NHL teams found the greatest value among wings before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Monday.
The perception that centers and elite defensemen, traditionally the cornerstones of franchises, are not easily acquired proved to be generally true, especially in regard to relative cost.
[RELATED: 2018-19 NHL Trade Tracker]
Mark Stone, the Ottawa Senators right wing, was the biggest name to be traded on Monday. The cost to the Vegas Golden Knights to acquire him was top-tier defenseman prospect Erik Brannstrom, depth forward Oscar Lindberg (on an expiring contract) and a second-round pick. Brannstrom was a first-round pick (No. 15) in the 2017 NHL Draft by the Golden Knights.
Regardless of rumored asking prices, Stone did not meet the standard ask of "a player, a pick, and a prospect" for an elite player who was in demand by several teams.
Video: Elliotte Friedman on this year's trade deadline deals
Vegas got the deal done, in the final hour, and Stone should provide an immediate shot in the arm for a team that is 3-9-1 since Jan. 21, the third-worst record in the NHL during that period.
Stone is a consummate play driver, with the best relative shot attempt percentage (7.83) since the start of the 2016-2017 season (minimum 100 games played). That means that the Ottawa Senators were dramatically better with Stone on the ice than when he was off the ice. That shot-attempt dominance, coupled with the offensive chops to produce 124 points (48 goals, 76 assists) in 117 games in the past two seasons, should make Stone an impact player for the Golden Knights. The cost for that production (his 1.06 points per game is 20th in the NHL for the past two seasons) was reasonable.
But that's the story of 2019 trade deadline when it comes to player value. Top-scoring wingers could be found at reasonable prices.
Centers Matt Duchene, formerly of the Senators, and Kevin Hayes, formerly of the New York Rangers, were deemed attractive enough to draw first-round picks, from the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets respectively, as part of the package to acquire each, but that appeared to be a positional premium. Top wingers did not return first-round picks.
On Saturday, the Dallas Stars acquired right wing Mats Zuccarello, who had 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 46 games for the Rangers, in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, but each could become a first-round pick. The 2019 pick could move to the first round if the Stars reach the Western Conference Final with Zuccarello playing in at least 50 percent of Dallas' games through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The 2020 pick could become a first-round pick if Zuccarello signs a new contract with the Stars. Each outcome is possible, but it's at least as likely that the conditions aren't met and the picks stay as is. Zuccarello broke his arm in his first game with the Stars and is out four weeks.
The San Jose Sharks traded a second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick to Detroit for wing Gustav Nyquist, who scored 49 points (16 goals, 33 assists) in 62 games for the Red Wings. The Red Wings couldn't get a first-round pick for their second-leading scorer.
Left wing Marcus Johansson was moved from the New Jersey Devils to the Boston Bruins for a second-round pick in 2019 and a fourth-round pick in 2020. Johansson has missed time due to injury but has been heating up with 12 points in his past 13 games, giving him 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 48 games for the season.
Video: Bruins acquire Marcus Johansson from the Devils
While several teams addressed their needs on the wings with draft picks, the Nashville Predators made two separate deals on deadline day and included players in each. Kevin Fiala went to the Minnesota Wild for right wing Mikael Granlund, and Ryan Hartman and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020 was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for right wing Wayne Simmonds.
There is a sense of immediacy for the Predators. Simmonds can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and his performance at 5-on-5 has been declining in recent seasons. Of the 71 goals he has scored in the past three seasons, 36 have come at even strength. Since 2011-2012, Simmonds is tied for second in power-play goals (91) with Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Alex Ovechkin (145) is first.
For a Nashville team that ranks last in the NHL in power-play efficiency (12.3 percent), Simmonds' most important contribution figures to be in front of the net on the power play.
Granlund is a first-line scoring winger who has 185 points (62 goals, 123 assists) in 221 games since 2016-2017, which is tied for 34th in the League during that span.
From Nashville's perspective, it's also interesting that they took a different approach to the deadline. Having already dealt their second-round pick to obtain center Brian Boyle from New Jersey, the Predators held onto their first-round pick and didn't deal either of their top two prospects, 20-year-old defenseman Dante Fabbro, who has 25 points in 31 games as a junior at Boston University, and 19-year-old winger Eeli Tolvanen who has 10 goals and 21 points in 39 games for Milwaukee in the American Hockey League.
Are the Predators a top contender now? They have stability in goal, with the tandem of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, and on defense, where the top four of Roman Josi Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis and P.K. Subban remain the envy of the NHL.
The Predators have made significant improvements up front with these trades and recently had center Kyle Turris return to the lineup from injury. This could be a Stanley Cup team, but it will have to get through the best teams in the Western Conference, many of which improved in the past few days.