Trust me, I know what you’re thinking.
You saw that headline and said to yourself, “there’s no way that anyone can make any definitive conclusions about how players traded will settle into their new teams based on just a handful of games.”
Well, congratulations. You are undeniably intelligent and correct.
That doesn’t mean doing precisely that anyway isn’t fun, though.
Let’s take a look at just some of the players doing well in their new surroundings.
Jason Zucker - Traded from Minnesota to Pittsburgh on Feb. 10
There are few having a better time with their new team than the 28-year-old winger. Granted, he was dealt two weeks before the deadline and has had more time to find his place than basically anyone that’s been moved during the 2019-20 season. However, Zucker and Sidney Crosby developed strong chemistry almost instantly.
(Crazy to think a talented player playing alongside world-class one would result in a winning formula.)
In his first 11 games with Pittsburgh, Zucker collected six goals and 10 points while roughly averaging 17-and-a-half minutes of ice time per night. That’s 0.91 points per game compared to the 0.64 he was averaging during his 45 regular-season contests with the Wild in 2019-20, recording 14 goals and 29 points.
Crosby was involved in Zucker’s first five points as a Penguin and seven of the 10 overall. In the 11 games since Zucker joined the team on Feb. 11, Crosby has four goals and 14 points.
And while the trade has worked out well for the duo, it was a bit of an adjustment for his son, Hendrix, during the days that followed.
Unfortunately for the Penguins though, the strong play of Crosby and Zucker wasn’t enough to string together wins. Pittsburgh is 4-6-1 since the deal, recently breaking a six-game losing streak with a 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Mar. 3 where both Zucker and Crosby finished with a goal and two assists.
Their connection will be leaned on down the stretch as they attempt to hang on to a top-3 spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Tyler Toffoli - Traded from Los Angeles to Vancouver on Feb. 17
The guy was red-hot just before being shipped north and has continued to rack up points since.
In his final game as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, Toffoli scored all three goals for his side in a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche at the 2020 NHL Stadium Series. That game, played outdoors at the U.S. Air Force Academy's Falcon Stadium, went down on Feb. 15.
Two days later, he was a Canuck.
Two days after that, he picked up an assist in Vancouver’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild. The third shooter of the night for the Canucks, Toffoli had the opportunity to clinch the win. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be as he couldn’t solve Devan Dubnyk.
Regardless, he scored four goals and collected an assist in his next three games, including this beauty in Vancouver’s 9-3 dismantling of the Boston Bruins on Feb. 22.
With five goals and two assists in his first seven games in the blue, green and white, Toffoli has quickly become a crucial part of the team’s top two lines, a top-6 unit relied on heavily to produce offensively.
Vancouver’s star puck-stopper Jacob Markstrom went down with a lower-body injury following that win over Boston and it will be a little bit of time before he returns, according to the team. With the Canucks battling in a very tight Western Conference — like Zucker in Pittsburgh — Vancouver’s new guy needs to keep producing if they plan to play postseason puck.
Robin Lehner - Traded from Chicago to Vegas on Feb. 24
Of the players on this list, the goaltender has the smallest sample size with his new team, the Golden Knights. However, after being dealt to Sin City to push Marc-Andre Fleury — who has put together a very average campaign so far — Lehner has been spectacular.
After opening up about his frustrations while with the Chicago Blackhawks shortly after the deadline, the most recent winner of the Bill Masterton Trophy has won his first two starts with Vegas. The 28-year-old stopped 59 of the 61 combined shots he faced in a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 28 and a 3-0 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Mar. 3.
While those two squads aren’t anywhere near the playoff picture, they’re still more than capable of uncorking shots that find the back of the net unless he gets his chest in the way.
When you take a slap shot to the chest... worth it tho.🙏 god is good. pic.twitter.com/3jrW6IDOyN— Robin Lehner (@RobinLehner) March 4, 2020
With the playoffs about a month away, it will be interesting to see how the goaltending situation shakes out in Las Vegas. Again, it’s very early, but Lehner’s play is definitely saying he didn’t show up with the intention to just be a backup.
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