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NHL Trade Deadline: Minimal Ripples

The impact of the trade deadline and what it means for the playoffs

Approximately three quarters of the condensed 56-game NHL 2020/2021 season has passed and the trade deadline came and went this Monday. With the media drumming big splashes and major moves, the experts were more on the quiet side, actually pointing out the realities of the weird COVID-influenced season at hand. Most of the teams are still within range to make the playoffs, and those that aren't hardly have interesting pieces to move.

The financials also put a question mark in any transactions and it is yet uncertain what the future holds regarding the salary cap. Not to mention the expansion draft next summer, which the teams have to prepare already in form of signing – or not signing – certain players.

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Be as it may, it was the quietest trade deadline in more than a decade if measured by numbers. It's rather telling that the biggest headline was that late trade between the runt of the litter, Detroit, and the eastern contenders, Washington. That trade saw Anthony Mantha head to DC in exchange for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik and picks.

The other notable players moved during the deadline or shortly before was Buffalo’s Taylor Hall, who will finish off his one-year deal in Boston along with Curtis Lazar. Anders Bjork moved the other way, Columbus’ Nick Foligno headed to Toronto and David Savard found a new home with the reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

While Hall would have previously considered a serious splash, the former Hart Trophy winner's season so far has been sub-par in every regard. Boston is still a contender, if not the highest rated even in their division, and Hall is given a chance to redeem himself after a disastrous try with the Sabres.

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Many of the teams did make complimentary additions to their rosters in preparation for the playoffs.

Brandon Montour changed from Buffalo to Florida where Aaron Ekblad is out for the season. Calgary’s underperforming Sam Bennett found his way to the same destination, looking for a new start and adding some much needed depth and grit to the Panthers offense.

The Canadian teams added some defensive bodies, with Toronto acquiring Ben Hutton from Anaheim, the Canadiens snatching Erik Gustafsson from the Flyers for Jon Merrill from the Devils, and the Jets receiving Jordie Benn from the Cancucks.

Possibly the best of the defensemen moving north of the border is Dmitry Kulikov, who changed his Devils jersey to that of the Oilers – that roster was in dire need of a big and aggressive defensive defenseman.

With the regular-season almost done, no major changes to the final standings were established by the trades according to the simulations. The impact of individual players is limited with a full season, let alone a condensed one with some 15 games remaining.

But the playoffs might be a different story, and adding the depth might prove crucial when the snow melts and the golf courses open in other places than Florida as well.

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