The 2021 NHL trade deadline has come and gone with perhaps more activity than expected, if not on the actual day. Some teams, like Boston, beefed up while others, like Columbus and Philadelphia, began to sell pieces.
Some teams didn’t do much of anything, and for those still trying to contend or who have unaddressed needs, that could come back to bite them.
St. Louis Blues
That they essentially stood pat was kind of stunning. The Blues have been in free fall mode for quite a while, though they’re still in a playoff position. They’ve had some injuries, but that’s not their only problem.
General manager Doug Armstrong had an answer to why they stood pat, though, when he spoke with reporters after the deadline.
“When we were sort of in that state of flux, where we were thinking about being sellers, we had a vision of, if we were going to do something, what we want in return,” he said. “Quite honestly, I haven’t had any meaningful phone calls in almost three days. Maybe because if we were doing anything, I probably had a higher value on our own players than other people did.”
That explains that, but still, it really makes for what could end up being a lost season have even less direction.
[NHL Power Rankings: Where things stand after NHL trade deadline]
Arizona is a single point out of a playoff spot. The Blues are falling faster than an anvil on Wile E. Coyote. The Coyotes don’t have the pedigree of the Blues, just two years removed from winning a Stanley Cup, but sitting pat was a strange decision.
The Coyotes could have built for the future by moving some assets as well, and they have plenty of desirable players on the roster, like Conor Garland. But they didn’t do that, and have as likely a chance of making the playoffs as anyone. Having an idea of what direction they intend to go would have been helpful.
The Jets knew they needed defense and went out and got Vancouver’s Jordie Benn, it just feels like they could have done more. Defense has been Winnipeg’s Achilles heel all season, and they might need more than just Benn to solve that.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff gave up first rounders at the 2018 and 2019 deadlines, so maybe he didn’t want to push it again in a season where it feels like Toronto is destined to cruise through the North. Winnipeg does have some elements though, such as Pierre-Luc Dubois and a capable offense, and they could have pushed harder for more defensive help if they wanted.
Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas probably, realistically, didn’t need to do much. They’re up against the cap as it is and comfortably in a playoff spot and will likely finish with one of the top two seeds in the West.
Giving up as much as they did — a second and third, and a fifth to San Jose for brokering it — for Mattias Janmark is a bit puzzling. He hasn’t scored at all in 10 games and is more a penalty killer than anything. Felt like a weird move, and the Golden Knights aren’t any better.
The good news is, they didn’t really have to do anything.
“We weren’t going to take away from our team,” said general manager Kelly McCrimmon to reporters. “That was a decision we made quite some time ago. We really our comfortable with the makeup of our roster, the personnel that we have. We need those players so we weren’t going to take away from that.”
The Capitals were a clear deadline loser until late into deadline deal. Adding Anthony Manhta from the Red Wings was a solid choice to get a big winger with scoring ability.
Moving Panik’s deal, and a player who wasn’t going to work in Washington, had more long-term benefit than just this season.
“It never seemed to click for him here,” Capitals GMBrian MacLellan told reporters. “He’s had periods where he’s played really well for us and then had other periods where I don’t think he got, in his mind, enough ice time and enough opportunity. So the trade for him gives him a chance to move up in a lineup and get more ice time.”
They probably could have used some goalie help, too, though Mantha and Michael Raffl from the Flyers do help in other areas. It’s tough to call them a deadline loser in the traditional sense, it just doesn’t feel like the Caps are that much better than they were before the deadline.