The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline is officially in the rearview mirror. This year’s figured to be a weird one, with financial restrictions and a flat salary cap playing a big role in limiting action. There were still quite a few big deals and notable names moved, and a lot of trades happened both leading up to and on the deadline itself. It’s always exciting to see which contenders are boosting up in preparation for a Cup run, and who thinks their group is good enough as is to go deep. And of course, the teams who are floundering and trying to get draft capital for the pending UFAs. Let’s just get to the deals already.
To Montréal – C Eric Staal; To Buffalo – 2021 MTL 3rd, 2021 MTL 5th
Getting some more help up front was important for the Habs, especially with Brendan Gallagher’s regular season-ending just after this deal was made. It’s a bit surprising to see Montreal add another center to a team with Philip Danault, Nick Suzuki, and Jesperi Kotkankiemi. But Staal is a solid scorer with a veteran presence and gobs of playoff experience. If the Sabres didn’t torpedo his production with their general incompetency, they probably could’ve gotten more back for the 36-year old. Staal certainly made a strong first impression, scoring an OT winner in his Habs debut.
To NY Islanders – RW Kyle Palmieri, C Travis Zajac (NJ Retains 50% Salary of Both); To New Jersey – 2021 NYI 1st, Conditional 2022 NYI 4th, LW A.J. Greer, C Mason Jobst
Not to brag, but I predicted this trade in our latest NHL power rankings. With Islanders captain Anders Lee going down for the year with an ACL tear, the Isles needed someone to fill his void. Enter Palmieri, a solid two-way forward that you can bank on for 40-50 points a year. Zajac, a veteran center drafted by current Isles GM Lou Lamoriello when he was in New Jersey, is decent depth and a nice Old Guy Without A Cup Story (OGWAC). Perhaps the Devils could’ve milked a better prospect out of New York; Jobst and Greer projected as fringe depth pieces at best. But the first-round pick is solid, and the fourth becomes a 2022 or 2023 3rd if the Isles reach this year’s Stanley Cup Final.
To Chicago – RW Brett Connolly, C Henrik Borgström, D Riley Stillman, 2021 FLA 7th; To Florida – C Lucas Wallmark, D Lucas Carlsson
This trade seems like a win-win. Connolly is a former 20-goal scorer with a fairly steep contract ($3.5 million for the next two years) that was falling out of favor in Florida. But he could rediscover his scoring touch alongside Dylan Strome or Kirby Dach. Borgrström’s a former 1st round pick currently playing overseas who has some nice skill. GM Stan Bowman says he’ll return to North America next year. Carlsson and Wallmark, the latter of whom was also acquired by Florida at last year’s deadline, are solid depth pieces to give Bill Zito’s club some insurance.
To Colorado – D Patrick Nemeth (DET Retains 50% Salary); To Detroit – 2022 COL 4th
This is actually Nemeth’s second tour of duty in Denver; he was a part of Colorado’s backend from 2017-2019. With the Avs backend finally getting healthy, Nemeth’s role seems unclear. He may just be injury depth to make up for losing Ian Cole in a trade to Minnesota earlier in the year. Or maybe he’s a solid shutdown force on the third pair like he was in his first stint in Colorado. Either way, a fourth’s not a bad return for Detroit.
To Florida – D Brandon Montour; To Buffalo – 2021 FLA 3rd
Montour had a lot of hype around him when he arrived in Buffalo at the 2019 trade deadline; you don’t pay a first and solid prospect for nothing. Yet Montour’s offensive skills sagged the second he got off the tarmac, as he never found his A-game with the Sabres. The Panthers needed a right-handed defender to try and fill Aaron Ekblad’s void, but Montour is nothing more than depth. This reminds me a lot of the Flyers signing Erik Gustafsson after Matt Niskanen retired in the offseason; extra depth is nice, but he’s not replacing the lost big-name defender. You can scroll down to see how that worked out for them (spoiler: not well). But there’s not much the Panthers can do; Nashville’s latest surge takes perhaps the only two impact defenders (Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis) off the block.
To Colorado – G Devan Dubnyk, To San Jose – D Greg Pateryn, 2021 COL 5th
So Colorado’s solution to their backup goalie whole is the guy who couldn’t stop a beach ball in San Jose. Got it. Honestly, that’s not a bad return for San Jose for a veteran pending UFA with a .898 save percentage. Pateryn didn’t do much after coming to Colorado in the Ian Cole trade, but he’s a fine depth option. Hopefully, this move means the Avs are confident Pavel Francouz will be back soon; otherwise, I’m disappointed Sakic didn’t pony up to get a better backup option.
To Tampa Bay – D David Savard (DET Retains 50%); To Columbus – 2021 TB 1st, 2022 TB 3rd, D Brian Lashoff (To Detroit – 2021 TB 4th)
For SEO purposes, the third team in these deals that are only involved for cap purposes are being put in parenthesis. Didn’t think the Lightning were going to buy considering their lack of cap space and the fact they traded away two firsts (plus Nolan Foote, who they took in the 2019 1st round) at least year’s trade deadline. But here we are. With Nashville surging, Columbus was able to jack up the price on the pending UFA Savard. He’s a very solid, reliable right-handed defenseman, which is a nice commodity to have. However, he’s having a really bad year in terms of play-driving (42.77% Corsi, 45.08% xG at 5-on-5, score and venue adjusted).
They weren’t amazing last year either, but he’d been very solid in the past. And considering he’ll likely be playing alongside Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, or Ryan McDonagh, I think he’ll be just fine for the Bolts. And credit to Detroit for weaponizing their cap space and getting a free fourth for retaining half ($2.25 million) of Savard’s deal.
To Toronto – LW Nick Foligno (CBJ Retains 50%, SJ Retains 50% of That), RW Stefan Noesen; To Columbus – 2021 TOR 1st, 20212 TOR 4th (To San Jose – 2021 TOR 4th)
Props to Jarmo Kekalainen for getting a first for Savard and Foligno; he might be the winner of the trade deadline. To be honest, I’m kind of surprised Columbus was willing to part with their long-time captain. But this is a haul too good to pass up. And the Sharks get in on the mix by buying a 4th round pick for retaining 25% of Foligno’s salary (or half of what was left after Columbus retained 50% of it).
I get the feeling Toronto GM Kyle Dubas felt like being cautiously aggressive at this deadline; Toronto has a really good group, and Dubas probably didn’t want to make a drastic shake-up. The Leafs needed another forward; their top-six is solid, but it looks dicey if anyone goes down. Foligno isn’t a highly skilled player, but he’s sound in the defensive zone and should be good in the room. Worth a first? Time will tell.
To New Jersey – D Jonas Siegenthaler; To Washington – Conditional 2021 ARI 3rd
Just to be clear, the Devils aren’t buying, per se. Siegenthaler is only 23, and the Devils are hoping he’s a part of their blue-line moving forward. The Capitals clear up $800K in cap space and a roster spot. Though it’s a bit surprising they didn’t at least get a depth defender to replace Siegenthaler short-term. The conditions for the pick seem a bit weird — per CapFriendly, ” Arizona’s draft pick is currently listed as conditional between Arizona and New Jersey. If the pick is not transferred to New Jersey, the 3rd round pick will be changed to New Jersey’s 2021 3rd round pick instead of Arizona’s.”
To Boston – D Mike Reilly; To Ottawa – 2022 BOS 3rd
With Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk all currently hurt, the Bruins desperately needed to acquire some defensive help at the trade deadline. Reilly isn’t the flashiest name, but he’s low-key having a solid season: 19 assists in 40 games and a 52.19% Corsi and 51.33% xG to boot. A third-round pick is a solid return for the Senators, especially considering they originally acquired Reilly for a 5th and an ECHLer.
To Toronto – G David Rittich; To Calgary – 2022 TOR 3rd
This must mean the Leafs are really concerned about Frederik Andersen’s injury situation. Is he in the same boat as Francouz? Rittich has always put up great numbers against Toronto, so I guess if you can’t beat him, trade for him. I wonder if Rittich is just injury insurance for this year or if the Maple Leafs will strongly consider bringing him back next year to split the net with the apparently unbeatable Jack Campbell.
To Pittsburgh – C Jeff Carter (50% Retained); To Los Angeles – Conditional 2022 PIT 3rd, Conditional 2023 PIT 4th
Weird to see NHL GMs trading picks that won’t be used until after I graduate college (I’m currently a freshman). UPDATE: I won’t be graduating college with that math — I’ll be a rising senior when the 2023 NHL Draft arrives. GM Ron Hextall won a Cup as assistant GM of the 2012 Kings team that dealt for Carter at that trade deadline. He’s obviously not the same player he was then. But the 36-year old is still a solid complementary scorer that can play center or the wing. I don’t know if he has the speed to keep up with Crosby or Malkin, but he should help the bottom-six and second PP unit. Carter is under contract through next season. As for conditions: the 3rd becomes a second if Carter plays at least 50% of PIT’s 2021 playoff games and the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup Final, and the 4th becomes a 3rd if Carter plays at least 50 regular-season games next season.
To Boston – LW Taylor Hall, C Curtis Lazar; To Buffalo – 2021 BOS 2nd, LW Anders Bjork
We live in a world where Taylor Hall is worth less than Nick Foligno and David Savard. The 2018 Hart Trophy winner’s stock fell so far in Buffalo the Sabres weren’t even able to recoup a first-round pick for easily the most talented player on the block. You wouldn’t guess it from looking at their team on paper, but the Bruins are having depth scoring issues again, and the hope is Hall can alleviate those. Honestly, if he can’t, I’m not sure anyone will be able to. It’s a fair trade-off when you consider how dominant the Perfection Line has been over the last couple of years. Lazar is also decent depth for Boston, while Buffalo gets back Anders Bjork, a bottom-sixer with some skill that’d fallen out of favor in Beantown. Now the question becomes is Hall just a rental or a potential long-term fit.
To Chicago – C Adam Gaudette; To Vancouver – LW Matthew Highmore
This is a weird trade, and not one I like for Vancouver. Gaudette hasn’t lived up to expectations after putting up big numbers in college, but he’s a solid middle-of-lineup guy with room to grow at 24. Highmore, on the other hand, hasn’t put up more than six points or played in more than 36 games in a season. Gaudette at least has a 33-point campaign (2019-20) to his name. This is a big victory for the Blackhawks long-term, even it doesn’t really move the needle for their rapidly fading playoff chances.
To Colorado – C Carl Söderberg; To Chicago – RW Ryder Rolston, C Josh Dickinson
Like Nemeth, this is Söderberg’s second tour of duty with the Avs, but he’ll be playing much lower in the lineup this time around. The return is solid for a 35-year old fourth liner; Dickinson’s an ECHLer, and Rolston (son of former NHLer Brian) is a 5th rounder currently playing at Notre Dame with some promise. Söderberg’s near the end of the line and hoping to get his name on the Stanley Cup. Going back to Colorado gives him a pretty good shot.
To Florida – C Sam Bennett, 2022 CGY 6th; To Calgary – LW Emil Heineman, 2022 FLA 2nd
Bennett gets his long-requested wish and heads out of Calgary. He’s never lived up to the top-five pick hype, but Bennett’s physicality and tenacity have always meshed well with playoff hockey. The Panthers boosted their forward depth with this trade by signing Nikita Gusev to a 1-year deal after he mutually terminated his contract with New Jersey. Heinemann was taken 43rd in last year’s draft and has 13 points in 43 games in the SHL (Swedish Hockey League) playing against grown men as a 19-year old. This is a really nice return for the Flames. Although it’s certainly not the way they hoped Bennett’s tenure would end when they drafted him.
To Vegas – LW Mattias Janmark (CHI Retains 50%, SJ Retains 50% of That), D Nick DeSimone, 2022 CHI 5th; To Chicago – 2021 VGK 2nd, 2022 3rd (To San Jose – 2022 BUF 5th)
Fun game: take a shot every time the Sharks have piggy-backed on a big deal at the trade deadline to provide some salary relief in exchange for a mid-round pick. Vegas wanted to get one more top-nine forward to shore up their third line, and Janmark is that guy. He scored 19 goals three years ago; he’s got 10 in 41 games this year, a 20-goal pace in a full 82 game campaign. Janmark is capable of playing up in the lineup in Peter DeBoer decides to juggle things mid-game, but he’s best suited for that aforementioned third line.
DeSimone isn’t much; a 26-year old with no NHL experience, but he’s a righty with a 46-point AHL season two years ago to his name. Pretty solid return for a guy the Blackhawks took a 1-year flier on exactly six months ago. Is this… a better return than what Buffalo got for Hall?
To Edmonton – D Dmitry Kulikov; To New Jersey – Conditional 2022 EDM 4th
It seemed like Kulikov was destined for a return to Winnipeg for a while, but he goes to a different Canadian team at the trade deadline instead. He’s the typical third-pair defenseman; good in his own zone, blocks shots and kills penalties, but isn’t anything to write home about. The fourth-round pick upgrades to Edmonton’s 2022 3rd if the Oilers win a playoff series this year, which has a decent chance of happening. At least they didn’t lose him for nothing on waivers like Sami Vatanen; you’d think they could’ve gotten a similar return for him.
To Washington – RW Anthony Mantha; To Detroit – LW Jakub Vrána, LW Richard Pánik, 2021 WSH 1st, 2022 WSH 2nd
Now, THIS is what I call a blockbuster! It’s a stunner, too. Mantha is a legit power forward on a little bit of a down year (19 points in 41 games) that could thrive on Backstrom or Kuznetsov’s wing. It seemed like Jakub Vrána was starting to fall out of favor in D.C., as a couple of healthy scratches usually indicate. But he’s a darn-fine scorer who had 52 points last year. He and Dylan Larkin could be quite the duo moving forward. And a first and a second certainly make up for the marginal downgrade from Mantha to Vrána. Even if it means absorbing Pánik’s slightly bloated deal. This could work out for Washington, but it’s hard to see how it won’t for Detroit. The Yzerplan rolls on.
To Montréal – D Erik Gustafsson; To Philadelphia – 2022 STL 7th
To Anaheim – D Haydn Fleury; To Carolina – D Jani Hakanpää, 2022 ANA 6th
The expansion draft definitely plays a role in this trade deadline move. Fleury, a former top 10 pick, would’ve almost certainly been exposed to Seattle if he remained in Raleigh. He’s never quite lived up to his potential, but he has a better chance of getting consistent playing time with the rebuilding Ducks. Carolina gets a depth defender plus a late-round pick in return. Smart move by Anaheim GM Bob Murray here.