While the NHL trade deadline is of course where the biggest splashes are made, the AHL trade deadline, which officially passed at 3:00 PM EST on March 28, can see significant moves get made to bolster playoff-bound teams.
The Chicago Wolves, currently leading the Central Division and on the verge of clinching a playoff spot, made a few moves of their own today to gather some reinforcements. The team is poised to make a deep playoff run, but has been dealing with injuries recently.
There is also the NHL playoffs to contend with; the Hurricanes will undoubtedly call up a few members of the Wolves to act as black aces for the NHL playoff run. A player like Jalen Chatfield, who has acquitted himself well at the NHL level this year, could be out of the lineup for the Wolves as he sits as insurance for the Hurricanes. That leaves some holes on the Wolves’ roster, which both the Wolves and Hurricanes organizations worked to fill today.
In perhaps the most significant move, the Hurricanes traded forward Maxim Letunov to the New York Rangers for defenseman Tarmo Reunanen. Reunanen, 24, is a 2016 fourth round draft pick of the Rangers. He came to North America last season after playing professionally in Finland. Reunanen played in four NHL games with the Rangers last season but largely has played for the Hartford Wolfpack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate.
Trades between the two Wolf-based teams are fun!— Sean O'Brien (@SeanOBrien81) March 28, 2022
Think Chicago got the better player, but Hartford filled a bigger need here. https://t.co/CcXebitDq3 pic.twitter.com/M75YOayJom
Reunanen recorded 17 points in 40 games this year for Hartford, but had been pushed down the depth chart by other Rangers prospects. Adding him to the Wolves gives additional depth to their blue line.
Losing Letunov hurts, particularly after he just had one of his best games of the season, but also because he’s acted as a translator for Pyotr Kochetkov. His 13 goals (23 points overall) have helped provide depth scoring on a team that at times has been very top-heavy. However, the team’s next move will hopefully replace some of those goals, as they received forward Richard Panik on loan from the New York Islanders organization.
Panik’s best season came in 2016-17, when he scored 44 points with the Chicago Blackhawks, but he’s been on a downward trajectory since then. Panik has played most of this season with the Bridgeport Islanders in the AHL, recording seven goals and five assists in 28 games.
Panik has one more year left on his deal, but with no real future in the Islanders organization, this loan at least guarantees him a playoff run, and provides some more veteran experience for a young Wolves team. Panik has played 521 NHL games and 194 AHL games in his career and won the Calder Cup in 2012 with the Norfolk Admirals.
Not a 1 for 1 swap with Letunov, but both have very similar value according to the model.— Sean O'Brien (@SeanOBrien81) March 28, 2022
Surprised to see the Sound Tigers giving away pieces though given their playoff push. https://t.co/GrDstkYij3 pic.twitter.com/jSZUh2YzIi
Finally, the Wolves added another veteran defenseman, acquiring Chris Bigras from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for future considerations. The 27-year old defenseman has played for several different AHL teams over the course of his career. He most frequently plays on the right side but can be versatile enough to switch if needed.
As Sean's Point Shares Model showcases, Bigras heads to the Wolves after ranking between a first pairing and third pairing defensemen the past three seasons.#AHL #AHLTransactions #WeAreTheWolves #WBSPens https://t.co/3UlbK3bsat— Full Press AHL (@FPC_AHL) March 28, 2022
Bigras’ performance has been up and down, largely likely due to the varied quality of the teams he played on. This year with the Penguins, he recorded three goals and seven assists over the course of 28 games. He missed nearly all of December with an injury, hence the limited action.
Chris Bigras' third goal of the year ties it for WBS, 3-3. That started with Alex Nylander winning a battle along the boards to set it up. pic.twitter.com/vXjRNNRNWK— Taylor Haase (@TaylorHaasePGH) March 26, 2022