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NHL Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

 The NHL trade deadline has come and gone. Now is the time to assess the top winners and losers.

New York Rangers

The general consensus is that the big winner is the New York Rangers. They have gone “all in” on this team for a potential Stanley Cup Championship. Without giving up the farm, they were able to acquire Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko. These two highly skilled forwards will give the Rangers added firepower, as well as seasoned leadership in the clubhouse since both Kane and Tarasenko are former Stanley Cup Champions.

The Rangers felt the need to beef up their offense before entering the playoffs and potentially facing the formidable Boston Bruins, the top NHL team, for the better part of this season. However, this formula of stacking the offense was a bust for the Florida Panthers a year ago, who sputtered out of the playoffs in the second round.

Will the Rangers persevere or fall flat in an intensely competitive Eastern conference? In my opinion, the Rangers have traded away important future draft picks for a “one and done” chance at a Cup. These one-year “rental” players have little time to acclimate to the Rangers system and may not have the chemistry the GM is banking on to make a deep run.

Pittsburgh Penguins

One of the perceived losers is the Pittsburgh Penguins, who traded a second-round pick for a “not so hot” Mikael Granlund. As they fall behind in the standings, they could have used an injection of youth and energy to revitalize their aging core group, who saddle them with hefty salaries, including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang.

In my opinion, If they even make it into the playoffs this season, it will be toward an early exit. They have the experience and leadership, but they lack the necessary depth needed to conquer the likes of the Bruins, Hurricanes, and Rangers. Seeing their playoff chances narrow as the season goes on, their management may have just thrown in the towel, which could explain the lack of a big splash before the trade deadline.

All of this stacking the teams in a fury of late trades come playoff time has somewhat tarnished the NHL overall. What happens today is that teams are sitting star players for “trade-related reasons.” This happened this week with the Arizona Coyotes and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Healthy and talented players are sitting out games that fans have paid good money to watch. What the NHL certainly doesn’t want is to gain a reputation from these events. The NBA is currently battling a somewhat similar issue, where players feel they don’t need to play in back-to-back games to “manage” their workloads.

These teams filled with “rental” players that will only play for three months are not part of the real team that deserves to be there. The teams lose their identity for this period and start the next season in disarray. The days of “dynasty” teams, like the New York Islanders of the 1980s, will never rise again.

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