NHL Eastern Conference Trade Deadline Grades

Jacob Chaimovitch

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With the February 25th Trade Deadline over and done with, it’s now time to break down each Eastern Conference team’s moves from the beginning of the 2018-2019 season (October 3rd) to now and give them a grade based on the quality of players received and dealt out, the value of picks dealt, and the importance of the trade in the long run. Here we go.

Boston Bruins: C-

When you expected the rich to get richer, the B’s may have actually gotten worse. Only involved in 3 trades this year, the Bruins gave up depth in offense and defense for Charlie Coyle and some picks. Not exactly what you want as a fan of a team that is 2nd in the Atlantic right now. The move that shocked me the most was dealing away 22-year-old Ryan Donato, a true asset the Bruins could’ve taken advantage of. They ended up getting Marcus Johannson from New Jersey to fill the void but lost two picks as a result.

Buffalo Sabres: C

After making some big moves in the offseason, the Sabres stayed quiet by picking up a few prospects and picks. They did get Brandon Montour from the Ducks – he’s been out since November with a hyperextended elbow – but that’s really the extent of it all. They also dealt away Nathan Beaulieu to Winnipeg to free up some space in their cramped defensive depth chart. Buffalo still has its assets from the offseason and could challenge for a playoff spot. They sit in 5th in the Atlantic now.

Carolina Hurricanes: B+

Picking up a big star left wing nowadays is no small feat, especially with the little talent depth at the position and, if you’re Carolina, the big need for a first-line winger. The Canes picked up Nino Niederreiter from the Wild in exchange for Victor Rask, who is now on the shelf with an injury. They also picked up Tomáš Jurčo, a forward prospect that has promise for the future. Now, Canes fans are left wondering if their team really is in a rebuild as they sit pretty in 4th place in the Metro Division.

Columbus Blue Jackets: B+

The Jackets have truly done work in the last few days that trading was available. Despite picking up Keith Kinkaid (likely will be resigned if Sergei Bobrovsky can’t reach a deal) and some depth, including Matt Duchene and Adam McQuaid, they failed to deal away stars on expiring contracts Cam Atkinson, Artemi Panarin, and Bobrovsky. It will be an interesting offseason for Columbus, but at least they can hang on to a playoff spot as they sit in 3rd in the Metro.

Detroit Red Wings: C+

Gustav Nyquist was dealt away and they received a second-round draft pick and a conditional third-round pick that becomes a second rounder under one of two very realistic circumstances. Detroit is in a heavy rebuild and is banking on resigning Filip Zadina and (probably) Jimmy Howard. They made the right move in dealing Nyquist and got richer in picks as a result.

Florida Panthers: C+

For a rebuilding Panthers team in 6th place, this wasn’t a bad year for trades. They manage to hold onto Riley Sheahan for a few years and get a few picks by dealing away names like Derek Brassard, Chris Wideman, and Tomáš Jurčo. Now, they can choose to resign Aaron Ekblad, Roberto Luongo, and Keith Yandle if they want. An average trade deadline leads to an average grade.

Montreal Canadiens: B-

Since trading Max Pacioretty to the Golden Knights in September, the Habs have actually stayed competitive this season. Sitting 4th in the Atlantic, they managed to get some more 3rd line and 4th line forward depth while still being able to resign Carey Price and Max Domi. It’s going to be a bumpy ride to the finish for Le Canadiens, so strap in.

New Jersey Devils: B

They did everything right. The Devils picked up two picks in the second round (both 2019), one in the third (2019), one in the fourth (2020), and one in the fifth (2022). Seriously. The Devils are taking wrecking balls to their team and starting from scratch, and it’s brilliant. With the third-worst record in the NHL right now, the Devils are banking on a very high first-round pick. You’ve got a franchise center already, so maybe Bowen Byram?.

New York Islanders: NO GRADE

Um……Hello? Mr. Lamoriello? Are you still there? Oh well. No trades means no grade. They’re in first in the Metro Division (you’re not dreaming) and are cruising so I guess I’ll allow it.

New York Rangers: A

Just another successful trade deadline for the Blueshirts (always good to see that as a Ranger fan). They dealt away names like Mats Zuccarello (then he got hurt in Dallas), Kevin Hayes, Adam McQuaid, and Peter Holland. Now, it’s time to throw some money at Henrik Lundqvist, Brady Skjei, Jimmy Vesey, and Mika Zibanijad so they stick around. Good things are just around the corner at the Garden.

Ottawa Senators: A

Mark Stone wanted out and now he’s out. Check. Ottawa wanted a boatload of picks for the next few years. Check. Now, the only thing left to do is keep losing. That way, they can keep the worst record in the NHL and get the first overall pick in the draft where they can choose between three dynamic centers at the top of the board. Colin White and Brady Tkachuk show promise as well. Everything is moving up for Canada’s capital.

Philadelphia Flyers: B-

Philly has been in a rebuild this season, sitting in 6th in the Metro Division. Dealing Wayne Simmonds was necessary and that got done. Along with the rest of the deals they made, very little picks were acquired in exchange, giving the Flyers a lower grade than other rebuild teams. They dealt the players but got AHL players in return.

Pittsburgh Penguins: B-

Adding depth is a good idea for any team hunting for a playoff spot. So, that’s exactly what the Pens did. Adding some much-needed defensive depth was a great idea, especially with 4 injured defensemen currently on the roster. Some 2nd and 3rd line forward depth was also acquired with Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann wearing the black and gold now.

Tampa Bay Lightning: B-

Tampa Bay has 102 points as of the time I am writing this. They don’t need to get better because they are on pace to win the most amount of games in a season in NHL history. That’s crazy. They get a B- because they did the most by doing very little. The trades they did make helped them a little more for the future.

Toronto Maple Leafs: C+

A big deal for Toronto probably would’ve been nice for them as they sit in 3rd in the Atlantic behind Boston and Tampa Bay. They did manage to pick up Jake Muzzin and Nicholas Baptiste, adding depth for the future and making a run in the playoffs for this year. Resigning may be a focus as well. John Tavares, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Fredrik Anderson are all on expiring contracts.

Washington Capitals: C+

Washington stayed quiet knowing that they had some big names to resign in the offseason. The deals they did make, however, were below par. Banking on a repeat of what happened last year, they haven’t changed much in their roster as they look to repeat as division champs for the fourth year in a row. Which is probably ok in hindsight, but the trades they did make didn’t do much, giving them a lower grade than Tampa Bay, who pretty much did the same thing.

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