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NHL Trade Deadline: Sizing up and grading what the Penguins’ division rivals accomplised

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It was a busy day for the Penguins and their biggest rivals

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

The NHL trade deadline was busy yesterday with 31 deals made as teams jockeyed for the immediate future or shifted into a rebuilding mode. The already stacked Metropolitan Division got even better for the infusion of still more talent. Let’s check out what the Pens’ rivals did, basically over the last month to gear up for the end of the season:

Washington Capitals

Meaningful additions: Brendon Dillon, Ilya Kovalchuk

Departures: 2020 second round pick, 2020 third round pick, 2021 third round pick

—The Caps shored up their defense by adding Dillon as rental earlier and then won the Kovalchuk sweepstakes. Kovalchuk surprised almost the whole hockey world by playing actually pretty well with Montreal, certainly reviving his NHL career at age 36. But where is his fit and will he be well-rounded enough for the playoffs? Justin Bourne put it about as well as I saw it by saying Kovalchuk just adds to what the Caps are already very good at and doesn’t offer much to help their weaknesses.

Didn’t spend a lot, but didn’t need to do a ton either. Dillon should help, Kovalchuk remains a wildcard that could boost the grade up or down a lot depending on how it goes. Grade: B

Pittsbugh Penguins

Meaningful additions: Jason Zucker, Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary, Evan Rodrigues

Departures: 2020 first round pick, 2021 third round pick, Dominik Kahun, Calen Addison, Alex Galchenyuk

—The Pens got a good player for a very reasonable price in Zucker, then re-shaped their depth by shuffling in a bunch of bodies up front. The timing of that feels a bit weird — shouldn’t/couldn’t they have added NHL caliber forwards weeks ago to avoid playing a full replacement caliber fourth line all these recent games? But, alas, so it goes. Sheary back with Sidney Crosby is intriguing, as is seeing what Patrick Marleau might still have in the tank. Grade: B+

Philadelphia Flyers

Meaningful additions: Derek Grant, Nate Thompson

Departures: 2020 fourth round pick, 2021 fifth round pick

—Apparently cornering the market on fourth line centers, the Flyers make only a few depth adds. Grant (14G+6A) has done well in 49 games, but we’ll see for once if he can keep it up without being in Anaheim. He didn’t do much at all in Pittsburgh last season. No big swings or interesting moves though, very un-Flyera like. Grade: C-

New York Islanders

Meaningful additions: Andy Greene, Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Departures: 2020 first round pick, 2020 second round pick, 2021 second round pick

—NYI burns a lot of futures to add talent now, though they did get Pageau to already sign an extension (6 years, $5.0m per). Greene might be a good system fit for what they needed to help replace the injured Adam Pelech, but he’s also old and limited. Cost versus where they’re at as contenders, I don’t know, can’t say I was a fan of these moves. They might be a bit better, but at a large cost, especially when Pageau’s career-best shooting percentage regresses. Grade: C-

Columbus Blue Jackets

Meaningful additions: Devin Shore

Departures: Sonny Milano

—The Jackets were reportedly in on the Andreas Anthanasiou trade talks with Detroit, but couldn’t make the high offer there, so they basically just hold pat. They gave up a lot last year, so you can understand being gunshy, but they’re also a very banged up team that could have used the reinforcements. They really don’t get any, and while being patient might be the prudent long-term move, for their situation being so inactive doesn’t help a lot. Grade: D

Carolina Hurricanes

Meaningful additions: Vincent Trocheck, Brady Skjei, Sami Vatanen, Joey Keane

Departures: Erik Haula, Lukas Wallmark, 2020 first round pick, Chase Priskie, Eetu Luostarinen, 2020 conditional fourth round pick, Janne Kuokkanen, Julien Gauthier

—Masterful job done by Carolina. Trocheck boosts the center spot in a major way, Skjei was having a down year with NYR but still is a solid youngster (plus CAR was dealing from a position of strength since they bought an extra first rounder from Toronto with cap space to buy out Marleau). Vatanen is a RHD and was acquired for basically a song. This is how to boost a team for now and the future. They fixed a position of weakness and added multiple young players with term/team control. Big fan of the talent adds here. Grade: A

New York Rangers

Meaningful additions: 2020 first round pick, Julien Gauthier

Departures: Brady Skjei, Joey Keane

—A surprisingly quiet day on the trade front for the Rangers whose biggest move was re-signing (and not selling off) forward Chris Kreider. Again, are they not sellers then? If so, why move Skjei? If not, why not trade Kreider, Jesper Fast, a goalie (though recent injury might have dissuaded that). Once again NYR just doesn’t seem to be set in one clear direction and kind of hug the middle of trying to do a little bit of everything. Can’t say it makes sense. Grade: D

New Jersey Devils

Meaningful additions: 2020 first round pick, 2021 second round pick, Nolan Foote, 2020 conditional fourth round pick, 2021 conditional fifth round pick, Janne Kuokkanen

Departures: Blake Coleman, Andy Greene, Sami Vatanen, Wayne Simmonds

—NJD ripped down anything with value and sent it out the door. And did a nice job. You could argue they got more for Coleman in trade additions than Taylor Hall, which says good and bad things about their season and management that it is even a debatable conversation to have. But, for deadline focus, NJ accomplished goals of stocking up for the future. Grade: A-