Crowning your trade deadline champions

Kyle Cantlon
NHL Editor

After the New Jersey Devils took home the elusive “offseason championship” last summer, Monday brought a shining moment for another one of the East’s basement-dwelling squads.

It was Pierre Dorion and the Ottawa Senators’ time to pick up an arbitrary but crucial victory, with the GM and the club he oversees having the best deadline day of any team in a similar, rebuild-type situation.

Heading into Monday’s 3pm E.T. deadline Ottawa’s only goal was to maximize the quantity and quality of futures assets they would yield from shipping out as many veterans as humanly possible. The Senators recognized what they had to do, didn’t hesitate or waver on their direction and priorities, sold high, and got in early while teams still had early-round draft picks to spare.

When all was said and done after one of the most chaotic deadline days in recent memory, the Sens parted ways with pending UFA J.G. Pageau along with Tyler Ennis and Vladimir Namestnikov. In return, the Sens garnered a bunch of picks, including a first- and a second-rounder for Pageau who is in the midst of a career-best shooting percentage year.

Ottawa recognized who needed to go, what exactly teams were willing to pay for that specific tier of asset, and got done what they needed to in order to accelerate their rebuild. The Senators now potentially have three first-round picks in the upcoming draft — one slated to be the deepest in quite some time.

When it comes to the rebuilding sellers, Ottawa put on a clinic. Among the league’s win-now clubs, however, it was the Oilers, Hurricanes and Penguins all adding significant pieces to already borderline-contending rosters.

Pierre Dorion and the Ottawa Senators have flipped the script absurdly fast since bottoming out last year. (Getty)

Oilers

Ken Holland’s first deadline day with Edmonton was a big one and, at first glance, a very successful one too.

A right-handed power-play specialist with a boatload of postseason minutes under his belt who still has some game left — That’s exactly what the Oilers get in acquiring blueliner Mike Green from the Red Wings. How about an exceptionally fast (as in world-class speed) winger to play alongside the planet’s best skater in Connor McDavid? The Red Wings had the cure for that need, too, in Andreas Athanasiou.

Tyler Ennis is another great pick up, as guys like him who can seamlessly, productively and effectively slide up and down the lineup become exponentially more valuable in the playoffs.

After slotting in that many pieces with that much upside and potential in a span of hours without parting ways with a first-round pick or high-end prospect, Oilers fans have to be pretty okay with their first taste of Deadline Kenny.

Hurricanes

Carolina had its biggest deadline day ever, as the Canes — abundant with young elite talent in the organization - signalled their Cup aspirations in acquiring three big pieces, including a pair of valuable d-men.

Vincent Trocheck was a pricey one — costing a couple of roster pieces and some young potential — but was certainly worth taking a chance on as he’s often been discussed as one of the league’s top “this guy could be good again with a change of scenario” candidates. An upgrade at centre is literally never a bad thing.

Carolina also picked up RHD Sami Vatanen for the Devils and LHD Brady Skjei from the Rangers. Two real good (for the most part) two-way defenseman were instantly added to an already deep-as-hell defense, giving Carolina the best top-six blueline when healthy, hands down.

Many valuable assets were shed in the making, but the Canes knew very well that “potential” and “draft picks” weren’t going to take this fanbase on another Cup run this spring.

Penguins

Jim Rutherford, man. He always has the pulse of his team’s needs, maybe more than any other currently employed general manager.

Pittsburgh’s work really began a couple of weeks before the deadline when they acquired Jason Zucker from the Wild for nothing of real significance. That has the potential to be the best trade of the year, especially after how Zucker and Crosby have lit it up since being paired together right off the hop.

Rutherford made a couple other savvy, contender-esque moves on Monday. Not big ones, no cannonballs into the shallow end, just quality depth and veteran pieces, acquired for cheap. Patrick Marleau will be yet another legendary voice in a room full of them. Conor Sheary is extremely familiar with this group, obviously, and if he’s gonna find his touch anywhere, it’s going to be in Pittsburgh. Evan Rodrigues has been god awful this year but he’s also been stuck in Buffalo.

Every struggling player that has found their way to the Penguins over the last decade-and-a-half has somehow turned into a Hall of Famer by year’s end. It’s just what this team does.

Honourable Mention

Magician Doug Wilson and the Sharks somehow, someway snagged a first-round pick (albeit a late one) for a player currently boasting a career-high of 24 points in Barclay Goodrow. Love this league.

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