James Neal


Which trade deadline acquisition has made the biggest impact so far?


It has been nearly one month since the NHL trade deadline came and went, so let’s check in with how some of the key acquisitions are doing for their new teams.

Obviously this is a pretty ridiculously small sampling of games, and a lot can still happen over the next few weeks and months (and over the next several years!) but we can still get an idea as to which moves have made an immediate impact and which ones have not.

First, a bunch of numbers involving all of the key players traded between Feb. 20 and the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

So … how about Ryan Spooner?

Included as part of the trade that sent Rick Nash to Boston, Spooner has taken full advantage of his increased role with the rebuilding Rangers and made a pretty significant impact with his new team and has already recorded five multiple point games. He only had four with the Bruins before the trade.

It is going to create an interesting dilemma for the Rangers heading into the offseason as Spooner will be a restricted free agent and eligible for a new contract. Do they re-sign him for what will probably be at least $3 million per season (keep in mind he already makes $2.85 million this season) or try to capitalize on what is a pretty obvious hot streak and see if they can flip him for more assets around the draft?

The biggest concern at this point is that his possession numbers have plummeted with the Rangers (some of that has to be the result of going from Boston, one of the best teams in the league, to whatever is left of the Rangers) and there is no way he is going to maintain that sort of assist pace. But he has a track record of at least being a 40-50 point player the past few years without getting huge minutes, so there might be something there the Rangers can work with if they choose to.

Just below him is one of the players the Rangers shipped out of town as part of their roster purge, forward J.T. Miller.

With injury limiting defenseman Ryan McDonagh to just two games with the Lightning, the other player acquired in that trade has already made quite an impact recording at least one point in five of his first seven games with the team, including his first career hat trick.

Meanwhile, in San Jose, Evander Kane has been a shots on goal machine for the Sharks and finally had a breakout game on Friday night when he scored four goals in a huge 7-4 win over the Calgary Flames. It is doubtful that he will be anymore more than a rental for the Sharks, but he has made a pretty significant impact so far and is probably going to get them into the playoffs, and they really didn’t give up all that much in terms of future assets to acquire him.

Probably the biggest surprise trade of the season came when the St. Louis Blues, still very  much in the playoff race, traded Paul Stastny to Winnipeg to help make an already powerful Jets offense even better. That trade has not disappointed for the Jets. Stastny has recorded at least one point in all but one game he has played with his new team while the Jets are 5-2-1 with him in the lineup.

At the other end of the spectrum the Devils have not really received much production from Michael Grabner. He went eight games without a point before recording a goal and an assist in their big win over Vegas. Still, he brings an element of speed to a lineup that is suddenly one of the faster ones in the league. He can still be a dangerous, impactful player even if he is not scoring goals.

Vegas gave up a lot of draft assets to get Tomas Tatar and he has not really produced a ton yet, but he has proven to be a pretty consistent 25-goal winger in the NHL and is signed through next season, something that could be important if the Golden Knights are not able to re-sign James Neal or David Perron after this season.

Tomas Plekanec, going from Montreal to Toronto, is the only key player moved during deadline week that is still pointless with his new team. He has played less than 10 minutes in each of the Maple Leafs’ past three games.


Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.


WATCH LIVE: Los Angeles Kings at Vegas Golden Knights




Los Angeles Kings

Alex IafalloAnze KopitarDustin Brown

Tanner PearsonJeff CarterTyler Toffoli

Tobias RiederAdrian KempeNate Thompson

Kyle CliffordMichael AmadioTorrey Mitchell

Derek ForbortDrew Doughty

Dion PhaneufAlec Martinez

Jake MuzzinChristian Folin

Starting goalie: Jack Campbell

[Kings – Golden Knights preview.]

Vegas Golden Knights

Jonathan MarchessaultWilliam KarlssonReilly Smith

David PerronErik HaulaJames Neal

Alex TuchCody EakinTomas Tatar

Ryan ReavesRyan CarpenterTomas Nosek

Luca SbisaNate Schmidt

Shea TheodoreDeryk Engelland

Colin MillerBrayden McNabb

Starting goalie: Maxime Lagace

Vegas gambles on trade for Red Wings’ Tatar



The Vegas Golden Knights came into 2017-18 with a clean slate. They’re gradually starting to make some long-term commitments, and the latest comes thanks to a trade for Tomas Tatar. The Detroit Red Wings, meanwhile, land one of the best packages of futures during a busy trade deadline.

The trade: Golden Knights receive Tatar for three significant picks. TSN’s Gord Miller reports that the Red Wings will receive a first, second, and third-rounder from Vegas. Miller adds that it’s likely a 2018 first-round pick, a 2019 second-rounder, and a 2021 third-rounder.

This post will be updated if specifics change or if there’s official confirmation.

Why the Golden Knights did it: For one thing, Vegas doesn’t have a ton of players under contract after 2017-18. Heading into this season, many believed that they’d be selling the likes of James Neal or David Perron.

Of course, that was before the Golden Knights became an instant success. They look like they’re going to win the Pacific Division by a large margin, and they might get the top seed in the West.

Tatar is currently on a three-year 20+ goal run, and he barely missed it with 19 in 2013-14. He’s likely to make it four in a row, as he’s at 16 as of now. Tatar is 27, and his $5.3 million cap hit runs through 2020-21. The Golden Knights aren’t renting here. Instead, they’re getting his remaining prime years, banking on that being more valuable than the picks they gave up.

To little surprise, Erik Karlsson‘s name seems to come up with these big deals, even as he remains in Ottawa.

Why the Red Wings made the trade: Look, some fans probably wanted the Red Wings to move more players out on the deadline. No doubt, it’s a little surprising they couldn’t find a deal for Mike Green, even if it meant settling.

This impressive return for Tatar really makes the deadline much easier to digest. For all we know, Detroit might not be competitive through a significant chunk of Tatar’s contract. Instead of paying for it, they get three significant pieces to help them rebuild. They’re also reportedly not retaining any salary in the swap.

Who won the trade?

The Red Wings embrace rebuild in at least one key case. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights embrace a far brighter present than expected while locking up Tatar for the future … a future with fewer draft picks.

Even with a Green trade, the Red Wings are really loading up, especially for the 2018 NHL Draft. Still, Vegas gets a useful forward who might benefit from a change of scenery, not to mention an attacking system.

MORE: PHT’s 2018 Trade Deadline Tracker.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Marc-Andre Fleury talks about an emotional return to Pittsburgh


PITTSBURGH — It was quite a scene in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night when Marc-Andre Fleury, one of the most beloved players in Penguins history, made his return to the city for the first time as a visiting player.

It probably wasn’t the night Fleury had planned for his return, giving up five goals on 38 shots in a wildly entertaining 5-4 loss to the Penguins, but a standing room only crowd spent much of the night — from the start of warmups to his announcement as the third star of the game — showering him with cheers, thanks and appreciation for what he did for the team over the previous 13 years.

During the first TV timeout in the first period they roared during an extended tribute video and then  kept cheering for so long that the linesman actually delayed for a minute before finally dropping the puck to continue the game.

[More: Why Pittsburgh Loves Marc-Andre Fleury]

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Fleury after the game when asked about the night. “In warmup I had goosebumps. Before the game, people had signs and kind words. It’s a night I won’t forget. Except maybe the score.”

“It was just amazing, the support I’ve gotten over the years here is just incredible. I thank everybody for all these years and once again showing up tonight with such great support.”

Here is a look at the tribute video the Penguins put together to welcome back Fleury.

Fleury was obviously a bit emotional during the video and said after the game he was just glad he had a mask on.

“They always do a good job with these (videos),” he said. “A lot of good memories. A lot of good years. It just brought some fun memories.”

Early on it looked like it was going to be Fleury’s night as the Golden Knights jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from William Karlsson and James Neal, one of the four former Penguins that currently play for Vegas.

Fleury also made a handful of big saves, including robbing Jake Guentzel on a breakaway.

But in the second period the Penguins’ firepower finally became a bit too much. A Ryan Reaves goal opened the floodgates, and then Ian Cole, Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel all followed to help the Penguins score five consecutive goals.

“They’re a very talented team, very fast, and able to create a lot of space and time for themselves to get some goals,” said Fleury.

“Sometimes I caught myself thinking a little too much about their tendencies. Hopefully it will get easier to play them as it goes on.”

Vegas received third period goals from Ryan Carpenter and Jonathan Marchessault to cut the deficit to one but were never able to get the equalizer.

Kessel and Malkin nearly had a couple of more goals as Kessel ripped two shots off the post early in the game, while Fleury was able to stop Malkin with one of his patented poke checks on a second period breakaway.

“I had Geno on a breakaway and got a poke check in there so I let him know,” Fleury said with laugh after the game when asked if there was any friendly trash talk during the game. “Phil wanted one and hit the post a few times and kept telling me he was coming back. He did get one.”

Fleury said the entire day was a different experience for him but that he now knows what it’s like to be other goalies in the NHL having to play in that building against that team.

“It was so different to be in this locker room and going on the ice in another jersey and seeing them coming at me,” said Fleury.

“Now I get to see what the other goalie faced all these years. It was a lot going on, lots of emotions, a little bit of stress, but it was worth it.”


Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

PHT Morning Skate: ECHL coach saves drowning man; Bill Peters is angry

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Three NHL executives are now openly supporting the idea of having an expansion team in Seattle. (King5.com)

• How can you assess Ryan McDonagh‘s true value when he’s playing with an average partner most of the time? (TSN.ca)

• It’s time for the league to bring back the “NHL Showdown” TV show. (Scotty Wazz)

• ECHL assistant coach Brady Leisenring saved a drowning man’s life. (Gwinnett Daily Post)

• Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters ripped into his team after their performance last weekend. (Charlotte News & Observer)

• Should the Golden Knights just let James Neal walk at the end of the season? (Knights on Ice)

• Dennis Simone from Staten Island is the guy who created the goalie masks for Team USA’s 2018 Olympic Team. (Silive.com)

• Four members of the New Jersey Devils have been carpooling to practice and games. (NJ.com)

• Yesterday, PHT looked at potential landing spots for Rick Nash. Today, The Score breaks down the pros and cons of trading him away. (The Score)

• After going through a rare kind of knee injury, Stars forward Mattias Janmark has shown that he can still play well at the highest level. (Dallas News)

• Jets forward Patrik Laine writes about how he fell in love with the city of Winnipeg. (The Players’ Tribune)

• The hiring of Bruce Cassidy really helped shape the Bruins’ success this season. (Bruins Daily).

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.