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Trade-season grades for all 31 NHL teams

The 2021 NHL trade deadline was this week. “Dead” being the operative word.

There were only 17 deals made on April 12, involving 26 players. Compare that with last season’s deadline day, which yielded 32 trades involving 55 players. But the 2020 NHL trade deadline happened in “the before times.” Obviously, a lot has changed.

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted the economic landscape for the NHL. The flat salary cap of $81.5 million this season, and in subsequent seasons, left teams unable to trade out high-salaried players or take them on without some creative maneuvers, such as having a third team shoulder part of the cap hit in a side deal. The lack of ticket revenue around the league left some teams cautious about adding players with high base salaries or with term left on their contracts beyond this season. Also impacting trades with term: The Seattle expansion draft happening this summer, as teams are restricted in the number of players they can protect from the tentacles of the Kraken.

There were other pandemic-related issue too, such as the quarantine necessary for players crossing the Canadian border. Then there were the factors commonplace at any deadline: The ask for a trade being too high, and teams that should be dealing players away standing pat because they’re in a playoff race (or close enough to believe they’re in it).

Which teams made out the best at a less-than-busy trade deadline? Here is our NHL trade deadline report card, where there were many more winners than losers.

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