Trade Deadline Predictions Revisited: Good, Bad and Ugly Results

Here I am, again — for my annual walk of shame following the NHL trade deadline.

To the surprise of nobody, including yours truly, my predictions missed the mark for the most part. In hindsight, some of them were WAY off, while others were better suited for draft weekend than deadline day.

The real blockbusters tend to happen in the off-season when teams have more cap flexibility, so the timing just wasn’t right for a number of my deals that could perhaps go down at a later date. Jonathan Drouin to Minnesota, Nail Yakupov to Detroit, and Jeff Skinner to New Jersey would be examples fitting that bill. They may still end up in those landing spots by the end of summer.

You can see for yourself where I went wrong, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom. There were some small victories worth highlighting within my failures.

The Good News

Of my 40 trades posted on Feb. 13, I only got one right — Jiri Hudler to Florida. For those keeping score, I’m now 2-for-94 over the last three seasons. My return was wrong for Hudler, I had Brandon Pirri going back to Calgary but he got dealt to Anaheim instead. Hey, at least he moved too.

I also came close on Roman Polak, predicting he’d return a second-rounder for Toronto, which he did — but from San Jose instead of Dallas.

I should get some sort of bonus points for predicting Raffi Torres to Ontario, too — wrong team though, I had the Senators and he went to the Maple Leafs, who took on his contract with no intention of playing him. Torres has since been shut down for the season and retirement might be the next we hear of him. That could be a cool trivia answer some day down the road — Torres retiring a Leaf!

My predictions for this year’s deadline involved 136 players and prospects — I got 22 right, which equates to a 16 per cent success rate. That’s not very impressive. However, dating back to (but excluding) the Dion Phaneuf deal on Feb. 9, a total of 81 players and prospects were traded — meaning my 22 translates to a much more respectable 27 per cent. By that math, I essentially got one in every four right. Not too shabby.

My biggest success might have been my decision to predict 40 trades. I came up with that number based on recent history. Looking back to last year, a total of 53 deals were consummated following the post-Christmas roster freeze, including 24 on deadline day. At the time of my post, there had only been 13 trades since that freeze was lifted, so I tacked on 40 more to match last year’s total. History nearly repeated itself, with this year totaling 51 post-freeze trades — 38 from the time of my post, including 19 on deadline day. Man, I almost nailed it there.

I was bang-on in one other area as well — predicting nine players in the rumour mill who wouldn’t end up moving. Steven Stamkos, Travis Hamonic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Galchenyuk, Cam Atkinson, Brayden Schenn and the Ducks’ young defencemen— namely, Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen — all stayed put. And, yes, my post came out days before Steve Yzerman announced that he wouldn’t be trading Stamkos at the deadline regardless of whether they had a contract extension in place. Prior to that, others were labelling Stamkos as potentially available, so my stance wasn’t just stating the obvious either.

I’m hereby exercising my out-clause on the Eric Staal trade. I had him going to Montreal (along with Cam Ward) but only if the Canadiens were able to stay within four points of a playoff spot. The Habs have been freefalling ever since my post went up, so that deal obviously didn’t make sense when the deadline arrived. Believe it or not, the Rangers were my second choice for Staal . . . true story.

Injuries derailed another handful of my proposed deals — Montreal’s Tom Gilbert needed season-ending knee surgery and Edmonton’s Eric Gryba was sidelined for a month (or more), otherwise I still think they would have both been on the move as pending free agents. Calgary goaltender Jonas Hiller could have gone to San Jose (instead of James Reimer), but that potential went out the window when Karri Ramo suffered a torn ACL — thus keeping Hiller with the Flames, who oddly added Niklas Backstrom from Minnesota yet continue to start youngster Joni Ortio.

I had Ben Lovejoy and Jordan Nolan getting traded for each other, then they both went out and got hurt with no return in sight. And, in an even more ironic coincidence, Minnesota’s Jason Zucker sustained a concussion to squash my trade for Buffalo’s already concussed Tyler Ennis.

The Bad News

Two teams really hindered my predictions by more or less standing pat — the Detroit Red Wings, who I had becoming buyers, and the Vancouver Canucks, who everybody assumed would be sellers. Instead, Detroit general manager Ken Holland stuck to his modus operandi, only dealing away extra defender Jakub Kindl to Florida, while giving a vote of confidence to his team’s young forwards. Kindl was one of the 22 that I got right, but I had him going to Edmonton in a blockbuster to land Yakupov and Justin Schultz, who went to Pittsburgh for a third-round pick. I also had the Red Wings acquiring Mikkel Boedker, who is now suiting up for their Stadium Series opponent, the Colorado Avalanche.

Conversely, I gave Jim Benning the benefit of doubt in being able to move his expiring contracts, but he failed miserably in finding new homes for Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata, who both remain on Vancouver’s roster. For some reason, I even believed Benning could find a taker for his sloppy seconds in Chris Higgins, Yannick Weber and Brandon Prust, but there clearly wasn’t a market for any of those guys. Well, that’s not entirely true. Elliotte Friedman noted in his 30 Thoughts column that a Hamhuis to Chicago deal would have also involved swapping Higgins for Bryan Bickell. It’s too bad that one didn’t come to fruition because I had Bickell on the move too, albeit to Philadelphia.

Instead, the Canucks strangely traded 2013 first-rounder Hunter Shinkaruk to the rival Calgary Flames (for Markus Granlund) and gave up a draft pick for the rights to KHL defender Philip Larsen in a couple of head-scratching moves that nobody saw coming.

I had all 30 teams making at least one move in the lead-up to the deadline and 27 actually did — only Yzerman’s Tampa Bay Lightning, the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets did nothing. The latter had already made their big splash by swapping Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones in January, but most were still expecting something of a fire-sale from Columbus.

Three other woulda/coulda/shoulda-been buyers did very little, with the St. Louis Blues only bringing in backup goaltender Anders Nilsson, who probably won’t even be on their playoff roster if Brian Elliott is healthy in time for the post-season; the Nashville Predators were apparently close to bringing back Scott Hartnell but settled for depth defender Corey Potter, who will be lucky to suit up for a handful of games; and the Minnesota Wild waited until the last possible second to add David Jones, a bottom-six forward from Calgary, after previously making prospect swaps for Conor Allen and Scott Sabourin, who might never step foot on NHL ice (again, in Allen’s case — he’s pointless in seven career games).

Recapping My Results

Here is a recap of the 22 players and prospects that I correctly predicted would be traded, where I had them going and where they actually went:

Jiri Hudler

My Trade — to Florida for Brandon Pirri and Dylan Olsen

Actual Trade — to Florida for a 2016 second-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick

Brandon Pirri

My Trade — to Calgary, with Dylan Olsen, for Jiri Hudler

Actual Trade — to Anaheim for a 2016 sixth-round pick

Jakub Kindl

My Trade — to Edmonton, with Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, for Nail Yakupov, Anton Lander and Justin Schultz

Actual Trade — to Florida, with salary retained, for a 2017 sixth-round pick

Justin Schultz

My Trade — to Detroit, with Nail Yakupov and Anton Lander, for Jakub Kindl, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi

Actual Trade — to Pittsburgh, with salary retained, for a 2016 third-round pick

Mikkel Boedker

My Trade — to Detroit for Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco

Actual Trade — to Colorado for Alex Tanguay, Conner Bleackley and Kyle Wood

Roman Polak

My Trade — to Dallas for a 2016 second-round pick

Actual Trade — to San Jose, with Nick Spaling, for Raffi Torres, a 2017 second-round pick and a 2018 second-round pick

Raffi Torres

My Trade — to Ottawa, with Chris Tierney and Dylan Demelo, for Chris Neil, Alex Chiasson and Patrick Wiercioch

Actual Trade — to Toronto, with a 2017 second-round pick and a 2018 second-round pick, for Roman Polak and Nick Spaling

Eric Staal

My Trade — to Montreal, with Cam Ward, for Michael McCarron, Zachary Fucale and a conditional 2016 first-round pick (playoff protected)

Actual Trade — to the New York Rangers for forward prospect Aleksi Saarela and two second-round picks

Aleksi Saarela

My Trade — to San Jose, with Pavel Buchnevich, Igor Shesterkin and a 2016 third-round pick, for Patrick Marleau

Actual Trade — to Carolina, with two second-round picks, for Eric Staal

Andrew Ladd

My Trade — to Washington for Tom Wilson, Riley Barber and Madison Bowey

Actual Trade — to Chicago, with Jay Harrison and Matt Fraser, for Marko Dano, a 2016 first-round pick and a conditional 2018 third-round pick

Kris Versteeg

My Trade — to Chicago for Mark McNeill and a 2016 fourth-round pick

Actual Trade — to Los Angeles for Valentin Zykov and a conditional 2016 fifth-round pick

Lee Stempniak

My Trade — to Anaheim for Nicolas Kerdiles and Stefan Noesen

Actual Trade — to Boston for a 2017 second-round pick and a 2016 fourth-round pick

Jamie McGinn

My Trade — to Pittsburgh, with Matt Moulson (salary retained), for Beau Bennett, Josh Archibald and Tim Erixon

Actual Trade — to Anaheim for a conditional 2016 third-round pick

Kris Russell

My Trade — to St. Louis for Ty Rattie

Actual Trade — to Dallas for Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock and a conditional 2016 second-round pick

Jyrki Jokipakka

My Trade — to Columbus, with Esa Lindell, Devin Shore and a 2016 fourth-round pick, for Jack Johnson and Matt Calvert

Actual Trade — to Calgary, with Brett Pollock and a conditional 2016 second-round pick, for Kris Russell

John-Michael Liles

My Trade — to Washington, with Ron Hainsey, for Connor Carrick and a 2016 fourth-round pick

Actual Trade — to Boston for Anthony Camara, a 2016 third-round pick and a 2017 fifth-round pick

Connor Carrick

My Trade — to Carolina, with a 2016 fourth-round pick, for John-Michael Liles and Ron Hainsey

Actual Trade — to Toronto, with Brooks Laich and a 2016 second-round pick, for Daniel Winnik and a conditional 2016 fifth-round pick

Eric Gelinas

My Trade — to Carolina, with Jon Merrill, Blake Speers, and two 2016 third-round picks (Ottawa and Detroit), for Jeff Skinner

Actual Trade — to Colorado for a 2017 third-round pick

Christian Ehrhoff

My Trade — to Columbus, with Kevin Gravel, for Fedor Tyutin

Actual Trade — to Chicago for Rob Scuderi

Shawn Matthias

My Trade — to Nashville, with Milan Michalek and Pierre-Alexander Parenteau, for Cody Hodgson, Colton Sissons, Stefan Elliott, a 2016 second-round pick and a 2017 third-round pick

Actual Trade — to Colorado for Colin Smith and a 2016 fourth-round pick

David Jones

My Trade — to San Jose, with Jonas Hiller and Drew Shore, for Rourke Chartier and a 2017 fifth-round pick

Actual Trade — to Minnesota for Niklas Backstrom and a 2016 sixth-round pick

Devante Smith-Pelly

My Trade — to Tampa Bay, with Tom Gilbert, for Matt Carle and Jonathan Marchessault

Actual Trade — to New Jersey for Stefan Matteau

Larry Fisher is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, and has been an at-large contributor for THW since August 2014. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.