The NHL Trade Deadline is a time of the season when organizations can make or break their year. Clubs can either dash their playoff hopes by making a mistake or they can take their time to the promised land if they choose wisely and find the right fits for their roster.
For every Ryan O’Reilly that works out in Toronto, there’s a Bo Horvat who flops with the Islanders. For every John Klingberg who seems to find chemistry with the Minnesota Wild, there’s a Tanner Jeannot who arrives, is immediately injured, and plays a factor in their new team not performing well in the postseason.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest NHL Trade Deadline misses so far this year.
The New York Islanders pushed their chips in early and acquired one of the biggest names well ahead of the trade deadline. Horvat was on fire in Vancouver and the forward was on the verge of signing a huge deal in free agency if he wasn’t moved and signed to a long-term contract with his new team. The Islanders stepped up and gave him a massive new deal. He’s done very little for them since his arrival.
Horvat seemed to be getting over the hump of his new team and new surroundings as the regular season came to a close, but since the playoffs began, he’s gone back into his shell and not been among the Islanders’ more effective weapons. He said of his performance so far in the series, “I think I can be a lot better.” Horvat added, “I think I’m doing a lot of good things away from the puck and winning my faceoffs and doing all that kind of stuff, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to find ways to score big goals or get on the scoresheet, and not in a 5-1 game or 5-2 game. I’ve got to find ways to make it meaningful. I’ve got to be better.”
The Islanders hope he can figure it out because he’s on this team now for the next eight seasons at a hit of $8.5 million per year.
While he was not expected to play in the Maple Leafs top six and he’s more a depth-energy guy, fans in Toronto will tell you that they’d like to have seen a bit more from Sam Lafferty. A player who was acquired as part of the deal with Chicago, which also included Jake McCabe, Lafferty has one assist and averaged just over 11 minutes per game. He was fined by NHL Player Safety to the tune $3,108.11 and he’s been a bit reckless with his plays.
There’s talk that the Leafs might try to insert Michael Bunting back into the lineup and one of the names that could come out to make room is Lafferty. Considering how much of a liability Bunting has been, that’s not a great sign.
The Carolina Hurricanes were in on a few names at the deadline, but swung and missed on most of the big targets. In the end, they added some smaller names, including Jesse Puljujarvi from the Edmonton Oilers. Puljujarvi struggled to find consistent work in Edmonton and the Oilers needed the cap room to land Mattias Ekholm. Carolina took on the full load of his $3 million cap hit and he’s played on two playoff games. He hasn’t been a factor and during his games with the team over the few he played in the regular season, he was even less impactful.
This was a trade where the team was likely experimenting and hoping that a new environment would motivate a former fourth-overall draft pick to better results. At this point, Puljujarvi is as likely to leave the NHL next season as he would be signing a cheap deal with the Hurricanes to give it one more shot.
In three playoff games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tanner Jeannot has no points. He’s a minus player and to make matters worse, he barely played in the regular season for the team thanks to an early injury. This is a player the Lightning gave up a huge haul to get and it appears early on to be the biggest mistake of the trade deadline.
The Lightning are down 3-1 in the series to Toronto and Jeannot hasn’t been a factor. Tampa gave up defenseman Cal Foote, a conditional first-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft, a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, and a third-, fourth- and fifth-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, all for a player who has played 13 minutes a night and could use his arbitration rights to work himself as an RFA into UFA status fairly quickly.
Next: Oilers Make Wise Choice to Start Skinner in Goal over Campbell
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