Grading Each East Division Team’s Trade Deadline

Photo: Detroit News

The top four teams in East Division made major upgrades while the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils were big sellers and others like the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers were relatively quiet. NoVa Caps reviews what each team did at the NHL Trade Deadline, which was this past Monday.

Buffalo Sabres

Added: F Anders Bjork, Boston Bruins’ 2021 second-round pick, Florida Panthers’ 2021 third-round pick, Montreal Canadiens’ 2021 third and fifth-round picks

Traded: F Taylor Hall, C Eric Staal, F Curtis Lazar, D Brandon Montour

Current standing: 10-25-7 (last)

Stretch Run Outlook: The Sabres were major sellers at the deadline and did a good job of getting a lot of high picks but they were unable to get a first round pick despite trading Taylor Hall.

Bjork, 24, has recorded two goals, five points, a -8 rating, a 50.65% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 49.01% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 51.79% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 30 games with the Bruins this season. He had a nice season in 2019-20, when he set career-highs in goals (nine), assists (10), points (19), and plus-minus (+5) in 58 games. He should be a nice addition to the Sabres’ middle-six forward group but will not have a major impact.

As the Sabres cleared the house, they sold off many of their pending unrestricted free agents and got some high picks.

Grade: B

New Jersey Devils

Added: Edmonton Oilers’ 2021 conditional fourth-round pick, D Jonas Siegenthaler, F A.J. Greer, F Mason Jobst, New York Islanders’ 2021 first-round pick, Islanders’ 2022 fourth-round pick

Traded: D Dmitry Kulikov, Arizona Coyotes’ 2021 conditional third-round pick, C Travis Zajac, F Kyle Palmieri

Lost on Waivers: D Sami Vatanen

Current standing: 14-21-6, seventh

Stretch Run Outlook: The Devils made one of the biggest deals of the trade deadline in trading Palmieri (along with Zajac) to the New York Islanders and they got a nice return with a first-round pick in addition to two prospects in Jobst, who has two assists and a -3 rating in seven AHL games this season, and Greer, who has one goal, three points and a -13 rating in 11 AHL games.

The team also acquired Siegenthaler, who has a -3 rating, a 46.21% Corsi-for percentage, a 45.66% expected goals-for percentage, and a 44.23% scoring chances-for percentage in seven games with the Washington Capitals this season, for a conditional third-round pick to add some additional defensive depth.

The Devils moved Kulikov to the Oilers for a conditional fourth-round pick, which could upgrade to a third if the Oilers win a round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Devils were able to net a nice return for Palmieri, add a solid young penalty-killing defenseman in Siegenthaler, and got an admirable amount for Kulikov. Overall, it was a solid trade deadline in New Jersey.

Grade: A

Philadelphia Flyers

Added: Vegas Golden Knights’ 2021 fifth-round pick (from Washington), St. Louis Blues’ 2022 seventh-round pick (from Montreal)

Traded: F Michael Raffl, D Erik Gustafsson

Current standing: 19-17-5, tied for sixth

Stretch Run Outlook: Despite being only four points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the East Division, the Flyers seemed resigned to making small moves as sellers as the trade deadline as they dealt Raffl to the Capitals and Gustafsson to the Canadiens.

While the Raffl trade appears fair for both teams, the Flyers got only a seventh-round pick for a defenseman that tallied 60 points as recently as two seasons ago. Gustafsson was in and out of the lineup with the Flyers and played in just 24 games this season but notched a goal, 10 points, and a -2 rating. That should warrant a lot higher of a return than what they got for him.

The Flyers also extended forward Scott Laughton to a five-year contract extension that carries a $3 million cap hit on Monday.

Grade: D

New York Rangers

Added: Los Angeles Kings’ 2021 fourth-round pick

Traded: F Brendan Lemieux

Current standing: 19-16-5, tied for fifth

Stretch Run Outlook: The Rangers, who are currently four points behind the Bruins for the final Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the division, did not do much at all at the trade deadline as their only move was trading Lemieux to the Kings for their fourth-round pick this summer after being major sellers the past few trade deadlines.

The 25-year-old posted two goals and seven points in 31 games with the Rangers before recording one assist in four games with the Kings.

Grade: B-

Boston Bruins

Added: Hall, Lazar, D Mike Reilly

Traded: Bjork, 2021 second-round pick, 2022 third-round pick

Current standing: 21-12-6, fourth

Stretch Run Outlook: The Bruins made one of the biggest additions at the deadline when they acquired Hall, who has recorded two goals, 19 points, and a -20 rating in 38 games this season, from the Sabres. Considering the haul that the Devils got from the Coyotes for Hall, the Bruins seemed to get him for a bargain. The 29-year-old, who won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2018, will certainly help a Bruins’ offense that has had 51 of their 108 goals (47.22%) this season from their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak.

They also acquired Lazar, who has five goals, nine points, and a -5 rating in 34 games this season, as part of the trade that lured Hall to Boston and Reilly, who has recorded 19 assists, a -3 rating, a 52.19% Corsi-for percentage, a 51.33% expected goals-for percentage, and a 52.19% scoring chances-for percentage, from the Ottawa Senators in a low-risk deal that saw a third-round pick head to the Canadian capital. The acquisition is big for a young Bruins’ defense that has seen Brandon Carlo miss time this season and is still lacking for experience after Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara left in free agency.

Grade: A

Pittsburgh Penguins

Added: C Jeff Carter

Traded: 2022 conditional third-round pick, 2023 conditional fourth-round pick

Current standing: 27-13-2, third

Stretch Run Outlook: Under first year GM Ron Hextall, the Penguins took a very different approach to the trade deadline this season compared to what we are used to seeing in the Steel City around this time of year under former GM Jim Rutherford, who resigned from the position on January 27.

Instead of going all-in on a big-time player, Hextall took a lower-risk approach by acquiring Carter, 36, from the Kings for two conditional picks.

The third-round pick can be upgraded to a second-round pick if the Penguins reach the 2021 Stanley Cup Final and if Carter, who has eight goals, 19 points, and a -8 rating in 40 games this season, plays in at least 50% of the games. The 2023 fourth-round pick can be upgraded to a third-round pick if Carter plays in at least 50 games during the 2021-22 season.  The Kings retained half of Carter’s $5.3 million salary.

The Penguins took a flier on Carter to add to their center depth behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and it did not cost them that much. Still, the other top teams in the East picked up much bigger pieces.

Grade: B-

New York Islanders

Added: Palmieri, Zajac, D Braydon Coburn

Traded: Jobst, Greer, 2022 seventh-round pick, 2021 first-round pick, conditional 2022 fourth-round pick

Current standing: 27-11-4, second

Stretch Run Outlook: The Islanders brought in one of the best available on the market in Palmieri, who has recorded nine goals, 18 points, and a -4 rating in 37 games this season, for relatively a relatively cheap price to improve their offense which averages 2.88 per game, after captain Anders Lee tore his ACL and the team announced he would be done for the season.

As part of the deal with the Devils, the Islanders also brought in Zajac, who has posted seven goals, 18 points, and an even rating in 36 games this season.

In a separate trade, the Islanders acquired Coburn, who has recorded two assists, a -3 rating, a 45.23% Corsi-for percentage, a 46.22% expected goals-for percentage, and a 44.57% scoring chances-for percentage, from the Ottawa Senators for just a seventh-round pick to make their defense (which yields an average of 2.31, tied for second with the Colorado Avalanche) deeper at almost no risk.

Grade: A

Washington Capitals

Added: F Anthony Mantha, F Michael Raffl, Coyotes’ 2021 third-round pick

Traded: Siegenthaler, F Jakub Vrana, F Richard Panik, 2021 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, Golden Knights’ 2021 fifth-round pick

Current standing: 28-11-4 (first)

Stretch Run Outlook: The Capitals made arguably the biggest deal of the trade deadline when they sent Vrana, Panik, and two picks to the Detroit Red Wings for Mantha, who has 12 goals, 23 points, and a -14 rating in 43 games this season and recorded one goal and two points in his Capitals’ debut in a 6-1 rout of the Flyers on Tuesday.

Replacing Vrana, who is set to become a restricted free agent after this season, with Mantha, who has three years remaining on his $5.7 million contract, does provide the Capitals with some salary cap certainty as they look to re-sign Captain Alex Ovechkin and pending RFA Ilya Samsonov over the summer.

The Capitals may have overpaid by sending Vrana (a first-round pick in 2014) in addition to a first-round pick. It is understandable that they had to give up a second-round pick for the Red Wings to eat Panik’s $2.75 million cap hit for the next two-plus seasons. While Mantha is a solid top-six forward, it is debatable that he is enough of an upgrade over Vrana to merit a first-round pick. Though, it is clear Vrana needed a change of scenery. GM Brian MacLellan argued that with there is less certainty to the value of a first-round pick this year due to shortened seasons and less ability to travel and scout.

The Capitals also acquired Raffl, who has three goals, eight points, and a -5 rating in 34 games with the Flyers this season, for extra forward depth and an option to play at center after Lars Eller missed seven games with a lower-body injury in March, Evgeny Kuznetsov missed eight due to COVID-19 protocol early on in the season, and Nicklas Backstrom missed three games of the Capitals’ five-game series loss to the Islanders in the first round last season. The Capitals played Panik and forward T.J. Oshie at center when one was missing this season.

To clear cap space to accommodate Mantha, the Capitals dealt Siegenthaler to the Devils for a third-round pick, which was understandable with three left-handed defensemen ahead of him on the depth chart and prospects Martin Fehervary and Alexander Alexeyev in the pipeline looking for their first taste of the NHL soon.

Mantha’s play in his first game for the Capitals seemed to bring some energy to the team, so the move could turn out to be brilliant if the Capitals make a deep run in the postseason, but for now the price looks to have been pretty steep.

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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