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Metropolitan Division Weekly Roundup: Post Trade Deadline Fallout

Every team in the Metropolitan Division made a deal to shake up their roster. Did the Carolina Hurricanes do enough?

NHL: FEB 25 Stars at Hurricanes Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

1. Washington Capitals: 84 Points (39-18-6)

The Capitals made a pair of moves at the deadline. They acquired Ilya Kovalchuk for a 2020 third-round draft pick, with the Canadiens retaining half of the veteran’s minimum salary. Kovalchuk only costs them $350k in cap space and was a low risk trade that could have large returns. He is a friend of Alex Ovechkin and will likely bring a scoring punch to the third line and make game planning against the top line harder for teams.

The Capitals also traded Christian Djoos for forward Daniel Sprong. We knew that one defenseman was going to be traded, but weren’t sure which one. It was thought that it could be last year’s deadline acquisition of Nick Jensen, but Djoos was the odd man out.

Speaking of Ovechkin, he became the eighth player all time to score 700 goals, doing so last weekend against the New Jersey Devils. The Capitals celebrated the goal with a bench clearing hug, which prompted GM Brian MacLellan to call the league offices to make sure they would not be penalized for too many men or unsportsmanlike conduct. (They weren’t.) The team honored Ovechkin with a pregame ceremony on Tuesday before the game against the Winnipeg Jets.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins: 80 Points (37-19-6)

The Penguins made a couple of smaller moves at the deadline after landing Jason Zucker earlier. They traded a conditional third-round pick to the San Jose Sharks for Patrick Marleau. In addition, they traded Dominik Kahun to the Buffalo Sabres for Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues. The Penguins did not trade for a defenseman as many speculated. They are currently without John Marino and Brian Dumoulin, but their inaction shows one or both must be close to returning.

The Penguins have been battling through tons of injuries this season, so adding more depth in the bottom six will help bolster their group moving forward. Sheary can also slot back in the top line with Sidney Crosby whom he played with in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons. With Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann both out, Marleau and Rodrigues will likely play on third line. On a speedy and mostly young team, Marleau will bring the age and anchor to the third line. It will be really funny to see how much that line contrasts in style with the rest of the team.

3. Philadelphia Flyers: 79 Points (36-20-7)

The Flyers only made a couple of bottom-six depth trades at the deadline, trading some mid-to late round draft picks for Derek Grant and Nate Thompson. On Tuesday, Grant played on the third line with James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Pitlick, while Thompson played on the fourth with Michael Raffl and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Neither showed up on the scoresheet on Tuesday, but the fourth line did earn a goal to open scoring in the first period. The Flyers have been pushed along by Kevin Hayes who has four goals and six points in his last five games.

In their games they have gotten stronger as the game goes on. Their only period with a positive goals-for differential is the third period, where they have outscored opponents by 23. In the first two periods of games they have been outscored by 10 and 9 goals respectively. The Flyers are now 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, but now face four straight Metropolitan Division foes. First, they face the surging New York Rangers in a home and home before facing the Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes in the next week.

4. New York Islanders: 77 Points (35-20-7)

The Islanders pulled off the big one, getting Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators. They had to give up a 2020 lottery protected first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick, and a conditional 2022 third-round pick if the Islanders win the Stanley Cup. The Islanders immediately worked out an extension with Pageau worth an AAV of $5 million for six seasons. While he was the top target for teams at the deadline, he hasn’t blown the doors off with offense. This is his first season with 20 or more goals and his first time with 40 or more points since the 2015-2016 season.

He slots into the lineup as their third center behind Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson and makes them one of the deepest teams in the down the middle, centering Michael Dal Colle and Josh Bailey.

The Islanders also added a couple of injuries to the books on Tuesday. Dal Colle was crushed with a high check by Jacob Trouba and is now considered day-to-day. Andy Greene also left the first period of the game against the Rangers with an undisclosed injury and is also considered day-to-day. In addition with those two, Cal Clutterbuck will travel with the team to St. Louis.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets: 76 Points (31-20-14)

The Jackets have continued their incredible run of injuries as of late. They lost Josh Anderson for the season, who has 27 goals on the year. On Monday they also lost goaltender Elvis Merzlikins with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. We did get a fun video of an emergency backup goalie video, this time he didn’t play, but was moving quickly with his gear. On Tuesday they lost to the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-4 with Matiss Kivlenieks in net. Kivlenieks was an emergency recall on Monday.

The Blue Jackets remained fairly quiet on the trade deadline when all was said and done. They were supposedly in on Andreas Athanasiou but lost out to the Edmonton Oilers. Their only deal was to send Sonny Milano to the Anaheim Ducks for Devin Shore. Shore is a 25-year-old center who can also play winger. He is 6’1” and 205lbs and can bring a little more physicality and versatility to a squad that is dealing with over 320 man-games lost this season.

6. Carolina Hurricanes: 74 Points (35-23-4)

The Carolina Hurricanes had the busiest and best trade deadlines in franchise history. They acquired Vincent Trocheck, Sami Vatanen, and Brady Skjei. Unless the Toronto Maple Leafs have a top 10 pick, the Canes will have a first-round pick and two second-round picks in the 2020 draft. They will give the later first-round pick to the Rangers in the Skjei trade. The Canes did part with two NHL players at the deadline Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark which is a light price to pay. The rest of the assets traded at the deadline were just a couple of mid-range prospects as they were peaking.

Haula was unlikely to re-sign with Carolina this offseason, so they just lost him for the last five weeks of the season. Wallmark is a pending restricted free agent and was a good player for the Canes. However, they really hit their peak with the current lineup. Wallmark may be versatile, but he tops out at a third line center at best.

Now they have a real second line center in Vincent Trocheck who is also signed for the next two seasons. Trocheck has 10 goals and 26 assists this season. He has recorded at least 34 points in the last five seasons. He is called a pest and is tough to play against. I have a feeling he will have a fan in Rod Brind’Amour

The defensemen acquired help the Hurricanes in the short and long run. Vatanen is injured and is set to return in early March, but Skjei is signed through the 2023-2024 season. Both slot in the lineup as top four defensemen. Vatanen has five goals and 18 assists this season and quarterbacked the New Jersey Devils top power play unit. Skjei has some defensive issues but is a speedy defenseman who can really drive breakouts and create zone entries. He played in his first game with Jaccob Slavin, who can be more responsible and helpful as Skjei is getting up to speed. The Canes have the ability to get the most out of defensemen and this will be the case with Skjei.

7. New York Rangers: 72 Points (34-24-4)

The Rangers are just four points out of a playoff position now and probably handled the trade deadline as well as any team in the league. There was unfortunate news that Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shestyorkin were injured in a car accident, but the Rangers are moving in the right direction. They re-signed Chris Kreider to a seven-year $6.5 million AAV contract. While this seems like a lot, at 28 he hasn’t regressed too much in his play and has 24 goals and 45 points this season. He is a hard worker and a quick player that hasn’t looked like he is slowing down.

The Rangers did have to shed some cap space, which they did by trading Brady Skjei to the Hurricanes. They have the ability to make that move because Adam Fox has played so well as of late. They will also need to re-sign Tony DeAngelo at the end of the season, and these two can replace what Skjei brought to the table. They are also confident in their prospects, which is why they felt comfortable trading Joey Keane to the Hurricanes for Julien Gauthier.

8. New Jersey Devils: 60 Points (25-27-10)

The Devils ended up with a solid return from Blake Coleman and Sami Vatanen when you combine the return. They received Nolan Foote, a 2020 conditional first-round pick, Frederik Claesson, Janne Kuokkanen, and a 2020 conditional fourth-round pick. Before the deadline they also traded their captain Andy Greene to the New York Islanders for David Quenneville and a 2021 second-round pick. Overall, they received a good haul for their players that should go a long way in their rebuild and refreshing their player pool.

The tough thing about this deadline is that they put this rebuild — which included a ton of players — in the hands of an interim General Manager. They let Ray Shero trade Taylor Hall and acquire players he liked, before firing him. Now they let Tom Fitzgerald acquire the players he likes, before inevitably hiring their long-term GM who will have his own thoughts about players and systems. Just look at the Hurricanes: Don Waddell has all but shipped out all of Ron Francis’s acquisitions — and that’s just one GM’s work, not two.