For fans, there are many things to consider at the NHL trade deadline. Sure, you want your team to be the last one standing at the end of the season, but for what price? Rental players are costly assets and there’s no promise that a player successfully adjusts to his new environment.
But there are rare instances where a blockbuster transaction can pay massive dividends and be exactly the boost a club needs to win a championship.
Here’s how the last five Stanley Cup winners and finalists handled the silly season.
2018 Stanley Cup Finals: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals
In their expansion season, the Golden Knights bolstered their lineup at the deadline — or so they thought — bringing in Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar for a bounty of picks. Recording just six points in 20 regular season games and being scratched for most of the postseason run, the move was a pretty significant flop.
The Capitals had more success navigating the trade deadline. They added defenseman Michal Kempny from the Blackhawks for a 2018 3rd-round pick, and the Czech blueliner played a crucial role. Shoring up the back end was a big reason why Washington finally slipped past Pittsburgh.
2017 Stanley Cup Finals: Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Looking to bolster their depth up front, the Predators added a pair of forwards before their run to the Stanley Cup Final, trading for Vernon Fiddler and P.A. Parenteau. Fiddler had one goal in 30 regular-seasons games and sat for most of the postseason, while Parenteau was limited to 13 starts in the regular season and playoffs combined.
Pittsburgh targeted depth as well, but on the back end with the additions of Ron Hainsey and Mark Streit. The moves did pay off with Hainsey appearing in all 25 games in the postseason, and Streit serving as insurance.
2016 Stanley Cup Finals: San Jose Sharks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
San Jose secured a capable backup for Martin Jones with the addition of James Reimer from the Maple Leafs. He wasn’t needed in their run to the final, but the Sharks did not break the bank to acquire him, sending Alex Stalock, Ben Smith, and a 2017 conditional 4th round pick the other way.
Jim Rutherford let loose before the deadline with four trades leading up to the transaction freeze. Most notably, Carl Hagelin was acquired from the Ducks for David Perron, who for whatever reason failed to fit into the Penguins’ talented core. Hagelin was a consistent secondary scorer for Pittsburgh, helping complete the HBK line with Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel. The Penguins also acquired Justin Schultz, who wound up being useful but more impactful down the road.
2015 Stanley Cup Finals: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
With Patrick Kane shelved on long-term injured reserve, the normally-handcuffed Stan Bowman was able to flex some muscle at the deadline. He made five deals, a frenzy that included adding Antoine Vermette for a No. 1 pick, as well as Kimmo Timonen. Neither played a massive role, but Vermette had his moments, and Timonen had his storybook ending.
Tampa Bay made three trades, but just one of consequence. Steve Yzerman dealt Radko Gudas to the Flyers for Braydon Coburn, who wound up on several postseason rosters for the Lightning.
2014 Stanley Cup Finals: Los Angeles Kings vs. New York Rangers
Los Angeles completed one of the more significant deadline-day deals ever with the acquisition of Marian Gaborik. He scored 14 goals and registered 22 points in the postseason to help the Kings win another Stanley Cup after coming over for Matt Frattin and two picks.
The Rangers made a monster deal, trading captain Ryan Callahan and a first-round pick for future Hall of Fame forward Martin St. Louis. St. Louis wasn’t an overwhelming force in the postseason, having notched 15 points in 25 games, but did play a significant role in New York’s run.
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