Article written by Jonathan Camponovo

Welcome to this new article of Leading-Sport’s NHL Corner!

Oftentimes, we hear about trades when it comes to NA hockey. From one day to another, a player can be transferred from a team based in the desert to a team based in cities where winter temperatures are always below 0 degrees. This is the NHL baby, very spectacular for the fans but at times very tiring for the players.

In Europe, these trades are much less common because of the labor protection laws (in the players’ favour).

We recall some of them though… the first one, involved Lugano and Zug on November 12th, 2014. Dominik Schlumpf joined the Bulls and the Bianconeri got Alessio Bertaggia and Calle Andersson in exchange. The second one, happened on December 7th, 2018, and involved Genève Servette and Bienne. Dufner moved to Genève while Petschenig joined the Seeländers. The last one, obviously, is the one that involved Ambrì-Piotta and Davos… with Kienzle who moved to Davos and Payr who joined the Biancoblù.

In the NHL instead, the trades are very common. Just to say, 112 trades were made during tthe 2018-19 season!

In the NHL a trade can involve players or picks at the draft. A couple of weeks ago, we talked about that when presenting the 2019 NHL draft. For example, on the eve of the last playoffs, Columbus made a couple of trades and got Duchene, Dzingel, Kinkaid etc… in order to reinforce themselves for the post-season.

In several articles, we’ll see which are the most important NHL trades in view of the 2019-20 season. Today we have a look at three of them.

Matt Niskanen to Philadelphia, Radko Gudas to Washington

This is the first important trade in view of the 2019-20 season. And it was the first time since 1974 that Philadelphia and Washington exchanged each other a player!

Matt Niskanen is a 34 years old American defenseman who collected 881 appearances with Dallas, Pittsburgh and Washington, tallying 323 points. He won the Stanley Cup with Washington in 2018. He’s very experienced and an example to follow for the rookies. In Philadelphia he will have the chance to make it up after the last disappointing season ended with a “+/-“ of “-3” (during the two previous seasons, he finished with +24 and +20).  And he can be a great leader for young guns such as Provoros and Sanheim.

Radko Gudas instead is a tough 29 years old Czech defenseman. Contrary to Niskanen, he was never seriously an offensive defenseman… but he’s rock solid in the defensive zone and his size allows him to keep opponents away from the goal.

Surely the fans of the Swiss National Team remember him during the last Worlds in Slovakia when Switzerland faced Czech Republic. During the game, Radko Gudas and Nino Niderreited were quite tough on each other.

This trade should be good for both teams. Philadelphia can add to their roster a very experienced player who knows what to play the playoffs means. Washington on the other hand, can add a strong defensive defenseman to their roster and can save some money and this is good for the salary cap. Niskanen’s contract in fact was worth 5.75 millions dollars while Gudas’ contract is worth 3.5 millions. Moreover, the Flyers will pay 30% of Gudas’ salary next season.

Dominik Kahun and 151th draft pick to Pittsburgh, Olli Määttä to Chicago

Pittsburgh and Chicago have reached an agreement on this deal before the 2019 draft. Dominik Kahun is a German 24 years old forward who’s coming off his first NHL season during which he tallied 37 points in 82 games. Previously, he did great in the DEL with Münich for 4 years. Kahun is a very versatile player and can play in any position as a forward. He’s a good playmaker and he is technically skilled. Next year will be the last one for him with an entry level contract and in Pittsburgh he can improve even more his level of play.

Olli Määttä, on the other hand, is a 24 years old Finnish defenseman who already won the Stanley Cup twice with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017. He’s rock solid in defense and also able to be proactive. We mean, he’s a very good player. The only cause for concern is his shoulder… the guy underwent surgery several times and that made him miss several games over the last three seasons. Määttä is a good bet for Chicago though, considering that his contract is worth 12 millions dollars and is still valid three years. One thing is sure, the Blackhawks needed to strengthen their defense, and Määttä can seriously help in this regard.

Jacob Trouba to New York, Neal Pionk and 20th draft pick to Winnipeg

This is a perfect example of a strategic trade. The New York Rangers were quite lucky at the “2019 draft lottery” and won the 2nd pick. They knew they were gonna pick a forward as a first choice (Kaapo Kakko) and therefore thought about exchanging their 20th draft pick with a good defenseman.

Jacob Trouba is a 24 years old American defenseman who’s coming off his best NHL season. He played 50 Regular Season’s games with Winnipeg. He played during power-play and penalty-killing situations. Overall, he had a 22.53 time on ice on average per game and was a pillar of the Jets’ defense. Finally, last but not least, his size (191cm / 92kg) is impressive.

Also Winnipeg stood to gain from this deal though. They let a good player go but got back an early pick at the draft (take into account that they had already previously exchanged their first pick for Kevin Hayes). By doing so, they picked a young gun like Ville Heinola (former Lukko, Liiga Finland) and could add Pionk to their roster.

To finish, we can say that the NHL teams are always looking for bargains and for trades in order to improve their roster. We mentioned only the main ones, but during this off-season the teams already made a lot of deals!