We’re now into the NHL’s holiday trade freeze, which began on Monday night and runs through next Wednesday. That’s the time of year when GMs don’t trade because they’re not allowed to, which is not to be confused with the rest of the year, when GMs don’t trade because they don’t want to.
OK, that’s a little harsh. The art of the deal has been disappearing from NHL front offices for years now, for a variety of reasons. But trades do still happen, even if they’re less frequent and have less impact. So with New Year’s approaching, now seems like a good time to look back at all the deals made in 2016 and hand out grades to all 30 NHL teams.
We’ll use the database at nhltradetracker.com, and we’ll only worry about deals that involved an actual player—no picks-for-picks shuffling. We’ll look at the best and worst deals that each team made, and we’ll assign everyone a final grade. (Would it be more accurate to wait a few years to see how each deal turns out in the long-term before evaluating it? Sure, but that’s not as much fun, so we’re doing it now.)
To be clear, we’re giving out grades for trades only, not overall front-office performance—if a team knocked it out of the park with drafting and free agency but didn’t do much wheeling and dealing, they won’t score well here. We’ll do the Western Conference today, and be back with the Eastern Conference on Saturday.
And remember, NHL GMs... if you're not happy with your mark, you still have a few days after the trade freeze to change it.
Best deal: Frederik Anderson to Toronto for a first and a second (plus Jonathan Bernier in a technically separate but related deal). Andersen has been good for the Leafs after a rocky start, but if the Ducks had decided to move on from a guy who needed a new contract, they did well to get two high picks back.
Worst deal: Carl Hagelin for David Perron and Adam Clendening. At the time, it seemed like a reasonable "change of scenery"-type deal, and the Ducks won plenty after it was made. But Hagelin became a key part of a Cup winner, while neither Perron or Clendening are still in the Ducks organization.
To be determined: Michael Sgarbossa to Florida for Logan Shaw in a one-for-one swap of guys who are too old to be prospects but too young to be NHL washouts. As a side note, this apparently minor deal reportedly reflected some of the behind-the-scenes problems in Florida.
Total trades: Ten, if we count Bernier separately
Overall grade: C+. The Andersen deal was solid, and you certainly can't accuse Bob Murray of standing pat. But the rental deals didn't help the Ducks get out of the first round, and most of the players they acquired are already out of the organization.
Best deal: Two draft picks for Lawson Crouse and Dave Bolland. This is the kind of deal the Coyotes should be making—they're eating a terrible contract, but got something of value in return. How much value? Crouse hasn’t shown much at the NHL level yet, but there are flashes, and there's plenty of time.
Worst deal: A first and second plus Joe Vitale to Detroit for Pavel Datsyuk and a slightly better first. Remember when we all thought the Red Wings would have to pay through the nose to dump Datsyuk's contract? Unlike the Bolland deal, this time the Coyotes somehow gave up more than they got.
To be determined: A second rounder to Tampa for Anthony DeAngelo. It's early, but first impressions of DeAngelo have been solid.
Total trades: Twelve
Overall grade: B+. You can't say the Coyotes weren't creative. It hasn't paid off much in the present, but then again, that's not the point quite yet in Arizona.
Best deal: Kris Russell to Dallas for two prospects and a second. At the risk of setting off yet another round of the Great Kris Russell Debate, let's just say that this was a solid deadline-day haul for a player the Flames weren't bringing back.
Worst deal: A second and a conditional third to St. Louis for Brian Elliott. It looked like a steal at the time, but Elliott had a rough start in Calgary. He's been better recently, so maybe there's still time to salvage this, but sometimes smart gambles just don't pay off.
To be determined: Hunter Shinkaruk to Vancouver for Markus Granlund. The rare prospect-for-prospect deal has favoured the Canucks so far, which you'd expect given Granlund is a little bit older.
Total trades: Six
Overall grade: B-. Solid work, but the Elliott deal brings the grade down, at least for now.