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The NHL saw 33 deals involving 54 players in the weekend leading up to deadline day on March 21. Among the biggest moves was the Chicago Blackhawks shipping goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to the Minnesota Wild and the Florida Panthers acquiring forward Claude Giroux from the Philadelphia Flyers.
In the weeks since, the focus of fans and pundits has shifted toward the playoff race, with the regular season drawing to a close on April 29. Nevertheless, we felt this would be a good opportunity to review our original rankings of the deadline’s most notable trades to see how they’re shaking out.
Some of the moves, such as those involving Fleury and Giroux, seem to be panning out well for their new teams. Others, however, appear to be works in progress.
The following is our review and regrading of the seven major deals made at this year’s trade deadline. Feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section.
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TheTrade: New York Rangers traded center Morgan Barron, two conditional draft picks in 2022 or 2023 and a fifth-round pick in 2023 to the Winnipeg Jets for forward Andrew Copp and a sixth-rounder in 2023.
Initial Reaction: “With the Rangers among the top teams in the Eastern Conference, Copp should prove to be an invaluable addition as they prepare for the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs. He should slot into their third line alongside center Filip Chytil and winger Barclay Goodrow.”
Initial Grades: Rangers: B+, Jets A-
The Aftermath: Copp has fit in well with the Rangers. The 27-year-old two-way forward has 15 points in 14 games skating at right wing on their second line alongside left winger Artemi Panarin and center Ryan Strome. That performance will bolster Copp’s value in this summer’s free-agent market if he and the Rangers fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension.
The return for Copp didn’t improve Winnipeg’s playoff chances this season but should help them build for the future. Barron, 23, has already seen action in nine games with the Jets. The 2022 second-rounder they received from New York could become a first-rounder if the Rangers win two playoff rounds and Copp plays 50 percent of their postseason games.
Current Grades: Rangers: A, Jets B+
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TheTrade: Anaheim Ducks traded winger Rickard Rakell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forwards Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon, goaltender Calle Clang and a 2002 second-round draft pick.
Initial Reaction: “The Penguins were in the market for a scoring winger. Rakell could end up skating alongside center Evgeni Malkin on the second line. If those two play well together, it will provide the Penguins with an invaluable offensive boost down the stretch and into the playoffs .”
Initial Grades: Penguins: B+, Ducks: B-
The Aftermath: Rakell has 10 points in 14 games with the Penguins, but all that production came in four games. Adjusting to new linemates has been an issue not of his making him. He was skating alongside Malkin until the latter received a four-game suspension on April 11 for cross checking. Rakell was teamed with Jeff Carter and Jason Zucker before being moved up to Sidney Crosby’s line and could remain there until Malkin’s return.
Aston-Reese and Simon are seeing regular minutes on the Ducks’ third line. They haven’t helped that club’s decline, but the pending UFAs were acquired to help the cap-strapped Penguins take on Rakell. Prospect goaltender Clang and that extra second-round pick in this year’s draft were the real prizes for the Ducks as general manager Pat Verbeek begins a long-overdue roster rebuild.
Current Grades: Penguins: A-, Ducks, B-
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TheTrade: The Carolina Hurricanes acquired forward Max Domi and defenseman Tyler Inamoto in a three-team trade involving the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers.
The Blue Jackets retained 50 percent of Domi’s $5.3 million salary-cap hit ($2.65 million), while the Panthers retained 25 percent ($1.325 million). The Hurricanes shipped defenseman Aidan Hreschuk to the Jackets and forward Egor Korshkov to the Panthers as part of the trade.
Initial Reaction: “Perhaps Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour can help Domi improve his consistency. At the very least, he should be a decent rental addition to their checking lines with the ability to see second-line duty if required.”
Initial Grades: Hurricanes: B-, Panthers: C-, Blue Jackets: D
The Aftermath: A versatile but erratic forward with four 40-plus point performances in his first five NHL seasons, the 27-year-old Domi struggled during his tenure with the Blue Jackets. He’s managed six points in 14 games since moving to the Hurricanes seeing mostly checking-line minutes. He’ll need a strong effort in the postseason to increase his stock of him in this summer’s free-agent market.
For the Blue Jackets, this move was about trying to get some decent trade value for a pending free agent. Perhaps Hreschuk (a 2021 third-round pick who spent this season with Boston College) will develop into a serviceable player for the Jackets. As for the Panthers’ return, the 25-year-old Korshkov spent the past two seasons in the KHL. It’s uncertain if he fits into their plans for next season.
Current Grades: Hurricanes: C, Panthers: D, Blue Jackets: C-
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TheTrade: The Chicago Blackhawks shipped goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a conditional first-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft.
If the Wild reach the Western Conference Final and Fleury is the winning goalie of record in at least four games in the first two rounds combined, the Blackhawks receive the Wild’s first-rounder in this year’s draft. If those conditions aren’t met, they’ll get the Wild’s second-rounder.
Initial Reaction: “Wild general manager Bill Guerin was teammates with Fleury when they won the Stanley Cup in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, so he knows what the veteran can do in the postseason. Fleury’s championship pedigree combined with the experience of [Cam] Talbot could provide the Wild with a strong tandem for a deep playoff run.”
Initial Grades: Wild: A-, Blackhawks: B+
The Aftermath: Fleury’s been sharp between the pipes since joining the Wild. The 37-year-old netminder won six of seven starts with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. Fleury has been splitting the goaltending duties equally with Talbot, but he could end up as their postseason starter if he maintains his solid play thus far.
The rebuilding Blackhawks were limited by Fleury’s 10-team no-trade clause. Getting a second-rounder for a goalie of his reputation isn’t much. However, this could still benefit them if the conditions of the deal turn this pick into a first-rounder. Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson could become Fleury’s biggest cheerleader during the postseason.
Current Grades: Wild: A, Blackhawks: B- if the pick is a second-rounder, A- if it becomes a first-rounder.
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TheTrade: The Boston Bruins landed defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Kodie Curran from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defensemen Urho Vaakanainen and John Moore, a first-round pick in 2022, a second-rounder in 2023 and a second-round pick in 2024. Lindholm subsequently signed an eight-year contract extension with the Bruins.
Initial Reaction: “Lindholm will fill the left-side spot on either the first or second defensive pairings for the Bruins. His skills and experience should ease the workload of top blueliner Charlie McAvoy.”
Initial Grades: Bruins: A, Ducks: A-
The Aftermath: This is a rare deadline deal that will have long-term effects for both teams. Lindholm had an immediate positive impact on the Bruins defense, logging 21 minutes and 45 seconds of ice time with four assists in seven games until he was sidelined by a lower-body injury on April 5 against the Red Wings. Despite the injury, he’ll provide a big boost to their blue line now and over the next eight seasons.
The rebuilding Ducks did well landing those draft picks and Vaakanainen in this deal as they look toward their long-term future. The 23-year-old defenseman is seeing second-pairing minutes in Anaheim as he gets an opportunity for more playing time.
Current Grades: Don’t change.
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TheTrade: The Philadelphia Flyers felt forward Claude Giroux, forward prospects Connor Bunnaman and German Rubtsov and a 2024 fifth-round pick to the Florida Panthers. In return, they received forward Owen Tippett, a first-round pick in the 2024 or 2025 draft and a third-round in 2023.
Initial Reaction: “This move should pay immediate dividends for the Panthers, who are loading up for a Stanley Cup run after acquiring defenseman Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens. Giroux remains a productive two-way player who’s strong in the faceoff circle and can play all three forward He should slot in well as a rental player anywhere among the Panthers’ top nine forward positions.”
Initial Grades: Panthers: A, Flyers B
The Aftermath: The Panthers’ dominant scoring punch got a lot more potent when Giroux joined their lineup. He has scored only twice in 14 games but collected 15 assists skating at right wing alongside Jonathan Huberdeau and Sam Bennett on the second line. The Panthers are 13-1-0 since acquiring Giroux.
Tippett had difficulty moving up the ranks of a deep Panthers roster. He has three goals and four points in 16 games with the Flyers. The 23-year-old winger hasn’t made much of an impression, but that could be because of their overall poor team performance down the stretch. The first-round pick could pan out down the road, but the immediate return still has room for improvement.
Current Grades: Panthers: A+, Flyers: C
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TheTrade: The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired defenseman Mark Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2022 draft, a second-rounder in 2023 and a 2024 third-round pick. The Kraken also agreed to retain 50 percent of Giordano’s $6.8 million cap hit.
Initial Reaction: “Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas did well to acquire a skilled rental defenseman without parting with a first-rounder or a top prospect. Giordano should be a welcome addition on the left side of the Leafs blue line, especially with Jake Muzzin still sidelined indefinitely by a head injury. He could be reunited with former Flames linemate TJ Brodie on the first or second pairing.”
Initial Grades: Leafs A, Kraken C+
The Aftermath: Giordano is providing the Leafs with invaluable depth on their defense corps. He’s logging 19:23 of ice time per game, including time on the power play and penalty kill. He’s also contributing offensively with 10 points in 15 games. He’s doing this while paired side by side Timothy Liljegren, providing the 22-year-old with the benefit of his experience and leadership.
Kraken GM Ron Francis had limited trade options given Giordano’s modified no-trade clause and cap hit. While the Leafs are the immediate winners of this trade, it could work out over the long term for the Kraken depending on whether Francis can turn those draft picks into quality NHL talent.
Current Grades: Leafs: A+, Kraken: C+