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Metropolitan Division Weekly Roundup: Trade Deadline Grades

How much has the Metropolitan Division scenery changed after the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, and who improved the most?

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

1. Carolina Hurricanes: 90 Points (42-15-6) B-

The Carolina Hurricanes were mostly inactive on trade deadline day, only making one trade in acquiring Max Domi from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Domi, who can play center, will play wing for the Canes and can fill in for Jordan Martinook, who is listed as week-to-week. Domi has a history of playing with an edge, something the Hurricanes needed to add, but also has 34 points this season with nine goals and 25 assists. He brings more flexibility to the top-nine, who have been struggling to score in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. The return for Domi was minimal and cost the Canes two prospects and a sixth-round pick. A full trade analysis can be found here.

The Canes were also able to announce an extension for Jesperi Kotkaniemi once the deadline officially passed, which they did, an eight-year deal with a $4.82 million AAV. This deal is more sustainable and reasonable than the $6.1 million deal that was required in the offer sheet. The cap hit is almost identical to current center Vincent Trockeck’s deal but with two more years of term. There is a significant chance that the Canes will lose Trocheck in free agency and Kotkaniemi is set to replace him in that role with the same cap hit for the next eight years.

The main success for the Canes at the trade deadline was avoiding paying high prices for players that would not help the team. While Don Waddell mentioned wanted depth at defense, Jalen Chatfield has already shown he can step up and play in a moment’s notice and do so admirably as an eighth defenseman. The Canes prefer to avoid rental deals and opt more for “hockey trades”, which we saw with Brady Skjei. Any deal for Jacob Chychrun or John Klingberg would be deals that would come at the upcoming draft.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins: 87 Points (39-16-9) A

The Pittsburgh Penguins, like the Hurricanes, only made one significant move. They traded Zach Aston-Reese, Dominik Simon, a prospect and a 2022 second-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for Rickard Rakell. Rakell will immediately slot into the second line and play on the wing with Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins have struggled to get their second line going and needed a winger who has a proven track record playing with talented players. In 51 games in Anaheim, Rackell has 16 goals and 12 assists and has eclipsed the 40-point mark in five of his nine NHL seasons.

The loss of Zach Aston-Reese will be felt defensively. Aston-Reese was a key penalty killer for the Penguins ranking fourth in forwards with 1:28 shorthanded time on ice per game. However, the addition of Brock McGinn last off-season made him a redundant piece. McGinn plays more time shorthanded and provides a higher offensive upside. GM Ron Hextall was able to make a significant addition to the team while also hitting his goal of not trading a first-round pick.

3. New York Rangers: 85 Points (40-19-5) A

The New York Rangers made the biggest splash at the deadline, acquiring both Tyler Motte and Andrew Copp. They also acquired depth pieces in Nick Merkley, Justin Braun and Frank Vatrano over the last week. The Rangers are making the right moves at the right time to try to make a deep run with a team that still has a significant amount of entry-level contracts. The moves to acquire Copp and Motte shore up the depth problems that the Rangers have faced all season. They have really struggled with secondary scoring and five on five scoring, both of which should be improved with these acquisitions and make them much harder to play against.

The only issue for the Rangers is they acquired four pending free agents for five fourth-round or earlier picks in the next two drafts. They are making moves similar to the Florida Panthers but are much further away from a Stanley Cup than a team like the Panthers or the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, if you are a player on the team, it has to feel great that management has shown the willingness to go all-in on a good year.

4. Washington Capitals: 80 Points (35-20-10) C

The Washington Capitals stayed relatively quiet at the deadline only making small tweaks to the bottom six. The Caps acquired Marcus Johansson from the Seattle Kraken for Daniel Sprong, a 2022 fourth-round pick and a 2023 sixth-round pick. The Caps also sent a 2023 third-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for forward Johan Larsson. Johansson joins the Caps for the first time since the 2017-2018 season when he was previously traded to the New Jersey Devils for two picks in 2018. Neither add a ton to the lineup, but will add much-needed experience to the Caps' very young bottom six.

Washington did not make any changes to their goaltending and have been happy with their team since the start of March. The Caps lost their first regulation game in March on Sunday and started the month with points in eight straight games. The Caps felt confident enough with their goaltending to ride with Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov who have both played better as of late but haven’t inspired hope throughout the entire season.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets: 67 Points (32-29-3) C

The Columbus Blue Jackets only made a single move, which was trading Max Domi to the Carolina Hurricanes for prospect Aidan Hreschuk. It was disappointing to not see the Blue Jackets able to pull off anything more creative to take on deadline cap for futures like the Florida Panthers did for the Domi trade. The Blue Jackets' conservative moves would point towards them re-signing Patrik Laine and conserving the current cap space that they have.

The Blue Jackets already have two first-round picks heading into the draft, so they weren’t on the hot seat to make a big splash deal to get another pick. They are in a great place heading into the draft with enough picks and prospects and enough cap space that they could “weaponize.”

6. New York Islanders: 63 Points (27-25-9) D

The Islanders are having a tough season which will end with them missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2017-2018 season. From the outside, they appear as the prototypical sellers at the deadline, but they made zero trades. Heading into the deadline they only had five pending UFAs and two pending RFAs. Outside of Sebastian Aho who is a pending Group 6 UFA, their youngest pending UFA was Cal Clutterbuck who is 34 years old. The Islanders didn’t have many attractive players at the deadline and instead of moving on from them, they announced two extensions on Monday. A one-year $750k deal for Zach Parise and a two-year extension with a $1.75 million AAV for Cal Clutterbuck.

The Islanders have very little flexibility heading into next season and their main issue of long-term contracts with significant AAVs is not an easily addressable solution at the deadline. Team construction issues are dealt with at the draft and in the offseason. The Isles already had to make a deal to shed cap when they traded Andrew Ladd to the Coyotes and had to include up to four draft picks including a first-round pick to sweeten the pot. With just $11 million in cap space and five spots to fill this offseason, they could be looking at a similar deal to unload another aging contract.

7. Philadelphia Flyers: 51 Points (20-31-11) A-

The Philadelphia Flyers did a great job at the deadline in getting some assets back for their players. The Flyers had a tough job in trading Claude Giroux, who only wanted to go to the Florida Panthers. When players only want to go to a single destination, teams can get a small return. The Flyers were able to get Owen Tippett, a 2024 first-round pick and a 2023 third-round pick for him. The Flyers were also able to acquire two more picks in the 2023 NHL draft for Justin Braun and Derick Brassard. This means the Flyers only have six picks in the upcoming draft without a second-round pick but have bolstered their 2023 and 2024 drafts.

The Flyers don’t have any help in the upcoming draft, and they also do not want to admit they are in a rebuild so they are in limbo. They refuse to admit they are in a rebuild but made moves that point them in that direction. This could lead to an active 2022 draft with the Flyers either trying to trade into the 2022 draft or trading their future picks for immediate help. Either way, the Flyers still have a lot of work to do to accomplish either a rebuild or a reconstruction to try to compete immediately.

8. New Jersey Devils: 51 Points (23-25-5) F

The trade deadline will look like a disappointment to the New Jersey Devils after they failed to trade P.K. Subban or make a single significant trade for the future. It is hard to believe they wouldn’t be able to get any assets for Subban who has been an elite defenseman for the majority of his career has been. The Devils had already announced they were not going to re-sign him this off-season so it's hard to believe they wouldn’t have taken anything they could have gotten for him. They will now lose him this offseason for free.

The one deal they completed was sending Nathan Schnarr to the Montreal Canadiens for goalie Andrew Hammond. Hammond has started three games this season for the Canadiens and has earned a 3-0-0 record with a .920 save percentage. Hammond is the fifth goalie listed on the Devils roster. Hammond is 34 and is a pending UFA so he does not help the Devil's goaltending long-term. The Devils have been completely undone by their poor goaltending this season, but it seems too little too late to now try to solve that problem this season.