Updated: Jan 14
At the 2021 NHL trade deadline, which passed on April 12, we saw less trades than in recent years with travel restrictions and other health concerns likely limiting the moves available for teams. In total, there were only 17 trades made and 26 players traded, along with a handful of draft picks. We will not cover every trade here, but we will highlight some of the more impactful trades and discuss the potential playoff implications.
Although there were not many trades, a number of high profile players still changed teams, including Taylor Hall to the Bruins, Kyle Palmeiri and Travis Zajac to the Islanders, David Savard to the Lightning, Nick Foligno to the Leafs, Anthony Mantha to the Capitals, and Mattias Janmark to the Golden Knights.
Hall almost signed with the Bruins in the offseason as a free agent, but he opted to sign with the Sabres on a one year deal. The Hart Trophy winner’s tenure in Buffalo was terrible, scoring only 2 goals in 37 games. Much of his failure was not his fault. The Sabres have been a historically bad team and Hall’s shooting opportunities were down. After the team traded away captain Jack Eichel, it was clear that Hall’s days in Buffalo were numbered. We expect a bounce back in Boston. Lucky for Hall, he is able to compete for a playoff contender, and could earn a spot on their top line as he auditions for free agency after the season.
After trading away Hall last season, the Devils continued to clean house at this year’s trade deadline, sending out longtime forwards Palmeiri and Zajac to the Islanders for a package that most notably includes a first round pick. Aging veterans like these two will probably not win a Stanley Cup for New York, but they will provide depth and consistency. Islanders GM Lou Lamariello has only mentioned the importance of chemistry when he brought the pair in. Notably, both also played with Islanders defenseman Andy Greene.
The Lightning needed help on defense and acquiring Savard from the Blue Jackets should help accomplish just that. Savard provides solid depth, but should not be taking any power play time away from Victor Hedman or Ryan McDonagh. Fantasy owners can’t be happy, but fans in Tampa should be.
For as dominant as the Maple Leafs have been this season, with a top line that features the league’s top scorer, Austin Matthews, and Mitch Marner, who currently has 53 points in 42 games, it is surprising to see them add another talented winger. Foligno joins the Leafs from Columbus, where he he’s played for nearly a decade. Now, he has an opportunity to skate on one of the most dominant lines in hockey.
The Capitals gave up quite a haul in order to acquire Mantha from the Red Wings. The Caps sent out Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, and first and second round picks to get a winger who is likely to skate alongside Alexander Ovechkin, and Nicklaus Backstrom on the top line. Mantha has scored significantly less this season, but hopefully a move to play alongside one of the greatest to ever play will rejuvenate him some.
The Golden Knights are already among the favorites to contend for the Stanley Cup and they were eager to land a deal for more offensive firepower at the deadline. They were close to landing both Hall and Foligno. Each of those potential trades came with their own set of complications due to the Knights’ lack of salary cap space available. Instead, Vegas landed Janmark, the speedy and talented center from the Blackhawks, where he skated alongside Patrick Kane. He is currently having his best season in the NHL, with 19 points in 41 games played should fit in perfectly with the Knights. Janmark will add depth to an already deep Vegas team that we should be talking about well into the playoffs.