A Look At The New Metropolitan Division: Trade Deadline Report Cards

Sports Illustrated.jpgPhoto: Sports Illustrated

Metropolitan Division teams had an active run up to Monday’s trade deadline, with more than a dozen players changing teams before the dust had settled. While the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils were huge sellers, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals, and Pittsburgh Penguins were big buyers on the trade market. Others, like the wildcard Carolina Hurricanes and the division-leading New York Islanders stood pat, while the Philadelphia Flyers were relatively quiet. In this piece, NoVa Caps takes a look at each Metro team’s moves at the trade deadline.

Islanders

Place In The Division: 1st with 79 points

Remaining Games Against the Capitals: 2 (3/1 at NYI, 4/6 at WSH); the Capitals are 1-1-0 against the Islanders this season

Trades: None

The Islanders did not make any moves ahead of the trade deadline. While they currently own the NHL’s stingiest defense, allowing an average of 2.31 goals-per-game, the Islanders’ scoring average of 2.87 goals-per-game ranks 21st in the NHL. New York could have picked up a forward to improve their offense and their power-play, which currently ranks 24th in the NHL with an average of 16.9%, but decided to pass.

The Islanders should make the postseason but with the Blue Jackets going all-in and the Capitals making some good additions as well, it will be harder for them to keep up their current hot streak. The team is 21-6-3 in their last 30 games after starting 14-12-4. With the reigning Stanley Cup Champion head coach in Barry Trotz behind the bench, the Isles are well-positioned and will give the Blue Jackets, Capitals, and others in the playoffs a run for their money.

Grade: A-

Capitals

Place In The Division: 2nd with 77 points

Trades: Acquired F Carl Hagelin from Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a 2019 third-round pick and 2020 conditional sixth-round pick. Acquired D Nick Jensen from Detroit Red Wings in exchange for defenseman Madison Bowey and a 2020 second-round pick

The Capitals improved their 23rd-ranked penalty kill by acquiring Hagelin, who is known for his prowess on the PK as well as his speed, and Jensen, who is a solid two-way defenseman. Hagelin improves the Capitals’ scoring depth and solidifies their bottom-six forward corps. He won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017 and has played in six playoff series vs. the Capitals with his teams winning five of those. Before dropping off to two goals and eight points in 38 games with the Kings and Penguins this season, Hagelin, 30, had scored at least 10 goals in seven of his first eight seasons and he missed 21 games the lone year he didn’t hit that mark. For a guy who can score, has speed, can help on the penalty kill, and has played past the second round in five of his first seven NHL seasons, this was a nice add for the Caps.

The Capitals acquired Jensen, 28, to bolster a defense that has seen Brooks Orpik and Christian Djoos miss significant periods of time after going through surgeries. Jensen can also take some of the load off John Carlson, who ranks sixth in the NHL with an average of 25:21 minutes per game, while also stepping in to help on the PK. Jensen averaged 2:46 minutes per game on the penalty kill in Detroit. His defensive numbers with the Red Wings were strong as he led the team with 61 hits, 21 takeaways, and 79 blocked shots while playing against other teams’ top players. In addition to his defensive play, Jensen put up some reasonable offensive numbers too, posting 15 points in 60 games with the Red Wings this season.

The Capitals made themselves a much deeper team, offensively and defensively, without giving up too much. While a second-round pick and Bowey seemed like a steep price for Jensen, the fact that the Caps re-signed him to a 4-year deal makes it reasonable. They set themselves up for success this year and into the future without having to give up a first-round round pick.

Grade: A

Blue Jackets

Place In The Division: 3rd with 73 points

Remaining Games Against the Capitals: None; Capitals went 1-2-1 against the Blue Jackets this season

Trades: Acquired C Matt Duchene from Ottawa Senators in exchange for prospect Vitaly Abramov, prospect Jonathan Davidsson, a first-round pick in 2019, and a conditional first-round pick if Duchene re-signs with the Blue Jackets. Acquired C Ryan Dzingel and a 2019 seventh-round pick (originally owned by the Calgary Flames) from Senators in exchange for two second-round picks in 2020 and 2021 and forward Anthony Duclair. Acquired D Adam McQuaid from Rangers in exchange for fourth and seventh-round draft picks in addition to D Julius Bergman. Acquired G Keith Kinkaid from New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2022 fifth round pick

Columbus had a major decision to make heading into the trade deadline.  The team’s two biggest stars, forward Artemi Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, both plan to test the free agent market after the season, making them prime trade candidates. But with the team sitting in a playoff spot, the Blue Jackets decided to go all-in, acquiring Duchene, who has 28 goals, 60 points, and a -1 rating in 52 games this season; and Dzingel, who has 22 goals, 44 points, and a -13 rating in 57 games this season in trades with the Ottawa Senators. Columbus also added the 6’4″ and 210-pound McQuaid, who has two goals, five points, and a +3 rating in 36 games with the New York Rangers this season; and Kinkaid, who went 15-18-6 with a save percentage of .891, a goals-against average of 3.36, and two shutouts in 41 games with the New Jersey Devils this season.

The Jackets were the busiest buyers league-wide and positioned itself to make a strong playoff run, it paid a high price that could make the future extremely difficult given the number of UFAs they’ll have at the end of the season. They parted with a first-round, a conditional first-round, two second-round, a fourth-round, a fifth-round, and two seventh-round picks as well as forward Anthony Duclair, prospect Vitaly Abramov, and prospect Jonathan Davidsson. While it’s understandable that they would want to go all-in this season, they face some major competition in the Islanders, Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Washington. If the Blue Jackets — who have never won a playoff series — fall short in their run for the Cup, they’ll have plenty of cash but four major stars unsigned.  If those stars go elsewhere, the playoffs could be a stretch next season.

Grade: B-

Hurricanes

Place In The Division: 4th with 73 points (second wildcard spot)

Remaining Games Against the Capitals: 2 (3/26 at WSH, 3/28 at CAR); Capitals are 2-0-0 against the Hurricanes so far this season

Trades: Acquired F Tomas Jurco from the Florida Panthers in exchange for F Cliff Pu

The Hurricanes were relatively quiet at the trade deadline as their lone move was acquiring forward Tomas Jurco from the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Cliff Pu, who was acquired in the trade that sent forward Jeff Skinner to the Buffalo Sabres on August 2, and future conditions. Jurco will likely see most of his time with the organization in Charlotte of the AHL. The Hurricanes opted not to trade forward Michael Ferland, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The Hurricanes are currently tied with the Penguins for the final wild-card spot in the East with 72 points. Even if they were to make the playoffs, they would likely face the Lightning, which has the potential to be a really short series…which would not be a good thing for the Hurricanes. They could have improved their offense as their average of 2.90 goals-per-game is tied for 19th in the NHL with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Grade: C

Penguins

Place In The Division: 5th with 73 points

Remaining Games Against the Capitals: 1 (3/12 at PIT); Capitals are 1-1-1 against the Penguins this season

Trades: Acquired D Erik Gudbranson from Vancouver Canucks in exchange for F Tanner Pearson. Acquired D Chris Wideman from Panthers in exchange for F Jean-Sebastian Dea

The Penguins bolstered their defensive depth by acquiring Gudbranson, who has posted two goals, six points, and a league-worst -27 rating in 57 games with the Canucks this season, and Wideman, who has recorded two goals, five points, and a -12 rating in 25 games with the Panthers this year. Defensively, Gudbranson, 27, was second on the Canucks with 132 hits, fifth with 60 blocked shots, tied for the seventh-most giveaways (24), and tied for the fourth-fewest takeaways at seven while averaging 17:59 worth of ice-time per game, including 2:11 on the penalty kill.

The Penguins are in danger of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2005-06 but are seven points back of the Islanders for the top spot in the division. Their average of 3.11 goals-against per game is the 11th-most in the NHL but added help, though it may not be the best kind, to improve the defense. Their goaltending situation is questionable and they will likely get a really tough matchup in the first round if they make the playoffs. Though, with centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on their team, you can never count the Penguins out.

Grade: D

Flyers

Place In The Division: 6th with 65 points

Remaining Games Against the Capitals: 3 (3/6 at PHI, 3/14 at PHI, 3/24 at WSH); Capitals are 1-0-0 against the Flyers this season

Trades: sent F Wayne Simmonds to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Ryan Hartman and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020 (can become a third if Nashville reaches Western Conference Final)

Hartman, 24, recorded 10 goals, 20 points, and a +7 rating in 64 games with the Predators this season after posting back-to-back 31-point campaigns in each of the prior two years.

Finding themselves eight points back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers sent Simmonds, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, to the Predators. Despite climbing back into the playoff race, the Flyers likely dug a hole too deep to overcome as they were in last place in the East last month.

Grade: C-

Rangers

Place In The Division: 7th with 63 points

Remaining Games Against the Capitals: 1 (3/3 at NYR); Capitals are 3-0-0 against the Rangers this season

Trades: sent F Mats Zuccarello to Dallas Stars in exchange for a conditional second (2019) and third-round (2020) picks (the second-rounder becomes a first if Dallas wins at least two playoff series and the third-rounder becomes a first if Zuccarello re-signs with Dallas at the end of the season). Traded D Adam McQuaid to Blue Jackets in exchange for fourth and seventh-round draft picks in addition to D Julius Bergman. Trade C Kevin Hayes to Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a 2019 first-round pick, F Brendan Lemieux, and a conditional 2019 fourth-round pick if the Jets win the Stanley Cup

The Rangers continued their rebuild, acquiring several draft picks, including two in the first two rounders, while unloading their expiring contracts. New York has a bright future ahead of them with defenseman Neal Pionk, center Lias Andersson, center Filip Chytil, and goaltender Igor Shesterkin in the pipeline but probably won’t make any real noise in the next two seasons (though they are rumored to be the favorite to land Panarin on July 1).

They are currently nine points out of a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and will likely continue to fall down the Eastern Conference standings. Their 2.85 goals-per-game is the ninth-fewest in the NHL while their 3.31 goals-against per-game is the sixth-highest in the league.

Lemieux, 22, posted nine goals and 11 points in 44 games with the Jets this season and Bergman, tallied six points (all assists) and a -9 rating in 33 games with the AHL’s Belleville Senators.

Grade: B

Devils

Place In The Division: 8th with 56 points

Remaining Games Against the Capitals: 2 (3/8 at WSH, 3/19 at NJ); Capitals are 1-1-0 against the Devils this season

Trades: sent G Keith Kinkaid to the Blue Jackets in exchange for a 2022 fifth round pick. Sent F Marcus Johansson to Boston Bruins in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 fourth-round pick. Sent D Ben Lovejoy to Stars in exchange for D Connor Carrick and a third-round pick in 2019

Former-Capital Carrick, 24, posted one goal, four points, and a -7 rating in 14 games with the Stars after getting acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this season after setting career-highs with four goals and 12 points in 47 games with the Maple Leafs last season. Carrick has never appeared in more than 67 games in a single regular season.

The Devils accumulated draft picks and the return for Johansson was similar to what they had to give up to the Capitals to get him when they gave Washington second and third-round picks for the Swede on July 2, 2017. Unfortunately, they were only able to get one extra pick in the first two rounds of the draft.

Their average of 2.92 goals-per-game is tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for 16th in the league while their average of 3.39 goals-against per game is the third-most in the NHL. With the Devils 16 points behind the Hurricanes for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, it’s hard to see them making the Stanley Cup Playoffs after qualifying for the first time in six years last season.

Grade: C

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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5 Responses to A Look At The New Metropolitan Division: Trade Deadline Report Cards

  1. Pingback: Capitals’ Game Day Skate: The Calm Before The Storm | NoVa Caps

  2. Pingback: Washington Capitals’ Game Day Skate: The Calm Before The Storm | NoVa Caps

  3. Jeremy Hafner says:

    I feel like the Rangers deserve a higher grade.

    Like

  4. Pingback: A Look At The Eastern Conference Playoff Picture | NoVa Caps

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