The Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

John Healy
February 24, 2020 - 4:43 pm
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The NHL trade deadline is officially over, and boy, was it a busy one.

There were all sorts of moves and big-name players being dealt at the deadline this year, which should set the stage for another thrilling chase for the Stanley Cup.

While it remains to be seen just how many these deals play out, teams addressing — or failing to address — pressing needs heading into the final stretch of the season are always going to be scrutinized.

Here is our kneejerk reaction to the winners and losers of the 2020 NHL trade deadline.

Winners

New York Islanders - Trade For John-Gabriel Pageau

John Gabriel Pageau celebrates a goal with the Senators.
Photo credit Getty Images

The Islanders needed to add a jolt to their offense and did so in a big way on Monday, acquiring Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators. Pageau has a career-high 24 goals in 60 games this season and gives the Islanders exactly what they need as they currently hold the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Not only will Pageau be a key part in their quest for the Cup this season, but the Islanders also managed to reach a long-term deal with the 27-year-old. The two sides reportedly agreed to a six-year deal worth an annual average of $5 million. It certainly seems to justify the hefty price they paid, sending the Senators a conditional 2020 first-round pick, a  2020 second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick in 2022. But the Islanders, who rank 22nd in the league with 2.84 goals scored per game,could not stand idly by at the deadline again.

New York Rangers and Chris Kreider - Agree to Contract Extension

Chris Kreider roars after scoring a goal for the Rangers
Photo credit Getty Images

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the Rangers decided not to deal Kreider at the deadline, and instead locked him up to a seven-year contract extension worth about $6.5 million per year, according to Sportsnet.

The Rangers have been in rebuild mode over the last couple of seasons, but by locking up the 28-year-old — who has spent his whole career in New York — team president John Davidson is sending a message that the Rangers are ready to compete now, although enter Monday four points out of a playoff spot.

Pittsburgh Penguins -- Trade For Patrick Marleau

Patrick Marleau watches the puck during a game with the Sharks.
Photo credit Getty Images

The 40-year-old future Hall of Famer may finally get his chance at winning the Stanley Cup. The Penguins added Marleau in exchange for a conditional third-round pick on Monday. He could potentially play on the same line as Sidney Crosby, who needed an upgrade on his wing as Pittsburgh fights with the Capitals for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Philadelphia Flyers - Add Depth Pieces

Derek Grant evades a defenseman as he chases down the puck.
Photo credit Getty Images

Many may argue that the Flyers should be on the losers end after the rest of the division added some sexier names, but the two trades they made — acquiring Nate Thompson from the Canadiens and Derek Grant from the Ducks — are key veteran depth moves that could pay dividends in the playoffs. Thompson brings plenty playoff experience and can play the fourth line center, while Grant is having a career year with 14 goals and cost Philadelphia a career minor-leaguer and fourth-round pick.

Washington Capitals - Trade for Ilya Kovalchuk

Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates a goal with the Canadiens.
Photo credit Getty Images

The Capitals added to their already loaded offense by acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens, with Montreal retaining 50 percent of his salary. Kovalchuk now teams up with fellow countryman and good friend Alex Ovechkin as two of the best goal-scorers of their generation in a quest together for the Stanley Cup.

Las Vegas Knights - Trade For Robin Lehner

Robin Lehner minds the net for the Blackhawks.
Photo credit Getty Images

The Knights now have two top tier goalies on their roster in Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner. While Lehner will likely serve as a backup, he has been one of the best netminders in the league over the last two years and gives the Knights depth at a position where depth is incredibly hard to come by. Fleury is a Stanley Cup champion, but he is not immune to falling into a slump, either, and Lehner is the best insurance policy a team could want heading into the playoffs.

Losers

Wayne Simmonds celebrates with his Devils teammates.
Photo credit Getty Images

Wayne Simmonds - Traded to Buffalo Sabres

Simmonds was thought to be traded to a contender looking to add some depth, instead he lands in Buffalo, which curiously decided to trade for the forward. Simmons certainly will boost the Sabres’ offense, but they are eight points out of a wild-card spot and six points behind Toronto in the Atlantic Division. The Sabres seem awfully optimistic they can compete for that spot, but Simmonds essentially goes from one non-contending team to another.

Boston Bruins - Fail to Make Big Splash

Bruins players watch from the bench during a game against the Hurricanes.
Photo credit Getty Images

The Boston Bruins were a team that was believed to have strong interest in Chris Kreider, who stuck with the Rangers. The Islanders, Capitals and Penguins all added big-time scorers, while the Bruins made some minor moves, such as trading for Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie, neither of whom are considered a big splash.

Perhaps the Bruins, the top team in the Eastern Conference, do not need much more firepower to an already great team, but it certainly feels like they missed out on adding a piece that would put them over the top.

Joe Thornton - Stays in San Jose

Joe Thornton glides across the ice during a game with the Sharks.
Photo credit Getty Images

Poor Joe Thornton. The 40-year-old future Hall of Famer will remain with the Sharks despite fellow 40-year-old teammate Patrick Marleau joining a Cup contender in Pittsburgh. Trade talks involving Thornton with the Dallas Stars and Bruins both surfaced on Monday, but ultimately nothing transpired. Thornton is a free agent after this season, but at his age retirement could certainly be in play. Thornton has never won the Stanley Cup, but if he wants to still play and a team thinks he has enough in the tank, perhaps he can join a contender in the offseason.

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