The Trade deadline is coming up, and a handful of trades have already happened, so why not review some of them?
Note: I’m only using trades as of January 12th.
On January 22nd, the Blue Jackets traded John Ramage to the Coyotes for future considerations. The long time minor leaguer has played 2 games in his NHL career, with different teams. I’d look upon this as less of a trade and more of a long-term loan. I can’t remember the last time future considerations amounted to anything, it’s literally a term for nothing, but it’s legal. The Coyotes kinda win this one by default. A minor leaguer with little to no salary problems given away.
The L.A. Kings traded Jeff Zatkoff to the Blue Jackets for future considerations. The Kings already have a good starter and backup in Quick and Kuemper. They also have a nice starter in the AHL in Jack Campbell, so there wasn’t much use for Zatkoff. Zatkoff was sent to the AHL immediately though. The Jackets still got an NHL backup/AHL starter for probably nothing.
Note: To make this a bigger L for the Kings, they retain half of Zatkoff’s salary. Didn’t think that could get worse.
And Another one.
Tampa Bay acquires Edward Pasquale from the Oilers for future considerations. This feels like a weird move to me. Of all teams that would probably need a solid moderately young/old goalie, it’d be the Edmonton Oilers, the team who needs to prepare for everything so that McDavid wins a Cup or something like that. The Lightning however, not only have All-Star starter Andrei Vasilevskiy, they also have (an injured) proven NHL backup in Peter Budaj, and a younger backup in Louis Domingue. Not to mention a young goalie prospect in the AHL in Connor Ingram. Why not just scoop up an AHL backup though. Pasquale is a solid backup, he was a good piece of the Calder Cup winning Grand Rapid Griffins, and hasn’t finished a single AHL season under .900 save percentage. Of course, by default, I give this to Tampa, its like a small crack in a soon to be Stanley Cup contender to compete, that can’t possibly go wrong right?
A Minor League Swap
On February 3rd he Nashville Predators traded Andrew O’Brien to Dallas for Mark McNeill. O’Brien is an AHL defenseman, the only other pro league he’s played in is the ECHL. McNeill is slightly more accomplished, having played in two NHL games, but is an AHL centre. This was a trade they honestly could’ve completed in the AHL and no one would’ve cared, but here we are! This was just two NHL teams probably trying to fill in some weaknesses in their AHL teams, or just one paying the price to fill in a hole in their AHL team. Either way, this is nothing more of a minor league swap, and there’s no clearly better player here. If I were to lean on one player here, it’s the player who hasn’t played in the ECHL, and has played in the NHL (McNeill).
Note: This is also just a bit of a typical draft bust story, McNeill being a former 1st round pick by the Hawks when they could’ve taken the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Richard Rakell, Ondrej Palat and so much more.
More Unwanted Players?
Did you know Vegas had an AHL affiliate? I didn’t! The Chicago Wolves are Vegas’ AHL affiliate, the unofficial affiliate of the Blues, not to mention Leafs Prospect Kasimir Kaskisuo plays there on a loan. Let me cut to the chase. On February 5th, the L.A Kings traded Zac Leslie to Vegas for future considerations. At first, I saw this like: “Hm, it’s not like they have an AHL team to feed”. I realize they do. Leslie, a defensive prospect, is pretty good apparently, I found him mentioned in many discussions of Kings’ prospects, but I also saw some say that he was lost in the depth (See: Leivo, Joshua) (Also see: Corrado, Frank). The Knights got a possible future player on defense (debatable), for nothing. That’s a win by default right?
An Actual [Minor League] Trade!
On February the 8th, the Devils traded Viktor Loov to the Wild for Christoph Bertschy and Mario Lucia. Loov is an AHL defenseman but does have some NHL experience. The former Toronto Maple Leaf played 4 NHL games with the team. Mario Lucia is a mid-range AHL forward who doesn’t score too much apparently. Lucia has 2 less points in 4 more AHL games than Loov, a defenseman. Bertschy also doesn’t score too much, with the same amount of points as a forward in 9 more games as Loov, a defenseman. Bertschy however was actually called up this season, and seems to be a more regular call up than Loov. This of course was just an AHL team needing to fill in some roster holes. Although Loov is a solid defender that has potential to be called up, and has offensive talent, Bertschy is also a call up quality AHLer, and although his stats don’t show why specifically, he gets called up much more often. If it were one for one, I’d call it a tie, but the Wild threw in Lucia, a solid AHL forward. That tips the scale to New Jersey.
A [Minor-League] Blockbuster!
The Rangers trade Adam Chapie and Joe Whitney to Washington for Hubert Labrie and John Albert. I swear to god I didn’t make those up. Chapie was an undrafted forward, who’s more of a bottom 6 for an AHL team (I mean, he’s also over a point per game in the ECHL this season?). Whitney, at 30, has spent the majority of his career as a minor-leaguer. His points slowly but surely, decrease over his years in the AHL. He’s an experienced forward, having played in 5 NHL games, scoring a goal. Unlike Chapie, he still produces moderately, and can probably slot in as a 2nd/3rd liner. Labrie is an AHL defenseman, who has a bit of experience in the ECHL. He isn’t much for a top pairing defenseman, but he could be a nice depth addition. Albert is the only player in this trade who’s ever been drafted. The forward had a few promising AHL seasons with the Jets’ AHL teams, earned himself 9 games with the Jets, scoring a goal, went to Finland, and then signed with Washington. He’s proven he can score, but so far, he hasn’t as much, but he’s still doing pretty well. Both Chapie and Labrie are mostly unknowns, but Chapie hasn’t had too much success as a forward, so I’d give a 1 on 1 edge to Labrie. Whitney and Albert being compared at a 1 on 1? Whitney’s production has steadily declined over the years, Albert hasn’t as much, but so far in his first year back in the AHL after a year away, he’s being outscored by Whitney. I’d give this trade a tie, but we’ll have to see how they do.
I’m writing this seconds after news broke that Dion Phaneuf has been traded. Dion Phaneuf and Nate Thompson have been traded from Ottawa to Los Angeles for Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore. Ottawa, of course, retains 25 percent of Phaneuf’s salary. Wow! The first major trade of February folks. Dion Phaneuf has, of course, been a solid defenseman for years. The only problem with him is probably A. His bad reputation with some teams (Leafs), but more importantly, B. His horrid cap hit. 25 percent off of Phaneuf should help out with that though. Phaneuf wasn’t the most favourable Sen, and the Kings’ left side isn’t the best, so this should probably be less surprising soon. Nate Thompson is a solid bottom two line centre, who could replace Nick Shore on the 4th line. Speaking of Shore, Nick Shore is a relatively productive bottom centre (compared to Thompson). He would fit nicely in Thompson’s spot as a Sen. Gaborik is a veteran who’s not quite a legend, but isn’t just a veteran either. Gaborik has reached the 30 and 40 goal marks numerous times in his career, but he’s far from that now. The aging forward finds himself often injured, but still provides 10 goals and 10 assists per season. This trade isn’t all too close to me though. The Kings swapped a young 4th line centre that can actually produce, for an older 4th line centre who doesn’t score as much. (Note: Shore is 25, Thompson’s 33). At that part, I’d give the Sens the edge. The Kings also got an aging, yet solid defenseman with an unreasonable contract for an often injured 3rd liner. I didn’t mention one thing about Gaborik… his contract has the same term as Phaneuf. If Phaneuf’s full contract was traded, easy win for the Sens. The Sens took 25% back. The Sens pay Gaborik 4.875 million per year, over 300 thousand more than Phaneuf’s paid (assume the amount Phaneuf is paid by the Sens balances out Shore for Thompson). What gives me the edge to the Sens are: A. The Kings are a playoff team, they really need that cap space to go far in the playoffs, not to spend on a mediocre defenseman. B. How much easier does that make it to sign Doughty and C. Phaneuf is probably going to play that entire contract. Gaborik is likely to retire before it ends or, inevitably gets injured again, and it becomes unfortunately bad enough that they had to put him on LTIR. Not only have the Sens rid of most of his contract, they laugh at Kings fans and The Kings who are about to go insane looking at Phaneuf’s poor performance and cap hit on a yearly contender. Until this ages horribly enough that I have to wear a bag on my head, I’d say the Sens finally won something.
Note: Yeah this is kinda biased, me being a Leafs fan and everything, tried my best to be fair though!
The St. Louis Blues traded away a 4th round pick (in 2019) to Toronto for Nikita Soshnikov. Soshnikov has been trade bait for a while, the young Russian winger hasn’t been able to crack the lineup this year. In his first year, he showed promise, scoring 5 points in 11 games. Last year, he did get his full time opportunity, and failed, scoring 9 points in 59 games. The injury-prone former Leaf was sent to the minors on a conditioning stint and did pretty well, prompting me, along with other Leafs fans to believe he may fetch a decent amount. Don’t get me wrong, a 4th round pick isn’t bad, but it isn’t good. Like I’ve said before, trading picks can go completely amazing, but it can also fall flat, it’s not very often a 4th round pick does well in the NHL, forget being able to crack the Leafs’ roster. I wouldn’t speak too soon on this trade. Soshnikov has done well before, but like we saw last season, he can also fall flat. A 4th round pick is also a mystery, even without the fact that we don’t know a ton about the 2019 draft pool, so this should take a while before we get a final verdict. Me, being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, would currently call this a disappointment.
Note: Just to add in, the Leafs freed up a contract spot… time to overreact!
The Ottawa Senators trade Chris DiDominico to the Hawks for Ville Pokka. Didominico has had a long journey through his career, being drafted by the Leafs in ’07, traded in the deal for Versteeg, flipping through the AHL and ECHL, through Italy and Switzerland, signed by Ottawa, claimed on waivers by Tampa, and claimed back by Ottawa only to finally get his chance. He scored 10 points in 24 games with Ottawa, pretty solid on a disastrous Sens team in a bottom six role. Ville Pokka was a relatively high pick, who was traded to the Hawks in a trade for Nick Leddy. Now, he’s an AHL defenseman, who could probably peak at a 3rd pairing defenseman, but the Sens have a lot of those, Pokka is still young, so he could do better, and would make sense to acquire seeing that the Sens seem to want to look to the future. Didominico’s spot has also kinda been taken by Nick Shore, Thompson was the 4th liner shipped back, but he was injured, with Didominico taking his spot, with an arguably better Nick Shore in his spot, Didominico had no use. I still feel like a decent NHLer could’ve fetched more than an AHL defenseman who may peak as a 3rd or at best 2nd pairing defenseman. I’d give the Hawks the W.
A Minor Holdup
The Hawks traded defenseman Michal Kempny to Washington for a 3rd round pick. It’s not the trade that was quite odd, it’s how we found out. Kempny allegedly walked out of the arena with his sticks, saying he was traded to the Caps. That spawned a few minutes of confusion/speculation before the trade was announced. I could go on forever about how idiotic that was, but that’s not the point here. Kempny is a solid left handed defenseman. I don’t know why the Caps would need them, with names like Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik on the left, along with Christian Djoos doing great on the left, I don’t see any of them being sent down (Djoos may be a possibility, but it’d be a really poor decision.). Kempny’s contract expires this year, so obviously the Caps were looking for a rental for their playoff run. Unless a trade happens involving one of the Caps’ LDs, this trade seems like a waste of a 3rd round pick.
Note: The higher pick of Washington’s own pick, and Toronto’s pick they acquired, will be the payment to the Hawks. The Leafs gave that in compensation for signing their current GM to the Devils, who traded it to Washington, and it may find it’s way to the Windy City.
Open the floodgates?
Finally, someone rumoured to be on the trade block for a while now has been traded (Sorry Dion Phaneuf, but I believe you don’t count.) Petr Mrazek was traded from Detroit to Philadelphia for a conditional 3rd in 2019 and a conditional 4th in 2018. At first, this seems bad, both are conditional picks! Apparently it’s not as bad as that. At worst, the Red Wings get a 2018 4th. If Mrazek wins 5 games, which he may, it’s a 3rd. If the Flyers advance to the Conference Final, it becomes a 2nd. If Mrazek is signed, then they get the other pick, the 3rd in 2019. The Red Wings took a huge risk here. If Mrazek completely flops in Philadelphia, the return is equivalent to what the Leafs got for Nikita Soshnikov. That’s unlikely though, Mrazek isn’t as bad as the market sees him as. Remember, once he was the future of Detroit goaltending, he has potential… also I think he can win 5 out of less than 20 games. A third isn’t bad for someone who was left exposed in the expansion draft, and wasn’t taken. It’s also more than fellow backup Al Montoya fetched, along with a lot of other backup goalies. The Flyers probably won’t make it to the CF, so forget about the 2nd. The Flyers also have a starter and backup, so I doubt Mrazek is resigned, so no extra 3rd. The fate of this trade depends on the pick. If it’s a 4th, compared to other trades, it’s good. Considering the market right now holds an AHL forward/NHL bottom 6 forward for a 4th, it’s horrible for someone who was recently a 1B, to a team that desperately needs a goalie. In my opinion, the Wings could’ve fetched a lot more for this young backup/former 1B.
It’s time to blow it up!
The New York Rangers have most probably now started their rebuild. They traded Nick Holden to Boston for a 3rd round pick in 2018 and Rob O’Gara. Holden is a decent depth defenseman who could take on a 3rd or even 2nd pairing role. The 30 year old’s contract expires soon, so he’s mostly just a rental defenseman. Rob O’Gara is a minor league defenseman who has been called up by the Bruins to play in 8 games this season. O’Gara is 24, so he could provide substantial depth for the whole rebuild thing. I give the Rangers a huge win here. Holden’s contract expires after this year, the Rangers have no use for him due to their disastrous season. They swapped him for a mid range pick that could be a piece of their future, and even got another possible callup/AHL piece. I’d say the Rangers won this, probably the only thing they’ll win through the whole rebuild.
Contract free up?
The Toronto Maple Leafs trade Eric Fehr to San Jose for a 2020 7th round pick. Fehr was once a key part of the Pittsburgh Penguins, before joining the Leafs via Frank Corrado, former prisoner of Babcock Limbo, getting injured in his first game, being beaten out for 4th line centre by Dominic Moore/Miro Aaltonen, being sent down, being amazing in the AHL, and now here. Fehr was on loan to the San Diego Gulls at the time of this trade, with no role on the Leafs for a while (if Moore leaves, Aaltonen probably fills in barring a trade to acquire another centre.). Fehr’s absence now opens up a contract spot, so the Leafs now have 2 contract spots open. Even then, they still got something back. A 7th round pick who may be someone who’s currently 15, granted, but it could still be a nice piece of the Leafs in a few years? I want to give the Leafs the W for giving away an uneeded player and contract spot, and still got something back.
I may have expressed this before, but I’m not a huge fan of Marc Bergevin, in fact, I wasn’t even a fan of his last move. The unfavourable GM has done it again, trading Jakub Jerabek from Montreal to Washington for a 5th round pick in 2019. Jerabek is a young defenseman who has just come off of a pretty good season in the KHL. Jerabek is a solid depth defenseman, whose stat line may not be appealing, but you try playing for the Montreal Canadiens. Jerabek’s contract expires soon, he’s eligible to be a UFA. Surely more playoff teams were looking for a young rental depth defender for more right? What makes minimal sense about this deal is the fact that, like I said earlier, Washington already has a ton of left handed defensemen, and this February alone, they’ve acquired two more. From an asset point of view, this seems like an amazing steal for Washington. If Jerabek plays out the rest of the contract in the AHL though, he’s probably going back to the KHL. If Washington wants to play him, they have to find someone who’ll take two of Niskanen, Orpik, Djoos or Kempny. I give Washington to win in terms of the trade so far, but the situation they’ve put themselves in might tip the scale sooner or later, (laughs), nah.
The Arizona Coyotes trade Tobias Rieder and Scott Wedgewood to L.A. for Darcy Kuemper. Tobias Rieder is a skilled, young winger who you can count on for at least 10 goals a season. He’s a good boost to the Kings’ offense as they push to keep their playoff spot, and then a good offensive piece if/when they get there. Scott Wedgewood is an okay backup who’s still young. He should take Kuemper’s role as backup. Kuemper has had a spectacular season with the Kings. He would’ve been a great keeper for the Kings. Don’t expect him to be as good with the horrendous Coyotes though, the Kings are actually a playoff team, the Yotes, not so much. This trade may look good until Quick gets injured, and L.A. is stuck with a goalie tandem of Jack Campbell and Scott Wedgewood. The Coyotes don’t get much either. Poor Kuemper’s spectacular season will have to go to waste, and so will that 2 year extension he signed after the trade, where Arizona will probably be rebuilding. Rieder and Wedgewood have expiring contracts, but they’re RFAs, so they’re likely to be resigned. This trade fully depends on if Jonathan Quick gets injured after the deadline or not, which if he does I laugh at the L.A Kings for eternity. For now though, I give them the win. They strengthened their offense for their playoff run and probably the near future, for a gamble. Kuemper would’ve been great, but do you need him that bad with Jonathan Quick? This trade depends on that being a no.
Note: Arizona retains $333,750 of Rieder’s salary, because why not.
A questionable deal.
The Boston Bruins trade Frank Vatrano for a 3rd round pick this year. Vatrano was born and raised near Boston, was dropped down the depth chart due to injuries, and is having a very off season. Before though, Vatrano would’ve averaged over 15 goals in each of his two other NHL seasons had he played a full season. Not only is he a hometown boy, he’s actually productive too (sometimes). I haven’t even mentioned that barring his first pro games in 2014-15, he’s a goal per game AHLer! The Bruins are a playoff team, if they wanted to swap Vatrano, a player who can legitimately help them in the playoffs, they should’ve gotten an impact player back rather than a pick. This doesn’t exactly make sense for Florida either. Florida is very unlikely to make the playoffs, that pick could be something that could help them go to the playoffs in the future. Sure Vatrano is young but he’s not as young as the piece that could’ve been picked with that pick. Both teams would’ve been fine without it. Can I award both teams a loss?
Blowing it up! Part Two!
Michael Grabner has been traded from the Rangers to New Jersey for a 2018 second rounder and prospect Yegor Rykov. Grabner has had an amazing season on a contract year, he could potentially hit 30 goals this year, and adds speed and offense to the Devils for their playoff run. Rykov is a prospect on defense who’s currently plays in the VHL. Rykov has found success in the KHL, that’s very promising for a 20 year old blue liner. He’s spent most of this season in the KHL, but currently plays in their farm league, the VHL for some reason. Even there, he’s done his job, and is producing quite a bit. If Rykov ends up playing with the Rangers, it’s really good for New York, who would’ve lost Grabner soon. Rykov would help the Rangers through and after their rebuild on a position that’s arguably the hardest to stock up on. The Rangers got exactly what they needed for Grabner, two young pieces for their rebuild. The Devils probably won’t win the Cup this year, but since they’re arguably contenders, them getting rentals is understandable. My only problem with it is, the Devils are a young team, trading two potential parts of their up and coming young team doesn’t make the most sense. I say the Rangers win this one for getting exactly what they needed.
This is probably the calm before the storm, the trade deadline will be absolutely hectic, so here’s to all our teams surviving it. Good luck