Down Goes Brown: NHL Western Conference trade grades

New York Islanders' Jordan Eberle takes the pass from Matthew Barzal in overtime and makes no mistake, as he rips it upstairs and beats Darcy Kuemper and the Los Angeles Kings.

Our annual trade grades post continues today, as we look back at every deal from 2017 that involved at least one player. Yesterday, we went through the Eastern Conference. Today, it’s the West’s turn.

Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks

Best deal: It’s early, but so far the Sami Vatanen-for-Adam Henrique seems like a classic case of two teams both using an area of strength to patch holes in the lineup.

Worst deal: Giving up Shea Theodore for expansion draft considerations. On its own, the move works, since it allowed the team to keep Vatanen and Josh Manson. But it highlights the fact that the Ducks were as poorly positioned for expansion as just about anyone, and couldn’t find a way to avoid paying a price for it.

To be determined: Just how much the first-rounder they gave up for Patrick Eaves comes back to bite them; the fact that he re-signed eases the pain a bit.

Total trades: Seven.

Overall grade: B-. Bob Murray worked hard, and probably salvaged as much as he could from a brutal expansion situation.

Arizona Coyotes

Best deal: John Chayka managed to turn Martin Hanzal into one of the deadline’s biggest names, and reaped a windfall for doing so.

Worst deal: The Derek Stepan/Antti Raanta deal signalled that the Coyotes were ready to move into win-now mode. Their start to this season signalled that they were not.

To be determined: Whether Niklas Hjalmarsson can get back on track; that deal looked like a steal for the Coyotes at the time.

Total trades: Fourteen, tying the Canadiens for the league high.

Overall grade: B. Chayka made lots of deals, several of them big – we didn’t even mention Mike Smith – and he’s clearly not intimidated despite his relative youth and lack of experience. But the disastrous start to the season calls into question whether the Coyotes were addressing the right areas.

Calgary Flames

Best deal: Getting Mike Smith from the Coyotes. I was skeptical at the time, but so far Smith has been exactly what they hoped they were getting.

Worst deal: As mentioned yesterday, giving up a second for Curtis Lazar seemed like a major overpayment on a longshot gamble.

To be determined: Whether Travis Hamonic can settle in; they’d better hope so, given the price they paid to get him.

Total trades: Six.

Overall grade: B. But if Hamonic gets back to his Islanders level, this could move into the A- territority.

Edmonton Oilers

Best deal: Getting David Desharnais for Brandon Davidson. Desharnais didn’t do much in Edmonton and is now in New York, but they got Davidson back on waivers a few months later, so it basically ended up being a freebie.

Worst deal: Sending Jordan Eberle to the Islanders for Ryan Strome. Yes, it was partly a salary dump, but Eberle is contributing and so far Strome mostly hasn’t.

To be determined: What deals are coming in 2018 – it’s possible no team will be under more pressure over the next three months than Edmonton.

Total trades: Six.

Overall grade: C+. An interesting note: Five of the six Oiler trades were old school one-for-one deals.

Los Angeles Kings

Best deal: In a league where everyone places massive value on character and heart and compete level, getting Jarome Iginla for free at the deadline remains one of the season’s strangest trades. He certainly didn’t light it up in L.A., but he had his moments.

Worst deal: The whole Ben Bishop thing. In the big picture, they didn’t give up a ton to get him, and I still argue that Steve Yzerman misplayed his hand here. But there’s an opportunity cost with every deal, and the Kings spent assets to address a need most of us didn’t think they actually had.

To be determined: What kind of trader Rob Blake will be – he’s yet to pull off a major deal since taking over from an aggressive dealer in Dean Lombardi.

Total trades: Ten.

Overall grade: C. Lots of moves, not many wins.

San Jose Sharks

Best deal: Getting a second and fourth for Mirco Mueller was decent value.

Worst deal: The Jannik Hansen deal hasn’t really paid off. It also included one of the stranger conditional picks of the year – a fourth-round pick that reportedly jumped all the way up to a first if the Sharks won the Cup. They did not.

To be determined: Whether people eventually start pointing out that Doug Wilson has really only acquired one significant player (Martin Jones) via trade in the last half dozen years or so.

Total trades: Three.

Overall grade: C-. Not much of note here.

Vancouver Canucks

Best deal: Getting a solid prospect in Jonathan Dahlen for Alex Burrows. It’s never fun to see a fan favorite go, but Burrows’ time in Vancouver was done, and Jim Benning extracted maximum value for him.

Worst deal: Not sure there is one.

To be determined: Getting Derrick Pouliot and giving up on Jordan Subban are both deals that will need some time to sort out.

Total trades: Four.

Overall grade: B+. Jim Benning didn’t do much, but the moves he did make were solid. The question is whether the rebuilding Canucks will need to be more aggressive in 2018.

Vegas Golden Knights

Best deal: There’s plenty to choose from, but getting Theodore from the Ducks for nothing more than a promise to leave other players alone was a great example of taking advantage of another team’s bad situation.

Worst deal: In hindsight, trading Calvin Pickard to the Leafs right before all their goalies started getting hurt was a mistake. No way of knowing it at the time, though.

To be determined: Whether the Knights shift from being typical expansion team sellers at the deadline to being buyers – and if so, whether they regret it years down the line.

Total trades: Thirteen.

Overall grade: A. You can’t argue with success, even if George McPhee’s whole “collect all the defensemen as trade bait” strategy didn’t really work out.

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks

Best deal: With no clear win to be found, let’s go off the board with a surprise pick: Sending Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes. At the time, it seemed like a cap-inspired mistake, and Connor Murphy struggled early in Chicago. But he’s been better lately, and Hjalmarsson hasn’t looked great in Arizona. The deal was primarily a salary dump, but Stan Bowman may have actually squeezed some value out of a tough situation.

Worst deal: They sent a third to the Wings for Tomas Jurco, and in exchange they got one regular season point, a healthy scratch in the playoffs, and a player who’s now in the AHL.

To be determined: How the Brandon Saad/Artemi Panarin blockbuster plays out. Right now, it’s advantage Blue Jackets, but with two good young players we won’t declare a winner just yet (especially before we know what Panarin’s extension looks like).

Total trades: Nine.

Overall grade: B-. As always, Bowman isn’t afraid to make big moves. But so far, the results of this year’s work have been very mixed.

Colorado Avalanche

Best deal: Give Joe Sakic credit – he waited forever on a Matt Duchene deal and seemed to have stickhandled his way out of any chance of getting fair value. But when the deal finally came, he made out reasonably well.

Worst deal: As part of a disastrous deadline, the Avs managed to trade a first-ballot Hall of Famer for literally nothing at all. And they retained salary to do it.

To be determined: What happens with that Senators’ first-round pick. It’s top-ten protected this year, but if Ottawa keeps free-falling that could mean the Av are in line for an excellent pick a year later.

Total trades: Seven.

Overall grade: C+. Whiffing on a trade deadline they had all season to prepare for was inexcusable, but the Duchene deal salvages Sakic’s grade from failure territory. And if the Sens’ pick ends up being a top-five in 2019, we’d have to revisit entirely.

Dallas Stars

Best deal: Getting a conditional pick that ended up being a first for Patrick Eaves, a classic deadline rental who wasn’t coming back anyway.

Worst deal: Not much to choose from here. Giving up a second for Marc Methot hasn’t worked out well since he’s been hurt, although that’s probably nit-picking.

To be determined: Whether the Ben Bishop deal works out. Waiting until he was on the verge of UFA status meant the actual trade was dirt cheap… but also that they had little leverage when it came to signing him.

Total trades: Nine.

Overall grade: A-. This is a trade grade, not a cap management one, so we can’t hold Bishop’s contract against them all that much. And the rest of Jim Nill’s moves look good.

Minnesota Wild

Best deal: The Marco Scandella deal was a bit of a letdown at the time as has worked out better for Buffalo, but at least it carved out some cap space. That’s about the best we can do for the Wild.

Worst deal: Giving up a ton to get Martin Hanzal, who contributed one point in the playoffs. Full credit for taking their shot, but it didn’t work out.

To be determined: How much they regret sending Alex Tuch to the Knights, even though it was probably a necessary evil to avoid losing a bigger name in the expansion draft.

Total trades: Seven.

Overall grade: C-. It really feels like the second half of this season could be make-or-break for Chuck Fletcher.

Nashville Predators

Best deal: Getting Kyle Turris in the Duchene deal. The Sens needed a third team to make the deal work, and the Predators obliged. They may have walked out with the best player in the trade.

Worst deal: Getting P.A. Parenteau for a sixth at the deadline seemed like a steal, but he didn’t produce at all. Sometimes cheap gambles don’t pay off.

To be determined: Whether they get a little more aggressive at this year’s deadline after playing it conservative last time and then coming so close to a Cup.

Total trades: Seven.

Overall grade: A. David Poile is good at this.

St. Louis Blues

Best deal: Getting leading scorer Brayden Schenn from the Flyers. Or maybe getting a first from the Penguins for Ryan Reaves. Wait, maybe getting a first and more for Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline.

Worst deal: None, really. Admittedly, the Shattenkirk deal was a little odd, and maybe you could argue that St. Louis should have just held onto him for their own run. But the Blues used the first from Shattenkirk to get Schenn, so in hindsight it’s still a win.

To be determined: If anyone bothers answering Doug Armstrong’s calls next year.

Total trades: Three.

Overall grade: A. We can’t give Armstrong an A+ because the volume just isn’t there, but he had a fantastic 2017.

Winnipeg Jets

Best deal: Getting a sixth for Drew Stafford.

Worst deal: Only getting a sixth for Drew Stafford. Yes, I know we used the essentially same joke yesterday for the Bruins. Personally, I blame Drew Stafford, since making a deal involving him is apparently so traumatic that you can’t trade again all year.

To be determined: Why we even bother including the Jets in these things.

Total trades: One.

Overall grade: D. The whole “Kevin Chevaldayoff never trades” thing has been beaten into the ground by now, but this is getting ridiculous. You’re in a division with Poile, Armstrong and Bowman – at some point you’ve got to be willing to use the same tools those other teams are using, no?

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