NHL trade deadline winners and losers: Rangers make biggest splash by adding Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko
The 2023 NHL trade deadline has been one of the most chaotic in recent memory.
After all, people like Patrick Kane, Beau Horvath and Ryan O’Reilly were touched by the trade deadline. Several big names were sent long before the clock struck 3:00 pm ET on Friday.
The Eastern Conference has indeed added a lot more stars over the past few days and weeks, which should make going into the postseason even more interesting.
While NHL teams had made many amazing signings by the trade deadline, there were some dizzying decisions that were or weren’t made. Let’s take a closer look at the winners and losers this year.
New York Rangers
There is no doubt that the Rangers are the biggest winner of the 2023 trade deadline. The Rangers were able to acquire two stars in Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko, who really improved their top six forwards.
New York had long been linked to Kane months before the deadline, but those plans were thwarted by the Rangers. when they bought Tarasenko February 9th. It seemed that the deal with Kane would not happen, but in the last two weeks the situation has changed, and the deal took place. Kane made his debut for the Rangers on Thursday.
So much credit should go to General Chris Drury for his work in getting these two deals done. The Rangers didn’t have to part with Philip Chitil, Kaapo Kakko, or Alexis Lafrenière to get Tarasenko and Kane. Drury sent 2018 first-round pick Vitaly Kravtsov to the Vancouver Canucks to help cash in on the Kane deal, but Kravtsov has been underwhelming this season with the Rangers.
The Rangers will now enter the stretch with a top six forward that includes Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Vincent Trochek, Tarasenko and Kane. This is what the team had to do to challenge the Boston Bruins, who have been an absolute juggernaut all season and have gotten even better this week with the arrival of Tyler Bertuzzi. The Rangers now have the potential to win the Stanley Cup, and the front office has taken the necessary steps to forgo minimal assets.
Defender Jakob Chichrun has long been mentioned in trade talks and his patience has finally paid off. Wednesday Arizona Coyotes traded Chichrun for a 2023 first-round conditional selection, a 2024 conditional second-round selection, and a 2026 second-round selection.
The franchise was reported to be looking for more than three first-round picks and a roster player for Chichran months before the deadline. Still, it’s a very solid result for a Coyotes team that is obviously in recovery mode and able to use all the draft capital they can get.
As for Chichran, he is finally coming out of a less-than-ideal situation in Arizona and jumping straight into a rival lineup. Entering Friday, the Senators are just four points away from second Wild Card seed in the Eastern Conference and on a four-game winning streak.
From the senators’ point of view, Chichran will stabilize the defensive team, which already includes Thomas Chabot and Jake Sanderson. Even with Josh Norris missing most of the 2022-23 season, Ottawa still has an extremely deep forward group that is scoring 3.15 goals per game. The 24-year-old is one of the most gifted two-way defenders the league has to offer. On top of that, Chichran signed a contract for the 2024/25 season with a ceiling of just $4.6 million. It was just a win-win move for both the senators and Chichran.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The narrative has been the same for the past few years when it comes to the Maple Leafs: They are a team that just can’t make it out of the first round of the postseason.
However, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas made a splash before this year’s deadline. The biggest acquisition was by far the exit of Toronto and landing Ryan O’Reilly in exchange with St. Louis Blues. O’Reilly scored a hat-trick in just his third game for his new team last week, and he was a great fit for Toronto’s third.
The Maple Leafs also got some help on their blue line with the addition of Jake McCabe of the Chicago Blackhawks and Luke Schenn of the Vancouver Canucks. McCabe and Schenn improve Toronto’s top two defensive pairings and give momentum to a team that already ranks fourth in the league in the fewest goals per game (2.61).
O’Reilly is a true artist that a team like the Maple Leafs will need in the playoffs. He also has the playoff experience that this team needs after winning the Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019.
Maybe the Maple Leafs have finally amassed enough talent to make it to the playoffs.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks got a solid catch for the services of Timo Meyer, so you might be wondering how their time-bound trade results can be classified as a losing try — and that’s because San Jose missed the opportunity to trade defenseman Erik Karlsson.
It is true that Karlsson’s contract does not expire as he is signed for the 2027/28 season. However, Karlsson’s career has been a strong year as he leads all NHL defensemen in points (78), goals (19) and assists (59).
Yes, his $11.5 million cap does make the deal a bit harder, but it’s highly likely that something could be worked out with another team. After all, if Karlsson got on the right team, he could turn them into Stanley Cup contenders thanks to his offensive prowess.
Karlsson is having the best season since arriving in San Jose and who knows if this type of production will continue. He’s only 32 years old, so he might still have a lot of tread on his tires, but there’s no way to know for sure.
Karlsson’s value will never be higher, which is why the Sharks had to sell him given their status as a rebuilding franchise.
The Philadelphia Flyers have had a calendar year to forget, and things keep getting worse.
During the offseason, the Flyers were unable to sign star winger and New Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau as free agents because the team had handed out too many bad contracts in the past. General manager Chuck Fletcher acquired Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo with three picks and is paying him $5 million a season.
The trade deadline came and went, and the Flyers made some lackluster moves. Philadelphia traded forward Zach McEwen to the Los Angeles Kings for forward Brandon Lemieux and a 2024 fifth-round pick. In addition, the Flyers also nominated Patrick Brown to the Ottawa Senators for a 2023 sixth-round pick.
When the dust settled by the deadline, forward James van Riemsdyk was still with the Flyers. Van Riemsdyk is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, so it’s shocking that he wasn’t even drafted at the end of the round. His $7 million cap was certainly not the selling point, but a team like the Seattle Cracken or the Vegas Golden Knights could use a veteran forward like van Riemsdyk and have money that could be spent.
For a team at the bottom of the standings, it was truly shocking to see the Flyers doing next to nothing on the final day.
In the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, there was an arms race of sorts in the Eastern Conference. It all started when the New York Islanders acquired Bo Horvath shortly before the All-Star break. In February, we saw the New York Rangers acquire Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane and the New Jersey Devils acquire Timo Meyer.
If you look at the Eastern Conference standings, the Bruins, Rangers, Devils, Devils, and Maple Leafs are looking to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Oh, and let’s not forget the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have reached the Stanley Cup Finals in each of the past three seasons.
The East is absolutely busy. On the other hand, there aren’t many leaders in the West, which is why I classify the entire Western Conference as a loser.
The Western Conference is wide open. Sure, the Dallas Stars, Vegas Golden Knights, Seattle Kraken, and Minnesota Wild have had strong seasons, but none of these teams have broken away from the rest. These teams had a chance to create some division at the deadline, but they didn’t.
The Stars added forward Max Domi and the Wild added defenseman John Klingberg. In any case, these are not bad moves, but they do not turn your squad into a contender for the Stanley Cup. It was a chance to express themselves, but no one did.
Now, as brutal as the season has been, the Colorado Avalanche could be much healthier ahead of the playoffs. The Avalanche could fly straight in and make a second straight run for the Stanley Cup Finals.