The clock struck 3:00 PM, and just like that, the NHL Trade Deadline came and went, but not before some well-known plays were moved as teams are preparing for their push to the Playoffs. In a few cases, teams went all-in as they believe this is their year to take home the greatest trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup.
Over the weekend, the Boston Bruins made a big move in acquiring Rick Nash from the New York Rangers. The move signified that the Bruins were ready to go for it all this year, and their fans are hoping for the same as they look the playoffs with excitement. Before they could get too excited, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said, “hold my beer,” and made an even bigger splash roughly 24 hours later.
The Lightning also have a history of making trades with the New York Rangers, and they continued that trend by acquiring defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller from New York just ahead of the 3:00 PM deadline in exchange for forward Vladislav Namestnikov, prospects Libor Hajek and Brett Howden, a 2018 first round pick, and a conditional 2019 second round pick, which will become a first rounder if the Bolts win the Stanley Cup either this season or next. Talk about a blockbuster.
On the surface, this move makes sense for both teams. For the Lightning, they acquire a talented top-pairing defenseman with plenty of experience and leadership in McDonagh, and a young versatile scoring forward in Miller. For the Rangers, they continue to restock the cupboards with young talent and draft picks as they rebuild their roster after coming up short the past few seasons. However, this trade may be an absolute steal for the Lightning.
Steve Yzerman successfully acquired a top defenseman with another year of control and a young forward who is a pending RFA without giving up any of his top NHL talents, such as Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde, and Mikhail Sergachev. Namestnikov is a talented forward, but he is a year older than J.T. Miller and has only put up more than 40 points once in his career. The draft choices Yzerman traded will likely be late in the rounds, so they were much more expendable.
While Don Sweeney made the Bruins a legitimate threat, Steve Yzerman made the Bolts a legitimate favorite. The Bruins can still beat them, but it will likely come down to whether or not Tuukka Rask can outplay Andrei Vasilevskiy (he definitely can). This will soon be a matchup that everyone is hoping for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It has the potential to be the birth of a new rivalry. Let’s hope and pray that we get it.