Reviewing the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline


In an otherwise mundane market, Taylor Hall to the Bruins was perhaps the biggest domino that fell, with the Sabres receiving very little in return. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone with everyone who was expected to be traded dealt and not much more. The deadline hit on Monday at 3 p.m., but most of the deals happened before the calendar flipped to Sunday. The Islanders were in the mix for the second straight year, the Sabres left fans scratching their heads, and there is so much more to get into around this odd April deadline. 

On the week that usually marks the NHL playoffs’ opening round, Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and others were dealt to the Islanders to join a playoff push. Four first-round picks were dealt, and none of them went to the Sabres. Columbus got two, one from Tampa in exchange for defenseman David Savard and the other from Toronto in the deal that sent their captain Nick Foligno north of the border. The first one dealt from Long Island to New Jersey in the Palmieri deal. And at the buzzer, Washington sent their 2021 first in a package for Anthony Mantha to Detroit.

This is about the average number of picks, but they are noteworthy for two reasons. One is the interesting trade structure that Columbus used to get them. Both Tampa and Toronto are pushed up against the cap, so San Jose and Detroit stepped in as middlemen to make the deals work. San Jose took 50% of Foligno’s contract in exchange for a fourth-rounder from Toronto, and Detroit did the same with Savard for a fourth-round selection. This is going to become more common in years to come as the cap will remain flat for the next few seasons. 

First rounders are also notable because Buffalo did not command one for the biggest fish on the trade market. Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar went to Boston in exchange for Anders Bjork and a second-round pick. Buffalo compounds their brutal season by not landing a first-rounder at the deadline. 

Locally, the Devils were active sellers for the second straight deadline. They landed the Islanders’ first-round pick for Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. Both players have a relationship with Isles GM Lou Lamoriello from his time in Jersey, and they add the scoring the Isles need to compete with the likes of Washington and Pittsburgh. Two low-level prospects in AJ Greer and Mason Jobst and a conditional fourth went back to New Jersey as well. The Devils also picked up defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler from Washington for Arizona’s third-round pick this year. 

Finally, New Jersey lost two players to waivers. Nikita Gusev was placed on unconditional waivers, voiding his contract and leaving him a free agent. Florida scooped him up on a one-year, $1 million contract. Dallas claimed Sami Vantanen on Monday. He played 30 games in Jersey this season, recording only six points, a failed experiment to say the least.  

It also seemed like the Islanders were in on Hall, but his no-move clause allowed him to select Boston. The Rangers were very quiet on deadline day after they traded Brendan Lemieux a few weeks back. They did sign college prospect Zac Jones after he helped the University of Massachusetts win the National Championship.

Three winners of the deadline are Boston, Columbus and Florida. Boston, Columbus and Florida were able to add a scoring piece for nothing in Nikita Gusev and fill the Aaron Ekblad-sized hole with Brandon Montour from Buffalo. They gear up for the final stretch of the race in the Central division. 

Three losers are Buffalo, for not getting a first-round pick, the Hurricanes, as they were the only team in that Central race to not add anyone and the Flyers. Philadelphia cannot make the playoffs with the roster they currently have, and they didn’t add to it. The only moves they made were to resign Scott Laughton to a five-year deal and trade Erik Gustafsson to Montreal. It is an odd move for the Flyers to stay put in the tight East playoff race. 

All in all, Monday might have been boring but plenty of bodies moved in the days leading up to the trade deadline that will have an impact on who wins the Stanley Cup once again.