Most hockey trades can’t, and shouldn’t, be judged for years. They deserve time to play out, to tip the scales as the players make their marks during their tenure with their new teams.
NHL deadline trades, though, are different. They’re unique because the expectations of the partners in the deal vary so widely.
One team takes the long view, hoping that a pile of magic beans eventually yields a top-six scorer, a sturdy defender or, at the very least, a low-dough roster-filler who can help it stay under the cap. For the other side, the payoff must be microwaved — delivered hot and fast with an eye set on playoff success. It doesn’t matter how the other side of the equation — next season and beyond — plays out. Executed properly, these deals pay off quickly and then it’s on to the next thing.
Here are six players who switched sweaters at this year’s deadline and are on the verge of paying those immediate dividends … and three more who could be downgraded to junk status.