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Top trades could impact Stanley Cup Playoffs

Acquisitions of Niederreiter, Stone among fortune-changing moves by qualifiers

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

After doing their best to address their needs before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25, teams hope those moves pay off during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here are eight trades that may have the biggest impact in the playoffs.

Jan. 17, 2019: Carolina Hurricanes acquire Nino Niederreiter from Minnesota Wild for Victor Rask

Niederreiter has been a perfect fit among the Hurricanes top-six forwards and played a key role in helping Carolina qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2008-09. The 26-year-old led them with 14 goals in 36 games after the trade and his 30 points were third-most during that span behind Teuvo Teravainen's 38 (11 goals 27 assists) and Sebastian Aho's 32 (nine goals 23 assists).

Video: Mike Maniscalco on Hurricanes adding Niederreiter

Feb. 1, 2019: Pittsburgh Penguins acquire Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann from Florida Panthers for Derick Brassard, a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Pittsburgh's fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft and the Minnesota Wild's fourth-round pick in the 2109 draft (previously acquired)

The addition of Bjugstad received more attention initially and the versatile forward has played well at wing and center, getting 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in 32 games. But McCann, who had 17 points (11 goals, six assists) in 32 games after joining Pittsburgh, might prove to be more valuable. The forward's 11 goals after the trade, including three shorthanded, were third on the Penguins behind Jake Guentzel (17) and Sidney Crosby (15).

Feb. 20, 2019: Boston Bruins acquire Charlie Coyle from Wild for Ryan Donato and conditional fifth-round pick in 2019 draft

The Bruins knew they needed to add a strong two-way center to match up better with the Toronto Maple Leafs and potentially the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs. With Coyle, who had six points (two goals, four assists) in 21 games after the trade, playing behind Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, Boston is better equipped to go head-to-head at center with Toronto's Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Nazem Kadri and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli.

Feb. 22, 2019 : Columbus Blue Jackets acquire Matt Duchene and Julius Bergman (later traded to New York Rangers) from Ottawa Senators for Vitaly Abramov, Jonathan Davidson, a first-round pick in the 2019 draft and a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft

Duchene, who had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 23 games with Columbus, took some time to adjust to his new surroundings, but looked more comfortable late in the regular season with nine points (two goals, seven assists assists) in the final 12 games. Playing with Ryan Dzingel (acquired from Ottawa on Feb. 23) and Josh Anderson on the second line or between Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson on the first line, Duchene and Pierre-Luc Dubois give Blue Jackets a solid one-two punch at center.

Video: BOS@CBJ: Duchene nets PPG off Panarin's feed

Feb. 22, 2019: Washington Capitals acquire Nick Jensen and a fifth-round pick in the 2019 draft from Detroit Red Wings for Madison Bowey and a second-round pick in the 2020 draft

Losing defenseman Michal Kempny for the rest of the season because of a torn hamstring he sustained March 20 made the acquisition of Jensen even more important to Washington's hopes of repeating as Stanley Cup champions. Jensen, who had five assists and averaged 17:00 in ice time in 20 games with Washington, plays similar to Kempny with his skating and puck-moving skill and can play in the top four (he averaged 20:48 in ice time with Detroit). But Jensen shoots right-handed and Kempny is a lefty, so the Capitals have been trying John Carlson, also right-handed, on the left side to play him with Jensen. 

Feb. 23, 2019: Dallas Stars acquire Mats Zuccarello from New York Rangers for a conditional second-round pick in the 2019 draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 draft

Zuccarello fractured his arm blocking a shot during his Stars debut against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 24. That caused Zuccarello, who had 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 46 games before the trade, to miss most of the stretch drive before returning Tuesday, but he'll have a chance to provide scoring depth in the playoffs. Dallas had a League-low four forwards score at least 10 goals - Tyler Seguin (33), Alexander Radulov (29), Jamie Benn (27) and Radek Faksa (15).

Video: DAL@CHI: Zuccarello scores in Stars debut

Feb. 25, 2019: Vegas Golden Knights acquire Mark Stone and Tobias Lindberg from Ottawa Senators for Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a second-round pick in the 2020 draft

Stone was coveted by several teams before the Golden Knights won the bidding on the day of the deadline and later signed him to an eight-year, $76 million contract. With 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 18 games following the trade, Stone has given Vegas another scorer from the wing. The Golden Knights went 10-1-0 in their first 11 games after the trade before a lower-body injury to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury slowed their run. Fleury returned Thursday and should be ready for the playoffs.

Feb. 25, 2019: Winnipeg Jets acquire Kevin Hayes from New York Rangers for Brendan Lemieux, a first-round pick in the 2019 draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft

Acquiring center Paul Stastny as a rental from the St. Louis Blues before the trade deadline last season helped the Jets reach the Western Conference Final. They hope adding Hayes will help them take the next step and reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Hayes had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 20 games centering the second line after getting 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists) in 51 games with the Rangers this season.

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