Some say the true benefactors of deadline day aren’t determined until years down the road, when all the draft picks and prospects in play show their worth. We say that’s way too long to wait. Here’s a list of winners and losers from the past few days of trade activity.
Montreal Canadiens: Thomas Vanek was viewed as the best available rental player and Montreal nabbed him without coughing up a first-round pick or a prized prospect. In doing so, the Habs addressed their obvious need for offence and thrust themselves squarely in the conversation about the Eastern Conference’s best teams not based in Boston or Pittsburgh. This was a home run.
St. Louis Blues: Bringing Ryan Miller on board gives the Blues elite goaltending and a legitimate chance to change their playoff luck. Plus it already kind of feels like Miller might stick around town when his contract is up.
Buffalo Sabres: New GM Tim Murray conducted a successful fire sale. Murray made a shrewd move when he picked a couple second-rounders from his stockpile of draft picks and flipped them to the Kings for prospects Hudson Fasching and Nicolas Deslauriers. In landing Michal Neuvirth from Washington, Murray also gets a relatively young goalie who may yet have some untapped potential.
Florida Panthers: The Cats’ goalie situation has been in some form of limbo since they traded Roberto Luongo away in 2006. Now he’s back, with a new lease on his professional life just in time to play behind a young core that includes some very good forwards. With stable goaltending in the next couple years, the Panthers have a chance to claw back into the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Under the circumstances, Steve Yzerman did well to land pending-UFA Ryan Callahan, a first-rounder in 2015 and a second-rounder in 2014 who becomes a first if New York makes the East final. The whole situation was obviously less than ideal, but with Jonathan Drouin coming and Tampa being among the best clubs at developing talent, Yzerman and Co. can absorb the hit and move on.
New York Rangers: They paid a heavy price for a 38-year-old player, but Martin St-Louis remains an elite talent who is signed for next year and figures to be a significant contributor for a year or two beyond that. The Blueshirts made a hard call giving up Callahan and whether you agree or disagree, you have to respect their resolve. By trading for St-Louis, the Rangers are officially in win-now mode.
New York Islanders: One season, two puzzling trades involving Vanek. The Isles made a bold move to land Vanek from Buffalo in the fall, but paid a heavy price to add scoring when almost everyone in the world believed they needed an upgrade on defence and in goal. Then, with the rest of the league knowing Snow had to move Vanek, the best he could do was settle for a second-rounder and a prospect who might be good three years down the road. Might.
Calgary Flames: Acting GM Brian Burke obviously couldn’t get what he felt was market value for Mike Cammalleri, but he’s almost surely going to leave for nothing in the summer. And even if Cammalleri re-signs, is that what this young club needs?
Vancouver Canucks: To be fair, if GM Mike Gillis is really tearing it down, moving pieces like Ryan Kesler at the draft probably makes more sense. Still, after everything that went on with Luongo over the years, we have to give Vancouver a loser label.
Fared just fine
Los Angeles Kings: You never know what you’ll get from the injury-prone Marian Gaborik, but with its stellar defence, L.A. isn’t asking for him to rediscover his 40-goal form, just to add a few goals to the mix every once in a while.
Anaheim Ducks: Adding Stéphane Robidas to the blueline is a nice, stabilizing move.
Washington: If nothing else, goalie Jaroslav Halak offers some hope that the team will give up fewer goals down the stretch.
Ottawa Senators: Nobody in the league was more in need of a scenery change than Ales Hemsky. For all the frustration that’s surrounded him over the years, Hemsky has slick hands and a dose of gumption.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Disappointing as it may be for some fans that they didn’t land Kesler, Lee Stempniak is a responsible winger who’s not entirely different from the guy he’s ostensibly replacing, Pascal Dupuis. Still, when you look at the relatively cheap price tag on Vanek, you have to wonder if the Pens couldn’t have made a move there and stuck a stud with Sidney Crosby.
Minnesota Wild: Surrendering two second-rounders and one fourth to add goal-scorer Matt Moulson and insurance goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is not insignificant, but also shows Minny believes it can play with the West’s big boys.