2019 has been a very busy year throughout the hockey world. There have been several big trades and free agent signings (including a record-setting contract), plenty of changes behind the bench, and much more. Over the coming days, PHR will take a look back at the top stories from around the game on a month-by-month basis. Next up is the month of February, one that featured a trade frenzy at the deadline.
Brassard Dealt Twice: It’s not often that a notable player is traded twice in the span of three weeks but that’s what happened with Derick Brassard. The Penguins sent him along with Riley Sheahan (another pending UFA) along with three draft picks to Florida for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann. However, he wasn’t there for very long as with the Panthers out of playoff contention, they flipped him to Colorado in exchange for a third-round pick next year. Brassard had a limited role with the Avalanche down the stretch; he had just four points (all goals) in 20 regular season games and had only one assist in nine postseason contests. That caused his free agent market to be minimal although he has done a decent job at restoring some value this season with the Islanders.
Carlyle Fired: In the early going last season, the Ducks were doing relatively well in the Pacific Division with John Gibson leading the way between the pipes. The talk at the time was their performance was unsustainable and it turns out that was correct. Anaheim started to freefall down the standings and GM Bob Murray decided to make a change behind the bench, firing Randy Carlyle. At the time of the move, they had lost 19 of 21 games which brought his overall record in his second stint with the team much closer to .500 (111-74-35). Murray took over behind the bench for the remainder of the season.
Matthews Extension: After seeing William Nylander take negotiations down to the final 15 minutes before the December 1st signing deadline, the Maple Leafs were determined to not have Auston Matthews go that same route. They got a deal done early, signing him to a five-year, $58.17MM contract; his $11.634MM AAV was the second-highest in the league at the time (though has since been passed by Artemi Panarin). Curiously, Toronto was only able to buy one extra year of team control despite the high price tag which has Matthews positioned to land another significant deal at the age of 26. The 22-year-old had a career year in 2018-19 and is on pace to set new career bests in goals and points and is on pace to hit the 50-goal mark.
Columbus Loads Up: With Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky appearing like they were going to test the free agent market, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen was faced with a tough decision. Does he keep them and try to go on a playoff run or make the safer long-term play? He decided that keeping them was the way to go and doubled down on that with the acquisition of Matt Duchene from Ottawa, the top center available on the market for a first-round pick and a pair of prospects. Kekalainen then took aim at one of the better wingers available, swinging another deal with the Senators to bring in Ryan Dzingel for a pair of second-round selections plus Anthony Duclair. Columbus shocked many by sweeping Tampa Bay in the first round (for their first-ever series victory) before falling in six to Boston. Panarin, Bobrovsky, Duchene, and Dzingel all went elsewhere in free agency while Duclair has already scored 21 goals with Ottawa this season.
Stone To Vegas: Ottawa wasn’t just dealing rental players to Columbus. Mark Stone also generated plenty of interest and eventually, the Golden Knights stepped up to acquire him for a package highlighted by top blueline prospect Erik Brannstrom and a second-round pick. Stone got off to a quiet start down the stretch with Vegas but he had a stellar showing in the postseason with a dozen points in their first round loss to San Jose. While they wanted to get an extension done right away, the NHL’s tagging rule prevented them from doing so. As for Brannstrom, he has spent most of this season with the Senators although he was recently sent to AHL Belleville in order to get more playing time; he has averaged a little more than 14 minutes per night this season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.