The 2019 NHL deadline has passed, and a few things are clear: The Western Conference was an arms race, the trade market never produced the kind of obscene returns many figured it would, the Senators and Rangers have more picks than Guitar Center, and the Blue Jackets had better make the playoffs. Like, seriously, they have to now, right?
Here's the report card for the 2019 NHL trade deadline. Congrats to those whose parents will proudly hang this on their fridge.
Read through all 31 teams by grade order, or skip ahead to your favorite by clicking on its logo here:
Key additions: F Gustav Nyquist, F Jonathan Dahlen
Key subtractions: 2019 second-round pick, 2020 conditional third-round pick, C Linus Karlsson
Nyquist is the quintessential deadline grab for GM Doug Wilson and the Sharks: a versatile goal-scorer who could play up in the lineup or settle into a depth scoring role, perhaps with center Joe Thornton. San Jose has an impressive offense this season (3.62 goals per game) but that extra bit of "oomph" could be the difference in the postseason ... provided Nyquist, a playoff underachiever, can provide it. The son of Ulf Dahlen, who played for six different teams (including San Jose) over 14 seasons in his career, Jonathan Dahlen fell into the Sharks' laps when he requested a trade from Vancouver; he's a prospect with considerable upside.
Key additions: none
Key subtractions: none
The current Lightning roster is on pace to have the largest point total in the NHL since 1995-96, and could threaten the all-time mark of 132 set by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens. The only thing they could have added was some goaltending insurance, but that's it. They're good. Let's go.
Key additions: F Kevin Hayes, D Nathan Beaulieu, F Matt Hendricks, F Par Lindholm
Key subtractions: F Brendan Lemieux, 2019 first-round pick, F Nic Petan, 2019 sixth-round pick, 2020 seventh-round pick
Once again, the Jets shore up their biggest weakness -- the second-line center spot -- ahead of the deadline. Just as Paul Stastny proved to be a good fit as Patrik Laine's center last spring, the Jets are hoping Hayes can do the same. The Jets were always willing to part with their 2019 first-round pick (which should be low) if it helped them win now. Lemieux was a redundancy low in Winnipeg's lineup (Andrew Copp does the same things Lemieux can, but better). What's more: The Jets didn't have to give up more prized young forwards, like Jack Roslovic, which they might have had to do for Mark Stone. Beaulieu and Hendricks are solid depth additions.
David Poile just can't operate quietly, can he? (He definitely can't when the other contenders around the West are adding, too.) The Predators have struggled with production outside their top line, and they improved in the middle six with the additions of Granlund and Simmonds; Nashville is hoping Simmonds can specifically help on the power play, which has been dreadful. The 30-year-old reunites with coach Peter Laviolette and adds a physical net-front presence. It's never good to give up on a 22-year-old first-round pick, but Fiala wasn't taking the next step, and Granlund is simply a better player. He's also not a rental, under contract through next season. The Preds overpaid for Hartman at last year's deadline, and were able to admit their mistake by shipping him to Philly as part of the Simmonds deal.
New York Rangers: A-
Key additions: F Brendan Lemieux, 2019 conditional first-round pick, 2019 conditional second-round pick, 2019 fourth-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick, 2020 conditional third-round pick, 2022 conditional fourth-round pick, D Julius Bergman
Key subtractions: F Mats Zuccarello, D Adam McQuaid, F Kevin Hayes
The Rangers sent "the letter" early last February, and we have to give them credit for staying on message so far. They said they would part with familiar faces and they have (only three players remain from the 2014-15 Presidents' Trophy-winning team). They said they would stockpile for the future, and boy have they ever. New York's haul of draft picks is envious. They have five picks in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft alone, including potentially three first-rounders (if the Lightning win the Cup).
Considering the market for the other forwards, the Rangers got more than a fair price for Zuccarello. They did especially well in the Hayes deal, luring another first-round pick (albeit probably a low one) from Winnipeg, as well as Lemieux, an NHL-ready player who plays a tough game and can be a stopgap in the rebuild.
Ottawa Senators: A-
Key additions: F Anthony Duclair, 2020 second-rounder (Columbus), 2021 second-rounder (Columbus), F Vitaly Abramov, F Jonathan Davidsson, 2019 first-round pick (Columbus, top-three protected), conditional 2020 first-round pick (Columbus), D Erik Brannstrom, F Oscar Lindberg, 2020 second-rounder (Dallas, via Vegas)
Key subtractions: F Matt Duchene, F Mark Stone, F Ryan Dzingel
Consider the circumstances, wherein GM Pierre Dorion could only offer what his thrifty owner was willing to spend in order to keep someone like Mark Stone under contract. Consider the context, wherein everyone knew these three players had to move, lest Ottawa lose them for nothing this summer. Consider the return: three seconds, a first and another first if Matt Duchene remains in Columbus; two decent prospects and one absolute blue-chipper in puck-moving defenseman Brannstrom, whose inclusion in the Stone deal by Vegas left many stunned. (Please recall Vegas GM George McPhee was The Man Who Traded Filip Forsberg, too.) Finally, consider where the bar was set for Dorion at this deadline: Don't get fleeced, and give Senators fans something they can latch on to for hope. All things considered, we believe Dorion accomplished that.
Key additions: F Mark Stone
Key subtractions: D Erik Brannstrom, F Oscar Lindberg, Dallas' second-round pick in 2020
There's no denying the impact Stone will have on Vegas in the short term as a top-line right wing, and in the long term as an elite two-way forward who signed an eight-year extension with a $9.5 million average annual value. But he came with a price: Losing Brannstrom is significant, as some scouts see him as a future star. But the Knights are loaded on the farm and on the current roster with defensemen, and Stone was one of the few players available around the deadline who could possibly be worth that price. Congrats to owner Bill Foley and GM George McPhee for winning that derby and getting the Golden Knights a bit closer to returning to the Stanley Cup Final.
Buffalo Sabres: B+
The Sabres absolutely needed to upgrade their blue line, and in Montour they get a 24-year-old right-handed-shot defenseman with offensive upside. It was clear he took a step back this season, but it was also clear he took a step back during a lost season for the Ducks. The Sabres have him at $3,387,500 in average annual value for this season and next, before he becomes an RFA with arbitration rights. In a new environment, and under the tutelage of Phil Housley, this could be a coup for GM Jason Botterill. Guhle is a good prospect who slid down the depth chart. The first will either be from either San Jose or St. Louis (both owned by Buffalo) based on the final order of selection in the 2019 draft.
Key additions: F Matt Duchene, F Ryan Dzingel, D Adam McQuaid, G Keith Kinkaid, 2019 seventh-round pick
Key subtractions: F Anthony Duclair, 2019 conditional first-round pick, 2019 fourth-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick, 2020 conditional first-round pick, 2020 second-round pick, 2021 second-round pick, 2022 fifth-round pick
Did anyone envy Jarmo Kekalainen this season? When it was determined that two of the team's most talented players in franchise history were going to hit free agency this summer, the GM faced franchise-altering decisions. Instead of pitying himself, Kekalainen acted boldly -- in a way, frankly, we've seen few GMs behave before him. Kekalainen has demanded his team go all-in with his flurry of moves (and not dealing away Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky). The Blue Jackets will attempt to re-sign who they can over the summer and figure out the consequences later. This is a team that has patiently built the right way, but decided enough was enough. The franchise has yet to get past the first round. By hoarding rentals -- including its own, Panarin and Bobrovsky -- the Jackets are loaded for a playoff push in a year when the Metropolitan Division is ripe for an upstart.
The Canadiens added Weal to Nate Thompson and Dale Weise in their depth moves this month. GM Marc Bergevin didn't overpay for someone like Matt Duchene, kept his draft picks and kept the focus on the summer, when the Habs have some internal and external questions to answer, especially on the blue line.
Key additions: 2019 second-round pick, 2020 fourth-round pick, 2022 fifth-round pick
Key subtractions: G Keith Kinkaid, F Marcus Johansson
The 2022 fifth-round pick -- so far away in the future -- is a comical return for Kinkaid. But the truth is, the goalie wasn't helping the Devils win this season, and on a non-playoff team, he didn't have value. His departure gives New Jersey an extended look at youngster MacKenzie Blackwood, who impressed in his 13 appearances this season. The return for Johansson was decent considering how conservative teams were in handing out first- and second-round picks this trade deadline (he also had a modified no-trade clause that limited the options). Overall, the Devils added capital for their rebuild, which is a win.
Key additions: none
Key subtractions: none
Nobody knew exactly what the Islanders were going to do, because GM Lou Lamoriello runs a tight-lipped organization. History tells us that when Lamoriello believes his team is good enough to win, he goes for it. So does he not believe in these Islanders or did he not want to tinker with the good juju coach Barry Trotz had fostered? It's probably more of the latter. Also, we believe the Islanders checked in on some of the bigger available names, but shied away from the high price tags. This is the team showing restraint so it can try to go for it now with a decent roster, without mortgaging the future.
St. Louis Blues: B+
Key additions: D Michael Del Zotto
Key subtractions: 2019 sixth-round pick
We're not primarily judging the Blues on their acquisition of Del Zotto. The well-traveled (and oft-injured) defenseman is a depth piece, if anything. We're grading the Blues on doing nothing at all -- which is exactly what they should have done. St. Louis has been one of the hottest teams in the NHL this calendar year. Thanks to solid goaltending from Jordan Binnington, renewed defensive structure and chemistry under interim coach Craig Berube, this group is heating up at the right time, and should not be tinkered with. Also, it's nice to see hometown boy Patrick Maroon stick around for the playoff push; he had a rough start to his one-year deal, but the big-bodied forward could have a big presence in the postseason.
Key additions: F Michael Chaput
Key subtractions: F Jordan Weal
The Coyotes were content to let their players returning from injury -- Christian Dvorak, Brad Richardson, Jason Demers and hopefully Michael Grabner and Antti Raanta -- act as their trade deadline infusion of talent. GM John Chayka doesn't exactly have an open checkbook to acquire talent, which might necessitate this approach; but one wonders whether the in-house reinforcements are enough to negate the need for outside reinforcements for their playoff push.
Key additions: Conditional 2019 second-round pick from San Jose, 2020 second-round pick from Washington, conditional 2020 third-round pick from San Jose, D Madison Bowey
Key subtractions: F Gustav Nyquist, D Nick Jensen
Not a bad haul for GM Ken Holland in dealing away two expiring contracts, especially if the Sharks make the Stanley Cup Final or re-sign Nyquist and that third becomes a second. Bowey has to prove he's an NHL regular, but not a bad addition for Jensen. Holland didn't get a fleece job like that Tomas Tatar deal last deadline, but given the market and the assets, this wasn't terrible. Well, except the part where he gave 10 players on his roster trade protection (including Nyquist and, hilariously, Thomas Vanek), which meant his options were extremely limited.
Turning Gudbranson into anything, let alone an NHL talent like Pearson, is impressive, considering his ghastly underlying numbers and a $4 million annual cap hit through 2021. Luckily for the Canucks, Pittsburgh overvalued his physicality. Losing Dahlen, who requested a trade, hurts the Canucks; he's an enormously talented -- if somewhat speed-deficient -- player, but he wasn't clicking in the AHL. Karlsson reportedly better fits the Vancouver system, although the Canucks need to sign him.
Key additions: F Nic Petan
Key subtractions: F Par Lindholm
The Leafs made their big deadline move weeks beforehand with the addition of Jake Muzzin. They failed to address additional needs on defense and decided to hang on to the expiring contract of Jake Gardiner. They didn't add a physical piece up front, whether that was going to be Wayne Simmonds or not. But to their credit, they also didn't do something stupid in order to satiate the dinosaurs in the local media who thought they needed a player like Adam McQuaid because teams are mean to them. GM Kyle Dubas is playing the long game and managing his cap well ahead of a critical offseason. For what it's worth, Petan is a nice add.
Key additions: F Carl Hagelin, D Nick Jensen
Key subtractions: D Madison Bowey, 2019 third-round pick, 2020 second-round pick, 2020 conditional sixth-round pick
Brian McLellan telegraphed that he wanted two things: an NHL-ready forward (especially if the team was going to trade away Andre Burakovsky) and this year's version of Michal Kempny. The Caps didn't end up parting with Burakovsky. They did get Carl Hagelin, who has playoff experience and can help on the penalty kill (which ranks 23rd in the NHL). They also got Nick Jensen, an underrated defenseman a la Kempny, and subsequently signed him to a four-year extension. Both of these moves bolster the Capitals, but don't necessarily move the needle. Then again, this roster -- despite a midseason slump -- was already good enough to win a Stanley Cup.
Calgary Flames: B-
Key additions: D Oscar Fantenberg
Key subtractions: conditional 2020 fourth-round pick
For a surprisingly quiet deadline -- Fantenberg was their only move -- the Flames made a lot of noise about the prices they weren't willing to pay for high-end forwards such as Mark Stone. A trade on deadline day for the Wild's Jason Zucker also fell through. At 39-16-7 and leading the Pacific Division, the Flames earned the right to stand pat, in theory. But the arms race in the West, and questions about the playoff-readiness of their goaltending, make that stand a little less palatable.
Key additions: none
Key subtractions: none
Did two big Central Division losses directly preceding the trade deadline prevent the Blackhawks from making bigger moves and going for it? Probably not. GM Stan Bowman is viewing this season as one of transition. The bigger splash could come in the summer, when Chicago clears some cap space. As long as the players with no-movement clauses (such as Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith) have little interest in going elsewhere, Bowman couldn't have done anything drastic during the season. The GM might have been able to muster something, though, for Artem Anisimov or John Hayden, two players who have run their course in Chicago.
Key additions: F Derick Brassard
Key subtractions: 2020 third-round pick
We didn't expect much from the Avalanche this year. It's as if GM Joe Sakic knew last season was a pleasant surprise, but the long-range plan is still intact. With two first-rounders in this draft (including what is expected to be a very high pick courtesy of the Ottawa Senators), plus high-end prospects such as Cale Makar, Connor Timmens, Shane Bowers and Martin Kaut on the way, the future is bright. But the Avs are technically still in the hunt this season, and Brassard could help shore up the middle six, theoretically boosting the club's lackluster secondary production. But let's remember: Brassard stalled in his last semi-permanent stop in Pittsburgh, and the Avalanche gave up a third-round pick for a player who is probably not enough to help them reach the playoffs.
Key additions: 2019 third-round pick, 2019 fourth-round pick
Key subtractions: C Nate Thompson, F Carl Hagelin
Ilya Kovalchuk, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Alec Martinez and Jonathan Quick were all reportedly available, and all remain with the Kings. Otherwise, it was a couple of minor pending free-agent dumps for middling picks. The market just wasn't there for a Kings blockbuster.
Boston Bruins: C+
You know what you're getting with Johansson. He's a 200-foot player who's able to play up and down the lineup, including with outstanding offensive players like David Krejci. He's inconsistent, a bit injury-prone, but a nice addition. I'm not sure you know what you get with Charlie Coyle, whom the Bruins are going to use as a No. 3 center but might end up being better as a No. 2 winger. This could end up working out for the B's, and it's important to note that GM Don Sweeney added assets while their division rivals stood pat. But these aren't slam dunks.
Florida Panthers: C+
The Panthers went big-game hunting for Mark Stone and couldn't match the Golden Knights. Instead, they sold low on Brassard, made a small move for depth forward Dea and engaged in a strange move with Carolina in which the Hurricanes acquired Jurco and they acquired Pu, but not one-for-one. (Theory: The Hurricanes didn't want the hockey world to eye-roll the Jeff Skinner deal even further because now, by proxy, it would have been for Jurco.) Trading Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to Pittsburgh will remain the Panthers' key deadline-adjacent move. The best thing to happen to Florida at the deadline? No one traded for Sergei Bobrovsky or Artemi Panarin, meaning both could still take their talents to South Beach this summer.
Key additions: none
Key subtractions: none
The Hurricanes received plenty of interest in Michael Ferland but decided not to move the winger. Rather, they rewarded a roster that has turned it up lately with their own "rental" in keeping him. Ferland, who wants bigger money than Carolina is willing to offer, is likely to walk this summer. Though the team has shown improvement, depth scoring is still a major issue. The Hurricanes had an opportunity to take their area of surplus (capable defensemen) and leverage it into a forward who can score goals. They didn't do that, and it's safe to wonder whether that might end up costing them a playoff spot.
Key additions: F Ryan Donato, F Kevin Fiala, 2020 seventh-round pick
Key subtractions: F Charlie Coyle, F Mikael Granlund
Paul Fenton is no longer the new GM (he has been on the job for nine months) and this trade deadline marks his first personal stamp on the roster. Gone are Coyle and Granlund, two 26-or-under players once believed to be an important part of the future core. Swapping Granlund for Fiala is a risk, considering Fiala has been wildly inconsistent in Nashville. Fenton is betting on a player he believed in when he helped draft him in Nashville. The Donato acquisition makes sense because his style -- specifically, a shoot-first mentality -- can help the Wild, while Coyle had stalled and had been on the trade block for some time.
Key additions: F Ryan Hartman, conditional fourth-round pick
Key subtractions: F Wayne Simmonds
Parting with Simmonds at the trade deadline felt like an inevitability under the old regime of Ron Hextall, and the new regime as well -- considering these Flyers, despite doing some good things lately, are not a playoff-caliber team. With all that time on the block, shouldn't Philadelphia have been able to muster more than it did for the rugged, playoff-ready winger? By trading Simmonds in the 11th hour, the Flyers sold low. Hartman plays with an edge. He's a 2013 first-round pick who can plug into the roster right away, and should sign a reasonable next contract (he's an RFA this summer). But getting only a conditional fourth-rounder (which will be a third if the Preds make it past the first round) isn't great. Simmonds was worth at least a second.
Anaheim Ducks: C-
Key additions: D Brendan Guhle, 2019 first-round pick (San Jose's or St. Louis', from Buffalo)
Key subtractions: D Brandon Montour, F Brian Gibbons, D Michael Del Zotto
Montour is the third puck-moving defenseman -- along with Sami Vatanen (Devils) and Shea Theodore (Golden Knights) -- that the Ducks have shipped out in the past two years. The return is solid, as Guhle is younger, cheaper and has some good upside. (The first-rounder is San Jose's pick, or the Ducks have the option to take St. Louis' pick if it's between No. 20 and No. 31.) But while he has had a terrible season on a terrible team, Montour is a fast defender with the potential for greater offensive achievements; the Ducks could never unlock that potential. This one could sting in a few years. Meanwhile, the Ducks are a team that needs to cut much deeper than what they ended up doing at the trade deadline, but those moves will come in the summer.
Key additions: D Erik Gudbranson
Key subtractions: F Tanner Pearson
We thought the Penguins did most of their work well ahead of the deadline. An early-season trade landed Marcus Pettersson, who has been a fine addition on the blue line. Then Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann arrived in early February. The Pens are going to go all-in as long as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are in their prime. So with an injury-depleted roster, GM Jim Rutherford determined the team could use more help. Since Pittsburgh doesn't have a ton more to offer in terms of prospects or picks, that limited the options. Picking up Erik Gudbranson is questionable; he has an iffy track record in Vancouver, and has term left on his deal. Rutherford coveted Gudbranson's physicality, and Pittsburgh has a reputation as a haven for career rehab. Pearson, we hardly knew ye (as a Penguin, that is). He seemed to fall out of favor quickly with coaches.
Dallas Stars: D+
Key additions: F Mats Zuccarello
Key subtractions: conditional second-round draft pick in 2019, conditional third-round draft pick in 2020
Did Zuccarello look like a great fit in his Dallas debut? Actually, he looked fantastic, plugging in on the Tyler Seguin line for a goal and an assist. Was it the Stars' fault that Zuccarello broke his arm blocking a shot in the second period? No, that's just tough luck. And yet, that's what the deadline is all about: gambles that either pan out or don't. The truth is, Dallas' landscape looks rather bleak. Zuccarello is out for a minimum of four weeks. Despite some push on Monday, they could not make another move after the diagnosis and before the deadline. After several poor drafts, they don't have an impressive prospect pool, and now they don't have their second- and third-round picks in each of the next two drafts. Was it worth it? Ownership will be mulling that as it decides Jim Nill's fate this summer.
Edmonton Oilers: D+
The Oilers are obviously going to make significant changes in the offseason, from the general manager down to the coaches on the bench. Perhaps, then, this lack of big moves was a symptom of that uncertainty. Otherwise, there's no good reason why players like Alex Chiasson or Tobias Rieder couldn't have been moved for anything that could help with the retool. (Adjust this grade half a step up or down depending on how you feel about Stolarz, the goalie acquired from the Flyers for Talbot.)