Photo: Yahoo News
In recent years, teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins have routinely given up top prospects and high draft picks to go “all in” for the Stanley Cup and have had some success in doing that. While the conventional wisdom has favored retaining top prospects and high picks as part of a long-term plan, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh have won Cups by ignoring that strategy. NoVa Caps examines the prospects and draft picks dealt by the past five Stanley Cup Champions the season that they won to see if there is a trend.
Picks And Prospects Parted With: Penguins’ 2017 Fourth-Round Pick, Penguins’ 2018 Fourth-Round Pick, Penguins’ 2017 second-round pick
Acquired: LHD Mark Streit, RHD Frank Corrado, LHD Ron Hainsey
The Penguins went 16-9 in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs where they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games in Round 1, Washington Capitals in seven in Round 2, Ottawa Senators in seven in the Eastern Conference Final, and Nashville Predators in six in the Stanley Cup Final.
Streit earned one goal, six points, and a -2 rating in 19 games after getting acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers and appeared in just three Stanley Cup Playoff games and Corrado posted a -2 rating in seven games with the Penguins over two seasons, were depth pieces. Hainsey tallied three assists and a +8 rating in 16 regular-season games and two goals, eight points, and a +5 rating in 25 games during the Penguins’ run to the Cup. All three players would not return to the Penguins the following season, leaving in free agency.
The Penguins did not mortgage much of their future to add defensive depth, though giving up a second-round pick for Hainsey may have been a bit steep. The pick was ultimately used by the Vegas Golden Knights on center Jake Leschyshyn, who tallied 17 goals and 40 points in 47 games with the WHL’s Regina Pats in the 2016-17 season and six goals and 11 points in 39 games with the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights this past year.
The 2017 fourth-round pick was spent on left wing Vladislav Kara, who posted 11 goals and 20 points in 31 MHL games and three goals and eight points in 34 VHL games in his draft season, by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He recorded one goal and three points in 23 KHL games and two goals and five points in 17 VHL games this past season.
The other fourth-round pick that the Penguins parted with was used on Paul Cotter by the Golden Knights, who recorded 18 goals and 39 points in 51 games with the USHL’s Lincoln Stars in the season prior to his draft and five goals and 16 points in 38 games with the Silver Knights in 2020-21.
Picks And Prospects Parted With: Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2018 Third-Round Pick, Capitals’ 2019 Fifth-Round Pick, Capitals’ 2018 Fifth-Round Pick
Acquired: LHD Michal Kempny, LHD Jakub Jerabek, C Ty Graovac
Washington bounced the Blue Jackets in six during the first round, Penguins in six in the second, Tampa Bay Lightning in seven to capture the Eastern Conference Championship, and the Golden Knights in five to win the Stanley Cup for the first time. Graovac played just five games for the Capitals and did not play after November 30 the season that they hoisted Lord Stanley.
Of the three players acquired, Kempny, who tallied two goals, three points, and a +1 rating in 22 regular-season games after the trade and two goals, five points, and a +1 rating in 24 postseason games, is the only one still with the team as he signed a four-year contract extension after the season while the other two moved on. Jerabek, who tallied one goal, four points, and a -1 rating in 11 regular-season games, appeared in the team’s first two postseason games but never saw the ice again for the Capitals.
The pick that was originally the Maple Leafs’ was dealt to the San Jose Sharks, who spent it on center Linus Karlsson, who posted 27 goals, 52 points, and a +11 rating in 42 games in the Allsvenskan league in Sweden in 2017-18 and 20 goals, 51 points, and a +26 rating in 52 games in the same league this past season.
The first fifth-round the Capitals gave up was used by the Minnesota Wild, who selected center Damien Giroux, who tallied 19 goals and 43 points in 68 games with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit in 2017-18 and seven goals and 19 points in 34 games with the AHL’s Iowa Wild this past year.
The other fifth-round pick was spent on center Matvey Guskov, who racked up 14 goals and 32 points in 25 games with Russia’s U-17 league in 2017-18 and five goals and 10 points in 14 MHL games in 2020-21, by the Wild.
2019 St. Louis Blues
Picks And Prospects Parted With: 2019 sixth-round pick, 2020 sixth-round pick, 2021 second-round pick, and a 2019 first-round pick
Acquired: Jerabek, LHD Michael Del Zotto, C Ryan O’Reilly
The Blues defeated the Winnipeg Jets in six games in the first round, Dallas Stars in seven in the second, Sharks in six during the Western Conference Final, and Boston Bruins in seven to get to the Cup.
O’Reilly had four years left on his contract after the Blues captured the Cup for the first time and is the captain of the franchise. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as tournament MVP in 2019 where he recorded eight goals and 23 points in 26 games. O’Reilly earned 24 goals and 54 points in 56 games this season. Del Zotto tallied three assists and a -2 rating in seven games to finish off the regular season with the Blues after getting acquired from the Ducks but did not play a single game during their run. Jerabek played in just one game for the Blues.
Defenseman Ryan Johnson, who recorded six points, 25 points, and a +24 rating in 54 games with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede in 2017-18 and two goals, 14 points, and a +15 rating in 27 games at the University of Minnesota this season, was picked in the first round by the Buffalo Sabres. He represented the United States at the 2020 World Junior Championships.
The 2019 sixth-rounder was used by the Anaheim Ducks to select defenseman Mathew Hill, who put up two goals, 13 points, and a +7 rating in 65 games with the OHL’s Barrie Colts in 2018-19 and two goals and five points in three Denmark Under-20 league games this past year.
The other sixth-round pick was used by the Ottawa Senators to take left wing Cole Reinhardt, who posted 22 goals and 45 points in 67 WHL games in 2018-19 and six goals and 12 points in 33 AHL games with the Belleville Senators this past season.
It has yet to be seen how the second-round pick, which currently belongs to the Los Angeles Kings, will be spent.
Picks And Prospects Parted With: 2020 first-round pick, Vancouver Canucks’ 2020 first-round pick, LW Nolan Foote, 2020 fifth-round pick
Acquired: C Blake Coleman, C Barclay Goodrow
The Lightning beat the Blue Jackets in the first round (five games), Bruins in the second (five), New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference Final (six), and Stars in the Stanley Cup Final (six).
Coleman tallied one assist in nine regular-season games after the trade but earned five goals and 13 points in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2020. He stayed with the Lightning for one more season and can become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Goodrow, who could also hit the open market later this month, tallied two assists in eight regular-season games with the Lightning and one goal and six points in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2020.
The New Jersey Devils used the 20th overall pick, originally the Canucks’, to take defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin, who tallied one assist and a -1 rating in 27 games with the KHL’s Salavat Yulaev Ufa and two goals, 10 points, and a +13 rating in 13 MHL games in 2019-20. This past season, Mukhamadullin recorded three goals, 10 points, and a -2 rating in 39 KHL games. He has represented Russia at the Under-20 World Juniors in each of the past two tournaments and participated in the IIHF World Championships this past May.
The Sharks spent the 31st selection to pick right wing Ozzy Wiesblatt, who posted seven goals and 28 points in 23 games with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders in 2019-20 before recording two goals and three points in six AHL games this past season.
The fifth-rounder was used by Senators to select left wing Eric Engstrand, who appeared in nine games with the SHL’s Malmo Redhawks in 2019-20 and posted one goal and four points in 45 games this past season.
Foote, the 27th overall pick in 2019, tallied 36 goals and 63 points in 66 WHL games in 2018-19. He posted seven goals and 17 points in 24 AHL games and one goal and two points in six games with the Devils this season.
Picks And Prospects Parted With: G Magnus Chrona, 2021 first-round pick, 2022 third-round pick, 2022 second-round pick
Acquired: LHD Fredrik Claesson, RHD David Savard
The Lightning got past the Florida Panthers in Round One (took six games), Carolina Hurricanes in Round Two (five), Islanders in the Stanley Cup Semifinals (seven), and Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final (five) to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.
The 2021 first-round pick will be 31st overall.
Chrona, the 152nd overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, went 10-5-0 with a .931 save percentage, a 2.13 goals-against average, and two shutouts in 15 J18 Elit games and 5-2-0 with a .954 save percentage, a 1.14 save percentage, and four shutouts in seven J18 Allsvenskan games in his pre-draft season. He went 7-11-0 with a .907 save percentage, a 2.47 goals-against average, and one shutout in 18 games at the University of Denver this past year.
Claesson appeared in just two regular-season games for the Lightning, earning a -1 rating. Savard posted no points and a -8 rating in 14 regular-season games after getting acquired from the Blue Jackets and five assists and an even rating in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Ultimately, the Penguins and Capitals did not spend as much as the Blues and Lightning did the years they won. The Blues and Lightning have spent numerous first-round picks on top of another couple of quality assets but they made them worth spending. The past three Stanley Cup-winning teams have given up at least one first-round pick the year that they won, so perhaps going “all-in” is worth it. At the same time, plenty of teams spend a first-round pick each year and fail to accomplish the ultimate goal. Teams better be sure that they are spending it wisely before they part with theirs for the upcoming draft or their future could look a little dimmer.
By Harrison Brown