Winners and losers of the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline

The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline is in the books so let’s take a quick look around the league at some winners and losers from the day.

Winner: Steve Yzerman and Brian MacLellan

For doing something not enough general managers are willing to do in the NHL: Make a bold hockey trade that is not related to a trade demand or salary cap structuring.

As the trade deadline approached it seemed like the day itself was going to be a major dud on the trade front. All of the major deals had already been made and the weeks and days leading up to the deadline, and outside of a few smaller moves earlier in the day there was not really anything that stood out.

Then the Red Wings and Capitals swung the Anthony Mantha blockbuster.

It is such a great trade for deadline because, 1) nobody expected it, and 2) both teams are getting exactly what they want. The Capitals get the best player in the trade that fits their team, is signed long-term, and they probably save salary cap space in the future, while the Red Wings get a very strong haul centered around Jakub Vrana and additional draft picks to add to their cupboard.

[Anthony Mantha traded to Washington Capitals]

Loser: Kevyn Adams

The return on the Taylor Hall trade was, in a word, underwhelming. Now, granted, Hall is having the worst offensive season of his career, he has a big salary cap hit, and his no-trade clause clearly impacted what the Sabres could do with him. Hall ultimately had the final say, and if he wanted to go to Boston, well, Adams’ hands are tied. But the Sabres are the ones that put themselves in this position. They signed Hall to a one-year contract in a year where everybody knew they had almost shot to make the playoffs and gave him a no-trade clause knowing that would mean he could dictate where he would go.

In their defense, they should have expected more production from Hall. But this signing clearly did not work the way they wanted and now they are left just looking embarrassed.

[Hall traded to Boston for underwhelming return]

Winner: Taylor Hall

He gets a chance to rebound from an awful start to the season on a better team with more talent around him, while also getting a chance to play in the playoffs for just the third time in his career.

Loser: Ken Holland

The Oilers only trade leading up to the deadline was to send a draft pick to the New Jersey Devils for Dmitry Kulikov which is … fine. It does not make or break the team or its chances in any meaningful way.

But what puts Holland and the Oilers in the loser column was Holland’s comment about how you can’t go all in every year and you have to pick and choose your spots.

Question: Why isn’t this year one of the years you want to pick?

The Oilers have two megastars in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl playing at the top of their game. Dominant players. MVP level players in the prime of their careers playing at their peak. A duo that most teams never get. And it is a year where you are in a division and in a playoff format where it might be possible to go on a deep run. It’s not so much the lack of moves, but the publicly stated reasoning behind it. Just seems like a defeatist attitude for a team that should be taking advantage of its window. If not this season, then when?

Winner: Julien BriseBois

He worked some magic with the salary cap to get the player he wanted (David Savard) to strengthen his defense. It is the second year in a row he went bold at the trade deadline and he still has Nikita Kucherov‘s return looming for the start of the playoffs.

[Blue Jackets trade David Savard in three-team trade]

Loser: Nashville Predators

The Predators have played their way back into playoff contention, and instead of adding somebody that could make an impact, they only added Erik Gudbranson. That does not really move the needle much.

Winner: Teams using salary cap space to buy draft picks, prospects

San Jose, Chicago, and Detroit all used some of their extra salary cap space to get involved in trades over the past few weeks to gain some free assets.

The Blackhawks were willing to take Brett Connolly‘s contract from Florida, while the Sharks and Red Wings were the third team in separate trades where they would retain a portion of contracts (David Savard and Mattias Janmark) in exchange for draft picks. Just a little salary cap creativity to give yourself an extra lottery ticket in the offseason. If you have the space, use it.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2021 Trade Tracker]

Winner: New York Islanders

With Anders Lee done for the season the Islanders had to get another forward in a close division. Their trade for Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac was a huge win given the low cost involved and the fact Lou Lamoriello convinced New Jersey to retain half of the remaining salary.

Loser: Philadelphia Flyers

Weird day. They were sellers by trading Michael Raffl and Erik Gustafsson, which makes sense given the way their season has gone. They retained salary on both trades, but only added a fifth and seventh round pick. The one player they could have traded for a meaningful return (Scott Laughton) they re-signed to a five-year contract worth $15 million. There is always a risk in signing a depth player to a long-term deal. Seems like a confused team right now.

[Flyers re-sign Scott Laughton]

Winner: Columbus’ draft stock

It has been a rough season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but they were able to get first-round picks for Savard and Nick Foligno, giving them three this year, including their own. That could make for some intriguing trade options this offseason.

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

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

    caufield surgery
    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

    matty beniers
    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.