With the continuation of the NHL season less than two weeks away, enough has occurred in the near five-month hiatus to forget about those who will be rejoining their new teams for a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
No team trades just to trade, meaning every deal at or before the Feb. 24 trade deadline was a calculated move by respective general managers. Still, not all trades are created equal as some teams stocked up with household names, others made surprising moves, and of course the outsiders gained assets with eyes on the future.
Far from a comprehensive list of the 2020 deals, the following organizational moves highlight the talk of Feb. 24 and individual belief in Stanley Cup contention.
Carolina Beefs Up Blue Line
At the time of the trade deadline, star Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton was a month into recovery from surgery on a broken fibula, leaving him questionable — at the best — for the Hurricanes expectations of a playoff spot.
At the deadline, GM Don Waddell landed defensemen Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen from the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, respectively. Waddell beefed up a blue line that already featured Jaccob Slavin, Jake Gardiner, Brett Pesce, and former Stanley Cup-winners Joel Edmundson and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
Also adding to head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s arsenal, Waddell brought in a reliable two-way center in Vincent Trocheck, shoring up the middle of the lineup for a young, dangerous team that lost in the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
A Fight For Firsts (And Seconds And Thirds)
Metropolitan foes Washington and Pittsburgh each added a veteran presence searching for his first Stanley Cup in Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Marleau, respectively. Two storied careers with seemingly everything but an NHL championship on their resume, the pair of potential Hall-of-Famers will be asked to add second-tier offense.
The Penguins also added a high-shooter in winger Jason Zucker as they search for their third Stanley Cup since back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.
Additionally, the Capitals added Brendon Dillon on the backend, a reliable defensive presence similar to their move in 2018 when they added Michal Kempny en route to their 2018 Stanley Cup title.
Lightning Strike The Market
After a massive upset from the Columbus Blue Jackets ended its historic 2018-19 regular season, Tampa Bay stocked up with depth forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.
The Lightning have been a dangerous team for several years but have struggled to get over the hump to claim the franchise’s second Stanley Cup.
This year, they added two “playoff-built” forwards in Coleman and Goodrow. Coleman comes from New Jersey during a breakout season as a speedy, gritty player capable of slotting in up and down the lineup and keeping up with any player.
Goodrow was a bit of a surprise addition, but his similarity in ability to Coleman shows the team wanted grit, sacrifice, and offensive ability to instill four potent lines, each ready to score and defend against any opponent.
Vegas Bolsters The Crease
Despite three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury in the crease, the ability to add insurance in Robin Lehner was massive. While Lehner may not start a single game in the playoffs, he’s been one of the best goalies over the past two seasons and his landing in Vegas meant no other opponent could land him.
Adding experience, the Knights brought in underrated defenseman, Alec Martinez. Martinez scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for Los Angeles in 2014, He would raise the Cup with the Kings again in 2016 and has 64 playoff games to his credit.
Jets ‘Center’ -In, Again
Paul Stastny, 2018. Kevin Hayes, 2019. Cody Eakin, 2020. It was another deadline, another center for the Jets, who have tried to stabilize their centers in each of the past three seasons to add depth and scoring punch.
Eakin is a reliable two-way center built for playoff hockey and has played in 46 playoff games between Dallas and Vegas.
Further, the Jets added defenseman Dylan DeMelo from Ottawa, a stay-at-home presence to help cover for defensive risks by younger, offensive-minded skaters around him on the back end.
Ducks Go Hunting
On the outside looking in, the Anaheim Duck have fallen off in recent years, but they still had a big 2020 deadline, bringing in young talent including forwards Danton Heinen and Sonny Milano, along with defensemen Christian Djoos and Joel Persson.
The Ducks added the young talent to create more competition for their upcoming prospects and the chance for bigger roles for the new faces in a new place.
Milano, drafted 16th overall in 2014, had been a spare part for the Blue Jackets, but has already taken a nice step with increased ice time in Anaheim. Heinen had shown a lot of promise in Boston, but was the odd guy out due to more consistent teammates.
The story remains the same for Djoos and Persson, stuck behind teammates who were able to stick with their opportunities better than themselves. Still, the pair of defensemen have a lot to offer in a fresh setting.
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