Florida Panthers: A+
There are very few teams that were bigger winners at this trade deadline than the Florida Panthers.
One of the marquee names on the move is now a member of the Panthers, as forward Claude Giroux was acquired in a deal that feels very lopsided in favor of the Cats. Florida was also able to bring in defenseman Ben Chiarot from the Canadiens.
I think the Panthers did well to acquire impact players without disrupting the current group of players too much. As a result, I would deem Florida to be the biggest deadline winner in the loaded Eastern Conference.
Montreal Canadiens: A
It’s been a difficult season for the Canadiens, and that was reflected in their trade deadline approach.
The Habs were complete sellers last week, which was the correct strategy. Montreal, though the runner-up in 2021, is nowhere near contending for the Stanley Cup. Key injuries and offseason departures have derailed this campaign, and now Chiarot, Brett Kulak, and Artturi Lehkonen are all gone as well.
It’s not easy to see those players go, but the Canadiens have to start over. This deadline was a necessary part of moving forward, and Montreal added five new picks to help ease the pain. Not all of those picks are in this year’s draft, but the Habs will have 14 picks in 2022.
Montreal got good value for its players, and now it can set its sights on the next era of Canadiens hockey.
Ottawa Senators: C-
While the stance taken by the Canadiens was clear, I’m not so sure that’s the case for the Senators.
Ottawa sold more than it bought, but it certainly didn’t go all-in on selling like its rivals. Nick Paul, Josh Brown, and Zach Sanford are all out, while Travis Hamonic and Mathieu Joseph are in after a busy deadline in the Canadian capital.
The Sens have more picks than before, but they did give up a third-round selection in the Hamonic trade. Overall, I don’t feel as though this deadline was helpful for a team that is struggling to get out of the NHL’s basement.
As Eastern Conference contenders inevitably begin to take steps backward in the coming years, there will soon be room to maneuver in the conference. However, Ottawa’s trade deadline doesn’t exactly position the team to thrive when that becomes the case.