In an odd 2019-20 NHL season, some teams were able to make steals of trades that helped them go a long way. While they were not huge names being dealt, these players found a way to break out with their new teams. NoVa Caps takes a look at the biggest trade acquisitions of last season.
The Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning made two deals that had big impacts for them during their run in forwards Blake Coleman (acquired from New Jersey Devils) and Barclay Goodrow (acquired from San Jose Sharks) but neither made this list, though Coleman came close.
Chandler Stephenson – Vegas Golden Knights
Trade: acquired from Washington Capitals in exchange for 2021 fifth-round pick
With the Capitals needing to clear cap space to active forward Carl Hagelin from long-term injured reserve, Stephenson was the odd man out after a disappointing 2018-19 season where he was a team-worst -13 rating and. With his $1.05 million cap hit, it was clear that he had to be the one to go.
After the trade, the 26-year-old recorded eight goals, 22 points, and a +19 rating in 41 games, all of which are better than his career-highs in Washington. He also had a 54.34% Corsi-for percentage (59th in the NHL) and a 56.18% expected goals-for percentage (39th). With the Golden Knights, those numbers jumped to a 57.47% Corsi-for percentage and a 59.42% expected goals-for percentage. Stephenson added three goals and five points and had a +2 rating in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games during the Golden Knights’ run to the Western Conference Final.
He worked his way up to the top-six with the Golden Knights and Stephenson, forward Mark Stone, and forward Max Pacioretty put up a 69.3% expected goals-for percentage when together, the third-best by a line in the NHL.
Stephenson signed a four-year contract that carries a $2.75 million cap hit when he became a restricted free agent after the season.
Tyler Toffoli – Vancouver Canucks
Trade: acquired from Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forward Tim Schaller, rights to forward Tyler Madden, and a 2020 second-round pick
With Toffoli set to become an unrestricted free agent and the Kings near the bottom of the Western Conference, the Kings dealt him to the Canucks to avoid losing him for nothing in free agency.
The 28-year-old led the Canucks with six goals in the final 10 regular-season games after the trade and was tied with defenseman Alexander Edler for second on the team with 10 points. Toffoli finished the season with a 56.46% Corsi-for percentage (21st) and a 56.47% expected goals-percentage (37th), though his stats in both categories dragged down after the trade. He still recorded a respectable 51.78% Corsi-for percentage and a 52.83% expected goals-for percentage with the Canucks.
Toffoli added two goals, four points, and a -4 rating in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Canucks, who fell to the Golden Knights in Game 7 of the second round.
While Toffoli fit in well with the Canucks, the two sides were unable to agree to a contract extension before he hit unrestricted free agency after the season. He signed a four-year contract that carries a $4.25 million cap hit with the Montreal Canadiens on October 13.
John Marino – Pittsburgh Penguins
Trade: acquired from Edmonton Oilers in exchange for 2021 sixth-round pick
In what appeared to be a minor trade in July 2019, the 23-year-old had an opportunity with the Penguins in need of defense after they traded Olli Maatta the month before and injuries hobbled the team had throughout the season.
Marino turned out to be one of the best rookies of the season, posting six goals, 26 points, and a +17 rating in 56 games in 2019-20 while averaging 20:15 worth of ice-time per game (fifth on the Penguins), ahead of center Evgeni Malkin. He even averaged 0:45 per game on a talented Penguins’ power-play and 2:02 per game (sixth) while shorthanded.
His 77 blocked shots ranked fourth on the Penguins while his 72 hits were 12th and his 37 takeaways were third. Though, Marino’s 42 giveaways were the third-most on the Penguins. Marino also had a 50.13% Corsi-for percentage and a 54.48% expected goals-for percentage last season (100th).
Marino posted one assist and a -1 rating in four games for the Penguins during the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, where they lost in four games to the Montreal Canadiens. He has one year left on his contract, which carries a $925,000 cap hit.
JT Miller – Canucks
Trade: acquired from Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for goaltender Marek Mazanec, 2019 third-round pick, 2020 first-round pick
With the Lightning needing to clear cap space to re-sign center Brayden Point, a pending restricted free agent, the Canucks pounced on the opportunity to acquire Miller and the move paid off last season.
While primarily playing on the top line with center Elias Pettersson, the 27-year-old shattered his previous career-highs as he averaged over a point-per-game with the Canucks, recording 27 goals, 72 points, and a +11 rating in 69 games in 2019-20. Miller recorded a 53.79% Corsi-for percentage (77th) and a 52.77% expected goals-for percentage (173rd) in his first season with the Canucks.
He added six goals, 18 points, and a +3 rating in 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Robin Lehner – Golden Knights
Trade: acquired from Chicago Blackhawks via Toronto Maple Leafs that sent goaltender Malcolm Subban, defenseman Stanislav Demin, 2020 second-round pick to Blackhawks; a fifth-round pick to Maple Leafs to retain $2,500,000; and forward Martins Dzierkals to Golden Knights
With Marc-Andre Fleury in the midst of his worst season in the NHL since his second year and him starting 44 of the Golden Knights’ 64 games to date because of the team’s lack of goaltending depth behind him, the team acquired Lehner to help ease his workload down the stretch. The Golden Knights stressed that Fleury was still the No. 1 but it was not that way when the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs came around.
After the 28-year-old went 3-0-0 with a .940 save percentage, a 1.67 goals-against average, and one shutout in the regular season with the Golden Knights before the regular-season was done, Lehner grabbed the No. 1 job in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as he started 16 of the Golden Knights’ 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He went 9-7 with a .917 save percentage, a 1.99 goals-against average, and four shutouts in the postseason, including a Game 7 shutout against the Canucks.
At five-on-five, Lehner posted a .924 save percentage, a 1.74 goals-against average, a -0.45 goals-saved above average, a .800 high-danger save percentage, a 1.34 high-danger goals-against average, and a -2.54 high-danger goals-saved above average in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After Lehner earned the No. 1 job in Vegas, the Golden Knights signed Lehner to a five-year contract that carries a $5 million cap hit and stated that they view him as the starter this season.
By Harrison Brown