Pushing the envelope: NHL trade deadline could decide Stanley Cup contenders

03/05/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

With the push for the playoffs underway in the NHL, those teams in contention tried to strengthen their post season chances with deadline deals. It's an exciting time for fans, and a nerve racking time for players. Let's see who did what heading into the stretch run of the this season, as we take a look at some of the bigger deals made at the trade deadline.
The first big move came before the trade deadline weekend, with Nashville acquiring RW Mike Santorelli and defenseman Cody Franson from Toronto. The Predators are trying to load up for what they hope will be a Stanley Cup run, and improved their team by adding a solid forward and a defenseman who logs a lot of minutes. Both Franson and Santorelli had previously played in Nashville. To get them, the Predators gave up a 1st round draft pick, prospect Brandon Leipsic, and NHL veteran Olli Jokinen, who the Leafs would trade later. How Leipsic ends up turning out as a player and what the Leafs end up getting with Nashville's pick this summer will determine the long term cost of this trade. But the Predators believe they have a chance to win now, and were willing to pay to do so, especially since both Franson and Santorelli are unrestricted free agents after the season.
Montreal was major player at the trade deadline as well, making several moves. The first was sending Jiri Sekac to Anaheim in exchange for Devante Smith-Pelly. In this swap of 22 year old wingers, the Canadiens sacrificed scoring potential to add some needed size and physicality to their bottom six forwards. The Habs then added forward depth by acquiring Brian Flynn and veteran center Torrey Mitchell in two separate trades with Buffalo. They gave up a 5th round pick for the versatile Flynn, who can play center or wing, and a 7th round pick plus a minor leaguer in exchange for Mitchell. The Canadiens also upgraded their defense, by getting Jeff Petry from Edmonton for a 2nd round pick and conditional 5th round pick. Petry gives Montreal a top four defenseman now without sacrificing too much in the future, since Petry is a UFA after the season. These moves definitely make Montreal a stronger team a possible favorite in the Eastern Conference.

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St. Louis was also active at the trade deadline, making three trades. The Blues acquired defenseman Zbynek Michalek from Arizona for prospect Maxim Letunov. Michalek gives the Blues a top four defenseman who can play 20 minutes a game once he recovers from a concussion. The Blues then added some size to their blue line when they traded defenseman Ian Cole to Pittsburgh for Robert Bortuzzo. Bortuzzo gives the Blues additional toughness on their 3rd defensive pair, as well as the right handed shooting defenseman the Blues were looking for. St. Louis also added veteran forward Olli Jokinen from Toronto for Joakim Lindstrom. Jokinen has had a down season, but adds playoff experience for the Blues.
Pittsburgh made a trio of moves at the deadline as well. Besides swapping Bortuzzo for Cole, the Penguins acquired forward Daniel Winnik from Toronto. The Penguins gave up a 2nd round pick in 2016, a 5th round pick this year, and forward Zach Sill to get Winnik. Winnik gives Pittsburgh an upgrade to their bottom six forwards, as well as some size and is also an excellent penalty killer. Cole gives the Penguins a change of pace on the blue line from Bortuzzo, who has been the Pens 6th or 7th defenseman most of the season. The Penguins then traded defenseman Simon Despres to Anaheim for defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who played for the Penguins before being traded to the Ducks in 2012. This deal is kind of a head scratcher for Pittsburgh, who traded their two biggest and most physical defensemen in Bortuzzo and Despres. Lovejoy is a serviceable defenseman, but is 31 years old and doesn't have the size or upside the 23 year old Despres does.
Anaheim was also very active at the deadline. Besides the Sekac for Smith-Pelly trade and the Lovejoy for Despres trade, the Ducks made two other deals. The first was acquiring defenseman James Wisniewski from Columbus in exchange for forward Rene Bourque and forward prospect William Karlsson. Wisniewski gives the Ducks a top four defenseman who can play physical, but also play on the power play. Anaheim also added forward Tomas Fleischmann in a trade with Florida that sent a 3rd round pick and forward Dany Heatley to the Panthers. Sekac and Fleischmann give Anaheim some more scoring potential than what they were traded for (Heatley was playing in the AHL). Despres also gives t Ducks a bottom six defenseman with size and skill, with potential to be on one of the top two pairings in the future.
The New York Rangers made a big move at the deadline to bolster their position in the Eastern Conference by acquiring defenseman Keith Yandle from Arizona. To get Yandle, New York gave up defenseman John Moore, 19 year old forward prospect Anthony Duclair, a 2nd round pick this year and a conditional 1st round pick in 2016. Yandle is solid offensive defenseman who won't have to log as much ice time as he was in Arizona. He'll give the Rangers an immediate upgrade at the point on their power play too. Yandle is also signed through next season, and the Coyotes are retaining half of his salary. The Rangers also got defenseman Chris Summers and a 4th round pick in the deal. Summers gives the Rangers additional depth, but is at best a 7th defenseman in New York.
Other trades of note:
Washington gets forward Curtis Glencross from Calgary for 2nd & 3rd round draft picks. Glencross is a UFA after the season, but gives the Capitals an upgrade to their top 9 forwards and has the potential to play in the top six.
Chicago made a pair of moves, acquiring forward Antoine Vermette from Arizona for a 1st round draft pick and defense prospect Klas Dahlbeck. Vermette will immediately play on one of the top two lines for Chicago, who are hoping he will help to offset the loss of Patrick Kane due to injury. The Blackhawks also traded a 2nd round and conditional 4th round pick to Philadelphia for defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who has missed all of this season due to blood clots, but has been cleared to play again. If he's healthy, Timmonen could be in the top four on the Blackhawks blue line.
The defending Stanley Cup champion LA Kings added defenseman Andrej Sekera from Carolina for a 1st round pick and defense prospect Roland McKeown. The Kings gave up a lot for Sekera, who's a UFA after the season, but fill he's the missing piece of the puzzle that could psh the Kings into the playoffs and on another run to the Cup.
Winnipeg added forward Jiri Tlusty from Carolina in exchange for a 3rd round pick in 2016 and a conditional 6th round pick this year. Tlusty gives the Jets another scoring threat on their second line to replace Matthieu Perreault as Winnipeg pushes for a playoff birth.
Florida, who's battling with Boston for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, added veteran forward Jaromir Jagr for a 2nd round draft pick and conditional 3rd round pick in 2016. It's a steep price to pay for a 43 year old, but Jagr gives the Panthers an upgrade to their top 6 wingers due to Jagr's puck possession abilities, and also another scoring threat on the power play.

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