While the NHL trade deadline is probably here to stay, it appears to be getting less dramatic year after year. Most clubs are beginning to figure out it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to wait so long into the season to try and improve their rosters. Why wait until the final 20 games to make your team better when it could be done earlier? It takes a bit of time for most players to adjust to their new surroundings and teammates and by the time newcomers feel comfortable after arriving on deadline day the season is basically over.
Overall, blockbuster trades are becoming rare these days due to the number of no-trade and no-movement clauses being handed out in contracts. Most NHL stars move from team to team in this era via free agency rather than trades. Unless more players agree to moves in the future, trades such as PK Subban for Shea Weber will become a thing of the past. There will always be deals on trade deadline day though as teams have one last chance to enhance their rosters before the stretch run and to add depth to cover for injuries.
There were bigger trades in the days leading up to this year’s deadline on March 1st than there were on deadline day itself. These included the Pittsburgh Penguins acquiring veteran defenceman Ron Hainsey from the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Danny Kristo and a second-round draft pick in 2017 and Patrick Eaves being dealt from the Dallas Stars to the Anaheim Ducks for a second round pick in 2017. Fans also saw the Tampa Bay Lightning send goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings along with a fifth-round draft pick in 2017 for goaltender Peter Budaj and defenceman Eric Cernak along with a second and seventh-round pick in 2017.
In addition, the Minnesota Wild picked up centres Martin Hanzal and Ryan White from the Arizona Coyotes along with a fourth-round pick in 2017 for centre Grayson Downing, a first-round pick in 2017, a second-rounder in 2018 and a fourth-round pick in 2019. The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired centre Brian Boyle from Tampa for winger Byron Froese and a second-round pick in 2017 and the Montreal Canadiens picked up defenceman Jordie Benn from the Dallas Stars for fellow blueliner Greg Pateryn and a fourth-rounder in 2017.
The Vancouver Canucks traded left-winger Alexandre Burrows to the Ottawa Senators for left-winger Jonathan Dahlen and the St. Louis Blues dealt defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk and goaltender Pheonix Copley to the Washington Capitals for forwards Zach Sanford and Brad Malone along with a first-round pick in 2017, a second-rounder in 2019 and a conditional seventh-round pick. Other pre-deadline deals saw the New York Rangers acquire defenceman Brendan Smith from the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa obtain forward Viktor Stalberg from Carolina, the Chicago Blackhawks pick up defenceman Johnny Oduya from Dallas and Montreal trade forward David Desharnais to the Edmonton Oilers for defenceman Brandon Davidson.
As for trade deadline day itself, there was a total of 20 official trades which involved 37 players and 12 draft picks. There were several veteran players on the move as Steve Ott ended up in Montreal, Thomas Vanek went to Florida, Jarome Iginla was sent to Los Angeles, Kyle Quincey went to Columbus, Mark Streit went to Pittsburgh, Valtteri Filppula ended up in Philadelphia, P.A. Parenteau went to Nashville, Eric Fehr to Toronto, and Drew Stafford to Boston.
While several of these players may have a positive impact on their new teams for the remainder of the season, none of them are considered to be young NHL stars in their prime. There should be numerous deals made between the end of the season and June though as teams try to juggle their rosters prior to the June 21st expansion draft for the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the NHL Entry Draft two days later.