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What worked, what didn't at last year's NHL trade deadline

Julian Catalfo / theScore

Last year's trade season was awesome, and we're here to remember it.

There weren't many names left to be dealt by the time the deadline rolled around, but a deep collection of stars was moved in the weeks prior, generating enormous buzz for the season's playoff push. A year later, the ripple effects from all the wheeling and dealing are still being felt across the league. Below, we'll reflect on what worked and what didn't.

Dubas' last hurrah

Kyle Dubas put his job in Toronto on the line, going all-in during the final season of his contract in hopes of finally making a playoff breakthrough. The Leafs' former general manager unloaded a bevy of assets to acquire Ryan O'Reilly, Noel Acciari, Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty, Erik Gustafsson, and Luke Schenn in four separate trades to supplement a 111-point roster.

Toronto got over the 19-year first-round hump with its revamped lineup but fell flat in the second round. Dubas left the organization in the offseason, and only McCabe is among the acquired Leafs still with Toronto. At the time, Dubas' coup felt like a big win. Looking back, this could serve as a cautionary tale about pushing all your chips into the middle.

O'Reilly, Toronto's biggest get, looked like a great fit until he broke his hand in the regular season. The 2019 Conn Smythe winner was productive in the first round of the playoffs but went cold like the rest of the team against Florida, and then he walked in free agency. The rest of the Leafs' acquisitions, except Lafferty, left for nothing as well.

Verdict: No number of new players can ensure playoff success.

Devils win Meier sweepstakes

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Meier, who looked like a perfect piece for any playoff contender, was the biggest name available. The San Jose Sharks ultimately moved him to the New Jersey Devils in a complex nine-player trade that included three draft picks. Meier had 31 goals in 57 games for the Sharks. He then put up a respectable 14 points with New Jersey before a highly disappointing playoff showing.

The Devils rewarded Meier's upside with an eight-year $70.4-million extension in the offseason. He's yet to live up to it, but it's too early to rule this trade a bust for New Jersey, especially since the team only dealt defensive prospect Shakir Mukhamadullin and 2023 first-rounder Quentin Musty. How those two impact San Jose's rebuild will go a long way in judging Mike Grier's first big deadline sale as GM in the Bay Area.

Verdict: A potential blueprint for future big-name trades, but too early to call this a win or loss for either side.

Golden Knights grab Barbashev

Vegas' acquisition of Barbashev from the St. Louis Blues for AHLer Zachary Dean flew under the radar, but it turned out to be a boon for the Golden Knights and their march to the Stanley Cup.

Barbashev immediately clicked in Sin City, posting 16 points in 23 regular-season games before adding 18 in the playoffs. Half of those points came from Game 2 of the Western Conference Final onward, as Barbashev proved to be one of Vegas' most important players behind its usual cast of stars.

He then parlayed his postseason success into a five-year, $25-million extension over the summer. Everybody wins.

Verdict: Home run.

Rangers snag veteran wingers

Jared Silber / National Hockey League / Getty

Chris Drury was one of the league's most active GMs, making a series of trades headlined by the acquisitions of Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane. The Rangers also landed Tyler Motte and moved on from former ninth overall pick Vitali Kravtsov, but we're going to zero in on the big-name deals.

Tarasenko arrived on Broadway well before the deadline in a surprising move that sent a first-round pick to St. Louis. The veteran showed some promise with 21 points in 31 regular-season appearances but struggled to make a consistent impact in the playoffs. He finished minus-3 in an ugly Game 7 loss to the Devils in Round 1.

The entire hockey world knew Kane wanted to finish his contract year in New York. The Rangers and Blackhawks ultimately orchestrated a deal using the Coyotes as a salary broker while Chicago recouped some picks for one of the best players in franchise history. The hype around the trade was immense, but Kane's nagging hip injury made him a shell of his former self in the playoffs. The 2013 Conn Smythe winner, known for his postseason prowess, had five points in the first round but only registered two assists from Games 3 to 7 as the Rangers let a 2-0 series lead slip away.

Kudos to Drury for going big. However, the Rangers' draft capital took a big hit from both deals, and they didn't win a single round.

Verdict: Swing and a miss.

Oilers nab Ekholm

Edmonton desperately needed help on its blue line before the playoffs. Swapping Tyson Barrie for Mattias Ekholm was a masterclass from Ken Holland. Ekholm brought experience, stability, and grit to the Oilers' lineup while providing a safety blanket for youngster Evan Bouchard. Edmonton went on an 18-2-1 run to close the regular season with Ekholm, and its power play hummed along at 33% over that span with Bouchard playing quarterback.

Ekholm averaged nearly 22 minutes per night in the playoffs. He's set to be a key part of the Oilers' quest for a championship over the next few years while Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are on their current contracts.

Verdict: Perfect fit as it stands.

Bruins bag Bertuzzi, Orlov

Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Bruins swung for the fences amid the best regular season in NHL history. Boston landed Dmitry Orlov and Tyler Bertuzzi in a pair of moves that made the team seem even more invincible than its unprecedented record indicated.

Orlov was a seamless fit into the top four. He enjoyed an offensive uptick to the tune of 17 regular-season points and eight in the playoffs in Beantown. Orlov played major minutes but was on the ice for more goals against (11) than any other Bruins defender in the first round, an ominous stat considering the magnitude of Boston's historic collapse to the Panthers.

Bertuzzi fit like a glove in Boston, both in terms of playing style and production. He co-led the club with 10 playoff points, but again, none of it mattered when the top-seeded Bruins were eliminated in Round 1 after holding a 3-1 series lead. Don Sweeney surrendered six draft picks, including two first-rounders, to acquire these players. While it's difficult to criticize the trades themselves, Boston's season couldn't have ended in a more crushing way.

Verdict: High-price rentals for a single playoff round definitely stings.

Canucks move Horvat, add Hronek

The Canucks had a unique role last trade season. They sold former captain Bo Horvat with the playoffs well out of reach, then used the first-rounder they recouped from the New York Islanders to acquire Filip Hronek from the Detroit Red Wings a few weeks later.

Vancouver did well to sell high on Horvat, who was on a shooting-percentage bender during his final year with the Canucks. Although he's produced this season, Vancouver's attack currently sits third in the league in goals without him. There were times last season when Horvat felt indispensable to Vancouver's long-term plans, but avoiding a big-ticket extension to open the vault for Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson (soon) is looking like shrewd business from the Canucks' front office.

The Hronek trade was a bit of a shock as neither team was in playoff contention. It's paid off big time for Vancouver, as Hronek and Hughes have formed one of the league's best defensive partnerships. Among pairings to play at least 500 five-on-five minutes, they rank fourth in goal share (65.69%), sixth in shot attempts for (57.19%), and 12th in expected goals (53.35%). Hronek's turned out to be a terrific find, and the Canucks hold the leverage in upcoming contract negotiations with the impending restricted free agent.

Verdict: Find Vancouver in the current NHL standings and judge for yourself.

Sorry, how many picks for Jeannot?

Mark LoMoglio / National Hockey League / Getty

The Tampa Bay Lightning blew the hockey world away when they sent the Nashville Predators five draft picks and a prospect for hard-nosed winger Tanner Jeannot. The package included a first-rounder in 2025, a second-rounder in 2024, and third-, fourth-, and fifth-round picks in 2023. Nashville couldn't resist accepting so many assets for a young, valued player.

The Bolts' all-in deadline strategy has worked to their benefit in years past, but this one is quickly aging into a mess. Jeannot record four points in 20 games in Tampa Bay last season and was hurt in the club's first-round elimination to Toronto. This campaign, Jeannot is playing insignificant minutes and has mustered 12 points in 42 appearances. His physicality is impressive, but he profiles as a player you trade a late draft pick for, not one worth selling the farm.

Verdict: The cost is still ridiculous a year later.

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