NHL Trade Review: Avs bring back Soderberg


       The Colorado Avalanche have acquired forward Carl Soderberg from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forwards Ryder Rolston and Josh Dickinson. 

Soderberg is a familiar face to many in the Colorado organization, as he was a middle-six center for the team for four seasons, but left after scoring 49 points in 2018-19. He is now a few years older, and is closer to a 4th line player than a 2nd line one. He gives the team center depth, and at just $1 million through this season, it is a nice addition for GM Joe Sakic. The cost is also very low, with the headliner being a 5th round pick from the 2020 draft. 

Soderberg, 35, has scored seven goals with eight assists for 15 points in 34 games for the Blackhawks this year. In his NHL career for Chicago, the Avalanche, Arizona Coyotes and Boston Bruins, Soderberg has scored 110 goals with 185 assists for 295 points in 586 games. 

The two players that the Blackhawks get back don\’t have much promise, but they are the very least both young, and are guaranteed to be more important to Chicago\’s future than Soderberg would be. Dickinson was an undrafted forward who has split time between the ECHL and the AHL this year. His best professional season came last year for the ECHL\’s Utah Grizzlies, as he finished with 30 points in 29 games. Rolston, the son of former NHL veteran and Avalanche Brian Rolston, was a 5th round draft pick by the Avalanche a year ago. He is a freshman at Notre Dame currently, but has struggled offensively. 

Rolston, 19, had one goal with five assists for six points in 28 games at Notre Dame this year. For the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL last year, he scored 16 goals with 17 assists for 33 points in 42 games. 

NHL Trade Review: Canucks and Blackhawks make a swap


       The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired forward Adam Gaudette from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Matthew Highmore.

From Vancouver\’s point of view, this is a confusing trade. Gaudette has not had good underlying numbers in his NHL career and is not good at face-offs, but he is young and scored 12 goals last year. He has fallen back to earth after a 16 shooting percentage last year, and has been a replaceable 4th liner. But he had potential coming out of college, scoring 30 goals with 30 assists in 38 games for Northeastern in 2017-18. Looking at the salary cap, they clear up $225k, as Highmore is under contract through next year at $725k, while Gaudette is a pending RFA, making $950k this year. Highmore will be an RFA when his contract expires. The undrafted Highmore has been nothing more than an extra forward in his time with Chicago, averaging under 10 minutes of ice time with little scoring production and no defensive value. It is for sure a confusing deal for the Canucks, unless they really see something in Highmore.

Highmore, 25, has two assists with just 20 shots in 24 games for the Blackhawks this year. In his NHL career, all in Chicago, Highmore has scored four goals with six assists for 10 points in 73 games. 

The Blackhawks are not huge winners here, but they do gain some value. Gaudette was a fine player last year, although he did have a very high shooting percentage that showed to be unsustainable this year. But, he is actually younger than Highmore and should not get a big deal as an RFA at the end of this season. He is for sure an upgrade from what they had.

Gaudette, 24, has scored four goals with three assists for seven points in 33 games for the Canucks this year. In his NHL career, all in Vancouver, Gaudette has scored 21 goals with 31 assists for 52 points in 153 games. 

NHL Trade Review: Oilers acquire Kulikov


       The Edmonton Oilers have acquired defenseman Dmitry Kulikov from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a conditional 2022 4th round pick. If Edmonton wins a playoff round this year, the pick upgrades to a 2022 3rd rounder. 

His two points may not show it, but Kulikov was a nice addition to the Devils out of free agency in 2020-21. He added defensive value while playing physical during third pairing minutes. The Oilers have a group of mostly young defensemen, and added Kulikov gives them a steady veteran rental to help with their playoff run. If they do not win a playoff round, then just a 4th round pick for a good defensive defenseman is still a fine trade. So is a third round pick, and at that point you would be happy with a playoff series win. Kulikov has a $1.15 million cap hit before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

Kulikov, 30, has two assists with 39 blocked shots and 72 hits in 38 games for New Jersey this year. In his NHL career for the Devils, Winnipeg Jets, Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres, Kulikov has scored 35 goals with 137 assists for 172 points with 947 blocked shots and 1128 hits in 715 games.

This will become repetitive at some point, but the Devils are sellers that will be happy to get assets back for a pending UFA. Kulikov was a nice player for them this season, but he was not a part of their core. A 3rd or 4th round pick is solid for a guy who signed for just over a million dollars in the offseason. 

NHL Trade Review: Bruins steal Hall


       The Boston Bruins have acquired forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for forward Anders Bjork and a second round draft pick. 

The Taylor Hall sweepstakes are finally over, as the real winner is obviously the player who gets to leave the tire fire that is the 2020-21 Sabres. Hall emulated that best, as while he made a positive offensive impact, he could not score to save his life, with a 2.3 shooting percentage. Even with that shooting percentage, he is an above-average winger who will definitely improve the Boston offense. Hall has had a really rough past three years after winning the Hart Trophy in 2017-18. Injuries have played a part, but Hall has scored just 29 goals in 135 games over that stretch. The pending UFA will only have a $4 million cap hit for the Bruins, who also get Lazar in this trade. A bottom six defensive forward at best, Lazar has been on injured reserve since the first of April. He is currently considered week-to-week, and upon his return gives depth and physicality to the Bruins lineup. Unlike Hall, Lazar is under contract for next year, with an $800k cap hit. He becomes an unrestricted free agent afterwards. Lazar and Bjork cancel each other out in value terms, so Hall for a second round pick is basically the trade in value terms. That is amazing for the Bruins, considering Columbus got more than a first round pick for Nick Foligno and David Savard each, and the Devils got a first for Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. 

Hall, 29, has scored just two goals with 17 assists for 19 points in 37 games for the Sabres this year. In his NHL career for Buffalo, the New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes, Hall has scored 220 goals with 362 assists for 582 points in 664 games. 

Lazar, 27, has scored five goals with four assists for nine points in 33 games for Buffalo this year. In his NHL career for the Sabres, Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators, Lazar has scored 25 goals with 45 assists for 70 points in 317 games. 

The Sabres had so much time to pull off a trade, and after the Foligno trade, Hall\’s value should have skyrocketed. The end result means that it didn\’t. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams had to hit big with this trade, and he instead fell flat. Hall probably should have been worth a second rounder given his production this year, but to not get more is disappointing. They do exchange Lazar for Bjork, but the players are not too different. Bjork has been given playing time for the past four years, and the former fifth round pick has failed to capitalize. He is still young, but if you can\’t score in Boston, Buffalo shouldn\’t be too much better. His contract situation is not great for the team, as Bjork has two additional years worth $1.6 million after 2020-21, and he is still a restricted free agent afterwards. 

Bjork, 24, has scored two goals with three assists for five points in 30 games for the Bruins this year. In his NHL career, all for Boston, Bjork has scored 16 goals with 23 assists for 39 points in 138 games. 

NHL Trade Review: Penguins bring in Carter


        The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired forward Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a 2022 3rd round pick and a 2023 4th round pick. Both picks have unknown conditions on them. The Kings also retained half of Carter\’s salary.

This is an odd trade to begin with, as even after salary retention, Carter is a very expensive player, who will be on Pittsburgh\’s books for next year, with a flat salary cap. He is well past his prime, last scoring at least 20 goals in 2016-17. At this point, Carter is a bottom six winger who can play center, and is good at faceoffs when necessary. He has played a lot of wing this year, although Carter could move to center behind Evgeni Malkin this year. For 2020-21 alone, this is a fine move. But it is questionable considering he will still be on the team next year. This move also puts the team over the salary cap, and they will need to depend on LTIR usage to get cap compliant. The cost may seem high, but Carter is a proven two-time Stanley Cup champion who Pittsburgh believes can still make an impact on their bottom six.

Carter, 36, has scored eight goals with 11 assists for 19 points in 40 games for the Kings this year. In his NHL career for the Kings, Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets, Carter has scored 390 goals with 361 assists for 751 points in 1080 games. 

This is a good trade for the Kings, as they can still get value for Carter before his long 11 year deal with the Flyers expires. His base salary is only $2 million for this year and the next, so retaining 50% is little in real money. Additionally, the rebuilding Kings can afford to take on half of Carter\’s salary on the cap, which comes out to about $2.63 million.