NHL Trade Deadline Notebook: Eastern Conference

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 3:07 am by Anthony Petrielli

Trade deadline day gets all the attention, but it’s the moves a GM accumulates over the course of an entire season, the sum of it all, that matters most. 

Below is a team-by-team breakdown of all the trades each Eastern Conference club has made throughout the course of the year.

Boston Bruins

Traded: 2nd (2015), 2nd (2016), Jordan
Caron, 6th (2016), Jared Knight.

Acquired: Brett Connolly, Max Talbot, Paul Carey, Zack Phillips.

Analysis: The Bruins started the year by trading away Johnny
Boychuk for two second-round picks, and now they’ve traded two second-round picks away for Brett Connolly, so in
a somewhat roundabout way they traded Boychuk for Connolly. 

The sixth overall pick at the 2010 NHL entry draft only has 15 points in 50 games this season, but he’s
coming along. In his two full seasons he’s managed a decent team relative shot attempt differential, and on a Tampa Bay Lightning club that leads the NHL in goals scored, he’s seventh on the team with 12 goals, despite playing under 12min/game. 

In the AHL Connolly has 120 points in 137
games, very impressive totals. The Bruins made a
solid move buying low on a still young and developing big forward (he’s 6’2). 

Then Boston essentially traded Jordan Caron for Max Talbot. Talbot has become a
journeyman centre/winger capable of handling the defensive zone start burden and chipping in roughly 20-25 points per year, while Caron is turning 25 this year and has yet to establish
himself in the league. They are both roughly replacement level players, but Talbot has
established himself as a pro that can be a reasonable contributor (his 15
points this year are more than half of Caron’s career total of 29). 

When Boston first
acquired Connolly I figured they were trying to get younger and at the same
time let the pieces fall where they may considering Dave Krejci’s injury issues, but then
they got Talbot to firm up their roster and give them a solid group of 12
forwards (they already have 7 NHL D). 

Boston is in a playoff spot right now by
the skin of their teeth, but if they don’t make it they’re going to regret not
selling off at least a few of their pending UFAs, like Gregory Campbell,
Dan Paille, Carl Soderberg, Matt Bartkowski and Adam McQuaid. Their moves weren’t
bad, especially because the big one is centered on adding youth, but losing a player like
Soderberg in particular for nothing will hurt. They could have done a better job
managing buying and selling, but if they make the playoffs and can keep
Soderberg, they probably won’t care.

Buffalo Sabres


: Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Brendon Lemieux, Joel
Armia, 1st (2015), Jhonas Enroth, Luke Adam, Brian Flynn, Chris
Stewart, Michal Neuvirth, Torrey Mitchell. 

Acquired: Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Jason Kasdorf, Anders
Lindback, 3rd (2016, Conditional), Jerry D’Amigo, 5th
(2016), 2nd (2017), Chad Johnson, 3rd (2016, Conditional),
Jack Nevins, 7th (2016).

Analysis: Tim Murray is overseeing the biggest tank job since
the Penguins bottomed out for Mario Lemieux a generation ago. He’s hoping that similar results will
follow in the aftermath of this historically awful season. 

As a testament to the ruthlessness with which Murray is pursuing awfulness, he traded away both of his starters this season for demonstrably worse goalies. However, trading for
Evander Kane was an excellent move even with the tank in mind. 

Kane is legitimate top six winger and an instant line-mate for Connor McDavid or Jack
Eichel, should they get either. Kane can handle tough minutes well, but his diminishing scoring rate is something to keep an eye on moving forward. Trading Tyler Myers was always going to be a scary thought, but to get Zach Bogosian back lessens the blow. He needs to prove he can actually stay healthy, but he’s a solid top four defenseman. 

Buffalo still has an additional first-round pick on top of their own, although they strangely didn’t trade for any
picks for the 2015 draft. Murray did end up with a second for Chris
Stewart which, considering the player, is not a bad return, but he wanted much more
earlier in the year and turned down bigger offers last season, so it’s
underwhelming with that in mind. 

Next year things are going to start
looking up very quickly in Buffalo. If they get McDavid, he will join Sam Reinhart and
Evander Kane, along with other players in the Sabres system like Mark Pysyk, Nikita Zadorov and Zemgus Girgensons and
the team won’t suddenly be good, but there will be legitimate hope and
excitement around Buffalo.


Traded: Jay Harrison, Jiri Tlusty, Andrej Sekera, Tim Gleason.

Acquired: 6th (2015), 3rd (2016), 6th
(Conditional, 2016), Roland McKeown, 1st (2015, conditional), Jack
Hillen, 4th (2015).  

Analysis: It seems like the Canes should have been able to
get more for Jiri Tlusty, but overall they did well to add picks for guys that
they weren’t going to retain (or couldn’t). 

McKeown has flat lined in his draft+1 year, but his OHL
team has struggled all season missing various key players and he’s still extremely
talented, so that was a decent asset to receive along with a first-round
pick for a pending UFA defenseman in Andrej Sekera. 

The Canes really just did the obvious, they
sold off their pending UFAs of consequence, extended Jay McClement, and not
much else. They’d love to get rid of Alex Semin and/or Cam Ward, but the price
tag makes that difficult. For a team with a tight internal budget though, it’s
a must to move forward. 

Ryan Murphy and Elias Lindholm should have excellent opportunities to raise their profiles the rest of the season.  

Columbus Blue

Traded: 5th (2016), Tim Erixon, Jeremy D’Amigo, Nathan
Horton, Adam Cracknell, Jordan Leopold, James Wisniewski, 3rd

Acquired: Jordan Leopold, Jeremy Morin, Luke Adam, David
Clarkson, Future Considerations, Justin Falk, 5th (2015), 2nd
(2015), William Karlsson, Rene Bourque.

Analysis: Columbus has six defensemen signed for next
season already, not including RFA Cody Goloubef, so they decided they wanted to
clear James Wisniewski, 31, and his $5.5M cap hit for the next two seasons. 

Wisniewski leads all CBJ D-men in points, is right-handed, pushes play up ice
well, and plays with the occasional nasty edge. Its fine that they wanted to cut
bait on an aging asset before it’s too late, but not when you’re taking back Rene
Bourque, who is signed through the following season. Karlsson is a 22-year-old
prospect who has decent numbers in his first full AHL season, but nothing eye
popping, and they swapped up one round in the draft. That’s the return for a
still productive top four defenseman? At least the Blue Jackets didn’t trade Cam Atkinson. 

The Clarkson move is a tough one because he’s a way overpaid depth player at
this point, but 15Gs is better than 0, which is what they were going to get out
of Horton, so the trade actually makes sense, but it’s still a tough pill to
swallow. Injuries derailed the Blue Jackets season, and now contract and cap
management is derailing their trade moves. Jeremy Morin hasn’t been productive
with favourable zone starts, but is still an intriguing pickup considering all
they gave up was recent waiver-wire fodder Tim Erixon.

Detroit Red Wings


2nd (2015), Mattias Backman, Mattias Janmark,
3rd (2016).

Acquired: Erik Cole, 3rd (2015, Conditional), Marek

Analysis: Erik Cole is having an excellent year, playing under
15min/game and producing 18 goals with only two of them on the power play. He’s
shooting over eighteen percent, so there’s every chance he gets hit by a nasty regression the
rest of the way and crashes and burns, but he’s a big bodied veteran that can take
a regular shift in the playoffs, even if Detroit overpaid a tad (a second-round pick and two prospects, even if the prospect were relatively low-end assets, is an overpay for a veteran shooting
the lights out right now). 

The real payoff though might be adding the right-handed defenseman Marek Zidlicky. Below is a picture of a Wings PP vs. SJ last week. It
was at the tail end of a double minor with the Wings down a goal, and they were
unable to score or really create much. 


One thing the Sharks recognized was that without any right handed threats they could left-justify their penalty killers. In the picture below you see Nyquist with the puck on the left half wall, and the Sharks give him a ton of space because he’s on his strong side and it’s a bad shooting angle. Down low is Justin Abdelkader, but the defenseman doesn’t have to pay much attention him to him because he’s a lefty and can’t receive a down low pass on his forehand. So the Sharks played the entire PP shifting to the left, making sure they took away the backdoor play and the one-timer up top, and that was that. 

Right handed players such as Teemu Pulkkinen and Alexey Marchenko have stuck out like sore thumbs on the Wings lately because of their handedness and the options that opens. Cole is a good player and he’ll move the needle forward, but Zidlicky might be the real gem. He has 23 points this year on a team that can’t score, and had 42 last season. He can play in the top four, can move the puck, and is still relatively mobile. For a contending team with most of the key pieces already in place, they did a nice job adding two quality, productive veterans.

Florida Panthers

Traded: Colby Robak, Sean Bergenheim, 7th (2016), 2nd
(2015), 3rd (2016), Tomas Fleischman.

Acquired: Jesse Blacker, Conditional Pick, 3rd
(2016), Jaromir Jagr, Dany Heatley, 3rd (2015).

Analysis: When it comes down to it, the Panthers traded
two top-nine forwards and a better collection of picks and received in return Jaromir Jagr and a
worse collection of picks. The good news is that Jagr still might be the best
player in that group. 

Though Jagr is 43, he was productive until Pete DeBoer got fired
(20 points in 35 games) and he is still unmovable on the wall and can control the puck down low at will. He’s proven to be a great mentor for young stars, and
the Panthers have two really young budding centers in Nick Bjugstad and Alex

The Panthers have drafted 36 players since 2010 (an average of 9 picks
per draft), so they can more than afford to start sacrificing picks now to get
into the playoffs. Points wise they are right on the cusp, a mere two points
out, but their -24 goal differential suggests that they aren’t nearly ready. Jagr
will teach the young centres and improve their team scoring and possession, all
positives, but it’s tough to say they did enough at the deadline to actually
get in. 

On one hand, Tallon should have done either more selling or buying
(Kopecky and Upshall are pending UFAs). On the other hand, this team isn’t
ready yet to justify making major moves to get into the playoffs. The clock is
ticking on Roberto Luongo, but there is still time yet.

Montreal Canadiens

Traded: Rene Bourque, Travis Moen, Jiri Sekac, 2nd (2015), 5th
(2015, Conditional), 5th (2016)

Acquired: Bryan Allen, Sergei Gonchar, Devante Smith-Pelly, Jeff Petry, Brian
Flynn, Torrey Mitchell

Analysis: The Habs have had a pretty nice season of
moves. They got out of Travis Moen’s and Rene Bourque’s deals, they got Jeff Petry – who is a top 4 defender – for a 2nd round pick, which is somewhat pricey but altogether pretty cheap
considering what guys like Franson and Zidlicky went for. 

Devante Smith-Pelly
is firmly a bottom six player and they traded a guy with top six upside for him,
so that was a bit surprising. Last year ‘DSP’ scored some big goals in the
playoffs, if he proves that wasn’t a fluke Bergevin will look smart this spring, but that
deal might hurt them in the long-term. 

Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell are
effective grinders and they are going to round out the Habs roster better than
a kid like Christian Thomas was, so that is an upgrade and they did it for
cheap. Brian Flynn in particular is pretty underrated (17 points in 54 games, had a positive team relative shot attempt differential while starting a tonne of shifts in his own end). 

The Canadiens managed to improved their blue line over the course of the year, and they added some nice bottom-six pieces to the roster,
but they failed to add anything to bolster their forward group up top. Of the eight
teams in a playoff spot right now, the Habs have scored the second fewest number of
goals. You have to think if they were able to add a game-breaker it would
have made them a really scary playoff opponent.

Instead Marc Bergevin and company doubled down on
what makes their team tick: defense and depth. Not a bad strategy, and they did it
for relatively cheap, but a legit scorer (Glencross? Jagr?) would have made
them a tougher out, especially considering how good Carey Price has been.

New Jersey Devils

Traded: Jaromir Jagr, Marek Zidlicky.

Acquired: 2nd (2015), 3rd (2016), 3rd

Analysis: The Devils have 62 points and the Bruins, who own the
final playoff spot in the East, have 71. Between the Devils and Bruins are
three other teams that New Jersey has to leapfrog, yet the Devils seem to really
believe they are in the playoff hunt. The Bruins even have a game in hand on

Pending UFAs on the Devils: Martin Havlat, Michael Ryder, Jordin Tootoo,
Steve Bernier, Scott Gomez, Bryce Salvador, Peter Harold and Mark Fraser. Could
all those guys have been moved? Probably not. But none of them? 

New Jersey got a solid
returns for Jagr (who wanted out) and Zidlicky (although it feels like they
should have got more than a conditional 3rd considering what other
guys went for and how productive Zidlicky is, such is the reality of no-trade clauses though). 

This is just a team is no-man’s land
right now, seemingly unaware that they need a real direction.

New York Islanders

Traded: Andrey Pedan, 7th (2017, Conditional), Chad
Johnson, 3rd (2016, Conditional), David Leggio, Cory Conacher.

Acquired: Alexandre Mallet, 3rd (2016), Tyler
Kennedy, Michal Neuvirth, Mark Louis, Dustin Jeffrey,

Analysis: The Islanders’ real work came at the end of training camp when
they crushed the Blackhawks to get Nick Leddy (TJ Brennan, Ville Pokka and
Anders Nilsson? Wow, that’s larceny) and Johnny Boychuk for a collection of
high picks, which the Isles don’t really care about because they’ve been drafting
like crazy for about half a decade now. Grafting an above average first pairing onto an already decent team without giving up a first-round pick? That’s the sort of work that should earn Garth Snow executive of the year honours…

New York is in an interesting spot where
they probably could have used an additional veteran defenseman, but they are still very
much in the growing stage with some excellent young blue-liners not even on the team
yet and a collection of young forwards just scratching the surface of their potential. 

So the Islanders added Tyler Kennedy for cheap. Kennedy is a decent bottom half of the roster
veteran who has been a #fancystats favourite for years, and really 9 points in 25 games
isn’t awful. He can take a regular shift and step in for a kid that falters
down the stretch. 

Adding Michal Neuvirth is interesting because, yes he’s good,
but we’ve seen goalies before go from bad teams where they get peppered, to
good teams where they’re counted on less, and struggle to adjust. He’s a clear upgrade over Johnson, so it’s
still a fine deal, but Halak is the goalie that has to be the guy. 

I do
wonder if they could have sold high on Anders Lee though, he’s a good player
but he’s turning 25 this year and shooting over 13 percent. The percentages have helped Lee tally 20 goals, but he only has 13 assists and has been playing with John Tavares. I bet they could have peddled
the pending RFA for a really nice return. But you certainly can’t fault them
for keeping him. 

New York Rangers

Traded: Anthony Duclair, 1st (2016, Conditional),
John Moore, 2nd (2015), Lee Stempniak, 4th (2016).

Acquired: Keith Yandle, Chris Summers, 4th (2015),
Carl Klingberg, James Sheppard.  

Analysis: The Rangers are in Cup-mode and they’ve assembled the
best D, on paper at least, in the East. 

A left side with
McDonaugh-Staal-Yandle, and a right side with Girardi-Boyle-Klein (who is
having a career year), is going to play in front of arguably the best goaltender in the known universe. 

The Rangers have the 11th most efficient power play in the league,
and just added the defenseman with the most power-play points in the league. Last year
Yandle was tied for first in power-play points with Erik Karlsson among D-men. The Rangers should be incredibly potent with the man advantage now.

James Sheppard addition is also quietly intriguing. Everyone knows head coach
AV likes to zone match, and this year Sheppard has nearly 59% of his non-neutral-zone starts in the defensive zone, and he’s almost coming out even in total shot attempts
(49.4%). The Rangers have missed Brian Boyle and, going back a few years, John
Mitchell, and while Sheppard isn’t quite as good as either, he’ll be in that
similar role of player and be an effective bottom six depth option for them. He
has also won 50% of his faceoffs this year. 

The Rangers haven’t drafted in the
first round since 2012 and wont again until 2017 unless something changes between now and then. Although it’s early, Duclair appeared to be a steal and potential found
money making up for one lack of first round selection, but now they’ve got rid of
him too. At least they were able to sign Kevin Hayes (a first round pick who
has been productive this year), and the Rangers always have the advantage when
it comes to signing unrestricted players, so I don’t think this will kill them long-term, but
it is something to monitor.

Ottawa Senators

Traded: Nobody.

Acquired: Nobody.

Analysis: The only pending unrestricted player on the Senators roster is Erik Condra, a
nice depth player the team should try to keep, and it sounds like they might. 

It’s hard to imagine anyone wanted David Legwand or Chris Phillips, while Chris
Neil is hurt and can easily be traded next year. For the Sens it’s all about
getting Mark Stone, Curtis Lazar, Mika Zibanejad and company ice time as they
scratch and claw their way into the race. It’s boring, but it’s the right move. 

I’m surprised they couldn’t move Eric Gryba though, he seemed like the easy
odd-man out choice to clear out their logjam on defense.


Traded: Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn.

Acquired: 2nd (2015), 4th (2016,
Conditional), 1st (2015), 3rd (2015), Radko Gudas.

Analysis: A quiet, selling Flyers team? What a strange world we live in. 

return for Kimmo Timonen is jaw dropping, especially considering that he hasn’t played a game
this year. Hextall knows he needs time to clear out salary, so he’s acquiring
picks and building for the future despite the fact that he has a solid group of
forwards right now. 

Managing to net multiple high picks for an aging second-pairing defenseman on the decline is a nice return, while Radko Gudas is a
third-pairing defenseman with a reasonable salary. He isn’t going to help the
Flyers much considering his injury and how their defense is currently constructed, but he can
be a good player in the right situation as a physical, PK guy that can eat up
some tough starts. 

The Flyers have no pending UFAs of consequence and couldn’t
manage to shed a big salary, which is disappointing. Eventually a shoe has to drop and
they’ll have to package a bad contract with some form of young asset(s) to move Hextall’s plan along. Perhaps the picks they’ve added helps that process in the future.   


Traded: Philip Samuelsson, Conditional Pick (2016), 1st
(2015), Rob Klinkhammer, Marcel Goc, 2nd (2016), 4th
(2015), Zach Sill, Robert Bortuzzo, 7th (2016), Simon Despres.

Acquired: Conditional Pick (2016), David Perron, Max Lapierre, Daniel Winnik, Ian Cole, Ben Lovejoy.

Analysis: The Penguins are trying to win while Sidney
Crosby and Evgeny Malkin are still prime aged
and extremely productive, and their moves reflect it. 

The Penguins gave up multiple high draft picks to bring in win-now players, though the Philip Samuelsson move is not
part of that because he was way down the Pens depth D chart. To turn
Samuelsson into Rob Klinkhammer, and then again into David Perron (along with a 1st),
was an excellent chain of improvement. 

Perron is turning 27 this year and is a
legitimate top-six winger, while Daniel Winnik is a top-nine winger that can play
up and down the lineup in a pinch. One is a power play guy, the other a penalty-killing stud. So
they added versatility throughout their top nine and brought in guys that help each unit. 

In the big picture the Penguins have become a four line team. Last year when Pittsburgh lost in the second round, it was in part because they had players like Tanner Glass,
Brian Gibbons, Joe Vitale, and even Craig Adams filling out their roster. Now they’ve added some productive, legitimate top-nine forwards and pushed some
of their former third-line players to L4 duty (Beau Bennett, Nick Spaling). 

What they’ve done on defense is a little trickier to work out. Ian Cole and Robert Bortuzzo looks like a wash of same age players that bring slightly different things; trading Despres for Lovejoy is a little more confusing considering the 7 year age gap between the two. 

Despres was firmly being used as a third pairing defenseman and was doing well in that role while Lovejoy was playing more along the lines of fringe second-pairing minutes. It might be a slight upgrade the rest of this season, and Lovejoy is right handed which was a need, but if you’re evaluating this deal with a stop watch, Anaheim should be the easy winner. 

Tampa Bay

Traded: Eric Brewer, Conditional Pick (2016), Brett Connolly, 1st
(2015), 3rd (2015), Radko Gudas.

Acquired: 3rd (2015), Carter Ashton, David Broll, 2nd
(2015), 2nd (2016), Braydon Coburn.  

Analysis: Tampa Bay managed to add picks, although they did
trade away their own first rounder in order to acquire a legitimate second-pairing defenseman in Braydon Coburn, even if he is on the decline and now on the wrong side of 30. 

In return the Lightning traded away a decent third pairing, right-handed defenseman, and a potential
(likely?) top six winger. It’s a pretty underwhelming deadline for a general manager who has
built his team up so nicely. Yzerman
did do a lot of the work that general manager’s often do at the deadline in the summer though,
adding Brian Boyle, Brendan Morrow and Jason Garrison among others, and his
young players have exceeded expectations. 

Yzerman improved the defense by adding
Coburn, and although a right handed option would have been better, Coburn is
used to playing the right side so it’s not a huge deal. Yzerman did learn in
Detroit, after all. Tampa is stacked at forward, they didn’t need to add there, and in fact they arguably needed to subtract Connolly before losing him on waivers (or trading him with their backs more firmly pressed up against the wall). 

The Lightning did need a defenseman and they added one. The overall prices don’t seem
right for the Bolts, but they got better and won’t care if they get to where
they want to go.

Toronto Maple

Traded: Carter Ashton, David Broll, Mike Santorelli, Cody
Franson, Daniel Winnik, David Clarkson, Spencer Abbott, Olli Jokinen, Korbinian

Acquired: Conditional Pick (2016), 1st (2015),
Brendan Leipsic, 2nd (2016), 4th (2015), Zach Sill,
Nathan Horton, Tim Erixon, TJ Brennan, Joakim Lindstrom, 6th (2015,
Conditional), 5th (2015), Eric Brewer.

Analysis: The Leafs sold everything they possibly could, except
David Booth. 

Even guys like Korbinian Holzer and Olli Jokinen were traded for
whatever they could get. They did well to get a first-round pick and a prospect that is not far from the NHL (in his development curve at least) for
Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli. They bit the bullet on Daniel Winnik a little
bit with the second-round pick being in 2016 and taking a bad player back in
return, but in the big picture, it’s a fine deal. 

The real jewel of the season
though is a phone call from Columbus which ended up with the Leafs getting out
of David Clarkson’s contract. Clarkson was never going to work in Toronto and everyone knew it,
including Clarkson. Getting that onerous deal off the books, and ridding a player
from your dressing room that clearly wanted out and complained about his role
is a big win. 

It allows the Leafs to move forward and it opens up cap space for
the club to not feel like they have to trade certain deals just to clear room. Toronto knows they won’t
catch Buffalo or Arizona who have been in full tank mode all year, but they’ve done
their part to be as bad as possible by adding guys like Sill and Lindstrom. Those two will help the Maple Leafs lose, and lose without throwing key young players to the wolves. 

This was the easy part though, considering that Columbus called them, the difficult part is going to be trading Bozak, Lupul et al. and then building it up. Considering they acquired Eric Brewer and claimed Tim Erixon, there is a good argument to be made they should have cashed in on Roman Polak while his value is high.  


Traded: Jack Hillen, 4th (2015), 2nd
(2015), 3rd (2015).

Acquired: Tim Gleason, Curtis Glencross.  

Analysis: The big question surrounding the Caps for most of the
year was if they’d trade Mike Green or let him walk for free in the summer.
Ultimately the team decided to keep him and even traded assets to acquire him a

Washington is firmly in a playoff spot and they have the 4th
best goal differential in the Eastern Conference, with Alex Ovechkin arguably
being the best player not named Carey Price this season. They have legitimate
reason to think they are contenders and to keep Green, but it will hurt to lose
him for free especially if they lose in the first or even second round. 

Curtis Glencross was a bit of an overpay even if the Caps had extra picks to play with, but he is a strong offensive winger that has
generally shot at a high percentage (almost a career 15% shooter!), and
Washington will need the scoring help considering the rate that the Rangers,
Islanders and Tampa have been scoring at this season (and how good Price

Their moves weren’t bad, but it sort of just feels like they dipped their
toe into contending instead of going all-in; Jay Beagle is their 2C, for
reference. Considering what the Rangers and Pens have done, if you’re going to
keep Green and go for it, then adding a sixth defenseman and top nine scoring
winger isn’t exactly inspired.