Once the clock struck three o’clock on Friday, March 3, the National Hockey League Trade Deadline came and passed. It was one of the most active and entertaining trade deadlines in recent memory, as there were a total of 65 trades between the conclusion of the NHL All-Star Weekend and the trade deadline, as teams either loaded up for Stanley Cup playoff runs or sold off players for future assets as they rebuild or re-tool. Let’s take a look at the top ten trades that occurred during this season’s deadline.
1. New York Rangers acquire forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane from the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks, respectively
The New York Rangers, fresh off of their first conference finals appearance since 2015 are once again in a prime position to make yet another cup run. Despite having a strong nucleus in place led by the likes of goaltender Igor Shesterkin, defensemen Adam Fox and K’Andre Miller and forwards Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider, more depth needs to be infused, particularly on the wings. Youngsters Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko, both of whom were drafted number one overall in 2020 and number two overall in 2019, respectively, have had their fair share of inconsistent plays this season. General Manager Chris Drury understood that scoring depth on the wings was a priority, and why not mortgage some future assets to obtain some juice?
The Rangers first added Tarasenko in a trade with St. Louis on Feb. 9, bringing him on board along with depth defenseman Niko Mikkola in a deal with the St. Louis Blues. Tarasenko brings a wealth of experience, scoring at least 30 goals on six different occasions, including 40 in the 2015-16 season. He also has a Stanley Cup under his belt, being a vital member of the 2019 Blues squad that took down the Boston Bruins in seven games in that year’s final. He plays the power forward position and isn’t afraid to throw his body award when needed to go along with his elite scoring. The Rangers, aside from giving up a conditional first-round pick, didn’t give up much else besides bottom-six forward Sammy Blais, a prospect and a late draft pick in next year’s draft. The Blueshirts have not finished wheeling and dealing after the move, as they then acquired one of the biggest names in hockey, Patrick Kane, in a deal with the Blackhawks. Kane has one of the most polished resumes you could ever ask out of a hockey player, as he is a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks, in addition to being a Conn Smythe trophy winner, an Art Ross trophy winner, a Hart Memorial Trophy winner and a Ted Lindsay Award winner. In case you didn’t know what these awards stood for, they are given to the playoff MVP, the league’s leading point scorer, the regular season MVP and the league’s most outstanding player, respectively. Though he is not the same elite difference maker he was once, Kane is still solid and will play a big role with the Rangers, especially given the fact that he has a 16-29-45 stat line in 56 games this season. He is skilled, brings speed and possesses strong playmaking and scoring abilities. He comes with a nearly complete package, and the Rangers are fortunate to get two studs in Kane and Tarasenko down the stretch without giving up a king’s ransom for them.
2. New Jersey Devils acquire forward Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks have put themselves in a position that no hockey team wants to be near: salary cap purgatory. The Sharks did this while signing players who were either past their prime or who were at a later age by signing them to bloated contracts at ridiculous cap hits well into their thirties. Players such as Logan Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Tomas Hertl fit this trajectory. This has resulted in them being one of the worst teams in the league and has not only made pending restricted free agent Timo Meier an awkward fit for a dismal Sharks club but also unaffordable given his future contract demands. Fortunately for Meier, a logical fit arose on the trade market with the New Jersey Devils, in search of a top-scoring winger who brings more size to a top-six that desperately needs some, came about. Meier was dealt to the Devils in a package that sent forwards Andreas Johnsson, Fabian Zetterlund, prospect defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin and Nikita Okhotiuk, as well as some draft capital, including the Devils’ 2023 first-round pick, heading back to San Jose. Adding a power forward such as Meier, who brings a strong scoring touch with 31 goals prior to the move, will be a perfect complement to young, but undersized talents such as MVP-candidate center Jack Hughes and playmaking left winger Jesper Bratt on the top line, each of whom is 5’11 and 5’10, respectively.
From a financial perspective, the Devils have the cap room to accommodate Meier, as he will be seeking a new contract that will pay him handsomely, especially after locking up Hughes, stud two-way forward and captain Nico Hischier and defensemen Dougie Hamilton to long-term contracts.
The Devils are also an ascending club and have been arguably the most improved team in the league this season after finishing near the bottom of the league standings last year. This move signifies that once again, the New Jersey Devils are for real and will be for a very long time.
3. Ottawa Senators acquire defenseman Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes
Arizona, in a deep rebuild, is going nowhere this season, especially given the fact that they play in a 5,000-seat arena that is barely generating any profit. Chyrchrun, a player who does have term and a reasonable cap hit on his contract, doesn’t want any part of the rebuild and who could blame him for it?
Arizona sent the stout two-way defensemen to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a conditional 2023 first-round pick, a conditional 2024 second-round pick and a 2026 second-round pick. Chychrun is signed through 2025 at a very reasonable $4.6 million cap hit, and Ottawa surely could use some more assurance at its top four as it is slowly coming out of a rebuild. For a core piece in Chychrun, it is understandable to be somewhat disappointed in the return for a guy like him, but obtaining future draft capital to help the Coyotes build a competitive team in the future, makes a lot of sense. The Coyotes are awful and they will be for the next few years, and it is only fair for both the player and team to do what is best for both of them. Even though the return wasn’t as strong, the Coyotes still managed to get some additional draft capital and have the most picks of any team in the league within the first three rounds throughout the next three drafts by a landslide.
4. Boston Bruins acquire defensemen Dmitry Orlov from the Washington Capitals and forward Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit Red Wings
Even though the Boston Bruins have been a playoff contender for the better part of a decade and a half now, they are still one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season. Fans, the media and hockey experts alike predicted this squad, which is viewed as having an aging core and a barren farm system, to be a bubble team at best in a competitive eastern conference. The B’s, to the surprise of everyone, have taken the league by storm, posting a 49-8-5 record, by far the best in the NHL. Understanding the fact that the days of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci’s primes or careers may be dwindling, they decided to go all-in at the trade deadline. Coming aboard from Washington is defensemen Dmitry Orlov, a longtime tenured Capital and bottom-six agitator Garnet Hathaway with fellow bottom-six winger Craig Smith, who carries a hefty cap hit and three future draft picks heading the other way. After the news of Taylor Hall’s injury, GM Don Sweeney decided to pull off another deal, going out and getting winger Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit in a deal that mortgaged future draft capital. Bertuzzi will replace Hall on the left side of the second line in the interim before providing much-needed additional scoring depth when Hall returns for the postseason. Even though Boston only has one first-rounder and two third-rounders in the next three drafts, going out and upgrading the roster in a year in which you are taking the league by storm is a no-brainer.
5. New York Islanders acquire forward Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks
This deal essentially kicked off the trading season at the end of the all-star break. The Vancouver Canucks elected to trade pending free agent and captain Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders in exchange for center Anthony Beauvilier, prospect winger Aatu Raaty and a conditional first-round pick in this year’s draft. New York didn’t waste any time after acquiring Horvat, signing him to an eight-year contract extension worth $68 million, or an annual cap hit of $8.5 million. The Islanders are in a dogfight to make the playoffs and even though their roster has a lot of question marks, they opted to go all in and trade for a player who is having the best season of his career up to this point. Horvat makes the top six more dangerous, and even though they gave up a lot to make the move, it is worth it now given the fact that they locked him up.
Vancouver, on the other hand, does get back a centerman that is solid but is nowhere at Horvat’s caliber, a prospect that does have some potential and another first-round pick. Is trading a pending UFA in a dismal campaign in return for a solid package a logical decision? Yes. But do you want to know what’s also puzzling? Locking up J.T. Miller and Conor Garland, two players in need of new contracts, to long-term extensions. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that Vancouver is locking up players who have either underperformed or who have demonstrated poor leadership abilities to long-term deals while trading your captain who is having the best season of his career away.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning acquire forward Tanner Jeannot from the Nashville Predators
The Tampa Bay Lightning have made some bold moves at the trade deadline in recent years. Their approach is a little different than what most typical teams make, and that is, instead of acquiring rentals who are more than likely to depart in free agency due to salary cap constraints, they are willing to give up more assets for players who have reasonable cap hits and who are under contract for several more seasons. For instance, in 2020, the Lightning acquired forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow to shore up their bottom six while giving up both of the first-round picks that they owned that year as well as prospects such as Nolan Foote. This resulted in Tampa Bay winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021. Although both Coleman and Goodrow are no longer with the Lightning, they both didn’t leave right away because they were under contract for an additional season after the season in which they were acquired. The Lightning replicated this trend by acquiring Brandon Hagel from Chicago last season for Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk, two fringe players who weren’t making an impact on Tampa, along with two future firsts, to help heal the pain of losing players such as Coleman, Goodrow and Yanni Gourde the year before. Hagel is still a member of the Lightning and was an integral part of their third consecutive run to the finals last season, falling short to Colorado in the process. Now, the Lightning has given up five draft picks, yes, five, to the Nashville Predators, along with defenseman Callan Foote in exchange for winger Tanner Jeannot. Jeannot, a player who will be a part of the Lightning’s bottom six, is an agitator who also brings a scoring touch to the table. He is an ideal fit for this team, who will help complement star forwards Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point with his toughness and physicality. He will be a restricted free agent at the season’s end, but he figures to be a part of Tampa Bay for a long time. This move should no doubt help Tampa in the short-term, as its similar moves related to this one have helped them in the past, but the jury is still out when determining how it will affect them in the long term.
7. Los Angeles Kings acquire Joonas Korpisalo and Vladislav Gavrikov from the Columbus Blue Jackets; Vegas Golden Knights acquire Jonathan Quick from Columbus via Los Angeles
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been one of the most disappointing teams in hockey this season, especially after signing prized free-agent winger Johnny Gaudreau, but it’s not necessarily their fault. Injuries have wrecked them throughout the season and they have been unable to recover, which leads them with little choice but to sell off its pending UFAs. The Los Angeles Kings are currently in a playoff spot, currently sitting in second place in a weak Pacific Division. The Kings could use some more help on the backend and in goal, and they went out and got their guys in goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. It came at a price, however, as longtime goaltender Jonathan Quick and two draft picks were sent to Columbus in return. Despite not playing at the level he once had, Quick is one of the most decorated goaltenders in recent memory. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and he had spent his entire career with the Kings up to this point. Even though it was painful giving up a franchise legend in Quick, they got more consistent goaltending in the interim with Korpisalo. Gavrikov is a solid shutdown defenseman, and he should help their defensive unit tremendously. Quick didn’t stay in Columbus long, as he was traded to another goaltending-needy team, the Vegas Golden Knights, the next day for a draft pick. Vegas could use some more help behind the goal as Robin Lehner, Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit are all out with injuries, and Quick brings experience and acceptable goaltending to the table, as the Golden Knights are currently first in their division and are in an all-hands-on-deck mode to make a run in a subpar Western conference this season. Given Vegas’ strengths with both forwards and defense, they passed the test in solving their biggest question mark, goaltending, without giving up much of anything.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs make a flurry of trades
If there was one team that was hands down the most active at the trade deadline, it was Toronto. The Maple Leafs went all out to improve their team, and the fireworks started when they brought in St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly in a trade to bolster their top six. O’Reilly plays an elite two-way game, although his offensive production has dipped somewhat this season, which should be beneficial for the Leafs’ top six. He should slot easily on their second line with John Tavares and William Nylander. Coming over with him from the Show-Me State is Noel Accari, who should help the Blues on the bottom six and on the penalty kill. They only gave up their first-round pick this season and a second-rounder the next along with a prospect and minor league forward Adam Gaudette to obtain both of them. If there’s one thing that’s been killing the Leafs for years, it’s their defense. Outside of Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie and Jake Muzzin, there hasn’t been a lot of stability in that area. GM Kyle Dubas went out and brought in Jake McCabe, a defensive-first defenseman with some scoring ability, from Chicago along with another bottom-six forward in Sam Lafferty, giving up a conditional first-round pick in 2025, a second-round pick in 2026, and minor league players Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev. They doubled down by making two more deals, bringing in former Leaf’s defender Luke Schenn from Vancouver in exchange for a third and acquiring Erik Gustafsson, an offensive defender who should help on the power play and Boston’s first-round pick from Washington with Rasmus Sandin heading down south. While bringing a premier two-way forward in O’Reilly is huge for any team, the Leafs did their part in bolstering and strengthening their defensive unit by bringing in both size and scoring in hopes to put an end to the franchise’s lack of playoff success, as it has failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs in 19 seasons. These moves should help big time, especially with McCabe under contract for the next two seasons after this one.
9. Vancouver Canucks acquire Filip Hronek from Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings have been an up-and-down roller coaster this season, and they have shown promising signs of going in the right direction with how they’ve played. GM Steve Yzerman, however, does not believe that the time has come for the Red Wings, and he went to full-sell mode once the trade deadline neared. In addition to parting ways with Bertuzzi, he opted to move offensive defenseman Filip Hronek to Vancouver. Yes, Vancouver, in return for the Islander’s conditional first-round pick they obtained in the Bo Horvat trade and their own second-round pick. I’m not doubting Steve Yzerman for this move, I believe that he won this deal in a landslide. He obtains a pick that will most likely be in the teens and also gets Vancouver’s own second, which will for sure be in the thirties given their place in the standings. Now I will ask Vancouver a simple question: why did you do this? It’s a question that I and many hockey fans and analysts have asked for years. Are you building for the future or are you building for now? If you are near the bottom of the lowly Pacific Division, as well as trading your captain away, these are the last moves any team should be making right now. You have draft capital. Use it. Hronek, yes, is 25, and could be a piece to the core moving forward. But do you want to know who else you have that is young and is one of the best offensive defensemen in hockey? Quinn Hughes. The Hronek trade not only came at a poor time but also came with an extremely poor fit. And it came at a big price as well. If Detroit selects two future regulars with these picks, we could be talking about one of the most puzzling deadlines deals in recent memory a few years down the line.
10. Buffalo Sabres acquire forward Jordan Greenway from Minnesota Wild, Minnesota acquires defenseman John Klingberg from the Anaheim Ducks
Minnesota Wild GM Bill Geurin has done a masterful job building a competitive roster that had been filled with mediocrity and terrible contacts when he inherited it. He has also done a terrific job in identifying when a player’s shelf life has expired, and he recognized that in 6 ‘6 forward Jordan Greenway, who seemed to have a falling out with head coach Dean Evason. Geurin traded him to the up-and-coming Buffalo Sabres for a second-round pick in this year’s draft and a fifth-round pick in 2024. For a forward that needed a fresh start, this return was big for Minnesota, who could potentially use the draft capital they obtained for another piece down the line. Furthermore, John Klingberg, an offensive defenseman stuck on a floundering Anaheim Ducks squad, came over for a modest return that included a fourth-round pick in 2025, the rights to unknown prospect Nikita Nesterenko and minor league defenseman Andrej Sustr. Given Klingberg’s resume, this deal is big for Minnesota. They acquired a right-handed shot that they could certainly use as they line up against the likes of Dallas, Winnipeg and the defending champion Colorado Avalanche come playoff time, and it came at a cheap price. Minnesota got better by selling high and buying low, a strategic way that should help a team have sustained success in both the short term and long term.