Grading the Biggest NHL Trades During 2024 Draft Week

Grading the Biggest NHL Trades During 2024 Draft Week

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    Toronto, ON - April 25: Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark in net during practice. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

    Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    There’s nothing we love more at NHL draft time than the trades that happen around and during the event, right? Players go to new teams to reenergize and perhaps help them to make the playoffs or win a Stanley Cup.

    In that respect, the first round of the past two drafts have been a huge bummer. No player trades happened at the 2023 draft in Nashville, and after the first round of the 2024 draft, we can say the same.

    Sigh…we don’t always get what we want.

    However, there were a few trades leading into the first round Friday night for us to take a look at.

    We know you wanted all of the biggest names in hockey to get swapped around all over the place and especially to your favorite team, but sometimes it’s the smallest deals that make the biggest impact.

Linus Ullmark to the Senators for Joonas Korpisalo, Prospect and 1st-Round Pick

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    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16: Ottawa Senators goalie Joonas Korpisalo (70) watches during warm up before a game between the Boston Bruins and the Ottawa Senators on April 16, 2024, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    One of the things that really disappointed the Ottawa Senators this season was how their goaltending struggled. They signed Joonas Korpisalo to a five-year, $20 million contract last summer to try to alleviate a position that needed help.

    Korpisalo struggled and put up an .890 save percentage in 55 games, and making matters more awkward, backup Anton Forsberg also posted an .890 save percentage in 30 games. If the Senators were going to be serious about making a run at the playoffs, goaltending had to be addressed.

    Replacing Korpisalo with Linus Ullmark more than qualifies.

    Ullmark won the 2023 Vezina Trophy and split time with Jeremy Swayman. The catch there was Swayman is about to sign a big extension with the Bruins, and Ullmark’s contract runs out after next season and Boston needed to free up cap space.

    Ottawa ate some of Korpisalo’s salary to make the deal happen and included Mark Kastelic and a 2024 first-round pick (25th overall, which turned into center Dean Letourneau). The return for a Vezina winner is a bit underwhelming, but it’s for good reason because Ullmark is not eager to sign an extension. That’ll knock down the price every time.

    Ottawa didn’t give up anything regretful, and Boston gets a backup for Swayman that it’s not paying full price for along with a first-round pick it didn’t have before. Meanwhile, the Senators have a season to prove to Ullmark that they’re the place to be for him to have continued success.

    Grade for Boston: B

    Grade for Ottawa: B-plus

Jake Walman and a 2nd-Round Pick to Sharks for Future Considerations

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    DETROIT, MICHIGAN - APRIL 05: Jake Walman #96 of the Detroit Red Wings looks on against the New York Rangers at Little Caesars Arena on April 05, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

    Nic Antaya/Getty Images

    When the Detroit Red Wings traded defenseman Jake Walman to the San Jose Sharks, it was a big surprise. Walman had become a top player on their blue line and was Moritz Seider’s defense partner on their first pairing. While Seider is the untouchable guy, you’d think Walman playing well next to him would provide cover.

    Heck, the Wings even signed Walman to a three-year extension worth $3.4 million a year in February 2023 because they liked his performance so much. But that affordable cap hit looks a lot bigger when it’s time to sign a couple of key players to extensions of their own and with Seider and Lucas Raymond due up to be locked down, finding cap space wherever you can find it is necessary.

    Sending Walman to San Jose is smart because it puts him in the Western Conference and on a team that won’t be a threat, but the Sharks are also a team that desperately needed help on their blue line. Mission accomplished because Walman will step right in and help the Sharks out.

    What makes this trade stupefying is that Detroit also tacked on a second-round pick to go along with Walman. We realize it’s a cap dump trade, but San Jose giving up nothing while getting a solid player and a second-round pick is absolutely bonkers.

    Grade for San Jose: A

    Grade for Detroit: D-minus

Ilya Mikheyev and Sam Lafferty to Chicago for 2027 2nd-Round Pick

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    VANCOUVER, CANADA - MARCH 23: Ilya Mikheyev #65 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up the ice during their NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena on March 23, 2024 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

    Vancouver trading Ilya Mikheyev wasn’t exactly a ground-shaking surprise. Trade buzz picked up that there was a good chance he’d be moved while the Canucks looked to re-jigger their lineup and adjust for cap space. He’s a solid defensive forward and a good forechecker, and for teams looking for help in those areas, he’s a solid but pricey (more than $4 million a year) get.

    While multiple teams looked to add him, he waived his no-trade clause to approve a move to Chicago along with unrestricted-free-agent-to-be forward Sam Lafferty for a 2027 second-round pick.

    Lafferty was in Chicago previously, and the team acquired his rights to get dibs on perhaps re-signing him. Chicago is looking for solid NHL players to help its lineup grow up more around Connor Bedard, and Mikheyev more than qualifies. If they retain Lafferty, he shores up their bottom six as best as he can on a team that will still likely struggle next season.

    Vancouver freeing up Mikheyev’s salary cap hit and gaining a second-round pick down the road for him is a decent return on what was essentially a cap dump. Maybe the Detroit Red Wings should’ve copied Vancouver’s homework on this one.

    Grade for Vancouver: B-plus

    Grade for Chicago: B

Andrew Mangiapane to Capitals for 2025 2nd-Round Pick

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    EDMONTON, CANADA - FEBRUARY 24: Andrew Mangiapane #88 of the Calgary Flames pursues the play in the second period against the Edmonton OilersM on FEBRUARY 24, 2024 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images)

    Lawrence Scott/Getty Images

    The Calgary Flames dealing Andrew Mangiapane to the Washington Capitals came from an all too familiar position.

    Mangiapane is entering the final year of his contract, which carries a $5.8 million cap hit, and while the Flames weren’t in danger of running up against the cap, Mangiapane’s looming free agency and Calgary’s history of seeing key players walk out the door at the end of their contracts (hello, Johnny Gaudreau) meant the team had to be proactive at some point. It chose to do so immediately.

    Washington sending Calgary a 2025 second-round pick to add an aggressive mix-it-up goal scorer like Mangiapane makes a world of sense. The Capitals need more offensive depth, and the way coach Spencer Carbery has them play leans hard into guys like Mangiapane having success. Washington essentially beat the rest of the league to the punch in acquiring him because he’s a player most of the league should want on their team.

    But if the Capitals aren’t a playoff team next year and are out of it by the time the trade deadline rolls around, they can cash in on that kind of demand from Stanley Cup contenders to rent Mangiapane.

    Grade for Calgary: D

    Grade for Washington: A

Alexandre Texier to St. Louis for a 4th-Round Pick

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    COLUMBUS, OHIO - APRIL 16: Alexandre Texier #42 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates during the second period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Nationwide Arena on April 16, 2024 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images)

    Jason Mowry/Getty Images

    Alexandre Texier’s time in Columbus was essentially at an end this past season. The situation was awkward, and he was kept down in the Blue Jackets lineup most of the season despite having a very good shot and good skill. It sure didn’t help that the team was losing a lot as well.

    It was time for Columbus and the Frenchmen to part ways a while ago, but getting it done in the offseason with Texier set to be a restricted free agent this summer made it the best time to move on.

    Texier goes to St. Louis for a fourth-round pick in 2025 and the Blues get a player who has a ton of upside and has shown in previous seasons he can score and help generate offense. In 2022-2023 he had 11 goals and 20 points in 36 games but had 12 goals and 30 points in 78 games this year. Sure, the total numbers were higher, but the per game production was way down (0.56 points per game down to 0.38 points per game).

    Texier was used more in a penalty killing role this season and while that’s solid, there’s more offense to be found from him and the Blues clearly agree with that as they signed him to a two-year, $4.2 million extension ($2.1 million cap hit) after they made the trade.

    Texier will get a fresh start in St. Louis with a team that will give him a shot to show he can produce.

    Grade for Columbus: C-minus

    Grade for St. Louis: B

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