Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2017 Trade Grades: Eastern Conference

The NHL’s holiday trade freeze ends at midnight tomorrow. That leaves the league’s GMs with four more days to get any last-minute deals into the “2017” file.

This year, it sounds like some teams might be looking to do exactly that. But most will probably call it a year. These days, trades are relatively rare in the NHL, with many teams going an entire year without making any moves of any real significance.

And that’s all the more reason to celebrate the deals we do get. So today, as NHL GMs enjoy their last few days off before having to answer their phones again, it’s time for our annual trade grades column, in which we hand every team their marks for all the deals they’ve made over the course of the calendar year.

One ground rule: As always, we’re only counting trades that involve at least one actual player. That rules out the kinds of pick-for-pick trades that happen on the draft floor, since those are typically more math exercises than actual hockey trades. This year, that also means we’ll be skipping some of the Golden Knights’ trades that fell into the “draft pick for expansion draft considerations” category, since the league in its infinite wisdom decided not to tell us what those considerations were.

That still leaves us with plenty to work with, even if most of the deals fall well below the blockbuster level. Today, we lead off with the Eastern Conference. Tomorrow, it’s on to the West.

Carolina Hurricanes

Best deal: Getting Trevor van Riemsdyk for a second-round pick from Vegas at the expansion draft. He’s been a decent fit on a team already flush with young blueliners.

Worst deal: Getting Marcus Kruger for a fifth hasn’t yielded much yet, although it also didn’t cost much.

To be determined: Scott Darling hasn’t looked great in Carolina so far. But he only cost them a third-rounder, so we’ll hold off on judging that deal for now.

Total trades: Seven.

Overall grade: A-. The Hurricanes did some nice work, both as deadline sellers and offseason buyers. But this grade will look too high in hindsight if Darling doesn’t come around.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Best deal: Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad is one of those fun deals we’ll be debating for years to come, but for now it’s advantage Blue Jackets.

Worst deal: Sending prospect Dillon Heatherington to Dallas for Lauri Korpikoski. The Jackets’ deadline was a bit of a dud given how strong their season had been, yielding only Korpikoski and Kyle Quincey. Neither stuck around, but at least Quincey saw the ice during the playoffs.

To be determined: Whether giving up a first and a second was worth unloading David Clarkson’s albatross of a contract on the Golden Knights.

Total trades: Five.

Overall grade: B+. A stronger deadline push would have been nice, but the Panarin deal takes away some of that sting.

New Jersey Devils

Best deal: While there were smaller pieces involved, getting Sami Vatanen from the Ducks for Adam Henrique felt like an old school hockey trade, and it’s one that should end up being a win for both teams involved.

Well, as long as this doesn’t happen again:

Worst deal: Giving up a second and a fourth for Mirco Mueller and a fifth seemed like an overpay at the time, and remains so today.

To be determined: Whether Marcus Johansson can get back to being healthy and productive. It looked like the Devils had taken the cap-strapped Capitals to the cleaners when they landed Johansson for two picks in the offseason, but so far it hasn’t paid off like we thought.

Total trades: Ten.

Overall grade: B. Ray Shero knows what he’s doing, and the standings show it.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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