Winners and losers from the 2021 NHL trade deadline
Who said it wasn't going to be a tough deadline? After a big, big swap this summer and trying to liquidate assets in Buffalo, here are the winners and here are the losers after NHL 2021 closes trading.
Taylor Hall should be a perfect match for the Botson Bruins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)
Columbus Blue Jackets
It wasn't advertised as a seller's market, but you wouldn't know based on what Jarmo Kekalainen and the Blue Jackets accomplished before the horn sounded at 3pm. ET. Columbus parted with two important assets, one of which was the club's captain, and agreed to earn a certain salary. He brought back an impressive collection of draft picks while also drawing an important line in the sand to set the direction of the franchise.
Nick Foligno and David Savard brought back the top two single returns among rental properties, each exceeding what was achieved for former MVP Taylor Hall. Overall, the Blue Jackets have bagged two picks for the first round and two for the fourth round to fuel this inevitable rebuilding.
Kekalainen deserves a lot of credit for doing business with its last two postseason opponents, Toronto and Tampa Bay, but the club is also somewhat lucky. These weren't the most famous assets, but rather ones that clearly met the needs of teams willing to pay high prices. Savard was the perfect pick for Blitz, desperate for help on the right on the defense and has every reason in the world to pay. Meanwhile, the Leafs identified Foligno as the finishing touch and made it so that Kekalainen would be foolish not to pull the trigger.
Full marks for the Blue Jackets who took this opportunity.
Foresight wouldn't necessarily be considered Hall's affair, but the terms he negotiated on the unfortunate deal with the Buffalo Sabers eventually paid off for the striker, who appears to be at the end of his mind.
It seems very much like Hall was able to call his shot. And after putting pressure on Buffalo, who simply had no choice but to move, Hall managed to land with a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, and most importantly, a team that was incredibly fit.
A complementary piece is all Hall needs to be now that he's with the Boston Bruins, a team whose successes and failures will still be on the top line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron. That means Hall can regain value with very little pressure, while most of all playing a supportive role for a winner, likely on a second row with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
At this point, this is the ideal situation for Hall, a player who may not get as good results as they used to.
If there is any concern, it is that the Sabers are only four points ahead of the postseason race and are currently fourth in the east. Even with the Bruins, postseason hockey isn't a safe bet for Hall.
If you can’t pay next to nothing for a former MVP, go for it. Every time.
Detroit Red Wings
At first glance, the move looked like a head-scratch for the Red Wings, who parted ways with the player with the highest cap - Anthony Mantha - in the blockbuster deal with the Washington Capitals. But when it turned out that first and second round selections followed Jakub Vrana to Detroit in return, it became an obvious win for Steve Yzerman.
Put simply, Mantha's timeline doesn't match the slow, methodical buildup that Yzerman orchestrates in Detroit. Even if he has done it over the next few seasons and maintained his best demeanor, it will be years before Mantha can contribute to a victorious Red Wings team.
The Red Wings are swapping a player who clearly needs a new environment for two high picks that should offer prospects that better fit the timeline. They seem better equipped to carry out their plans as they find a fascinating striker and a player who put up similar numbers to Mantha in Vrana.
For mantha this is an important escape and a great opportunity. Now, in its sixth season, Mantha hasn't sniffed the postseason in his career and is now in the high-end top six, which is supposed to help achieve its optimal impact.
Presumably Mantha asked for such a move, and now he has the opportunity to silence questions about his character and get involved with a team that wants to prove itself all over again on the big stage.
The fit seems to be good for both mantha and the caps, which were also able to break free of Richard's panic in the deal.
Toronto Maple Leafs
It is an unfamiliar position for the organization to put assets into a championship hunt. But this is how the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in this unprecedented season.
Toronto gave up an incredible crowd to add Nick Foligno, Riley Nash, David Rittich and Ben Hutton, but didn't part with a single top prospect in the flurry of acquisitions, holding Nick Robertson, Rasmus Sandin, Rodion Amirov, Nick Abruzzese and Timothy Liljegren and Topi Niemela in the fold.
The moves will put the club's drafting chops to the test, but they need to be confident of continuing to find prospects to feed the system the way they did.
There should be no regrets on the part of Kyle Dubas for getting his team better, deeper, and better equipped to compete in the postseason.
Kevin Cheveldayoff, GM of Winnipeg Jets, had another calm trading deadline. (Photo by John Delaney / NHLI via Getty Images)
Look, Kevyn Adam's hands were tied here. Of the many assets he would have liked to move as of the reporting date, only one would have been rated premium, and it appears that he (Hall) called his shot on a move to the Bruins - a position that Boston GM Don Sweeney fully enjoyed took advantage of.
That said, it's hard to say for sure that the Sabers have even taken one step in a positive direction alongside veteran striker Eric Staal and defender Brandon Montour after breaking up with Hall. All in all, Adams brought back one pick for the second round, two picks in the third round, another one in the fifth round, and the fluctuating prospect Anders Bjork.
Incredibly, Sam Bennett's return was greater than anything the Sabers could get in the open market.
That is hard.
In the end, the return is just a small collection of lottery tickets. And the organization has just gutted its scouting department - or the team responsible for ensuring that non-guarantees later become hits.
It's a terrible situation and the light isn't there at the end of the tunnel. This team may have just spent the past few months spinning their wheels. Uff.
It has become a frustrating event for jet fans this trading deadline. After being one of three teams that didn't make a move last year, the Jets closed just one small deal this season, adding in Vancouver Canucks defenseman Jordie Benn.
In short, it just doesn't seem enough even when an attempt has been made to address the obvious need. The Jets are a quality team powered by the impressive group they have up front. If the defensive core were almost at the same level, the Jets could realistically think about taking a real run on it.
Instead, it seems like the group of strikers is only getting a year older, which may have been thwarted by a defense that is unlikely to be able to keep up.
At some point you have to swing, and for some reason the jets are reluctant to do so.
While Carolina sat on the sidelines, the organization's two challengers for the Central Division crown and the right to play in the last four NHL games - Tampa Bay and Florida - aggressively pursued and completed upgrades to their rosters.
The Hurricanes are an incredibly talented group, and perhaps one that didn't take a lot of success to win the division or even a championship this summer. However, it's hard to argue that the Hurricanes are in a better position now after their only move before the deadline was to pick former top pick Haydn Fleury for defenseman Jani Hakanpaa and a sixth-round pick at the Anaheim Ducks to send.
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In this article:
Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit Red Wings
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
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