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Winners and losers of NHL trade deadline season

April 12, 2021, 5:57 PM ET [2 Comments]
Kevin Allen
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Here are six winners and six losers from the NHL trade deadline:

Winner: Tampa Bay Lightning: With no cap space, GM Julien BriseBois found a way to acquire David Savard, who was the key defenseman in the trade market. He engineered a three-way trade with Columbus and Detroit with each team retaining salary to make Savard fit under the Tampa Bay cap. The Lightning needed a right-shot defenseman for their quest to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

Loser: Buffalo Sabres: Buffalo's fans are extremely disappointed by the Kevyn Adams' return on the trade of Taylor Hall to Boston. The Sabres retained half of Hall's salary and still didn't get a first-round pick. They landed a second and Anders Bjork for Hall and Curtis Lazar. That's underwhelming.

Winner:New York Islanders: GM Lou Lamoriello jumped in early and secured the scorer he needed (Kyle Palmieri) and a seasoned center (Travis Zajac). Both players will fit well into coach Barry Trotz's system.

Loser: Winnipeg Jets: This team is considered a Stanley sleeper contender, and yet they didn't do much to improve their playoff chances. Their only addition was defenseman Jordie Benn from Vancouver.

Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs: Nick Foligno offers some offense, leadership and feistiness, all of which will make Toronto a better team. Riley Nash is a depth forward, Ben Hutton at defense and David Rittich as goalie insurance.

Loser: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl: With their salary cap challenges, GM Ken Holland wasn't able to do anything to improve the Oilers chances of playoff success.

Winner: Florida Panthers: Florida GM Bill Zito may be the NHL's Rookie of the Year for the work he has done to transform the Panthers into a contender. After turning over more than half of the roster, he used a deal with the Blackhawks to reduce his cap hit for this season and next season by $3.5 million, and then he traded for offensive defenseman Brandon Montour to ease the pain of Aaron Ekblad's injury and then acquired forward Sam Bennett from Calgary. Bennett was the No. 4 pick in the 2014 draft. He also signed free agent Sergei Gusev who might add some offense. He's an aggressive manager.

Loser: Philadelphia Flyers: This was an impressive team last season. Their fall shouldn't all be blamed on Carter Hart. With Matt Niskanen gone, this defense was never good enough. GM Chuck Fletcher should have made a move for a defenseman two weeks ago to give the Flyers a greater shot to qualify for the playoffs.

Winner: Detroit Red Wings: GM Steve Yzerman is as bold as a GM as he was as a player. He traded Anthony Mantha to Washington for Jakub Vrana, and also picked up a first round pick (2021) and a second-round pick (2022) in the deal. The Red Wings also have to take Richard Panik's contract (This season and two more for $1.68 million per season). Both Mantha and Vrana have known some inconsistency in their young careers, but Vrana has been the more productive player 5-on-5. Yzerman also picked up two fourths and a fifth by moving Jon Merrill, Patrick Nemeth and participating in a three-way trade with Tampa Bay and Columbus. The draft picks are important to Yzerman because he is rebuilding this team from the chassis up.

Loser: Vrana and Haydn Fleury: They went from teams that had a shot of winning a Stanley Cup to teams that are ranked 28th and 29th in the NHL standings.

Winner: Columbus Blue Jackets: With many GMs saying they wouldn't part with first-round picks, GM Jarmo Kekalainen landed two first-round draft picks, a third and a fourth, for Foligno and Savard.

Loser: Blue Jackets: The fact they traded their captain and a key defenseman instead of preparing for the playoffs means something has gone terribly wrong. The Blue Jackets were supposed to be a contender.
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