The NHL Trade Deadline is a mere two days away and it’s the last chance for teams to add a new face or two in the hopes of venturing off on an extended post-season run.
A flat salary cap has made life more complicated for many general managers but it likely won’t prevent a flurry of action leading up to 3 p.m. ET on April 12.
Teams looking to be buyers at the deadline typically fancy themselves as playoff contenders but how often do deadline moves actually end up contributing to a championship?
Here’s what the past five Cup champs have done prior to the trade deadline.
Tampa Bay Lightning (2019-20)
Acquired: Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow
After an embarrassing playoff exit the year prior, Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois went all in ahead of the deadline in 2020. Tampa used a pair of first-round draft picks plus 2019 first-rounder Nolan Foote to add Coleman and Goodrow, both of whom were signed through 2021. The first-rounder in the Coleman deal was originally acquired by the Lightning when the team sent J.T. Miller to the Canucks the previous off-season.
“These were the two guys we felt were the best fit for our organization to help us win this year and help us maintain our competitiveness going into next season as well,” BriseBois told reporters that deadline day. “This time of year, it's just the reality, you're going to pay a premium. … I was in the buyer's chair and my mindset was it's not about value maximization, it's about winning hockey games. And I look at our team with (Coleman and Goodrow) and we're a better team now and we're going to be a harder team to take out come springtime with the addition of these two players.”
BriseBois nailed his assessment, as Coleman and Goodrow each played all 25 playoff games and both totalled more than 100 post-season hits as key contributors to the Lightning’s Stanley Cup run.
St. Louis Blues (2018-19)
Acquired: Michael Del Zotto
The Blues more or less stood pat at the deadline in their championship season. They sent a sixth-round pick to the Ducks to acquire Del Zotto, who never suited up in the post-season. The Blues had revamped their roster the previous off-season by signing David Perron, Tyler Bozak and Patrick Maroon, plus pulling off a blockbuster trade with the Sabres to land eventual Conn Smythe winner Ryan O’Reilly. Jordan Binnington also ascended from the AHL to help turn the season around, which meant the Blues didn’t need to target a goalie at the deadline.
Washington Capitals (2017-18)
Acquired: Michal Kempny, Jakub Jerabek
The Capitals had plenty of firepower up front so defensive depth was the focus and Kempny in particular has been a solid addition. Kempny played in all 24 of Washington’s playoff games and ended up signing a four-year contract to stay with the Caps.
Pittsburgh Penguins (2016-17)
Acquired: Ron Hainsey, Mark Streit
The Penguins needed help on defence in order to become the NHL’s first back-to-back champs since the Red Wings teams of the late 1990s. With Kris Letang out long-term, former Penguins GM Jim Rutherford added a pair of veteran blueliners. Hainsey cost a second-round pick and Streit a fourth, so it was an excellent short-term investment. Hainsey was 35 at the time and had never played a single Stanley Cup playoff game prior to that season. He ended up logging the team’s second-most ice-time during the post-season.
Pittsburgh Penguins (2015-16)
Acquired: Justin Schultz
The Pens had added Carl Hagelin roughly six weeks prior to the deadline and Trevor Daley earlier that season, so the only meaningful deadline move Rutherford pulled off that year was adding Justin Schultz for an more scoring punch from the back end. All it cost was a third-round selection and Schultz suited up for 15 playoffs games. He re-signed in Pittsburgh and was a bigger contributor the following season.