Notable NHL Trades – February 28, 2023
Several NHL teams decided to avoid the rush of the trade deadline on March 3 and made a series of notable moves today.
The biggest, of course, was Patrick Kane being shipped by the Chicago Blackhawks to the New York Rangers in a three-team deal involving the Arizona Coyotes. You can read my take on that deal by following this link.
Here’s my brief analysis of the other noteworthy deals that went down on Feb. 28, 2023:
Nashville Predators trade defenseman Mattias Ekholm and a 2023 sixth-round pick to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Tyson Barrie, prospect winger Reid Schaefer, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick. The Predators are also retaining $250K of Ekholm’s $6.25 million cap hit through 2025-26.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers GM Ken Holland was under pressure to make a move to shore up the left side of his blueline. Ekholm should address that need as the 32-year-old is a veteran shutdown blueliner who helped the Predators reach the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. His physical style and leadership should make him a welcome addition to the Oilers’ defense corps.
Oilers’ fans might balk at parting with a first-round pick but at least it’s not wasted on a rental player. Holland addressed his left-side blueline issue. If the move helps them at least return to the Western Conference Final it’ll be worthwhile. The future is now for the Oilers while Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are in their prime.
The Predators, meanwhile, get a skilled mobile defenseman in Barrie, who’s signed through next season at a cap hit of $4.5 million. Schaefer, 19, is a promising left winger who was ranked fourth among the Oilers’ top prospects by The Athletic. It’s a solid package that addresses their short-term needs while stocking up the prospect pipeline.
Puljujarvi, 24, was a fixture in the NHL rumor mill stretching back to last season. The fourth-overall pick in the 2016 draft never played up to expectations in Edmonton. His trade value was so low that the Hurricanes did the Oilers a favor by taking his $3 million cap hit off their hands. A restricted free agent in July, Puljujarvi could become a reclamation project for the Hurricanes.
Toronto Maple Leafs trade defenseman Rasmus Sandin to the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Erik Gustafsson and the 2023 first-round pick that the Capitals acquired from the Boston Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said he would remain active leading up to the trade deadline after acquiring Jake McCabe and Sam Lafferty on Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks. In response to recent moves by other Eastern Conference teams, he’s loading up with experienced blueline depth for the postseason.
Gustafsson is a playmaking defenseman while Schenn returns to the team where his long NHL career began. He’ll provide some grit along with a championship resume from his two Stanley Cup runs with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both are rental players as they’re slated to become unrestricted free agents in July.
Dubas has also regained a first-round pick in this year’s draft. However, he could use it as a trade chip to further boost his lineup before Friday’s deadline.
The Capitals were looking for a quick turnaround after acquiring that first-rounder from Boston as part of the deal that sent Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway to the Bruins. They wasted little time using it to bring in Sandin.
The 22-year-old Sandin is a puck-moving defenseman who is in his second full NHL season. He’s shown promise this season with 20 points in 52 games. If Sandin continues his development he could turn into a reliable top-four rearguard for the Capitals.
Trading Engvall and his $2.25 million cap hit to the Islanders for a draft pick was a cost-cutting move by the Leafs. A pending UFA this summer, the 26-year-old winger became expendable following the Leafs’ acquisition of Lafferty. He will provide some much-needed checking-line depth to the injury-depleted Isles forward lines.
The Canucks were originally said to be seeking a second-round draft pick for Schenn. Given the glut of defensemen in the trade market they evidently decided to move now while they could still get something for the 33-year-old blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johanson is returning to the Wild for the second time having played for them during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season. A versatile if oft-injured forward, he’ll bring some experienced depth as a middle-six forward to the Wild.