Was it worth it? Analyzing trade deadline moves one month later

Updated: March 29, 2016 at 9:00 am by Cam Lewis

It’s been a month since the NHL’s Trade Deadline, and while the whole spectacle was really, really boring, there were still a handful of deals made that are worth talking about. In total, we had 11 buyers who actively spent prospects and draft picks in order to improve their teams down the stretch. But was it worth it? Did these deals actually make the teams better? How do those deals look now? 

Well, to give a brief teaser: The Kris Russell deal is still as bad as it was a month ago, not signing or trading soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Loui Eriksson is still really confusing, Eric Staal hasn’t been a major help on the New York Rangers, and Andrew Ladd looks like he never left Chicago in the first place. In general, it was a pretty bad seller’s market, so it was pretty hard for buyers to mess up here, but some still found a way to do so. 

Boston Bruins:

  • Acquire Lee Stempniak from the New Jersey Devils for a 2017 second round pick and a 2016 fourth round pick. 
  • Acquired John-Michael Liles from the Carolina Hurricanes for Anthony Camara, a 2016 third round pick, and a 2017 fifth round pick.

Stempniak has been exactly what you would expect him to be, potting two goals and collecting five assists through his 13 games with the Bruins, all while putting up decent possession numbers despite making heavy defensive zone starts. Liles, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite as good. He’s logging just over 19 minutes of ice time per game, and despite getting the second most offensive zone starts of any defenceman on the team, he’s only produced two assists and has possession numbers well into the red. 

Overall, I think it’s fair to say that the Bruins did fine in terms of value on deadline day. Giving up a whatever prospect and a second, third, fourth, and fifth round pick for Stempniak, who’s fit in seamlessly, and Liles, who’s an upgrade over what they had, is completely reasonable. They have so many extra top-60 draft picks in the next couple of years it really isn’t all that big of a deal that they spent a few of them to improve their depth and solidify their playoff position. 

The only real issue here, though, doesn’t come down to what they did, it comes down to what they didn’t do, which was get something of value for Loui Eriksson. It seemed obvious that Eriksson would either be dealt or signed to a contract extension, but instead neither happened. Now, the Bruins are pushing for a playoff spot in a wide-open Eastern Conference, chasing after a dream that more than likely isn’t going to come into fruition, and they’re running the risk of losing one of the better assets for nothing in free agency.

Was it worth it? The Liles and Stempniak trades? Yes. Letting a soon-to-be UFA asset roll through the deadline without locking him up to an extension for a Cinderella playoff run? No.

Florida Panthers: 

  • Acquired Jiri Hudler from the Calgary Flames for a 2016 second round pick and a 2018 fourth round pick. 
  • Acquired Teddy Purcell from the Edmonton Oilers for a 2016 third round pick. 
  • Acquired Jakub Kindl from the Detroit Red Wings for a 2017 sixth round pick. 

The Florida Panthers desperately needed to add depth at the deadline, and they did by acquiring Teddy Purcell, Jiri Hudler, and Jakub Kindl for draft picks. They had spent a good chunk of the season at the top of the Atlantic Division standings, and with the Tampa Bay Lightning finally starting to figure things out, the Panthers had to do something to maintain their position.I really doubt that these moves are going to be enough to push this team over the top and make them legitimate contenders, but the expectation here is to make the playoffs and be competitive, not win a Stanley Cup. 

Purcell has five points in eight games, as he’s missed some time due to injury, and Hudler has seven points in 12 games. So, pretty much what you would expect out of two depth scorers. The biggest surprise, though, has been Kindl. In 12 games since coming over from Detroit, where ha had been banished to the AHL, Kindl is boasting a 57.2 Corsi For percentage at even strength, which, in this small sample frame, is by far the best of any player on the Panthers. 

Overall, the Panthers have pretty much received exactly what they had hoped for, and they did so without mortgaging their future at all. The only qualm I have with their deadline strategy is the fact they essentially gave away Brandon Pirri for free. Sure, yeah, he’s a streaky and inconsistent scorer, but he’s 24 years old and one year removed from scoring 22 goals in 49 games. Why they felt they couldn’t use a player like that is beyond me.

Was it worth it? Yes, the Panthers need to get into the playoffs at all costs this season. 

New York Rangers: 

  • Acquired Eric Staal from the New York Rangers for Aleksi Saarela, a 2016 second round pick, and a 2017 second round pick.

It’s pretty much do or die for the Rangers. After mortgaging their future last year in a deal for Keith Yandle, they said screw it with the draft picks and dealt two second rounders and a prospect to the Carolina Hurricanes for Eric Staal, arguably the biggest name on the market. Now the Rangers have no picks in the first two rounds of this year’s draft, which is something they should be familiar with, considering the fact they haven’t had a first round pick since 2012.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, they sold the farm for 2016 Eric Staal, not, well, you know, the good Eric Staal that we haven’t seen in like five years. Since joining the Rangers, Staal has only three goals and two assists in 14 games, and his possession numbers have taken a massive nosedive despite playing offensive minutes. 

Was it worth it? No, the Rangers need to accept that the window of opportunity has closed. 

Pittsburgh Penguins: 

  • Acquired Justin Schultz from the Edmonton Oilers for a 2016 third round pick. 

What is there to even say about this one? The Penguins took a flyer on a guy who once upon a time looked like one of the most exciting prospects in the game. In the summer of 2012, literally every team in the NHL wanted to sign Justin Schultz after he tore apart the NCAA and looked like the next elite offensive defenceman to hit the NHL. 

After a rookie season that saw him win Defenceman of the Year in the AHL despite only playing half of the season in the league (scoring 48 points in 34 games will do that for you), Schultz never took the step forward that Craig MacTavish, who had already anointed him “a future Norris Trophy winner” expected. He was eventually booed out of Edmonton after a wealth of poor defensive efforts, terrible giveaways, and a lack of offence to make up for it, so the Penguins sent them a third round pick to see if they could cure the Oilers curse. 

Have they? Well, not really. Schultz has three points in 11 games playing sheltered offensive minutes, which obviously isn’t good enough for somebody who can’t play adequate defence.

Was it worth it? Meh, it was only a third round pick. 

Washington Capitals:

  • Acquired Daniel Winnik and a 2015 fifth round pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Brooks Laich, Connor Carrick, and a 2016 second round pick. 
  • Acquired Mike Weber from the Buffalo Sabres for a 2016 third round pick. 

The Washington Capitals paid a pretty hefty price to acquire Daniel Winnik from the Toronto Maple Leafs. In return for the gritty winger, the Caps gave Toronto prospect Connor Carrick and a 2016 second round pick. That seems like a lot, but a big part of it had to with the fact Toronto was also willing to take on Brooks Laich and all of his $4.5 million contract this year and next. Dumping that salary will make a lot easier for them to sign Dmitry Orlov, Marcus Johansson, and other key RFAs this summer.

Winnik hasn’t produced much since being acquired, scoring two goals and adding one assists in 12 games, but he has some of the best possession numbers on the team while playing in a defensive role. When you have Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov on your team, you really don’t need Daniel Winnik to be producing a hell of a lot anyways. 

The Caps also added defenceman Mike Weber from the Buffalo Sabres to simply be a warm body to provide depth. Paying a third round pick for a player of Weber’s calibre isn’t ideal, and probably wasn’t great value, but the Caps are the best team in the league right now, so I’m sure they aren’t all too worried about a pick that’s going to end up being around 90th overall. 

Was it worth it? Yes, the Capitals added depth and shed a terrible contract, and that’s most important than middling prospects and draft picks right now. 

Chicago Blackhawks: 

  • Acquired Andrew Ladd, Jay Harrison, and Matt Fraser from the Winnipeg Jets for Mark Dano, a 2016 first round pick, and a conditional 2018 third round pick. 
  • Acquired Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise from the Montreal Canadiens for Phillip Danault and a 2018 second round pick.

The Blackhawks paid a huge price to get Andrew Ladd back in Chicago for another Stanley Cup run, sending Winnipeg a 2016 first round pick and prized prospect Marko Dano for their captain’s services. That said, Ladd has already made it worth their while, scoring six goals and collecting three assists in his first 13 games back with Chicago. Production aside, this was a really necessary deal for the Hawks to make. Not only is great to bring in a player who’s already familiar with the team and the coach, they needed somebody better than Richard Panik to play alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa on the team’s top line that can provide both offensively and stay above water defensively. 

The Hawks also addressed some of their depth issues by grabbing Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise from the Montreal Canadiens, which is a pretty significant upgrade over the revolving door of entry-level deal bodies they were throng out there all season. Fleischmann has been excellent so far, as he’s chipped in five goals and has posted a 55.1 Corsi For percentage, while Weise has struggled, collecting only one point through ten games and managing possession numbers will into the negative.

Was it worth it? Yes, the Hawks desperately needed quality NHL depth for another long playoff run, and since they’re in win now mode, they might as well capitalize on it. 

Colorado Avalanche: 

  • Acquired Shawn Matthias from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Colin Smith and a 2016 fourth round pick. 
  • Acquired Mikkel Boedker from the Arizona Coyotes for Alex Tanguay, Conner Bleackley, and Kyle Wood. 
  • Acquired Eric Gelinas from the New Jersey Devils for a 2017 third round pick. 

Well, this could have been a lot worse. 

The Avs decided, despite the fact they have the worst possession numbers in the league, that they were legitimate playoff contenders. Yeah, okay, fair enough. They were only a few points out of the playoffs at the time, and the Minnesota Wild looked like arguably as big of a train wreck as them, so I guess it was possible. 

Anyways, they dealt not a hell of a lot and brought in Mikkel Boedker, Shawn Matthias, and Eric Gelinas.  Gelinas, a reclamation project from New Jersey, has only played six games, so we won’t pass judgement there. Matthias, well, they gave up a nothing prospect and a fourth for him, so anything is something. And Boedker has actually been really good, despite sliding into the deadline as one of the more overrated rental forwards on the market. Still, though, none of these moves are good enough to make the Avs a legit playoff team. 

Was it worth it? Sure? The Avs never should have been buyers, but these deals didn’t hamper their future at all. 

Dallas Stars: 

  • Acquired Kris Russell from the Calgary Flames for Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock, and a conditional 2016 second round pick. 

Oh man. This trade was probably the worst of deadline day by a pretty large margin. I’ll never understand the love for Kris Russell. He’s that kind of guy who is somehow labelled as being an excellent shutdown defenceman despite the fact his team gets absolutely taken to lunch whenever he’s on the ice. Throughout his time with the Flames, whenever Russell was on the ice, the team allowed significantly more shot attempts, scoring chances, and high danger chances against than they did when he wasn’t playing?

So, uh, why is he considered a shut down guy? I don’t know? Because he blocks a lot of shots? Throws a lot of hits? Two things that indicate the fact that he isn’t actually doing a good job? Regardless, the Stars sent the Flames a massive package for Russell, including a decent young defenceman with a challenging name that everybody needs to copy paste in Jyrki Jokipakka, a solid prospect in Brett Pollock, and a draft pick that becomes a first rounder if Dallas makes it to the Western Conference Finals. 

So, how has Russell been in Dallas? As bad as we expected? He’s been injured a bit, so he’s only made it into nine games, but when he does suit up, he logs a lot of minutes and the other team gets a whole bunch more shot attempts than his team does. Same old story. 

Was it worth it? Absolutely not, the Stars don’t have a great defence, but this was a huge price to pay for a pretty forgettable player. 

Anaheim Ducks: 

  • Acquired Brandon Pirri from the Florida Panthers for a 2016 sixth round pick. 
  • Acquired Jamie McGinn from the Buffalo Sabres for a conditional third round pick. 
  • Traded Patrick Maroon to the Edmonton Oilers for Martin Gernat and a 2016 fourth round pick.

The Ducks have been one of the league’s best teams in the latter half of the season, and they further augmented themselves at the deadline, bringing in low-cost scoring depth in the form of Jamie McGinn and Brandon Pirri. They also sold Patrick Maroon to the Oilers for not much to get excited about, and even retained part of his salary to boot. I didn’t think Maroon was bad enough to be the kind of player you paid $500K to have play against you, but the Ducks are a budget team, so they have to be stingy with their spending. 

Anyways, like I said, they brought in McGinn and Pirri for next to nothing, and they’re a better team for it. There was talk that one of their good young defenceman, probably Sami Vatanen, was going to be on the way out before the deadline, since the Ducks likely can’t afford to keep all of their soon-to-be restricted free agents around, but they didn’t budge. That’s probably a good thing, seeing as how they could probably get better value for a player like Vatanen over the summer as teams retool and make major moves. 

Was it worth it? Well, they barely gave up anything, so it certainly was. 

Edmonton Oilers: 

  • Acquired Patrick Maroon from the Anaheim Ducks for Martin Gernat and a 2016 fourth round pick. 

The Oilers? Buyers? What? 

No, the Oilers certainly weren’t buyers this year, as they sold off Teddy Purcell and Justin Schultz, but they added Patrick Maroon from the Ducks, so I figured I would add them in here. Maroon has been excellent with the Oilers so far, scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace and posting positive possession numbers alongside Connor McDavid. They also managed to get him at a discounted rate, as the Ducks retained $500K of his salary for the remainder of his contract, meaning they have him locked up for two more years at a cap hit of $1.5 million. 

Was it worth it? Yes, Maroon is exactly the type of player Edmonton needs. 

Los Angeles Kings: 

  • Acquired Kris Versteeg from the Carolina Hurricanes for Valentin Zykov and a conditional fifth round pick. 

There isn’t much that can be said just yet about the Los Angeles Kings’ acquisition of Kris Versteeg, considering he’s only played nine games thanks to being sidelined due to a foot injury. Regardless, the Kings only have to give up a fifth round pick and a prospect who was struggling to find themselves in the AHL, so even if Versteeg provides nothing more than an extra healthy body that can play a few minutes throughout the playoffs, they did fine in this deal.

Was it worth it? Sure, depth at a cheap price is always worthwhile. 

San Jose Sharks: 

  • Acquired Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, James Reimer, and Jeremy Morin from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Raffi Torres, Ben Smith, Alex Stalock, a 2017 second round pick, and a 2018 second round pick, and a 2018 fourth round pick. 

The Sharks made one really, really horrible deal with the Leafs prior to the deadline, and then the two teams hooked up and made another deal a few days later to even it out. 

First, San Jose got Roman Polak and Nick Spaling, two pretty forgettable depth players who don’t provide virtually anything on the offensive side of the puck for two second round picks and Raffi Torres, who wasn’t going to play this season at all anyways. So, yeah, the Sharks got hosed here. After that, San Jose got James Reimer and Jeremy Morin from Toronto for Ben Smith, Alex Stalock, and a 2018 fourth round pick. Uhh, what? So here, they gave Toronto two essentially dead contracts and a fourth rounder a few years from now for an OK prospect and a good backup goalie. 

I mean, if you put both of these deals together it makes sense, but looking at them individually, it doesn’t at all. Regardless, San Jose dumped three contracts, spent two second round picks to add two pretty average players and a goalie, and ultimately improved the team’s depth, even if it wasn’t flashy. Does anybody else think it’s weird the Sharks gave up the same for Nick Spaling and Roman Polak that the Rangers did for Eric Staal?

Was it worth it? They could have done better in terms of value, but they also unloaded a handful of dead contracts, so it could have been worse.