Analyzing Recent NHL Trades Before the Draftby Carter LaCorte July 6, 2022 0 comments
The NHL Draft is approaching rapidly, and on July 7th, Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky, or Logan Cooley will go first overall, assuming Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes is telling the truth. The draft is the true start of the offseason. Teams are more willing to make a trade as each draft slot is locked in following the Stanley Cup Finals. Last year, the Chicago Blackhawks shelled out a fortune for Columbus Blue Jackets defender Seth Jones. The Blue Jackets followed it up by exchanging Cam Atkinson for Jakub Voracek a day later.
The rumor mill is churning out buzz once again entering the two big days. Will the Edmonton Oilers trade young forward Jesse Puljujarvi? How many free agents can the Colorado Avalanche afford to keep? Can Johnny Gaudreau and Filip Forsberg return to their respective teams? Before any selections are made, some moves have already been completed. Some are big, and some are Mathieu Olivier traded for a fourth-round pick. So to get you caught up on everything before mayhem (hopefully) breaks loose, let’s look at the three biggest trades made since the end of the regular season.
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Weber for Dadonov
First off, we have a straightforward one-for-one trade, or is it? The Canadiens sent defenseman Shea Weber to the Vegas Golden Knights for Evgenii Dadonov, satisfying the needs of both teams. You may remember the very awkward situation that Dadonov was put in at the trade deadline when Vegas completed a trade to send him to Anaheim, only for the league to veto it. But, to his credit, Dadonov proved to the Golden Knights that he was worth keeping, putting up 16 points in 16 games, only for the team to narrowly miss a playoff spot.
With every move made nowadays, the salary cap had a ton of input here. Dadonov has a $5 million cap hit, with 2022-23 being the last year on his contract. Weber, on the other hand, has a cap hit of approximately $7.86 million, lasting for the next four seasons. However, Weber’s illustrious career is over due to injuries. He can be placed on LTIR, which means that Vegas can spend up to $7.86 million over the salary cap. That effectively has a net-zero change on the salary cap on its own. However, an extra $5 million was freed up by dealing Dadonov. The cap-troubled Golden Knights now have room to work with.
Montreal gets a good deal here. By trading Weber, they no longer need to use LTIR. Using LTIR causes player bonuses to carry over, so the Habs escape it. They also gain a veteran player on a one-year deal for nothing. Dadonov scored 20 goals with 23 assists last year. He could be flipped for draft picks and/or prospects at the deadline. Getting that for free is an easy win.
Fiala Heads West
This was easily the biggest trade, as the Minnesota Wild sent forward Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings for defensive prospect Brock Faber and the 19th overall pick in Thursday’s draft. Fiala was a star last year. He scored 33 goals with 52 assists for 85 points in 82 games while playing mostly separately from Wild star Kirill Kaprizov. That was 22nd in the NHL. At age 25, his value should have skyrocketed. But thanks to the buyouts of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise last summer, the Wild have a combined $12.74 million in dead cap hit. Fiala was a restricted free agent commanding a huge price. That want was soon met, as the Kings immediately signed him to a seven-year extension with a $7.875 million AAV.
The return is a bit underwhelming, a product of Minnesota’s lack of leverage. That is not to say that Minnesota got nothing. The 19th pick is a significant one, and Faber was the captain of the University of Minnesota hockey team. Drafted in the 2nd round in 2020, Faber had 14 points in 32 games last season. He is from Maple Grove, Minnesota, a half-hour away from Xcel Energy Center.
The Kings made a surprising playoff run this past season despite a lack of star talent. Fiala immediately boosts that. Anze Kopitar was the only King to record more than 60 points in 2021-22. Only Adrian Kempe eclipsed the 30-goal mark. Now signed for seven seasons at a reasonable price tag given his 2021-22 performance, Fiala is a boost to the Kings roster. It legitimizes their offseason before the festivities have truly begun.
Nashville Gets Another Defender
The Nashville Predators have an abundance of cap space, with which they will try to re-sign star Filip Forsberg. They already used some of that up, acquiring former New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh from the Tampa Bay Lightning for defender Philippe Myers and forward Grant Mismash. McDonagh is a shutdown defender who will look great behind Roman Josi in Nashville. The problem was his contract. McDonagh has a $6.75 million cap hit and is signed through 2025-26. He is 33 now, and that could easily look a lot worse in the future.
Still, he comes in at a very small price. Myers was a big part of last year’s Ryan Ellis trade, but he flamed out in Nashville after showing glimpses of potential in Philadelphia with the Flyers. He had four points in 27 NHL games but was waived to the AHL. The Predators did not even put him with their prospects, instead loaning him to the Toronto Marlies, the Maple Leafs’ affiliate. There, Myers had seven points in 16 games. He is 25 and could provide depth to the Lightning. If they want, they could easily buy him out. Myers has one year left at a $2.55 million cap hit. While that offsets some of the McDonagh money, his contract works out to where if he is bought out, Tampa gains $616k in additional cap space.
This all gives Tampa Bay additional flexibility. They recently extended forward Nick Paul and still have forward Ondrej Palat and defenseman Jan Rutta entering unrestricted free agency. Mismash is a former second-round draft pick, but way back in 2017. He is a forward with just 12 points in 57 AHL games last season.
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