Forward prospect Marko Dano was dealt by Chicago GM Stan Bowman to Winnipeg to land former Blackhawk left winger Andrew Ladd. Photo courtesy Hockey's Future.
Since Toronto GM Lou Lamoriello swung the massive Dion Phaneuf deal Feb. 9, other NHL GMs have decided not to wait for the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
Counting the nine-player Phaneuf transaction, 15 trades have happened through the afternoon of Feb. 27 involving 37 players, many of them still-promising prospects, and potentially 16 draft picks.
While trades are still happening leading to the deadline, let’s examine some prominent prospects who have changed teams so far and how this might affect their fortunes.
As part of a ruthless housecleaning, Lamoriello also traded 24-year-old American winger Jeremy Morin with netminder James Reimer to the San Jose Sharks for goalie Alex Stalock, 27-year-old fringe NHL forward Ben Smith and a conditional 2018 fourth-round draft pick.
Morin, who has played on both sides of center, is a 24-year-old former second-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers who is now with his third NHL organization in two seasons. He has 28 points this season in 41 games with two AHL teams. If he couldn’t play a game for the sadsack Leafs, he likely won’t get a sniff with the Sharks in his final season before becoming an RFA.
Next to the salary-slashing, roster-rebuilding Leafs, Chicago has been the most active and impactful team as the Blackhawks get a jump on their Western Conference rivals and strengthen themselves for a run at a fourth Stanley Cup in seven seasons. In the past three days, Chicago GM Stan Bowman has swung three deals to solidify his reputation as a brilliant salary-cap tactician.
In his latest coup, he reacquired left winger Andrew Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets. To get the hard-working and inspirational Ladd to fill a top-six role, Bowman surrendered 2016 first-round draft pick Marko Dano, and a conditional third round pick in 2018 if the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. Besides Ladd, Chicago gets defenseman Jay Harrison and forward Matt Fraser, depth players at best.
While Dano has yet to justify being drafted 27th overall by Columbus in 2013, he’s just 21 and could still pan out in Winnipeg.
In 48 career NHL games for the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks, the versatile two-way forward has modest totals of nine goals and 14 assists. In 34 AHL games this season for the Rockford IceHogs, the Austrian-born Slovak recorded 23 points in 34 games and was plus-17. Dano has played with some grit and demonstrated a willingness to compete in high-traffic areas.
He will, however, have to prove himself against a deep Winnipeg prospect pool ranked first overall among NHL teams by the Hockey News Future Watch to start the 2015-16 season. Centers and right wingers aged 21 and younger already there include Mark Scheifele, Adam Lowry, Joel Armia and Nic Petan, meaning Dano might have to prove himself with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose before getting any ice time with the Jets. He has one more season on an entry-level contract before he becomes an RFA, so Winnipeg can afford to let him develop a little longer in the AHL.
In addition to swapping Rob Scuderi to the L.A. Kings for fellow veteran blueliner Christian Ehrhoff, Bowman also dealt the Blackhawks’ 2011 first-round pick Phillip Danault and a 2018 second-rounder to the Montreal Canadiens for veteran forwards Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann. Danault, who has experience at center and left wing, had a goal and four assists this season in 30 games for Chicago, adding a goal and an assist in six games for the AHL's Rockford IceHogs.
Phillip Danault scores his first NHL goal:
On the final season of his entry-level deal, Danault becomes an RFA after this season and will be under the Canadiens’ microscope for the next two months as the Habs decide what kind of future he might have with the organization. At least he should get an opportunity to show what he can do because, after a torrid start to its season, Montreal’s scoring evaporated.
Florida GM Dale Tallon was also busy Feb. 27, acquiring forwards Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell and blueliner Jacub Kindl for four draft picks in deals with Calgary, Edmonton and Detroit, although no current prospects changed hands.
Needing a backup to Jake Allen to replace the injured Brian Elliott for about a month, the St. Louis Blues snared former Islanders’ goaltending prospect Anders Nilsson from the Edmonton Oilers for minor-league goalie Niklas Lundstrom and a fifth-round draft pick this year. Nilsson, a huge 25-year-old Swede measuring six-five and 227 pounds, compiled a 10-12-2 record for Edmonton this season with a 3.14 GAA and a .901 save percentage.
An RFA at the end of the season, Nilsson faces an uncertain future with the Blues. Elliott and Allen each have one more season to go after this one with affordable cap hits. Prominent St. Louis prospects include netminders Ville Husso and Jordan Binnington, so Nilsson wants to shine in his limited opportunities in the next month or so to earn a new contract with someone.