Thursday, April 18, 2024

2024 NHL trade deadline: Avalanche, Panthers among teams with best under-the-radar additions

The 2024 NHL trade deadline was a wild one, and there were a handful of big names on the move. While those deals get most of the headlines, there are always some under-the-radar trades that make a big difference in the playoffs.

A handful of teams made some low-key trades that could pay off in spades once the puck drops on the postseason. The Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs were able to add some defense and tenacity to their bottom-six, making their lineups a little harder to score against.

Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights added some scoring on the wing in the form of a player not named Tomas Hertl. The Florida Panthers, the NHL’s first-place team, also got a veteran presence and solid fourth-line player for practically nothing on deadline day.

Here are the best under-the-radar acquisitions of the 2024 NHL Trade deadline.

To Avalanche: F Yakov Trenin
To Predators: 2025 3rd round pick

The Colorado Avalanche made some bigger moves by acquiring defenseman Sean Walker and center Casey Mittelstadt, but they also made some tweaks to the bottom of their lineup. One of those moves was sending a third-round pick to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Yakov Trenin.

A 27-year-old pending free agent, Trenin is quite strong in his own end. On top of that, Trenin is a tenacious forechecker and can provide a slight scoring touch around the net. This season, Trenin was one of the best defensive forwards on Nashville’s roster, and he added 10 goals. Trenin netted 17 goals two seasons ago.

Trenin will give Colorado a little more bite in its bottom-six, and the team got him at a relatively modest cost. If Trenin can add a little more offense on a more skilled roster, that would be gravy for the Avs.

To Golden Knights: F Anthony Mantha
To Capitals: 2024 2nd round pick; 2026 4th round pick

You could be forgiven for not remembering that the Vegas Golden Knights picked up Anthony Mantha before making major splashes with Noah Hanifin and Tomas Hertl. The Mantha deal wasn’t as flashy as the other two, but he could still be a major factor in the playoffs for Vegas.

Mantha was in the midst of a resurgent season with the Washington Capitals when the Golden Knights added him to their roster. After two seasons in which Mantha struggled to stay on the ice, Mantha is back to full health, and it has shown on the scoresheet. Mantha has already hit the 20-goal mark, and he has had an incredibly positive impact at five-on-five.

Last season, Vegas made an underrated move to get Ivan Barbashev, and he wound up playing a huge role in the team’s Stanley Cup run. Mantha isn’t quite the same player as Barbashev, but he does bring some size and skill to the Golden Knights’ lineup.

To Panthers: F Kyle Okposo
To Sabres: D Calle Sjalin; Conditional 7th round pick

The Florida Panthers are a highly attractive destination for players around the league, and that worked in their favor on this deal. The Buffalo Sabres wanted to give captain Kyle Okposo at least one more shot at a Stanley Cup, and that made the Panthers an ideal landing spot.

Okposo hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2015-16 season, his last with the New York Islanders, but that is about to change. The 35-year-old veteran brings 17 years of NHL experience to the Florida lineup, and Okposo still has a little bit of depth scoring touch. He has 10 goals this season, and he notched 21 only two years ago.

Florida made a more high-profile addition by getting Vladimir Tarasenko ahead of the trade deadline, but Okposo should fit in nicely on the team’s fourth line. Plus, it’ll be great to see Okposo back in the postseason after a long absence from the NHL’s biggest stage.

To Maple Leafs: F Connor Dewar
To Wild: 2026 4th round pick

With so much of the team’s salary-cap space going to the top four or five players, the Toronto Maple Leafs are always on the lookout for quality depth at a low cost. Finding those players is easier said than done, but I do think the Leafs accomplished that with this addition of Connor Dewar.

Dewar, a 24-year-old pending restricted free agent, has taken his game to another level this season. In 57 games with the Wild, Dewar has already set a new career high with 10 goals, but he really gets the job done in the defensive zone. Dewar has been excellent at limiting expected goals against, and that’s a trait the Maple Leafs will value in the postseason.

Dewar probably won’t blow anyone away with his offensive skill, but that’s just fine on a Toronto team loaded with it at the top of the lineup. His job will be to shut down the opponent when those top guys are on the bench, and Dewar has already shown an ability to do just that.

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