Well, that was fun.
The hot stove of NHL trade talk is starting to simmer down post-March 1, but not after another season’s worth of last-minute, late-season moves. Some on-the-brink teams took the subtle route by bolstering depth, while others ignored their standing atop conferences (see: Washington Capitals, Minnesota Wild) to go big in an effort not to go home come playoff time. It was a relatively mild year for winter trades, but it had its fair share of headlines.
With the deadline swaps complete, here’s a rundown of some of the bigger moves, complete with grades for each buyer and seller:
Feb. 20: Flames trade 2018 third-round pick, 2018 conditional pick to Coyotes for Michael Stone
A win for both sides. Calgary gets a stab at both beefing up its defense and tapping into Stone’s injury-riddled potential, while Arizona collects a couple of picks for a guy who was not living up to a one-year post-surgery trial run of a contract. This one was about as balanced as could be.
Grades: Flames B, Coyotes B+
Feb. 23: Penguins trade Danny Kristo, 2017 second-round pick to Hurricanes for Ron Hainsey
Pittsburgh safely exhaled after this one. The Pens badly needed defensive reinforcements -- and, in a broader sense, at least one more healthy body. And yet they weren’t overtly manipulated by the Canes, who made out fairly well themselves by unloading an older free agent-to-be and adding to their deep pool of draft picks.
Grades: Penguins A-, Hurricanes A
Feb. 24: Ducks trade 2017 conditional pick to Stars for Patrick Eaves
What a mild and mutually beneficial trade market up to and including this deal. One of the few big things Anaheim needed on its stretch run was an offensive jolt, and Eaves might have been the perfect target. His 2016-17 breakout probably won’t be replicated, but he was a low-risk, high-reward option. Dallas, meanwhile, capitalized on Eaves’ hot season.
Grades: Ducks A, Stars A-
Feb. 26: Kings trade Peter Budaj, Erik Cernak, 2017 seventh-round pick, 2017 conditional pick to Lightning for Ben Bishop, 2017 fifth-round pick
Well, Los Angeles needed to do something to spark a turnaround. Grabbing a top goalie with playoff experience was a bold move -- and probably needed -- from the Kings, but in the long run, it might be Tampa Bay that comes away most aided by the move. If Bishop leads an L.A. postseason push, though, this one’s pretty darn even, too.
Grades: Kings B-, Lightning A-
Feb. 26: Wild trade 2017 first-round pick, 2018 second-round pick, 2019 conditional pick, Grayson Downing to Coyotes for Martin Hanzal, Ryan White, 2017 fourth-round pick
Hey, Hanzal should do well as part of Minnesota’s powerful unit. He’s an intriguing late-season addition, and he’ll be an important playoff role player. But it’s still hard to justify giving up what the Wild did to land him. You can’t ignore all those early round picks for a guy who may very well be playing elsewhere in 2018. It was an “all-in” move, and time will tell whether it pays off.
Grades: Wild C, Coyotes A
Feb. 27: Capitals trade Zach Sanford, Brad Malone, 2017 first-round pick, 2019 conditional pick to Blues for Kevin Shattenkirk, Pheonix Copley
We have a winner. And when I say winner, I mean the Capitals. Big moves and big regular-season numbers don’t always equal Stanley Cups, and they haven’t for Washington in the past. But getting the market’s top defensive asset for a package less overstuffed than what the Wild surrendered for Hanzal is huge. The Caps put a serious injection of talent into a unit that was already bound to finish atop the Eastern Conference, and they did it right.
Grades: Capitals A, Blues B+
March 1: Rangers trade 2017 third-round pick, 2018 second-round pick to Red Wings for Brendan Smith
Smith comes to New York as a more-than-viable fill-in for Dan Girardi. But it cost the Rangers another couple of draft picks. This one helps the Big Apple in the short term but will probably damage it a little too much down the road.
Grades: Rangers C+, Red Wings A
March 1: Senators trade 2017 third-round pick to Hurricanes for Viktor Stalberg
Ottawa added some offensive help for its playoff push, landing Stalberg after also dealing for Alexandre Burrows. Carolina, meanwhile, built off its clear-cut plan for adding future building blocks. Nothing too outrageous here.
Grades: Senators B+, Hurricanes A
March 1: Panthers trade Dylan McIlrath, 2017 third-round pick to Red Wings for Thomas Vanek
Credit Florida for going out and making like other wild-card contenders to bulk up on offensive talent. But credit the Red Wings even more for milking both a decent pick and player from the Panthers for a player who is known for some hot and cold streaks.
Grades: Panthers C+, Red Wings A
March 1: Penguins trade 2018 fourth-round pick to Lightning for Mark Streit, acquired from Flyers for Valtteri Filppula, 2017 fourth-round pick, 2017 conditional pick
Maybe one of the most exciting March 1 moves simply because of Tampa Bay’s middle-man approach to what essentially was a three-team swap. This trade not only allowed Philly to unload a vet but the Lightning to stock up on draft capital while serving Pittsburgh’s need for more depth on defense.
Grades: Penguins B+, Lightning A+, Flyers A-
March 1: Flames trade Jyrki Jokipakka, 2017 second-round pick to Senators for Curtis Lazar, Mike Kostka
A near-player-for-player trade between clubs on the brink of the playoff picture. It’s a bit of a boom-or-bust try from Calgary’s perspective. But considering the Flames’ standing, what do they have to lose?
Grades: Flames B+, Senators B
March 1: Penguins trade Eric Fehr, Steve Olesky, 2017 fourth-round pick to Maple Leafs for Frank Corrado
Jim Rutherford obviously was not done upgrading -- or, more so, filling in -- the Penguins’ depleted defensive unit. Sending away another draft pick for a guy who has had his fair share of injury concerns, though, was maybe not the most ideal move, especially after Pittsburgh had already reeled in Ron Hainsey and other help.
Grades: Penguins C+, Maple Leafs A