The 2020 NHL trade deadline was more focused than usual. Here are three takeaways from Monday afternoon’s steady action.
Another NHL trade deadline has come and gone and while we didn’t exactly see any massive blockbuster deals, there were a few themes to touch on from Monday. Overall, it seems as though most general managers knew more or less exactly what they needed.
The contending teams addressed minor missing pieces while the rebuilding teams stocked up on draft picks. It was a consistent deadline for movement and we’re coming out of it with a better idea of how the rest of the season should shake out.
There were probably more than three key observations to break down from what ended up being a busy NHL trade deadline, but these three in particular stood out.
The value of playoff toughness
After the St. Louis Blues bullied their way to a Stanley Cup victory last post-season, it’s evident that come playoff time, toughness still matters. The Blues built their team specifically for a playoff push, where a seven-game series can lead to some dislike and the referees swallow their whistles.
As much as the game of hockey has advanced to a fast-paced skilled game, there’s still a need for playoff toughness. This was evident on deadline day, as the teams who hurt the most from a lack of brute strength last season led the way in terms of acquiring what they felt they were missing.
There’s no sugar-coating it, the Tampa Bay Lightning were embarrassed last year. After a record-breaking season, the Lightning fell in the first round to a much bigger, stronger Columbus Blue Jackets team. They addressed their issues on Monday by adding Barclay Goodrow from the San Jose Sharks to their already-stellar depth chart, albeit, for a very high price.
Goodrow, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, joins another grinder in Blake Coleman, who was acquired from the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. These two should address the only potential issue this Lightning team has had over the past two seasons.
The Bruins also added some strength to their roster when they swapped Danton Heinen in favor of Nick Ritchie from the Anaheim Ducks. Ritchie and Heinen are statistically similar, but Ritchie has about 50 pounds on the ex-Bruin winger and is sure to be a favorite with the Boston crowd (a.k.a. he fights well).
Sid wants another summer with Stanley
The Pittsburgh Penguins are very clearly gearing up to win another Stanley Cup. The Pens added Jason Zucker and Patrick Marleau, among others, and reunited with Conor Sheary, as his brief
punishment stint with the Buffalo Sabres has come to an end.
It’s very apparent that the Penguins believe they can hang with the Bruins, Lightning and Washington Capitals at the top of the Eastern Conference Cup contenders list. While they may have taken a bit of a back seat in recent years, this deadline was proof that they aren’t giving up yet.
Nor should they. As long as Sidney Crosby is in the NHL, he’s playing for a team that has a chance to win a Stanley Cup. Speaking of, hockey fans should be happy to see that Marleau finally has a chance to win a Stanley Cup of his own. He may not be the most impactful player added on deadline day, but he has some good hockey left in his 40-year-old legs. It was also nice to see the Sharks move at least one of their two hall-of-fame old-timers to a contender.
If the Penguins want to win this season, they’ll most likely have to go through Washington, as the Caps also boosted their line up at the deadline with the addition of Ilya Kovalchuk, Daniel Sprong and Brenden Dillon. Obviously, another chapter in the book that is Pens vs. Captials would be more than welcomed this postseason.
The NHL: A league of realists
Both of these statements are true: The Florida Panthers are one of the league’s better teams. The Florida Panthers have a zero percent chance of winning a Stanley Cup this season.
I know, I know. The St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup victory from a year ago isn’t completely erased from my mind just yet (though I’m still actively working on it). However, that Blues team was built to win a Cup from the beginning of that season. Obviously, they didn’t get the start they wanted, but they were far better than their record stated.
This deadline featured a couple of surprise sellers that know they are close, but couldn’t reach the heights needed to win in an already top-heavy league. The Panthers displayed this when they traded Vincent Trocheck.
Teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and Calgary Flames also made small deals to address issues without giving up any important pieces in return. This was a theme for a lot of teams at the deadline this year. No one was ready to blow up everything for a small chance at a playoff push, which is probably a good thing for most.
On the other end of this same spectrum, the New Jersey Devils sold every spare part they had to rebuild their rebuild. The San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings all added some good draft picks as well as the selling market was very apparent during this year’s deadline.
There was a lot of action on (and before) the deadline. For a full rundown, check out Mary Clarke’s grades for every team on deadline day.
The next couple months will be extremely interesting. As they say, teams don’t win the Stanley Cup on deadline day. Did the top teams add enough? Will any particular player breakout on their new team? We’ll find out soon enough. Enjoy the playoff push.
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