The 2016 NHL trade deadline has come and gone without much fanfare. The days leading up to the trade deadline were certainly eventful, but thanks to most of the big deals being done over the weekend, that left very little for GMs to do in its final hours.
As such, many were spending their day twiddling their thumbs waiting for the blockbuster trades that would never happen -- or following along with a certain bingo card to keep the day exciting. Even so, while the final day was underwhelming, the deadline itself held some clear patterns of success and failure for a variety of clubs and players across the league.
With the deadline over, we have nothing to do now but critique and praise the standouts until the next big acquisition day rolls around -- draft weekend in June. You guessed it, it's time to put forth some of the greatest winners and losers of the 2016 NHL trade deadline!
This should come as no surprise to anyone. The rebuild is on in Toronto and these are not the Maple Leafs of years past. Gone are the familiar faces of Dion Phaneuf, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling and James Reimer. Replaced by more than a handful of draft picks -- six over the next three years -- and place fillers, many of whose contracts expire at the end of this season, the new era of the Maple Leafs is in full swing.
Though General Manager Lou Lamoriello and company have their biggest challenges ahead, as tearing apart a team is much much easier than building one from its ashes, it's clear the front office has a system in place. It will be a painful process to watch, now that the Maple Leafs look more like the Toronto Marlies after calling up five of their AHLers on deadline day. However, it's a necessary evil, one the Maple Leafs must bear if they want to have success for the future.
This was just step one for Toronto and it can still go awry should they make disastrous missteps, but their success at the trade deadline is a solid cornerstone to build upon.
The Chicago Blackhawks (and their former players)
The reigning Stanley Cup champions got most of their moves out of the way before Monday, only signing AHL depth talent within the final hours of the deadline. Late last week, however, the Blackhawks were the most active team in the NHL as they made three huge trades within the span of two days to lock up their roster for a Stanley Cup run.
The Blackhawks traded away prospect Marko Dano, aging defenseman Rob Scuderi, young forward Phillip Danault and three draft picks for at least two of the biggest names on the market: Andrew Ladd and Dale Weise. Also in the mix were defenseman Christian Ehrhoff from the Kings and forward Tomas Fleischmann from the Canadiens, among a few other depth signings. Those four names, however, may be able to separate the Blackhawks from the pack in the race for the Cup.
Chicago GM Stan Bowman may be mortgaging the franchise's future to win now, but if he succeeds, there will be no doubt of the Blackhawks dynasty claims. Even if he fails this time around, you have to admire the guy for his in-it-to-win-it attitude year after year. After all, isn't that what you want if you're a fan? A chance to compete every year?
RT if you too have been traded to the Chicago Blackhawks before the 2016 NHL trade deadline— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) February 27, 2016
Speaking of playing to win, former Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal will get a chance to do just that as a new member of the New York Rangers. In New York's attempt to join the arms race for the Stanley Cup, the Rangers biggest acquisition of the deadline was for Staal, sending prospect Aleksi Saarela and picks the other way.
Just like the Blackhawks, the move for the Rangers is a win-now situation, but Staal also gets to reap some of the potential benefits of this deal. Not only is he playing with another brother of his -- this time Marc Staal, defenseman and alternate captain of the Rangers -- but he gets a chance to contribute to a playoff team with the hopes of reaching a championship that he would not have gotten to do with the Hurricanes this season.
And if by chance it doesn't work out this year, Staal's contract is up in July and he can move on from the Rangers to another clear contender, should he wish. A win-win all around for the eldest Staal brother!
I wonder just how much the Tampa Bay Lightning forward regrets spurning his club back in January? Drouin's rebuffs of the Lightning organization is certainly the main reason why he wasn't traded at the deadline this year. After requesting a trade out of the franchise in early January, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft was suspended from his AHL team after failing to show for a game.
Not only has Drouin not played a game of meaningful hockey in over a month -- something that would have showcased his skill set to potential employers -- his seemingly petulant attitude over his ice time may have set the wrong tone for some GMs. Though almost half of the league was in on the forward at one point or another, Drouin's choice to act out most likely cost him a way out of his situation.
Drouin made his bed in January, but GM Steve Yzerman is more than happy to welcome the forward back into the fold, should he so choose.
Yzerman on Drouin: "Jonathan is suspended. If he wants to come back and play, the door is open. That’s up to him."— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) February 29, 2016
For a team that's eight points out of a wild card spot, the Canucks were quiet all deadline, and disappointingly so. Though Vancouver was unlikely to make the playoffs as it was, the fact that they were unable to move their biggest pieces in Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata is an organizational failure on all fronts.
Sure, both players had variants of no-trade clauses, but as pending UFAs come July, Vancouver could have gotten good returns from teams in need of solid rental players. Instead, the Canucks stayed pat with just two trades for depth players in defenseman Philip Larsen and forward Markus Granlund.
If this deadline hasn't cemented GM Jim Benning's place as one of the worst general managers in the league, I don't know what will. To get almost nothing out of a trade deadline in which the Canucks came in as clear sellers is as clear of a loss as you can get.
The poor saps who took off from work
You know who you are. You all had fair warning that this deadline wouldn't be as prosperous as it was in years past, yet you still decided to stay home. Hope refreshing Twitter on your couch was more rewarding than, uh, refreshing it at your work desk!