3 Teams That Had Fantastic Trade Deadline Days

This past NHL trade deadline day was the busiest in the last five years. A busy trade deadline day always means added entertainment for fans, coaches and players alike, as the hyper nature of transactions provides all interested parties with good reason to stay glued to the TV all the way up until the 3 PM Eastern Standard Time deadline.

           Those who watched all the wall-to-wall coverage on TV, listened to it on the radio or followed it on Twitter had the opportunity to witness some teams get ready for a run to the Stanley Cup Finals while others got set to take a run at Erie Otters sensation Connor McDavid, who will no doubt be drafted with the first overall pick this summer.

           While nobody knows just how good McDavid will turn out to be at the NHL level, it’s obvious that most GMs around the league believe he’s going to be pretty darn good… maybe even as good as Sidney Crosby.

           In light of that, judging the winner of any particular trade from this season’s deadline can’t just be decided based on which teams got the best players. Instead, the long-term impact of the deals that were made must be given consideration as well.

           The Buffalo Sabres probably did the most to help themselves in the McDavid sweepstakes and that’s why we’ve crowned them the unofficial winner of trade deadline day. The team traded forward Chris Stewart to the Minnesota Wild for very little,, and they also traded goaltender Michael Neuvirth to the New York Islanders, who was the backbone of a team that gave up a ton of shots this season, in exchange for a career backup. They were already the favorite to land McDavid and the team’s front office did whatever it had to do to improve those chances on Monday. Throw in a February deal that saw the team acquire Evander Kane from the Winnipeg Jets, who is out for the season with an injury, and its obvious the Sabres are poised to finish the season on a losing note.

             Only Buffalo did better than the Toronto Maple Leafs when it comes to strategically getting worse, but Leafs GM Dave Nonis deserves honourable mention for his efforts. Nonis managed to get rid of David Clarkson via the Columbus Blue Jackets, taking in exchange the contract of Nathan Horton, who will likely never play in the NHL again due to a degenerative back disorder, but whose salary also doesn’t count against the salary cap unless he should miraculously return. The Leafs also dumped forward Olli Jokinen on the St. Louis Blues, dealt Korbinian Holzer to the Anaheim Ducks and also traded Daniel Winnik (Pittsburgh) and Mike Santorelli & Cody Franson (Nashville) in a flurry of deals leading up to deadline day.

          At the end of the day however, dumping salaries and rebuilding for the years to come is not what gets fans truly excited and tuning in to all the trade talk. It’s the deals that help contenders solidify their position as heavyweights going into the playoffs. No team did that better than the Montréal Canadiens, who took Torrey Mitchell off of the Sabres’ hands to add some depth up front and also traded for defenseman Jeff Petry, who will bring a much-needed stay-at-home feel to the team’s blue line.

           Only time will tell which teams truly came out on top on deadline day, but the general managers of these three clubs sure did do a good job… at least that’s what it looks like at the present moment. Feel free to judge for yourself, but if you live in Buffalo or Toronto, you’ve got to feel pretty good about your team’s chances of landing the NHL’s next golden boy.