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It clearly was a sellers’ market at this year’s NHL trade deadline as the numerous buyers looked for players that would put them over the top. Obviously, we won’t know the full ramifications of these deals for years to come, but in the interim, here are some winners and losers.
Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes will have three of the top-35 picks in this year’s draft, added Anthony Duclair, and got a significant haul from two players they weren’t going to re-sign anyway. The Keith Yandle haul was exceptional for Arizona, and the better news was that the Coyotes retained salary in all these deals – meaning they have money to burn.
The Coyotes could have as much as $20 million in cap space this offseason, have a budding and exciting core and an alluring market for hockey players, and have competent management AND financially secure ownership. The future is bright.
Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks took all the money saved on Patrick Kane‘s injury and put it to good use, acquiring Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen. The Hawks have three, bona-fide centers now with the addition of Vermette – putting them on par with the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks. Giving up a two picks for Timonen is a signal that this is go time for the Hawks, as they quickly approach cap hell with Kane and Jonathan Toews‘ costly extensions kicking in next season.
Jordan Leopold. Should be Jordyn, Jordan, and the rest of the Leopold family. Seriously, if you haven’t heard this story, see below
— Justin Bourne (@jtbourne) March 2, 2015
Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens ran out of gas in the Eastern Conference final last year because they ran out of gas on their blue line and were too small to compete with the fast and heavy New York Rangers.
So Marc Bergevin upgraded those two facets.
The Habs are going for it this year but not at the expense of their future. The P.A. Parenteau deal this offseason was the first move that signaled that, and since, Bergevin has added smartly. Assuming Alexei Emelin is going to return this season, the Habs have six solid blueliners, thanks to the acquisition of Jeff Petry from Edmonton. Sergei Gonchar has given the power play a jolt since his acquisition earlier this season, and with Carey Price healthy, the Habs seem to be the favorite to come out of the East.
New York Rangers. The Yandle deal shores up their blue line, but their minor deals are what could put them over the top. James Sheppard is a terrific depth forward and an upgrade over Lee Stempniak and Tanner Glass, and he can take faceoffs, where the Rangers really need to improve. They re-signed Mats Zuccarello, at a reasonable rate too
I’m not going to use the term “all-in,” because let’s face it it’s been beaten to death. But, the Rangers look tough to beat.
Boston Bruins. With added cap space due to the David Krejci injury, and a glaring need at center, the Bruins only acquired depth winger Brett Connolly from the Tampa Bay Lightning. This is clearly a transition year in Boston, but with rumors that GM Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien could be in hot water and with every team around it improving, one move might not be enough to keep the bunch in tact.
Columbus Blue Jackets. I can see the Blue Jackets dealing unhappy James Wisniewski and wanting to part with Nathan Horton – particularly after reports that his contract was not insured – but taking on David Clarkson‘s bloated contract? Bringing in Rene Bourque – who is on his third team this season? These moves are curious. Maybe this is just a lost season in Columbus, and the Jackets will rebound next year when maybe its lineup will stay in tact, but the optics of their last week doesn’t look good.
New Jersey Devils. The Devils had nine expiring contracts, held arguably the second-best rental defenseman, and only dealt two and got three picks. The conditional pick Detroit gave up for Marek Zidlicky COULD be a second-rounder, and to get two picks for 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr was something, but the Devils needed an overhaul and failed to accomplish it.
San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have underachieved this year, and while I’m not a proponent of blowing up the thing while they are still in the hunt, there were more moves to be made in the Bay Area. Like in Boston, GM Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan are coaching for their jobs too, and standing pat could land them looking for work come next month.
Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks are locked into the Pacific’s No. 2 spot, and they clearly didn’t want to upset the proverbial apple cart and didn’t have the cap space without trading players, to maintain that position. Eddie Lack is capable of picking up the slack in Ryan Miller‘s absence, but given the injuries on their blue line, the Canucks could’ve added a depth defenseman or something more than AHL-player Cory Conacher. It feels as if the Canucks are barely hanging on by their fingertips, and the moves made didn’t do much to alter that.
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