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NHL Trade Deadline Winners & Losers

by Photo of Gil Santos

Canadiens and Rangers are among the winners while the New York Islanders come in the biggest loser.

NHL Trade Deadline Winners & Losers

The NHL trade deadline was hyped up to a great one and now that it is officially over, we can say it lived up to the expectations. From wire to wire, it was one of the most exciting deadlines in the NHL to date. In the morning we saw the captain for captain deal go down between the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. At the last minute, we saw the Montreal Canadiens come out as absolute thieves in the Thomas Vanek deal with the New York Islanders. In the middle of that, the likes of Matt Moulson, Marion Gaborik, and Ales Hemsky were dealt teams in desperate for goal scoring. But let's not forget about yesterday, where we saw three goalies including Roberto Luongo and defenseman Andrew McDonald on the move.

With the smoke cleared, let's take a look at who were the winners and losers of this year's NHL trade deadline:   

Winners

Montreal Canadiens

The addition of Thomas Vanek, who was one of the top prizes of the deadline, made the Montreal Canadiens the biggest winners. It came as a huge surprise among hockey folks because the Canadiens were not mentioned at all as potential suitors for Vanek. They were able to ninja their way to the best deal of the deadline. Montreal added a bonafide 30-goal scorer without giving up anything of significance from the big club. The Canadiens took advantage of the Islanders' desperation to trade Vanek and dealt just a conditional second round pick in 2014 and prospect, 20-year-old Sebastian Collberg. The Habs also received a conditional fifth round picks from the Isles. 

Vanek should especially help the Canadiens in even-strength scoring, where they have struggled all year. Montreal are 26th in the NHL in even-strength goals with 1.95 per game and Vanek is ranked 37th out of 298 regular forwards with 0.98 goals scored per 60 minutes in 5-on-5 situations. For the season, Vanek has 21 goals and 32 assists, which is good for 25th in the league in points.

However, the deal is not without risk as the 30-year-old winger is a pending free agent who desires to test free agency. In my opinion, the roll of the dice is well worth it because he gives them a better shot to contend for the Stanely Cup. If they make a deep playoff run, they could easily entice Vanek to stay in Montreal because as he said yesterday, "winning does make a big difference."

New York Rangers

While some Rangers fans may be angry that their team traded fan favorite and captain Ryan Callahan, they will soon learn to love the player they got in return. In exchange for Callahan and two draft picks, they received another captain in Martin St. Louis from Tampa Bay. St. Louis gives the Rangers yet another top-end goal scorer to go along with their star player and Canadian teammate Rick Nash. Also he reunites with former Lightning teammate Brad Richards, with whom he won a Stanley Cup in 2004. The Rangers have been inconsistent in the scoring department all season and St. Louis should easily help that problem. In 62 games with the Lightning, the reigning Art Ross Trophy-winner has 29 goals and 32 assists. The closest Ranger to that amount of goals is Nash with 19. In addition, St. Louis is on a cap-friendly deal with a $5.65 million cap hit and is only under contract until next season. 

Another positive is the Rangers now avoid overpaying for Callahan. While he brings great intangibles such as great work ethic, defense, and leadership, it is in the Rangers' best interest to not give a large long-term contract to a career 20-goal scorer who is almost guaranteed to miss at least 10 games a year. Moreover, the draft picks they gave up should not hurt them too much. The Rangers are in win-now mode, so they can not concern themselves with assets that will not help them achieve that goal right away. They also added more depth to their blue line with the addition of Raphael Diaz from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2015 fifth round pick.

The moves do not exactly put them in the upper echelon of Eastern Conference teams with the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins, but it inches them a lot closer.

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres had three main rental players to trade: Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, and Matt Moulson. General manager Tim Murray did a nice job getting assets for all of them. In the Ryan Miller and Steve Ott trade, the Sabres received probably more than excepted. They acquired another bargaining chip in goalie Jaroslav Halak, whom they later dealt to the Washington Capitals, veteran forward Chris Stewart, a prospect, a 2015 first round pick, and a 2016 third round pick. For Moulson, they added a pair of second round draft picks to their large collection of picks. For Halak, they got a goaltender back in Michal Neurvith and veteran defenseman Rostislav Klesla. The future is bright in Buffalo if they can make the right decisions with their huge number of draft picks and future cap space.  

Minnesota Wild and Los Angeles Kings

The Wild and the Kings were two teams that desperately needed a goal scorer and they got it with the acquisitions of Matt Moulson and Marion Gaborik, respectively. They also did not have to overpay to fill their needs. The Wild traded a depth winger in Torrey Mitchell and a pair of second rounds picks in 2014 and 2016 to the Buffalo Sabres for Moulson. The Kings dealt winger Matt Frattin, who has just 6 points in 40 games, a 2nd round pick, and a conditional 3rd round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Gaborik .

Moulson, who has 17 goals in 55 games with the Sabres and Islanders, should fit in nicely with a team that has just five double-digit goal scorers. Moulson is a great finisher and can score dirty the goals when needed. 

The Kings have been struggling mightily to score despite talents like Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, and Anze Kopitar on their team The arrival of Gaborik should help remedy that. He may not be the bonafide 40-goal scorer he once was, but he is still a threat to light up the lamp at any time. Injuries have been the main problem for the 32-year old winger in 2014, which has limited him to just 22 games this season, but he should healthy enough to contribute. Remember, the last time the Kings got a sniper from the Blue Jackets (Jeff Carter in 2012), they went onto to win the Stanley Cup. 

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers quietly did a nice job upgrading their goalie situation. Edmonton locked up their current starter Ben Scrivens,whom they acquired from the Kings in Janurary, for two years and yesterday they added Viktor Fasth from the Anaheim Ducks. Fasth has been limited with a lower body injury all season and only has five games under his belt in 2014. In 2013, however, Fasth played very well in his first NHL season with a 15-6-2 record, 2.18 goals against average, and 92.1% save percentage for the Ducks. The duo of Scrivens and Fasth is a quite an upgrade from Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera goaltending pair from the beginning of the season. 

St. Louis Blues

The Blues made their blockbuster deal last weekend before the deadline, but it's hard to keep them off the list. St. Louis shored up their perceived lone weakness by adding a great goaltender in Ryan Miller. In addition, they acquired Steve Ott, who is a leader and an agitator. The Blues look to be one of heavy the favorites now to come out of the Western Conference, but we'll see if they can finally get over the hump. 

Losers

New York Islanders

Although the Islanders received a nice haul (2015 second round pick, 2014 third round pick, and Matt Mangene) for their other pending free agent, defenseman Andrew MacDonald, from the Philadelphia Flyers, the Vanek trade was so bad that you can't help but make them losers. Islanders' GM Garth Snow took a questionable risk in trading for Vanek early in the season and got burned. Unable to convince Vanek to re-up long-term with the Islanders, Snow was boxed into a corner and dealt him to Montreal for not nearly as much as he traded to the Buffalo Sabres in October. In the end, the Islanders essentially received a prospect and a conditional second round pick for 47 games of Vanek, Moulson, a 1st round pick in 2014, and a second pick in 2015. Awful.

Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers needed help at their blue line, but defenseman Andrew MacDonald doesn't seem like much of an upgrade. MacDonald can block shots and provide help in the power play, but he was a part of the problem with the Islanders' poor defense. For the season, MacDonald has an atrocious plus/minus of -19. He is better suited in a 2nd or 3rd pair role, but the Flyers already have a lot of those type of players. They gave up quite a bit for a lateral move and they shipped out defenseman Andrej Meszaros to the Boston Bruins for just a 3rd round pick.

Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks made only two moves before the deadline, but they probably could have done so much more. They dealt big winger Dustin Penner to the Capitals for a fourth round pick and traded that pick to the Dallas Stars for veteran defenseman Stephane Rodibas. The Penner deal made it seem like they were making room for perhaps an even bigger move for Ryan Kesler or Vanek, but nothing came into fruition. Penner was having a good season in Anaheim with 32 points in 49 games alongside top liners Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, so they could have used a replacement. For what the Canadiens gave up for Vanek, the Ducks missed out on a great opportunity to add another star forward to their already stacked line-up. A top line of Vanek-Getzlaf-Perry would've been one of most dangerous in the league. 

Vancouver Canucks

Just last season, the Canucks had two premier goaltenders on their roster and now they are left with neither. They shipped out Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers yesterday in a surprising move for young goaltender Jacob Markstrom and center Shawn Mathias. Vancouver finally rid themselves of most of Luongo's big contract (they will retain 15% of his salary) and get a young netminder they can potentially groom to be the future starter. However, the way Mike Gillis and his front office handled the Luongo situation was embarrassing. The question now is: are they in rebuilding mode or do they still want to win?  Also with Kesler not being dealt before the deadline, the rumors of him wanting out could serve as a huge distraction for the Canucks. The Canucks seem to be a sinking ship and a team without much of a plan. 

Tampa Bay Lightning (for now)

The Lightning's Stanley Cup hopes take a little bit of a hit with the St. Louis for Callahan deal does, but down the road if they hit on the two draft picks they received from the Rangers, they could be big winners. But for the present, the loss of their captain and leading goal-scorer really hurts the Lightning. They receive a good player in Callahan, but he isn't the same caliber player of St. Louis. In addition, he is more than likely viewed as a rental because the Lightning are unlikely to give the money and years he seeks. It also is bad news for star player, Steven Stamkos, who loses his line mate as he is about to play in his first game tomorrow since breaking his leg in November. The potential is there for general manager Steve Yzerman to look like a genius for this trade, but for now, I'm not in love with the deal. 

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