Revisiting how each major buyer and seller fared at NHL trade deadline

Here's an assessment of the 2023 NHL trade deadline with the benefit of hindsight.

The NHL draft and start of free agency are just days away, but before we get there, this is a great time to review the league's most recent silly season — the trade deadline.

Everyone is quick to give out grades when the deadline ends but I find we rarely look back with clarity to review what actually happened. So let’s change that.

For the purposes of this review, we decided to look at the major buyers and sellers. Some teams were able to create real bidding wars and drive prices up to astronomical levels, and that should be commended here as well. We also did not just look at moves made on deadline day itself, as teams are lauded for getting business done early and beating the market.

Timo Meier, left, and Patrick Kane, right, were two of the biggest stars moved at the NHL trade deadline. (Photo by Andrew Mordzynski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Boston Bruins

The Bruins had arguably the best regular season of all-time and had to go for it. They swung big by notably acquiring Bertuzzi and Orlov, two legitimate needle-movers. Neither disappointed. Bertuzzi tied for the team lead in playoff scoring with 10 points in seven games, while Orlov was right behind with eight points in seven contests.

The issue, of course, is that they lost in the first round. Now, all of Bertuzzi, Orlov and Hathaway are pending UFAs and no matter how you cut it, trading away two first-round picks as well as a second, third, fourth and fifth is a tough pill to swallow. If the Bruins are able to at least retain one of Bertuzzi or Orlov as they did with Taylor Hall a few years ago, it becomes a lot more palatable.

They had to go for it, it reasonably blew up in their face and now they have to pick up the pieces of what’s left.

Carolina Hurricanes

Right after the trade deadline, Andrei Svechnikov suffered a season-ending injury. All things considered, the Hurricanes did well to finally get past the second round but they were swept in the conference finals. Ultimately, they didn’t give up anything of note but got two players of little consequence.

Gostisbehere was a regular on the Canes' third pairing and did well in those minutes, but had just three points in 15 playoff games. Puljujarvi played just seven playoff games despite a number of injuries to Canes forwards because he fell out of favor quickly.

The Hurricanes made a run despite not going all-in but they finished second in the regular season and have been knocking on the door for five seasons now. At what point do they actually aggressively buy here?

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks sold as expected and did really well, all things considered. Lafferty was having a career year and they sold high, packaging McCabe with him and getting a first- and second-rounder. They squeezed some value out of an injured Kane and sold on Domi as was to be expected, taking on a contract to get a higher pick.

The added bonus was also acquiring Zaitsev and his contract — as a team in their position should be doing — to add multiple extra picks. Over the next three years, the Blackhawks currently own six first-round picks, eight second-round picks (four this year), and five third-rounders.

Dallas Stars

Similar to Carolina, the Stars were not massive buyers but still went to the conference finals. Their acquisitions, though, were well worth it as Domi had 13 points in 19 playoff games and Dadonov had 10 in 16 as he was unfortunately sidelined by injury

All that for a second-round pick and a decent young player they likely wouldn’t have qualified? It was a good deadline in terms of value and return on investment but also like Carolina, you are left to wonder if a little more would have pushed Dallas over the edge.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers took a big swing and added Ekholm, who proved to be an excellent fit alongside Evan Bouchard. While they lost in the second round to the eventual Cup champions, they arguably gave the Golden Knights their toughest test in the playoffs and were right there with them in that series.

After the deadline, the Oilers were a league-leading 17-2-1. The benefit is that Ekholm still has three years left on his contract and while he’s 33, he remains an impact, legitimate top-four defenseman at this time. If they get even just two of those remaining three years from him as a high-end defenseman, it was well worth the price.

Bjugstad was also an effective depth player and cost little. To this point, trading away Puljujarvi hasn’t exactly left them with the egg on their face that many said would happen when they moved on.

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings paid a notable price to bring in Gavrikov and Korpisalo and both were generally solid, as the team had the second-lowest goals against per game after the trade deadline. They did lose in the first round but have already re-signed Gavrikov to a more-than-reasonable two-year extension at $5.875 million per year. Considering he was a great fit alongside Matt Roy on a matchup pairing, that alone already makes this deadline probably worth it for the Kings.

They are loaded with prospects and young players and are trying to take the next step forward now. We’ll see what happens with Korpisalo but don’t sleep on Portillo — who the Kings promptly signed — as the 6-foot-6 goalie is a legit NHL prospect.

Even though the Kings didn’t get the immediate results, there was some real multi-year planning here that could pay off.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild swapped a number of players around and it led to a fourth straight first-round exit (technically they lost in the play-in during the bubble playoff). Johansson was a good fit and actually led all players acquired at the deadline in points post-deadline. He has already signed a modest two-year extension to stay while everyone else they acquired is a pending UFA.

Greenway is the most notable asset they moved and he fell out of favor some due to his lack of production, but he is a big, heavy player that can play in the league.

Nashville Predators

  • Acquired: a conditional 1st-round pick (2025), a 2nd-round pick (2024) and 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-round picks (2023), Isaac Ratcliffe, Rasmus Asplund, 2nd-round pick (2024), Tyson Barrie, forward Reid Schaefer, a 1st-round pick (2023) and a 4th-round pick (2024).

  • Traded away: Tanner Jeannot, future considerations, 7th-round pick (2025), Nino Niederreiter, Mattias Ekholm and a 6th-round pick (2024)

This could be looked back on as a huge deadline for the Predators, acquiring a bounty of picks while shedding quality but aging veterans in Ekholm and Niederreiter, as well as Jeannot. Barrie is well established for what he is at this point but he can produce and impact games.

Asplund and Ratcliffe were both once very promising and if nothing else, are worth rolling the dice on. The Preds are going into the upcoming draft loaded with picks.

New Jersey Devils

Meier was supposed to be a big-time acquisition but was relatively underwhelming overall with just two goals and four points in the playoffs. He did have nine goals in 21 regular-season games. We’ll see if he re-signs (sounds like they will figure something out), and at what price. They will need to retain him and he will have to be better moving forward to justify the price they paid to acquire him.

New York Islanders

The Islanders received a ton of heat for adding Horvat but they made the playoffs despite Mathew Barzal largely being hurt down the stretch and signed Horvat to a long-term extension. Engvall is a reasonable depth player, though it remains to be seen if he will be retained.

For all of that, the Islanders didn’t exactly give away an absolute boatload: pick No. 17, a decent prospect and a player that was being overpaid in their system, plus a third-rounder. It seems like a good price to make the playoffs and lock in a legitimate top-six center long-term.

New York Rangers

  • Acquired: Vladimir Tarasenko, Niko Mikkola, Tyler Motte, Patrick Kane, Cooper Zech, William Lockwood and a 7th-round pick (2026)

  • Traded away: Sammy Blais, defenseman Hunter Skinner, conditional draft picks, Julien Gauthier, conditional 7th-round pick (2023), Andy Welinski, a conditional 2nd-round pick (2023) and a 4th-round pick (2025), 3rd-round pick (2025), Vitali Kravtsov

The Rangers acquired a number of big names at forward but it was their defense and goalie that carried them down the stretch post-deadline, as they led the league in goals allowed per game. In the playoffs, they went up 2-0 against the Devils and looked like they were cruising but ended up losing that series in seven games. Then they fired their coach.

Now, they are technically set to lose every NHLer they acquired and while they did pay a lot in quantity, it’s fair to note they didn’t give up any first-rounders or top prospects.

Ottawa Senators

  • Acquired: Jakob Chychrun, future considerations, Patrick Brown, Julien Gauthier and a conditional 7th-round pick (2023)

  • Traded away: Nikita Zaitsev, a 2nd-round pick (2023), 4th-round pick (2026), 1st-round pick (2023), a 2nd-round pick (2024) and a 2nd-round pick (2026), Tyler Motte, 6th-round pick (2023)

Pierre Dorion saying, “It was great to be a buyer” was always confusing (the team finished six points out of the playoffs with two other teams ahead of them before even getting to Florida), but adding Chychrun is a significant move. He is a real top-pairing defenseman and is signed for two more seasons at $4.6 million per.

The rest of the moves amount to relative fodder and Gauthier is a decent depth player that was flashing a bit.

Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Acquired: Mikael Granlund, Nick Bonino, Dmitry Kulikov, Peter DiLiberatore and a 3rd-round pick (2024).

  • Traded away: 2nd-round pick (2023), unsigned draft choice Arvid Henriksson, a conditional 5th-round pick (2024), 7th-round pick (2023), Brock McGinn and a 3rd-round pick (2024). Teddy Blueger

This was a strange deadline at the time and ended up leading to the dismissal of Brian Burke and Ron Hextall. The Penguins did get unlucky as Kulikov and Bonino both got hurt and they barely missed the playoffs, but it was just tough to see what the direction was. It didn’t work and now a new chapter in Pittsburgh begins.

St. Louis Blues

  • Acquired: Mikhail Abramov, Adam Gaudette, 1st-round pick (2023), 3rd-round pick in (2023), 2nd-round pick (2024), Zach Dean, Jake Vrana, Sammy Blais, Hunter Skinner, conditional draft picks.

  • Traded away: Ryan O'Reilly, Noel Acciari and the rights to forward Josh Pillar, Ivan Barbashev, Dylan McLaughlin, 7th-round pick (2025), Vladimir Tarasenko, Niko Mikkola

The Blues rightfully had a fire sale and took an interesting approach, adding a number of notable players in return. Vrana is the most significant, a legitimate top six-winger who has battled off-ice issues. They bought extremely low and he had 10 goals (14 points) in 20 games with the Blues. Moving forward, he could be legitimately better than any single player they traded away.

Blais just seems to work in St. Louis. If Dean can take the next step in his career, he has a chance to be a contributor sooner than later, plus the Blues got a collection of picks. This could set the table for a relatively quick retool on the fly.

Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Acquired: Ryan O'Reilly, Noel Acciari and the rights to Josh Pillar, Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty, conditional 5th-round pick (2024) and a conditional 5th-round pick (2025), Luke Schenn, Erik Gustafsson, 1st-round pick (2023), 3rd-round pick (2024).

  • Traded away: Mikhail Abramov, Adam Gaudette, 1st-round pick (2023), 3rd-round pick (2023), 2nd-round pick (2024), 4th-round pick (2025), Joey Anderson, Pavel Gogolev, a conditional 1st-round pick (2025), a 2nd-round pick (2026), 3rd-round pick (2023), Rasmus Sandin, Pierre Engvall

The Leafs bought big at the deadline and finally won a playoff series in part due to all the moves they made. They didn’t necessarily play well against Tampa but even then it’s hard to see them winning that series without O’Reilly, McCabe and Schenn in particular. Now, they could be set to lose all of O’Reilly, Schenn, Acciari and Gustafsson and paid a notable price to do so. Toronto also moved on from Rasmus Sandin and will have a late first-round pick to show for it.

Lafferty is a decent depth player and McCabe is a solid NHL defenseman, so the Leafs will have something to carry forward from this deadline. They didn’t get to where they wanted to go and paid a hefty price but there are some pieces they are moving forward with. If they are able to retain any of the solid veteran players they are set to lose then it could end up looking like a decent deadline overall.

Vancouver Canucks

  • Acquired: Filip Hronek, 4th-round pick (2023), 3rd-round pick (2023), 4th-round pick (2024), Vitali Kravtsov, Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Raty and conditional 1st-round pick (2023).

  • Traded away: Conditional 1st-round pick (2023), 2nd-round pick (2023), Luke Schenn, Curtis Lazar, William Lockwood, 7th-round pick (2026), Bo Horvat

The Canucks were not exactly your typical sellers because they actively went out and bought when they acquired Hronek. Unfortunately he only played four games for the Canucks so it was tough to get a real read on him in Vancouver, but he was having a breakout season in Detroit. The Canucks have struggled to build a good defense unit around Quinn Hughes and while it remains to be seen how Hronek will fit in there, he is at least a player of legitimate quality.

In a season where they finished 22nd overall, the Canucks traded away captain Bo Horvat, a first- and second-round pick and acquired back, amongst other things, a first, a third, Hronek, Raty and Beauvillier, who is a solid NHL forward that just turned 26 years old. It’s not a huge haul considering their place in the standings.

A lot of this will likely hinge on Hronek and even if he excels, he’ll be due a new contract next summer.

Vegas Golden Knights

  • Acquired: Ivan Barbashev, Teddy Blueger, Jonathan Quick, Dysin Mayo

  • Traded away: Zach Dean, Peter DiLiberatore, 3rd-round pick (2024), Michael Hutchinson, 7th-round pick (2025), 5th-round pick (2023).

Vegas won the Cup so in theory you could justify any price to do that. Except the Golden Knights didn’t have much of a price to pay on this one. Dean is a promising prospect that was drafted at the end of the first round by Vegas in 2021 and a third-round pick has some reasonable value, but that is a relative pittance to win a championship.

Barbashev might have priced himself out of Vegas because of how good he was, moving all the way up to the top line and putting up 18 points in 22 playoff games.