Some trades have paid off handsomely since the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 25. Some ... not so much. We identify the best and worst so far, and what comes next for the players and teams.
Who have been the most, least impressive trade deadline acquisitions?
Greg Wyshynski, senior NHL writer: For years, Washington Capitals fans loathed Carl Hagelin when he was a speedy, tenacious forward with the division rival New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Now? They absolutely love the guy after the Capitals acquired him from Los Angeles on Feb. 21 for a third-rounder this season and a sixth-rounder in 2020. He has as many points in 11 games with Washington as he had in 22 games with the Kings, scoring two goals and assisting on three more. His 57.76 shot attempts percentage at 5-on-5 is outstanding, and he's been a seamless addition to their third line with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly. He's also their ice time leader as a penalty-killing forward (2:54), for a group that's improved since his arrival. So far, a fantastic and shrewd piece to what could end up being a second championship puzzle GM Brian MacLellan is building.
On the other end of the spectrum, there's Wayne Simmonds of the Nashville Predators. Are there intangible things that Simmonds brings to the Preds? Sure. He creates screens, hits people and generally brings a physical presence that this team needed. What he hasn't done, yet, is produce offensively or hold his own at 5-on-5. He has one assist in eight games, a minus-22 in on-ice shot attempts differential, a minus-7 in on-ice high-danger shot attempts differential, a minus-14 in on-ice scoring chances differential, and is just a plus-1 (three goals, two goals against) at even strength. This is unfortunately part of a season-long trend for Simmonds, who had a 40 percent on-ice goals-for percentage in 62 games with the Flyers, and has scored just one goal since Jan. 13.
Chris Peters, NHL draft and prospects writer: The Minnesota Wild continue to battle for a playoff spot and a guy who looked more like a piece for the future is helping right now. Ryan Donato has 13 points in 13 games since joining Minnesota in the trade that sent Charlie Coyle to Boston, making him the team's scoring leader since his arrival. While Donato has just four goals so far, he is second on the team in shots to Jason Zucker, the team's most natural goal-scoring threat. Playing 16-plus minutes per game, Donato is getting an opportunity to be a key guy for the Wild and is playing in big situations. There's a long way to go to let this trade play out in terms of the impact it makes for either team, but I really liked the move for Minnesota when they made it, and I like it even better now.
The Columbus Blue Jackets really went for it, but even the lesser deals they made on deadline day haven't really done much at all. Save for a goal, Adam McQuaid has been little used and ineffective in a lower-minutes role. Now, this isn't to say there were particularly high hopes that McQuaid would be an impact player for a playoff contender, but he's been a healthy scratch at times, averaging under 12 minutes per game, and the Jackets are giving up many shot attempts against with him on the ice at even strength. This is a player that cost Columbus three assets: fourth- and seventh-round picks in this year's draft, and minor league defenseman Julius Bergman. Meanwhile, goalie Keith Kinkaid hasn't played a single minute for the Blue Jackets yet this season after coming to town on deadline day (albeit for a much smaller price).
Dimitri Filipovic, hockey analytics writer: Mark Stone is the easy answer for most positive impact. Just because it's the easy choice doesn't make it any less true. Since the trade, the Vegas Golden Knights have banked a league-best 18 of a possible 20 points, outscoring opponents by a sparkling 41-22 margin during that time. While the four goals and four assists Stone has to his name in those games aren't necessarily jaw-dropping, he's been a total game-changer for Vegas in other ways. In the 135 5-on-5 minutes he's played, the Knights are controlling an astounding 65.9 percent of the unblocked shot attempts, 64.8 percent of the shots on goal, and 71.9 percent of the high-danger looks. The combination of Stone, Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny not only takes the pressure off the top line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith, but can also give opposing defenses nightmares.
The transition hasn't quite been as smooth for other big names shipped out of Ottawa. Since an encouraging first burst immediately after acquiring Matt Duchene, the Blue Jackets have gone just 5-5-1 and been outscored 30-24 since the deadline with both Duchene and Ryan Dzingel in the lineup. The most alarming part is that they've had such a tough time generating offense outside of that one explosion against the Bruins, getting shut out three times and scoring just 17 total goals in the other 10 games combined. Duchene and Dzingel have just six points apiece in a Blue Jackets uniform, which is less than ideal considering Anthony Duclair has the same amount since being cast aside in one of the trades. While the blame for the lack of production obviously doesn't fall entirely at the feet of Duchene and/or Dzingel, it's fair to say that the early returns have been largely underwhelming considering the relatively exorbitant price that was paid to get them. The good news is that there's still time to turn that perception around in the coming weeks, assuming they can help not only push Columbus into the postseason but finally win a round while they're there.