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NHL Trade Grades: Rating the Top Deals of the Deadline

The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and with it, there are many opinions on who won, who lost, and who surprised. The Monday deadline this year was mostly quiet, with most deals being done the day before, and the flat salary cap proving to be an obstacle for contending teams looking to make a move. Many teams either were unable to move players or stood pat with the roster they had. Despite all this, there still were some big moves made. So, without further ado, here are the NHL Trade Deadline Grades on the biggest deals:

Buffalo trades Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar to the Boston Bruins for Anders Bjork and a 2021 second round pick

Buffalo: D

Boston: A

This trade does not look great from Buffalo’s standpoint. Reportedly, Buffalo wanted a first round pick and a prospect for Hall; they got neither from Boston. In comparison, the Calgary Flames got a second round pick and prospect Emil Heineman (second round, 2020) from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Sam Bennett, a bottom six player who has just 12 points in 38 games this season. To be fair, however, Bennett will be an RFA and still under Florida’s control this offseason. Another bottom six forward, though, Columbus’ Nick Foligno (UFA after this season, mentioned below), was able to be moved for a first round pick. For Buffalo, only receiving what looks to be a late second round pick and Anders Bjork, who has 5 points in 30 games, is certainly disappointing, thus the D grade. On the flip side, Boston receives an A for nabbing Hall at this price. In addition to Hall, they also acquired Curtis Lazar, who should more than easily fill the gap left by Bjork. Hall looks to slot in on the second line next to center David Krejci and will create an excellent top six for the Bruins. 

Detroit trades Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first round pick, and a 2022 second round pick

Detroit: A

Washington: B

This was an unexpected deal that was broken nearly half an hour after the 3 p.m. deadline by NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes. The Red Wings had been ready to sell, and Mantha’s name had come up more than once in trade rumors. Mantha, a former first round pick who had been leading the team in goals, had struggled to produce this season at the level that the Red Wings expected him to, but could return to form playing on a more talented team. In return for the power forward, Detroit grades out excellently. They acquired a similar player, at least point production wise, in Jakub Vrana, whose speed could match up well with top center Dylan Larkin. Just gaining Vrana would’ve been a decent deal, since, as mentioned, him and Mantha have similar point production, but also adding a first and second round pick makes this deal an A level one for the Red Wings. They also added Richard Panik, a decent bottom six forward whose cap hit the Capitals wanted to move, and this likely helped the Red Wings gain one of those two draft picks. For Washington, the B grade reflects the fact that they overpaid for Mantha, however, if he can get to the 30 goal form he has flashed in the past, he will be a huge asset for the team. Coupled with the fact that Mantha is under team control for four more years at just $5.7 million per, Washington could end up very happy with the big Frenchman. 

Columbus trades David Savard (50% retained) to the Detroit Red Wings for Brian Lashoff, Detroit trades David Savard (25% retained) to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 2021 fourth round pick, Columbus trades Brian Lashoff for a 2021 first round pick and a 2022 third round pick

Columbus: A

Tampa Bay: C

Detroit: A

This deal was a three way trade between Columbus, Detroit, and Tampa Bay. In adding Detroit to the mix, Tampa was able to stay under the salary cap and only pay 25% of Savard’s salary. Detroit grades out with an A for utilizing their cap spacing and nabbing what is basically a free 4th round pick for simply retaining 25% of Savard’s salary. For Columbus, a first and third round pick for a middle level defenseman is probably more than they expected, thus the A grade for them as well. Finally, the Lightning receives a C in this trade. Although they were on the lookout for another defenseman, a first round pick is a bit of an overpayment for a player like Savard. Tampa has shown their willingness to trade away first rounders, as they did twice last deadline. Luckily for the Lightning, this pick will likely be late in the first round, so it shouldn’t worry them that much. 

Columbus trades Nick Foligno (50% retained) to the San Jose Sharks for Stefan Noesen, San Jose trades Nick Foligno (25% retained) to the Toronto Maple Leafs for 2021 fourth round pick, Columbus trades Stefan Noesen to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2021 first round pick and 2022 fourth round pick

Columbus: A

Toronto: C

San Jose: A

Another three team deal, Columbus was again able to add a third team to their trade and utilize their cap space in order to retain salary. By doing so, Toronto is now only paying 25% of Foligno’s salary; this is probably a big reason as to why they both traded a first rounder for Foligno and went after him rather than, say, Taylor Hall. Columbus again grades out with an A for adding another first round pick for a player who probably isn’t worth one. San Jose, like Detroit, gets an A for acquiring a fourth rounder just to retain some salary. Finally, many Toronto fans will be disappointed that they weren’t able to trade for a top six winger at the deadline, however, Foligno still brings value. The captain of the Blue Jackets, he’ll bring veteran leadership and depth scoring (16 points in 42 games) along with solid defense. The Maple Leafs receive a C for an average deal in which they overpaid a litte. 

Los Angeles trades Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 2022 third round pick (2022 third round pick becomes a second round pick if the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup Final and if Carter plays in at least 50% of the games) and a 2023 fourth round pick

Los Angeles: B+

Pittsburgh: B-

This was a slightly surprising deal that came Monday, as Jeff Carter has been a staple in Los Angeles since his trade there in 2012. At 36 years old, he’s certainly on the back end of his career, but he has managed to score at nearly half a point per game this season (19 points in 40 games). For the Kings, it’s a solid deal for an aging veteran with one year left still on his contract. They’ll get a B+ for adding some mid-range draft picks for a player like Carter. In Pittsburgh’s case, the trade was a bit of an odd one; many wonder whether Carter will fit in the Penguin’s lineup. He’s probably slotted for a bottom six role, but might be moved from his natural position of center to wing. Pittsburgh gets a B- for making a trade that probably wasn’t super necessary, however, they didn’t give up too much to get Carter. Additionally, as a proven playoff performer, Carter could add some spark for a Penguins team looking to make a deep run.

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