Another NHL trade deadline has come and gone, with teams ceasing swaps not long after 2 p.m. Central time Monday afternoon. Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman did all of his heavy lifting before deadline day itself, but other teams in the Central Division weren’t as quiet.
As a result, we’re going to break down all of the trades over the previous week involving Central Division teams. We’ll get grades for each trade, and then we’ll grade each Central Division squad as we prepare for the stretch run ahead of the postseason. Which of the division’s seven squads enhanced their chances of qualifying for and making a run in the postseason (or, in Winnipeg’s case, successfully looking toward the future), and which missed their chance or made silly errors? Let’s find out.
Thursday, February 25
Winnipeg Jets trade F Andrew Ladd, D Jay Harrison, F Matt Fraser to Chicago Blackhawks for F Marko Dano, 2016 first-round pick and 2018 conditional third-round pick (becomes second-round pick if Blackhawks win 2016 Stanley Cup)
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Jets’ grade: B. Though they got rid of their captain, it was a necessary loss as a result of salary cap issues looming in the summer. Winnipeg wanted to get what it could for Ladd instead of losing him for nothing as an unrestricted free agent, and this was confirmed when Dustin Byfuglien inked a new contract not long ago. Dano could be a strong pickup, and he’s immediately getting a shot with the big club as the Jets play out the string. His gritty-despite-his-size style might actually work well with the gritty-with-size Jets, and he’ll be given ample time to develop in Winnipeg. Getting two high draft picks, with a nice condition on the second, is a solid score as well.
Blackhawks’ grade: B+. The Blackhawks went into deadline week knowing they wanted and needed two specific things: a top-line left wing and a No. 4/5/6 defenseman. They got the former in a big way, acquiring a guy who won the Cup with the team in 2010 and who’s familiar with coach Joel Quenneville‘s system. Yes, Bowman is mortgaging the future pretty hard with this deal, but it’s going to be brilliant should the Blackhawks win the Cup. The deal puts them in great shape to do so. Plus, if the Blackhawks really, truly, desperately needed a veteran defenseman later in the season, they could also go to Harrison.
Friday, February 26
Chicago Blackhawks trade D Rob Scuderi to Los Angeles Kings for D Christian Ehrhoff
Blackhawks’ grade: B. Is Ehrhoff the same now as he was several years ago? No. But he can play down the stretch and solidify what’s been a shaky third defensive pairing in Chicago. Plus, the Blackhawks got Scuderi’s multi-year contract off the books (despite having to retain some salary).
Kings’ grade: Uhhhh … C-. I guess? I don’t know. Blackhawks fans were thrilled to see Scuderi go, but Kings fans started acting like he was the missing piece to a Cup run. They have a weird relationship with the guy. Enjoy him.
Canadiens’ grade: B. Danault is going to turn out to be a very useful piece for the Habs. Bowman was probably very reluctant to let him go, but when you’re going all in on a season, you don’t half-ass it. Danault could use some time to grow and get used to the pace of the league, but after a while, he could be Marcus Kruger 2.0 for Montreal. Let’s hope Michel Therrien doesn’t abuse him. Seems like the Habs could’ve gotten one more lower-level draft pick, but I’m probably overrating Weise and Fleischmann.
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Blackhawks’ grade: B+. The biggest reason for this grade is it puts two legitimate wingers around Teuvo Teravainen, who got a huge vote of confidence from Bowman with this deal (and by not being traded). We saw Teuvo and Fleischmann connect really well Sunday against Washington, and adding Weise to the line only projects to make it better. It’ll be a speedy line that will be really hard for opposing teams to stop, considering they’ll be far more worried about the Blackhawks’ top two lines. Another savvy move by Bowman, even if Danault had to go in the process.
Saturday, February 27
Edmonton Oilers trade G Anders Nilsson to St. Louis Blues for G Niklas Lundstrom and 2016 fifth-round pick
Oilers’ grade: C. Lundstrom is young at 23, but he hasn’t shown to be super impressive in the ECHL, which is a step below the AHL … which is a big step below the NHL. But at least they got a goaltender back, and one they can develop. Lord knows they need goaltending in Edmonton. The draft pick makes the deal better.
Blues’ grade: B. This was somehow the only move St. Louis made in the entire deadline week. But they addressed a need (Brian Elliott is sidelined for the foreseeable future due to injury) despite a very thin goaltending market and didn’t give up a ton. Can’t fault them much here.
Next: Deadline Day Deals