Analyzing each major trade in the 2021 NHL offseason
Updated: Oct 25, 2021
A continuous list of the major trades of the offseason, with commentary on what the trade does for each team involved
Blackhawks receive: Marc-Andre Fleury
Golden Knights receive: Mikael Hakkarainen
This is a very interesting trade, because there are basically two outcomes here. Number one, the Blackhawks receive the reigning Vezina Trophy winner for nothing, or number two, the Golden Knights dump $7 million for free. If outcome number one is indeed the case, then this seems like a great trade for Chicago. They get a goalie who can take a ton of pressure off of Kevin Lankinen, and only give up an AHL player. Even one season in Chicago from Fleury would make this trade a total robbery. If the other outcome is true though, then Vegas come out on top. There is a very significant chance that Fleury decides to retire, and not play for Chicago altogether. That is one of the reasons Vegas got such a minimal return for him. If that's the case, then Vegas dumps Fleury's hefty contract (and they needed cap space to re-sign Alec Martinez) and get to finally see what Robin Lehner can do as their full time starter. Still though, they would lose a really good netminder, so its by no means a smashing victory. This is a shocking move.
Panthers receive: Sam Reinhart
Sabres receive: 2022 1st round pick, Devon Levi
I think this trade is a smashing success for the Florida Panthers, and should make a lot of fanbases question why their team didn't go out and get Reinhart for a very reasonable price. He was the Sabres best player last season (besides maybe LInus Ullmark), scoring 25 goals and 40 points in 54 games. He should fit in well in Florida as they make a push for more playoff success. As far as what Buffalo receives, it does seem a bit minimal, especially considering they are not getting a single player who can play for them now. Devon Levi was phenomenal at the World Juniors for Canada (6-1-0, 0.75 GAA, and a .964 SV% while being named the goaltender of the tournament), but is quite a ways off from NHL play. He's a good prospect, but you would think Buffalo would want prospects at positions other than goalie, especially because of the promise Stefanos Lekkas has shown. A first round pick in next year's draft will be valuable, but the return still falls short for the Sabres in this one.
Flyers receive: Cam Atkinson
Blue Jackets receive: Jakub Voracek
The Blue Jackets have made some good moves this offseason to dump cap hit and get younger, but this one isn't exactly that. It's not a horrible trade because I do believe Voracek is better than Atkinson, but the Jackets are not going to be competitive in the near future either way. The real importance of this trade is the contracts: Voracek is owed $8,250,000 for each of the next three seasons, and Atkinson will earn $5,875,000 for each of the next four years. In my opinion this isn't a major success for either team: the Flyers get slightly worse but save money while the Jackets get slightly better but lose money.
Blue Jackets receive: Jake Bean
Hurricanes receive: 2021 2nd round pick (44)
Despite a fair amount of potential, it's clear that Jake Bean really hasn't been a part of Carolina's envisioned d-core. At 23 years old Bean still has a lot of room to grow, and the Jackets didn't have to give up too much to get him. I'd say this is a success for them, especially given the arsenal of young players they are beginning to collect.
Blues receive: Pavel Buchnevich
Rangers receive: Sammy Blais, 2022 2nd round pick
This looks to be yet another incredibly lopsided deal. In 119 career games, Sammy Blais has 35 total points. Pavel Buchnevich has eclipsed that totaled in each of his four full seasons in the NHL. He even scored 20 goals and 48 points in 54 games last season while registering a +12 plus/minus. To top it all off he is only one year older than Blais. A second round pick by no means makes up the gap between these two players. Not really sure what Chris Drury is doing on this one.
Canucks receive: Oliver Ekman-Larson, Conor Garland
Coyotes receive: Loui Eriksson, Antoine Rousell, Jay Beagle, 2021 1st round pick (9), 2022 2nd round pick, 2023 7th round pick
The Canucks are certainly starting to sacrifice their future for the present and considering the fact that they finished dead last in the North division, theat might be a bit of a questionable decision. With that said, they are certainly building a talented squad, that is if they are able to re-sign Elias Petterson, Quinn Hughes, and Conor Garland. They only have $18,789,341 in cap space, so signing piecing together a complete team may be difficult at this point. This trade certainly helps them, but taking on OEL's contract, in which he is owed $7,260,000 each year for the next six seasons is not ideal.
This is a huge, albeit not very surprising move by the Coyotes. We knew they wanted to dump OEL's contract, and contract talks with Garland hadn't exactly been smooth. Still though, Ekman-Larson was their captain, and Garland was arguably their best forward last season. The Coyotes are stockpiling picks though, as they had four picks in the 2021 draft's first two rounds, and will have six in next year's first two rounds.
Blackhawks receive: Seth Jones, 2021 1st round pick (32), 2022 6th round pick
Blue Jackets receive: Adam Boqvist, 2021 1st round pick (12), 2021 2nd round pick (44), 2022 1st round pick
We knew that Seth Jones would be traded this offseason, and it ends up being to Chicago. For the Blackhawks it's an interesting move, and shows that they believe they will be very competitive next season despite the fact that they were nine points out of the playoffs last year. I just can't see them being a real Cup contender even with Jonathan Toews' return and the addition of Jones. Their defense did need some help, and Jones is an excellent defensive guy, so the move does make sense in that way. The questionable part of this for Chicago is really the contract they signed Jones to just after trading for him: eight years at $9.5 million per, which is quite hefty.
On Columbus' side, well, the rebuild is really official now. The Jackets didn't have a choice in whether or not to trade Jones in all honesty given that he wasn't going to re-sign, and they get a pretty good return here. They are starting to stockpile quite a few picks and young promising prospects. Boqvist may not have had a great 2020-21 season, he's only twenty years old and defenseman usually take time to develop. He has a very bright future. I like this deal from the Jackets perspective.
Flyers receive: Rasmus Ristolainen
Sabres receive: Robert Hagg, 2021 1st round pick, 2023 2nd round pick
Not too long ago Taylor Hall, along with Curtis Lazar were traded for Anders Bjork and a 2nd round pick. I thought that was a very minimal return at the time, but this trade simply makes it look crazy. Does Philadelphia really think Ristolainen is that much better than Hall? Clearly they are trying to fortify their defense with this and the trade for Ryan Ellis, but this is so much of a reach for them. For the Sabres, it's a rare victory. They add picks, which should be their priority.
Flames receive: Tyler Pitlick
Kraken receive: 2022 4th round pick
I had a feeling that Pitlick would not be on the Kraken's roster coming opening night. With so many young players who will be trying to prove themselves and earn roster spots among Seattle's forwards, there simply wasn't a place for the 29 year old Pitlick. He's a hard working guy, but not much more than that. A decent bottom six player at best.
Coyotes receive: Shayne Gostisbehere, 2022 2nd round pick, 2022 7th round pick
Flyers receive: future considerations
It's rough when you're traded for nothing. It's even worse when you're traded along with a 2nd and a 7th round pick for nothing. Considering that Gostisbehere cleared waivers earlier this year though, that is what it was going to take to take on his $4.5 million contract. There's still potential for him though, as he did score 65 points only four years ago, and is only 28 years old.
Red Wings receive: Alex Nedeljkovic
Hurricanes receive: Jonathan Bernier, 2021 3rd round pick
Steve Yzerman's quote saying, "You're going to have to ask them [Carolina] why they feel comfortable doing that," pretty much sums this trade up. It is a baffling trade for the Hurricanes. They top goalie signed for next year right now is the 22 year old Beck Warm who played 14 games in the AHL last season. Meanwhile Nedeljkovic is coming off a Calder finalist season, and has a bright future ahead of him. He also signed a very reasonable two year contract with a $3 million cap hit. On the other side, Bernier is a pending UFA. Considering Nedeljkovic's impressive season last year and the fact that he was a Canes 2nd round pick, it makes no sense why they would trade him for virtually just a third round pick.
Flyers receive: Ryan Ellis
Predators receive: Philippe Myers, Nolan Patrick
This trade is a great start to the offseason for the Flyers, and not all that bad for the Predators either. For the Flyers, they receive a top pair caliber defenseman who is incredibly solid defensively, something Philly desperately needed. They lose Myers, who is a big guy at 6'5", and can still help the Preds. In terms of giving up Nolan Patrick, the truth is that both parties needed a separation. He was quickly moved to the Vegas Golden Knights after this trade in exchange for Cody Glass, a former sixth overall pick who still has plenty of potential. Overall, the Preds get younger, so this is not a bad trade for them, although you might have liked to see them get a little more in return for Ellis.
Oilers receive: Duncan Keith, Tom Soderland
Blackhawks receive: Caleb Jones, 2022 Conditional 3rd round pick
Considering that Keith wanted to be near Western Canada (which left trades to Edmonton, Vancouver, and Seattle likely), this deal to the Oilers was not a huge surprise. What is a surprise is that the Blackhawks are not retaining any of Keith's owed $11,076,924 total over the next two seasons. Chicago needed to get rid of his contract, but the Oilers were not really in a place to fully take it on. They don't have a ton of cap space left now to bring in some needed depth at both forward and defense. Keith is now 38 years old and nowhere near the player he used to be. He isn't the kind of guy who is going to push the Oilers over the top in the playoffs.