by Josh Brewster, Buffalo Sports Page NHL Expert
The deadline in the salary cap age doesn’t quite live up to the hype, but still interesting. Here are the major deals:
New York Rangers trade D Ryan McDonagh and RW J.T. Miller to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a first-round pick (2018), conditional second-round pick (2019), C/LW Vladislav Namestnikov and prospects D Libor Hajek C Brett Howden (WHL)
Biggest trade at the deadline. We thought it might be Erik Karlsson, but that price was probably a bridge too far for crafty Tampa GM Steve Yzerman. In McDonagh, he acquires a top-notch defenseman who was also the Rangers’ captain plus gritty J.T. Miller who can score. On the verge of Cup contention, the Lightning are probably happy to give up a first-rounder. As for Namestnikov, he’s at the end of his deal and while a productive player, this one was a deal Yzerman couldn’t afford to pass up. The Rangers are tearing it down to a degree unexpected, but they’ll have their cupboard full in picks. Howden is a former first-rounder as well.
Rangers send F Michael Grabner to the Devils for a 2018 2nd round pick and defensive prospect Yegor Rykov.
Edmonton Oilers send LW Pat Maroon to the Devils for a third-round draft pick in 2019 and prospect J.D. Dudek.
The Devils may not be quite ready to win a Stanley Cup but Ray Shero pulled off two tidy rental deals for a big guy who can score and a smaller, faster guy who can score. Maroon played with Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and Sami Vatanen in the past so there’s familiarity. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see either Grabner or Maroon sign with the Devils at season’s end. Grabner has scored 20 goals three times, 30 goals once. This is the first time that the Rangers and Devils have struck a trade.
Buffalo trades LW Evander Kane to the San Jose Sharks for C/RW Dan O’Regan, a conditional first round 2019 draft pick and a conditional fourth round pick in 2020.
Stunningly low price for Kane. I refer you to our BSP podcast where Kevin and Paul break the whole thing down. It’s amazing that after all the talk of Kane, which began about two games into the season when the Sabres began their descent, that the picks Buffalo gets are conditional, and unless Kane signs with the Sharks and/or wins the Cup, the Sabres won’t get a first-rounder. Unbelievable. Sabres fans take heart: Prospect Dan O’Regan can get around the ice quickly and has skills. He may be a gem, but not likely to be the scorer that Kane has become. Small consolation.
Detroit Red Wings send Tomas Tatar to the Vegas Golden Knights for a first-round pick (2018), a second round pick (2019) and third rounder (2020):
In uncharted waters, the Golden Knights boldly deal some valuable picks away but what a nice return. Tatar has scored 20+ goals in four straight seasons and will likely do so again (16). A team that can score gets a nice upgrade as it goes where no expansion club has gone before.
New York Islanders send RW Jason Chimera to the Anaheim Ducks for RW Chris Wagner
A surprise that this was the only move for Ducks GM Bob Murray, but in a way it makes sense. The club was banged up to a miserable degree prior to Christmas, but is 15-8-4 since. The Ducks went all the way to Game 6 of the West Final ten months ago, and Murray is putting the onus on the current roster. Why not? He’s already dealt enough prospects away in hopes of winning a Cup. Chimera is a big body who moves quickly and will slot nicely on the club’s third or fourth line next to Adam Henrique or Antoine Vermette. Wagner is a tenacious depth guy who will help the Islanders. Nice price for both clubs.
Vancouver Canucks trade RW Thomas Vanek to the Columbus Blue Jackets for LW Jussi Jokinen and C/LW prospect Tyler Motte
Desperate for scoring (28th overall), the Blue Jackets pick up a sure bet in Vanek. He’s a rental and will likely not buy a house in Columbus, but he can be counted on to finish. Jokinen makes a lot of money ($4M) for generating little and is at the end of the line. Motte makes it interesting. He’s struggled to stick in the NHL but at 22 is worth a look in Vancouver.
Ottawa Senators trade D Ian Cole to the Columbus Blue Jackets for prospect LW Nick Moutrey (AHL) and a third-round pick (2020)
Cole is a rental who shores up the Jackets blueline (interesting that Jack Johnson was not traded after all) and is a great pickup for Columbus after winning two Cups with the Penguins.
Three-Way Deal: Edmonton Oilers acquire LW Pontus Aberg from the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets acquire Mark Letestu, and Predators receive Columbus’ 2018 fourth round pick
No one pays attention to Letestu until he starts winning big faceoffs in the playoffs. Letestu scored five goals in 13 games during a memorable two-round run with the Oilers last spring. Astute pickup for the Jackets.
New York Rangers send RW Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins for a first-round pick (2018), C Ryan Spooner, LW Matt Beleskey, prospect Ryan Lindgren and a seventh-round pick (2019)
The Bruins did not expect to be as good as they are, but they are a well-coached team that gets the puck out of the defensive zone very quickly. There will be some delayed gratification since Patrice Bergeron will be out for a couple of weeks (foot injury) but Dave Krejci and the other Nash—Riley—can dish the puck until Bergeron’s return. The Bruins are fast but Nash is a big body with a great shot, puck possession ability and with a lot to prove after the 2014 Cup Final loss to the Kings.
Chicago Blackhawks send C/RW Tommy Wingels to the Boston Bruins for a conditional fifth-round pick (2019)
Wingels showed some flashes in a second- and third-line role from 2013-15 but never got the same opportunity in Ottawa and Chicago. He’ll fit in quite well with a fast Bruins club in a depth role, usually good for two shots per game.
Chicago sends F Ryan Hartman and a 2018 fifth round pick to the Nashville Predators for a first-round pick (2018), Swedish League prospect LW Victor Ejdsell and a 2018 fourth round pick (2018)
Trade within the division and Nashville pays the price for Hartman, who was emerging in Chicago alongside very talented players. He’s at the end of his entry-level deal and is a rental, but provides further evidence that the Preds are serious. Nice haul for the Blackhawks, big picks and prospects; plus, don’t be surprised if Hartman goes back to Chicago after his rental expires.
St. Louis trades C Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets for a first-round pick (2018), fourth-round pick (2020) and prospect college player LW Erik Foley
The Jets have an explosive offense and finally got some goaltending this season. You can’t have enough centers, and Stastny may end up dishing the puck to Patrik Laine. Stastny has some jam, and his new club could finish atop the Central.
Montreal Canadiens trade LW Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun to the Toronto Maple Leafs for prospects D Rinat Valiev, LW Kerby Rychel and a second-round pick (2018)
Plekanac’s productivity had waned over the past three seasons and now he’ll slot as third- or fourth-line center on a very talented young club. He’ll dish the puck to the likes of Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo and Connor Brown. Nice add for the Leafs.
Senators send D Dion Phaneuf and C Nate Thompson to the LA Kings for LW Marian Gaborik and F Nick Shore
Phaneuf’s impact was immediate, scoring three goals in his first seven games with LA and alongside Drew Doughty makes the Kings scary indeed as they welcome back sniper Jeff Carter. Thompson can win some draws in a 4th-line role. Gaborik is a salary dump who must prove he’s still got upside.
In another move, the Kings shored up their depth speed by acquiring RW Tobias Rieder and G prospect Scott Wedgewood from the Coyotes for G Darcy Kuemper.
Three-Way Deal: Penguins acquire C Derick Brassard, minor pro tough guy Vincent Dunn and a third round 2018 pick; Senators acquire G prospect Filip Gustavsson, a 2018 first round pick and 2019 third round pick; Vegas acquires F Ryan Reaves and a 2018 fourth round pick
Jim Rutherford chose wisely in the absence of Nick Bonino and Chris Kunitz, getting a bona fide third-line center who can play left wing as well. He has proven that he can score at a decent clip and has a good shot. The Penguins will crescendo as the season draws to an end and this deal—despite the price of a first-round pick—could help vault the Penguins to a third straight Cup, truly remarkable in the salary cap age. The Senators are still expected to retain a portion of Brassard’s salary in the deal. Brassard has playoff experience in each of the last five seasons. The Penguins also can now trot out tough guy Dunn to protect the skilled guys with Reaves gone to Vegas. Could the Cup final feature WWE dream match Reaves vs. Dunn?
As for the Senators, the fire sale goes on as they get a goaltending prospect and a couple of picks while Vegas gets a tough customer in Reaves to protect their speedy, skilled team.
Islanders sign RW Josh Bailey to 6-year contract extension.
This one’s not a trade, but is likely a foreshadowing of GM Garth Snow preparing a long-term offer for Bailey’s linemate John Tavares.
Red Wings send G Petr Mrazek to the Flyers for conditional 2018 4th round and 2019 3rd round picks
Mrazek is off to a good start in Philly, topping the Blue Jackets in a key 2-1 Metro victory Thursday. Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth will return, but this one is looking swift as a temporary solution.
Rangers send D Nick Holden to Bruins for prospect D Rob O’Gara and a 2018 3rd round pick
The Bruins had no idea they’d be this good, and Holden shores up the blueline. Could there be more going to Beantown? O’Gara, a Yale grad from Long Island, goes home in hopes of launching his career as a Blueshirt.