At 3 P.M. on Monday, March 2, the NHL trade deadline hit and officially ended the period of which teams could trade one player for another without players having to clear waivers. Like any other trade deadline, this year was full of impact deals that could either catapult teams closer to the playoffs, or symbolize the end of the season for teams that are looking to rebuild for next season.
This year, the demand for defensemen is through the roof. The top teams in the league which include the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Detroit Red Wings, and the New York Rangers are all looking for right-handed defensemen, which seem to be a luxury this year. Edmonton Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry is one of the most notable right-handed shots, although, the price for him will not be cheap by any means.
The initial trade that kicked off the deadline mayhem was between the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres — Winnipeg sent forward Evander Kane, defenseman Zach Bogosian, and a prospect to Buffalo for defenseman Tyler Myers, forward Drew Stafford, two prospects, and a first round draft pick in the 2015 NHL draft. Kane has been one of the best forwards in the NHL for a few years, but due to disciplinary reasons off the ice, the Jets were looking to send him elsewhere. Myers has been a steady defenseman in his young career, and he will fit nicely in Winnipeg, hopefully helping them to playoff success in years to come.
The Montreal Canadiens then dealt forward Jiri Sekac to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Devante Smith-Pelly. Both are 22 years old, and have very comparable numbers thus far this season. The reason for the trade is that it seemed that Smith-Pelly fit the system that the Canadiens play, but Sekac may have a higher potential ceiling in Anaheim. Montreal is the top team in the Eastern Conference, and Anaheim is second in the Western Conference, so it’s possible Sekac and Smith-Pelly just flip-flopped uniforms and could possibly see each other in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Defenseman Andrej Sekera was moved to the Los Angeles Kings from the Carolina Hurricanes. In exchange, the Kings received a prospective defenseman, as well as a conditional first-round pick in the 2016 draft. Sekera has played for a non-contending team in Carolina the past few seasons, so the transition to a playoff market should be tough for him.
In a somewhat shocking move, the New Jersey Devils sent Jaromir Jagr to the Florida Panthers for a second round pick in the 2015 draft, and a third round pick in the 2016 draft. Jagr is currently fifth on the all time points list, and is tied for fifth on the all time goals list. New Jersey is out of the playoff picture, and as of right now, Florida is as well. However, Florida is only two points behind Boston for the last wildcard slot, and the trade for Jagr could provide more scoring and help them win more games down the stretch to send them to the playoffs.
The Detroit Red Wings acquired forward Erik Cole and a conditional third round pick in the 2015 draft from the Dallas Stars, in exchange for two prospects and a 2015 second round draft pick. The Wings looked to add some more scoring to their third and fourth lines, especially because of the injury to Darren Helm, which he suffered on February 28. Cole may be a few years past his prime, but the Wings hope that he can provide steady two-way play and scoring opportunities when called upon.
The Washington Capitals acquired forward Curtis Glencross from the Calgary Flames. In return, the Flames picked up both second and third round draft picks in the 2015 draft. In the process of rebuilding, Calgary will hope to draft prospects with promise from this trade.
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle was dealt to the New York Rangers, along with defenseman Chris Summers and a 2015 fourth round draft pick. The Coyotes received defenseman John Moore, forward Anthony Duclair, a 2016 conditional first round draft pick, and a 2015 second round draft pick. Yandle was one of the biggest names on the market and the asking price for him was somewhat hefty. The Rangers added two solid defensemen to their lineup, and Arizona is able to rebuild with a young defenseman in Moore and speedy forward in Duclair.
The Winnipeg Jets received forward Lee Stempniak, and the New York Rangers received Carl Klingberg in exchange.
The first big trade on March 2 happened between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning — Tampa Bay received a 2015 second round draft pick and a 2016 second round draft pick. The Bruins acquired forward Brett Connolly in exchange for the draft picks. Connolly is a solid third line forward who can play two ways very well and will help the Bruins in their hunt to return to the playoffs.
Tampa Bay was not done making deals at that point. They sent defenseman Radko Gudas to the Philadelphia Flyers, as well as two 2015 draft picks, for defenseman Braydon Coburn. Tampa Bay has been looking to add defense to their lineup, and while Gudas is sidelined for the rest of the season, Coburn can help the Lightning compete for a championship here and now.
The Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens made possibly the deal of the year — defenseman Jeff Petry was dealt to Montreal in exchange for 2015 second and fifth round draft picks. Petry was being asked about by more than half of the teams in the NHL, and the right-handed shooter was a diamond in the rough in Edmonton. With Montreal, he will have a chance to help his team compete for a championship, as Montreal already holds the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The St. Louis Blues remained quiet in the trade festivities until today. The Coyotes acquired prospect Maxim Letunov from them for defenseman Zbynek Michalek and a conditional draft pick. Michalek has been very steady as a player throughout his career; he was being sought after by a number of teams this past week, and now will help the Blues in their playoff run this season.
One of the last trades that was made before the 3 P.M. deadline hit was between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues. The Blues sent defenseman Ian Cole to Pittsburgh for defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and a 2016 seventh round draft pick.
The Red Wings also made one last deal to solidify their blue line presence — they traded a 2016 third round draft pick to New Jersey in exchange for defenseman Marek Zidlicky. Zidlicky has been steady at the blue line for New Jersey, and the Wings hope he can keep up his steady play and help them get deep into the playoffs.
The final large-scale trade that occurred was between the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Ducks received defenseman James Wisniewski and a 2015 third round draft pick for forwards Rene Bourque and William Karlsson, as well as a 2015 second round draft pick.
The theme this year from teams across the board was defense. The demand for right-handed defensemen has been increasing, and players like Jeff Petry and Tyler Myers are considered luxuries in this day. The teams that gave up Petry and Myers (Edmonton and Buffalo) got a couple draft picks in return, and with those they will look to add defensemen into their minor league systems.
Players like Andrej Sekera and Zbynek Michalek were sought after because of their steady play and consistency with playing good defense, as well as their ability to score occasionally. Consistent play from defensemen is a must if a team wants to win a championship, and that’s what both Sekera and Michalek will allow their respective teams to do.
Winners and Losers
This year, teams made deals that would increase their defense and help their goalies in front of the net, but also wanted to add consistent scoring to their middle lines. Overall, the biggest ‘winner’ of this year’s trade deadline was the Montreal Canadiens. Adding a right-handed defenseman in Jeff Petry and a speedy, high octane scorer in Devante Smith-Pelly will balance their lineup perfectly. Being the top team in the East, this will solidify their playoff spot and give them a great chance at winning their first Stanley Cup in over 20 years.
It’s hard to say if any team really lost in this years trade deadline festivities. The team that need to rebuild (Edmonton, Buffalo, Carolina, Arizona) did just that — they received draft picks that would help them in future years. The teams that weren’t very active didn’t necessarily need to be; Nashville was mostly dormant throughout the entire process because they are currently the best team in the NHL.
If I had to choose any team that would be considered the ‘losers’, I would have to pick the Dallas Stars. They traded away a few good players to other teams and received draft picks, which seems odd considering they’re still somewhat in the playoff hunt. If they get hot and the teams above them can’t win much, it’s possible they could slip into the mix and be a playoff contender. As a whole, there was no real loser this year, but Dallas was definitely a team that made some odd moves.