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Last year’s trade deadline frenzy revisited

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All the big deals happened on the last two days before the deadline. How smart were those big moves in hindsight?

NHL: New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For all the trades that led up to the final days before the NHL trade deadline in 2017-2018, go here.

February 25: Boston acquired Rick Nash from the Rangers for Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey and Ryan Lindgren. The Rangers also got Boston’s 2018 first-round pick and their seventh-round pick in 2019.

Rangers clean up again. Nash was not a total washout in Boston, and injuries can’t be predicted, so it’s not fair to judge Boston too harshly for this one. He was tough for the Leafs to handle at times, but he faded away against Tampa. And as we now know, he will never play NHL hockey again. The first-round pick was the pick the Rangers gave up to the Sens along with the one they got for Michael Grabner to get the higher first they took K’Andre Miller with.

February 25: Toronto acquired Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun from Montréal for Kerby Rychel, Rinat Valiev and a the 2018 second-round pick.

The Leafs got the player they turned out to really need when Nazem Kadri was suspended in the playoffs. The rest of the players are AHLers or less, none of whom are still on the team they were traded to and are of no consequence.

The pick became Jacob Olofsson at 56th overall, and I’m a little stumped by this draft choice by the Habs. He made the WJC team, but he went pointless, and he has six points in 22 SHL games this year. Ah, well, the path to success isn’t always a straight line, and just because he played lower in the lineup to Pontus Holmberg (Leafs sixth-round pick) no one should hold that against him.

Plekanec re-signed with Montréal, but then they terminated his contract and he is playing in the Czech Republic this year.

If you dislike this trade for the Leafs, I think a question to ask is how you’d feel if they’d beaten Boston in the first round. I don’t object to this one, it’s the Brian Boyle trade I hated.

February 25: Edmonton got Pontus Aberg from Nashville for Mark Letestu, then Columbus acquired Mark Letestu from Nashville for a fourth-round pick in 2018.

Edmonton eventually waived Aberg after he turned out to not be the scoring winger they’d hoped for. Anaheim claimed him, he was great, and then they traded him just days ago for an AHLer.

So to sum up: Two teams traded Mark Letestu. The Oilers got 16 games played by Aberg, and the Predators got a draft pick.

Nashville took Jachym Kondelik at 111th overall, and he made the Czech team at the WJC and seems to be a fine player for that sort of pick.

Letestu has one skill, and one skill only: a hell of a one-timer. He’s employing it in the AHL for Columbus after going scoreless in the NHL playoffs last year.

No one won this trade, but the Oilers sure look stupid.

February 25: Nashville acquired Brandon Bollig and Troy Grosenick from San Jose for a sixth-round pick in 2018.

I...you got me. Why give up a pick for a couple of AHLers? Maybe they thought Bollig could be their tough guy? Bollig finished the year (and his career) in the AHL.

The pick became John Leonard at 182nd overall, and he is a college winger who might payout someday, who knows. Waste of a pick by Nashville.

February 26: Columbus acquired Ian Cole from Ottawa for Nick Moutrey and a third-round pick in 2020.

The Senators picked up Cole in the monster Brassard deal, and this was a good move to get another pick out of it by moving him on. Moutrey was an add-in to clear a contract spot. Ottawa did not re-sign him.

February 26: Nashville acquired Ryan Hartman and 2018 fifth-round pick from Chicago in exchange for Victor Ejdsell, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick.

This is one of the strangest trades of the entire deadline day. This is a massive overpay for an okay player who, as a rookie, had a season very like Zach Hyman’s. He doesn’t get power play time, so he doesn’t score all that much. Chicago played him up the lineup like they did with Richard Panik, and now in Nashville, Hartman scores even less.

Ejdsell is a good AHLer so far, after a fantastic playoffs last year coming off winning the championship in Sweden.

The picks became Nicolas Beaudin, taken two ahead of Rasmus Sandin at 27th overall and Philipp Kurashev, taken at 120th. Kurashev just wowed people at the WJC as Switzerland’s best player, and Beaudin is defender in the Q who sure gets a lot of points.

This has to be the fleecing of the deadline. Chicago wins this so hard, it makes up for the dumber moves they’ve made and might be why the GM wasn’t the one fired.

February 26: Winnipeg acquired Paul Stastny from St. Louis for the 2018 first-round pick and the rights to Erik Foley.

In terms of successful deadline acquisitions, this one comes second only to Kempny, but the price was steep. Stastny ended up not re-signing, opting for Vegas instead.

The pick became Rasmus Sandin.

St. Louis traded this pick to the Leafs, along with the later pick that became Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, for the Leafs first rounder, which became Dominik Bokk, a good young player, and a big part of the reason Germany will be at the WJC next year.

Unfortunately, Foley, who the Blues signed to an ELC, suffered a concussion in the prospects tournament in the summer and hasn’t played since.

Winnipeg didn’t go as deep in the playoffs as they wanted, but deadline UFAs are a gamble, and this was as close to a win for everyone (including the Leafs) as you can get. If Foley recovers it will be even better.

February 26: Vancouver acquired Brendan Leipsic from Vegas for Philip Holm.

Vegas got Leipsic from the Leafs in the expansion draft, and he just wasn’t good enough to crack their lineup, but he wasn’t waiver exempt. Instead of risking him, they moved him.

Holm was one of the Swedish defenders the Leafs tried to sign, but he picked Vancouver instead. He didn’t work out in either team, and he’s in the KHL now playing very well.

Vancouver tried to waive Leipsic this season to send him to the AHL because they signed expensive gritty veterans to play for them and had no room for him. In typical Vancouver style, they lost him to LA on waivers. On his fifth NHL team at age 24, Leipsic had six points in his first 20 games for LA.

February 26: Columbus acquired Ryan Kujawinski from Arizona for Jordan Maletta.

This was an ordinary AHLer trade at the time, but it turned into a lesson in how fleeting hockey success is. Kujawinski, a former third-round pick by the Devils, just doesn’t have it at the pro level. He seems to have been drafted too high as a centre over six feet. He didn’t score impressively in the OHL. He didn’t find his way even in the ECHL. He’s in the EBEL now, where he is a point per game man on a team in the Czech Republic. I hope he’s having fun on a team that’s right for him.

Jordan Maletta was an undrafted OHL centre of similar size who was signed by Columbus. He had a hand injury and only played one game in Tucson after this trade, and then Arizona, never ones to shy away from asset value deals, included him in a big trade with Chicago. Without medical clearance to play, Chicago terminated his contract, and Maletta retired from pro hockey at 23. He has worked with his old OHL team in a volunteer coaching role this summer. This guy would be a natural for the officiating program the NHL runs. They should recruit him, but whatever he does, I hope he’s successful at it.

February 26: Anaheim acquired Jason Chimera from the Islanders for Chris Wagner.

Why, though? Chimera played as poorly in Anaheim as he has in New York, and seems to have retired now. Wagner was an indifferent player on the Islanders in 15 games, and then he signed a two-year deal with the Bruins. He has eight points in 40 games in Boston this year, and is just one more of their depth that never score goals. Really, why, though?

February 26: Winnipeg acquired Joe Morrow from Montréal in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round pick.

Morrow had almost no points in Winnipeg, and has one so far this season in 23 games (yes, they extended him even though his NHL points rate is about Roman Polak’s). Montréal wins another pick trade. Bergevin is good at those. The pick became a 2019 fourth-round pick in a swap with the Flames. Maybe they hoped that would make it a better pick, but I doubt it will be much different given the Flames season so far.

February 26: Montréal acquired Mike Reilly from Minnesota for a 2019 fifth-round pick.

This is an odd trade since Montréal was out of the playoffs and the Wild were not. An early summertime deal that gave the Habs a decent defender for a low price and is a win for them.

February 26: Calgary acquired Nick Shore from Ottawa in exchange for a 2019 seventh-round pick.

This was another weird one. Calgary tried to shore up their centre depth, but then failed to make the playoffs, failed to re-sign Shore. Ottawa shed another part of the Brassard deal for another pick, which was smart. It’s too bad they have no scouting staff, or they could make something with all these picks.

February 26: Pittsburgh acquired Josh Jooris from Carolina in exchange for Greg McKegg.

Hey, we know those guys! Jooris was an extra centre who ended up in the AHL. The Leafs signed him on this year, and the AHL is where he’s spent the season. He’s pretty good there, but rumour has it he’s signing in Switzerland next year.

McKegg was called up by the Canes recently and scored a couple of goals. He’s mostly a very good AHLer, though.

February 26: Boston acquired Tommy Wingels from Chicago for a 2019 conditional fifth-round pick.

Wingels was deeply annoying to the Leafs in the first round of the playoffs, but the NHL doesn’t seem to appreciate his overall game, which doesn’t involve a lot of points. He’s in Switzerland this season, but has been hurt most of the year.

February 26: Nashville acquired Tyler Gaudet and John Ramage from Arizona for Trevor Murphy and Pierre-Cedric Labrie.

Oh, good, one of these Arizona deals where they trade two dimes for 21 cents. If you do that over and over, though, you end up with a jar of pennies you can use as a doorstop. Gaudet and Ramage are AHLers, and Ramage, who Nashville traded to New Jersey in the summer, has finally found an AHL team he’s good on.

Arizona, of course, traded Murphy on to the Ducks, who seem to be getting more out of him in their AHL team than Arizona did. They tried him in eight NHL games, but that didn’t work out. Labrie is in the ECHL where he’s good.

I think New Jersey won this deal.

February 26: The Rangers acquired Chris Bigras from Colorado for Ryan Graves.

Bigras was a high draft pick bust, so Colorado just wanted shot of him. He’s a small amount better on the Wolfpack than he was on the Avalanche’s various AHL teams.

Graves got in some NHL games, but he’s just a basic-quality AHLer, likely not as good as Bigras, certainly he doesn’t put up points like Bigras.

You can stock an AHL team pretty well trading for the decent players other teams drafted too high and are embarrassed to have kicking around.

February 26: New Jersey acquired Patrick Maroon from Edmonton for a 2019 third-round pick and forward Joey Dudek.

Oilers sold low on a player that other teams likely thought was just McDavid’s butler. Maroon scored at a higher pace on the Devils, and then decamped to sign an ultra-low hometown deal with the Blues this summer where he doesn’t score because no one scores there. Dudek is a college centre having a terrible year, but at least the Oilers have one more later-round pick.

February 26: Columbus acquired Thomas Vanek from Vancouver for Tyler Motte and Jussi Jokinen.

You can search, and search, and you won’t find the picks going to Vancouver in this deal. Jokinen is playing in the second level Swiss league this year after a tour of the NHL in his last season that finished up with this incomprehensible trade. Motte is a no-offence depth player, but at least the Canucks haven’t lost him on waivers yet.

Vanek was just fine with Columbus and had a couple of playoff points. Considering they paid virtually nothing, this was a good deal, and then he signed with one of his old teams this summer; he’s joined the seniors cruise in Detroit.

February 26: San Jose acquired Evander Kane from Buffalo for a 2019 conditional first-round pick, a 2019 fourth-round pick and Dan O’Regan.

The condition on the pick was that Kane re-signed with San Jose, which he did, so Buffalo had a player with legitimately-based reputation issues stemming from his behaviour towards women (complicated by the fact that some of the earlier criticism against him has been the sort of thing that seems like sketchy attempts to paint him as not obedient to authority), and they turned him into a first-round pick, so that’s got to be considered good for them.

San Jose seems to be happy with the player, and he’s had no further issues with the police, which tells us nothing. All we ever have is hope that he’s changed.

February 26: Vegas acquired Tomas Tatar from Detroit for a 2018 first-round pick and a 2021 third round pick.

Holy overpay, Batman! Or was it? Tatar had scored a lot on the Red Wings, but it all fizzled in Vegas. He had two points in eight playoff games, and while Vegas was criticized for not playing him, when they did play him, they got no goals out of it.

Tatar was traded to the Habs as part of the Pacorietty deal, and the old Tomas popped right back into existence in Montréal where he has 34 points in his first 48 games. Maybe he can only play wearing red? Whatever the reason is, he’s the exception to the Vegas Magic rule, and Vegas took a bath on the original trade and then moved him on for a lot less than the Habs could get this deadline if they are so inclined to move him again.

Detroit happily walked away whistling with Joe Veleno drafted with the 30th overall pick.

February 26: Tampa Bay (boo hiss) acquired Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller from the Rangers for Vladislav Namestnikov, Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2019 conditional second-round pick.

Sigh.

The Rangers made out like bandits, even though they don’t seem to get much out of Namestnikov. The pick became Nils Lundkvist who was good enough to make the best D-corps in the WJC. If Tampa wins the cup this year, that conditional second-rounder becomes another first.

It gets better. Howden scored 75 points in 49 games for Moose Jaw last year. He went straight to the NHL, and doesn’t need to know where Hartford is or who the hell the Wolfpack are. He’s got 15 points in his rookie season at 45 games played. Hajek is a defender, so he is in Hartford, gradually revealing himself as not much for points.

The Bolts, meanwhile, they also made out like bandits. They finally have one more top-four defender in McDonagh, and, I’m afraid to look, but I assume Miller is having a career year ... and he was but he lost ground to injury.

This trade was so good for both sides, and it only gets better if the evil Lightning win the cup. They’ve managed to make two whole divisions hate them, but I don’t think the Metro realizes yet what’s coming for them or whose fault it all is yet.


And that was it for last year’s deadline. One post-deadline bonus content:

March 21: Philadelphia acquired a 2019 third-round pick from Edmonton for the rights to Cooper Marody.

Um....what? What was Cooper thinking? It’s not like he’s a goalie, the Flyers weren’t going to kill him. He was a sixth-round pick out of the NCAA, and he obviously didn’t want to sign with the Flyers or they didn’t want him, so they upgraded that pick by three rounds! Holy hell.

The Oilers did sign Marody to an ELC, and they’ve yo-yo-ed him between the Oilers and the AHL team (which is in California) four times. He has six games played in the NHL with zero points, and while he’s close to a point per game in the AHL, Bakersfield isn’t known as a development hotbed.

You know, he’s from just over in Michigan, I wonder if the Committee for Oilers Renewal would take a depth defender for him? Cooper might like it in Toronto.


The lesson of all these trades is that even if you make a big splash, and do it smart, there’s no guarantee you’ll win anything. The Lightning are on try two of making their splash pay out, while the Capitals are still happy with Kempny, who is surely still happy with his cup win.

The worst thing you can do is make a stupid big splash and overpay in valuable picks for players that aren’t worth a pair of thirds rounders. Glances at Nashville.

Oh, and as always, call the Oilers, you never know what they might do.