The Carolina Hurricanes entered the NHL trade deadline bruised and battered and looking for a lifeline.
They finished the day with a message to the rest of the league that they are ready to be Stanley Cup contenders after pulling off some of the most important trades of the frenzied period.
Carolina began the day by prying center Vincent Trocheck from the Florida Panthers for forwards Erik Haula and Lucas Wallstrom plus prospects Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen. Trocheck (10 goals, 36 points) has had a down season but is only two years removed from a 31-goal, 75-point campaign. At 26 and signed through 2022, Trocheck gives the Hurricanes a formidable center trio along with Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal.
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General manager Don Waddell then acquired defenseman Sami Vatanen, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, from the New Jersey Devils for prospects Janne Kuokkanen and Fredrik Claesson and a conditional fourth-round pick. He finished the day by trading for defenseman Brady Skjei, sending the New York Rangers a first-round pick. With Dougie Hamilton (fractured fibula) and Brett Pesce (upper body) out potentially long-term, these two moves were imperative if the Hurricanes, occupying the second wild-card spot, wanted to make a playoff push. Both are mobile blueliners who fit well with the Hurricanes’ uptempo style.
Vincent Trocheck will give the Hurricanes a dangerous 1-2-3 punch at center. (Photo: Cody Glenn, USA TODAY Sports)
Here are the rest of the winners and losers of the trade period.
Pittsburgh Penguins. They lost Jake Guentzel before the All-Star break and have loaded up at forward since. In addition to finding a winger for Sidney Crosby in Jason Zucker, they brought in Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues on deadline day. Marleau’s experience will help and Sheary played on the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup teams.
Edmonton Oilers. One can joke about GM Ken Holland reuniting with former Red Wings Mike Green (for a conditional fourth) and Andreas Athanasiou (for Sam Gagner and two second-round picks), but the moves have logic, especially after he also added winger Tyler Ennis from the Ottawa Senators for a fifth-round pick. Edmonton is second in the Pacific Division, and it has played the year without enough quality wingers. Athanasiou, a restricted free agent this offseason, has the speed and offensive skills to mesh with Connor McDavid. Ennis should slot on the third line, while Green will give the Oilers experience and a power-play threat.
New York Islanders. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, with 24 goals, becomes the Islanders’ leading goal scorer. He’ll fit on the penalty kill that has had injuries to Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck. The Islanders gave up a first-rounder, second-rounder and potential third-rounder, but they’ve signed him to an extension for six years at a reasonable $5 million cap hit.
Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets loaded up before last year’s deadline, though they lost their free agents during the summer. They’re in the bottom five in the league in scoring and did nothing to improve that. Their acquisition of Devin Shore (four goals, career-best 13 goals) won’t help.
Sam Gagner. Less than 24 hours ago, Gagner was playing on a line with McDavid, the game’s most dynamic player. Now, he will join the NHL’s worst team. His tour around the league continues; Gagner has now played for the Oilers (twice), Arizona Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Blue Jackets and Vancouver Canucks since being drafted by Edmonton in 2007.
Colorado Avalanche. Their lone move of the day was sending a fourth-round pick to the Senators for Vladislav Namestnikov, a fair price for useful forward but not an offensive driver. The Avs are second in the Central, but they are dealing with injuries to forwards Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, Matt Calvert and Colin Wilson. Their top goalie, Philipp Grubauer, is also on injured reserve. GM Joe Sakic’s restraint could cost them down the stretch.
Dallas Stars. The Stars could challenge in the West, but their lone move was shipping out a minor league defenseman for a sixth-round pick. They did nothing to address an offense that has scored 2.66 goals per game (25th in the NHL). Stars GM Jim Nill says the return of defenseman Stephen Johns from a head injury is a big plus. “We did a lot of our work during the summer,” he told reporters. “We like where we’re at. We like our depth.”
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