2024-03-11 · 3 min read · NHL/Hockey
Jake Guentzel and Tomáš Hertl

Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports | TSN

Las Vegas Knights -Winner
As just feels right Vegas went all in at the deadline as just when you thought they wouldn’t upgrade further, they picked up Noah Hanifin (the top blue liner on the market) and Anthony Mantha. That was enough to see them in the winner's circle but then they went out and picked up Tomas Hertl, not exactly a name that was thrown around much, but he’s a vet who will add even more firepower. Possibly the deadline's biggest winner and they are already the reigning champs, not a bad look. I love the Hanifin addition. It gives Vegas a third star defenseman mixed in with Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore. Vegas' blue line is its biggest strength, and it added another responsible, mobile, puck-mover in his prime. The new-look Golden Knights may be in a wild-card spot for now, but you can bet no one wants to pull them in the playoffs after their latest reinforcements. General manager Kelly McCrimmon pulled off all this without surrendering this year's first-round pick and remained comfortably cap compliant. Although many fans are sour about another year of LTIR gymnastics from the defending champions, they're not breaking any rules.
Pittsburgh Penguins - Loser
This is not where the Penguins wanted to be right now as the Jake Guentzel deal has to sting for them. The trade of Guentzel signals that the Pens are not going all-in. Pittsburgh is outside of a playoff spot and have been slipping in the standings of late, leaving GM Kyle Dubas no choice but to sell. While the Penguins in general come out of the deadline as losers, fans have to feel for Sidney Crosby. The 36-year-old is in the midst of one of the greatest seasons for a player his age, and it means nothing. He is likely to miss the playoffs for a second consecutive year, the first time in his NHL tenure that he won't be playing in the postseason in two straight seasons.
Carolina Hurricanes - Winner
Speaking of Jake Guentzal Carolina has to be happy nabbing one of the top forwards on the market. It feels like Carolina has been one key piece away from contending for a Stanley Cup over the last few seasons. While Guentzel isn't at a superstar level, he is a seamless fit with the Hurricanes and the exact kind of complimentary piece that could put them over the edge. GM Don Waddell has been hesitant in the past to gamble on pure rentals, but the club clearly likes Guentzel's fit enough to bring in the pending free agent, even if an extension hasn't been worked out. Guentzel gives star center Sebastian Aho an upgrade on the wing, and the two should create magic together if Rod Brind'Amour elects to play them together. The winger has a knack for getting open in the offensive zone and brings a high hockey IQ to the ice. Carolina also brought in Evgeny Kuznetsov in the hopes that a change of scenery can fix the center, who is in the midst of an awful season, but has top-six potential when he's clicking. Those two moves could be just what the Hurricanes need to get over the hump.
New York Rangers - Loser
I can see why some would be surprised to see them here as they’re a contender already, and Alex Wennberg could prove to be a key transaction. Maybe Jack Roslovic turns out to help a lot. But the teams around them got better, and they were reportedly in on multiple high profile names they didn't get (a la Guentzal). The Rangers could be fine going at the deadline didn't exactly work for them last year, but I'm not exactly enthralled.
Florida Panthers - Winners
The best part of a vet signing a one-year deal with a full no-trade clause is that when the deadline rolls around and your team isn't in contention, that player can dictate where he wants to go. For Tarasenko, he wanted to go to Florida and can you blame him? He joins a club that is first in the NHL, coming off a Stanley Cup Final appearance and is in a warm-weather climate with no state tax. Florida holds the best record in the league, yet the team went out and added a dangerous sniper. The move gives the Panthers a top-six forward group that consists of Tarasenko, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Matthew Tkachuk, Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Bennett. They also picked up Kyle Okposo from the Sabres for a conditional seventh-rounder and minor-leaguer. Okposo is a respected leader who should be able to chip in on the fourth line (he's reliable defensively and can still get in on the forecheck), this deal was a bigger win for the player himself. But maybe their best and most important move wasn't a trade, but an eight-year, $46-million extension for core defenseman Gustav Forsling. If the Panthers already weren't the frontrunners in the East, there is no denying it now.
Los Angeles Kings - Loser
The Kings were dominant to start the year, but a midseason slump resulted in Todd McLellan being fired, and led to questions at the deadline. While Los Angeles wasn't expected to be major players this week, GM Rob Blake stood pat. This is awful in itself but their Division rivals all got better. The Canucks landed Elias Lindholm in late January, the Golden Knights beefed up with Hanaifin and Mantha, and the Oilers added depth with the acquisitions of Adam Henrique, Sam Carrick and Troy Stetcher. When you factor in what other Western Conference teams like the Avalanche (who just missed the winners list), Stars and Jets did, it's hard not to view the Kings' activity as disappointing. It's hard to be hopeful about Los Angeles when you look at the rest of the stacked Western Conference.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Chase Howard


Up Next

Sports Tree Blog


Read more2024-05-05 · 2 min read
Sports Tree Blog


Read more2024-05-03 · 2 min read

Sports Tree

© 2024 Sports Tree LTD.

The sports tree newsletter

Sign up for the newsletter

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms of Service  and Privacy Policy. You can opt out at any time.