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Stat Hockey Questions: Free agent round-up

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14th April, 2021

Despite it being the trade deadline with the least action since 2000, there were significant moves, questionable moves and teams that stood pat on this day and the days leading up to it.

In more recent years, more trades have been going off prior to the actual deadline day, so this may effect the comparison. Teams that made the largest impact were Washington, Toronto, Florida, Boston, Colorado, Columbus, Chicago, and Detroit.

How will the new additions help teams now and, in the future, involving trades before the deadline?

Let’s start with the teams that are making a playoff push. The Capitals did an early cap dump in moving Jonas Siegenthaler so they could snag Michael Raffl and acquire Anthony Mantha in separate deals and headline trade deadline day with the biggest trade.

Since they are pressed for money, they had to give up a bit more and move an excellent five-on-five player in Jakub Vrana out. This should do well short-term for Washington, being able to pull in a larger forward whose size will help more in playoffs. On top of that, he isn’t a rental and, with the addition of some forward depth in Raffl, should complement that nicely considering he is able to play both wing ad centre.

Toronto made a few moves despite having almost zero cap space to work with, acquiring Ben Hutton, Antti Soumela, David Rittich, Nick Foligno, Stefan Noesen, and Riley Nash. Since it appears Frederik Andersen will be out until at least the playoffs, it was a good decision to add goaltender depth with a little more experience to not lose the top spot in the north division they currently hold.

Foligno is a great addition with his size and play-style that fits the mold exactly for what playoffs bring. He would be able to move up and down the line-up if needed, but I see him slotting in on the third line, possibly second line at best. Foligno also brings playoff experience and leadership and is now one of four former captains on the Leafs roster.

The other additions were depth moves to slot in on the bottom lines or filling in for injuries, which is never a bad move. Toronto didn’t package too much of their future, but now is a perfect time and perfect year for a deep playoff run so they had to take advantage, even if it meant giving up a first-round pick. Toronto’s cap situation had to be a factor to inflate the price in landing Foligno since Columbus was willing to eat some of the remaining money on his contract.

Moves had to be made in Florida following the Aaron Ekblad injury, which should keep him out the remainder of the season. They went out and got Brandon Montour, Lucas Carlsson, Lucas Wallmark, Sam Bennett and Nikita Gusev. Florida didn’t have to give up a first-round pick to fill the hole left on defence, and were able to add possible impact players who were looking for a change of scenery in Bennett and Gusev.


Bennett is the type of hard-nosed player who I can see shining come playoffs. They lost a couple of prospects, but the window to win is now for the Panthers, even in the competitive central division. They have to take advantage of Sergei Bobrovsky’s form. Bennett should give them a good third-line centre option and Gusev will be able to slot in on any of the wings and put up points – considering what he did on a lowly Devils team last season.

They will have the rights to Bennett too after this season since he’s an RFA. They didn’t package everything for rentals only and overall had a very productive last few days around the trade deadline setting themselves up nicely to be competitive.

Boston made a move for the biggest player available in Taylor Hall, but failed to address their defence impactfully and were only able to acquire Mike Reilly. He hasn’t been in the league that long and defence looks to be what will hold the Bruins back from a deep playoff run.

They didn’t address their defence in the offseason after losing two impactful players. Now, after losing Brandon Carlo for significant time, they continue to expect their young guys to jump in and put up big numbers. Hall should slot nicely in on the second line and give them a big threat for their top two lines.

Colorado managed to go out and get depth at each position without giving up anything higher than a fourth-round pick. All three players they added at the trade deadline are experienced and give security to their team if someone were to go down. They got Devan Dubnyk in goal to take the load off of Philipp Grubauer and give them a better back-up option than Jonas Johansson for now. Patrik Nemeth is a good defensive defenceman and will slot in nicely to a very offensive-minded unit and will be able to kill penalties effectively.

The last addition in Carl Soderberg at centre provides depth for cheap down the middle and more experience than J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost.

Columbus did really well for themselves in selling their upcoming UFAs for more than they were worth, and managing to get a good number of draft picks that include two first-round picks this coming draft. For a team that is already out of it and looking towards next season and beyond, that’s a good haul.

Chicago did some retooling and that was probably the best option for them as their young guys have performed this season without Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach. They are still in the playoff race, but aren’t as likely to make it as Nashville or Dallas.


They took on the contract of Brett Connolly, who wasn’t having the best year, but hope he can make an impact if he returns to form from his Washington days. This got the Blackhawks some promising young players in Henrik Borgstrom and Riley Stillman, who may be able to help as early as next season.

They swapped Matthew Highmore and got Adam Gaudette who may benefit from changing teams, as well as getting a few mid-round draft picks from other teams for a couple depth players on expiring contracts. Whether they compete this year down the stretch, they put themselves in a better position going forward rather than standing pat at the deadline.

Detroit competed with Columbus for the best assets in return for a team that’s out of the playoff race this year. They managed to set themselves up very nicely in the upcoming drafts for this year and next. They took on a contract and sold Anthony Mantha to receive Jakub Vrana, a first round pick and a second rounder in a blockbuster deal to close out the trade deadline. They used their cap space to their advantage to gain another pick, but in general they were able to sell a couple upcoming free agents and gain more mid-round draft picks in what will very much help them build their farm system even more and hopefully find a couple gems in late rounds.