The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone with various sources anointing immediate winners and losers. Chances are, if you’ve found your way here though, you’re already well aware of the fact that winners and losers of the NHL Trade deadline cannot be appropriately crowned until several years later. Often times, sellers are seeking returns in the form of youth and draft picks which aren’t as easily evaluated. This Deadline, as usual there were several prospects exchanged, including many who are currently developing in the AHL. Today we’ll look into what some clubs saw in the prospects that they acquired, as well as where they fit into their new depth chart.
Philip Holm, D | VAN -> VGK
The Knights are already a Cinderella story. Castaways from each of the other 30 NHL teams found themselves in the Nevada desert this fall, only to come together as one of the league’s most dominant teams. One of the Knights only disappointments of the season was former Maple Leafs & Predators prospect, Brendan Leipsic. While the undersized winder still offers potential as a bottom-six forward in the NHL, the Knights dealt from a position of strength to acquire a player in a similar situation, but on the back end. Holm brings depth to a relatively shallow prospect pool for the Knights, where he has a strong chance of slotting into the top-6 in the coming years, while they begin to cycle out their UFA’s. Leipsic, who hasn’t played much in the AHL this season has already been off to a great start with the Canucks and could see his role boosted even further, depending on whether or not Brock Boeser returns this season.
Danny O’Regan, C | SJS -> BUF
One of the Sharks top forward prospects has had cups of coffee (or tea – you pick) in the NHL this season, registering an unimpressive 4 points in 19 games with the Sharks. A year removed from being awarded the Red Garrett Memorial award for the AHL’s best rookie, O’Regan is on the move to upstate New York where he stands a significant chance of earning a roster spot with the Sabres into next season, where he’ll join former Boston University teammates Evan Rodriguez and Jack Eichel. O’Regan’s fantasy potential was significant enough with the Sharks, and has only risen in this transaction. Just over a week since being traded, O’Regan was recalled by the Sabres, and received an opportunity to audition while the two aforementioned players are out of the lineup. In two games, he was held off the scoresheet, at 24-years-old, he’s nearing the peak of his development curve already, but should be a contributor in blue and yellow relatively soon.
Rinat Valiev, D & Kerby Rychel, LW| TOR -> MON
The former first-round selection, Rychel has taken a small step backwards this season, while the former third-round selection Valiev has taken a leap forward this season with the Marlies. Both were moved to the struggling Laval Rocket in the deal that sent Thomas Plecanec to the Leafs on deadline day and will have a major up-hill battle in getting them anywhere near a playoff spot. Going forward, neither has an enormously positive change in outlook by switching franchises, though each will likely receive an opportunity to show what they’ve got to offer in Montreal – given the right opportunity they could each play a depth role with the team, but neither is a sure shot. Valiev has been able to get into the Canadien’s lineup for two contests since the trade, accumulating zeros across the board, while Rychel has stayed in Laval where he’s been white-hot since the trade, totaling five goals and two assists in his first six contests.
Tobias Lindberg | VGK -> PIT
After coming over to the Knights in exchange for goaltender Calvin Pickard, Tobias Lindberg is on the move for the second time this season. Playing on a crowded Chicago Wolves team, Lindberg posted 18 points in 51 games, but things won’t be any easier with the Penguins. Wilkes Barre-Scranton have proven to be a strong development club for Pittsburgh in the very recent past, however, and with little competition outside of Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston Reese, Lindberg could flourish. Now with his fourth NHL franchise, Lindberg is becoming somewhat of an AHL journeyman, but at the cost of a third-round pick, Pittsburgh may give him some opportunity that he hasn’t had with his last three clubs. Lindberg seemingly won’t be forced to make another move until the fall, however, as he’s remained with the Chicago Wolves since the trade.
Ryan Graves | NYR -> COL ** Chris Bigras | COL -> NYR
After acquiring Libor Hajek & Brett Howden from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Rangers made a minor league deal that sent Ryan Graves to the Avalanche in exchange for Chris Bigras. The two defenders were drafted 78 picks apart in 2013, with Graves being the more offensively successful in the years since. Bigras has shown signs of being a bit of a band-aid with the Avalanche, and does have some history with concussions, but has begun to develop into a more complete player this season. Both project to remain as depth options with their respective clubs and offer little in the form of offensive contributions at the NHL level. Of the two, Bigras’ may offer a wider range of contributions in multi-category leagues as a last resort depth piece. Since being traded, Graves has been pointless in seven with the Rampage, while Bigras has tallied two assists in his first five with the Wolf Pack.
Besides the obvious activities that occur on the NHL Trade Deadline, the date is also relevant to AHL prospects in another way. In essence, in order to be eligible to play in the AHL playoffs, a player must be on an AHL roster at the deadline - for a deeper look into the subject, check out this article from Pension Plan Puppets. Thus, if you were checking out CapFriendly on deadline day, and were somewhat confused by what was going on in your favorite clubs “Recalls and Reassignments” column, this would be why. Several teams took part in the ritual of “Papering down” some of their prospects who are currently getting an opportunity with the NHL club. This way, they’ll also be eligible to compete for their AHL club should they no longer be required in the NHL. Some of the most notable prospects who are currently playing in the NHL, and were also made available to their AHL teams for playoffs include the following:
Vancouver Canucks/Utica Comets – Tyler Motte & Nikolay Goldobin
Utica is in an AHL playoff spot, and the Canucks certainly are not in an NHL playoff spot. Motte and Goldobin will be returned to the Comets upon the completion of the NHL season (or whenever Loui Eriksson, Brendan Gaunce or Markus Granlund return) to compete for the Calder Cup.
Calgary Flames/Stockton Heat – David Rittich & Jon Gilles
Both goaltenders were responsible for the Calgary crease in the absence of starting goaltender, Mike Smith. Smith had been known to be cautious with injuries so his return to the Lineup yesterday versus the Islanders, while trying early on, signaled the demotion for Gilles. The two of Gillies and Rittich had been dependable in the stretch since Smith’s injury, but should Calgary miss the playoffs, both will be able to return to the AHL to backstop the Heat in the AHL’s Pacific Division.
Winnipeg Jets/Manitoba Moose – Jack Roslovic, Michael Hutchinson
The Jets and the Moose have each been dominant in their respective leagues this season, though with the acquisition of Paul Stastny, Roslovic will likely lose some ice time. He’ll likely return to the Moose once Adam Lowry and/or Shawn Matthias return to the lineup. Hutchinson on the other hand is a bit more interesting. The Jets have been successful riding Connor Helleybuck this season, so unless Hutchinson is absolutely required by the Jets because of Steve Mason’s injury, his AHL eligibility will likely be utilized come AHL playoff time. While the netminder has been great in both leagues this season, the Jets will likely ride Hellebuyck as much as possible.
Washington Capitals/Hershey Bears – Madison Bowey
Bowey is one of eight healthy defenders currently listed on the Capitals roster. His Hershey Bears have been struggling without him for most of the season and he’s unlikely to have enough of an impact on their standing if he were to return – playoffs do not seem to be in their future.
Toronto Maple Leafs/Toronto Marlies – Travis Dermott & Kasperi Kapanen
The Leafs and Maries are in a similar spot to the Jets and Moose, however, both Dermott and Kapanen have turned in to more heavily utilized players with the Leafs in the past couple of weeks. The Leafs aren’t dealing with the same injury situation on the front lines as the Jets, and even so, the two have managed to supplant a few NHL veterans like Matt Martin and Roman Polak. They’ll likely stick with the Leafs until they are (possibly) eliminated.
Tampa Bay Lightning/Syracuse Crunch – Adam Erne
The aging fringe prospect is covering for a couple of injuries on the Lightning’s front lines which are not expected to be long term. The Syracuse Crunch will happily welcome back his services once Palat and Kucherov recover, as they push for the playoffs in the AHL’s North Division.
Detroit Red Wings/Grand Rapids Griffins – Tyler Bertuzzi & Jared Coreau
Detroit will undoubtedly miss the NHL playoffs for the second consecutive season after their record breaking playoff streak. The Griffins who are also a perennial contender, will be glad to reacquire the services of Coreau and Bertuzzi who are potentially making their last run for a Calder Cup before graduating to full time NHL positions.
See the entire list at https://capfriendly.com/transactions/recalls-reassignments
One notable exception here is Nikita Scherbak of the Montreal Canadiens who was recalled by the Habs prior to the 3PM deadline. The Laval Rocket have a very slim chance of making the AHL playoffs so this essentially tells us that the Habs are content with Scherbak playing the remainder of his season in the NHL, and likely getting a significant opportunity to make his mark on the team in an offensive role.