The trade deadline came and went pretty quietly last Monday. Many of the big names rumored to be on the market, such as Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, stayed put with the same team once the clock struck 3 p.m. The one blockbuster trade that did occur, Evander Kane’s move from Winnipeg to Buffalo, took place weeks before the deadline.
Still, there were some important moves that were made before the deadline, even if they do not involve household names. Here are a couple of this year’s best and worst moves:
Perhaps the most important move occurred on Sunday, when the Arizona Coyotes shipped defensemen Keith Yandle and Chris Summers to the Rangers for John Moore, Anthony Duclair, a 2016 first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick. This was a very divisive trade for Rangers fans, as some believed that they gave up too many of their future prospects and draft picks. Whether or not the Rangers harmed their future with the move, there is no doubt that it improved their current team. Yandle is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, and their current defensive corps is now second to none in the entire league. They are clearly looking to win now, but this move could come back to bite them if they do not win the Stanley Cup in the next few years. The Coyotes are also winners in this deal. They now have a stockpile of draft picks—including the possibility of winning the McEichel lottery—in addition to a very talented young prospect in Duclair.
For all the deals where both sides appeared to be winners, there were definitely some moves that make you scratch your head. Penguins fans are absolutely up in arms over a move that sent defenseman Simon Despres to the Ducks for Ben Lovejoy. Despres is a former first-round pick who seemed like he had the potential to develop into a top-four defenseman for the Pens, while Lovejoy is past his prime. Lovejoy adds experience, but it is tough to view this trade as anything but the Pens giving up on a promising young player.
One trade that nobody saw coming was Toronto’s and Columbus’ swap of David Clarkson and Nathan Horton. Maple Leaf fans never thought they would be able to get rid of Clarkson’s horrendous contract: the former 30-goal scorer was signed to a seven-year deal worth $37 million but has failed to live up to his lucrative signing. In Clarkson, the Blue Jackets receive a player who they hope can regain his former production in a different environment. In return, the Leafs receive Nathan Horton, who will likely never play again due to severe back problems. They can place him on long-term injured reserve, which means that they money the pay him will not count towards the salary cap.
All in all, even though there were not many big names traded during this year’s deadline, there were still many important moves made. It looks like the Rangers have emerged as the early winner since their on-ice product has greatly improved with the addition of Yandle, but teams such as Buffalo and Arizona can also be considered “winners.” By making their current teams worse, they are improving their future prospects as they move one step closer to the coveted prize of McEichel.