Considering we're only one day removed from the NHL's trade window officially coming to a close, perhaps it's too early to declare winners and losers of this year's deadline. But where's the excitement in letting things play out as they may? We all know that life is more fun when you're allowed to jump to conclusions.
Luckily, the league saw plenty of action on the market prior to Monday's cutoff and there were numerous surprises along the way. Let's touch on some of the activity and declare some knee-jerk winners and losers.
Winner: Ottawa Senators
Last year, the Senators got a top prospect, a second-round pick and Oscar Lindberg in exchange for a half-season of Mark Stone (before an extension). This year, the Senators got a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a possible third-round pick from the Islanders for...Jean-Gabriel Pageau (before an extension). With all due respect to Pageau, he's not Stone. This was a great haul for the Senators in a seller's market.
On top of the Pageau deal, the Sens also picked up a fourth-rounder for Vladislav Namestnikov and a fifth-rounder for Tyler Ennis. Ottawa is just straight up stockpiling draft picks for its rebuild and did well on Monday. The Senators are now poised to have nine (NINE!) selections in the first three rounds of this year's draft, including three picks in the first round.
Loser: Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers entered Monday with a need to bolster their defense. They made a $70 million commitment to Sergei Bobrovsky last summer so that they could get into the playoffs. While Bob certainly hasn't earned that payday yet, the defense in front of him hasn't been nearly good enough either. They're giving up the fourth-biggest share of high-danger chances in the league this season. Even with that in mind, the Panthers are just two points back of a struggling Maple Leafs team in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
That's why it's so confusing that Florida's only major move on Monday was to trade Vincent Trocheck to the Hurricanes without getting any proven defensive help in return. Trocheck is a talented but frustrating forward who has fallen a bit out of favor with Florida recently, and he might seriously benefit from landing in Carolina. In the return, the Panthers get two NHL players (Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark) as well as two prospects (Eetu Luostarinen and Chase Priskie) while getting out from the next two years of Trocheck's contract.
It's a deal that gives Florida some extra flexibility so I thought it may have been a precursor to something else that would've helped the defense, but nothing else significant went down. Ultimately, this just feels like Florida moved Trocheck just for the sake of mixing things up, but he's got the highest ceiling of anyone involved and this doesn't really help the team's needs right now.
Winner: New York Rangers
The Rangers might not be thrilled with having to go seven years on Chris Kreider's extension, which will carry him through his age 35 season, but the AAV isn't bad at $6.5 million. The package that Kreider might've commanded in this market was probably tempting for a Rangers team still retooling for the future but, at the end of the day, they get to keep a talented player and pillar veteran at a decent price for that future. The Rangers don't seem to be that far off, as they're remaining competitive in an ultra-tough Metro division this year. Keeping Kreider also means they don't have to throw in the towel on this season, which is nice because they're only four points off a playoff spot.
They also did well to turn a somewhat expendable Brady Skjei into a first-round pick by taking advantage of Carolina's desperation to reinforce a depleted blue line. The Rangers will still have some work to do with their roster moving forward and I don't think they're ready to be considered serious contenders yet, but they found a way to have a successful deadline for both their short- and long-term outlooks.
Loser: Joe Thornton
There was plenty of talk about the Sharks sending vets Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton to contenders at this year's trade deadline, but only one of them actually got moved -- and it wasn't Thornton. While Marleau got shipped to Pittsburgh, where he'll have a great chance to make a run at his first Cup, Thornton got left behind in San Jose.
It wasn't for lack of interest, as Boston and Dallas were among the teams that reportedly sought Thornton's services, nor was it an unwillingness to move on Thornton's part. The veteran center said he'd waive his no-trade clause for the right deal and was reportedly disappointed that he never got the opportunity. Thornton loves San Jose but I'm sure it stings that he'll have to play out the remainder of this season for a bottom-feeder while watching his good bud Marleau make a run this spring. That's not ideal.
Winner: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
We all knew Jean-Gabriel Pageau was on his way to turning a career year into a nice payday but it turns out he won't have to wait until this summer to do just that. The 27-year-old Pageau can get comfortable on Long Island because the Islanders handed him a six-year extension worth $30 million shortly after trading for him on Monday.
Pageau has 24 goals this season, which is five more than his previous career high. He's a quality two-way presence down the middle but this year's offensive breakout has been pretty surprising, especially on a bad Senators team. This sort of production could be an anomaly for Pageau but the Islanders were willing to make the gamble because they're desperate for offensive help. In any case, Pageau picked a pretty good year to find a shooting percentage around 18 percent.
Loser: Chicago Blackhawks
Robin Lehner made a bet on himself last offseason, choosing to go to the Blackhawks on a one-year deal. He's proven his worth with a great year while playing behind a bad Blackhawks defense, and yet he was reportedly willing to take less money to stay in Chicago beyond this year.
Instead, the Blackhawks traded him to Vegas for a pretty underwhelming return, especially in a seller's market. They get a second-round pick, a backup goalie and a solid defensive prospect in exchange for Lehner. The lack of a first-rounder stings, especially when a couple other teams were looking for goaltending as well. I do wonder if the Hurricanes would have been willing to use the first-round pick they traded for Brady Skjei in order to acquire Lehner, but recent injuries to their defense may have pushed them in another direction.
The Blackhawks also got a pretty mediocre return for Erik Gustafsson, who fetched a third-round pick from Calgary. Considering the Sabres got two picks (one of them a second-rounder) for Marco Scandella, it seems Chicago could have done a little better. It's also worth pointing out that the Blackhawks elected not to trade Brandon Saad, who presumably would have commanded a steep price in this market.
Winner: Edmonton Oilers
My goodness, they did it -- the Oilers actually made some decent trades to get Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl some help on the wing. Edmonton made a significant splash by landing Andreas Athanasiou from the Red Wings in exchange for Sam Gagner and two second-round picks, which isn't an insignificant price especially since Athanasiou is set to be a restricted free agent after this season. But the addition is a very exciting one, and that's something the Oilers have so desperately needed.
Athanasiou scored 30 goals last season and his speed and skill inserted alongside McDavid have the potential to be electric and very productive. Yes, he's a liability defensively but that has potential to be an afterthought depending on how much high-octane magic he can help create in the offensive end. It's going to be hard for teams to match up with that speed.
The Oilers also added Tyler Ennis by sending a fifth-round pick to Ottawa, and that's pretty good value there. They also added a veteran blue line presence in Mike Green for Kyle Brodziak and a fourth-rounder. Overall, some solid work by Ken Holland.
Loser: Tampa Bay Lightning
They sent a first-round pick to San Jose for Barclay Goodrow, who is having a career season...with eight goals and 24 points. He's a good defensive depth forward who can be a PK force but he's not even close to being worth the cost of a first-round pick, even with a third-rounder coming back in return from the Sharks. The Lightning made a nice addition by acquiring Blake Coleman last week, but this move is bad enough to put them in the loser's category.