup.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Jarmo Kekalainen managed to get two first round picks and four others for Nick Foligno and David Savard. That is an incredible haul, especially considering the return other teams saw, and don’t rule out a Nick Foligno return in the offseason. The Blue Jackets might have slipped out of a playoff spot, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of with the work of their front office in the last week.
Detroit Red Wings
Other teams should stop calling Steve Yzerman. He seems to win a trade every time he picks up the phone. Using their cap space for draft capital as the broker in the David Savard deal, adding more picks for John Merrill, and the big deal of sending out Anthony Mantha. The haul of Panik, Vrana, a first and a second round pick is so much newfound capital that Yzerman will be able to put to good use. Detroit could’ve sold more with Bernier or Glendenning, but they hit on the deals they did make. Highway robbery.
New York Islanders
The New York Devils … Is that okay to say? No? Okay. The New York Islanders got their deal done early. Getting Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac for a first, fourth, and two contract players. Seeing the market now, this ended up being a fantastic deal, and Lou Lamoriello got his former Devils players back on the Island. Logistically this deal is fantastic, it doesn’t uproot the new additions from their homes and complicate travel plans. It also fills the holes that Anders Lee leaves, both in the lineup and in the locker room.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Being able to add the way they did without giving up any prospects is a tremendous job by Kyle Dubas. Starting off with Riley Nash, the Leafs paid a minimal price for extra cap space, which left the door open to add more. The Foligno deal at first glance seems like an overpay, no one expected Columbus to get a first rounder for him. As you dive deeper into it, getting Foligno at 25 percent of his original salary is a steal and allowed them to keep adding guys like David Rittich and Ben Hutton. The Leafs, as a result, walk away from the deadline with all their top prospects still in the organization and a team with depth all over who should make a deep run.
One day the Buffalo Sabres will do something good. That hasn’t happened yet, and at this rate won’t for the foreseeable future. The no-movement clause on Hall handcuffed them, but they still weren’t able to get so much back for him. The other assets they had to give up like Linus Ullmark and Colin Miller weren’t moved. I get that it’s hard to sell when you have nothing to sell, but it’s just another day in the misfortune of managing the Buffalo Sabres.
Look around at their division, Tampa Bay and Florida bought, everyone in a position to buy, did. Except for the Canes. Their sole move of the day was Haydn Fleury for Jani Hakanpaa and a sixth. For a team with Cup aspirations, their lack of moves today set them back compared to their peers.
When you have Ovechkin on the roster, it’s always a good time to go for it. Sometimes the price to go for it is too high, but it happens anyway. This is the case with Anthony Mantha. A great pickup who will fit nicely for a while in Washington, but it’s clear the Caps got caught in a position where they needed to buy to keep pace with everyone else. Which led to them overpaying significantly in a move that is a marginal upgrade for Vrana. They also subtracted Jonas Siegenthaler who was a part of the defense. If the Caps can make a run then it will be all worth it, but for now, they seemed to get caught with their pants down.
The big move of the Jets came earlier in the season when they sent Patrik Laine off for Pierre-Luc Dubois. That is part of the reason why their lack of moves was so perplexing. Winnipeg has a legitimate shot at coming away from the North division with a very deep top nine, and Vezina caliber goaltending, the only move was adding Jordie Benn, who won’t move the needle on that disastrous blueline.