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Central Division Weekly Roundup: Trade Deadline Aftermath

The Canes only made one move, but the rest of the division was active at the trade deadline.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

1. Carolina Hurricanes: .707 P% (28-12-2) 58 Points

The Hurricanes’ trade deadline was silent as expected. Don Waddell doesn’t like making rental acquisitions and with the team playing so well, they didn’t need to bring in new players and mess with any chemistry down the stretch. It certainly doesn’t help that they laid two eggs against the Red Wings to give up their advantage over the Lightning and their position to possibly win the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s top team in the regular season.

The Hurricanes did make one move to ship out Haydn Fleury to the Anaheim Ducks for Jani Hakanpaa and a sixth-round pick. Fleury was always touted as an offensive defenseman, but was never able to get it going offensively at a consistent level outside of the bubble last season. With Jake Bean coming in and making an immediate impact, the writing was on the wall. With the Canes already having one defenseman too many, their hands were forced to move Fleury out. This also allows them to avoid losing him for free in the expansion draft and the Canes also free up salary cap space in an upcoming important offseason.

The Canes are also excited about Hakanpaa and think he could be a defenseman who would re-sign in the offseason. He is a true stay-at-home defenseman who could pair with someone like Bean to give him more freedom. He also plays and extremely physical game which reminds me of a Tim Gleason type role. Waddell also opted to keep all three goaltenders on the roster. He might be tentative to move one after a couple of seasons of injuries in crucial times, and having all three gives them greater depth heading into the playoffs. However, rolling three goaltenders in the regular season has never seemed to work.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning: .690 P% (28-12-2) 58 Points

The Tampa Bay Lightning got their guy on Saturday when they acquired defenseman David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tampa sent a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022- third-round pick to Columbus and also had to trade a 2021 fourth-round pick to the Detroit Red Wings to retain 50% of his salary. Savard played a top four shutdown defenseman role with the Blue Jackets. He plays almost 20 minutes a night and is relied upon heavily when the team is protecting a lead. According to Dom Luszczyszyn, he rates out as a bottom pairing defenseman.

His stats have taken a bit of a hit this season with a -5.7% Corsi relative. He has also ranked second to last on the Blue Jackets with a 26.79% goals for rate. A good amount of the decline this season could be attributed to his extremely low 936 PDO this season and his low 37% offensive zone starts under John Tortorella. He should see his PDO bounce back naturally and will also be working with better teammates in Tampa. Regardless of his downtrend this season, he becomes the leading shot blocker on the team with 20 more than their current leader in Ryan McDonagh.

3. Florida Panthers: .674 P% (27-12-4) 58 Points

The Florida Panthers had a really smart trade deadline. They were able to acquire some depth pieces at fairly low costs. They started last week when they re-acquired Lucas Wallmark from the Blackhawks for Brett Conolly, a couple of low value players, and a 2021 seventh-round pick. They then acquired Brandon Montour from the Buffalo Sabres for a 2021 third-round pick on Saturday. Their final trade was acquiring Sam Bennett and a 2022 sixth-round pick from the Calgary Flames for a 2022 second-round pick and prospect Emil Heineman. The Panthers also took a flier on Nikita Gusev, who had previously been cut by the New Jersey Devils.

Wallmark and Bennet are both flexible forwards that can play center that really improve their bottom-sixth depth. If you combine them with Gusev, it will allow the Panthers to more comfortably roll four lines if they are not relying on Mason Marchment, Eetu Luostarinen and Juho Lammikko to eat up minutes as the fourth line. Brandon Montour can immediately come in and play a top-four role and play 20 minutes a game. He can start playing on the top pairing if need be, which will help ease the loss of Aaron Ekblad. In general, the moves were fairly low risk for four depth rentals.

4. Nashville Predators: .557 P% (24-19-1) 49 Points

The Predators had the most drastic 180 in the league when it came to the trade deadline. A month ago it was reported that everyone was on the table and that GM David Poille was listening to offers around Fillip Forsberg. Now after a heavy winning streak, the Preds basically stayed put, making only one move to bring in Erik Gudbranson for Brandon Fortunato and a 2023 seventh-round pick. Fortunato was an undrafted free-agent signing and the seventh-round pick meant that they essentially acquired Gudbranson for free.

However, that acquisition doesn’t improve the defense, and he only really provides depth. He is now playing on his fifth team in three seasons and has been dealt at the deadline in each of the last three seasons. Looking at his heatmaps it’s easy to see that when he is on the ice both the offense and defense impacted negatively.

5. Chicago Blackhawks: .523 P% (20-18-5) 45 Points

The Blackhawks quietly had one of the best trade deadlines of any team. First, they avoided the temptation to add at the deadline, looked at where they are in the standings and made the right call to punt down the road for a possible playoff run. GM Stan Bowman was able to upgrade his draft position in the coming season without trading away any lasting pieces. All in all they traded a couple of expiring contracts that didn’t affect their long-term plan.

The largest move was shipping Mattias Janmark to the Vegas Golden Knights for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick. They also acquired a 2021 fourth-round pick for Madison Bowey from the Canucks and a couple of prospects from the Colorado Avalanche for Carl Soderberg. Both Soderberg and Janmark are on expiring one-year deals and will be unrestricted free agents. They also were able to keep Nikita Zadorov, who could be a valuable piece on the blue line moving forward.

6. Dallas Stars: .512 P% (15-14-12) 42 Points

The only move that the Dallas Stars made around the deadline was claiming former Hurricane Sami Vatanen. Vatanen was waived by the New Jersey Devils on Sunday before being claimed Monday. Vatanen provides little more than depth as a replacement level player on the blue line. The Stars have an extremely condensed schedule down the stretch and have been dealing with injuries all year, so it was a no-risk move that they could afford to bring in a right-handed defenseman. Much like Nashville, who they are fighting for the last playoff position with, the smartest decision was keeping their team together and not making a drastic move. They will still be able to compete and possibly make their way into the fourth spot in the Central without making any changes.

The Stars also have a big offseason coming up with 10 pending free agents, only two of which are restricted. They will still have Ben Bishop, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Esa Lindell, and Joe Pavelski in their core. They are still positioned to win if they can keep some of the secondary players around. The time to make any franchise-defining move is always in the offseason, and not during the strangest trade deadline we’ve seen in decades. They still have every one of their original draft picks in the next three seasons and are not forced into making moves to get back into and out of any rounds and drafts.

7. Columbus Blue Jackets: .443 P% (15-20-9) 39 Points

The Blue Jackets have to look at the trade deadline as a win for them. While they are not where they hoped to be in the standings, they acquired two first-round picks during a last-minute sell-off. Columbus didn’t even have to sell off one of their goalies to get this return, just David Savard and Nick Foligno. Foligno is also a prime candidate to return to the Blue Jackets this offseason, so they could end up with a first-round pick for 12 games without their captain.

GM Jarmo Kekkalainen has been in a unique position over the last few years. He has had multiple superstars on expiring contracts or demanding trades. He has done a great job at making lemonade out of lemons. First, he kept expiring stars to propel the team to its first playoff series win in 2019. Since then he has had to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson which saw him land Max Domi, Jack Roslovic and Patrik Laine, three impact players. Now he will have to navigate re-signing Laine and possibly finding a new coach which could drastically change the future of the team.

8. Detroit Red Wings: .409 P% (15-23-6) 36 Points

The Red Wings pulled off the biggest trade at the deadline when they acquired Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick for Anthony Mantha. Mantha and Vrana are very similar players who played very different roles. Vrana has played more sheltered minutes while Mantha has had a larger role with Detroit. Vrana is a great scoring winger who is a pending arbitration eligible restricted free agent. Vrana’s development will be great to watch and see if he flourishes in a new expanded role.

Richard Panik will also serve a valuable role for the Red Wings. He is a good depth forward who has two years left at $2.75 mil AAV. At 30 years old he will also provide some experience to a lineup that needs both depth and experience during a rebuild. With the acquired picks, Steve Yzerman now has 12 picks in the upcoming draft with seven coming in the first three rounds. While this is the trickiest draft in recent history, Yzerman has a great drafting record so Detroit fans should feel good about where they are.