2024 NHL trade deadline winners and losers: Analyzing best, worst deals


2024 NHL trade deadline winners and losers: Analyzing best, worst deals originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The NHL trade deadline has passed, and there were plenty of fireworks over the last couple weeks as contending teams made roster upgrades.

Most of the best players rumored to be available ended up changing teams, and it’ll be fascinating to see how these moves shape the balance of power across the league.

The Western Conference arms race was in full effect as the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche — who’ve won the last two Stanley Cup titles — both made multiple bold deals.

Which teams made the best and worst moves? Here are the biggest winners and losers from the 2024 trade deadline.

Winners

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche did a tremendous job addressing their weaknesses by acquiring a legit top-four defenseman in Sean Walker from the Flyers, as well as a middle-six center in Casey Mittelstadt from the Sabres and a solid fourth-line forward in Brandon Duhaime from the Wild.

Mittelstadt is a 25-year-old two-way forward who was leading the Sabres with 47 points (14 goals, 33 assists) in 62 games at the time of the trade. Walker was one of the most coveted defensemen available. He is a smooth skater, generates scoring chances and is a good penalty killer. Duhaime brings snarl and additional penalty killing to Colorado’s bottom-six forward group.

The Avalanche’s top-six is absolutely loaded:

The Avalanche gave up a good defenseman in Bowen Byram to get Mittelstadt, multiple picks (including a conditional 2025 first-rounder) for Walker, and a 2026 third-round pick for Duhaime. The Avs parted with some valuable assets, but nothing crazy. They got strong value in these deals, and as a result, should be among the top favorites to win the Western Conference.

Vegas Golden Knights

Does the salary cap apply to the Golden Knights? Kidding.

But in all seriousness, if a team isn’t finding every (legal) edge it can in a hard salary cap league, then management isn’t doing its job. The Knights had $14.5 million in extra cap space at their disposal because Mark Stone and Robin Lehner are on long-term injured reserve.

So general manager Kelly McCrimmon went to work, adding middle-six wing Anthony Mantha (20 goals in 56 games) on Tuesday and then acquiring the top defenseman available in Noah Hanifin on Wednesday. Hanifin, in particular, is a huge addition for the Knights. He can drive offense, log 20-plus minutes nightly and contribute to both special teams units. Hanifin is a legit top-four defenseman, which Vegas needed with Alec Martinez’s injury. When Martinez returns, the Golden Knights should have really strong depth on the blue line.

But the Golden Knights weren’t done. They pulled off another shocking deal right before the deadline passed to acquire top-six forward Tomas Hertl from the Sharks. The price to get him was steep, and included a first-round pick and a top prospect, but Hertl is a dynamic offensive player who should be far more productive on a good Vegas team surrounded by plenty of talent.

Injuries have hurt the Knights at times this season, and they have just a six-point lead in the wild card race. But the additions of Mantha, Hertl and Hanifin have provided tremendous depth. If healthy come mid-April, Vegas has a pretty decent chance of making it back to the Stanley Cup Final to defend its title.

Noah HanifinNoah Hanifin

Noah Hanifin was the best player rumored to be available at the NHL trade deadline.

Florida Panthers

The Panthers are the league’s best team right now. They have an NHL-best 90 points and have won eight of their last 10 games. They added a skilled middle-six winger in Vladimir Tarasenko in a deal with the Senators for a pretty low cost — a 2024 conditional fourth-round pick and a 2025 third-round pick. Tarasenko had 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists) in 57 games for the Senators. He also brings 97 games worth of playoff experience, including a Stanley Cup title with the Blues in 2019.

Florida also was able to re-sign top-four defenseman Gustav Forsling to an eight-year contract extension worth a team-friendly $5.75 million per season.

It was a really good week for the Panthers. They are the favorites to repeat as Eastern Conference champions.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes almost never make deals for rentals. They just don’t give up valuable futures, like first-round picks, for these kinds of players.

But they finally caved Thursday and acquired Jake Guentzel from the Penguins, along with defenseman Ty Smith, in exchange for forward Michael Bunting, forward prospects Vasily Ponomarev and Ville Koivunen, the rights to forward Cruz Lucius, a conditional 2024 first-round pick and a conditional 2024 fifth-round pick. Carolina kept all of its top prospects and only will give Pittsburgh a first-round pick if it makes the Stanley Cup Final (it’ll be a second-rounder otherwise).

The Hurricanes have reached the second round or Eastern Conference Final in four of the last five years, and their problem is always the same: A lack of goal scoring. For example, they lost four one-goal games to the Panthers in last year’s East Final.

Guentzel has the potential to change that. He has scored 20-plus goals in seven consecutive seasons. The veteran right wing is a gifted playmaker, too, with 30-plus assists in five of the last six campaigns. Guentzel is a proven playoff performer as well. He has 58 points, including 34 goals, in 58 career playoff games. He played a key role on the Penguins’ Stanley Cup-winning team in 2016-17.

Carolina also acquired Evgeny Kuznetsov from the Capitals for a 2025 third-round pick. He’s no longer an elite center but still a good playmaker.

The Hurricanes were already a well-coached team that’s tough to play against. The additions of Guentzel and Kuznetsov make them even better.

2024 NHL trade winners and losers2024 NHL trade winners and losers

Jake Guentzel brings Stanley Cup-winning experience to the ‘Canes.

Losers

Calgary Flames

The Flames had the No. 1 center (Elias Lindholm) available, the No. 1 defenseman (Hanifin) available, and another good veteran d-man in Chris Tanev to move before the trade deadline. With all of those quality players to trade (and all three were dealt), you’d think they would get a bunch of valuable assets in return, right?

It’s early to make a definitive judgement, but the return feels pretty underwhelming right now.

The return for those three players ended up being a 2024 first-rounder, Andrei Kuzmenko, defenseman prospects Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, a 2025 first-round pick, defenseman Daniil Miromanov, a conditional 2025 third-round pick, defenseman prospect Artem Grushnikov, a 2024 second-round pick and a 2026 conditional third-round pick. Most of those picks are expected to be late in their respective rounds, assuming the Golden Knights, Stars and Canucks are all competitive in the short term, which is expected. None of the prospects are top 50 ranked. Miromanov is only six months younger than Hanifin and has just 29 games of NHL experience.

We’ll see what the Flames end up doing with these picks, but right now it’s hard to like what Calgary got in return for some really good veterans.

Elias Lindholm tradeElias Lindholm trade

Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin were two of the best players moved before the trade deadline.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs needed to add difference-maker on the back end, and neither of the two defensemen they acquired in recent weeks — Ilya Lyubushkin and Joel Edmundson — fit that description. Sure, these two guys bring more toughness and penalty killing to Toronto’s back end, but they won’t move the needle much. Edmundson is a sixth defenseman on a top team.

The Leafs are under a lot of pressure to make a deep playoff run. They are loaded with high-end talent at forward and took a positive step forward last season by winning their first playoff series since 2004. But as things stand now, it’s hard to see them beating the rival Bruins in the first round if that’s their matchup.

Toronto also acquired forward Connor Dewar from Minnesota. Dewar can kill penalties, but again, he’s not a difference-maker.

The 2024 NHL Draft is seen as pretty weak by most experts, so it was a little puzzling that the Leafs decided not to move that pick in a deal to add an impact player. When you have a roster this talented, you have to go for it. Toronto didn’t do that, and the front office likely will regret it come playoff time.

Boston Bruins

The Bruins needed to add a center to address their drop from ranking No. 2 in faceoff percentage last season to 21st this season. That didn’t happen. The B’s needed to bolster their depth on the left side of the blue line, preferably with a physical, veteran defenseman who can kill penalties. That didn’t happen. Boston needed a middle-six forward who could take some of the scoring burden off the team’s top players. That didn’t happen.

The only real weakness the Bruins addressed at the trade deadline was bolstering their toughness on the fourth line by acquiring Pat Maroon from the Wild. Maroon is a three-time champion and could provide some scoring depth to the bottom-six, but he’s not a difference maker.

The real head scratcher was the acquisition of right-shot defenseman Andrew Peeke from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Bruins gave up Jakub Zboril and a 2027 third-round pick for a player who was a healthy scratch multiple times this season for arguably the league’s worst team. His contract, which carries a $2.75 million cap hit through 2025-26, also has the potential to be a bad one. The Bruins better hope their system will unlock his potential in a way that the Blue Jackets’ didn’t.

The Bruins are one of the seven or eight teams with a chance to make a deep playoff run, and even though they lacked high-end trade assets and salary cap space to make deals, it’s impossible to feel good about what they accomplished at this trade deadline. They better hope the goaltending remains elite going into the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning were reportedly the preferred destination for Hanifin, but they weren’t able to work out a deal with the Flames. They settled for Coyotes defenseman Matt Dumba, who’s having a poor season. Tampa Bay has tremendous offensive talent and a future Hall of Fame goaltender, but this team is really lacking on the blue line with Mikhail Sergachev sidelined. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Lightning suffer another first-round playoff exit in April.

New York Rangers

The Rangers lead the Metropolitan Division and have a good chance to win multiple playoff rounds. They were reportedly in the mix for Jake Guentzel, and not only did they fail to land the Penguins winger, he went to New York’s division rival, the Hurricanes.

The only notable upgrade the Rangers made was acquiring center Alex Wennberg from Kraken. Wennberg has never won 50 percent or more of his faceoffs. He has scored more than 13 goals in a season just once. He’s a nice depth addition but not someone who’s going to take the Rangers to the next level.

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings made no upgrades at the trade deadline. They really needed to bolster their goaltending but weren’t able to do so. Another reason why the Kings are in the losers category is that all of the teams around them in the Pacific Division — such as the Oilers, Golden Knights and Canucks — made good moves. The Kings have a bright future thanks to their young core, but it’s hard to see them winning more than one round in a loaded Western Conference.





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