NHL trade grades: Breaking down the best, worst deals from 2019 deadline day

It took some time for the NHL trade deadline to deliver fireworks Monday. But deadlines spur action, as they say, and the deals came fast and furious as clubs scrambled to file their last-minute agreements with the league office before the 3 p.m. cutoff.

The biggest trade came courtesy of the Golden Knights, who acquired Mark Stone from the Senators in a package led by bluechip prospect Erik Brannstrom. Vegas promptly agreed to sign their new prize, a pending UFA, to an eight-year contract extension worth a reported $76 million ($9.5 million AAV).

Full list of every deal completed before the 2019 deadline

That was just the beginning. After Stone, the floodgates opened. Wayne Simmonds, Mikael Granlund (Nashville) and Markus Johansson (Boston) all changed teams in the final minutes. That followed other big names like Kevin Hayes, who was dealt Monday morning, and weekend deals involving Matt Duchene, Mats Zuccarello, Gustav Nyquist and Brandon Montour.

But in perhaps the boldest decision of the deadline, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky remained Blue Jackets when the dust settled, a power move and significant gamble by Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen, who no doubt smells blood in the water as Pittsburgh flounders and the playoff race remains wide open.\

In all, the 2019 deadline saw 22 trades invloving 25 players — the most since 2015. That’s impressive considering there were only six trades made as of 1:30 p.m.

We’ve graded each of the significant trades from 2019 deadline day in real time below. Head here if you’re looking for an entire list of deals that went down.

NHL DRAFT 2019: SN’s mock draft 1.0 | Top 31 big board

2019 NHL trade deadline grades

(All times Eastern)

TRADE: Penguins make odd last-minute moves

Yes, the Penguins are in a precarious position without Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang and Olli Maatta. Each are injured with uncertain return timelines, and GM Jim Rutherford entered Monday’s trade deadline facing pressure to replace them with his team on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. But making a panicked move wasn’t the solution.

Just before the clock struck 3 p.m., Pittsburgh aquired veteran defenseman Erik Gudbranson in exchange for Tanner Pearson, who the Penguins traded for earlier this season. Pearson carved out a nice role in Pittsburgh’s top nine.

Flipping him for Gudbranson — and the $12 million remaining on his contract — will do very little to boost the Pens’ playoff chances besides giving them a warm body to deploy as a pylon. They already have one of those in Jack Johnson, and now Pittsburgh is on the hook for $7.25 million of cap space for both players for two more seasons after this one. Pittsburgh also traded for defenseman Chris Wideman, a depth add who played one game for Florida in 2018-19.

From the Canucks’ POV, this one fell into GM Jim Benning’s lap. It’s not often Benning comes out on the winning end of a trade but Pearson, 26, should find plenty of ice time in Vancouver, possibly alongside Bo Horvat on the second line. 

Canucks: A

Penguins: D

TRADE: Bruins whiff, settle for Marcus Johansson

With or without David Pastrnak, the Bruins approached the deadline with one goal in mind: Find a way to trade for some scoring help. The jury is very much out about whether they accomplished that. Following their weekend trade for Charlie Coyle, a plodding forward whose next 20-goal season will be his first, the hope was Boston might be in on some of the bigger fish like Mark Stone, Artemi Panarin or even Wayne Simmonds. 

GM Don Sweeney got none of those players. Johansson, 28, is a solid player with 12 goals and 27 points in 47 games, but he’s hardly the difference-maker the B’s sought for their eventual playoff shootouts with the Lightning or Maple Leafs. Boston remains a clear third behind those two teams. At least they kept their first-round pick this year.

Devils: B

Bruins: D+

TRADE: Predators finish strong with Wayne Simmonds

Predators: B+

Flyers: B

TRADE: Mark Stone heads to Golden Knights

Golden Knights: A

Senators: B+

TRADE: Predators steal Mikael Granlund from Wild

Predators: A

Wild: C-

2:30 p.m. — Another!

Another Vegas/Ottawa deadline day showdown. Both teams grinding to get something done on Mark Stone.

2:15 p.m. — A #StoneWatch update to chew on until 3 p.m. …

With one hour to the deadline, Vegas and Ottawa were working hard on a Mark Stone deal. Nashville was in there, too, and I think Calgary circled back. But the Golden Knights appeared to be the favourites. Let’s see.

1:52 p.m. — TRADE: If not for the Blue Jackets and Rangers, we might have cancelled the trade deadline this year. GM Jarmo Kekalainen goes to work once more, acquiring defenseman Adam McQuaid from New York in exchange for fourth- and seventh-round draft picks in 2019. After adding Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel over the week, Columbus’ primary objective Monday was to upgrade its blueline.

McQuaid, 32, is a steady if not unspectacular defenseman who can play in the 5-6 role. The market was thin for renatl defenseman this year and McQuaid was one of the best options at a decent price. Columbus now owns just two picks in the 2019 draft, as if we needed more proof they’re all in on 2019.

After trading for McQuaid, #CBJ have just a 3rd-round pick and Calgary’s 7th-round pick in this June’s draft. Might not even have to fly Vancouver.

1:37 p.m. — TRADE: Derick Brassard’s tenure with the Panthers was short-lived. He’s been traded to the Avalanche for a 2020 third-round draft pick, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. A low-cost play by Colorado to bolster its secondary scoring and center depth for the playoff push. The Avs also receive a sixth-round draft pick along with Brassard.

The full deal: Brassard and a conditional sixth RD pick in 2020 to Colorado in exchange for a third-round pick in 2020. If Brassard re-signs with Colorado, the Avs no longer get the sixth-round pick from Florida.

#FlaPanthers Derick Brassard stepped onto the ice for morning skate in Denver, then pulled. He’s going down the hall and playing for the Avs…

1:30 p.m. — T-minus 90 minutes until deadline and the NHL has been quiet. Things are going to need to ramp up significantly to reach recent trade totals …

There is 1 hour and 30 minutes remaining until the 3pm ET trade deadline.

Currently there has been 6 trades today.

The previous trade deadlines have had the following amount of total trades:
2018: 18
2017: 20
2016: 19
2015: 25https://t.co/6bXGo3KzXm

12:39 p.m. — The Golden Knights are flying under the radar as contenders in the Pacific this year, but don’t count them out of anything. They’re positioned to make a big move in the divisional arms race after San Jose traded for Gustav Nyquist and with Calgary sniffing around a bunch of other big names. Adding one of Mark Stone, Jason Zucker or Michael Ferland would come with the duel benefit of stealing a deadline target from the Flames.

Multiple sources tell The Athletic that the Golden Knights have shown interest/made calls for Mark Stone, Jason Zucker and Micheal Ferland this morning.

I’ve heard a few other names but McPhee has had conversations about those three for sure.#VegasBorn

12:12 p.m. — The Hurricanes moved into a playoff spot over the weekend and are one of the more fascinating teams to watch at this year’s deadline. Michael Ferland, a pending UFA, has been mentioned as a possible outgoing candidate for the right price. But it also appears Carolina has considered adding more top-six help with Jason Zucker, per The Athletic’s Michael Russo. The Wild and ‘Canes swapped Victor Rask and Nino Niederreiter in January.

Hearing Carolina has shown interest in #mnwild’s Jason Zucker

11:52 a.m. — Brendan Lemieux may not be long for the Big Apple. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the Rangers recieved trade inquiries as soon as the Kevin Hayes deal became official. The 22-year-old filled a valuable role in the Jets’ bottom six this season and has value to contenders, but New York may be better off keeping him.

NYR getting calls on Lemieux pretty much as soon as he was acquired. Likely moves on the Rangers blue line with McQuaid and Claesson expected to go.

TRADE: Jets acquire Kevin Hayes from Rangers

Indeed, Kevin Hayes is headed to Winnipeg. The Jets have this year’s version of Paul Stastny, who they acquired at the 2018 deadline for a first-rounder in a similar deal. But Hayes, 26, is a younger, more versatile player who can play both center and on the wing. He had 14 goals and 42 points in 51 games with the Blueshirts and is a clear upgrade over Bryan Little on Winnipeg’s second line with Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers. 

Told no salary retained in the Kevin Hayes deal so Winnipeg taking Hayes salary full-on

For the Rangers, GM Jeff Gorton continues to do a nice job accumulating assets. They would have as many as four picks in the first round this year if Dallas reaches the conference finals or Tampa Bay wins the Stanley Cup (a condition of the Ryan McDonagh deal), and Brendan Lemieux, 22, has a repuation as a strong bottom-six forward with some scoring chops (he has nine goals this season).

The 2022 fourth-round pick is conditional upon Winnipeg winning the Cup this year, so Rangers fans should root for Lightning vs. Jets in the Final.

New York: A

Winnipeg: B+

10:24 a.m. — Meanwhile, the Jets and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff​ are on the verge of making a splash at center for a second straight year. 

This potential WPG-NYR deal is WPG 2019 first-round pick, Brendan Lemieux and a conditional pick in exchange for Kevin Hayes. Believe an agreement is in place but trade call not set yet.

10:03 a.m. — Predators GM David Poile is a big game hunter, especially this time of year, and he has plenty of ammo. Eeli Tolvanen and Kevin Fiala have all been mentioned in rumored packages for Wayne Simmonds, Kevin Hayes or Artemi Panarin. Throw Ryan Hartman into that mix as well, per TSN’s Frank Seravalli.

#preds spent a first-round pick on Ryan Hartman last year on Deadline Day. Believe he is in play today as well, perhaps as part of a bigger package.

9:42 a.m. — After dealing Keith Kinkaid, the Devils are expected to move Marcus Johansson next, per TSN’s Darren Dreger. The 28-year-old wing has battled injuries the last two seasons but is one of the better forward on the market for contenders who aren’t interested in paying for Artemi Panarin or Mark Stone.

Devils with the first move of the morning. Marcus Johansson will go today as well. New Jersey looking for a 2nd round pick.

9:05 a.m. — TRADE: The Devils are sending Keith Kinkaid to Columbus in exchange for a 2022 fifth-round draft choice. The 29-year-old goalie is expected to serve as backup to Blue Jackets starter Sergei Bobrovsky, whose name also is in the rumor mill. Recent hot play, including back-to-back shutouts, means Bobrovsky is unlikely to move today, but regular backup Joonas Korpisalo could be a different story with Kinkaid now filling that role.

#NHLTrade: The #NJDevils have acquired a fifth-round pick in the 2022 #NHLDraft from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for goalie Keith Kinkaid (@blockaid1).

TRADE: Sharks add Nyquist to video game-like roster

It wouldn’t be the NHL trade deadline without Doug Wilson working some kind of voodoo dentistry over one of his unfortunate counterparts. The day can officially begin after the Sharks GM pulled a fast one over Ken Holland, acquiring Gustav Nyquist, who waived a no-trade clause, in a midnight heist without including a first-round draft pick. Nyquist, 29, has 49 points in 62 games, including 16 goals, and will slot into the third line on what was already one of the most dangerous lineups in the league. For good measure, Wilson also convinced Holland

Also believe the Red Wings will be retaining around 30 percent of Nyquist’s salary in the trade to San Jose

Sharks: A

Red Wings: C+

Nyquist ranks as the No.40 LW — plugged him in on the 3rd line with Thornton for now and that gives the #SJSharks the No.2 ranked 3rd Line.

No.7 — 1st Line
No.5 — 2nd Line
No.2 — 3rd Line
No.10 — 4th Line pic.twitter.com/xY9cp7L5No

TRADE: Sabres, Ducks swap D-men on deadline eve

Many wondered if Ducks GM Bob Murray would dangle one of his many young defensemen before the deadline. He did, and Buffalo bit. Hoping to stay in the playoff race while also keeping an eye on the future, GM Jason Botterill was willing to part with one of his three 2019 first-round picks to shake up the Sabres, who are just 12-18-6 since their 10-game win streak ended Nov. 29. It’s hard to fault the logic that Montour, only 24 and one of the NHL’s top puck-possession defensemen, can help boost the young Sabres now and in the future. But Buffalo is assuming a high degree of risk at that price, leaving some to question how necessary it was. He’s signed through the 2020-21 season. 

Guhle, 21, was the Sabres’ No. 4 prospect in SN’s preseason ranking. 

Both the San Jose and St. Louis 1st round picks that Buffalo own come with conditions. The #Ducks will have to abide by those same conditions depending on which pick they end up receiving.

Here are the conditions for each.https://t.co/950OhwDONP pic.twitter.com/WYkbuKB3nF

The pick headed to Anaheim will be the lowest of Buffalo’s three first-rounders, via either the Sharks or Blues. It’s possible the Ducks win this deal in the long run if Guhle meets his potential and they hit on the pick, but both teams should benefit.

Ducks: B+

Sabres: B

TRADE: Blue Jackets go for it with Duchene, Dzingel

Officially, the Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel trades were consummated separately, 24 hours apart, but we’ll lump them together for grading purposes.

First came the Friday afternoon blockbuster: Duchene was shipped to Columbus in time to suit up against his former team hours later, ending his yearlong stay with the Senators. He became a casualty of Ottawa’s state of dysfunction during his tenure, and a standout 2018-19 campaign wasn’t enough to mitigate the damage — along with the high first-round pick Colorado now possesses courtesy of the Sens.

Any trade involving Duchene, a pending unrestricted free agent, was going to be measured against that price, fair or not, but Pierre Dorion did a reputable job recouping a 2019 first rounder and three additional high draft picks with Duchene and Dzingel. Ottawa has 19 selections and counting in the 2019 and 2020 drafts. The challenge now is to make good use of them to complement a young core of Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk and Colin White.

For the Blue Jackets, these deals were no-brainers. Duchene is a fine No. 1 center, something the franchise has lacked, and Dzingel’s 22 goals made him one of the most coveted scoring assets available at the deadline. Give GM Jarmo Kekalainen credit: He’s pushing all his chips to the middle, hoping a playoff run will be enough to get Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky to buy in to what he’s building, now and later.

Blue Jackets: A

Senators: C

MORE: How will Matt Duchene fit with the Blue Jackets?

TRADE: Mats Zuccarello deal a short-lived win for Stars

At first blush, it looked like the Stars were getting a bargain. Zuccarello, respected for his contributions both on and off the ice, is a perfect fit for Dallas’ top six and GM Jim Nill may yet avoid giving up a first-round pick to get him (the 2019 pick becomes a first-rounder only if the Stars reach the third round of the playoffs and Zuccarello plays in 50 percent of their games in the first two rounds; if he re-signs with Dallas, the 2020 pick also would bump to the first round). But the trade took an unfortunate twist Sunday when Zuccarello exited his Stars debut with an injury. He’s expected to miss four weeks, a cruel blow with Dallas is the thick of a playoff race. They can’t afford to miss out again.

Rangers: B

Stars: C-

TRADE: Is Nick Jensen this year’s Michal Kempny?

The Capitals’ trade for Michal Kempny was a footnote at the 2018 deadline, but he became a critical piece to their Stanley Cup run. A year later, Washington again has a need for blueline depth. Enter Nick Jensen, a “reliable, modern-day defenseman who we feel can defend well and log valuable minutes for our club,” per GM Brian MacLellan, who immediately signed Jensen to a four-year, $10 million extension. The unheralded 28-year-old defenseman is a low-risk depth add for the Capitals as they build out their ranks for another postseason run. They similarly acquired forward Carl Hagelin from the Kings earlier in the week.

Red Wings: B+

Capitals: B

TRADE: Charlie Coyle dealt from Wild to Bruins

Charlie Coyle alone leaves a lot to be desired for Bruins fans hoping for a big splash at the deadline, but the 26-year-old wing adds to their depleted scoring depth if nothing else. Ryan Donato, one of Boston’s top prospects, struggled to fill that role in limited minutes this year, but he’s only 22 and could find his fit in Minnesota.

Bruins: B

Wild: B-

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