20 Biggest NHL Trades in the Past Year

There are many ways for a general manager to improve his team, be it free agency, the waiver wire and of course the trade market. It’s a dance that is done not only at the trade deadline but throughout the season and offseason as well. Some come together quickly and painlessly, while others take several months of painstaking negotiations between two opposing GMs.

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Over the past year, we have seen a few blockbuster trades get completed that have changed the entire landscape of the NHL. Over the course of this list, I will attempt to rank 20 of the biggest trades that have occurred in the last calendar year (since Feb. 4, 2021) while exploring the impact the deals have had on each team since the trade was completed. With that said, let’s start exploring some trades!

20. Golden Knights Add More Offence With Dadonov

The Trade: On July 28, 2021, the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Evgenii Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators for Nick Holden and a 2022 third-round pick.

The rich got richer when the Golden Knights acquired three-time 20-goal scorer Evgenii Dadonov from the Senators. After a somewhat down year by his standards where he only scored 13 goals and 20 points in 55 games, he has bounced back nicely in Vegas with 10 goals and 21 points in 44 games so far.

Evgenii Dadonov Vegas Golden Knights
Evgenii Dadonov, Vegas Golden Knights (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Since being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2010-11, Holden has played for six NHL teams. He hasn’t hit the career-high 11 goals and 34 points he recorded with New York Rangers back in 2016-17, but he’s still a very reliable two-way defenceman. He will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) in the summer, so I would expect the Senators will be taking calls on him at the trade deadline.

19. Nolan Patrick Traded to the Golden Knights in Three-Way Trade

The Trade: On July 17, 2021, the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Nolan Patrick from the Philadelphia Flyers in a three-team trade, which also saw Vegas send Cody Glass to the Nashville Predators.

Sticking with the Golden Knights, they also added former second-overall pick Nolan Patrick from the Flyers in the offseason. Bolstering their top-nine group with the acquisitions of Dadonov, Patrick and Jack Eichel, they should be a force to be reckoned with if they end up being 100 percent healthy by the playoffs. Boasting a top-six loaded with stars in Eichel, Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchesseault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith and a bottom-six with Dadonov, Patrick, Janmark, Roy and Stephenson, teams will have a difficult time stopping them.

Nolan Patrick Vegas Golden Knights
Nolan Patrick, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Patrick has battled injuries again this season, but he has been on a tear recently. Since returning from his latest ailment, he has two goals and six points in 12 games and has seen time on the top line with Pacioretty and Stone. Being only 23 years old, he could still turn his career around and silence some of his critics that are calling him a bust. He probably won’t ever live up to his second-overall pick billing, but a solid top-six contributor is not out of the question considering he hasn’t hit his athletic prime yet.

18. Veteran Nick Leddy Traded to Motor City For Richard Panik

The Trade: On July 18, 2021, the Detroit Red Wings acquired Nick Leddy from the New York Islanders for Richard Panik and a 2021 second-round pick (Aatu Raty).

After seven seasons with the Islanders and a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks, Leddy was on his way to the Motor City and the Red Wings. Needing cap space and an extra protection spot for the expansion draft, Islanders general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello made a deal with Steve Yzerman to add a young asset to his team rather than risk losing him to the Kraken for nothing.

Related: Revisiting Islanders’ Nick Leddy to Detroit Trade

Boasting a young team full of prospects and rookies and a rising star in Moritz Seider, Yzerman must have thought a veteran presence like Leddy was needed to shelter his young stud. Not that he has needed it, though, as he is in the running for the Calder Trophy playing the most minutes of any blueliner on the team and leading the charge with 29 points in 46 games. But I digress.

Nick Leddy Detroit Red Wings
Nick Leddy, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As a veteran of over 800 games, I’m sure Seider has leaned on the 30-year-old for guidance and advice. That could be one of the reasons why he is excelling as a 20-year-old in the NHL. No matter how talented a player is, they can always benefit from the experience of a veteran. Considering Leddy was also a top-20 pick with high expectations, he knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level.

As for what the Islanders got in return, this trade might end up being lopsided in a few years. If Aatu Raty hits the ceiling many scouts projected a year before the 2021 Draft, look out. He could end up being a perennial all-star and regular top-line forward when all is said and done. But that’s a discussion for a future article. Right now, the Red Wings are benefiting as the Islanders wait for their top prospect to arrive in the NHL.

17. Graves Leaves Deep Blue Line in Colorado For a Leading Role in New Jersey

The Trade: On July 16, 2021, the New Jersey Devils acquired Ryan Graves from the Colorado Avalanche for Mikhail Maltsev and a 2021 second-round pick (Sean Behrens).

After yet another season out of the playoffs, the Devils went to work in the offseason rebuilding their blue line. Before signing star UFA Dougie Hamilton to a lucrative contract, they traded for underrated Avalanche defenceman Ryan Graves. Part of a deep defence core in Colorado that included Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Bowen Byram and Devon Toews, he was sometimes a forgotten piece. On the Devils, he has played a starring role either paired with P.K. Subban or the aforementioned Hamilton. He has also seen plenty of ice time as he is only behind Hamilton and Damon Severson in minutes played.

Ryan Graves New Jersey Devils
Ryan Graves, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Dealing from a position of strength and needing to protect other forwards and defencemen in the expansion draft, the Avalanche decided they would be fine depth-wise if they traded Graves. In return, they got Maltsev, a 23-year-old winger from Russia and a 2021 second-round pick which eventually became Behrens. Maltsev has gone scoreless in 18 games with the Avalanche and has five goals and 18 points in 25 games with their AHL affiliate Colorado Eagles.

Behrens, who is described as a “mobile defencemen with good skating skills and an adequate two-way game,” is currently playing with the University of Denver where he has three goals and 21 points in 22 games.

16. Blue Jackets Begin Life After Jones With Trade For Bean

The Trade: On July 23, 2021, the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Jake Bean from the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2021 second-round pick (Aleksi Heimosalmi).

With a new core centred around the duo of Zach Werenski and Adam Boqvist, GM Jarmo Kekäläinen decided to make it a threesome when he added Jake Bean from the Hurricanes on the same day he moved Seth Jones to the Blackhawks. The 23-year-old Calgary native had just finished his rookie season in the NHL where he recorded one goal and 12 points in 42 games.

Like Graves, Bean was also stuck behind a strong defence core that in turn limited his ice time. With the Blue Jackets, he is playing a top-four role and already has a career-high four goals and 15 points in 41 games. He is now part of the rebuild that currently includes youngsters Boqvist, Cole Sillinger, Yegor Chinakhov and Kent Johnson. No matter what happens with the rest of the team, he should be a top-four option for head coach Brad Larsen for many seasons to come.

Jake Bean Columbus Blue Jackets
Jake Bean, Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

As for the Hurricanes, they were dealing from a position of strength. Loaded to the gills with prospects at forward and defence, they could afford to trade a defenceman like Bean. In return, they got another young asset to add to their treasure trove of talent. With the pick, they selected smooth-skating Aleksi Heimosalmi, a two-way defenceman with impressive mobility and acceleration. He also has a high hockey IQ at both ends of the ice and great puck handling skills. Playing in the Finnish Liiga, he has one assist in 31 games this season.

15. Buchnevich Traded to the Blues

The Trade: On July 23, 2021, the St. Louis Blues acquired Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers for Sammy Blais and a 2022 second-round pick.

On a day full of trades, the Blues got in on the action when they traded for Buchnevich from the Rangers. Coming off a season where he scored 20 goals and 48 points in 54 games, he was in line for a huge raise in the offseason that they were not willing to pay. So they dealt him to the Gateway State for Blais and a draft pick.

The Blues were more than willing to sign Buchnevich to a lucrative long-term deal. Coming in at $5.8 million in average annual value (AAV), he became the team’s fourth-highest paid forward behind Brayden Schenn ($6.5 million), Vladimir Tarasenko ($7.5 million) and captain Ryan O’Reilly ($7.5 million). To his credit, he’s playing up to his contract value with 15 goals and 36 points in 38 games so far. With 38 games to go, he is on pace to hit 30 goals for the first time in his career. If that’s not worth almost $6 million, I don’t know what is.

Pavel Buchnevich St. Louis Blues
Pavel Buchnevich, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Rangers probably would have liked to keep Buchnevich’s services on their team, but with limited cap space and a high-priced contract on the horizon, it just wasn’t possible. So they got a future top-nine forward in Blais and a selection in a draft that promises to have its share of elite talent in the first two rounds. In hindsight, the return may have been low considering his performance with the Blues this season, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.

14. After a Cup of Coffee in Vancouver, Schmidt Moves to Winnipeg

The Trade: On July 27, 2021, the Winnipeg Jets acquired Nate Schmidt from the Vancouver Canucks for a 2022 third-round pick.

Acquired to shore up the Canucks’ defence for the 2020-21 season, Schmidt never really seemed comfortable playing in Travis Green and Nolan Baumgartner’s system. He finished the campaign with his worst point totals since the 2014-15 season and was a minus for only the second time in his career.

Nate Schmidt Winnipeg Jets
Nate Schmidt, Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images)

Now with the Winnipeg Jets after another trade in the offseason, Schmidt appears to have returned to his glory days. He already has more points than last season with 20 in 41 games and he’s formed an effective partnership with fellow newcomer Brenden Dillon. He has also become an advanced stats darling with a career-best 55.7 Corsi-for percentage (CF%). Basically, he’s playing like the defenceman the Canucks thought they were getting when they acquired him from the Golden Knights.

13. Gostisbehere Gets a Fresh Start in the Desert

The Trade: On July 22, 2021, the Arizona Coyotes acquired Shayne Gostisbehere and a second-round and sixth-round pick in 2022 from the Philadelphia Flyers for future considerations.

Speaking of fresh starts, Gostisbehere needed one big time. After several seasons where he was either subjected to limited ice time or banished to the press box, he was finally given a new lease on life away from Philadelphia. Before his fall from grace, he was the bee’s knees in Philly. Nicknamed “Ghost” or “Ghost Bear”, he was a fan favourite and considered one of the best offensive defencemen in the NHL. A lethal threat on the power play and yearly 30-plus point-getter, there was a time when the Flyers thought of him as a player to build their defence core around.

That, of course, didn’t happen as he struggled to produce more than 20 points in two straight seasons and eventually took up permanent residence in head coach Alain Vigneault’s dog house. The Flyers finally gave up on him before the 2021-22 season and sent him to the Coyotes for nothing but cap space.

Shayne Gostisbehere Arizona Coyotes
Shayne Gostisbehere, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Now, Gostisbehere is second only to Clayton Keller in scoring with eight goals and 28 points in 45 games and has seemingly turned his career around. He leads the Coyotes’ young defence core in points and minutes and he’s second only to Dysin Mayo in blocked shots. I think it’s safe to say, he’s back to his old tricks. With one more season left at $4.5 million AAV, it remains to be seen what GM Bill Armstrong will do with the veteran defenceman. Does he trade him when the desperation and value are the highest at the deadline or wait until the offseason?

12. Flyers Continue the Blueline Rebuild With Ristolainen

The Trade: On July 23, 2021, the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Rasmus Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres for Robert Hagg and a 2023 second-round pick.

After landing Ellis in a separate trade, the Flyers continued their blue line revamp with Ristolainen. Thinking he was going to a playoff contender, he was ecstatic about joining the team. I wonder what he’s thinking now.

I’m really excited to go to Philadelphia…I’m going to do everything I can to help the team make the playoffs and make a run. … I’m extremely happy it happened. I cant want to get to Philly and meet everyone.

Rasmus Ristolainen after getting traded to the Flyers

The Flyers are currently 17 points out of a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference and are on the cusp of forgetting about the playoffs altogether. I don’t think that’s what Ristolainen had in mind when he found out that he was joining the team back in the offseason. As it stands right now, he could end up being trade bait at the deadline when all is said and done.

11. 30-Goal Man Arvidsson Moves to Hollywood

The Trade: On July 7, 2021, the Los Angeles Kings acquired Viktor Arvidsson from the Nashville Predators for a 2021 second-round pick and 2021 third-round pick.

With the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft just around the corner, the Predators needed to make a decision on who they were going to protect. Instead of losing him for nothing, they dealt Arvidsson to the Kings for a couple of selections in the 2021 Draft.

Viktor Arvidsson Los Angeles Kings
Viktor Arvidsson, Los Angeles Kings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After a couple of down seasons where he failed to get to 20 goals, Arvidsson probably needed a change of scenery to turn his career around. Turns out Hollywood agrees with him because he’s on pace for his best season since 2018-19 when he scored 34 goals. The Kings are currently occupying a playoff spot and he’s one of the reasons why.

10. Canadiens Respond Quickly By Acquiring Dvorak From the Coyotes

The Trade: On Sept. 6, 2021, the Montreal Canadiens acquired Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes for a 2022 first-round pick and 2024 second-round pick.

On the same day the Canadiens decided not to match the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet, they went out and got Dvorak from the Coyotes. Four years older and $2 million cheaper, he was basically acquired to replace Kotkaniemi. So far, so good, as he currently has seven goals and 16 points in 34 games and he is winning faceoffs at a 55.8 percent clip.

Christian Dvorak, Arizona Coyotes
Christian Dvorak, Arizona Coyotes, October 30, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Unfortunately for the Canadiens, Dvorak’s production and proficiency in the faceoff dot haven’t been enough to keep them out of the basement. Just like when he was with the Coyotes, he seems to be part of a rebuilding team that is going nowhere fast. With three more seasons left on a contract that pays him $4.45 million AAV, his days of being trade bait might not be over yet.

9. Flyers’ Blueline Revamp Begins With Acquisition of Ellis

The Trade: On July 19, 2021, the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators for Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick (who was then traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for Cody Glass).

After a season that saw the Flyers give up the most goals in the entire NHL, they went out and revamped their defence core in the offseason. By the time the 2021-22 season began, they had added Keith Yandle, Rasmus Ristolainen and Ryan Ellis in an effort to stop the bleeding. Fast forward to 2022, and the Flyers are still struggling to keep the puck out of the net. While they are not the worst in the league, they still rank in the bottom half and are currently seven points below 500.

Ellis has struggled with injuries this season and has only played four games so far. In those games, he has five points. As of this writing, he is still rehabbing a lower-body injury that got him placed on the injured reserve (IR) list back in November.

Ryan Ellis, Philadelphia Flyers
Ryan Ellis, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As for Myers, he has been a frequent healthy scratch for the Predators and is averaging a little over 15 minutes of ice time per game. He has also provided little to no offence as he only has three assists so far this season.

8. Big Season For Nedeljkovic Means a Trade to the Rebuilding Red Wings

The Trade: On July 23, 2021, the Detroit Red Wings acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes for Jonathan Bernier and a 2021 third-round pick (Aidan Hreschuk).

After being named a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie in 2020-21, Nedeljkovic found himself on the move to the rebuilding Red Wings. The Hurricanes also jettisoned Petr Mrazek and James Reimer and replaced them with Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta. In hindsight, it’s worked out so far as Andersen is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL and Nedeljkovic has settled in as the starter in Detroit.

With Sebastian Cossa on the way, the Red Wings are pretty much set in goal for the foreseeable future. Nedeljkovic is only 26 years old and entering his prime and Cossa is a top-notch prospect with a projected future of being an elite number-one goaltender. I would say that’s pretty good considering they were shaky in that department only a few months ago.

Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red Wings
Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red Wing (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After letting Bernier walk in free agency, the Hurricanes were left with only a 2021 third-round pick, which they eventually used on Aidan Hreschuk. Currently with Boston College in the NCAA, he has one goal and six points in 25 games. Described as a mobile two-way defenceman who is not shy of the physical game, he could potentially become a top-four defenceman in the NHL. While he may hit that ceiling one day, the Hurricanes really didn’t get enough value in return for Nedeljkovic who could be the Red Wings’ starter for the next few seasons. Andersen, on the other hand, is 32 years old and on the downturn of his career. In my mind, Nedeljkovic would have been the better bet to go with.

7. No Love For Vezina: Fleury Dealt to the Blackhawks

The Trade: On July 27, 2021, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights for prospect Mikael Hakkarainen.

It’s not very often that a Vezina Trophy winner gets traded shortly after capturing the award. But that’s exactly what happened to Fleury when he was moved to the Blackhawks less than a month after getting his name etched on the trophy. The 36-year-old netminder who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins led the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018 and recorded a minuscule 1.98 GAA with six shutouts in 2020-21. He was traded for only a mid-range prospect too. Clearly, winning a major award and being a starting goaltender in the NHL doesn’t hold much value, at least when it came to what the Golden Knights got for him.

Marc-André Fleury's Case as a Hall of Famer
Marc-André Fleury (The Hockey Writers)

After struggling out of the gate, Fleury has turned it around recently. His numbers this season aren’t Vezina Trophy-worthy, but there are still decent. Sporting a record of 14-16-3, he has a 2.93 GAA and .908 SV% along with three shutouts. If the Blackhawks decide to trade him before the deadline, teams who are struggling for consistent goaltending could come calling. Considering his reputation as a clutch goaltender in the playoffs, he could fetch a first-round pick or blue-chip prospect.

6. Long-Time Blackhawk Duncan Keith Moves to the Oilers

The Trade: On July 13, 2021, the Edmonton Oilers acquired Duncan Keith and Tim Soderlund from the Chicago Blackhawks for Caleb Jones and a conditional draft pick in 2022.

If this was 2010, the Oilers would have improved their defence tenfold with the acquisition of Keith. As it is, it is 2022 and he is not in his mid-20s anymore. Yes, he’s still a relatively solid top-four defenceman, but not at the franchise level he was back in his heyday during the 2000s and 2010s. With two more seasons left on a contract worth $5.53 million AAV, he’s getting paid way too much at his age.

To his credit, Keith is having a good run with the Oilers so far. Next to Darnell Nurse and Evan Bouchard, he is one of the high-minute men on defence with 20:48 of ice time per game, and he is playing well defensively with a plus-3 in the plus/minus column. He isn’t putting up a lot of points, but he’s playing a steady brand of defence, which is exactly what the Oilers need right now.

Duncan Keith Edmonton Oilers
Duncan Keith, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

By moving on from Keith, the Blackhawks effectively closed the book on the Keith and Brent Seabrook era. With only Kane and Toews remaining from the dynasty years, they are clearly rebuilding. With Jones being the centrepiece of the trade and the Blackhawks not retaining salary, this was basically a salary dump to create space for Seth Jones, who was acquired and signed just ten days later.

5. Rebuild Continues in Buffalo With Reinhart Trade

The Trade: On July 24, 2021, the Florida Panthers acquired Sam Reinhart from the Buffalo Sabres for goaltender Devon Levi and a 2022 first-round draft pick.

Before the Sabres sent Eichel to the Golden Knights, they traded another star in Reinhart to the Panthers. After a season that saw him score 25 goals and 40 points in 54 games, he was off to the Sunshine State to play on the same team as Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Playing primarily on the third line with Mason Marchment and Anton Lundell, he has 16 goals and 44 points in 44 games so far.

Sam Reinhart Florida Panthers
Sam Reinhart, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Sabres, clearly entering a rebuild, got a rising star in Levi and yet another first-round pick in the 2022 Draft. Levi is having a monster season at Northeastern University where he has a sparkling 1.55 goals-against average (GAA) and .948 save percentage (SV%) along with an eye-popping nine shutouts. Clearly, his performance at the 2021 World Juniors wasn’t a fluke as he’s one of the best goaltenders in the NCAA right now.

4. Voracek Returns to the Blue Jackets For Round Two

The Trade: On July 24, 2021, the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Jakub Voracek from the Philadelphia Flyers for Cam Atkinson.

After being drafted seventh overall by the Blue Jackets in 2007 and getting traded to the Flyers for Jeff Carter in 2011, Voracek returned 10 years later to the team that selected him. In the decade he was with the Flyers, he accumulated 738 points in 968 games and became one of the best playmaking wingers in the NHL. Now, instead of a young 19-year-old, he’s a 32-year-old veteran with over 1000 games under his belt. He has used that experience to help rookies Yegor Chinakhov and Cole Sillinger find their way in the NHL. It’s something top defender Zach Werenski noticed right away.

Jakub Voracek Columbus Blue Jackets
Jakub Voracek, Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“I think he brings a good element to our locker room that we haven’t had for a while…He kind of reminds me of Hartsy [Scott Hartnell] a little bit, just a guy that knows how to go out there and get his job done no matter the circumstances but also likes to have fun. Since Hartsy left, I don’t think we’ve had anyone like that. I think it’s huge for our locker room. It’s awesome having Jake here.”

The Blue Jackets had to give up another leader and fan favourite in Atkinson to get Voracek back into the fold though. Selected 157th overall back in 2008, he spent a decade with the Blue Jackets and scored 213 goals and 402 points in 627 games which included a career-high 41 goals and 69 points in 2018-19. As a sixth-round pick, he was probably the biggest steal in franchise history. With the Flyers, he has 17 goals and 36 points in 45 games.

3. Eichel Finally Gets Traded to the Golden Knights

The Trade: On Nov. 4, 2021, the Vegas Golden Knights acquired forward Jack Eichel and a conditional draft pick from the Buffalo Sabres for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs and two conditional draft picks.

It took almost a year, but Eichel was finally traded to someone before the calendar shifted to 2022. After months of trade rumours and off-ice drama where the Sabres denied him surgery on his neck, he was off to the Golden Knights. He still hasn’t played a game for his new team, but the surgery is complete and he is well on his way to making a full recovery.

The Golden Knights now have their much-needed number-one center. They have gotten by with guys like William Karlsson, Nick Roy and Chandler Stephenson, but they have never had a guy like Eichel centring their first line. Projected to center star wingers Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty when he’s healthy, they might end up having the most dangerous first line in the NHL.

Jack Eichel Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Even though the Sabres got a high-end prospect in Krebs and a top-six winger in Tuch, the return itself was a little underwhelming. With rumours swirling about the Calgary Flames offering a package that included Matthew Tkachuk (whether it was true or not), I can’t help but think they could have gotten more for the star pivot.

Having said that, if Krebs can become a top-line center and Tuch can either stick around as a veteran presence or get flipped for another young star or draft pick, then the trade might not look so bad down the road. Krebs is already showing chemistry with Jack Quinn in the American Hockey League and he seems to be finding his legs in the NHL as well. Since being called up to the big club at the end of December, he has three goals and five points in 10 games and has averaged over 18 minutes of ice time in his last three games. Tuch has looked good too accumulating four goals and 12 points in the 12 games since returning from injury.

2. Jones Finds a New Home with the Blackhawks

The Trade: On July 23, 2022, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired defenceman Seth Jones, a 2021 first-round pick (Nolan Allan) and a 2022 sixth-round pick from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Adam Boqvist, a 2021 first-round pick (Cole Sillinger), 2021 second-round pick, and 2022 or 2023 first-round pick.

After months of trade speculation and attempts to re-sign him to an extension, the Blue Jackets decided to trade Jones to the Blackhawks. Immediately after the trade, he signed an eight-year, $76 million extension worth $9.5 million AAV. Now the third-highest paid Blackhawk behind Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, he will be expected to lead the defence core for the foreseeable future.

He’s an impact defenseman that we’ve been searching for, for quite some time, and to finally be able to add him to our group here is a huge move for the whole group…I think it changes the complexion of our defense in particular, but our team in general.

Former-Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman

So far in 2021-22, Jones has done just that as he leads the defence in scoring with three goals and 29 points in 42 games and consistently plays over 25 minutes a night. The defence basically runs through him. As for the 2021 first-round pick they received in return, the Blackhawks decided to use it on Nolan Allan. Ranked to go in the third or fourth round by many scouting outlets, the 6-foot-2 defensive defenceman is currently playing for the Portland Winterhawks where he has two goals and 18 points in 36 games.

Seth Jones, Chicago Blackhawks
Seth Jones, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Blue Jackets received quite a haul for Jones. Boqvist is a rising star on defence and Cole Sillinger, who they drafted with one of their 2021 first-round picks, is already making strides as an NHL pivot. I would say the trade is working out very well for Kekäläinen right now.

1. Ekman-Larsson & Garland Head North to the Canucks

The Trade: On July 23, 2021, the Vancouver Canucks acquired Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland from the Arizona Coyotes for Antoine Roussel, Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, a 2021 first-round pick (Dylan Guenther), a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 seventh-round pick.

One of Jim Benning’s last trades as GM of the Canucks was the blockbuster deal for Garland and Ekman-Larsson. In one fell swoop, he got rid of three overpriced contracts in Roussel, Eriksson and Beagle and got one back in Ekman-Larsson. Initially thought of as a cap dump to gain space for the new contracts of Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, the trade ended up being more or less a wash as the contracts going both ways balanced each other out.

Conor Garland Vancouver Canucks
Conor Garland, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Since joining the Canucks, Ekman-Larsson and Garland have fit in nicely as a top-four defenceman and top-nine forward respectively. Ekman-Larsson, while not very productive offensively, has established himself as a solid replacement for the departed Alex Edler and Garland has become a key part of the forward core. Behind only Pettersson, Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller in goals with 10 and rocking a 53 Corsi-for percentage (CF%), his pesky nature and shifty skating have made him a fan favourite in Vancouver after only 39 games.

Related: Canucks: Revisiting the Oliver Ekman-Larsson & Conor Garland Trade

As for the other pieces in the trade, Roussel, Beagle and Eriksson are all doing exactly what they did with the Canucks, just with the Coyotes. Roussel has been his usual annoying self, Beagle is winning draws and helping on the penalty kill and Eriksson is playing a bottom-six role and rarely scoring (one goal in 36 games).

Loui Eriksson Arizona Coyotes
Loui Eriksson, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The big prize of Dylan Guenther, who was eventually chosen with the ninth overall pick, could ultimately tip the scales on who wins this trade. In the short term, it’s the Canucks all the way, but in the long term, it likely will be the Coyotes. He is ripping up the Western Hockey League (WHL) right now with 27 goals and 54 points in 34 games and could be a 30-40 goal scorer when he makes it to the NHL.