Deadline Day Drama

Deadline Day Drama

Photo Credit: Klim Musalimov

Breaking down all the trades leading up to the NHL trade deadline.

Lucas Carpignano, Sports Editor 

As the clocks started slowly ticking down, fans waited anxiously as general managers huddled in their war rooms, trying to improve their teams. The NHL trade deadline, the busiest day in hockey, filled with deals and dreams, has once again passed. In a league where every move can tip the balance between victory and defeat, this year’s deadline was no exception. 

The NHL trade deadline is a holiday in a way for us hockey fans.  Every season near the start of March, hockey fans get to see how general managers scrabble to perfect their rosters closing into the post-season. Although it is considered the busiest day in hockey, a flurry of significant trades starts to come in a month before the deadline. 

The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks were the first teams to make a significant trade before the deadline. On January 31, the Flames traded forward Elias Lindholm to the Canucks in exchange for Andrei Kuzmenko, two prospects, and two draft picks in the upcoming draft, with one of them being a first-round pick. Linholm is a pending free agent and had 32 points in 49 games with the Flames. Since the trade, though, he has struggled to fit in with the Canucks. 

Two days later the Montreal Canadiens traded forward Sean Monahan to the Winnipeg Jets for a first- and third-round pick. Monahan is a pending free agent and, unlike Linholm, has started to fit in and be an important player for the Jets’ playoff run. 

The Flames were not done yet, as on February 28 the team shipped defenseman Christopher Tanev to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a prospect and draft picks. Tanev is a very reliable and respected veteran in the league, and he will strengthen the Stars’ blueline. 

March 1 saw the Toronto Maple Leafs make their first move acquiring defenseman Ilya Lybushkin from the Anaheim Ducks. Lyubushkin previously played with the Leafs in the 2021–2022 season. 

The first few days of March leading up to the March 8 trade deadline, there were several significant trades. Vladimir Tarasenko was traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Florida Panthers in exchange for third- and fourth-round draft picks, an underwhelming return for Ottawa. The Vegas Golden Knights acquired Anthony Mantha from the Washington Capitals for draft picks. In two separate trades, the Colorado Avalanche acquired Sean Walker and Casey Mittlestadt from the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres, respectively. 

March 7 saw the biggest trade yet. As you guessed it, the Calgary Flames traded defenseman Noah Hanifin to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a prospect and draft picks. Hanifin is considered one of the greatest offensive defensemen in the league and was by far the biggest name on the market, as multiple teams were interested in him, including the Maple Leafs. The latter missed out on him, trading shortly after for Joel Edmundson from the Capitals.  

Jake Guentzel was traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Michael Bunting, three prospects, and two draft picks, taking off another big name from the board. And that was all the trades before trade deadline day. 

With a majority of the big names on the “trade bait” board already dealt before deadline day, there weren’t many major trades leading up to the 3 pm deadline on March 8. Forward Tyler Toffoli was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for two draft picks. That was by far one of my favourite trades so far, as I have always been a big fan of Toffoli’s game and he gets to reunite with some of his former longtime teammates on the Jets. The Maple Leafs made their last trade acquiring young forward Connor Dewar from the Wild in exchange for a prospect and a draft pick. Dewar fills the need for a defensive forward and will slot in nicely into the Leafs’ lineup. 

And as the time slowly ticked to 3 pm, the Vegas Golden Knights had one more trick up their sleeve. Minutes before the deadline, the Knights shocked the entire hockey world by trading for Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks. Hertl is an extremely good player making over eight million dollars per year, with six years left on his contract. All the Knights had to give up was a prospect and a first-round pick. This trade was so unexpected and was an absolute steal for the Knights. Between acquiring Hertl and Hanifin, the Knights are the clear winners of the trade deadline. Don’t be surprised if the defending Stanley Cup champions win it again this season. 

From the blockbuster swaps that sent shockwaves through the hockey world to the subtle manoeuvres that could tip the scales in a playoff series, this year’s deadline was a symphony of pure strategy. The general managers played chess, moving pawns and knights, all with the ultimate goal of hoisting the Stanley Cup. And with that, the puck drops on a new chapter for these players and teams. Let the games begin.