Blake’s Takes: Big Moves at the Trade Deadline

The dust has settled and the 2021 trade deadline is behind us. Two major trades occurred during the deadline in addition to a plethora of other smaller deals that will surely pay dividends come playoff time. Other than the deadline, last week we saw three NHLers play in their 1,000th game, the Frozen Four champion was crowned, and the Memorial Cup was canceled. Read all about it here.

Happy Monday!

1. Trade Deadline Highlights


There were a ton of trades made at the deadline. I’ll share some rapid-fire takes for the most significant trades made last week.

Anthony Mantha Shipped to Washington

This was arguably the most-surprising trade of the deadline. The Red Wings dealt Anthony Mantha, their best player, to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2022 second-round pick.

As a Red Wings fan, I actually like this trade for both teams. I loved Mantha on the Red Wings and thought he had the highest potential of all of their current players. However, I think Yzerman realized that while Mantha has a ton of potential, he’s been both injury-prone and inconsistent in his six years with the Red Wings. I bet Yzerman decided that it was the right time to move on from Mantha considering the haul he got for him. 

The Capitals definitely got what they needed out of this trade. They acquired a pure, reliable scorer in Mantha that can drive play. Mantha is a better fit than Vrana and he’s already scored three goals in three games. The Capitals are still trying to win so giving up draft picks was inevitable. Mantha’s contract also gives them a bit of a longer window to win, too. He signed a four-year contract in the offseason with a $5.7 million AAV. The Caps don’t need to win the Cup this year to justify this trade.

For the Red Wings, the haul they got back is immense. Let’s not forget how good a player Vrana has been. He’s not having his best season, with 12 goals and 14 assists, but the 25-year-old has already notched two 25-goal seasons in his career. If you were to tell me Vrana ends up having almost as good of a career as Mantha, I wouldn’t be shocked. He’ll be an RFA at the end of the season. If Yzerman can sign him for cheap and he can play at the level we’re accustomed to seeing, Detroit may win this trade just on Vrana’s play alone.

Both teams got what they needed. Washington got better in the short-term in their quest for another Stanley Cup. Detroit got the assets they desired and a quality NHL player to build around.

Taylor Hall Moved to Boston


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Everyone knew Taylor Hall would be traded, I’m sure he was praying he would be. Anything to get out of Buffalo. By the trade deadline, Hall and Curtis Lazar were shipped from Buffalo to Boston for Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round pick.

This is a move Boston desperately needed to make. They’re currently in fourth place in the MassMutual East. While they’re six points above the Rangers as of Sunday afternoon, it’s not going to be easy to make the playoffs. Their team is built to win now and they needed to catch a big fish to make a splash in the postseason. Hall was the biggest fish available. The former Hart Trophy winner has already paid immediate dividends in Boston, scoring two goals in his first three games with the Bruins. The Bruins won all of those games.

For Buffalo, Hall was on a one-year deal. The least they could do was move him for an asset, and they received one in a second-round pick. While the Sabres have been a dumpster fire this season, an extra second-round pick and holding on to Jack Eichel is a nice consolation prize for their horrific season.

Jeff Carter “Flys” to Pittsburgh


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The Jeff Carter era is officially over in Los Angeles. Carter was a huge piece of both Kings’ Stanley Cup wins. He was also named to the 2017 All-Star Team. Now, he will join the Penguins as they continue to push for a surprising playoff berth.

This trade is your typical case of a bad team selling off players for assets and a good team trying to get better for the playoffs. I’m sure Carter is happy to make another run at a Stanley Cup. I will miss him in a Kings jersey.

The Kings did create this nice video to thank him for all he’s done in L.A. Take a look.

2. UMass Wins Frozen Four

This happened eight days ago on Sunday, just after I finished last week’s edition of Blake’s Takes. While I may be a bit late, I do want to highlight UMass beating St. Cloud State in the Frozen Four.

Perhaps the most shocking part of this story is that UMass didn’t even have a D-1 team until 1993. In fact, their D-II team was disbanded in 1979, so they didn’t have a hockey team from 1979-1993. It’s amazing that UMass is even a D-1 program, let alone your newest National Champion.

What wasn’t shocking is UMass’s domination of St. Cloud State. UMass finished the season at 20-5-4 and didn’t look flustered by the moment at all, dismantling St. Cloud State 5-0. One of my favorite highlights of the game is this goal by Philip Lagunov that put the Minutemen up 3-0 in the second period. Again, thanks to Pete Blackburn for always having great hockey content.

This goal was the perfect way to cap off a championship season. It was the dagger in the hearts of St. Cloud State fans, and it was shorthanded.

Congrats to UMass for battling through crazy adversity to end up champions. Also, shout out to their assistant captain Bobby Trivigno for a great postgame press conference.

3. A Trio of Players Earns Silver Sticks

I love to write about when players reach the 1,000 game plateau. I don’t remember three players doing it in the same week, though. Last week, Jordan Staal, Milan Lucic, and Nicklas Backstrom all joined the 1,000 games played club.

I decided to write a bit about each of the three players and their career accomplishments, starting with Staal.

Jordan Staal


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Staal reached the 1,000 games club on Monday in a loss against the Detroit Red Wings. He recorded one assist. Carolina’s captain has had an interesting career. He began it as a shutdown forward playing behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh where he helped the Penguins win the 2009 Stanley Cup.

After six seasons in Pittsburgh, he teamed up with his brother Eric in Raleigh. At one point three of the four Staal brothers, Jordan, Eric, and Jared, were all on the Hurricanes. Sorry, Marc! Jordan is also the second of the Staal brothers to wear the “C” in Carolina, after Eric of course.

Staal has had a solid career. In addition to winning a Stanley Cup, he’s scored 238 goals and added another 330 assists. While he won’t be elected to the Hall of Fame, he was a very good player for long time.

Milan Lucic


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Milan Lucic was the second of the trio to join the 1,000 games club, doing so with a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. Lucic also tallied one assist in his 1,000th game.

Lucic is known as one of the best new-age enforcers in the NHL. While he isn’t afraid to drop the gloves, he was still able to carry his weight on offense, accruing five 20 goal seasons.

His best season was the 2010-11 season with the Boston Bruins where he posted career highs in goals and points, with a 30-32-62 stat-line. He also scored five goals in the playoffs helping Boston win a Stanley Cup. Lucic has scored 213 career goals and added another 325 assists.

Lucic also won’t be elected to the Hall of Fame, but his contributions in Boston, Los Angeles, Edmonton, and Calgary won’t be forgotten.

Nicklas Backstrom


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Backstrom is no doubt the best of the trio to play in his 1,000th game. The one-time All-Star selection is most famous for being Alex Ovechkin’s main assist provider. We all know Ovechkin wouldn’t have reached the same heights without Backstrom.

Like the other two players, Backstrom registered one assist in his 1,000th game when the Capitals fell to the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

Backstrom won his one Stanley Cup during the 2017-18 season alongside Ovi. He’s played all 1,000-plus games in Washington, scoring 257 goals and adding a wh0pping 715 assists. I would be on him being elected to the Hall of Fame.

Congrats to all three of these players. I do hope they received additional awesome gifts besides a silver stick, even if that is the best gift to receive on this occasion.

4. Panthers Announce New Practice Facility


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Last week, the Florida Panthers announced plans for their new practice facility. The project is called the “FTL War Memorial.” The Panthers are reviving the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Here’s a bit of info about the project according to the FTL War Memorial’s website:

Standing as a tribute to military heroes on the western end of Fort Lauderdale’s 93-acre Holiday Park, the historic War Memorial Auditorium first opened in 1950 as a popular music and entertainment venue, drawing U.S. Presidents and celebrity icons from Buddy Holly to World Boxing Champion Héctor Camacho over the decades.

In 2022, the newly adapted 144,000 sq. foot sports and entertainment venue will debut as a recreation hub for all members of the community, and continue to serve as an honored memorial for Broward County’s military veterans under the stewardship of the veteran-owned and led Florida Panthers.

This is cool and interesting. The Panthers are a team that needs as much fan support as they can get, especially since they’re not located in Miami and people in South Florida couldn’t care less about hockey. This a smart move to engage with the community and to draw them closer to hockey.

This will also help poach free agents as new facilities are always popular.

5. Memorial Cup Canceled


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The worst news of last week was the CHL announcing the cancellation of the Memorial Cup. This is unfortunate. While most professional leagues have bounced back and are on proper footing after COVID-19 wreaked its havoc in 2020, sporting events are still difficult to execute.

This really sucks for the players. I’m not an avid watcher of the CHL, but I know how important it is for the communities that each team calls home. Let’s not forget the kids that work their asses off all year to try to win the Memorial Cup. I feel gutted for them — especially for those that were hoping to showcase their skills to pro scouts on the biggest stage.

Thankfully, their regular seasons are still taking place. I couldn’t imagine how horrible it would be for them to not play competitive hockey for over a year.

If there is any consolation prize, next year’s Memorial Cup will surely be one for the books. ■

Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.

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