NHL Trades Since the End of the Playoffs

The time of the year following the end of the Stanley Cup Final until unrestricted free agency starts on July 1 is one of the busiest times of the year for NHL GMs.  In a normal year, it is the time when teams are able to make their biggest trades in terms of salary, ones that are nearly impossible during the season.  Last offseason, the trades of P.K. Subban for Shea Weber and Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson shook the hockey world.  This offseason, the early portion of the summer is even more chaotic due in large part to the first Expansion Draft in nearly twenty years.  This time around, however, existing teams were forced to make more difficult decisions than before as the league wanted to set Vegas up to be competitive from the start.  The presence of a new team also proved beneficial to some teams in difficult salary cap situations as they were able to move some of their larger contracts to Vegas alongside picks and/or prospects.  For me, this was one of the more memorable starts to an offseason in recent history as a new team was established, some big names and contracts were moved, and Vegas played hardball with the league.  In this post, I want to go through the major trades leading up to, including, and following the Expansion Draft and give my thoughts on each of them.  Some of the players involved I had projected to be moved this offseason but not necessarily for the team they ended up on.

  • Tampa Bay traded F Jonathan Drouin and a Conditional 2018 6th RD Pick to Montreal for D Mikhail Sergachev and a Conditional 2018 2nd RD Pick
    • Conditions: If either player plays in 40 or more games for his new team, his team receives the pick.  If that player does not play in 40 or more games then that pick is not exchanged.
    • Thoughts: I think for the Lightning this trade makes all the sense in the world.  They were unlikely to be able to re-sign Drouin this offseason to a long-term deal.  They also needed serious defense help with Andrej Sustr and Luke Witkowski both needing new deals.  They also lost Jason Garrison in the Expansion Draft leaving them with just three regular defensemen under contract for this upcoming season.  Mikhail Sergachev fits this need almost perfectly because he is cost controllable, having not even spent a year in the NHL yet, is young, and is very talented.  For Montreal, I consider this deal to be a toss-up.  They certainly needed more offense but I thought they were going to try and get that through a center acquisition.  Perhaps the biggest thing for Montreal is that he is from Quebec and speaks French and could become their next French-speaking superstar.
  • Calgary traded G Chad Johnson, D Brandon Hickey, and a 2018 Conditional 3rd RD Pick to Arizona for G Mike Smith
    • Conditions: Pick becomes a 2nd RD Pick if the Flames make the playoffs in 2017
    • Thoughts: The Flames needed a starting goaltender and since they weren’t going to acquire Marc-Andre Fleury and Ben Bishop was already gone, they went with Smith.  Smith is actually a pretty good goaltender when he has a decent team in front of him, which he’ll have in Calgary.  He will also help out their defensemen quite a bit by being active in playing the puck.  He is under contract for this season and next which is perfect timing for the Flames since they have Jon Gillies and Tyler Parsons in the minors.  They also didn’t have to give up much of anything to acquire him.  I’m not certain what incentive Arizona had to move Smith but they do get a potential 2nd RD Pick and a talented defense prospect who is playing in the NCAA.
  • Florida traded F Reilly Smith to Vegas for a 2018 4th RD Pick
    • Thoughts: The payment for Reilly Smith was so little in comparison to how productive he has shown he can be.  Smith has scored at least 20 goals twice and is a very healthy player, playing in 80 or more games each of the past four seasons.  He is also only 26 years old and should be able to live up to his five year, $25 million contract that kicks in this upcoming season.  From what I’ve read, this trade signals a teardown of some of the moves made by the previous front office group when Dale Tallon was in a non-decision making role.  Well, now he is back and I think he wanted to allocate the team’s cap a little better than the previous regime had and giving each of their young players at least 4×4 contracts isn’t smart. Vegas is the recipient of a very talented goalscorer who should be able provide the Golden Knights with offense.  If they decide to further move him, I’m certain that there will be teams interested in acquiring him.
  • Vegas traded D Trevor van Riemsdyk and a 2018 7th RD Pick to Carolina for a 2017 2nd RD Pick
    • Thoughts: Carolina already had one of the best young defense groups in the league before adding TVR.  He is a good two-way defenseman who has played big minutes in his brief career and set a career high in points this past season despite playing in only 58 games.  To me, this means that Carolina is going to be attempting to move at least one of their young defensemen in a trade this offseason for a forward. TVR was probably brought in to be a replacement for whoever they lose in that trade.  This was a smart move by Vegas too as he wasn’t going to fit into their plan moving forward and were able to get a 2nd RD Pick in return.
  • Edmonton traded F Jordan Eberle to the Islanders for F Ryan Strome
    • Thoughts: While I understand that the Oilers wanted to move Eberle’s contract (2 years left with an AAV of $6 million), I don’t think they got enough value in return.  Despite all of Eberle’s struggles in Edmonton, he is still a very productive player in a league that lacks scoring.  He has scoring 25 or more goals three times and has eclipsed 60 points three times and most of those seasons occurred on relatively untalented rosters.  He will likely be playing on John Tavares’ wing in New York, meaning that Tavares will finally have a talented winger for the first time in his career.  There is a good chance that both Tavares and Eberle have career seasons this upcoming season.  Ryan Strome is a good center but isn’t as good as Eberle.  The key for Edmonton is that Strome has a cap hit of just $2.5 million but is only under contract for the upcoming season. That means that there is a chance he will be expecting a raise when this deal expires and that puts Edmonton in another difficult place financially.  The nice thing about Strome is that he can score and provide offense but that he is also a center, which will provide the Oilers with depth down the middle as well as protection if they move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this offseason.
    • In my trades post, I had projected that Eberle was going to be moved and even had the Islanders as a potential landing spot.  I thought, though, that Travis Hamonic was going to be going back. I ultimately overvalued Eberle and thought that the Oilers were going to be getting more value in return. and
  • Chicago traded D Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona for F Laurent Dauphin and D Connor Murphy
    • Thoughts: This was the first trade that shook the hockey world on draft day.  Chicago needed to move some salary this offseason in order to be cap compliant and Hjalmarsson became the victim of that.  The problem is that he is a top two defenseman on most competitive teams and at worst a top four.  For Arizona, he will be part of a very good defense pairing alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson.  His contract also isn’t that egregious with just a $4.1 million cap hit for this season and next.  There are Blackhawks players with much worse contracts.  The problem for Chicago is that there is almost no way that they could afford to re-sign Hjalmarsson after next season.  In return, they get a good bottom three defenseman in Murphy who is under contract for five seasons with a manageable $3.85 million cap hit.  That is the key for Chicago.  They also get a good young forward in Dauphin, which will help give them scoring depth.  The problem I see in this is that Chicago is still considerably worse than they were before this trade. Hjalmarsson was their only true shutdown defender and he is going to need to be replaced somehow.  For Arizona, I think this signals that they are going to try and be competitive this season and are starting to create a competitive roster.
  • Chicago traded F Brandon Saad, G Anton Forsberg, and a 2018 5th RD Pick to Columbus for F Artemi Panarin, F Tyler Motte, and a 2017 6th RD Pick
    • Thoughts: When it was rumored that Chicago was going to be trading one of their big contracts, I didn’t think it would be Panarin. He was their best goalscorer each of the past two seasons, scoring at least 30 each season.  He also had amazing chemistry with Patrick Kane and Artemi Anisimov, which is something that isn’t necessarily able to be duplicated.  Columbus needed more offense and they certainly get it.  The Metro Division has already gotten significantly better this offseason with this and the Eberle trades and I’m certain it will continue to improve throughout the offseason.  Although Chicago is losing Panarin they are getting Brandon Saad back,  who started his career in Chicago and won two Stanley Cups with them.  They key to this move for the Blackhawks is that Saad is under contract for four more seasons while Panarin is for just two.  That buys the Blackhawks some time to figure out their long-term financial plan.  This trade also solved their hole at the backup goaltender position after they traded Scott Darling earlier this offseason.  The problem I see in this trade is that Chicago is still losing Panarin’s production.  Saad is a very good hockey player but isn’t an elite goalscorer but rather a quality two-way forward.  He will be used to play Marian Hossa’s role now that Hossa is likely to retire.
  • The New York Rangers traded F Derek Stepan and G Antti Raanta to Arizona for D Anthony DeAngelo and a 2017 1st RD Pick (7th Overall)
    • Thoughts: The Rangers apparently desperately wanted to move some salary this offseason in order to likely attempt to sign Kevin Shattenkirk this offseason.  They did that by trading Stepan and his $6.5 million cap hit that runs through the 2020-21 season  That seems like a high salary unless you believe that he is a first line center, which he was in New York and certainly will be in Arizona. Stepan will be the best center the Coyotes have had in a long time and will elevate the players around him.  Arizona also gets Antti Raanta in this trade and he is expected to be their starting goaltender this upcoming season.  He was very good in a backup role with the Rangers and has been very good throughout his NHL career and will finally get the opportunity to start.  The price for these two players wasn’t even that high for Arizona.  The first round pick was pricey but this wasn’t a very good draft and they still had a first round pick following the trade with Minnesota at the trade deadline.  They do give up a young defenseman in DeAngelo but they still have other young defensemen in their farm system. I think this trade was an absolute win for Arizona as they were unlikely to trade for Matt Duchene or Alex Galchenyuk, the other two top centers who are likely to be available this offseason.  I believe Stepan is a top line center and will make the Coyotes much better immediately.  I understand why the Rangers wanted to move his salary and had immediate need to do so with his full no-trade clause kicking in on July 1.  The problem is that the Rangers were already thin at center and now they will have to sign a free agent or trade for one in order to replace Stepan’s production.
    • I had Stepan being moved this offseason but I didn’t think it would be to Arizona.  I thought that the Rangers would be able to get more talent in return by trading for Alex Galchenyuk or Jacob Trouba.
  • Philadelphia traded F Brayden Schenn to St. Louis for F Jori Lehtera, a 2017 1st RD Pick (27th Overall), and a Conditional 2018 1st RD Pick
    • Conditions: If the 2018 1st RD Pick is a top ten selection, the Blues have the choice to move the pick to 2019.  If the pick is a top ten selection in 2019, they can move it to 2020.  If the Blues exercise this right, the Flyers also get a 2019 3rd RD Pick.
    • Thoughts: I’m not certain what to make of this pick.  Does it mean that St. Louis recognized a weakness on their roster and are going all-in on the next few seasons? Or does it mean that the Flyers are punting on this season by moving out one of their most productive forwards?  I’m not sure.  Either way, Schenn is a good goalscorer who has a ceiling in the 25-30 range.  He is very good on the powerplay and led the league in powerplay goals this season with 17.  He should be even more productive with the Blues where he will be surrounded by more talented players.  For the Flyers, if they don’t think they will be truly competitive before Schenn’s contract expires after the 2019-20 season, then it makes a ton of sense. There is also the chance that they just weren’t happy with his game and wanted to move his salary.  They got two first round picks in return with the potential of an additional third round pick, so there is a chance that there was a player they really wanted late in the first round.
  • St. Louis traded F Ryan Reaves and a 2017 2nd RD Pick (51st Overall) to Pittsburgh for F Oskar Sundqvist and a 2017 1st RD Pick (31st Overall)
    • Thoughts: When I first heard of this trade, I kept waiting for there to be more pieces going back to Pittsburgh.  Ryan Reaves is one of the more talented tough players in the league but is still a tough player.  He has just 51 points in 419 NHL games while amassing 695 penalty minutes.  He’s not going to help the Penguins offensively and the only role he is going to play is protecting their key forwards. The Penguins not only gave up a first round pick, which the Blues used to get one of the best skaters in the draft, Klim Kostin. They also gave up young forward Oskar Sundqvist, who was likely to play in the NHL this season with the departures of Matt Cullen, Chris Kunitz, and Nick Bonino.  Instead, they give Sundqvist up for an older player in Reaves, who is only under contract for the upcoming season, and only got a low 2nd RD Pick back.  This is a horrible trade for Pittsburgh and a genius move by St. Louis.
  • New York Islanders traded D Travis Hamonic and a conditional 4th RD Pick to Calgary for a 2018 1st RD Pick, 2018 2nd RD Pick, and a Conditional 2nd RD Pick
    • Conditions: If the Flames miss the playoffs in 2019, New York receives a 2019 2nd RD Pick. If the Flames make the playoffs in 2019, the Islanders receive a 2020 2nd RD Pick.  Which year the 2nd RD pick is sent, the Flames receive a 4th RD Pick from the Islanders that year.
    • Thoughts: The Flames wanted to strengthen their blue line and goaltending position this offseason in order to go further in the upcoming season. They addressed their goaltending struggles by trading for Mike Smith and still need to sign a player to split starts with or to backup Smith. Trading for Travis Hamonic worked to address their needs on the defense. They now have a top four that includes Hamonic, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, and T.J. Brodie, giving them one of the best top two pairings in the NHL. I have read that there is a good chance that the Flames saw the blueline the Predators and Ducks have, recognizing that they don’t have a real weakness in their top four, and wanted to replicate that. I love this trade for Calgary because they didn’t even give up much for Hamonic, just one first round pick when the initial asking price was two.  Hamonic is still relatively young at just 26 and has three seasons left on his contract with a cap hit under $4 million.  He is a very good defenseman with a manageable salary.  I think the addition of Hamonic takes the Flames from a playoff contender to one of the strongest teams in the Western Conference. For the Islanders, I don’t quite understand the trade. The have been going about re-working their roster since the offseason began. They have also been trying to shed some salary, something this trade does in addition to the trade of Mikhail Grabovski.  This was partially done to ensure they have the money to extend John Tavares.  I also think that it is because they are going to make a push for Kevin Shattenkirk when free agency opens July 1.  Losing Hamonic is going to hurt their blue line, even if they believe that Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock have developed enough to be full-time starters in the NHL this season.
  • Vegas traded D Marc Methot to Dallas for G Dylan Ferguson and a 2020 2nd RD Pick
    • Thoughts: When Vegas picked Methot in the Expansion Draft it was widely assumed that they were going to move him before the season begins.  He has a 10 team no trade clause in his contract which limited the teams that Vegas could trade him to and all Canadian teams were on that list except for the Senators.  Dallas was not on that list and they have a need on their blueline and has a desire for a physical, shutdown defenseman now that Ken Hitchcock has taken over as head coach.  He will help the Stars other defensemen greatly and will make opposing forwards think twice before entering the zone on his side.  Dallas also didn’t have to give up much to acquire Methot, just a goaltender prospects and a 2nd RD Pick.  He also is under contract for two seasons with a cap hit of $4.9 million so the Stars won’t be stuck with Methot as he ages. For Vegas, this was a smart move because they were able to move a player they got for nothing and flipped him for assets. Because he was under contract for just two seasons, Methot wasn’t going to be part of any success Vegas has in the future.  Acquiring a potential goaltender of the future and a pick was a solid return.
  • Carolina trades G Eddie Lack, D Ryan Murphy, and a 2019 7th RD Pick to Calgary for D Keegan Kanzig and a 2019 6th RD Pick
    • Thoughts: With this trade, it means to me that Calgary is no longer in on goaltender Chad Johnson as their backup to Mike Smith. Trading for Eddie Lack will give them this but it concerns me because it essentially gives the Flames two goaltenders who are wildly inconsistent.  Neither goalie had a GAA lower than 2.60 last season and that will need be different this season for the Flames to find success in 2017-18.  Luckily for both Lack and Smith, they will be playing behind a very good defense unit, something Smith hasn’t had in years.  The Flames also picked up defenseman Ryan Murphy in this trade and he is an RFA and will need a new deal before the season begins.  He was an extra defenseman for Carolina this past season and could have the opportunity to get more playing time with Calgary.  For Carolina, this deal frees up salary by moving Lack’s contract.  They still have Cam Ward as their backup goaltender to Scott Darling and should be in good shape in net.
  • Buffalo trades LW Tyler Ennis, LW Marcus Foligno, and a 2018 3rd RD Pick to Minnesota for D Marco Scandella, RW Jason Pominville, and a 2018 4th RD Pick
    • Thoughts: Minnesota needed to move out some salary to ensure that they will be able to re-sign Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter as well as address any other needs they have this offseason.  This move essentially frees up $5 million for the Wild, giving them over $18 million in cap space before re-signing their RFAs.  It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that they were going to move out one of their defensemen and Scandella was one of their older defensemen, at 27.  They were able to package Jason Pominville in this deal, which is the contract that the Wild desperately wanted to move.  It works out quite well for Pominville as he played most of his career in Buffalo before being traded to Minnesota during the 2012-13 season.  In return, the Wild get Ennis, who can play all three forward positions and who is a proven goalscorer, and Foligno, who is an RFA.  I like this trade for both teams as the Sabres needed help on defense and Scandella helps address this need.  They also bring back Pominville, who is a proven veteran scorer and is a player who will be a quality locker room presence on a relatively young team.  They also helped to solidify their roster as a whole, which should make contract negotiations with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart easier.

*All stats and information came from tsn.ca, capfriendly.com, hockey-reference.com, and spotrac.com

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