Evan Berofsky, RotoWire Hockey Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports
Four weeks, 36 trades, plenty of material to analyze. All the movement may leave your head spinning, but it’s important to make sense of this from the perspectives of real-life and fantasy hockey. We’re here to help clear things up.
A few contenders added to their arsenal for the stretch drive, while others kept quiet. Some struggling sides acquired valuable future assets, and others opted against a major shakeup. And a couple of high-profile players found new homes, while some want-a-ways didn’t get their wish.
Let’s look at a few who immediately benefited from the recent swap meet and who will suffer. To evaluate this, all deals completed since the start of February have been considered…
Winner: Tampa Bay Lightning
The Bolts’ last-minute grab of Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller turned out to be the marquee move of the deadline, where they didn’t lose any of their blue-chip prospects (although Brett Howden ranked fairly high and Libor Hajek excelled at the last WJC) or important rostered D-men (i.e. Mikhail Sergachev). Vladislav Namestnikov performed well in a prominent role, but Tampa will be able to reshuffle their lines and continue their quest for the Cup.
Loser: Vladislav Namestnikov
Going from the top line beside Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov to a young forward core like the Rangers may prove beneficial in the future, but it’s not going to help Namestnikov’s immediate point potential. Regardless if he plays at center or on the wing, the 25-year old Russian will retain some offensive upside since he will probably fit somewhere within the top half of the Blueshirts’ forward depth chart.
Winner: Paul Stastny
Even though he was never particularly spectacular during his time in St. Louis, at least Stastny displayed some form of consistency (between 40-49 points in each of his four seasons). He now joins Winnipeg’s formidable top-9 contingent and will either center Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers or pair up with American buddy Blake Wheeler. Stastny should also slot in on one of the power-play units and see time killing penalties.
Loser: St. Louis Blues
For a club that’s been having trouble scoring of late (seven goals combined in the last six contests), it didn’t add anyone who will be able to help now (sorry, Nikita Soshnikov). And trading Paul Stastny to a division rival like Winnipeg doesn’t seem like sound business strategy, especially when you’re falling further behind the frontrunners.
Winner: Rick Nash
One of the first of the major names to be dealt, Nash jumped right into his Bruins’ debut on the second line and served as the net-front presence on their formidable top power-play quintet. The power forward’s numbers have tailed off (from 69 points in 2014-15 to 38 last season), but he still possesses the skills to put the puck in the net – and will receive plenty of opportunities to do so in Boston.
Loser: Max Pacioretty
Pacioretty was believed to be one of the premier forwards available, but it didn’t seem at any time on Monday as if he was going to end up elsewhere. While it’s been rumored the Habs’ leading scorer for each of the previous six seasons may have been easing up his effort in recent weeks, Pacioretty’s erratic 2017-18 production (37 points in 61 games) ultimately revealed itself as the reason for him remaining in Montreal.
Winner: Evander Kane
It’s no secret Kane was destined to escape from Buffalo, even if he was fairing pretty well (20 goals, 20 assists). The Sabres were once again struggling, and the big winger became the object of many teams’ affection. When compared to other similar moves from Monday, the Sharks looked to have acquired Kane at a reasonable price. And based on initial reports, he is set to line up alongside Joe Pavelski – who played with Kane on the same KHL club during the strike-shortened 2012-13 campaign – on the top unit.
Loser: Columbus Blue Jackets
Last night’s five-goal explosion notwithstanding, Columbus has experienced an offensive shortage this season (entered Monday 29th in the NHL at 2.49 goals per game) and its efficiency with the ma -advantage (second-worst at 14.6 percent) has looked less than desirable. And yet, the Blue Jackets manage to occupy the second wild card spot. While Thomas Vanek, Mark Letestu, and Ian Cole may each be serviceable, none of them will be able to help improve the team’s offensive deficiencies on a consistent basis.
Winner: Vegas Golden Knights
The Expansion Team That Won’t Go Away threatened to shock the world by acquiring Erik Karlsson (and possibly Bobby Ryan) or make some other big splash, but opted to stick to the success of its existing synergy. Giving up three draft picks for Tomas Tatar may be a bit steep, but he’ll add even more speed to an already blinding attack, and Vegas still owns a boatload of selections over the next few years.
Loser: New York Islanders
Neither Jaroslav Halak nor Thomas Greiss (currently sidelined) have looked decent this year, as the Isles’ bottom-ranked team GAA of 3.49 will verify. With netminding targets such as Robin Lehner or Aaron Dell reported to have been on the market, the organization had the opportunity to solidify the position but opted to promote from within (i.e. Christopher Gibson). And the acquisitions of Brandon Davidson and Chris Wagner won’t save their woeful defensive record or strengthen their odds of earning a playoff berth.
Winner: Petr Mrazek
Mrazek’s deal came before the deadline, and he has already been given the opportunity to earn the No. 1 job in Philly thanks to injuries to both Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. And since arriving from the Motor City, the Czech has already won all three of his starts – including a shutout shootout victory Monday night. If he can continue to impress in the coming days, then the top spot should be his to keep — even when the other goalies return.
Loser: Mike Green
Thanks to the lateness of the McDonagh transaction, other clubs that wanted to move big-name blueliners didn’t have time to react to the news before 3PM ET. Such is the case with Green, who had recently waived a no-trade clause to a couple contenders. Although, even if Detroit wanted to ship him elsewhere, reports suggest very few takers existed due to the unknown status surrounding his current neck injury.