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The 2019 NHL Trade Deadline saw some big names switch places as contenders loaded up for Stanley Cup runs. While some moves paid big dividends, others turned out to be a bust. NoVa Caps reviews the best acquisitions at this past year’s trade deadline. Interestingly, the team that won it all — the St. Louis Blues — stayed pat at the deadline, not making any moves at all.
Mark Stone – Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights picked up arguably the best player available in Stone after they lost six of their seven games (1-5-1) leading up to the deadline. They sent defensive prospect Erik Branstrom, forward Oscar Lindberg, and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to the Ottawa Senators to acquire the 27-year old forward. Shortly after the trade was announced, the Golden Knights inked Stone to an eight-year contract that carries a cap hit of $9.5 million. He could have become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
The acquisition paid off for the Golden Knights as they won six straight and went 10-1-1 in their next 12 games with Stone being a big part of that. He recorded five goals, 11 points, and a +4 rating in 18 games to close out the regular season in Vegas.
Stone was even better in the team’s seven-game loss to the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs as he led the NHL with an average of 1.71 points-per-game. He ended the series with six goals, 12 points, and a +2 rating. That should have been enough to power his team to the second round, but a defensive meltdown after a blown call by the referees in Game 7 that gave the Sharks a five-minute power-play resulted in an early exit. The Sharks scored four goals on that third-period man advantage and went on to take the game 5-4 in overtime.
Stone ended the season in second-place on the Selke Trophy ballot as the league’s best defensive forward. He finished 2018-19 with 33 goals, 73 points, and a +17 rating, a pretty impressive plus-minus for someone who played on the worst team in the NHL for most of the year. The fact that Vegas did not have to part with a first-round pick in the trade and signed Stone to a long-term extension makes him this year’s top acquisition at the deadline.
Mats Zuccarello – Dallas Stars
The Stars acquired Zuccarello, one of the top forwards available, from the New York Rangers in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in an effort to bolster their top-six forward group. Zuccarello was set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season ended.
The 31-year old posted a goal, two points, and a +3 rating in his Stars debut against the Chicago Blackhawks on February 24 before suffering an upper-body injury, which would cause him to miss 19 of the team’s final 20 games. He recorded an assist in the lone game he played after he got injured.
Zuccarello returned for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff run and posted three goals in his first four games of the tournament. He also had points in six of the seven games in the Stars’ seven-game series loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues, including a goal in Game 7. Zuccarello finished the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with four goals, 11 points (tied for the team lead with center Tyler Seguin), and a +2 rating in 13 games.
Unfortunately for the Stars, Zuccarello and the team could not reach an agreement on a contract extension after the season and he signed a five-year, $30 million ($6 million AAV) with the division rival Minnesota Wild on July 1. That was a shame for the Stars as Zuccarello was one of, if not their best player after the trade. Zuccarello finished the regular season with 12 goals, 40 points, and a -8 rating in 48 games.
Matt Duchene – Columbus Blue Jackets
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen faced a major dilemma at the trade deadline: forward Artemi Panarin, the team’s leading goal scorer, and Sergei Bobrovsky, their No. 1 goaltender, were set to become unrestricted free agents after the season and it appeared that neither one of them wanted to stay. The Blue Jackets could get great value by trading the duo, or they could load up for a Stanley Cup run. In the end, Kekalainen decided to go all-in, making four trades in a flurry of activity before the deadline. The biggest of those acquisitions was bringing in center Matt Duchene (along with forward prospect Julius Bergman) from the Senators in exchange for forward prospects Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson along with a 2019 first-round pick.
The addition gave Columbus a bonafide top-line center, something they were lacking since they traded Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Seth Jones on January 6, 2016. Duchene, 28, posted four goals, 12 points, and a -1 rating in 23 games with the Blue Jackets to finish off the regular season.
Duchene went on to add five goals (which tied Panarin for the team lead), 10 points, and a +4 rating in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games and helped the Blue Jackets win their first series since the franchise entered the NHL in 2000. The team swept the Presidents’ Trophy winners in the highly-favored Tampa Bay Lightning, who tied an NHL record with 62 wins during the regular season, in the first round. Duchene pitched in three goals and seven points in the series.
Duchene became an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and signed a seven-year contract worth $56 million ($8 million AAV) with the Predators. He finished the season with 31 goals, 70 points, and a -3 rating in 73 games.
Charlie Coyle – Boston Bruins
The Bruins acquired Coyle from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Ryan Donato and a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft to bolster their bottom-six forward group. Coyle has one season left on his contract, which carries a cap hit of $3.2 million, and he can become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
The conclusion of the regular season did not go the way that Coyle, 27, had planned as he went scoreless in his first seven games as a Bruin and finished the regular season with only two goals, six points, and a -2 rating in 21 games.
However, this script would flip completely when the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs arrived. The East Weymouth, Massachusetts, native was one of the team’s biggest heroes en route to an appearance in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final as he tied the team lead with nine goals. He posted 16 points and a +8 rating in 24 playoff games while finding chemistry with his linemates, forwards Marcus Johansson, who was acquired from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 fourth-round pick at the trade deadline, and Danton Heinen.
Unfortunately for Coyle and the Bruins, they would fall short of their ultimate goal, losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final. Despite giving up a talented young player in Donato, the move was ultimately a big factor in Boston’s pursuit of the Stanley Cup. Coyle finished the 2018-19 regular season with 12 goals, 34 points, and a -1 rating.
By Harrison Brown