author: konstantin kharitonov | sports editor
A star is born? Too much? / Kaz Andrew via flickr
A recap of one of the more interesting trade deadlines in years
The NHL trade deadline has come and past as of 2 p.m. Saskatchewan time, and 22 trades have been completed on this day. I’m sorry to say that yes, you were traded as well.
In all seriousness, the NHL trade deadline is an exciting time for all hockey fans who are hoping that their teams add to their already great teams or sell off talent and expiring contracts to contenders in exchange for prospects and picks. What made this trade deadline especially interesting was of the high-end talent available, more so than previous years past.
This is all thanks to the Ottawa Senators, who had their top three scorers all available for trade. Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel were all available for trade, and each is quite an important player in their own right. This is a team who is in the worst possible position, as they currently sit at the bottom of the league but don’t even have their first–round draft pick, which was traded away in a deal with the Colorado Avalanche in a deal to get Duchene to the Senators just 18 months before.
To start off their fire sale, the Senators went into the weekend by phoning up the Columbus Blue Jackets, dealing Duchene to them in exchange for prospects Vitali Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, as well as a first–round pick in 2019 and a conditional 2020 first round pick. Since Columbus is in a year where they have a solid team but are at risk of losing their star forward Artemi Panarin and star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to free agency, they decided to go all in on a run in the playoffs (assuming they make it in there). Apparently not done with the Senators, the Blue Jackets made another trade with them, this time acquiring Dzingel in exchange for forward Anthony Duclair and two second–round picks. Add in a deal with the New York Rangers to get defenceman Adam McQauid and one with the New Jersey Devils to get goalie Keith Kinkaid, the Blue Jackets are now left with only two picks in the 2019 NHL draft. When they said Columbus is all in, boy they really mean it.
With Stone as their last and most key player left to trade, it looked like it was going to go down to the wire. With the two earlier deals being down on the weekend, the Sens waited until 15 minutes before the deadline to finally make their decision on where to trade the 26-year-old all-star. Teams such as Calgary, Winnipeg, Nashville and Boston were all pitching their proposals to Sens general manager Pierre Dorion, but it was ultimately the Vegas Golden Knights who were able to acquire Stone, sending defensive prospect Erik Brannstrom, winger Oscar Lindberg and a second–round pick. While Brannstrom is one of the best hockey prospects, that is still a considerably cheap price for a player like Stone, who is one of the very best in his position. That fact that no other teams (especially the Calgary Flames) could beat that offer is quite surprising.
Vegas is definitely loading up for a playoff run as well, especially since they are likely to play either one of the San Jose Sharks or the Calgary Flames in the first round. The Sharks made a good trade in acquiring forward Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a second–round pick and a third–round pick. Very cheap, especially for a player who currently has 49 points in 62 games. The Flames had also made a trade, but a substantially smaller trade, acquiring depth defenceman Oscar Fantenberg for a fourth–round pick. With their divisional rivals all adding significant pieces, it becomes that much more crucial for the Flames to finish first in the division to avoid facing San Jose or Vegas in the first round.
The Winnipeg Jets took themselves out of the Stone sweepstakes earlier in the day by acquiring centre Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers. In exchange, the Jets got winger Brendan Lemieux, a first–round pick and a fourth–round pick, an expensive price for the young centre. While the Jets are currently on a slide with only three wins in their last ten games, the Jets are loading up for a strong playoff run of their own, especially since their division rival Nashville Predators, who acquired both Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds, are loading up as well, almost guaranteeing that they meet in the second round.
In total, out of the all the trades to have happen around, the Senators have to be one of the winners as they were able to sell all of there high–quality players available at the deadline. It was not easy to deal them, but to be able to not only get quality picks and prospects, but a sure–fire young defenceman like Brannstrom, they are going to be okay, regardless of whether or not Colorado wins the draft lottery and gets the first overall pick with the Sens’ pick.