NHL Trade Deadline: Splitting All 32 Teams Into Winners, Losers and ‘Meh’

NHL Trade Deadline: Splitting All 32 Teams Into Winners, Losers and ‘Meh’

Adam Proteau separates the 32 NHL teams into winners, losers and squads that didn’t move the needle much after the 2023 trade deadline.

Jakob Chychrun.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL’s trade deadline has now passed, with teams prevented as per 3 p.m. ET Friday from making any more moves for playoff purposes. As always, it’s worth noting that the true winners and losers at the deadline don’t become a true reality until weeks, months or years after trades have been made. But we can still take some time to examine which teams jump out to us for one reason or another.

This year, we’re putting teams into three different categories: “winners” and “losers,” which are self-explanatory, and “meh” teams – teams that either didn’t do anything or made very small changes to their roster. Also, for clarity’s sake, we’re looking at moves that were made in the weeks leading up to the deadline. With that said, let’s get to it. (All teams listed in alphabetical order.)


Arizona Coyotes. Let’s be clear – we’re proponents of the tanking way of building a Stanley Cup contender, and the Coyotes couldn’t be more transparent in stripping down their roster to the bare bones – but there’s something very unseemly about Arizona being a car park for bad contracts. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong made seven different trades since Feb. 22, adding eight different draft picks in the process. He now has 12 picks in this summer’s entry draft and 37 picks in the next three drafts. If the Coyotes can’t build a team that can contend in the long term with this many picks, it’s time to give up on the franchise. For now, though, Armstrong made the most of his players who wouldn’t be in the team’s plans next season and beyond.

Boston Bruins. The Bruins made three trades before the deadline, and two of them were for above-average competitors: first, they got defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway from Washington, then they landed winger Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit. Boston GM Don Sweeney is focused on the here and now, and he made a team that already was the class of the league even better. It cost him five draft picks, including two first-rounders, but a deep playoff run will erase that from people’s minds rather quickly. As it stands, the B’s are as dangerous a team as any in the league.

Chicago Blackhawks. Like the Coyotes, the Hawks knew going into the season they would be a win-challenged group. And Chicago GM Kyle Davidson did his level best to trade away every pending UFA, as well as a couple of players who had term beyond this year.

He made a whopping nine trades since Feb. 22, adding seven draft picks (including four first-or-second-rounders) in total. The Blackhawks no longer have star winger Patrick Kane, but they have 10 picks in the first five rounds of this summer’s draft and 24 picks in the first five rounds of the next three drafts. The Hawks will be bad again next season, but at least there’s a cogent plan in place. Compared to many other teams, that makes them a winner.

Columbus Blue Jackets. Few teams have had a more miserable season than Columbus, which is why Blue Jackets fans were looking forward to seeing what the team could get for their handful of veterans who didn’t factor into their long-term plans. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen didn’t come away empty-handed from the deadline, as he made four trades that shipped out veterans Jakub Voracek, Vladislav Gavrikov, goalie Joonas Korpisalo and Gustav Nyquist and landed a first-round draft pick, a third-rounder, a fifth-rounder and a seventh-rounder. That’s better than what Columbus had before, and the Jackets now have seven picks in the first four rounds of this summer’s draft. It will still be painful for Columbus the rest of the season, but Kekalainen did about as well as he was going to do with the assets he’d made available.

Dallas Stars. The high-octane Stars didn’t need to do much to a lineup that has made Dallas the top team in the Central Division thus far this season, but GM Jim Nill pulled off three deals before the deadline. The most notable move was the acquisition of forward Max Domi from Chicago, and that deal only cost them a second-round draft pick. The Stars will be a favorite to be a top team coming out of the Central in the post-season, and this last round of tinkering could be what helps them outlast their playoff opponents.

Detroit Red Wings. Detroit GM Steve Yzerman is one of the savviest hockey minds in the game. He showed why in making four trades before the deadline: despite the Wings being a playoff contender, Yzerman didn’t hesitate to make moves on key players, sending defenseman Filip Hronek to Vancouver, forward Jakub Vrana to St. Louis, Bertuzzi to Boston and forward Oskar Sundqvist to Minnesota. In return, he brought back six draft picks, including two first-rounders, a second-rounder and two fourth-rounders. That’s an excellent haul and one that’s going to speed up the building of Detroit’s roster long-term. It’s still perfectly fine to believe Yzerman has the right ideas in Motown.

Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton is under enormous pressure to win a few playoff rounds this spring, and GM Ken Holland didn’t break the bank at the deadline, pulling off three trades that made his lineup bigger and more defensively responsible. Acquiring Nick Bjugstad from Arizona, Mattias Ekholm from Nashville and cap space from Carolina (in the trade that moved forward Jesse Puljujarvi to the Hurricanes) gives Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft more options night-in and night-out, and it didn’t cost Holland more than a first-round pick, a third-rounder and a fourth-rounder. He added talent to the roster, and only Puljujarvi and veteran defenseman Tyson Barrie were moved out. That’s a credit to Holland and a good harbinger of what’s to come for Edmonton.

Los Angeles Kings. The Kings made five trades before the deadline, with the most notable deals bringing defenseman Gavrikov and goaltender Korpisalo to Los Angeles from Columbus. That trade cost Kings GM Rob Blake a first-round pick and a third-rounder, but the Kings now are a much more balanced squad that should be able to win at least one playoff round. Blake believes in his team, and it’s not difficult to see why he’s got as much confidence in them as he does.

Minnesota Wild. The Wild made seven different trades since Feb. 17. Although some of the moves were made to allow other teams to be cap-compliant in their own trades, Minnesota GM Bill Guerin managed to keep his group competitive in their Central Division playoff race. He moved out forward Jordan Greenway, but otherwise, he added five draft picks, as well as veteran forwards Marcus Johansson, Gustav Nyquist, Sundqvist from Detroit, and defenseman John Klingberg from Anaheim. We may not like the Wild to win a playoff round, but Guerin has made the team better, and that’s the bare minimum you should want from your team’s GM.

Nashville Predators. The Predators are in the early stages of a management overhaul, and outgoing GM David Poile was, to his credit, not delusional about the Preds’ chances of being a playoff team. Nashville made seven trades before the deadline, sending veteran forward Mikael Granlund to Pittsburgh, Ekholm to Edmonton, winger Nino Niederreiter to Winnipeg and winger Tanner Jeannot to Tampa Bay. In return, Poile acquired two first-round picks, three second-rounders and nine picks in total. This is exactly what the Preds needed, and now, when Barry Trotz takes over from Poile this summer, Nashville has an excellent foundation for the future.

New Jersey Devils. The Devils made two moves before the deadline, acquiring arguably the top forward available in former Sharks winger Timo Meier, as well as journeyman forward Curtis Lazar from Vancouver. Adding Meier cost Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald first- and second-round draft picks, and four players, but none of the four were key components of New Jersey’s present or future. The battle for dominance of the Metropolitan Division promises to be brutal, but New Jersey now has the speed and skill to keep pace with the best Metro teams out there.

New York Islanders. The Isles were one of the Metro teams in most need of a talent boost before the deadline, and GM Lou Lamoriello went out and landed a top player in center Bo Horvat, in addition to former Leafs winger Pierre Engvall. Lamoriello had to surrender a first-round draft pick and a third-rounder, as well as a top young player in forward Aatu Raty to bring in Horvat and Engvall, but now the Islanders have a fighting chance to win a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. They also still have most of their top draft picks in the next three years, so you can’t say Lamoriello mortgaged the future for a quick fix. Horvat is there for the long haul, and the Islanders have most of their talent signed through at least next season. It may not be enough to get them into the playoffs this year, but you must give Lamoriello credit for trying to swing for the fences.

New York Rangers. From a pure talent standpoint, the Rangers came away from the deadline with two tremendous talents up front – former Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko and former Blackhawks star Patrick Kane. And while they had to give up a first-round pick, a second-rounder and a third-rounder to make those moves, the Blueshirts still have a first-round pick in each of the next three drafts. Certainly, the job of Rangers GM Chris Drury was made easier by Kane essentially dictating his destination as he left Chicago, but the bottom line is that the Rangers have incredible depth and difference-making talent to spare now. Can’t say that’s anything other than a win for them.

Ottawa Senators. Ottawa made four deals before the deadline, including a blockbuster swap that made former Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun a Senator. Yes, Sens GM Pierre Dorion had to part ways with a first-round draft pick, three second-rounders and a fourth-rounder to acquire Chychrun and dispose of the contract of defenseman Nikita Zaitsev. Yes, the trades may not have happened quickly enough to give Ottawa enough landing strip to try and make the playoffs this season, but the Senators now can enter next season with a terrific group of young forwards and a much better defense corps. That’s a clear win for the franchise.

San Jose Sharks. The Sharks made six trades before the deadline arrived, and although they didn’t find a taker for star defenseman Erik Karlsson, they did land a huge package for Meier and added five draft picks, including a first-rounder and a second-rounder, as well as a fourth and fifth-round pick, and two seventh-rounders. We suspect San Jose GM Mike Grier will revisit a Karlsson trade this summer, but at the moment, he’s cleared up his roster as best he could, and the Sharks can head into the off-season knowing they’re better-positioned for future success.

St. Louis Blues. It has been a terribly disappointing season for the Blues, but let’s give St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong his due – he swallowed a bitter pill and dealt away key veteran forwards Ryan O’Reilly, Tarasenko, Ivan Barbashev and Noel Acciari. In return, he added for the present (landing forward Vrana from Detroit and forward Sammy Blais from the Rangers) as well as the future (bringing in two first-round picks, a second-rounder, a third-rounder and a fourth-rounder). St. Louis still doesn’t have much in the way of cap space next season, but Armstrong’s reality-based decisions are still a positive thing. At the very least, he’s shown the status quo won’t be acceptable for his group. That’s more than you can say for some of the GMs in the “loser” category of this list.

Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have been one of the NHL’s better squads this season, but that didn’t stop Toronto GM Kyle Dubas from remodelling much of his roster: in six trades before the deadline, Dubas landed incredible depth on defense (including former Caps D-man Erik Gustafsson, former Hawks blueliner Jake McCabe, and former Canucks defenseman Luke Schenn), and greatly strengthened his forward group (with O’Reilly, Acciari and former Hawk Sam Lafferty). The Buds had to trade away two first-round picks, two second-rounders and a third-rounder to acquire the veterans, but they only took defenseman Rasmus Sandin and forward Pierre Engvall off the NHL roster. It may have been a mistake not to add goalie insurance, but Toronto now has arguably the deepest defense corps in the game and a solid supporting cast to their core-four star forwards group. They’re as all-in as it gets.

Washington Capitals. Similar to the Predators, the Capitals were on the fringes of the playoff picture, but Washington GM Brian MacLellan wisely chose to make moves for the future. They made four moves before the deadline, including the blockbuster with Boston that shipped out Orlov and Hathaway, the deal with Toronto that added Sandin to their long-term blueline picture. Other deals moved out veteran forwards Johansson to Minnesota and Lars Eller to Colorado in return for a second and third-round pick. It might have been easier to add pieces to the team and attempt to make the playoffs, but MacLellan made the smarter move and focused on the long road.

James van Riemsdyk.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports


Anaheim Ducks. At the start of the season, the Ducks signed veteran star defenseman John Klingberg to a one-year contract, knowing full well they’d probably be trading him by the deadline. But if you’d said that all they would get for Klingberg was a fourth-round pick and an average prospect in Nikita Nesterenko, you’d assuredly get a lot of disappointment from Anaheim fans. Ducks GM Pat Verbeek may have overplayed his hand in waiting until the deadline to make his moves. While we expect Anaheim to be one of the more active teams on the trade front this summer, their deadline moves were as underwhelming as the team’s on-ice performance this season.

Florida Panthers. The Panthers have had a miserable year this season, and as such, you’d think they would’ve been a mover and shaker on the trade front before the deadline. Nope. Not only did they not make a single move before the deadline, but they’ve also not made one trade all season long. Part of the reason for that is their asset cupboard is virtually bare after making moves before previous deadlines, but GM Bill Zito couldn’t even pry away someone like Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk to bolster his collection of forwards. They’ve got nobody to turn to but themselves, and so far this year, that hasn’t been nearly good enough to keep expectations high for the rest of the year.

Philadelphia Flyers. Speaking of van Riemsdyk – can you believe Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher couldn’t conjure up any market whatsoever for the veteran winger? The mind boggles, but that’s the reality for the sad-sack Flyers. It’s a comment on the quality of Philadelphia’s talent base that Fletcher made just three moves before the deadline and none of great consequence. It’s also not a good harbinger for the future that Fletcher hasn’t been fired yet. This organization is mired in a haze of its own making, and there’s no relief in sight. They were never going to turn into a Cup contender with a few moves at the deadline, but the lack of substance on the trade front tells you all you need to know about how bad things really are in Philly.

Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins are fighting for a wild-card slot in the East, and though they made four trades before the deadline, Pittsburgh has acquired players that create as many questions as GM Ron Hextall attempted to answer in landing them. Hextall traded for two veterans far past their prime (D-man Dmitry Kulikov and forward Nick Bonino) and a veteran forward in Mikael Granlund, who saddles them with long-term salary cap repercussions for two more seasons after the current campaign. It’s entirely possible that, despite these moves, the Pens will miss the playoffs altogether. If they do, it’s difficult to envision Hextall being retained to guide them for the long haul. It’s only gotten messier for Pittsburgh this season, and all their wounds are self-inflicted.

Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have been arguably the NHL’s biggest letdown team this year, and the seven trades they made before the deadline are also major disappointments. For every asset GM Patrik Allvin acquired in those moves, he traded away players or draft picks that could’ve been best used by keeping them around. The first-rounder he got from the Islanders for Horvat was used to land Hronek from Detroit. While Hronek is a useful player, he won’t be a difference-maker in Vancouver. It’s easy to see why Canucks fans are irate.

Unlike, say, the Red Wings, they don’t have a clear direction, and they’re likely to be on the outside of the playoff picture this time next season. Not good.

Lars Eller.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports


Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres made six trades before the deadline, but none of them can be seen as needle-movers in a positive sense. Buffalo GM Kevyn Adams added veteran forwards Riley Stillman and Jordan Greenway before the deadline. But with the cap room the Sabres had, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect more from the team on the trade market. Teams don’t always have to make moves to be winners at the deadline, and Buffalo may yet be a big-time trade player in the off-season, but right now, they’re taking small steps forward.

Calgary Flames. The Flames hadn’t made a single trade this season after radically remaking their roster this past summer, but Calgary GM Brad Treliving pulled off a pair of deals before the deadline. Unfortunately for Flames fans, those two moves were not the kind of moves that puts a team over the top. They added a pure depth forward in Dryden Hunt, a fringe scorer in journeyman winger Nick Ritchie, and a bottom-pair defenseman in Troy Stecher. Given Calgary’s unfortunate position in the Western Conference wild-card race, Treliving’s additions likely won’t give them the boost they really need. They didn’t necessarily lose at the deadline, but they sure didn’t win.

Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have one of the NHL’s very best teams this season, and that’s probably why GM Don Waddell didn’t emerge as a mover and shaker on the trade front before the deadline. That said, Carolina did improve their overall talent base, adding Puljujarvi from Edmonton and veteran puck-moving defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere from Arizona. That only cost them a third-round draft pick and a middling prospect, but considering the arms race that has taken place in the Metro Division, it would’ve been reassuring for Canes fans to see a little bit more from Waddell. Carolina remains a Cup front-runner, but they’re obviously leaning on the players who already form their core rather than turning to the trade market to solve their issues.

Colorado Avalanche. We argued earlier this week that, of all the NHL teams involved in the trade market, the white-hot Avs had the least amount of pressure to make big moves before the deadline. And they only tinkered with their roster prior to Friday at 3 p.m., adding Eller from Washington, defenseman Jack Johnson from Chicago, and goalie Keith Kinkaid from Boston. Don’t get it twisted – we still really like Colorado’s Cup chances this season. But from the perspective of the trade deadline, they kept things relatively low-key.

Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens made three trades before the deadline this year, but none of them were needle-movers in a positive sense. Habs GM Kent Hughes isn’t delusional enough to believe his team could be a playoff team this season, and the truth is the talent he would’ve been offering on the trade market wasn’t going to quickly speed up their rebuilding process. They didn’t hurt themselves at the deadline, but they didn’t help themselves much, either.

Seattle Kraken. The Kraken, who’ve been playing with house money all season long as they challenge for the top spot in the weak Pacific Division, didn’t make any moves other than a Feb. 5 trade for depth defenseman Jaycob Megna. They didn’t have any areas that needed immediate attention, and GM Ron Francis has been one of the more patient team-builders in the game, so it wasn’t at all surprising to see him stay quiet at this year’s deadline. They’re still going to be a playoff contender, but it didn’t make sense for them to go all-in this season.

Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts also are a top team in the league this year, and GM Julien BriseBois added a couple of bottom-six forwards in former Predator Tanner Jeannot and former Shark Michael Eyssimont, but he had to give up quite a bit for Jeannot – a first-rounder, second-rounder, third-rounder, fourth-rounder and fifth-rounder – and to many people, that was an overpayment. BriseBois has earned the benefit of the doubt. But he didn’t come away as a clear winner, at least, compared to other teams in the Atlantic Division.

Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights made three deals of consequence before the deadline, but none of them were blockbusters. They added depth forwards Barbashev from St. Louis and Teddy Blueger from Pittsburgh, as well as accomplished but fading goalie Jonathan Quick from the Kings by way of Columbus. Vegas didn’t pay huge prices for any of the three veterans, but they also didn’t completely address their needs with players who will be difference-makers. That puts them squarely in “meh” territory.

Winnipeg Jets. The Jets have been sagging of late, and they did have significant cap space to use by the deadline, but they added a pair of middling forwards in former Predator Niederreiter and former Bolt Vladimir Namestnikov. Neither of those two will be the difference between them winning or losing a playoff round, but Winnipeg should get some credit for not standing pat. 

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