Photo: Detroit News
With trade buzz around the NHL ahead of the draft in Vancouver heating up, it was surprising that Friday’s Round 1 of the draft did not feature any major moves. That changed early Saturday before the second day of the draft even got underway, as three major trades — including two involving Metropolitan Division teams — went down around the League. NoVa Caps examines each of the trades that were made on NHL Draft Saturday.
Carolina Hurricanes Acquire F Patrick Marleau, Conditional First-Round Pick, 2020 Seventh-Round Pick From Toronto Maple Leafs In Exchange For 2020 Sixth-Round Pick
The Maple Leafs freed up some much-needed cap space by moving Marleau’s $6.25 million cap hit for next season off of the books. Toronto has some key restricted free agents (RFAs) to sign, most notably forward Mitch Marner, who led the team with 68 assists and 94 points. He finished with the 11th-most points and the fourth-most assists in the NHL this past season. Marner is expected to get an average annual value in the $11 million range. Other RFAs include forwards Kasperi Kapanen, who recorded 20 goals and 44 points in 78 games last season, and Andreas Johnsson, who posted 20 goals and 43 points in 73 games in 2018-19. The trade leaves the Maple Leafs with $13,540,301 in cap space, according to CapFriendly. They will likely need to make another trade to free up more cap space to bring back both Kapanen and Johnsson. Forward William Nylander, forward Connor Brown, and defenseman Nikita Zaitsev are among those who are rumored to be on the trade block for Toronto.
If Marleau plays, the Hurricanes will add some veteran experience, which could make up for the potential loss of captain Justin Williams, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is pondering retirement. It was reported that Marleau will likely be bought out in the next few days. Even with Marleau’s lucrative contract on the books, the Hurricanes still have $21,011,667 in cap space and picked up a first-round pick in the process.
While the Maple Leafs were able to get cap space in the deal, they gave up a 16-goal, 37-point scorer along with a first-round and seventh-round pick for only a sixth-round pick. Marleau is getting older but Toronto paid a lot to unload the contract.
Under the terms of trade, Carolina gets the first round pick in the 2020 draft unless it is a top-10 pick, in which case Toronto keeps the pick and Carolina gets the Maple Leafs’ first-round pick in 2021.
New Jersey Devils Acquire D P.K. Subban From Nashville Predators In Exchange For D Steven Santini, 2019 Second-Round Pick (Used On F Egor Afanasayev), 2020 Second-Round Pick
The move allows the Devils to bolster their defense, which allowed an average of 3.30 goals-per-game this past season (sixth-highest in the NHL), by acquiring a No. 1 defenseman. Subban can also produce a lot of offense after New Jersey’s defensive corps combined for just 138 points last season. The Devils also add firepower to their power-play, which was 21st in the league with an efficiency of 17.7% in 2018-19.. After five consecutive seasons with at least 40 points (and 50 points in four of those), Subban’s production dropped to just nine goals, 31 points, and a +5 rating in 63 games this past season.
New Jersey also took a big step towards convincing forward Taylor Hall, who can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, to stay when they selected center Jack Hughes with the first overall pick in the draft. Subban, Hughes, and a healthy Hall, who played in just 33 games this past season, should be enough to put New Jersey in contention to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs next season.
The Predators free up cap space by unloading Subban’s $9 million AAV contract and have $13,191,668 to re-sign center Colton Sissons (RFA), forward Rocco Grimaldi (RFA), and possibly center Brian Boyle (UFA). With money to spend, they are expected to be one of the league’s busiest teams in trades and free agency in the next couple weeks. They are reportedly interested in signing center Matt Duchene, who posted 31 goals, 70 points, and a -3 rating in 73 games with the Ottawa Senators and the Columbus Blue Jackets last season. Nashville has rookie Dante Fabbro in the queue to fill out their Top-6 defensemen. Fabbro, who recorded an assist and a +2 rating in six Stanley Cup Playoff games after posting a goal and a -1 rating in four regular-season games, is likely to pair with Mattias Ekholm on the second defensive-pair.
Santini, 24, posted a goal, four points, and a -6 rating in 39 games this past season. In 114 career NHL games (all with the Devils), he has five goals, 24 points, and a -10 rating. Afanasayev, 18, recorded 27 goals, 62 points, and a +24 rating in 58 regular-season games and two goals, six points, and a -1 rating in six playoff games with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks this past season. He is described as “a big, powerful winger with a monster shot from the circles” and has good vision and is hard to handle, McKeen Hockey said.
While the Predators have an internal replacement for Subban, they did not get much value for a top-10 NHL defenseman. We will have to see what they do with that extra $9 million in cap space before giving a grade. While Subban’s contract is expensive, New Jersey has plenty of cap space, making this is a steal of a trade.
Vancouver Canucks Acquire F J.T. Miller From Tampa Bay Lightning For Conditional 2020 First-Round Pick, G Marek Mazanec, 2019 Third-Round Pick (Used On G Hugo Alnefelt)
The Canucks added offensive depth by acquiring Miller, who posted 13 goals, 47 points, and a +8 rating in 75 games this past season after scoring at least 20 goals in each of the past three seasons. Vancouver finished the 2018-19 season with an average of only 2.67 goals-per-game (sixth-worst in the NHL).
The Canucks might have overpaid, as a 47-point scorer is usually not worth a first-round pick, let alone more, though Miller has posted at least 43 points in four straight seasons and he is only 26 years of age. In two of those seasons, he eclipsed the 50-point plateau. Miller is also defensively responsible as he has recorded a plus-minus rating of at least +8 in three of the past four seasons. He also has plenty of experience, with 61 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and two Eastern Conference Final appearances under his belt.
The Lightning cleared $5,250,000 by trading Miller to re-sign center Brayden Point, a restricted free agent. Point, 23, posted 41 goals, 92 points, and a +27 rating this past season after scoring 32 goals in 2017-18. They have $10,626,669 remaining in cap space as defensemen Anton Stralman, who posted a +12 rating in 47 regular-season games during 2018-19, and Dan Girardi, who recorded a +6 rating in 62 regular-season games this past year, can become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
Mazanec, 27, posted a 3-5-0 record with a save percentage of .874 and a goals-against average of 2.99 in 10 games with the AHL’s Utica Comets in 2018-19. In 31 career NHL games (all with the Predators), he is 8-13-4 with a save percentage of .895, a goals-against average of 2.98, and two shutouts.
Alnefelt, 18, was ranked second among European goalies by NHL Central Scouting. In 24 games with HV71 of the SuperElite league, he posted a save percentage of .905 and a goals-against average of 2.59. In five games representing Sweden at the IIHF World Junior Championships last Winter, Alnefelt recorded a save percentage of .921 and a goals-against average of 2.75.
The Canucks overpaid for a middle-six forward while the Lightning were able to get a first-round pick and more in a trade that was meant to dump salary.
By Harrison Brown