Skip to main content
Trade Coverage

Big moves at Trade Deadline not vital to winning Cup

Acquiring role players, depth can make difference for championship teams

by Mike Zeisberger @zeisberger / Staff Writer

TORONTO -- He didn't have the star power of Kevin Shattenkirk or the playoff experience that would be a key for any team's Stanley Cup run. What veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey did have, however, was a gnawing hunger for postseason success, having played 891 regular-season games but none in the playoffs.

Jim Rutherford knew it, too.

Though Shattenkirk was the marquee player available as the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline approached, Rutherford had no aspirations of making such a big deal, especially with the salary-cap restrictions faced by his Pittsburgh Penguins.

Acquiring Hainsey, 35, from the Carolina Hurricanes for a second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and minor league forward Danny Kristo on Feb. 23 proved to be a shrewd move by the Penguins general manager, who managed to land a minute-munching defenseman for a modest price.


[RELATED: Senators say they're open for business | Kane focused on Sabres, not Trade Deadline]


Rutherford made a similar move one year earlier, landing defenseman Justin Schultz from the Edmonton Oilers for a third-round pick in the 2016 draft. Schultz ended up playing regularly during Pittsburgh's march to the 2016 Stanley Cup, much as Hainsey did in 2017.

"We have been fortunate the last couple years with guys like Hainsey and Schultz coming in and helping us," Rutherford said. "We have to judge our team and what we need and the possibility of adding not just on the ice, but in the dressing room in short order.

"There's not a lot of season left. Those are important things to look for."

Rutherford cautions that making a big trade before the deadline does not guarantee a team a deep playoff run, let alone the Stanley Cup. History, he says, shows that to be true.

For Rutherford, disrupting the vibe in the dressing room is a key factor in whatever decision is made.

"There's no question it's important they fit the team chemistry," he said. "Team chemistry is so important to fit the long run."

Hainsey, then 36, appeared in each of the Penguins' 25 playoff games, finishing with eight points (two goals, six assists) and occupying a regular spot on the second defense pairing.

"It was awesome," Hainsey said of his long-awaited Stanley Cup experience.

As for Shattenkirk? The St. Louis Blues traded him to Washington, where his Stanley Cup aspirations ended when the Capitals were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Second Round -- by Hainsey and the Penguins.

"Deadline deals don't guarantee you anything," Rutherford said. "You have to be very calculating.

"Sometimes tweaks are all you need."

There have been exceptions, of course, but a breakdown by of each Cup winner since the salary cap was implemented in 2005 shows you don't necessarily need to make a big move prior to the deadline to win a title.



Key deals : Acquired D Ron Hainsey from Carolina Hurricanes for 2017 second-round pick and F Danny Kristo; acquired D Mark Streit from Tampa Bay Lightning for a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Upon further review: Hainsey played 16 regular-season games and 25 in the playoffs, serving as a valuable second-pairing cog on a defense that found success without the injured Kris Letang. Streit was a scratch for all but three games during the Penguins' run to the Stanley Cup.



Key deal: Acquired D Justin Schultz from Edmonton Oilers for 2016 third-round pick.

Upon further review: Schultz was a regular during the playoffs and saw his ice time grow when Trevor Daley was injured during the Eastern Conference Final. The acquisition of Schultz was the final tweak of Rutherford's reload; he had traded for Daley and forwards Nick Bonino, Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel during the previous eight months.



Key deals: Acquired F Antoine Vermette from Arizona Coyotes for a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and D Klas Dahlbeck; acquired F Andrew Desjardins from the San Jose Sharks for F Ben Smith and a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick; acquired D Kimmo Timonen from the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2015 second-round pick and a 2016 conditional fourth-round pick.

Upon further review: Vermette scored three game-winning goals, two in overtime, in the final two series and helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup for the third time in six seasons. Desjardins and Timonen were role players.



Key deal: Acquired F Marian Gaborik from Columbus Blue Jackets for F Matt Frattin, a 2015 second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick.

Upon further review: Gaborik led the NHL in goals during the playoffs with 14 (and was fourth with 22 points), helping the Kings win the Cup and making GM Dean Lombardi look like a genius.



Key deal: Acquired F Michal Handzus from San Jose Sharks for a fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Upon further review: Handzus had 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in the playoffs. He also took key face-offs and killed penalties.



Key deal: Acquired F Jeff Carter from Columbus Blue Jackets for D Jack Johnson and a first-round pick in either the 2012 or 2013 NHL Draft.

Upon further review: Carter's nine points in 16 games after the trade helped Los Angeles squeeze into the postseason, but his eight playoff goals were key to the Kings winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since entering the NHL in 1967.



Key deals: Acquired D Tomas Kaberle from Toronto Maple Leafs for a first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, a conditional second-round pick in 2012 and F Joe Colborne; acquired F Rich Peverley and D Boris Valabik from Atlanta Thrashers for forward Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart; acquired F Chris Kelly from Ottawa Senators for a second-round pick in 2011.

Upon further review: Adding role players paid off big; the Bruins wouldn't have won the Cup without Peverley, Kelly and Kaberle. Peverley and Kelly stepped up to fill in for Nathan Horton and Marc Savard, who missed most of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks. Peverley, Kelly and Kaberle combined for 24 postseason points.



Key deal: None

Upon further review: The Blackhawks won the Cup for the first time since 1961, proving there are times when the best trades are the ones you don't make.



Key deals: Acquired F Bill Guerin from New York Islanders for a conditional pick in the 2009 NHL Draft; acquired F Chris Kunitz and F Eric Tangradi from Anaheim Ducks for D Ryan Whitney.

Upon further review: Sidney Crosby got the upgrades he was looking for on the wing when GM Ray Shero added Guerin and Kunitz, who combined for 29 postseason points.



Key deal: Acquired D Brad Stuart from Los Angeles Kings for a second-round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft and a 2009 fourth-round pick.

Upon further review: Stuart helped the Red Wings control Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the Final, to some extent anyway.



Key deal: Acquired F Brad May from Colorado Avalanche for G Michael Wall.

Upon further review: Then Ducks GM Brian Burke never believed making big deals before the trade deadline. May had one point in 18 postseason games, which probably didn't change his mind.



Key deals: Acquired F Mark Recchi from Pittsburgh Penguins for F Nik Nordgren, F Krystofer Kolanos and a second-round pick in the 2007 NHL Draft; acquired F Doug Weight and F Erkki Rajamaki from St. Louis Blues for F Jesse Boulerice, F Mike Zigomanis, F Magnus Kahnberg and a first-round pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Toronto's fourth-round pick in 2006 and Chicago's fourth-round pick in 2007.

Upon further review: Rutherford, then GM of the Hurricanes, landed two of the most coveted players on the market. Recchi and Weight were rentals (neither re-signed with Carolina) but combined for 32 points in the playoffs.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.