2020 Trade Deadline: 3 Teams That Improved Their Prospect Pools

The 2020 NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and as you can expect there were some massive moves. As with any trade deadline, some teams were buying veteran and NHL players as they ramp up for a playoff run, but some teams were selling these pieces off in return for young prospects and draft picks. Granted, there weren’t as many prospects moved as we’ve seen in past years but still, a few notable ones changed teams.

Related: The NHL’s Best Farm Systems Ranked – Midseason Update

Out of all of the deals, those selling off NHL assets for prospects and picks set up some interesting futures for those teams. Some good prospect pools got better, and other farm systems that were looking bleak are starting to look better. With that in mind, here are three teams that improved their prospect pools the most at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline.

Honourable Mention: Senators Stock up on Picks

Midseason Prospect Ranking: 2nd

Alright, the Ottawa Senators didn’t really add any prospects this year, but what they did acquire is draft picks. General manager Pierre Dorion showed last year that he wasn’t afraid to make some moves, and he did that again in 2020. The Senators sent Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Dylan DeMelo, Tyler Ennis, and Vladislav Namestnikov away (each to a different team).

Ottawa Senators Pierre Dorion
Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)

In return, the Senators loaded up for the upcoming drafts. For 2020, they received a first-round pick (top-three protected), a second-round pick, and a third-round pick. They also added a fourth-round pick in 2021 and a conditional third-round pick in 2022 (the New York Islanders need to win the Stanley Cup).

Looking just to 2020, the Senators have nine picks in the first three rounds, including three in the first round. They may not have helped their prospect pool right away at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, but they are going to be seeing the results for years to come in their farm system and at the NHL level.

Wild Bolster Future Defense with Addison

Midseason Prospect Ranking: 20th

The Minnesota Wild made a splash early on in February, sending Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a 2020 conditional first-round pick, Alex Galchenyuk, and prospect Calen Addison. Addison plays for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL and was drafted by the Penguins 53rd overall in 2018.

He’s a great skater and a solid playmaker, and I have no questions that he will be a top-four defender for the Wild. Minnesota has some work to do on their prospect pool and this is a solid first step. With Kaprill Kaprizov, Matthew Boldy, Adam Beckman, and Vladislav Firstov the future of their forward corps, their defensive prospects were lacking significantly.

Calen Addison
Calen Addison (courtesy Lethbridge Hurricanes)

He immediately becomes the club’s top defensive prospect, and it could be argued that he’s a top-three prospect for the club. In the midseason update of my top-100 NHL prospects, Kaprizov was the top at eighth, Boldy was second at 49, and Beckman was third at 77. Addison was right there, at 79. The Wild still have work to do, but there are some very good prospects in the system.

They’ll be able to further add to their farm system with the 2020 first-round pick as well. The condition on the pick is if the Penguins don’t make the playoffs this season, the pick moves to 2021. They don’t have a whole lot of picks coming up (seven) but having two of those in the first round and likely three in the top-50 is a great start in re-stocking the prospect cupboard.

It’s just one prospect for now, but Addison makes a significant impact on this roster.

Devils Have New Top Offensive Prospect in Foote, Add Depth

Midseason Prospect Pool Ranking: 17th

The New Jersey Devils came into February ready to make moves as sellers and they did just that. The club made five trades this month with four of them set to help the club long term. The biggest of them all though was one of two trades made on Feb. 16, where they sent Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Nolan Foote and a 2020 first-round pick.

This was quite the haul for the Devils, and while the first-round pick is exciting, acquiring Foote as well is huge. He was just drafted in 2019, 27th overall. He has star written all over him. His shot is his biggest strength, and every time I watch him play it seems to get harder and faster. He’s great with the puck and should be a top-six winger very soon.

Imagining Foote on the wing of Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier is something that Devils’ fans should be very excited about. He’s is an immediate improvement to their prospect pool, easily becoming the group’s top-offensive threat.

Nolan Foote Kelowna Rockets
Nolan Foote of the Kelowna Rockets (Marissa Baecker/Shootthebreeze.ca)

But the Devils weren’t done there. That same day, they went out and sent Andy Greene to the New York Islanders in exchange for defenseman David Quenneville and a 2021 second-round pick. The Devils are taking a bit of a chance on Quenneville here, as his play hasn’t really taken off from his stellar seasons in the WHL.

He was drafted 200th overall back in 2016 and looked very good in the WHL. As a 5-foot-8 defenseman, he has his work cut out for him if he has a shot to make the NHL one day, but he’ll need to find his offense again. Still, the Devils taking chances on young players is a good thing.

The final prospect brought in came on deadline day, Feb. 24, in a deal with the Carolina Hurricanes that sent Sami Vatanen out of New Jersey. In return, the Devils added defender Fredric Claesson, prospect Janne Kuokkanen, and a conditional 2020 fourth-round pick.

Kuokkanen is another forward, a highly-skilled offensive threat that can also play in his own end. Another 2016 draftee, the Finnish winger was taken 43rd overall. While his point totals seem to have plateaued in the AHL, he remains a solid prospect that could become a scoring middle-six forward for the Devils.

For those keeping track, we’re up to a 2020 first-round pick, fourth-round pick, and a 2021 second-round pick. In addition, they traded Wayne Simmons to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick. Much like the Senators above, the Devils are building for the future. Also just like the Senators, they hold three first-round picks in the talent-heavy 2020 NHL Draft. This prospect pool is trending up.

Kings Deep Pool Gets Deeper with Madden Addition

Midseason Prospect Pool Ranking: 1st

It’s hard to improve a prospect pool that is already the best in the league, but the Los Angeles Kings did it. While they only added one prospect, it’s enough to push the needle enough to call them one of the three teams to improve their prospect pool.

On Feb. 17, the Kings sent Tyler Toffoli to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Tim Schaller, prospect Tyler Madden, and a 2020 second-round pick. Madden enters an absolutely stacked system that includes forwards Alex Turcotte, Samuel Fagemo, Arthur Kaliyev, Akil Thomas, and Gabe Vilardi.

Tyler Madden of the Central Illinois Flying Aces
Tyler Madden formerly of the Central Illinois Flying Aces (Hickling Images)

He’s one of the most creative prospects in the entire league, with speed for days, and great playmaking ability. He’s a strong contender for the Hobey Baker Award in the NCAA this season, and he’s looking like he has top-line NHL potential. The future of this team is looking very good and Madden looks like he could be a big part of that.

On top of the Madden addition, the Kings have continued to set themselves up to add more prospects. The Madden deal brought in a 2020 second-round pick, and the team continued to make moves all month, adding a 2020 second-round pick, third-round pick, conditional fourth-round pick, 2021 second-round pick, and a conditional third-round pick. The future is bright in LA.

Sights Now Turn to NHL Draft

With the trade deadline over, the sellers now set their sights on the 2020 NHL Draft. While there may be some trades between the end of the season and the draft, the draft is really the next big moment where teams can make a significant impression on their farm system. We’ll just have to wait through the end of the NHL season and Stanley Cup Playoffs to get there.

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