Roundtable: Reviewing NHL trade deadline; best First Round matchups

What was the best trade from the 2022 deadline?

Adam Gretz, NHL writer: It did not get the most attention, but I really like the Colorado Avalanche adding Artturi Lehkonen. He is a really good fit for the way they play and gives an already loaded roster an ideal third-line winger that can defend, play in a lot of different situations, and also score some goals. Sometimes in the playoffs your top lines can cancel each other out with your opponent and it comes down to who has the better depth players. I think Lehkonen is a great addition to really help Colorado in that area and they did not have to give up a ton to get him. Great trade.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Artturi Lehkonen is a great middle-six pickup for the Avalanche and a move that will go a long way to strengthen them, even if Claude Giroux had no desire to go to Colorado. Lehkonen has proven to be a valuable scorer, forechecker, and a versatile winger that Jared Bednar can plug in where needed. He has a good two-way presence and you only need to look at how Val Nichushkin has fit in perfectly there — the same will be said about Lehkonen.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: The Panthers’ acquisition of Claude Giroux. It’s rare that a player of Giroux’s caliber gets moved at the deadline. Although the price was steep for a rental, it came at a minimal cost to the current roster so it significantly increases Florida’s Stanley Cup chances.

[2021-22 NHL Trade Tracker]

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: I like the Leafs move in getting Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell from Seattle. While most will think that Giordano was the gem and Blackwell was more of a throw-in, I think that Blackwell will more than prove his worth in the playoffs as he is a hard-working pesky player who will give opponents fits in the playoffs. It is something the Maple Leafs need as they attempt to win a playoff round for the first time since 2004.

James O’Brien, NHL writer: Let’s throw out strong rebuilding work from the likes of the Ducks and Canadiens, and constrain it to teams aiming for success this year. Even then, there are some great trades to sift through.

I’ll lean slightly toward the Wild landing Marc-Andre Fleury over the Maple Leafs getting Mark Giordano. While I’ve laid out plenty of reasons why MAF may not upgrade the Wild much in net, the ceiling is huge. The Wild badly needed a goaltending upgrade, and they made a bold move in hopes of solving it. Giordano feels like more of a sure thing, yet if Fleury shines, no trade would swing a playoff team’s fate quite like MAF to the Wild.
Even if it doesn’t work out, they did what a lot of other teams are too squeamish to do.
That it only costs them a second-rounder if it fails, and a first-rounder if things go well, is the icing on the cake.
(Now, things get tricky if you count the Tyler Toffoli trade from February.)
David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images

What was the worst trade from the 2022 deadline?

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: The Vegas-Anaheim Evgenii Dadonov mess. We don’t know all the facts, but it’s hard to believe a mix-up like this happened. You feel for the players involved, who are now in a very awkward position. And for Vegas, it could torpedo their already-fading playoff chances.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: I don’t understand what the Golden Knights were doing when they dealt Evgenii Dadonov to Anaheim for Ryan Kesler’s salary as well as a minor league defenseman in John Moore and a conditional second round pick in 2024. I understand that they have to get under the salary cap and the $5 million hit that Dadonov has this season and next will help but the Golden Knights have been operating like this for a few seasons now and it is catching up with them. Signing good players and then dealing them away quickly isn’t a good thing when players think they are staying for a while and are traded and that is giving the Golden Knights a poor reputation around the league.

[Ed. Note: The Dadonov trade has been invalidated by the NHL.]

James O’Brien, NHL writer: Look, sometimes you go with the obvious. The Fleury trade feels that way, and so does the Ben Chiarot trade for Florida. Sometimes the answer is flashing in front of you.

To me, context makes the Chiarot trade go from bad to abysmal. Without winning a playoff round yet, the Panthers have already coughed up three first-round picks. Giving up first-rounders for Giroux and Reinhart (last offseason) works for me. But throwing a Hail Mary that the Panthers’ knack for taking seemingly flawed players and getting the most out of them with Ben Chiarot? Really, really bad value.
Also, the painful reality of the Atlantic Division is that a team can do just about everything right and still get bounced out of the first round. If that happens, the Panthers spent huge at the trade deadline, just for rentals. Suddenly, they risk mopping up almost as much flop sweat as the desperate Maple Leafs.

[NHL Power Rankings: Contenders and pretenders after NHL trade deadline]

Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Not a fan of the Ben Chiarot trade for the Florida Panthers. Not only does he not really seem to fit their style of play, but they clearly overpaid for him given the rest of the market. When they got him from Montreal it seemed to cause this perception that prices were going to be outrageous for rentals, but nobody really came close to matching that price for better players. Just think they really slowed down their defense when they really did not need to do that and paid a pretty expensive price for it. 

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Why did the Senators need to go out and get Travis Hamonic now? Was there a demand for the services of a declining defenseman? Pierre Dorion says he sees the blue liner as a good veteran partner for one of their young defensemen, like Jake Sanderson, but you couldn’t find one of those not carrying a $3 million cap hit through next season? Maybe someone cheaper over the summer or one not worth a third-round pick? It has to be alarming that soon after the trade reports surfaced of Canucks players happy to see him leaving their room.

Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images

Which possible First Round playoff matchup would you like to see the most?

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: We’ve wanted Colorado-Vegas, but this year? Nope. The Golden Knights are banged up and could miss out completely on the postseason. Now? Give me LA-Edmonton. Drew Doughty soundbites all series vs. the pressures on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to win along with the future of Ken Holland’s job at stake with their current goaltending setup.

Adam Gretz, NHL writer: The Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals. Every Eastern Conference First Round matchup looks like it will be incredible because every single one of these teams is so good. But these two teams clearly hate each other, and I would not be surprised if Washington actually won that series. 

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Boston vs Toronto. Would there be a more crushing way for the Leafs to lose in the First Round again?

[NHL Trade Deadline winners, losers: East loads up, GM beefs]

James O’Brien, NHL writer: The Golden Knights’ most realistic path to a playoff spot involves bumping the Oilers or Kings out of the Pacific top three. But let’s say the Stars fade, and the Golden Knights snag the second wild card.

Imagine the chaos and pressure, not to mention combined talent, of the Avalanche vs. the Golden Knights in the first round? An expected Western Conference Final instead could happen to start the playoffs. Yes please. (And sorry for the harsh hypothetical draw, Avs.)

Panthers vs. Lightning looks even less likely, but that would provide tremendous theater, too.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Both Atlantic matchups will be outstanding and it is so close that the pairings are up in the air. Florida-Boston or Florida-Toronto will be outstanding as will Tampa Bay-Toronto or Tampa Bay-Boston. If it is Toronto-Boston and Florida-Tampa Bay, that will be even better due to the history of the teams.

Scroll Down For:

    Flyers trade Pride-night boycott defenseman Provorov in 3-team deal

    flyers trade
    Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports

    PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers have traded Ivan Provorov, sending away the defenseman who boycotted the team’s Pride night as part of a three-team trade that included the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Los Angeles Kings.

    The seventh overall pick of the 2015 draft, the 26-year-old Provorov lands in Columbus and is set to enter the fifth season of a $40.5 million, six-year contract. He was the centerpiece Tuesday of the first major move under new Flyers’ leadership.

    There were plenty of moving parts in the three-team deal.

    — Philadelphia traded Provorov and forward Hayden Hodgson to Los Angeles in exchange for goalie Cal Petersen, defenseman Sean Walker, defenseman Helge Grans and the Kings’ 2024 second-round pick. The Kings lost in the first round of the playoffs.

    — Columbus acquired defenseman Kevin Connauton from Philadelphia in exchange for a 2023 first-round pick (22nd overall) and a conditional second-round pick in either the 2024 or 2025 NHL Draft. Columbus acquired Provorov from Los Angeles in exchange for Connauton.

    The Flyers already hold the No. 7 pick in this season’s draft and now also have the 23rd pick as they start accumulating key assets for long-range success in what is expected to be a deep draft.

    Flyers general manager Danny Briere had said no player was untouchable after the Flyers missed the playoffs for the third straight season and went to work with the Stanley Cup Final still underway. The Flyers named broadcaster Keith Jones team president last month and he is still working the Final for TNT. But it’s clear the overdue rebuild is underway for a franchise that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in 48 years.

    “We felt that the picks and the direction that we wanted to go in, it was really enticing, very exciting,” Briere said. “We have a chance to really start building the team the way we wanted. The right way.”

    Briere said the Flyers are “open for business” this summer and that included potentially listening to offers for No. 1 goalie Carter Hart. Coach John Tortorella, Briere and Jones have all tempered offseason expectations for any fan looking for a quick fix. The trio all insist the Flyers have a cohesive plan for the future.

    Provorov had 65 goals and 217 points in 532 career games with the Flyers. The Russian was widely criticized in January when he cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason he did not participate in pregame warmups when the Flyers wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape.

    “I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said after the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”

    Now, he’s traded during Pride month.

    Briere said the backlash over Pride night had nothing to do with trading Provorov.

    The Blue Jackets, who missed the playoffs this season, were ready to take a flier on a defenseman seemingly with many productive years ahead.

    “Improving our blue line has been a priority for us and acquiring Ivan gives us an established left-shot defenseman who is still a young player with his best seasons in front of him,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “He immediately improves our group on defense as he is durable, has great skill, skates well, is an excellent passer with an accurate shot and can effectively play at both ends of the ice.”

    Provorov said at the end of the season he wasn’t necessarily happy the Flyers planned to rebuild but understood the decision. Briere declined to say if Provorov wanted out of Philadelphia.

    “I wouldn’t say it’s the most positive news you can hear, but there’s a bright future here, and there’s a lot of great players that can keep growing,” Provorov said in April. “Obviously, it depends on how quick everybody gets better and how quickly the team game gets better. I think that’s what determines the length of the rebuild.”

    Turns out, the potential success out of the haul the Flyers got for Provorov just may determine the length of the rebuild.

    Golden Knights take 2-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final with 7-2 win over Panthers

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    LAS VEGAS — No team in over 25 years has been more dominant than the Vegas Golden Knights through the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final.

    They have outscored the Florida Panthers by eight goals, including a 7-2 victory in Game 2 that put the Knights two wins from the first championship in the franchise’s short six-year history.

    It will take a rare rally for the Panthers to come back as the series shifts to Florida for Game 3 on Thursday. Teams that took a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final are 31-3 in the expansion era, but the Panthers opened the playoffs by storming back from 3-1 down to beat the heavily favored Boston Bruins.

    Florida will have to significantly up its level of play to beat a Vegas team that won by three goals on Saturday and then five in this game. The last team to win the first two games of a Cup Final by more than eight combined goals was the 1996 Colorado Avalanche – who outscored the Panthers by nine.

    “I think our depth has been a strength all year,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It is the biggest reason we are still here, why we beat Winnipeg, Edmonton, Dallas. I just feel that we have the best team from player one through 20.”

    Jonathan Marchessault scored twice for the Knights and started an early blitz that chased Sergei Bobrovsky, the NHL’s hottest postseason goalie.

    Marchessault also had an assist to finish with three points. His 12 postseason goals set a Golden Knights record, with all of them coming after the first round. The only player with more following the opening round was Pavel Bure, who scored 13 for Vancouver in 1994.

    “They want to set the tone with being undisciplined like Game 1 and we set the tone back,” Marchessault said. “It was scoring that first goal there. But we’re still pretty far from our goal here.”

    Brett Howden scored twice for the Knights, who also got goals from Alec Martinez, Nicolas Roy and Michael Amadio. Six players had at least two points for Vegas, all 18 Knights skaters were on the ice for even-strength goals and their nine goal scorers through the first two games are a Stanley Cup Final record. The Knights’ seven goals tied a franchise mark for a playoff game.

    It was too much for Bobrovsky, who was removed 7:10 into the second period down 4-0. It was the fifth time in 12 games the Knights have chased the opposing goalie.

    Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, carried Florida through the Eastern Conference playoffs. Coming into the Stanley Cup Final, he had won 11 of his past 12 starts with a 1.95 goals-against average and .942 save percentage during that stretch. But he’s given up eight goals in 87 minutes against Vegas, compiling a 5.52 GAA and .826 save percentage in the series.

    “We can be a little better in front of our goaltender,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “I got him out to keep him rested.”

    Matthew Tkachuk and Anton Lundell scored for Florida.

    Adin Hill continued his stellar play in net with 29 saves for the Knights. Hill once again brought his feistiness as well as his A-game. He stopped Carter Verhaeghe on a breakaway in the first, and later that period hit Tkachuk, who was in his net, with his blocker and then slashed him with his stick.

    “He’s been unreal for us,” Vegas forward William Carrier said. “He’s been unbelievable.”

    A group of four fans behind one of the nets wore sweaters that spelled out his last name, and Hill has often received the loudest cheers from Knights fans, reminiscent of when Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal for Vegas in its first three seasons.

    “It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey,” Hill said. “I’m just enjoying it, cherishing every day. It’s been awesome to be part of the journey with this team.”

    The Knights were dominant early, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Marchessault and Martinez. It was Vegas’ third game in a row with a power-play goal, its first such stretch since Christmas week.

    The Panthers lost their biggest, toughest defenseman early in the game when Radko Gudas was injured on a hit by Vegas forward Ivan Barbashev. Gudas left 6:39 in and did not return.

    That was one of several big hits by Barbashev, the Golden Knights’ biggest trade-deadline acquisition, a Stanley Cup champion with St. Louis in 2019. Barbashev broke the sternum of Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard during the playoffs last year, also on a clean hit.

    Vegas had its own scare late in the second period when Jack Eichel was nailed in the right shoulder by Tkachuk. Eichel returned in the third and set up Marchessault’s second goal for his second assist of the game.

    “We did a good job managing momentum tonight,” Eichel said. “And we got some timely goals.”

    Ducks hire former Leafs, Islanders assistant Greg Cronin as head coach

    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks have hired veteran NHL assistant and AHL head coach Greg Cronin to be their new head coach.

    Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek announced the decision to hire the 60-year-old Cronin, who will be a first-time NHL head coach.

    Cronin has 12 years of experience as an NHL assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs and in two stints with the New York Islanders. The Massachusetts native has been the head coach of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles since 2018, and he spent six years as a collegiate head coach at Northeastern.

    Verbeek called Cronin “the ideal fit” to take over a young, rebuilding team.

    “I felt we needed a teacher of the finer points of the game, and someone who has worked extensively over time with talented young players, helping them develop into successful NHL players,” Verbeek said. “Greg has done all that and more.”

    Cronin replaces Dallas Eakins, whose contract wasn’t renewed in April after the Ducks finished their fourth consecutive losing season of his tenure. Anaheim finished in last place in the overall NHL standings at 23-47-12.

    The Ducks never finished higher than sixth in the Pacific Division during Eakins’ four years in charge. They’ve missed the playoffs in a franchise-record five straight seasons, and Anaheim was the NHL’s worst defensive team of the 21st century by several measures during the just-completed season.

    Cronin takes over a struggling team that is still loaded with young talent, including the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft and a wealth of farm prospects seemingly ready to break into the NHL. Anaheim has a solid long-term base with playmaking center Trevor Zegras, two-time All-Star Troy Terry and promising forward Mason McTavish.

    Cronin has never led an NHL bench, but he interviewed for the Boston Bruins’ vacancy a year ago.

    He becomes only the Ducks’ fourth permanent head coach since Henry and Susan Samueli bought the franchise from Disney in 2005, joining Randy Carlyle, Bruce Boudreau and Eakins.

    Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to 8-year, $62.8 million extension

    David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

    MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens signed Cole Caufield to an eight-year, $62.8 million contract extension.

    The deal, which will pay the 22-year-old winger an average annual salary of $7.85 million, runs through the 2030-31 season.

    Caufield scored 26 goals and added 10 assists in 46 games in 2022-23 before he underwent season-ending surgery on his right shoulder in February.

    Despite missing nearly half the season, Caufield led the Canadiens in goals for the second consecutive season, tied with Nick Suzuki.

    Montreal selected Caufield in the first round (15th overall) of the 2019 draft.

    Since making his NHL debut in 2020-21, the forward has 84 points (53 goals, 31 assists) in 123 NHL games.