NHL Stocks: Ranking the Teams Standing Pat At the 2021 Trade Deadline

2021 trade deadline

April 12th’s 2021 Trade Deadline has been and gone and while the focus in the aftermath is mainly on the buyers and sellers, the teams standing pat are also interesting.

The following article aims to rank the teams that were relatively quiet at the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline. The higher the ranking, the better the decision to stand pat is considered. In this piece, we are defining ‘standing pat’ as either making no trades at the deadline or making trades that have little impact on the roster (as of right now.) Given this definition, we are assuming some artistic license, particularly considering player impact which will naturally be opinion-based.

Post-Trade Deadline: Rankings of the Teams Standing Pat

1st Minnesota Wild

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In a trading window, deprived of centres (the best one taken was Sam Bennett), there was really nothing out there but pitfalls for general manager, Bill Guerin. Luckily for Wild fans, he wasn’t blinded by short-sighted greed and refused to blink in his second Trade Deadline at the helm.

All things considered, the Wild are in a great position in their retool. Their cupboards are chocked full of draft picks, including a league-high, two first-rounders in 2021. They also have pieces to build around in Joel Eriksson Ek, Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala. Therefore, why would they throw away a highly advantageous position when they aren’t going to rip off eight wins against Vegas and Colorado?

After all, Minnesota’s urgent need is down the middle, which couldn’t be addressed this year. There also wasn’t much point in cashing in on a rental with the team a little green at this stage.

Overall, staying the course was the smart option here.

2nd New York Rangers

Traded Brendan Lemieux to the Kings For a Draft Pick

The recent deadline held nothing obvious for general manager Jeff Gorton to pursue. Their defensive corps looks incredibly exciting and right now the offence is striking a balance between veteran leadership and a youth injection through the draft.

If you were being picky, the only thing Gorton could have done was jettison Anthony Deangelo to another corner of the league. But nobody was biting on that piece of bait.

As it stands, the Rangers are trending steadily upwards through patience. You could even argue that they are on the verge of becoming one of the best teams to miss the playoffs since the full-season lockout, (which isn’t exactly a coveted title but a sign of their continued progress.)

From the beginning of the 2005-06 season, a total of 24 clubs have failed to secure a playoff berth despite having a positive goal differential. Naturally many are close to zero; the average between these 24 is a +8 goal difference. However, the most notable teams in this list are the 2005-06 Colorado Avalanche (+21) and the 2008-09 Minnesota Wild (+19). Potentially joining them in May is the 2020-21 New York Rangers with a whopping +28 goal differential.

3rd Dallas Stars

Added Sami Vatanen Off Waivers

This season has been tough on everybody in the league but none more so than the Stars. A COVID outbreak, a state-wide power outage and playing without their two best players (Ben Bishop and Tyler Seguin). Yet here they are, with the playoffs in striking distance.

Adding defensive depth is a classic postseason flex and this Stars team (at full strength) is easily the fourth-best team in the Central Division. Sami Vatanen comes with good experience and skating ability, even if his overall game is on the decline. He should slot in well on a pair with Andrej Sekera.

What’s more, the Stars are also about to welcome back the aforementioned, Tyler Seguin, who has missed the entire season to date as a result of a hip injury.

A tired, throwaway line from a GM in this situation come deadline day is something like ‘my best addition of the deadline is welcoming back player X from injury.’ In this case, the Stars are a paragon of that cliche. But in the same vein, it could be the tipping point for their season.

4th St Louis Blues

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St Louis lost their appetite for dealing after Robert Thomas went down in the lead-up to April 12th. While there were rumours that they wanted to sell Mike Hoffman and that they were also one of the players at the table in the Taylor Hall sweepstakes, in the end, standing pat at the deadline was probably a prudent move.

For one, the Blues wouldn’t have been wise selling draft picks; they have the third-fewest in the NHL for the 2021 Entry Draft. Equally, they weren’t going to get much for Hoffman either and would have had to retain salary too.

All in all, they were safer keeping him and hedging their bets for a playoff run.

5th Arizona Coyotes

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Arizona is so high because there were rumours that Conor Garland was on the table in the build-up to the deadline. How true that is, I do not know. But the fact that he is still in the organization beyond April 12th is a massive boon.

Garland is probably the Yotes’ best story this season. He is a play-driving, analytics darling and is in need of a handsome raise. (One which the Coyotes should absolutely give to him.)

However, one criticism that should be addressed is the Yotes’ refusal to seek returns for pending UFA’s. Players like Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alex Goligoski, or Jason Demers would have fetched some draft capital, an area which Arizona is clearly lacking in. Therefore, standing pat at the deadline was an opportunity wasted in Glendale.

6th Carolina Hurricanes

Added Jani Hakanpaa in Trade With the Anaheim Ducks

Adding Hakanpaa was actually more of a swap than a trade. The Canes shipped left-handed defenseman, Haydn Fleury, to Anaheim in return, and so it’s understandable to feel underwhelmed with Carolina’s trade deadline.

The biggest issue to address is the fact the Canes left money in the safe; they had over $2 million dollars to spend on a rental, which should have been invested in offensive depth.

Even though times are hard for business and money is much more difficult to part with, sometimes you need to go all-in. If Dougie Hamilton doesn’t re-sign in the offseason, it will mean that Carolina has opted to stand pat in the year the team was best-placed to make its deepest run since 2005-06.

After all, moths in your wallet are a minor inconvenience if it means Lord Stanley comes to stay for the summer.

7th Edmonton Oilers

Added Dmitry Kulikov in Trade With the New Jersey Devils

Edmonton had a tentative deadline which seems strange given that Toronto bought hard and improved as a result.

Kulikov, who had a pretty decent year with the Devils is a nice add but ultimately it is Edmonton’s over-reliance on McDavid and Draisaitl which stops this team from being an out-and-out powerhouse.

To add context to this, McDavid and Draisaitl have been involved in over 70 percent of the Oilers’ goals this season. If we take the top-two point producers on every team in the league, then the next closest duo is Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers who have played a part in 60 percent of the Jets’ goals. The average goal involvement in the league for the top two performers on each team is 47.6 percent.

8th Philadelphia Flyers

Sold Erik Gustafsson and Michael Raffl and Re-signed Scott Laughton

Philadelphia’s car crash of a season was made worse by minimal activity at a time when the opportunity presented itself to begin a full stock take.

Yes, they made some moves, but selling off your surplus and re-signing a third-line centre isn’t the kind of surgical reconstruction fans had in mind.

Scott Laughton is a handy enough player in your bottom-six, though the term on his new deal (5 years at $3 million) is pretty head-scratching. Especially given the fact that he’s the kind of utility you can pull from your farm system on the cheap.

If there is any defence of Philadelphia standing pat it is that there was no appetite for hockey deals at the deadline; the protection implications for the upcoming Expansion Draft were enough to make longer-term adds a no-go for most general managers.

9th Nashville Predators

Added Erik Gudbranson in Trade With the Ottawa Senators

What on earth was David Poile thinking?!

Nashville is currently 4-15-1 against the top three in the Central Division and 21-6-0 against the bottom four. That’s pretty much the nailed-on definition of mediocre.

Any guesses on how you haul yourself out of mediocrity? You got it! By adding a seventh defenseman. Yep, that really moves the needle.

Safe to say the Predators are ready for a series against Carolina now; a team that has outscored them 23-9 in six games.

10th Winnipeg Jets

Added Jordie Benn in Trade With the Vancouver Canucks

The Jets had a clear need at the deadline and decided to go bargain-bin diving to address it.

While the cap space was there to push harder, Kevin Cheveldayoff instead opted for the safe route and added depth instead of an upgrade this team desperately needed.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Jets have an expected goals-against rate of 2.82 (29th in the league) and an expected goal share of 47.04 percent (24th in the league). Surrounding them in both of those metrics are teams like the Ottawa Senators, the Buffalo Sabres and the Anaheim Ducks.

In Cheveldayoff’s defence, if Mattias Ekholm was truly off the table, then the market sort of dried up when Nashville started winning. However, at the same time, it seemed that there was a lack of willingness from the Jets to pay up to secure a top-four option.

As a result, Winnipeg takes the biggest L by standing pat. There was a big opportunity for them to win out in the North with their offensive talent. But making no upgrade on defence makes advancing more fanciful than it is realistic.

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