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Biggest Winners and Losers: 2021 NHL Trade Deadline

Here we will take a look at the some teams who were the biggest ‘winners’ and biggest ‘losers’ of the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline.

GM Winners and Losers 2021 NHL Trade Deadline

Yesterday was a big day in the hockey world, as it marked the NHL’s trade deadline. It was expected to be a very quiet day due to both the protocols and flat salary cap as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that turned out not to be the case. Instead, it ended up being quite an active day for many teams, which included many depth moves paired with a few blockbusters. Here we will take a look at the some teams who were the biggest ‘winners’ of the deadline, as well as some who were the biggest ‘losers’.

Related: Taylor Hall Squashed Better Trade Offer Before Joining Bruins


Detroit Red Wings

After years of brilliant moves as the general manager for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Steve Yzerman has continued to be one of the league’s best since moving on to the Detroit Red Wings. He made his first deadline move this year on April 9 when he sent Patrik Nemeth to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

Steve Yzerman Red Wings NHL GM

The next day, he was part of a three way trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning that was headlined by defenceman David Savard going to the Bolts. As for the Wings, they received another fourth-round pick, this time from Tampa, and in return sent them journeyman defenceman Brian Lashoff. However, it was the day of the deadline itself that saw Yzerman work his magic.

In a trade that nobody saw coming, Yzerman was able to acquire Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik along with a 2021 first-round and 2022 second-round draft pick in exchange for Anthony Mantha. While Mantha is certainly a good player, his age apparently did not fit the Red Wings rebuild plans. Regardless, the return they brought back for him is being viewed by most as a heist, something Stevie Y has done many times as a general manager. This was a fantastic trade for the rebuilding Red Wings.

New York Islanders

It was pretty well known that Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders were going to be looking for help up front after it was announced nearly a month ago that captain Anders Lee would miss the remainder of the season due to a knee injury. Many thought that Buffalo Sabres forward Taylor Hall may be the player Lamoriello went after, but clearly he had different plans.

Instead, five days prior to the deadline, Lamoriello made a massive trade with a team he has a lengthy history with in the New Jersey Devils, bringing in forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac in exchange for AJ Greer, Mason Jobst, a 2021 first-round pick, and a conditional 2022 conditional fourth-round pick. While this was a fairly hefty price to pay, the Islanders are a serious cup contender this season as they are currently tied with the Washington Capitals for first place in the East Division with a 27-11-4 record. If there was one area they could improve in, it was scoring goals, and Palmieri who has scored 24 or more in the last five seasons will certainly help in that regard. Zajac on the other hand is a player who can be slotted almost anywhere upfront and will also help with their penalty kill which has already been quite good this season.

Kyle Palmieri New Jersey Devils
Kyle Palmieri, one of the newest members of the New York Islanders

The night prior to deadline day, Lamoriello made his final deal, acquiring defenceman Brayden Coburn in exchange for a 2022 seventh-round pick. While this is more of a depth move than anything, Coburn is a great veteran presence and is fresh off of a Stanley Cup win with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. This under the radar team was able to improve in a big way this past week and may surprise a lot of people in this year’s playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs

It is impossible not to be impressed with the job Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs did to improve his club in recent days. Despite having next to no cap space, Dubas was able to use some nifty maneuvers in order to add some pieces for this Leafs team. He started off by acquiring Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional 2022 seventh-round pick. While the 31-year-old is expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a knee injury, he should be back around the time playoffs start and will likely center their fourth line.

The most talked about deal Dubas made came on April 11 when he was able to acquire Nick Foligno from the Columbus Blue Jackets. This trade was actually a three way deal that involved the San Jose Sharks as well, which meant the Leafs received both Nick Foligno and Stefan Noesen in exchange for a 2021 first-round pick, along with a fourth-round pick in both 2021 and 2022. While Noesen is a nice depth add, the big prize here was Foligno, who was one of the hottest commodities on the trade market this year. The 33-year-old is a great leader who can play up and down the lineup and will provide a boost to Toronto’s already loaded forward group.

Nick Foligno Blue Jackets trade rumors
Nick Foligno, former Columbus Blue Jacket

Later that night, Dubas made yet another significant move when he acquired David Rittich from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick. Given the uncertainties the Maple Leafs have in the crease right now, this move was extremely important for them to make. They were also able to make a few small moves on the day of the deadline, acquiring defenceman Ben Hutton from the Anaheim Ducks and forward Antti Suomela from the San Jose Sharks. Safe to say the Leafs are all in this year, and while the Foligno move was a big price to pay, it certainly looks like a great decision right now.

Next: Maple Leafs Had “Intense” Talks On Conor Garland Before Foligno Trade

Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins have had their fair share of struggles this season, as they currently sit fourth in the Eastern Division with 48 points, which is ten shy of the division lead. The biggest reason is their lack of offence, as they currently sit 26th in goals scored this season with just 106. In order to compete this year, they needed to add scoring and Don Sweeney did just that.

The first move Sweeney made, which happened on April 11, has a chance to be a great pickup despite not garnering much attention. He was able to grab defenceman Mike Reilly from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick. While the 27-year-old may not play a lot at even strength for the Bruins, he could provide a significant boost to their powerplay as he has plenty of offensive talent. In 40 games this year, he has 19 assists.

Taylor Hall Boston Bruins trade
Taylor Hall was acquired by the Boston Bruins on trade deadline day

Of course, the trade everyone is talking about came on deadline day, when it was announced both Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar were headed to Boston in exchange for Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round pick. This trade was an absolute robbery by the Bruins, and one that certainly helps turn them back into contenders. Despite Hall’s struggles this season, he was the biggest name on the trade market for a reason and should be able to rediscover his offence playing on a much better roster. This was a terrific move for Sweeney.


Buffalo Sabres

The 2020-21 season has been a complete mess for the Buffalo Sabres, though the deadline did provide a bit of hope in the sense it was expected they would get some valuable prospects and/or draft picks headed their way. Unfortunately, that never really turned out to be the case. A few weeks prior to the deadline they began selling, trading forward Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2021 third and fifth-round pick.

The second move came on April 10 when they shipped defenceman Brandon Montour to the Florida Panthers in exchange for another 2021 third-round selection. Neither of these moves were blockbusters by any stretch, but given teams salary situations around the league they certainly weren’t viewed as bad trades. Unfortunately however, the final trade made by Kevyn Adams was.

Brandon Montour Buffalo Sabres
Brandon Montour, former Buffalo Sabre

As mentioned above, the Sabres and Bruins made a deal that saw Hall and Lazar go to Boston in exchange for Bjork and a 2021 second-round pick. This was extremely underwhelming and capped off what was a disastrous tenure in Buffalo for Hall. In Adams defence, it sounds as though Hall may have nixed a few other trades to teams that had better offers in order to go to Boston, so it’s hard to blame this on the rookie general manager. Still, this was an extremely disappointing return for a team that seems to have absolutely nothing going right for them.

Related: Taylor Hall Squashed Better Trade Offer Before Joining Bruins

St. Louis Blues

Many questioned whether the St. Louis Blues would be buyers or sellers heading into the deadline. Prior to the start of the season, they were expected to be one of the top teams in the West Division. Instead, they are barely clinging on to the final playoff spot and have a record of just 19-16-6. For no apparent reason, their offence has dried up within the last month and many thought Doug Armstrong would try to add some scoring to their lineup, with some suggesting Hall as an option.

Some also suggested they may be best off to sell this year, given that they have several players in Jaden Schwartz, Tyler Bozak, Mike Hoffman, Zach Sanford, Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas and Vince Dunn who are currently unsigned for next season. Instead however, Armstrong did neither.

There was not a single move made with this roster at the deadline in the form of trades or waiver transactions. This has to be disappointing for Blues fans, although it is worth mentioning many wanted Armstrong to make some moves during their struggles two years ago as well. Instead, he chose to remain patient and it paid off as the Blues won their first ever Stanley Cup in franchise history. Still, the fact he did not pull off a single move is quite surprising.

Edmonton Oilers

After a 2020 deadline that saw the Edmonton Oilers quite active, picking up multiple players in Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Ennis and Mike Green, many fans hoped that Ken Holland would pull off some more moves this year. After all, they are in a division that many believe they could come out of this year given the elite talent they have up front in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

However, while there was some Taylor Hall chatter throughout the city, most analysts predicted a quiet deadline in Edmonton, and they turned out to be correct. The only deal Holland ended up pulling off was acquiring defenceman Dmitry Kulikov from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2022 conditional fourth-round pick. Kulikov will add to what was already a solid back end for the Oilers, but many are frustrated Holland wasn’t able to do something bigger.

Dmitry Kulikov New Jersey Devils
Dmitry Kulikov, the newest member of the Edmonton Oilers

To Holland’s credit, he didn’t have many picks to deal as Edmonton does not have any draft picks in the second, third, or fifth round of the upcoming draft. On top of that, their salary situation made things very tricky given that they are at the maximum cap right now. Still, Dubas was in a fairly similar spot to Holland and was able to still make his team better. Holland will likely redeem himself in the offseason given that he will have more cap to make the changes he sees fit, but that won’t make Oilers fans happy in the present.

Related: Edmonton Oilers Trade For Kulikov from the New Jersey Devils

Washington Capitals

Similar to the past decade, the Washington Capitals continue to be one of the best teams in the league, sitting tied for third place in the entire league points wise with a 27-11-4 record. There aren’t a lot of holes in this roster, so it was unclear what they may try to do at the deadline. The one area where most thought they may look for some depth was goaltending, given that they are currently relying on two rookie netminders in Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek.

While many expected it to be a quiet deadline for Washington, that turned out not to be the case. First was a move the night before the deadline in which they actually offloaded, sending Jonas Siegenthaler to the New Jersey Devils for a 2021 third-round pick. However, it was the next day where the fun really began, as like mentioned above they chose to move Vrana, Panik, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 second-rounder in exchange for Mantha. This trade seems quite strange for the Caps considering many think that Vrana and Mantha are fairly similar in value themselves, let alone everything else that was added.

Jakub Vrana Anthony Mantha
Jakub Vrana and Anthony Mantha, who were the main pieces in the trade between the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings on deadline day

The one thing Mantha does add over Vrana is physicality, however he has had a tendency in the past of not always being engaged in games. Perhaps joining a Stanley Cup contender like the Capitals is what really turns him into the player many expected him to be when joining the league, but regardless this seems like quite an overpay. They also made a move later in the afternoon that saw them acquire forward Michael Raffl from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick. Perhaps everyone will be proven wrong and the Mantha deal will work out for Washington, but the consensus early on was that they gave up far too much.

Exciting Day

By the time it was all said and done, the deadline day ended up being very exciting, as many teams throughout the league were involved in some type of transaction. Now, we can all sit back and watch how many of these players adapt to their new teams and figure out which teams made the right calls, as well as which teams made mistakes. Early on, the teams listed above appear to be the biggest winners and losers, but only time will truly tell.

Next: Red Wings Trade Anthony Mantha to Washington Capitals



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