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Around the NHL: Wheeling and Dealing on Deadline Day

By Ryan Black, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Unless you either hate hockey or were in a coma for the last week, you’ll know the NHL Trade Deadline came and went on Monday. Here’s a look at all the trades that went down on the big day -- and the week leading up to it -- that will shape the balance of power around the NHL heading into the playoffs...and beyond.

Blue Jackets Load Up with Duchene, Dzingel, and Others

The most active team, by far, over the last week was the Columbus Blue Jackets. They made a major splash Friday, acquiring one of the big-ticket items in center Matt Duchene from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward prospects Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, a 2019 first-round pick, and a 2020 first-round pick if Duchene re-signs in Ohio. The two teams were squaring off that night, so Duchene simply had to hit the other locker room. Columbus also got AHL defenseman Julius Bergman in the deal.

Those two weren’t done. On Saturday, Columbus added another good forward in Ryan Dzingel, this time giving Ottawa forward Anthony Duclair and their second round picks in 2020 and 2021. In all, Ottawa got a first, a conditional first, two seconds, a roster forward, and two forward prospects in exchange for two of their highest-scoring forwards.

And Columbus kept adding on Monday. They picked up goaltending insurance, grabbing Keith Kinkaid off the New Jersey Devils for just a 2022 fifth-round pick, and then flipped Bergman and their 2019 fourth and seventh-round picks to the New York Rangers for veteran defenseman Adam McQuaid.

With superstar forward Artemi Panarin and Vezina-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky both heading to free agency, it was uncertain what approach the Blue Jackets would take. Some thought it would be smart to sell those pieces themselves to avoid the left-with-nothing situation that the New York Islanders faced when John Tavares walked last summer. But Columbus GM Jarmo Kekäläinen made it clear: his team is all-in on trying to win a playoff series for the first time in their 18-season history.

Vegas Cashes in On Stone, Stone Cashes in with Vegas

Ottawa wasn’t done gutting their roster and prepping for the future. Perhaps the best player left on their team, high-scoring, defensively-responsible winger Mark Stone became a member of the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. The forward quickly signed an eight-year, $9.5 million-per extension to stay in Sin City. They also received minor league forward Tobias Lindberg.

In return, the Senators themselves got a Lindberg, Oscar Lindberg, along with a 2020 second-round pick and defense prospect Erik Brannstrom. Brannstrom is the big pull here, a 5’10”, shifty, smart, offensive-minded defenseman who may remind Flyers fans of a certain player on their roster, or in a distant way, of a player that used to be on the Senators. Brannstrom’s a highly-regarded youngster, and at just 19 years old has put up 28 points in 41 AHL games.

For Vegas, it’s a huge move. Stone is an excellent scorer, teammate, and all-around player who is now locked in for the better part of a decade. For Ottawa, it’s just another big sell-off as the team stares into what will be a long, painful, rebuild. For the rest of the league, it means that one of the biggest free agents heading into the offseason is officially off the market.

Jets and Predators Gear Up

Outside of the Golden Knights and Calgary Flames, who were basically silent today, the only other two real contenders in the West look to be the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators. And both of them bolstered their lineups in a big way on Monday.

First, the Jets scooped up Rangers center Kevin Hayes in exchange for young forward Brendan Lemieux (son of Claude, not Mario), the Jets’ 2019 first-round pick, and a conditional 2022 fourth-round pick (dependent on the Jets winning the Stanley Cup). Hayes is a big, powerful center who has cracked 40 points four times in his five NHL seasons while providing steady two-way play.

Not to be outdone, the Predators also added offense. The one trade you’ll already know, of course: Wayne Simmonds has been reunited with coach Peter Laviolette, the Flyers receiving Ryan Hartman and a conditional fourth (that could become a third if the Preds survive the first round of the playoffs).

The other deal came earlier Monday, when Nashville flipped solid, swift young winger Kevin Fiala to the Minnesota Wild for scorer Mikael Granlund. Listed as a center, Granlund has mostly played wing in recent seasons -- and has been good for more than 65 points in his last two campaigns, amassing 62 goals and 123 assists since the start of the 2016-17 season. The Predators’ scoring depth received a huge jolt at this year’s Trade Deadline, and it’ll be interesting to see what Laviolette does with two new weapons at his disposal.

Penguins Patch a Decimated Defense

Two games against the Flyers in February have cost the Pittsburgh Penguins three of their most important defensemen. Olli Maatta is on injured reserve after sustaining a separated shoulder in the Feb. 11 game, while Kris Letang (upper-body injury) and Brian Dumoulin (concussion) were both banged up in last weekend’s Stadium Series contest.

So Penguins GM Jim Rutherford acted. He swapped minor leaguer John-Sebastian Dea to the Florida Panthers for journeyman defenseman Chris Wideman. And he turned Tanner Pearson, acquired earlier this season, into Vancouver Canucks defender Erik Gudbranson.  

The situation is a bit confusing. Later Monday, coach Mike Sullivan indicated that both Letang and Dumoulin were “day-to-day”. While Wideman is an expiring contract who has played just 25 games this season for three different teams (the Penguins will be his fourth), Gudbranson is a large, heavily-criticized defender locked up for another two seasons at $4 million.

The Penguins were already looking at a little bit of salary cap gymnastics with a number of superstar contracts already on the books and forward Jake Guentzel’s $5 million raise kicking in next season. They’re now added more long-term salary -- and not necessarily quality--to solve what they hope is a very short-term problem.

Capitals Acquire Hagelin from Kings in Exchange for Two Picks

On Thursday, the Washington Capitals picked up gritty winger Carl Hagelin from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a third-round draft pick this season and a conditional sixth-round draft pick in 2020. The sixth is contingent on Hagelin playing a certain number of games and the Capitals reaching at least the Conference Finals.

This is the second time Hagelin has been traded this season. After winning two Stanley Cups with the Penguins, he was shipped to LA in exchange for the aforementioned Tanner Pearson. As a result of salary retained, the Penguins are currently paying $250,000 of Hagelin’s salary for him to play for their arch-nemesis in Washington.

The Best of the Rest

There were 34 NHL trades in the last week, and it’d be unnecessary to recount them all--plenty of sites have you covered with full rundowns of all NHL Trade Deadline deals, and most involve bit pieces and minor leaguers anyway. But there were a few other trades of interest.

The Boston Bruins added a pair of forwards, first getting big Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato and a conditional 2019 fifth-round pick last week. Monday, they added Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils for this year’s second-round pick and 2020’s fourth-rounder.

On Monday, the Florida Panthers flipped Derick Brassard and a conditional sixth-round pick to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick. Brassard himself was acquired from the Penguins earlier this season in a larger deal that put Nick Bjugstad in Pittsburgh. The Panthers and Avalanche were set to meet that night in Denver, so, as with the Duchene trade in Ottawa, the player had a short walk to his new locker room.

The Detroit Red Wings continued the trend of trading with recent opponents. Immediately after scoring a goal in the team’s game Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks, forward Gustav Nyquist was traded (with 30% of his salary retained) to the Sharks in exchange for this year’s second-round pick and a conditional third in 2020.

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