As the NHL free agency period approaches, some of the major trade candidates have been moved to new teams. A lot of the players who moved were expected to be traded, but there were some surprises too. Here are the team grades for some of the biggest trades that have happened so far.
Rasmus Ristolainen to the Flyers
As the Buffalo Sabres embark in a complete rebuild, a vast majority of their good players are expected to be traded. The first of these players to move was Rasmus Ristolainen, who makes his way to Philadelphia. The Flyers clearly placed a priority on upgrading their depth on defense this offseason. After acquiring Ryan Ellis from Nashville, they made a big offer to Buffalo to land Ristolainen as well.
The Flyers sent the 14th overall pick in the draft, a second rounder in 2023 and defenseman Robert Hagg. The return for Buffalo was great, landing a lottery pick and another defenseman of the same age to replace him. As for Philadelphia, they get much needed physicality and depth on defense, even if they paid a little much. This trade could look bad for Philadelphia if they can’t get Ristolainen to re-sign. But as for right now, this seems about even for both teams.
Rangers and Blues Swap Forwards
In a very surprising trade, the New York Rangers traded Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for Sammy Blais. This was a highly questionable move by the Rangers after Buchnevich just had his best season. One may argue it’s because of their uncertainty to re-sign him, but they have plenty of cap space to do so at the moment. And as for Sammy Blais, he offers a very similar style of game to Barclay Goodrow, who the Rangers just signed to a long term deal.
While more grit is never a bad thing, trading a 20 goal scorer to get it is questionable. Unless they’re certain they’re landing Jack Eichel or another big piece, this was a bad move. As for the Blues, this was a great move landing an emerging young player. He’ll be a great piece for them moving forward, and a potential replacement for Vladimir Tarasenko should he be traded.
Sam Reinhart To The Panthers
The most talented player on the Sabres not named Jack Eichel was moved over the draft weekend. The Florida Panthers landed Sam Reinhart for a conditional first round pick in 2022 or 2023 and goaltender prospect Devon Levi. Levi is a decent prospect who just posted an 0.75 GAA for the Canada under 20 hockey team in seven games. On the Panthers side, they get a great player at a great value. Florida’s window is right now, so adding another elite goal scorer to an already potent offense is a great move. In addition, with Reinhart being only 25 he could be an important piece well into their future as well. Overall, both sides got exactly what they needed from this trade.
Blackhawks Land Seth Jones
Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones was one of the many players expected to be traded this offseason. Jones had a lot of suitors lined up, but it was the Blackhawks who wound up landing him. The return was the 12th pick in the draft, the 44th pick in the draft, a 2022 first round pick and defenseman Adam Boqvist. The Blackhawks also got the 32nd pick in the draft and a 2022 sixth round pick in the deal.
This was a massive haul for the Blue Jackets and a perfectly executed trade for a player who wasn’t going to re-sign. As for the Blackhawks, they landed an elite defenseman but overpaid for him. The solace for the Blackhawks is that Jones signed an eight year extension with them, essentially making him a Blackhawk for the rest of his prime. Even if it was an overpay, having an elite defenseman now and into the future will be worth it for the Blackhawks.
Blue Jackets: A
Blackhawks Also Land Marc Andre Fleury
The Fleury trade was shocking, but a great deal for the Blackhawks. They sent minor leaguer Mikael Hakkarainen to the Golden Knights for Fleury. The deal is low risk but offers an extremely high reward. The risk is if Fleury decides he does not want to play in Chicago, which is a very real possibility. But in that case they won’t have to pay his salary and have no lasting consequences. The reward is adding the reigning Vezina trophy winner for almost no cost, which is a great value.
For the Golden Knights, this move was equal parts bad and despicable. Fleury was the face of the Vegas franchise, so to trade him to a city he didn’t want to go to is a pretty awful way to treat him. The only real value the Golden Knights got was salary cap relief, as Hakkarainen is not very intriguing of a prospect. If Vegas lands a big time player in trade or free agency this trade may look better, but right now it just looks really bad on all levels.
Golden Knights: D
Featured image courtesy of NHL
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