Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Every trade deadline of salary cap era ranked

There have been 15 trade deadlines in the salary cap era, and out of all of them, 2020 was definitely the most recent.

That’s about all we can say with any certainty right now. Monday’s deadline was high on volume, but the impact of those moves remains to be seen, even as some initial reactions have already surfaced. That’s how these things work, after all – the deadline arrives, and we all start ranking the winners and losers.

Well, forget that. I say we aim a little bigger. Let’s not just stop at one trade deadline; let’s pass judgment on all of them. Or at least, all of them since the salary cap arrived, since we’re constantly told that that changed everything. So today, let’s count down all 15 deadlines of the cap era to remember the big deals, the worst busts, some random crap you’d long since forgotten, and which ones actually delivered for NHL fans.

#15. 2011

Biggest trade: The Oilers sending Dustin Penner to the Kings for prospect Colten Teubert, a first and a second. That’s right, we sat around all day to see where Dustin Penner wound end up. For what it’s worth, Teubert was a bust, but the first turned into Oscar Klefbom.

Most important trade: Probably Penner, as sad as that it is, since he helped the Kings win a Cup in 2012. Other than that, the Canucks traded for Maxim Lapierre and Chris Higgins to add depth for a long playoff run.

Worst trade: Fighting for top seed in the East, the Penguins had already pulled off a significant hockey trade to land James Neal. But they went cheap on their big deadline rental, sending a seventh-round pick to the Senators for 38-year-old Alexie Kovalev. He didn’t do much, and the Pens were upset in a first round that saw them lose game seven 1-0.

Trade you totally forgot about: Bryan McCabe to the Rangers. In related news, Bryan McCabe was apparently a Ranger?

OK, sure: The Canadiens added a future Wrestlemania main eventer.

Final grade: D. This could surprise you, since you might remember the 2011 season having more action. It did, but not in the days leading up to the deadline; big trades involving names like Tomas Kaberle, Kevin Shattenkirk, Blake Wheeler, Craig Anderson, Francois Beauchemin and Mike Fisher were all done in mid-February. If anything, 2011 marked the year when GMs realized they didn’t have to wait until the last minute to do their shopping, a trend that’s been looming over deadline days ever since.


#14. 2012

Biggest trade: Zack Kassian for Cody Hodgson. Yes, really. The deal broke late on deadline day, and with both players still early in their careers, it launched all sorts of debate over who won and how the trade would look years down the road.

Most important trade: Jeff Carter from Columbus to the Kings actually happened several days ahead of the deadline, but it’s pretty much the only pick we can make here. Johnny Oduya from the Jets to the Hawks is a distant second.

Worst trade: Buffalo sending Paul Gaustad to the Predators for a first-round pick. You know that thing where every fan base thinks their bottom-six depth guys should be worth a first on deadline day? Blame this trade.

Trade you totally forgot about: A still-figuring-it-out Ben Bishop going from St. Louis to Ottawa

OK, sure: Remember when Brian Burke said people would eventually remember the seven-player Dion Phaneuf blockbuster as the Keith Aulie trade? Two years later, the Leafs traded Aulie to Tampa for Carter Ashton, a forward who scored zero goals in 54 games in Toronto.

Final grade: D+. The Kings’ Carter deal saves it a bit, but otherwise this was almost as bad as 2011 without any of the pre-deadline fireworks. It’s the year that fans officially started to worry about the deadline.


#13. 2016

Biggest trade: Eric Staal going from Carolina to the Rangers for two second-rounders and a prospect who didn’t pan out. It was a classic case of a rebuilding team sending a longtime franchise player to chase a Cup with a contender, but Staal went pointless in the Rangers’ opening round playoff loss.

Most important trade: The Oilers gave up on Justin Schutlz, sending him to the Penguins for a third. He’d help the Pens win the next two Cups.

Worst trade: Dustin Jeffey, Dan O’Donoghue and James Melindy from Arizona to Pittsburgh for Matia Marcantuoni. I’m pretty sure at least three of these four players are made up.

Trade you totally forgot about: Niklas Backstrom to the Flames. Wait, he played for Calgary? (Double-checks.) Oh, that Niklas Backstrom.

OK, sure: Michael Sdao, Eric O’Dell, Cole Schneider and Alexander Guptill from Ottawa to Buffalo for Jason Akeson, Phil Varone and Jerome Leduc. I’m 100 percent sure that seven of these seven players are made up.

Final grade: C-. I got to be part of Sportsnet’s live broadcast of this one, so it was probably my fault.

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