GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 14:  Mikkel Boedker #89 of the Arizona Coyotes skates with the puck ahead of Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on January 14, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Red Wings defeated the Coyotes 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The winners and losers of the NHL trade deadline

The trade deadline isn’t what it used to be and today’s lack of deals should be enough evidence. NHL teams aren’t waiting until the final hours to strike a deal to improve their club, as the big moves happen days before the clock strikes zero. Major transactions may not happen on deadline day anymore, but teams still were fairly active in the week before the trade freeze began.

Here are the winners and losers of the trade deadline.

Winners

Toronto Maple Leafs

at Pepsi Center on February 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

at Pepsi Center on February 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

Maple Leafs management should be firmly patting themselves on the back for the excellent work they’ve accomplished. They signed a bunch of one-year fliers this offseason with the intention of dumping them at the deadline for picks and they accomplished their goal. Nick Spaling, Dion Phaneuf, Roman Polak, James Reimer, Daniel Winnik and Shawn Matthias were all expendable, and the Leafs did well to land a truckload of draft picks and prospects for them. If it meant the club had to take on additional salaries in Brooks Laich or Jared Cowen, so be it.

The Leafs also win by opening roster spots for younger players, such as talented young forwards William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen and Nikita Soshnikov, all of whom are expected to play. The Leafs are doing a rebuild the right way which should have fans in Toronto excited for the future.

Chicago Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 28:  Andrew Ladd #16 of the Chicago Blackhawks particiaptes in warm-ups before a game against the Washington Capitals at the United Center on February 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 28: Andrew Ladd #16 of the Chicago Blackhawks particiaptes in warm-ups before a game against the Washington Capitals at the United Center on February 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Blackhawks went all-in again, acquiring Andrew Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets, while adding some solid depth pieces in Dale Weise, Thomas Fleischmann, and Christian Ehrhoff. Chicago, who lead the West with 83 points, already has a stacked roster, so to improve it further seems unfair. The cost was high, as they shipped Marko Dano, a first and a second-round pick, but it’s worth the price of repeating as Stanley Cup champions.

Calgary Flames

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 02:  Jyrki Jokipakka #2 of the Dallas Stars waits for the faceoff against the New Jersey Devils on January 2,2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.The New Jersey Devils defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

NEWARK, NJ – JANUARY 02: Jyrki Jokipakka #2 of the Dallas Stars waits for the faceoff against the New Jersey Devils on January 2,2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.The New Jersey Devils defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Flames made a nice move by acquiring Hunter Shinkaruk from the Vancouver Canucks for depth piece Markus Granlund, but Brian Burke and company really outdid themselves today.

Calgary had one of the most attractive trade chips on the market with Kris Russell, a defenseman who passed the eye test with flying colors but had ugly outlier numbers. One team was going to break the bank to acquire him, and the Dallas Stars did that, and then some.

The Flames acquire defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, prospect Brett Pollock and a conditional second-round pick for Russell. You could argue the pick would be enough of return, but getting a defenseman with arguably equal value and a decent prospect is icing on the cake. But wait, there’s more. As ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports, the condition on the pick is if the Stars make the conference finals and Russell plays 50% of the games in the first two rounds, it’s a first round pick. If that happens the deal goes from heist for Calgary to all-timer.

Florida Panthers

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 19:  Jiri Hudler #24 of the Calgary Flames takes the puck against the New Jersey Devils on January 19,2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

NEWARK, NJ – JANUARY 19: Jiri Hudler #24 of the Calgary Flames takes the puck against the New Jersey Devils on January 19,2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

I could see how some may view the Panthers as losers, but I liked what they did.

The Panthers sit atop the Atlantic Division and have exceeded expectations all season. It made sense for general manager Dale Tallon to be a buyer, but he took a more measured approach in doing so. The Panthers shipped out four draft picks (a second, third, fourth and sixth-rounder) staggered across the next three years to acquire Teddy Purcell, Jiri Hudler and Jakob Kindl. Florida also traded Brandon Pirri to the Anaheim Ducks for only a sixth-round pick, in a move I’m not crazy about, but they were eager to move him.

None of those players are game-changers, but Purcell and Hudler are excellent middle-six forwards, and Kindl can provide depth at defense. Tallon paid a reasonable cost to improve his team without mortgaging the club’s future. Not a surefire win, but a nice day.

Losers

Brooks Laich

Laich played nine seasons with the Washington Capitals, and to get traded to the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs from the first-place Capitals due to his high salary must suck.

St. Louis Blues

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07:  at the Barclays Center on February 7, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 07: at the Barclays Center on February 7, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Blues have come up short time and time again in the playoffs, and after another strong season, the club did the bare minimum at the trade deadline to assure that doesn’t happen again. The team acquired goaltender Anders Nilsson for a prospect and a fifth-round pick – a move that helps their organizational depth and nothing more. St. Louis has a great group of players, but not adding to them may prove to be a costly mistake.

Colorado Avalanche

during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on January 14, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.

during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on January 14, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.

The Colorado Avalanche made one of the worst deals of the day, giving up former first-round pick Connor Bleackley, prospect Kyle Wood and Alex Tanguay to the Arizona Coyotes for Mikkel Boedker.

First off, the cost is pretty ridiculous for a player of Boedker’s caliber. Tanguay is probably around the same skill level, so to give up two decent prospects as well is baffling. Bleackley hasn’t exactly torn in up with Red Deer in the WHL, but he was still one of the better prospects in a weak Avalanche prospect pool. Wood, a third-rounder in 2014, is a solid defense prospect, and exactly the type of player Colorado shouldn’t have traded.

The big no-no for Colorado is overpaying on a win-now move, which makes no sense given the Avalanche are likely going to miss the playoffs. It’s hard to understand this one.

Vancouver Canucks

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27:  Jim Benning, General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks is seen prior to the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 27: Jim Benning, General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks is seen prior to the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Canucks started trade deadline week off with a whimper, by trading former first-round pick Hunter Shinkaruk to the Flames for Markus Granlund. It was the latest head-scratcher by GM Jim Benning. It was hard to peg whether he thought his mediocre Canucks were buyers or sellers on deadline day, and the answer was neither.

The club seemed handcuffed by Dan Hamhuis, one of the most attractive trade chips, who’s no-trade clause may have prevented them from making a deal. Still, the fact the Canucks went silent is hilariously puzzling. Instead of piling assets for pending UFAs like Radim Vrbata and Matt Bartkowski, Benning will likely watch them walk for nothing. What a horrible time to be a Canucks fan.

Jonathan Drouin

The suspended forward and Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman hoped today would bring resolution to the awkward situation, but no deal was to be made. Yzerman was looking for a good return for the talented youngster and couldn’t find one, and in the end, doesn’t lose much for waiting until a later date to make a move.

Meanwhile, Yzerman extended an olive branch, but it’s possible Drouin won’t play hockey for the rest of the year and will have to wait out quite the uncomfortable situation.

Dallas Stars

Stars general manager Jim Nill seems like a very smart hockey mind, but he was absolutely fleeced by the Flames to acquire Russell. Dallas desperately needed a defenseman, and he paid an extraordinary price to acquire the wrong one. Tough day.

Liam McGuire

About Liam McGuire

Staff writer for The Comeback. I also write for Awful Announcing and Vice Sports. I previously worked for TSN Radio 1050 and TSN Analytics. Proudly born in Nova Scotia, Canada. Email --> LiamMcGuirejournalism GMAIL.com

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