Here are the biggest winners and losers of NHL Trade Deadline Day 2019:
Winner – Vegas Golden Knights
It came down to the wire, but Mark Stone was finally moved.
With the deal finalized, Vegas didn’t have to give up a first rounder – instead sending two prospects and a second in 2020. Of note, they had 2 second rounders next year, anyway. Losing Brannstrom hurts, but as part of the deal, Stone has already agreed to a large extension. As a premier, right-handed forward, you make that swap every day of the week.
Adding Stone without giving up anything major from their current roster should solidify a playoff spot, and they didn’t cripple their asset portfolio.
That’s where Vegas beats out Columbus. The Blue Jackets made some great additions, but they had to mortgage their future to do it.
Winner – New York Islanders
In a year where the Islanders are seemingly playing with house money (no one expected them to be here), it made sense to stand pat.
With a likely overhaul coming in the summer on the heels of numerous expiring contracts, holding on to future assets is in line with the long term plan.
Lamoriello: "We weren't going to sacrifice our plan here… You don't do something just for the sake of doing it. We're pleased with where we are."
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) February 25, 2019
The Islanders made out great in last year’s draft, adding Noah Dobson and Oliver Whalstrom in the first round. They keep their draft picks, and run in to the playoffs riding two hot goalies – playing loose with nothing to lose.
Winner – Ottawa Senators
On the heels of a major rebuild, it hurts not having your own first round draft pick – especially when it could very well be #1 overall. Pierre Dorion made the best of his own situation, however, and did a great job of restocking the franchise with draft picks and prospects after contracts couldn’t be settled with Duchene, Dzingel or Stone.
The Senators are starting from zero. By the time they are conceivably competing again, the Bobby Ryan, Marian Gaborik and Clarke McArthur contracts will be off the books. The team has formidable pieces to build around including Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot. This was Ottawa’s only move in their current situation. Adding Brannstrom to this core is a huge step, and will provide the Senators with a young, formidable #1 pairing for the future.
Dorion was not in an enviable position but was able to make the most of the deadline season to reboot the team.
Loser – Colorado Avalanche
It would have been easy to cast the Dallas Stars as “losers” among the buying category, but an unlucky injury to Zuccarello is hardly forseen.
Sitting on the periphery of the playoff picture, Avalanche fans could be forgiven for wanting their team to make a splash. However, the correct move for me was standing pat. While they didn’t give up a haul (and rightly so), a 3rd rounder is still an asset that could have been better utilized on a future occasion. Derick Brassard doesn’t move the needle and is now on the wrong side of 30. If they make the playoffs, he doesn’t put them over the top – if they miss the playoffs, they gave away an asset for nothing.
With big time prospects coming up through the pipeline and their #1 center signed to an extremely team friendly deal through 2022-23, the Avalanche are setting up their future quite nicely. Standing pat and missing the playoffs might hurt, but it would also guarantee them two top-15 draft picks in what is a deep draft year.
However you want to put it, Colorado just isn’t ready. With a team scoring standard deviation just shy of 24, the depth isn’t there and giving up capital for a player like Derick Brassard wasn’t in their best interest. The time to address their depth may have been better left for the summer. The 2019 free agent class is shaping up to be a buyers’ market with plenty of impact players set to test the market.
Loser – Pittsburgh Penguins
After all is said and done, Pittsburgh spent the day trying to patch up their blue line after another brush with the injury bug. They ended up adding Erik Gudbranson and Chris Wideman.
While they weren’t forced to give up anything too substantive, the addition of Gudbranson at his cap hit seems like more of a desperation move. As you can see in the following viz (courtesy of @IneffectiveMath on Twitter), he doesn’t drive offense and is not particularly effective at preventing high-danger chances in his own end. At $4,000,000 over the next two years, this is a curious addition.
Tanner Pearson (in return to Vancouver) is an average 5v5 forward with a great penalty differential who shouldn't be given power-play minutes. pic.twitter.com/4YSvzpn0Y2
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 25, 2019
The Penguins will once again need to lean much too heavily on their forward corps just to make the playoffs. They’ve won cups this way, but had solid goaltending to help take pressure off of the defense. If Matt Murray doesn’t turn his game around quick, the Penguins will struggle mightily this playoff season – if they even make it. These additions aren’t going to do much to help, one way or the other.