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Metropolitan Division Weekly Roundup: Trade Deadline Grades

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How did each team fare? Who were the winners and the losers of the trade deadline?

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

1. Washington Capitals: 79 Points (36-21-7)

C-

The Washington Capitals were rumored to be in on a blockbuster deal for Erik Karlsson, but it didn’t materialize. The Caps ended up adding Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek for a 2018 third-round pick and a 2019 fifth-round pick respectively. The good news is that the Caps gave up only a couple of late picks for two players who are currently starting. However, I just don’t see how the trades make the Caps better for a deep run.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Washington Capitals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The trades add some depth defensemen to hopefully limit Brooks Orpik or Madison Bowey’s ice time. Kempny has just seven points on the year, while Jerabek has just four. Both players have just one goal on the year. Both players are over 50% Corsi players who can help driving possession, but I don’t see a top pairing of Kempny and John Carlson fairing well against a Crosby line or a Stamkos line. The Caps will also have to make some moves after the season is over if they are going to be able to re sign Carlson.

2. Philadelphia Flyers: 78 Points (34-19-10)

B+

The Philadelphia Flyers had a simple trade deadline, but the move they made was smart and savvy. GM Ron Hextall acquired goaltender Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings for a 2018 conditional fourth-round pick and a 2019 conditional third-round pick. The 2018 pick is conditional to his and the Flyers’ performance, while the 2019 pick is contingent on the Flyers re-signing Mrazek. Hextall was able to shore up his goaltending with one, and maybe two, mid-round draft picks.

The Flyers are also in their own rebuild, so it was smart for the Flyers not to sell big to get bigger pieces. What they did was acquire a goaltender that can win games while Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth are out with injuries. This has kept the Flyers’ playoff chances alive and has propelled them to second place in the Metro. With six straight wins, the Flyers are proving that they didn’t need to make too many large moves.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins: 76 Points (36-24-4)

A

The Pittsburgh Penguins made the largest splash in the trade deadline. They were able to land one of the largest names on the market, center Derick Brassard. The deal was also the most complicated of the deadline, which saw the Penguins send Ryan Reaves and a 2019 fourth-round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights and a package of Filip Gustavsson, a 2019 first-round pick, and a 2019 third-round pick to the Ottawa Senators. The deal was particularly surprising because no one expected that the Penguins would have the cap space to make the deal work.

The way they were able to do it was to send Brassard through Vegas, and have Vegas retain 40% of the salary. The whole deal was nuts because George McPhee decided to help the Penguins out massively for almost nothing in return. This deal is also huge for the Pens because Brassard is on a multi-year deal and has one more year left on his deal after this season. Brassard, who is a borderline first line center, will now be the third line center for the Penguins, who are only on the hook for $3,000,000 of his salary.

The Penguins also announced a five year $5.3 million AAV contract extension for Patric Hornqvist. This deal is a little surprising to me; I thought this was the guy they needed to avoid signing this off season. The Pens already have an extremely low amount of cap space to work with and have six pending free agents after the year. Though five of them are RFA’s, if any one of them takes them to arbitration, they could be in trouble. They are going to have to re-sign all of them for around the veteran minimum to have a chance to make the roster work.

4. New Jersey Devils: 74 Points (33-22-8)

B+

About a month ago I wrote a trade trade deadline preview post and said that the New Jersey Devils were going to be cautious buyers. That’s exactly what they did, and I think it went as well as it could for them. It’s important to remember that the Devils are also on a bit of a rebuild. They were able to make two good acquisitions in adding Patrick Maroon and empty-net-goal-Jesus, Michal Grabner. In return they only had to give up two mid level prospects, a second-round pick, and a third-round pick.

These additions did not come with the selling of their future. The Devils have had a good season and did not need to make any drastic changes, they just needed to replace the injured Marcus Johansson. In just these two moves, Jersey was able to add 39 goals to their roster, which really bolsters their top nine which now consists of lines of Hall-Hirscher-Palmieri, Grabner-Zajac-Maroon, and Wood-Zacha-Bratt. This allows the Devils to roll two good top end lines, a solid depth scoring third line, and a combined checking/scoring fourth line.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets: 69 Points (32-26-5)

B

The Blue Jackets made a couple smaller acquisitions that add up to making a big impact on the team. Through three trades, Columbus was able to add scoring with Thomas Vanek, defense with Ian Cole, and improvement up the middle with Mark Letestu. These acquisitions came at a relatively small cost of Nick Moutrey, a 2020 third-round pick, a 2018 fourth-round pick, Jussi Jokinen, and Tyler Motte. None of the pieces they gave up make them significantly worse now or in the future.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The acquisitions help them shore up defensive issues and powerplay. Vanek has 14 power play points and 41 total points this season. Ian Cole was one of the biggest names on defense available at the deadline. The Blue Jackets should be able to gain a stranglehold on the second wild card position. The debut of the new look Blue Jackets will be tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. They may take a few games to gel, but I would expect them to be a very tough team to face down the stretch.

6 . New York Islanders: 65 Points (29-28-7)

UHHHHH?

The New York Islanders are tough to give a grade since they didn’t really do anything. They started off a couple of days before deadline day by trading a 2019 third-round pick for defenseman Brandon Davidson. They followed that up with trading Jason Chimera for Chris Wagner. The Wagner deal saves the Isles some money, but both contracts are set to expire at the end of the season. Davidson has just three goals and two assists this season and 20 career points in over 100 NHL games played.

Neither trade makes the Islanders better for this season or for the future. This is Davidson’s third team this season, and he has a -5.5% relative corsi so far this season. For a team that I was expecting to make a splash to push for the playoffs, they are entering the last 20 games with a whimper. The Islanders look to have no vision past this season as they have eight pending UFA’s - including one you may have heard of - and six pending RFA’s. At such a transitional point, I think it will be tough for them to re-sign all of their players, including John Tavares. This deadline didn’t add any clarity to that situation.

7. Carolina Hurricanes: 65 Points (27-25-11)

D+

The Carolina Hurricanes looked poised to be buyers all season. However, heading into the deadline the Canes lost five straight. In hindsight it’s the reason that Ron Francis ultimately decided to stay put and not make any deals. Though that is frustrating for fans and most likely the locker room, it is the most logical thing to do at the deadline.

Looking around the league, outside of the confusing Evander Kane deal, there wasn’t another deal that I would make. Rick Nash, Paul Stastny, and Tomas Plekanec are all aging vets on expiring contracts. I don’t picture them returning to their new teams past this season. Tomas Tatar ended up costing three high picks and isn’t a definitive first line player. All of these deals would require a significant mortgaging of the future, which Francis was not willing to do.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Minnesota Wild Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

I am willing to give Francis the benefit of the doubt but he MUST make a move at the draft. The Canes have too many contracts and an extremely packed farm system and AHL team. They have the ability to overpay for a top line player or a center like Mike Hoffman or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. They have to make a deal even if the return is high, because this team is proving they cannot make the playoffs as it is constructed.

8. New York Rangers: 60 Points (27-30-6)

B+

The New York Rangers were determined to sell so hard they sent a letter to fans ahead of time prepping them for what was coming up. Well, it turned out to be for good reason as they shipped out Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller, Michael Grabner, and Nick Holden. In return the Rangers received (deep breath): two 2018 first-round picks, a 2018 second-round pick, a 2018 third-round pick a 2019 seventh-round pick, a conditional 2019 second round pick, Rob O’Gara, Yegor Rykov, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, Ryan Lindgren, Vladislav Namestnikov, Libor Hajek, and Brett Howden.

Whew.

That’s some crazy return: five draft picks in the first three rounds, five prospects, and three NHL players. The Rangers wanted to rebuild, and they were able to re-stock their farm system in one deadline all while still getting some serviceable NHL players in return.

The only reason the rating isn’t higher is because trading Miller to the Lightning doesn’t make too much sense. He is an RFA so he wouldn’t have cost them too much and is still very young. There were other players that they could have ended up trading instead. On top of that I thought that the Rangers were going to be able to get one of the more promising Lightning prospects like Cal Foote or Anthony Cirelli.