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Concannon: Assessing the ups and downs of the NHL trade deadline

| Friday, March 2, 2018

Sometimes, a good team is just one piece away from great. Almost every contender has those one or two holes it wants to fill before the postseason starts, and Monday’s trade deadline was every team’s opportunity to do just that. So who improved their roster? Who gave up too much? Who gained assets that will help greatly in the future? Here are the winners and losers of the 2018 NHL trade deadline.

Winners

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins already boasted two of the NHL’s best centers in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, and the addition of former Senators forward Derick Brassard to center their third line makes them outright terrifying.

The three-way trade with Ottawa and Las Vegas left the Golden Knights picking up 40 percent of Brassard’s salary, so the Penguins were able to secure their third-line star at a team-friendly cap hit. Losing a first-round pick hurts, but Brassard’s contract runs through the 2018-19 season, so this is a move that sets Pittsburgh up nicely over the next two seasons.

New York Rangers

The Rangers are starting a rebuild on their own terms, and this trade deadline will help greatly in moving that process along. By moving Rick Nash, J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh, they acquired two first-round picks and a conditional second-round pick that could become a first rounder if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup this season or next.

The team also acquired Vladislav Namestnikov, Ryan Spooner and Ryan Lindgren on top of these picks, all players who seem likely to contribute to the squad’s success in the future. Trading your star players hurts in the short term, but the Rangers have to be happy to get a haul like this in return.

San Jose Sharks

This one is simple. They land Evander Kane from the Sabres, and they may not even have to give up a first-round pick. If Kane signs elsewhere this offseason, the Sharks only have to give up a second-round pick. Several teams made moves for forwards of or near Kane’s quality Monday, but all of them had to give up guaranteed first-round picks. The Sharks robbed the Sabres in this one.

Losers

Washington Capitals

The Capitals have had defensive woes all season long. They have given up the 11th-most goals in the league and surrendered the 11th-most shots on goal in the league. Not horrific numbers, but far too pedestrian to compete for a Stanley Cup. The team acquired Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek for a third- and fifth-round pick, respectively, but neither of these players is good enough to really move the needle for the Caps.

The team was connected to McDonagh, Mike Green, Jack Johnson and even Erik Karlsson, but ultimately chose to do nothing at the deadline and watch almost every other team in its division make a move to improve its roster. If the Capitals reach yet another disappointing end to their playoff run this May, they should look back on Monday as a potential reason why.

Las Vegas Golden Knights

The Las Vegas Golden Knights have over $27 million in cap space. They have tons of young talent and prospects with value. The Senators were looking to move superstar Karlsson, for whom the Knights were rumored to be after. A trade for Karlsson made all the sense in the world for the Knights to try to shock the world and contend this year, but they failed to make it.

Instead, they overpaid for Tomas Tatar. Tatar is under contract for four more years, and a proven second-line scorer. A first, second and third pick for Tatar, who comes with a pretty sizable $5.3 million cap hit, was an overpay in the context of this year’s market. The Knights didn’t end up standing pat, but sometimes the best move is the one you don’t make, and avoiding this move would have been a better one.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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