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.)
dadonov
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.

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    LA Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers

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    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers, a surprising move for a player once considered the successor in net to two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick.

    Petersen, 28, went on waivers the day after allowing four goals on 16 shots in relief of Quick during a 9-8 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken. Quick was pulled after giving up five goals on 14 shots.

    Only one NHL goalie has a save percentage lower than Petersen’s .868 this season, Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets with .864. Petersen is 5-3-2 in 10 games with a 3.75 goals-against average in his third full season with the Kings and fifth overall.

    L.A. signed Petersen to a three-year, $15 million contract in September 2021, and he figured to take the starting job from Quick, who turns 37 in January and is set to be a free agent after the season. Petersen has two years left on that deal after this one at an annual salary cap hit of $5 million.

    Penguins’ Kris Letang out indefinitely after 2nd stroke

    Kris Letang Penguins
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    PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang plays hockey with a grace and inexhaustible fluidity seemingly impervious to the rigors of spending nearly half his life in the NHL.

    For the second time in less than a decade, however, a major health scare has brought Letang’s career to a halt.

    The 35-year-old Letang is out indefinitely after suffering a stroke for a second time. Letang reported feeling ill and was taken to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    While general manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday this stroke doesn’t appear to be as serious as the one Letang sustained in 2014, the Penguins will have to find a way forward at least in the short term without one of their franchise pillars.

    “I am fortunate to know my body well enough to recognize when something isn’t right,” Letang said in a release. “While it is difficult to navigate this issue publicly, I am hopeful it can raise awareness. … I am optimistic that I will be back on the ice soon.”

    The three-time Stanley Cup champion missed more than two months in 2014 after a stroke, which doctors determined was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. He spent Monday feeling off and told team trainers he was dealing with what Hextall described as a migraine headache.

    Penguins team physician Dr. Dhamesh Vyas recommended Letang go to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    “He didn’t know (he had a stroke),” Hextall said. “He just knew something wasn’t right.”

    Letang is continuing to undergo tests but felt well enough on Tuesday to be at the arena for Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina. He spent the second period chatting with Hextall then addressed his teammates in the locker room afterward in an effort to help allay their concerns.

    “I think it was important for Kris to be there because his teammates got to see him in good spirits and that he’s doing well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

    Sullivan added initial test results on Letang have been “very encouraging.” Letang will continue to undergo testing throughout the week, though he felt good enough in the aftermath to ask Sullivan and Hextall if he could skate, an activity that is off the table for now.

    Hextall said he “couldn’t even guess” how long the Penguins may be without the married father of two, adding hockey is low on the team’s list of concerns about a player who, along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, has helped the franchise to three Stanley Cups during his 17-year career.

    “First and foremost this is about the person and I told Tanger about that last night,” Hextall said. “This is Kris Letang, the father and family guy, the Pittsburgh Penguins, that’s second.”

    Letang, a six-time All-Star, has been one of the most durable players in the NHL. His 662 career points (145 goals, 517 assists) are a franchise record for a defenseman. He’s averaged well over 24 minutes of playing time over the course of his career, a number that’s ticked above 25 minutes per game seven times in eight-plus seasons since he returned from the initial stroke.

    The Penguins felt so confident in Letang’s durability that they signed him to a six-year contract over the summer rather than let him test free agency for the first time.

    “The level of hockey he’s played for as long as he’s played is absolutely incredible,” Hextall said. “The level he’s continued to play at at his age, the type of shape he’s in … he’s a warrior.”

    Letang has one goal and 11 assists in 21 games so far this season for Pittsburgh, which hosts Vegas on Thursday night. The Penguins are pretty deep along the blue line, but Sullivan knows he can’t try to replace Letang with any one player.

    “It’s not anything we haven’t been faced with in the past and the reality is we have what we have, and we’ll figure it out,” Sullivan said, adding “it’ll be by committee, as it usually is when you replace a player of that stature.”

    Ovechkin tops Gretzky for most road goals, Capitals beat Canucks

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Alex Ovechkin scored twice, passing Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history, and the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Tuesday night.

    Ovechkin has scored 403 of his 793 career goals away from home. Gretzky holds the overall record with 894.

    “It’s always nice when you beat the Great One,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It’s history.”

    Anthony Mantha added a goal and an assist for the Capitals (10-11-3). John Carlson and Martin Fehervary also scored, and Darcy Kuemper stopped 31 shots.

    Nils Hoglander scored for the Canucks (9-11-3), who had won three in a row. Spencer Martin made 23 saves.

    “Spencer’s been great for us. He’s probably a bit like the other players tonight. They weren’t ready to play and it showed on the scoreboard,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    The 37-year-old Ovechkin nearly netted a hat trick when Vancouver pulled Martin for an extra skater with just over six minutes left, but his rocket of a shot skimmed the outside of the post.

    “I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been like a new record. So it’s been cool,” Washington center Dylan Strome said. “Any time you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”

    Fehervary was the one who sealed it, flipping the puck high into the Canucks zone and into the empty net at 15:57 of the third period.

    Ovechkin topped Gretzky 11:52 into the first, firing a one-timer from the left circle past Martin to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead with his 13th goal of the season.

    “On his second goal, it looks like, `Oh, maybe (Martin) should have had it.’ But I’ve seen (Ovechkin) score 100 goals like that,” said Boudreau, who coached the Capitals from 2007-11. “He’s got a shot that finds its way in.”

    The star forward from Russia got his first of the night 5:35 in, taking the puck off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes near the net and batting in a quick shot.

    “It could have been 6-1 after the first period, quite frankly, with the amount of chances (Washington) had,” Boudreau said.

    It was Ovechkin’s 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history.

    “(Ovechkin) was really good in the first and I thought we were really good in the first so it was nice to get out and get a jump like that,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “He certainly led. We knew we needed to have a good first period, have a good game, and you need your best players to do that.”

    Carlson scored the lone goal of the second, chipping in a loose puck from the low hash marks at 18:47 to give Washington a 4-1 cushion.

    “It’s frustrating. Because when you lose games, it should never be about your compete level and battle level,” Canucks center J.T. Miller said. “It’s frustrating because they didn’t out-skill us today, they didn’t out-system us. They literally just outbattled us and created their own chances.”

    NOTES: Washington’s Lars Eller got his 200th career assist. … Miller had an assist, extending his point streak to nine games (four goals, seven assists). … The Capitals swept the two-game season series. … Vancouver assigned winger Vasily Podkolzin and defenseman Jack Rathbone to the Abbotsford Canucks on Monday, then recalled forward Phillip Di Giuseppe from the American Hockey League club on Tuesday.

    UP NEXT

    Washington: At Seattle on Thursday in the second of a five-game trip.

    Vancouver: Host Florida on Thursday in the second of a four-game homestand.

    Deal for Coyotes’ proposed arena approved by Tempe council

    David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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    TEMPE, Ariz. — The Tempe City Council has unanimously approved a proposal for a new Arizona Coyotes arena and entertainment district, clearing the way for a public vote on the project next year.

    The City Council approved the proposal 7-0 after a lengthy meeting that included NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

    The $2.1 billion project would include a 16,000-seat arena, practice rink, 1,600 apartments, two hotels and a theater. Approval of the project was the final step before it goes to referendum on May 16.

    The team is currently playing at Arizona State’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, by far the NHL’s smallest arena.

    The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home since the city of Glendale pulled out of a multimillion-dollar lease at Gila River Arena. Arizona had been playing on an annual lease until Glendale said it would not be renewed for the 2022-23 season.