Grades for the latest NHL trades

Browsing social media this week, hockey fans were champing at the bit for newsworthy NHL trades. There were minor deals as the expansion draft passed, and the suspense only grew as the NHL Draft approached.

It’s safe to say that the fans got their wishes.

The past two days have featured former first round picks, backup goaltenders and Stanley Cup champions. If that wasn’t enough, there are likely more coming even before free agency hits on July 1. Until that happens, let’s analyze the top NHL trades that went down before the draft.

Golden Knights ship Trevor van Riemsdyk to Hurricanes

Trevor’s time in Vegas was short-lived, as the expansion team acquired a 2017 second round pick for trading him and a 2018 seventh round selection.

van Riemsdyk is a young asset heading to a younger team. One needs perspective when analyzing his season. He missed time with an upper-body injury which underscored his stats. Still, he was +17 with 100 blocks and 16 points in 58 games.

The former Blackhawk joins three former teammates in Teuvo Teravainen, Joakim Nordstrom and Scott Darling. Perhaps that can help his transition. He’s a capable right-handed shot that helps Carolina get younger and faster. Vegas adds another high draft pick to build their team.

Grade: B+ for Carolina, B for Vegas

Oilers and Islanders swap Jordan Eberle and Ryan Strome

Jordan Eberle was the first of what Isles fans hope to be more NHL trades.

Jordan Eberle heads to the Big Apple. Photo by Andy Devlin, NHLI via Getty Images.

New York getting Eberle long seemed inevitable, but it was intriguing how it occurred. It was a one-for-one swap after many reports had Edmonton seeking a prospect or draft picks.

This was an excellent move from Isles general manager Garth Snow. He paid a heavy price in a first-rounder to prevent Vegas from taking a number of players, and it essentially means they traded it for Eberle.

The former first-round pick disappointed with the Oilers after scoring just 51 points. Pairing with his world championship teammate, John Tavares should boost his input and give Tavares confidence to sign in New York long-term.

As for Edmonton, this was a move that helps more for cap than on-ice skill. They ship $6 million on Eberle’s contract, which helped them extend defenseman Kris Russell. It also increases cap space for when Hart winner Connor McDavid needs a new deal.

As for Strome, he didn’t live up to his fifth overall selection with just one 50-point campaign in four years. He could benefit from a new environment, but on the ice, the Oilers don’t benefit as much. Edmonton could’ve received more for Eberle, it seemed.

Grade: A for New York, B- for Edmonton

Canadiens bring in David Schlemko from Golden Knights

Vegas sends out another expansion draft pick for a 2019 pick. This was a minor move from both sides, which didn’t have to give up much.

Montreal needed defensive help after shipping prospect Mikhail Sergachev and Nathan Beaulieu. In Schlemko, they get a blue liner with back-to-back double-digit point seasons. The 30-year-old vet had 112 blocks and a 53.6 percent Corsi rating. It’s not a major step forward; he hasn’t played a full season. If he’s healthy, he helps.

Grade: B for Montreal, INC for Vegas with draft pick too far away to judge

Niklas Hjalmarsson moves from Blackhawks to the Coyotes

Niklas Hjalmarsson's move to Arizona ignited the flurry of NHL trades.

Niklas Hjalmarsson is headed to the Coyotes. Photo by Matt Marton, AP.

This is when the NHL trades started to boil. Chicago sent their 10-year defenseman to Arizona for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin.

Even though Arizona’s front office is in a tenuous phase, they still took a big swing for a three-time Stanley Cup winner. He logged over 20 minutes per game in the past six seasons and had a career-high 181 blocks last season. He has excellent size, moves the puck well and can anchor the Coyotes’ blue line for a few more years.

As for Chicago, let’s just say fans were not happy about the news. They lose a strong core of their championship teams to relieve their cap.

Murphy is the better piece in the return deal, but he’s not as skilled as Hjalmarsson defensively. He’s 6-foot-4 and more lauded for his skating ability. The 2011 first-round pick can develop well under new assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson. How well he does dictates if this gamble pays off for Chicago.

Grade: A- for Arizona, C+ for Chicago with chance to work out better

Brandon Saad returns to Midway while Artemi Panarin heads to Columbus

Chicago wasn’t finished. In fact, they dropped a bomb on the NHL with this move. Saad returns to the Blackhawks along with goalie Anton Forsberg and a 2018 fifth-rounder. The Blue Jackets receive Panarin as well as forward Tyler Motte and a sixth round pick in today’s draft.

This is a slam dunk for Columbus. They receive a Calder Award winner with consecutive 30-goal seasons. He’s dominant on the power play and adds a versatile offensive game to a team that can use it. His contract runs for two more years at $6 million, about the same as Saad.

The decision-making behind this for Chicago stems from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Panarin’s next contract would cost too much for Chicago based on their contracts. Plus, Saad was impressive playing on Toews’s line for two Stanley Cups.

Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Lazerus made a good point yesterday: Toews could regain his success with Saad while Kane will still produce without Panarin.

The Blackhawks have turned their team around to keep themselves atop the Western Conference. They have the chance to do that after these trades, but it’s a gamble. Columbus should get a productive Panarin, but it remains to be seen if he can contribute just as much without Kane. Each trade has its risks, but this is a balanced trade on both sides.

Grade: A- for Columbus and Chicago

Rangers dispatch Antti Raanta, Derek Stepan to Coyotes

Arizona continued to wheel and deal yesterday when they snagged their new starting goalie and a top-six forward. In exchange, young blue liner Anthony DeAngelo and the seventh overall pick, which the Rangers used to pick center Lias Andersson.

As written last week, Raanta was a name to watch in the expansion draft. When Vegas didn’t select him, Arizona was salivating. The Blueshirts’ netminder enjoyed a career season. He deserves the chance to nab the starting job.

As for Stepan, his contract was steep for New York and he’s automatically the Coyotes’ most expensive player. He’s also the best center now, recording four straight 50-point campaigns. Stepan also helps on the power play that ranked 26th last season in the desert. This was a high-upside trade that fills multiple roles. Now, about finding a head coach…

Meanwhile, New York gets younger on defense with DeAngelo. He’s just 21 years old with an offensive acumen, notching 14 points in 39 games for the Coyotes. DeAngelo is undersized and will have to improve defensively to crack the Rangers’ lineup. Andersson’s play will determine how this trade shakes out for New York. He comes from the elite HV71 in Sweden. While his skating, versatility and defense are superb, he didn’t stuff the scoresheet with 19 points in 42 league games.

Grade: A for Arizona (not just for the alphabet), B- for New York

Blue Jackets and Wild exchange forwards

Rounding out yesterday’s pre-draft NHL trades came with a small move for both teams. Dante Salituro heads to Minnesota while Jordan Schroeder goes the other way.

The 20-year-old Salituro provides goal scoring ability from a 5-foot-8 frame. He impressed in training camp and signed a three-year, two-way contract with Columbus last July. In 295 games across five OHL seasons, he tallied 122 goals and 160 assists. He won’t arrive in the Twin Cities anytime soon, but he has potential.

Schroeder is another small forward but is six years older. With the Wild this year, Schroeder scored six times for 13 points in 37 games. At 5-foot-9, he has to overcome his size. But on the ice, he has the instincts to maintain a roster spot.

Grade: B for Minnesota, C for Columbus

Blues snag Brayden Schenn from Flyer to shed Jori Lehtera

While yesterday trade hype built in the afternoon, it was quiet for most of the draft. There was a minor Blackhawks-Stars trade, but St. Louis and Philadelphia broke the silence. Schenn heads to the Blues by himself while Philly acquired Lehtera, the 27th overall pick (used on Morgan Frost) and a future conditional first-round pick. Elliotte Friedman breaks down the conditional pick.

The Blues upgrade with a more bona fide scorer in Schenn, who has 82 goals in the past three seasons. Lehtera is a great facilitator, but Schenn is an upgrade and Lehtera is making a lot of cash. The negatives for St. Louis is the possible price. They went back into the first round by trading Ryan Reaves to Pittsburgh, so the 27th doesn’t hurt. Two possible first-round picks can be a steep price.

Philadelphia can use Lehtera for depth as they ease new draft pick Nolan Patrick into the team. Frost provides speed and special teams abilities down the middle too. It seems the Flyers are prioritizing playmakers that can move the puck. Depending on where the conditional pick winds up, they can add even more pieces.

They have to replace Schenn’s production. Will they give Patrick the chance? Those two questions are the risks for Philadelphia at the moment, but ones that have quick solutions for a team on the rise.

Grade: B for St. Louis, B+ for Philadelphia

The Final Trade

As for Reaves heading to Pittsburgh, it’s icing on the cake for the Metro division. Reaves is an aggressive player that was 10th last season in hits. The Penguins love those types of players. He should perform well there as the division improves exponentially.

 

Feature image of Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman by Anthony Souffle of the Chicago Tribune

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Sergie Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Goals, Assists, Power Play, Jack Adams, Ryan Johansen, NHL, Hockey, SV%, GAA, Save Percentage, Goals Against Average

The Unstoppable Columbus Blue Jackets

Nobody on this planet could have predicted that by the Christmas break the Columbus Blue Jackets would be battling for first in NHL standings. Nobody could have predicted their incredible 13-game winning streak. Nobody could have predicted the success that John Tortorella has had in Columbus thus far.

In fact, this time last year the Blue Jackets sat among the bottom in league standings and just prior to the 2016-17 season, odds makers had Tortorella among the most likely to lose his coaching job in the NHL.

All that changed after delivering a crushing 10-0 loss to the Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens. One could look back at that game as perhaps the moment when Torts and the Jackets let the league know just who came to play this year.

So let’s break down the Blue Jackets’ success.

Sergie Bobrovsky

Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Sergie Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Goals, Assists, Power Play, Jack Adams, Ryan Johansen, NHL, Hockey, SV%, GAA, Save Percentage, Goals Against Average

Photo credit: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Images.

GP W GAA SV% SO
29 22 1.91 .934 3

 

From post to post, the blue paint of net minder Sergie Bobrovsky has been off limits to opposing teams for the better part of the 2016-17 NHL season. And it’s been showing in a big way for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The 2013 Vezina Trophy winner, Sergie Bobrovsky, has been having a stellar year thus far, posting 22 wins, a 1.94 GAA, 0.932 save percentage, and three shutouts.

Over the Jackets’ 13-game wining streak, Bobrovsky has been rock solid, posting an 11-0-0 record and a .944 save percentage.

Will it be another Vezina worthy year for Bobrovsky? The numbers are certainly there. For comparison’s sake, his GAA and save percentage are both better than his 2013 Vezina Trophy winning numbers.

Offense

 

Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Sergie Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Goals, Assists, Power Play, Jack Adams, Ryan Johansen, NHL, Hockey, SV%, GAA, Save Percentage, Goals Against Average

Photo credit: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Image

Okay, sure. Goaltending has been great. But let’s forget about that for now. Offensively, the Jackets have been an absolute powerhouse.

Where to start? The Columbus Blue Jackets boast the league’s best power play. With guys like rookie Zach Werenski, who has earned 12 of his 22 points this year on the power play, Columbus is among the league’s most lethal teams with a man advantage. With a 27.1% success rate when their opponent is in the box, the Jackets are simply frightening when it comes to special teams.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are also third in the league in goals. Forget, for a moment, that the Columbus Blue Jackets have amassed an impressive 114 goals for; behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins (129) and New York Rangers (123). Let’s look at these numbers in terms of goal differential.

While Pittsburgh and New York might be able to lay claim to more overall goals this year, the Columbus Blue Jackets have managed a goals for/goals against differential of +46, making them number one in the league for goal differential.

This can be attributed to many of the team’s core players enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. Cam Atkinson, Brandon Saad, Nick Foligno, Sam Gagner, and Scott Hartnell have over 20 points each. And rookie Zach Werenski has been making an excellent case for the Calder this year, with 22 points of his own.

Defense

Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Sergie Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Goals, Assists, Power Play, Jack Adams, Ryan Johansen, NHL, Hockey, SV%, GAA, Save Percentage, Goals Against Average

Photo credit: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Images.

Last year Columbus’ defense struggled greatly, and there were some personnel changes made in an effort to get Sergie Bobrovsky the kind of back end support he deserves.

Enter Seth Jones.

Seth Jones seems to have settled in nicely alongside his Calder Trophy candidate line mate, Zach Werenski. Acquired last year from the Nashville Predators, in return for center Ryan Johansen, Seth Jones seems to be doing quite well. He holds down the first line unit with Werenski and has collected six goals and eight assists in 27 games so far this season.

With a +46 goal differential, a new and improved defense, and a Calder Trophy candidate on the blue line, Columbus has shown that they are more than just the League’s most dangerous offensive juggernaut.

Coaching

Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Sergie Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Goals, Assists, Power Play, Jack Adams, Ryan Johansen, NHL, Hockey, SV%, GAA, Save Percentage, Goals Against Average

Photo credit: Norm Hall, NHLI via Getty Images

What, then, do we make of John Tortorella?

It’s hard to comment on what happens in the dressing room. It’s hard to say how players perceive their coach. These things tend to happen outside the view of fans and sports analysts. These are the intangible aspects of the game.

Whatever it is that we make of John Tortorella, the wins are racking up and things are looking good for him and his team right now. John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets have a lot going for them. They are cruising through the competition and are poised to make the playoffs and take a run at the cup this year.

The season is still young, but Tortorella might find himself with another Jack Adams Trophy. His name has been tossed around for coach of the year. Obviously this is predicated on the continued success of his team, but the conversation is being had.

Who knows- maybe there is even a second Stanley Cup in John Tortorella’s future.

 

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