There are a lot of trades made throughout the NHL. The majority of them, and generally the biggest ones, take place at the trade deadline or on draft day. However, there are a lot of trades that occur between the draft and the trade deadline. Trades provide the opportunity for the league to be turned upside down. Moving roster players, draft picks and prospects greatly impacts the league’s landscape, both in the present and in the future.
My goal with this article is to look at the 20 biggest trades over the past calendar year. That means looking at deals from the past 364 days and not being confined to the season schedule. I attempt to rank them by importance based on several factors, including the number of assets involved, player performance before and after the trade, and general repercussions from the deals – i.e. contract status, draft pick results, etc.
I will consistently update this list with regards to new trades that occur and as those on this list expire. The current rankings and stats are up-to-date as of Jan. 24.
1. Karlsson Trade Signals Rebuild in Ottawa
The Trade: On Sep. 13, 2018, the San Jose Sharks acquired Erik Karlsson and Francis Perron from the Ottawa Senators for Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan DeMelo, Joshua Norris, a 2019 or 2020 first-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick and two conditional picks
There is a lot to unpack with this trade, but it starts with Karlsson. Trading the two-time Norris Trophy winning defenseman felt like a deal that had been a long time coming. Dating back several seasons, rumors had swirled that Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was unwilling to pay Karlsson market value on his next contract that will begin in 2019-20. That rumor, in addition to the team’s on-ice struggles in 2017-18, paved the way for Karlsson’s exodus from Canada’s capital.
With the Senators, Karlsson was dynamic with .20 goals-per-game (G/G) and .83 points-per-game (P/G) averages. In addition to his two Norris wins, he was a finalist two more times, led or tied for the team-lead in scoring five straight seasons and is arguably the best player in franchise history. That being said, with the Senators trending towards a rebuild, it was time to part with their Swedish captain. His Sharks tenure started slowly with six points (all assists) in his first 10 games. Since then, he’s had three goals and 37 points in 37 games and has given the Sharks the league’s best defense.
Perron, the other piece going to the Sharks is a forward currently with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, where he has 13 goals and 28 points in 32 games. That’s a lot of production for the former 2014 seventh-round pick.
To acquire Karlsson, the Sharks parted with a handful of assets, beginning with Tierney. The 24-year-old center had 41 goals and 104 points in four seasons with the Sharks, mostly in a middle-six role. In 50 games with the Senators, he has six goals and 32 points and is well on his way to setting career highs in scoring.
DeMelo, a defenseman, had been in and out of the lineup with the Sharks and played 133 games with three goals and 32 points in total. This season, he’s played 45 games with Ottawa and has three goals and 14 points while averaging the most ice time of his career. Now to the prospects.
Balcers, a 21-year-old Latvian winger, has climbed since the Sharks took him in the fifth round of the 2015 Draft. He’s split time between the Senators and their AHL club this season. In six NHL games, he has one goal and one assist, while in the AHL, he has 14 goals and 26 points in 36 games. Meanwhile, Norris, the Sharks’ 2017 first-round pick, is a center in his sophomore season at the University of Michigan and is averaging better than a point-per-game. He represented Team USA at the 2019 World Junior Championships.
The picks are even more interesting. The Senators receive San Jose’s first-round selection in 2019 or 2020. It’s in 2019 if the Sharks miss the 2019 Playoffs and in 2020 otherwise. The 2019 second-round pick is the higher selection of San Jose’s own pick and the Panthers’ pick included in the Mike Hoffman trade.
Additionally, if the Sharks re-sign Karlsson, the Senators get a 2021 second-round pick that can be upgraded to a first if the Sharks reach the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. There’s also a conditional first-round pick that goes to Ottawa if the Sharks trade Karlsson to an Eastern Conference team during the 2018-19 season.
In total, it was, and remains, a major trade. When announced, it sent shock waves throughout the league. At one point, the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators were all thought to be contenders to land Karlsson. However, when the Sharks acquired him, it gave them the league’s best, and most explosive, blue line.
But it wasn’t entirely a loss for the Senators, who were unlikely to extend Karlsson. They received two NHL players and both are playing well, two prospects, including a former first-round selection, and a plethora of picks to further add to their farm system during the rebuild.
2. Flames and Hurricanes Make Major Deal
The Trade: On June 23, 2018, the Calgary Flames acquired Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm from the Carolina Hurricanes for Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and prospect Adam Fox
On the second day of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the Flames and Hurricanes pulled off a five-player deal that swapped defensemen and forwards, with a prospect thrown in. The Flames received Hanifin, the 2015 fifth-overall pick who became a restricted free agent (RFA) on July 1.
In 239 games with Carolina, the blueliner averaged .08 G/G and .35 P/G and was viewed as a two-way defenseman with limited offensive upside. In August, the Flames signed him to a six-year, $29.7 million deal that averages $4.95 million per season and extends through his age-27 season. So far, in 51 games with Calgary, he has four goals and 25 points and is well on his way to setting a new career high in points.
The other piece going to Calgary was Lindholm, also drafted fifth overall, but in 2013, and also an RFA. In five seasons with the Hurricanes, his personal bests were 16 goals in 2017-18 and 45 points in 2016-17. This season he has 21 goals and 58 points in 51 games playing on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. His production makes his $4.85 million cap hit look like a bargain.
In return, the Hurricanes acquired Hamilton, a 25-year-old right-shot blueliner who tied for the league-lead in goals by a defenseman in 2017-18 with 17. The Hurricanes are the third team he has played for in his seven-season career, leading many to speculate that he is a source of locker room problems. However, even if that is true, with Calgary he was a productive defenseman on one of the league’s best pairs with Mark Giordano. Since arriving in Carolina, it’s been a different story as his scoring rates are down, with eight goals and 19 points in 50 games.
The other NHL asset the Hurricanes landed is Ferland, a gritty winger whose contract expires at season’s end. He hit the 20-goal and 40-point marks for the first time in his career last season and should do so again in 2018-19. In 41 games, he has 13 goals and 25 points thanks to career-high scoring rates. He’s been especially potent on the power play with five goals and four assists.
The last piece is Fox, a 20-year-old right-shot defense prospect currently playing for Harvard University in the NCAA. In 17 games with the Crimson this season, he has seven goals and 24 points. He represented Team USA at the past two World Junior Championships and served as an alternate captain in 2018.
Fox could be a big part of how this trade plays out. Currently, it looks like a win for the Flames with Hamilton’s struggles and the potential of losing Ferland to free agency this summer. But in Fox, the Hurricanes have a potential top-pair blueliner with offensive upside who could anchor their future defense. Of course for that to occur, they have to sign him, but he still has one season of NCAA eligibility left as he’s currently a junior.
3. Lightning and Rangers Pull off League-Shifting Trade
The Trade: At the 2018 Trade Deadline, the New York Rangers sent Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to the Lightning for Vladislav Namestnikov, a 2018 first-round pick, a 2019 conditional second-round pick and prospects Libor Hájek and Brett Howden.
When the 2018 Trade Deadline arrived, the Lightning were tops in the league with 87 points and GM Steve Yzerman wanted to bolster his lineup for a deep postseason run. He met that goal by acquiring McDonagh, the Rangers’ top defenseman and captain, and Miller, a forward who can play any position on any line.
Following the trade, McDonagh had two goals and three points in 14 regular season games along with five assists in 17 postseason games. Meanwhile, Miller contributed 10 goals and 18 points in 19 regular season games and two goals and eight points in 17 playoff games. In 2018-19, McDonagh is emerging as a Norris Trophy candidate with five goals and 26 points in 49 games while Miller has bounced throughout the lineup en route to seven goals and 27 points in 43 games.
Since the deal, the Lightning have signed both players to new contracts. Miller, who was due to be an RFA on July 1, agreed to a five-year, $26.25 million contract with a $5.25 million cap hit on June 26. On July 1, the Lightning extended McDonagh for seven years with a $6.75 million cap hit and a full no-trade clause.
In exchange, the Lightning sent several valuable commodities to the Rangers, including Hájek. The Lightning drafted Hájek in the second round of the 2016 Draft and he’s currently in the AHL with four assists in 43 games. He is primarily a defensive defenseman but showed the ability to contribute some offensively when he was in the WHL.
The other prospect sent to the Rangers was Howden, the Lightning’s 2016 first-round pick. Howden is currently in the NHL and has four goals and 15 points in 47 games in his first professional season. He is a strong two-way forward with the ability to play in all three zones and should develop into a middle-six center for the Rangers.
The only NHL player the Rangers acquired was Namestnikov, who is still only 26 years old. He had a great 2017-18 season with 22 goals and 48 points, but nearly all occurred prior to the trade. He was an RFA last offseason and agreed to a two-year, $8 million contract. This season, he has four goals and 16 points in 44 games and has been mentioned in trade rumors this season.
With regards to the picks that were traded, the Rangers used the first rounder on defenseman Nils Lundkvist, a late riser on draft lists. He is a puck-moving right-shot blueliner with strong skating abilities and a high hockey IQ. He currently plays for Luleå HF and has one goal and six points in 28 games. He presented Sweden at the 2019 World Junior Championships. The other pick, a conditional second-round pick, becomes a first if the Lightning had won the Stanley Cup in 2018 or win it in 2019.
This trade had implications for both teams. For starters, it signified the Rangers’ rebuild. Trading McDonagh was expected as he was a veteran with one season left on his deal, but moving Miller felt different as he was only 24 at the time. The trade allowed the Rangers to add valuable assets, including four prospects or picks, to the organization.
The Lightning, for their part, cemented their present and future when they acquired and extended both players. Given McDonagh’s no-trade clause and the number of players they have signed long-term, the Lightning’s cap situation is pretty cut-and-dry moving forward.
4. Hurricanes Sell Low on Skinner
The Trade: On Aug. 2, 2018, the Buffalo Sabres acquired Jeff Skinner from the Hurricanes for prospect Cliff Pu, a 2019 second and 2020 third and sixth-round picks
Related: Hurricanes Trade Skinner to Sabres
Similar to the Karlsson deal, the Hurricanes deciding to ship out Skinner felt like a long time coming. The 2010 seventh-overall selection and 2011 Calder Trophy winner had mediocre production in recent seasons, including just 24 goals and 49 points in a full 2017-18 season. That being said, he was still a three-time 30-goal scorer with more value than the Hurricanes received for him.
To land Skinner, the Sabres parted with three picks, although no first rounders, and Pu, a forward currently in the AHL where he has one goal and six points in 37 games. Despite his struggles in the AHL, Pu had a successful OHL career with 29 goals and 85 points in his final season. Although whether that will ever translate to the NHL given his defense-first mentality remains to be seen. Either way, the Hurricanes sold low on Skinner and that only continues to be proven in his first season in Buffalo.
In 48 games with the Sabres, he has 30 goals, including seven on the power play, along with 14 assists to put him on-pace to set career highs in goals and points. An added bonus has been how well he and Jack Eichel have worked together with a 63.8 percent control of five-on-five goals when deployed. Of course there’s also the reality that Skinner is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and should command at least $9 million per season. If the Sabres extend him and have two-thirds of their top line locked down long-term, the trade only looks better for them.
5. July 1, 2018 – Sabres Move O’Reilly
The Trade: On July 1, 2018, the St. Louis Blues acquired Ryan O’Reilly from the Sabres for Tage Thompson, Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, a 2019 first and 2021 second-round picks
Related: Sabres Trade O’Reilly to Blues
On the first day of the 2018-19 season, the Blues and Sabres pulled off a deal that sent O’Reilly, a center, to the Blues for a package of three players and two picks. The Blues acquired O’Reilly to provide depth down the middle and landed one of the best at the position. That’s especially true in terms of faceoffs, where statistically, he is the best, annually pushing a 60 percent success rate, and in 2017-18, he set the record for most faceoff wins in a season. This season, O’Reilly has 18 goals and 50 points in 49 games with the Blues.
Going to the Sabres were two picks and three NHL players with Thompson being the most valuable. The 21-year-old forward was the Blues’ 2016 first-round pick who played junior hockey with the U.S. National Development Program and the University of Connecticut. Although he split 2017-18 between the Blues and their AHL affiliate, he has only been in the NHL this season, with 41 games played for the Sabres and six goals and 10 points.
Sobotka is a veteran forward who has generally played a bottom-six role throughout his career but is capable of chipping in points. This season he has three goals and 10 points in 45 games and has one more season at a $3.5 million cap hit. Berglund is where this trade gets interesting. Generally a depth forward the past few seasons with the Blues, he had productive seasons in the past. Earlier this season, he appeared in 23 games with the Sabres and totaled two goals and two assists with the key being “had.”
He failed to report for the Sabres’ game on Dec. 15 for which he was promptly suspended and the team ultimately terminated his contract. It took until mid-January for him to reveal that his absence was due to needing a mental break. His absence actually benefited the Sabres as he had three years at $3.85 million per year left on his contract that will be freed up.
Initially, the trade looked like a steal for the Blues given that O’Reilly is in his prime and is signed for four years after 2018-19. That was even more true considering the Blues were expected to be a strong team in 2018-19, meaning the picks the Sabres acquired would be late in the rounds. However, with the Blues underperforming and potentially being a bottom-10 team this season, the Sabres could have a lottery pick on their hands. If that occurs, the trade will look better from Buffalo’s perspective.
6. Hoffman Traded Twice in One Day
The Trades: On June 19, 2018, the Senators traded Mike Hoffman, Cody Donaghey and a 2020 fifth-round pick to the Sharks for Mikkel Boedker, Julius Bergman and a 2020 second-round pick. The Sharks later traded Hoffman and a 2018 seventh-round pick to the Florida Panthers for a 2018 fourth and fifth and 2019 second-round picks
I combined these individual trades into one section because the separates moves were essentially part of one three-team trade. The Senators wanted to move Hoffman, a three-time 25-goal scoring winger, following off-ice controversy surrounding his fiance. With Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion not wanting to trade him within the division, he shipped Hoffman west, only to have Hoffman dealt back into the division.
In the first trade, the Sharks acquired Hoffman, Donaghey and a fifth-round pick for Boedker, Bergman and a second-round pick. Pretty much every hockey fan knows who Hoffman is, but may be unaware of the others. Donaghey is a 22-year-old defenseman who went undrafted after playing in the QMJHL. The 2017-18 season was his first in professional hockey and he bounced between the AHL and ECHL, something he has continued to do with the Sharks.
Boedker is a Danish winger whom the Phoenix Coyotes took eighth overall in the 2008 Draft. He has largely been a middle-six forward in his career and had played two seasons with the Sharks before the trade occurred. In 50 games with the Senators this season, he has five goals and 27 points and has one year and $4 million left on his contract. Bergman is a right-shot blueliner whom the Sharks used a second-round pick on in 2014. He spent the previous three seasons in the AHL and is currently there with five assists in 30 games.
In the second trade, the Sharks dealt Hoffman to the Panthers for a package of draft picks, including two in the 2018 Draft, although the Sharks used neither. The fourth rounder was originally the Vegas Golden Knights’ pick they gave up to acquire Reilly Smith and the pick ultimately went to the Montreal Canadiens. The Sharks traded the fifth-round selection to the Chicago Blackhawks. San Jose still possesses the 2019 second-round pick.
Florida used the seventh-round pick they acquired on Finnish defenseman Santtu Kinnunen who is currently playing in his native country. Meanwhile, Hoffman, the trade’s centerpiece, has been great for the Panthers with 23 goals and 42 points in 48 games and is on-pace to set career highs in both categories. He has one year left on a contract that has a cap hit of $5,187,500.
Of the three teams, it’s hard to pick a clear winner, but it’s easy to see that the Senators were the clear-cut loser. They gave up Hoffman, a perennial 25-goal scorer for three average assets. Boedker is who he is, Bergman has potential but may never be a regular NHLer and the second-round pick could lead to something great or nothing at all.
Meanwhile, the Sharks received more value for Hoffman than they gave up to acquire him, which means that the Senators’ desire to move him out of the division cost them assets. Still though, it’s not like the Panthers gave up much to land Hoffman. Three draft picks and none higher than a second rounder is basically pocket change given what Hoffman’s on-ice value is.
7. Stastny Trade Proves that Winnipeg is Desired Location
The Trade: At the 2018 Trade Deadline, the Winnipeg Jets acquired Paul Stastny from the Blues for Erik Foley, a conditional 2018 first and conditional 2020 fourth-round picks
Although Stastny was a playoff rental, the trade represented more than a simple acquisition of a player for a postseason run. For starters, it meant that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff broke his trend of being patient and holding onto assets at the deadline, and instead he made a substantial move that excited fans.
It also meant that Winnipeg had become a destination hockey city as Stastny waived his no-trade clause to go to Winnipeg. For years, Jets fans dealt with players not signing with nor waiving their no-trade clauses to be dealt to the franchise. But that wasn’t the case with Stastny, and the deal was a home run on all fronts.
Cheveldayoff gave up little to acquire Stastny with just a prospect and two conditional draft picks going the other way. Foley, the prospect, was the Jets’ 2015 third-round pick who was nearly a point-per-game player his last two seasons in college. This season, the forward should have been with the Blues’ AHL affiliate, but concussion symptoms have him out indefinitely.
The conditions on the picks were as follows: the 2018 first-rounder would have been moved to 2019 had it been a lottery pick, which it wasn’t, and the Blues receive the fourth-round selection if they don’t re-sign Foley before Aug. 16, 2019. The first-round pick was included in a package sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs for their first-round selection that the Blues used on German forward Dominik Bokk. He is currently playing for Växjö Lakers HC in Sweden’s SHL and has four goals and 15 points in 31 games.
Meanwhile, Stastny was fantastic for the Jets. In 19 regular season games, he had four goals and 13 points and added six goals and 15 points in 17 playoff games. He was particularly great with Patrik Laine as the two tallied a point on 18 goals in 36 games and controlled over 63 percent of five-on-five goals in the postseason. Stastny was a productive-enough deadline acquisition that there was mutual interest in him re-signing with the Jets, but the team didn’t have the cap space to afford him. Instead, the Golden Knights signed him to a three-year deal that carries a $6.5 million cap hit.
8. Sharks Trade for Evander Kane
The Trade: At the 2018 Trade Deadline, the Sharks acquired Evander Kane from the Sabres for prospect Danny O’Regan and conditional 2019 first and fourth-round picks
When the Sharks acquired Kane, it felt like the package they gave up was underwhelming. That’s especially true considering that, unless circumstances were met, the conditional picks didn’t include a first-round selection. Sure, O’Regan has potential with 15 goals and 27 points in 41 AHL games this season, but he turns 25 on Jan. 30 and is running out of time to develop into a productive NHLer. That is almost no value for Kane, at the time a two-time 25-goal scorer even if he was a pending unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
However, since then, things have turned more positive for the Sabres. The 2019 conditional first-round pick was cemented when Kane and the Sharks agreed to a seven-year, $49 million extension on May 24, 2018. Had the Sharks not retained him, the pick would have dropped to the second round. The other pick, a 2019 conditional fourth-round selection can be upgraded to a third-round pick in 2020 if the Sharks choose to keep their pick in 2019.
But even with things taking a positive direction for Buffalo, it’s not like Kane has been a slouch for the Sharks. In 17 regular season games after the trade, he had nine goals and 14 points and added four goals and an assist in nine playoff games in the first postseason action of his career. This season, he has 21 goals and 42 points in 52 games and a career-high point-per-game average.
9. Pacioretty to the Golden Knights
The Trade: On Sep. 10, 2018, the Golden Knights acquired Max Pacioretty from the Canadiens for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second-round pick
The Canadiens choosing to ship out Pacioretty felt like destiny. For several seasons he had been the scapegoat anytime the team struggled similar to the way P.K. Subban was previously. Anytime a team trades their captain and a perennial 30-goal scorer, especially when he’s on an expiring contract as Pacioretty was, it’s difficult to get a positive return, yet that’s what the Canadiens did.
The biggest asset in the return was Suzuki, a 19-year-old center whom the Golden Knights drafted 13th overall in 2017. Although undersized, he is a dynamic playmaker who is all-but certain to develop into a long-term top-six center. In 36 games this season with the Owen Sound Attack and Guelph Storm of the OHL, he has 23 goals and 53 points and should be on the Canadiens’ roster next season.
Tatar, the other known commodity acquired by the Canadiens, was somewhat of a boom-or-bust asset. There will be more on him in a bit, but he has been on a roll with the Canadiens this season with 16 goals and 38 points in 51 games. He has two years at $5.3 million left on his contract. The second-round pick originally belonged to the Columbus Blue Jackets and went to the Golden Knights at the 2017 Expansion Draft.
The day the trade was announced, a four-year, $28 million extension for Pacioretty was announced as well. He had a slow start to his first season in Vegas with six goals and nine points in his first 20 games. He has also missed 13 games on the season, but has stepped it up with nine goals and 19 points in his past 19 games.
Considering the Golden Knights won the Pacific Division and reached the Stanley Cup Final last season, it may have seemed weird that they’d add someone like Pacioretty. However, considering they rode a high PDO en route to their success, it made sense to add a proven veteran to bolster their forward group. They paid a high cost to do so by giving up Suzuki and a pick, but they were able to part with Tatar’s contract, which helped make the salary on Pacioretty’s extension work.
10. Canadiens, Coyotes Swap Domi and Galchenyuk
The Trade: On June 15, 2018, the Arizona Coyotes and Canadiens swapped Max Domi and Alex Galchenyuk in a one-for-one trade
In a trade that dug up memories of trades made in the NHL of yesteryear, the Domi/Galchenyuk trade was the rare one-for-one move. It’s also the first of three such trades on this list.
Like Pacioretty, Canadiens fans and the Montreal media had been pushing for Galchenyuk’s dismissal for several years. The 2012 third-overall pick, who doesn’t turn 25 until Feb. 12, has shown promise throughout his NHL career, including a 30-goal season in 2015-16. However, injuries and questions of whether he is a center or a winger stagnated his development.
Granted, there was some reason for the negativity considering that Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm and Filip Forsberg were drafted after him. But what gets lost is that Galchenyuk is the second-highest scorer from that draft after Forsberg. The Canadiens finally pulled the trigger during the 2018 offseason and made a trade for Domi, another young forward who has struggled to live up to his hype.
The then-Phoenix Coyotes drafted Domi 12th overall in the 2013 Draft and he had a great rookie season in 2015-16 with 18 goals and 52 points in 81 games. However, the two seasons that followed were letdowns as his point totals regressed to 38 and 45, respectively. With the Coyotes looking to shake-up their roster, GM John Chayka shipped out Domi in an attempt to capitalize on Galchenyuk’s untapped potential and the trade has worked out for both teams and both players.
Without a contract at the time of the trade, Domi and the Canadiens quickly agreed to a two-year deal with a $3.15 million cap hit. Since arriving in Montreal, he has made Bergevin and the Canadiens look brilliant with 16 goals and 44 points and is on-pace to blow past current career highs and has done well centering his own line, something he hadn’t previously done in the NHL. He has also been at-home in Montreal, arguably the most intense media market in the league.
Galchenyuk, too, has looked at home in his new city, likely enjoying the less-stressful environment of the desert. Head coach Rick Tocchet has given him the opportunity to play center and he’s rewarded that decision with the highest faceoff percentage of his career. Production-wise, Galchenyuk is performing with eight goals and 25 points in 40 games and would have likely set a new career high in points had he stayed healthy.
Although many felt the Canadiens blatantly won the deal early in the season, it’s become a bit more of a draw. Both players have stepped up following their changes of scenery.
11. Vegas Signifies Playoff Push with Tatar Acquisition
The Trade: At the 2018 Trade Deadline, the Detroit Red Wings dealt Tomas Tatar to the Golden Knights for a 2018 first, 2019 second and 2021 third-round picks
Viewed as the Golden Knights signifying that they were going for a Stanley Cup in their inaugural season, GM George McPhee parted with three draft picks, one in each of the first three rounds, to acquire Tatar. While he was with the Red Wings, the Czech winger had two 25-goal seasons and looked to be a surefire addition for Vegas. However, it didn’t play out that well.
In 20 regular season games, he had four goals and six points. In the postseason, he only played in eight of the team’s 20 games with one goal and one assist while averaging just over 12 minutes per game. That’s not a lot of production for a player with a $5.3 million cap hit. As a result, the Golden Knights included him as part of the package to acquire Pacioretty.
Vegas also paid a hefty price to land Tatar with a first, second and third-round picks going to the Red Wings. Detroit used the first-round selection, which was Vegas’ own pick, on Joe Veleno, a 6-foot-1 center who was granted exceptional status in the QMJHL as a 15-year-old. He is an gifted playmaker who is at his best when distributing the puck to teammates. He fell to Detroit with the 30th overall pick and will be a core member of the next wave of Red Wings teams. He is currently playing with the Drummondville Voltigeurs and has 29 goals and 68 points in 36 games.
The Red Wings still possess the other draft picks. The 2019 second-round pick was originally the New York Islanders’ selection that Vegas acquired ahead of the 2017 Expansion Draft, but considering how well the Islanders are playing in 2018-19, the pick is likely to be late in the round. The 2021 third-round pick was the Golden Knights’ own selection. Given that Tatar is no longer with Vegas and they could have used another asset to acquire Pacioretty, the Red Wings fleeced the Golden Knights in this deal, especially given Veleno’s potential.
12. Bruins Acquire Rick Nash
The Trade: At the 2018 Trade Deadline, the Boston Bruins acquired Rick Nash from the Rangers for a 2018 first and 2019 seventh-round picks, Ryan Lindgren, Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey
Ahead of the 2018 Trade Deadline, the Bruins bolstered their top-six by landing three-time 40-goal scorer Nash for package that included a prospect (Lindgren) and a first-round pick. On the surface, the trade appears like a standard deadline acquisition of a playoff rental. However, it turned into more than that.
Nash only appeared in 11 regular season games with the Bruins due to a concussion and scored three goals and six points. He played in an additional 12 playoff games and contributed three goals and five points. While he wasn’t exactly what the Bruins were hoping for, he was still productive. He has since announced his retirement.
For the Rangers, the deal was mostly about the first-round pick and Lindgren. Beleskey has played in five games with New York with one goal and has mostly been in the AHL while Spooner has been traded again, but more on that in a bit. Meanwhile, Lindgren, a defenseman, is a former second-round pick who played for the University of Minnesota at the time of the trade. He is currently with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and has five points in 37 games.
The first-round pick the Rangers acquired was dealt to acquire the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first rounder (22nd overall), which they used on defenseman K’Andre Miller. Miller is currently a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, represented Team USA at the 2019 World Juniors and is developing into a puck-moving blueliner with a lot of upside.
13. Predators Part with Picks for Hartman
The Trade: At the 2018 Trade Deadline, the Predators acquired Ryan Hartman and a 2018 fifth-round pick from the Blackhawks for Victor Ejdsell and a 2018 first and fourth-round picks
When the 2018 Trade Deadline arrived, the Predators were in first place in the Central Division and had Stanley Cup aspirations. They had strong defense and goaltending, but GM David Poile was looking to bolster their forward group. Although there were many playoff rentals that could have been acquired, Poile went after the 23-year-old Hartman who grew up in Illinois a Blackhawks fan. He was in the final year of his entry-level contract (ELC) and was due to be an RFA at season’s end but was under team control for two more seasons.
After the trade, Hartman had three goals and six points in 21 regular season games and two goals and three points in nine playoff games. His regular season stats were well below career averages, but he has played better in 2018-19 with nine goals and 16 points in 52 games. He has brought a physical, gritty element to the Predators’ lineup that helps open up space for teammates. However, I’m sure the Predators, and their fans, would like him to produce more given what the team gave up for him.
The Predators signed Ejdsell, the prospect included in the package, as an undrafted free agent in May 2017. The 6-foot-5 Swedish forward is in his first season in North America with six goals and 17 points in 33 games with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate.
The Blackhawks used the 2018 first-round pick on defenseman Nicolas Beaudin, currently with Drummondville in the QMJHL. In his fifth junior season, he has seven goals and 40 points in 33 games. He rose up the draft ranks as the season progressed and now looks like a future top-four defenseman who excels at moving the puck and leading the rush. The fourth-round pick became Philipp Kurashev, a Swiss center with the Québec Remparts in the QMJHL. In 39 games this season, he has 18 goals and 44 points. He also had seven points in seven World Junior games.
The Predators used the fifth-round pick on defenseman Spencer Stastney out of the U.S. National Development Program. He is currently a freshman with the University of Notre Dame and has one assist in 23 games.
Given that Hartman’s ceiling is likely as a middle-six winger who scores 15 goals per season, this trade could be bad for the Predators in the future. For starters, they gave up a lot of value considering what the draft picks resulted in. Then there’s Hartman’s contract situation. He bet on himself and signed a one-year deal last offseason instead of agreeing to a long-term contract. With his lackluster offensive numbers, it’s unlikely he receives a lucrative deal, but anytime a player isn’t under team control long-term, it can be risky.
14. Blackhawks Land Strome
The Trade: On Nov. 25, 2018, Blackhawks acquired Nick Schmaltz from the Coyotes for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini
This midseason trade involving three former first-round picks made headlines throughout the hockey world. It was also a trade that made sense for both teams.
The most-polarizing player in the deal, and also the one with the highest upside is Strome, the Coyotes’ third-overall pick from 2015. As the player in the unenviable position of going after Connor McDavid and Eichel, Strome looked like a sure thing. He tore up the OHL with the Erie Otters and led the Otters to a league championship, something McDavid failed to do.
However, when his development slowed and he played two additional seasons of junior hockey, people questioned whether Strome was a bust considering Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen and Mathew Barzal were drafted after him. It didn’t get better when Strome excelled in the AHL but struggled against NHL competition. Finally, after seven goals and 16 points in 48 NHL games, the Coyotes shipped him out. Since the trade, he has been great for the Blackhawks with nine goals and 21 points in 27 games while often playing with Patrick Kane.
The other player the Blackhawks acquired was Perlini, the Coyotes’ 2014 12th overall pick. Like Strome, Perlini played in the OHL but never reached Strome’s level of success and doesn’t have his upside either. That’s proven true in the NHL as Perlini’s generally received middle-six minutes. He did score a career-high 17 goals in 2017-18, although five were on the man advantage. Since joining the Blackhawks, he has three goals and an assist in 23 games.
The player the Coyotes acquired was Schmaltz, whom the Blackhawks selected in the first round of the 2014 Draft out of the USHL. Following the draft, he played two seasons with the University of North Dakota and helped them win the 2016 NCAA Championship. He made his NHL debut during the 2016-17 season and broke out in 2017-18 with 21 goals and 52 points.
His 2018-19 season started slow with two goals and 11 points in 23 games prior to the trade, but he has fit in well with the Coyotes with five goals and 14 points in 17 games. However, it was announced on Jan. 8 that he will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
From the Coyotes’ perspective, the trade was about moving on from Strome who had failed to match his pre-draft hype. Meanwhile, for the Blackhawks, it was about making some cap room. The 2018-19 season is Schmaltz’s final year of his ELC and he will be in line for a substantial raise on his next deal. Conversely, Strome has one more year left on his ELC and Perlini is in the final year of his but likely won’t receive too high of a raise. Given the Blackhawks’ salary cap concerns, the little bit of room they created in this deal can help.
15. Oilers Move Out Strome…No the Other One
The Trade: On Nov. 16, 2018, the Edmonton Oilers dealt Ryan Strome to the Rangers for Ryan Spooner
In mid-November, the Oilers and Rangers swapped Ryans – Strome to the Rangers and Spooner to the Oilers. It was the second trade for both players.
Strome, originally drafted fifth overall in the 2011 Draft by the Islanders, is the older brother of Dylan. Like his little brother, Ryan dominated the OHL and took a few seasons to break into the NHL. He had four productive seasons with the Islanders, including a 17-goal, 50-point campaign in 2014-15, before the Oilers acquired him during the 2017 offseason in exchange for Jordan Eberle. At the time, it was difficult to view it as an even trade – Eberle was a five-time 20-goal scorer and Strome had gone above 40 points once. But there were visions of seeing Strome thrive on McDavid’s line, except that never happened.
One hundred games and 36 points in an Oilers sweater later, and he was shipped out with one year and $3.1 million left on his contract. Going the other way was Spooner, a 2010 second-round pick of the Bruins. He spent parts of five seasons in Boston, including a 49-point season in 2015-16, before they included him in the deal to land Nash at the 2018 Trade Deadline. He finished the 2017-18 season with 16 points in 20 games with the Rangers, a performance that resulted in him getting a two-year, $8 million extension last offseason.
Since this trade, the players have gone in opposite directions. Spooner has two goals and an assist in 25 games with the Oilers to give him three goals and five points in 40 NHL games this season. On Jan. 21, he was placed on and cleared waivers, and is still with Edmonton but can now be moved to the AHL. Strome on the other hand has six goals and 11 points in 29 games with the Rangers while mainly centering a line with Jesper Fast and Filip Chytil. So, to recap, the Oilers dealt Eberle for Strome and then Strome for Spooner, who cleared waivers, meaning that Eberle essentially resulted in an AHL player.
16. Penguins Close Book on Sprong
The Trade: On Dec. 3, 2018, the Penguins dealt Daniel Sprong to the Anaheim Ducks for Marcus Pettersson
During the 2018-19 season, the Penguins made the decision to move on from Sprong, their 2015 second-round pick. The Dutch right winger, who is still only 21, had thrived at every level except the NHL. He was better than a point-per-game player in each of his four seasons in the QMJHL and was exactly a point-per-game player in his only full AHL season with 65 points in 65 games.
However, a lack of devotion to the defensive aspects of the game and consistently finding himself in head coach Mike Sullivan’s doghouse led to Sprong averaging 8:34 of ice time this season. In 16 games prior to the trade, he had four points, all assists, and was a minus-seven. Since the trade, he has eight goals and 12 points, including four power-play points, in 22 games while averaging 14:32 of ice time. He still may not be a solid two-way player, but the Ducks are capitalizing on his offensive abilities in ways the Penguins never did.
To acquire Sprong, the Ducks gave up Pettersson, a Swedish defenseman they took in the second round of the 2014 Draft. In Pettersson, the Penguins received a blueliner who may not accumulate lofty stats but is strong in his own end and makes the right plays. Since joining the Penguins, he has no goals and eight assists in 23 games, already more than the six assists he had in 27 games with the Ducks.
It was, and remains, easy to see why both teams made this deal. The Ducks have a lot of talent on defense but lack scoring. Meanwhile, the Penguins’ blue line has been questionable at-best in recent seasons and have a lot of scoring, although not always much depth, and it became clear that Sullivan wasn’t going to give Sprong much of a chance.
17. Coyotes Continue to be Contract Graveyard with Hossa Trade
The Trade: On July 12, 2018, the Blackhawks sent Marián Hossa, or rather his contract, Vinnie Hinostroza, Jordan Oesterle and a 2019 third-round pick to the Coyotes for Marcus Krüger, MacKenzie Entwistle, Jordan Maletta, Andrew Campbell and a 2019 fifth-round pick
In what appeared to be the next salary dump absorbed by the Coyotes to get them above the salary floor, this trade has turned into something more. I’ll start with the Hossa, the central figure in the deal. The future Hall-of-Famer hasn’t played since the 2016-17 season, the result of an allergic skin condition that makes playing detrimental to his health. It’s a sad ending to his career considering he was still a productive player in his last season.
As a result, the Blackhawks, near the cap ceiling, moved Hossa’s contract that had three years left on it with a $5.275 million cap hit. That helps the Coyotes’ salary cap situation. However, because Hossa is only paid $1 million per season for the final four, it helps the Coyotes’ bottom line. Furthermore, the contract is insured for 80 percent of its value, so the team is only paying Hossa $200,000 per year. Now to the active players.
Hinostroza is a 24-year-old and former sixth-round pick. He has played parts of four seasons in the NHL with a career-high 25 points in 2017-18 and has generally been a bottom-six forward. With the Coyotes, he has seven goals and 18 points in 40 games and has one-year and $1.5 million left on his contract.
The other player going to the Coyotes was Oesterle, a defenseman. The Blackhawks signed him as a free agent during the 2017 offseason and he had five goals and 15 points in 55 games in 2017-18. He has been good for Arizona this season with four goals and 13 points in 41 games while playing on a pair with Alex Goligoski. Oesterle is a free agent after this season. The Coyotes still possess the 2019 third-round pick.
Going back to the Blackhawks was a package that included Krüger, a fourth-line center who plays on the penalty kill. He never played for the Coyotes after they acquired him from the Hurricanes in May 2018. He has four goals and seven points in 44 games this season and will be a free agent this offseason.
Campbell is a veteran defenseman who has played almost the entirety of his career in the AHL. The 30-year-old is currently an alternate captain with the Rockford IceHogs. Maletta, a center, has retired since the trade after he wasn’t medically cleared to play at the start of the 2018-19 season.
The last piece the Blackhawks received, and the asset that I find most confusing, was Entwistle, a 19-year-old forward whom the Coyotes used a 2017 third-round pick on. He is currently playing for the OHL’s Guelph Storm after they acquired him from the Hamilton Bulldogs, where he served as captain.
In total, he has 18 goals and 37 points in 37 games in his fourth OHL season. He also had three assists in five games while representing Canada at the 2019 World Junior Championships. He looks to be a part of Chicago’s future and I can’t understand why the Coyotes parted with him. The Blackhawks still have Arizona’s 2019 fifth-found pick.
18. Avalanche Land Grubauer as Part of Salary Dump
The Trade: On June 22, 2018, the Colorado Avalanche acquired Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik from the Washington Capitals for a 2018 second-round pick
After the Capitals won the 2018 Stanley Cup, they faced a tough salary cap situation as they finished the 2017-18 season with less than $100,000 in cap space and needed to re-sign Tom Wilson and John Carlson. It meant that the best way to free up cap space was parting with Oprik’s $5.5 million cap hit that had one season left on it. So they dealt him and Grubauer, an RFA goaltender, to the Avalanche for a second-round pick.
One day later, the Avalanche signed Grubauer to a three-year, $10 million extension, and a day after that, they bought out Orpik’s contract. Since those events, the Capitals brought Oprik back on a year-deal that has a $1 million cap hit but has the potential for $500,000 in performance bonuses.
This season, Grubauer has made 19 starts for the Avalanche with a 9-6-3 record, a 3.38 goals-against average (GAA) and an .891 save percentage (SV%). Both stats are lower than the 2.29 GAA and .923 SV% he had prior to the trade. The Avalanche’s reason for acquiring Grubauer was to have a strong one-two punch in net with Semyon Varlamov and to hopefully turn the net over to Grubauer as Varlamov is a free agent at season’s end.
In his return to Washington, Orpik has played in 22 games with two goals and four points. He has been a key part of their penalty killing unit with over three minutes of shorthanded ice time per game this season.
The second-round pick the Capitals acquired was the 47th-overall selection. They used the pick on right winger Kody Clark, son of Wendel Clark, of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. Although he hasn’t lit up the league, with 13 goals and 32 points in 38 games this season, he is a skilled forward who plays with tenacity to create the combination teams look for. He may be a work-in-progress, but there is a high likelihood that he reaches the NHL.
19. Kempný an Underrated Deadline Addition
The Trade: On Feb. 19, 2018, the Capitals acquired Michal Kempný from the Blackhawks for a 2018 conditional third-round pick
Ahead of the 2018 Trade Deadline, the Blackhawks traded Kempný, a Czech defenseman who was a free agent at season’s end, to the Capitals in exchange for a 2018 conditional third-round pick. In 31 games before the trade, he had one goal and seven points while averaging 15:19 of ice time per game. Because of his less-than-stellar production, the trade looked like a depth addition with the Capitals looking to make a lengthy playoff run, and thus, not much thought was given to it. However, what resulted was one of the best under-the-radar moves in recent history.
In 22 games after the deal, Kempný had two goals and an assist and averaged 16:45 per game. He also appeared in all 24 of the Capitals’ playoff games and totaled two goals and five points while averaging 17:42 per game. Three of his points occurred in the Stanley Cup Final. He was one of the team’s unsung heroes as the team won its first Stanley Cup. Over the offseason, the Capitals signed him to a four-year, $10 million extension, and he currently has five goals and 16 points, both career highs, in 47 games.
The pick the Capitals the pick gave up was conditional in that the team had two third-round picks in the 2018 Draft and the Blackhawks received the higher of the two. This meant that the Capitals dealt the 87th-overall selection, originally the Toronto Maple Leafs’ pick. The Blackhawks dealt the pick to the Sharks.
20. June 27, 2018 – Penguins Shed Salary by Dealing Sheary, Hunwick
The Trade: On June 27, 2018, the Penguins dealt Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick to the Sabres for a 2019 conditional fourth-round draft pick
It may seem weird that this trade makes this list, and, based on the assets moved in the deal, it may not belong. However, what makes it important is what it represents: the start of the Penguins moving out value (Sheary) for little return. It’s the eventual path of perennial Stanley Cup contenders in the salary cap era in an attempt to keep the championship window open a bit longer. The Blackhawks did it for nearly a decade and the Los Angeles Kings should have participated in doing so to stave off their current position.
In this deal, the Penguins save $5.25 million in cap space in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and freed up enough space to extend Patric Hornqvist and sign Jack Johnson. However, in doing so, they gave up Sheary who thrived on Sidney Crosby’s line to the tune of 23 goals and 53 points in 2016-17 and made an impact on the team’s back-to-back Stanley Cups. However, after the Penguins signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract during the 2017 offseason, he regressed with 18 goals and 30 points in 2017-18, although he didn’t play as much on Crosby’s line.
Since joining the Sabres, Sheary has played in 44 games and has seven goals, including three on the man advantage, and 19 points. He is playing on a line centered by Casey Mittelstadt and is averaging a career high in power-play time. Sheary to the Sabres seemed like a perfect fit from the start given his speed and the forward talent the team had with the aforementioned Mittelstadt, but also Eichel. That doesn’t mention Skinner, who later joined the fold.
While Sheary was difficult to part with for the Penguins, moving on from Hunwick was, shall we say, less difficult. The Penguins signed him to a three-year, $6.75 million contract during the 2017 offseason. He appeared in 42 games in his only season in Pittsburgh and totaled four goals and 10 points, which led to his departure. A neck injury has held him to two games with the Sabres in 2018-19, with no points, and is unlikely to be an impactful defenseman over the remainder of his contract.
The conditions on the fourth-round pick the Penguins acquired are as follows: if Sheary scores 20 goals or 40 points or if Hunwick is traded before the 2019 Draft, the pick becomes a third-rounder. Given that Sheary isn’t on-pace to hit either mark and Hunwick’s value is likely too depleted to be moved, it’s safe to assume the pick will remain in the fourth round.
Based on that, and the fact that Sheary is only 26, this trade has to be painful for the Penguins. Sure, they freed up cap space by combining he and Hunwick’s contracts, but giving up a young player with skill hurts. It also further defines that the team is prepared to go all-in while Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are elite players and figure out the future later.
*All stats came from Hockey-Reference