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Grading the Biggest Trades in the NHL before Deadline Day

(Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images)

Happy NHL Trade Deadline Day! Every year, teams either sell, trade or keep their current rosters to get ready for playoff push or an early offseason spent at the golf course. There will surely be many moves, both small and large, that are completed by 3 PM EST today and soon enough, we will know if they paid off. Here are my grades for the biggest moves:

Devils Send Palmieri and Zajac to Long Islan

Islanders: B

Devils: B+

With this move, the Devils cleared $5.2 million in cap space and also moved on from Zajac, 35 and Palmieri, 30 while retaining half of both players salaries. At 14-20-6, the Devils are long shots to make the Playoffs. Because of this, they will certainly have a high pick in the upcoming draft while also adding the Islanders’ first round selection in the 2021 draft. The Islanders are obviously bolstering their roster for their own playoff run, but it will be interesting to see what Zajac and Palmieri will add to an already deep roster.

Blackhawks acquire Brett Connolly from Florida

Panthers: C

Blackhawks: C

Though there were many pieces to this trade, it doesn’t do much for either team as neither Connolly or the players Florida received in Lucas Wallmark or Lucas Carlsson have made an impact this season. Yes, both Wallmark and Carlsson are on small contracts and free up some cap room for the Panthers but, I don’t see this trade doing much for either side in terms of an immediate NHL impact.

Riley Nash goes from Columbus to Toronto

Blue Jackets: C

Maple Leafs: C-

Nash has never lived up to the expectations of being a first-round pick outside of his 2017-2018 season with the Boston Bruins which earned him a three-year, $8.25 million contact from the Blue Jackets in 2018. The Maple Leafs should enjoy his depth and hope Nash can reach the 20 point mark for the first time since he left Boston. I gave the Maple Leafs a C- in this deal because Nash’s $2.75 million cap hit is high for someone with only 7 points in almost 40 games. Columbus gets a conditional 7th-rounder in return, which is a great return for an expensive, depth-forward.

Florida adds Montour for a 3rd

Sabres: B

Panthers: B-

The Sabres are a lost cause and have started to clear house before the deadline, starting with this trade. It seems to happen every year that mid-to-low level veterans get a very high price tag right around the deadline and that seems to be what happened here. After losing Norris Trophy candidate Aaron Ekblad for the season, we all knew Florida would be antsy to add multiple defensive pieces and well, they got what they needed in Montour. The 27-year old had a decent 38 games in Buffalo this year and will now get a shot at the playoffs if the Panthers can get healthy. Florida adds a good player at a position of need, but a third rounder and an added $3.8 million in cap seems a little high for a guy that is -13 on the year and didn’t prove much in Buffalo in his 2.5 years there.

Colorado gets Dubnyk from San Jose

Avalanche: B-

Sharks: C

The former Bill Masterson award winning goalie won 30 or more games in three consecutive seasons from 2015 to the end of 2019 as a part of the Minnesota Wild but has dropped off substantially as he has aged out of his prime. The Avalanche needed goaltending help in order to solidify their roster as they are almost guaranteed a playoff spot. The Avs did not give much up at all and only added on around $1 million in salary since they traded away a lifetime AHLer in Greg Pateryn who somehow makes $1.75 million.

Three-team trade lands Savard in Tampa Bay and two picks in Columbus

Blue Jackets: A

Red Wings: C

Tampa Bay: C

The Blue Jackets somehow got a first and third rounder for David Savard who may be the most average defenseman in the NHL. Tampa Bay will somehow turn dirt into gold, I assume, as they always hit the jackpot on deadline trades. However, as for now, it looks to be a high overpay for a guy that only plays top-two minutes because of injuries and the fact that he played for the Blue Jackets in the first place.

New Jersey acquires Siegenthaler from Washington

Capitals: B

Devils: C

I had never heard of Jonas Siegenthaler before this trade which immediately made me believe this was an overpay from the Devils. At only 23-years old, Siegenthaler still has a good chance to break through in the NHL, but looking at immediate impact, it seems that the third round pick that the Capitals get in this trade will be the better piece considering New Jersey is not exactly the best place to develop.

Blue Jackets add a first rounder in their second three-team trade, ship Foligno to Toronto

Blue Jackets: A

Sharks: C+

Toronto: C

For the second time in as many days, the Blue Jackets sold a team into trading for an aging player in exchange for multiple picks, including a first. Toronto adds a solid piece to their lineup but there is no chance Foligno will play to the value of a first and two fourths.

Maple Leafs get Rittich from Calgary

Flames: B-

Maple Leafs: C

Frederick Andersen has not played since March 19 and it seems the Leafs aren't quite ready to roll with the 11-0 Jack Campbell and Michael Hutchinson as their goaltenders. Rittich has had a solid past two seasons, going 27-9 in 2018-2019 and 24-17 in 2019-2020 and will look to improve on his 4-7 record this season as Toronto is looking to solidify their strong roster heading into the playoffs. Since the North Division is extremely weak, it is all but in stone that Toronto will be playing some playoff hockey this season.

Boston sends a third to Ottawa for Mike Reilly

Senators: C+

Bruins: B-

Reilly has performed well in the dumpster fire that is the Ottawa Senators organization this season, which is the only reason Boston sent a third in this trade. Just a year ago, Reilly was sent to Ottawa from Montreal for a fifth round pick and an ECHL player and now here he is, questionably worthy of a third round pick. I see this as an overpay from the Bruins, but if he can keep his current pace, the Bruins won’t mind losing that pick in return for a solid top-four defenseman.

Jeff Carter traded to Pittsburgh

Penguins: C+

Kings: B

Jeff Carter had been a Los Angeles King for what seemed like forever, it is hard to remember his tenure as a Flyer and his 39 game run as a Blue Jacket in 2011-2012. The Kings get $2.6 million in cap relief after retaining 50% of Carter’s salary along with a conditional third rounder in the 2022 draft and a conditional fourth in 2023. The conditions on the fourth rounder seems very attainable if Carter sticks with Pittsburgh and stays healthy, so there is a very good chance that the Kings end up getting two third rounders from the Penguins, not a bad return for a 36-year old.

Boston acquires Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar from Buffalo

Boston: A

Buffalo: F

You would correct in saying Taylor Hall has been through a rough patch ever since he won the Hart Trophy back in 2017-2018. However, Hall has been on an awful Buffalo Sabres team that just hit 10 wins on the season yesterday (explain yourselves Flyers fans). Don Sweeney finally made a good trade and got a respectable player at the deadline and only had to give up a second round pick and Anders Bjork, who seemed to be on his way out of Beantown regardless. Hall will probably slot in on the second line, giving David Krejci a decent shooter and the Bruins a strong second line going into the final stretch.


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