The 2020 NHL trade deadline was one of the season’s biggest mysteries.
There weren’t many obvious sellers, and the standings were so tightly packed that even the Buffalo Sabres — who have a 2.8% chance of making the playoffs, per Money Puck — considered themselves in the hunt. There weren’t the same All-Star level players traded as in years past, and the total inventory was anyone’s guess.
But as the trade market closed on Monday, it had been a dizzying deadline: 32 trades involving 55 players, setting a new NHL record for transactions and tying the previous record for bodies.
Which teams made out the best, and which teams were fleeced? Here is our NHL trade deadline report card, where there were many more winners than losers.
Note: Metro and Central Division teams were graded by Emily Kaplan, while Atlantic and Pacific Division clubs were graded by Greg Wyshynski. Teams are listed alphabetically within each grade tier.
Key additions: D Brady Skjei, F Vincent Trocheck, D Sami Vatanen
Key subtractions: 2020 first-round pick, F Erik Haula, 2020 conditional fourth-round pick, F Janne Kuokkanen, D Fredrik Claesson, D Chase Priskie, F Lucas Wallmark, F Eetu Luostarinen
Missed opportunity: Not getting goaltending help. The team says it has faith in its AHL goaltending duo of Anton Forsberg (45 games of NHL experience) and Alex Nedeljkovic (who led the Charlotte Checkers to a Calder Cup), but the Canes could have used insurance with James Reimer and Petr Mrazek potentially out long term.
General manager Don Waddell isn’t going to let some bad injury luck halt the momentum the Canes have been building since last season. Carolina knew it needed defensive help ever since Dougie Hamilton — having a Norris Trophy-caliber season — went down with injury. That need was only accentuated this weekend, when the Hurricanes lost Brett Pesce, too. Waddell acquired Vatanen — regarded as the top rental D-man available — and doubled down by trading for Skjei from the Rangers. The Canes had dangled their first-round pick for a while and didn’t mind giving it up for Skjei, considering he’s under contract for another four seasons at $5.25 million; that means cost certainty, something owner Tom Dundon highly values. The most intriguing move was trading for Trocheck, under contract for two more years, at $4.75 million in average annual value. It’s really incredible Trocheck was even available, and he should slide in nicely at the No. 2 or No. 3 center spot. Overall, Waddell added two core players to an already exciting group, didn’t have to give up too much, and gave his team the best chance to win right now and in the future. It was an excellent deadline.