The day of the NHL Trade Deadline is a crucial date in the NHL regular season in both real life and in games like Eastside Hockey Manager. It is your chance to dramatically modify your roster ahead of the final twenty or so games of the regular season. It is a time for teams with something to play for to add to their roster, teams with not much to play for to add future assets, and teams in between to do either a bit of buying, a bit of selling, or not much. Sherman Abrams has managed - as a GM - the team to a great position by the end of last week’s update. What did he end up doing? He sought after the opinions of the People Who Matter.
Among them, Abrams and I thank luozhen, alslammerz, EliasStillRocks, OfManNotMachine, and acasser for their thoughts. In summation, they wanted Abrams to swing big on snagging Patrick Kane. They also wanted to see a trade to bring in some help on the left side of the defense and a backup goaltender. Abrams, were you able to succeed at that?
Abrams: I tried. I sort of did what the People Who Matter wanted.
Let me break it down for you.
The 2020 NHL Trade Deadline in EHM by Sherman Abrams
Finally, John let me actually write a part of this post. So here’s the thing everyone. When a team marks a player as Untouchable in EHM, they are pretty much untouchable. When a team does not mark someone as Untouchable, they do have a value set for players. Stars to them get five stars -the highest rating possible. You pretty much have to give them the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars to have them even consider your offer. More likely than not, they will reject it. The thing is that the AI does have value for your players as well, so you can see right away that no one really wants Miles Wood.
This is a lot to say, no, I could not get Patrick Kane. I started with Damon Severson, Wayne Simmonds, and Miles Wood. Severson was a four-star value to them, I figured they would bite. Or make a counter-offer. No, they did not want Severson. I even threw in a 2020 first round pick. No. I took out Wood and put in Brett Seney, who they had some interest in for some reason. I took out Simmonds and Wood and put in prospects like Michael Vukojevic and Yegor Zaitsev, who each had three-star values. No. I added the 2021 and 2022 first rounders. No. I offered Severson, Blake Coleman, Seney, those two prospects, and the three first rounders. No. Bowman kept rejecting all of them. Specifically calling out one player or another whether it was Severson, Seney, Simmonds, or even Coleman. It was not happening. It also was not happening to get Corey Crawford either - but he had a NTC too.
I tried similar deals to get Mike Hoffman, a player I received emails that seemingly half of the league was making offers for him. Guess how much Hoffman was valued to Florida? Five stars. Nope. Evgeny Dadonov? Same thing. No dice. I even took a chance with the massive offer for Claude Giroux. Philly quickly rejected it. It is funny how fast they reject deals on trade deadline day.
So I decided to go with a plan of my own. Who else is a Name Player who played right wing, could product a lot, is having a good season, and is not a five-star near-untouchable guy without giving up the farm? I found him in Arizona. And they wanted a lot less than what I was offering for Kane.
Bratt was young but rocking a 7.22 average and about half a point per game. Holden was in and out of the lineup. The 2022 first is, well, in 2022. All for a Phil Kessel with a 7.37 average and 41 points in 67 games? I make that deal every day and twice on Sunday. It was Thursday so I made it only once. Prior to the call, Arizona wanted Bratt and Coleman. the choice between the two was remarkably easy to make.
Alas, the fans hated this deal. The board hated this deal. Sure, the People Who Matter, did not call for this. But you have to be flexible on trade deadline day. You would think the people in-game could take 30 seconds to realize I can have a second line of Nico Hischier, Nikita Gusev, and Phil Kessel. No. Instead, I get hate online, my bosses peeved, and not even an offer for a hot dog.
Speaking of Hischier, I did something else off the board. I called up his people to talk contract. Their offer was literally too good to be true.
John doesn’t know this, but I can look up CapFriendly like any other jabroni. Hischier at $5.8 million per season is a steal. I immediately said sure. So did he.
You would think the fans would have given me a parade for this extension. Sure, I did no negotiation but the best negotiations are the ones you do not have to make. Speaking of, I moved on to looking at defense for a bit. I called up Vancouver to see if they would take a perfectly healthy Kevin Rooney for a depth defenseman. They valued Rooney at two stars for some reason. I asked about Jordie Benn. They responded with this.
I just deleted the email. Well, I rejected it first. Then I deleted it. This is nonsense. I decided to focus on other minor moves before going back to defense.
First, I decided to get a second and third since I did not have any for June. Rather than go for high ones, I went for low ones.
I flipped Clarke and Boston’s fourth for Winnipeg’s second and a third. I’m going to draft a better prospect than Clarke with those picks too. Watch me.
Second, I already saw a bit of Seney, Anderson, McLeod, and Bastian from Binghamton this season. Bastian is still in New Jersey and for a reason. I decided to beef up the forward ranks in Bingo. Jeremy Groleau was a long shot anyway, so I made another upgrade.
Daniel Sprong can be called up and probably play in this league right away. It would help if I made some roster space, too. With Noel Acciari and Kevin Rooney just taking up spots in my suite at the Rock, I worked to make something happen for them. So move #3 post-Kessel was to move Acciari.
Brendan Gaunce was unhappy in Providence. Acciari was playing like he should be in the AHL. It worked out. I had to throw a sweetener in there so I did. A fourth next year. They bit on the bait easily. Fun fact: Boston waived Acciari immediately after this trade to send him down. The Isles picked him up the next day. Take that, Boston! Move #4 was meant for Rooney but I got nonsense counter-offers for depth players in place of Rooney. Something about not playing in a game recently bothered him. Well, yeah, that’s the idea! I move him and then you can go have him put up a ‘6’ in ten minutes of action. So instead, I decided to replace Clarke earlier than the draft. Yegor Zaitsev was part of the past big trade deals because I do not think much of him or his likeliness in coming over. I looked at CapFriendly and found I could make a similar move people liked in real life:
Yeah, I got Nolan Foote just for Zaitsev. One-for-one. Coleman is still a Devil and scoring bunches for me. You love to see it. Move #6 was to dump Rooney. Even though they claim he has more value than Wood, none of these weak-sauce AI GMs wanted to trade for a guy who has been scratched so much.
He cleared. Duh. I went back and addressed that defense request. Colorado wanted an arm and a leg for Ryan Graves. Because third pairing defensemen must require Patrick Moynihan and a first. Easy no for me. I tried to flip Gaunce for a defender from Montreal, but they were not biting. Then I realized, there was a halfway decent defender on that crummy L.A. team. Could I just give them a veteran from Bingo for him? The answer: Yes.
Derek Forbort is a depth defensemen with a pretty solid 15 in positioning. Dakota Mermis was a guy I was never going to call up. Not with Connor Timmins biding his time.
In total, I turned Bratt, Holden, the 2022 first round pick, both Boston’s fourth rounder in 2020, our fourth rounder in 2021, Dakota Mermis, Jeremy Groleau, Graeme Clarke, Noel Acciari, and Yegor Zaitsev for Phil Kessel, Winnipeg’s second in 2020, Winnipeg’s third in 2020, Brendan Gaunce, Daniel Sprong, Nolan Foote and Derek Forbort. I now have a full selection of picks for 2020, Phil Kessel is an immediate upgrade at RW, Foote can be better than Clarke, and I have more options for forward call-ups whilst dumping the depth guys not usually on the roster as of late. Oh, and I extended Hischier for less than $6 million per season. Shower me with praise.
Uh, Abrams, what about goaltending?
The goaltending market is stupid.
This may shock you, but teams were not interested in giving up goalies playing well. The crummy teams like Ottawa and Los Angeles have goalies way worse than Blackwood and Oettinger. The good teams or bubble teams did not want to part with their #1B/#2 goalies unless those goalies were playing worse than Blackwood and Oettinger. I tried for Crawford. I tried for Mrazek on Carolina. I even took a swing at Tristan Jarry with Pittsburgh. They were not interested whatsoever. So I gave up. We’re riding the young tandem; deal with it.
Was it an active trade deadline?
Hell no! I was the only one making a lot of those moves on deadline day. Sean McIndoe, who always whines about a lack of action, should buy me dinner for giving him something to crow about!
Sean McIndoe is not in EHM. Nor do I think he reads this site.
Or whoever his equivalent is in the game! I don’t care!
I see what you mean. The only other deals of note were the Dineen-Andersson swap and Matt Niskanen becoming a Jet. A whopping eight deals were made on deadline day and you made six of them. That’s very odd.
Whatever, I was crushing it. I do have a suggestion for Remes and the SI staff for future games. You need to make the deadline day different than the other days of the game. Every day is split up into Morning, Afternoon if there are any afternoon games, and Evening. The deadline in real life is a mad dash to get moves done until 3 PM. My email did not even notify me about the deadline until after it ended. That day should go hour-by-hour and the AI GMs who were making a bajillion proposals that went nowhere can work to put some actual deals together.
OK. Any last thoughts? How does it feel to be more of a buyer for a change?
I had a little fun - until you mentioned the b-word. Now I feel disgusted.
So it goes. The job of the GM is to improve the team.
One day, I’ll show you.
Whatever, man. Let’s move onto the games.
The Last Five Games of February 2020 in EHM
When Part 6 ended, the Devils played nine games in February and went 5-2-2. The Devils would build on that in the final five games of the month.
Ahead of the deadline, the Devils had two tough games on the schedule. The first was a home game against San Jose. MacKenzie Blackwood had an excellent game and the offense was provided by three different lines. The fourth line of Wood, Travis Zajac, and Simmonds struck first with Simmonds finishing a play for his 17th of the season to make it 1-0. Late in the first, after an offensive zone faceoff win, Ty Smith fired a shot and Nico Hischier tipped it past Dell to make it 2-0. In the second period, Marcus Sorensen took a roughing minor. Eleven seconds later, Sami Vatanen threaded a pass down low to Taylor hall, who swung to his right for a PPG. Meier on San Jose got on the board less than a minute after that goal, but that would be it for a very good Sharks team. The Devils won 3-1 and were confident heading into their last game before the deadline.
On February 22, the Devils hosted Washington. Washington had won two out of their three previous games against New Jersey, both by final scores of 3-5. NJ would try to even up the season series. The visitors got on the board first with a goal by Ovechkin, created by Carlson. The Devils had an answer for that in a big way thanks to The Big Deal. Jack Hughes provided an equalizer within the final five minutes of the first period. At 21:21 and 21:35, Hughes struck again for a big natural hat trick. The Devils were up 3-1. But the Caps were not fazed. Some bad turnovers cost the Devils dearly. Stephenson got them within one goal a few minutes after Hughes made the fans donate a lot of hats. Late in the second, Carlson struck from distance to make it 3-3. Another bad turnover gave Carlson a great shot at close range on Blackwood and he did not miss. 3-4. Late in the game, AI John Hynes pulled the goalie in the hope for a dramatic equalizer. Instead, Hathaway sunk in an ENG. The Devils lost to the Capitals 3-5 for the third time this season.
The trade deadline happened on the 24th and the Devils’ first game was on the 25th at Detroit. It was the first of a five-game road trip as well as the first game for Phil Kessel. Abrams made Kessel play at second line right wing, moved Coleman to the left wing opposite of him, and slotted Kessel at the right point on the second power play unit. Abrams did not want to mess with Palmieri’s or Vatanen’s spot on PP1. Forbort was a scratch. After a scoreless first period, Blake Coleman scored thirteen seconds into the second period with a big helper from the newest Devil, Phil Kessel. Much later in the second, Hall lit up Howard after a great play by Hughes and Vatanen. Detroit would find a response to both of those goals. Within the final two minutes of the second, Bertuzzi took advantage of a heinous turnover and beat Oettinger to make it 2-1. Within the first two minutes of the third period, Mantha finished a feed from Bertuzzi to make it 2-2. Were the Devils going to blow it again to a hapless Detroit team? At a little past the halfway mark of the third period, the answer was no. Hischier finished a breakout play to convert a power play and put the Devils up 3-2. In the final minutes, Kessel got his first goal as a Devil; an empty netter to seal a 4-2 win over Detroit. It was a very good debut for Kessel and a very good start to the trip.
After this game, the Devils received some very good news. First, Hall was named the NHL Player of the Week and the Offensive Player of the Week. He put up two goals and five assists, while posting up an ‘8’ and two ‘10s’ in the games against San Jose, Washington, and Detroit. Hall is truly one of the best of the league and the honor is well earned.
However, the bigger news was that Nikita Gusev was finally cleared to play hockey again. After being on the bench for months with a partially torn ACL, he was 100% again.
Abrams did not hesitate. He told Hynes to immediately put Gusev back in the lineup and put him across Kessel with Hischier. Coleman was moved to the third line. Hynes asked about where? Does he replace Nathan Bastian? Abrams said something about Pavel Zacha playing poorly as of late, so stick Coleman at left wing and give Jesper Boqvist a chance at center next game. The next game was in San Jose against a very good Sharks team looking for revenge.
The start of the game was very much in favor of New Jersey. The first line went up ice for the first time of the game and Hughes scored 11 seconds into regulation. Later in the second period, Hughes punished San Jose’s Vlasic by scoring a power play goal to make it 2-0. It looked like we would see a repeat of the first game against San Jose. But the Sharks had other ideas. Couture got his team on the board late in the second period. Before the five minute mark in the third, Hertl tied it up. Shortly after P.K. Subban took a cross-checking penalty, Sorensen was the one making the Devils pay as he converted that power play. The Devils needed an answer. Boqvist was struggling in the game, but he made a good pass to Bastian in New Jersey’s end. Bastian exited his zone and made a bold diagonal pass to Coleman on the other side. The Texan torched Heed and then the goalie to make it 3-3. The Devils held on to force overtime. Despite an early power play, overtime solved nothing. Therefore, a shootout was needed. Hall went up first and scored. Karlsson did not. Vatanen went up second and scored, but so did Hertl. Alas, the returning Gusev did not score a clinching-goal and Burns beat Blackwood to extend the shootout. Fortunately for fans not in the Pacific Time Zone, the extension lasted one round. Hischier scored on his attempt and Couture did not. The Devils won 4-3 to take four out of four points against the Sharks and keep the winning going on the road.
Some bad news happened on the 28th. Ty Smith suffered an injury in practice.
It is only for ten days. But this means that someone has to slot in at left defense as a replacement. Since Abrams acquired Forbort, it was time for him to make his Devils debut. He would do it against his former team on Leap Day - Los Angeles. the only other roster change of note was Wood getting scratched so Zacha could re-take the third line center spot and Boqvist would not have to sit out.
Like Ottawa in the East, the Kings have had nothing to play for over the past few months. The goal was to not look too far past them. The goal was achieved. Simmonds scored his 18th of the season to get the Devils on the board. Eleven seconds into the second period, Gusev scored his first goal since his injury. As it was right off the opening faceoff, Forbort got a his first point as a Devil - a secondary assist. Unfortunately, the Kings hit back with a quick double around the midway part of the second period. Roy got them on the board and Kovalchuk did his thing to make it 2-2. The Devils had the best response to a Kovalchuk goal. A breakout play by Hughes and Palmieri that saw Hall take a pass from Palmieri by the center line and then just blaze to the net (and past Roy) to make it 3-2. Early in the third and after an LA offside, Hall found Palmieri open on the right side. The Pride of Montvale, New Jersey went around Hutton like he was a pylon and scored to make it 4-2. Oettinger gave up nothing in the third. Forbort had an excellent debut. The Devils ended February by going three for three on their current five game road trip. Dreams of the playoffs were starting to look a lot more real.
The Devils & NHL at a Glance After February
As the Devils went 4-1-0 from February 19 to February 29, the Devils ended the month with a fantastic 9-3-2 record. It was not good enough to get back into first, but they are absolutely in the mix for the Metropolitan Division crown.
The Isles are in the driver’s seat but as you can see, it is anything but safe in the Metropolitan. Washington is fifth in the division and just eight points back of the Isles. The Devils are ahead of Our Hated Rivals by a mere point. Contrast that with the Atlantic, whose fourth place team, Toronto, is way back with 70 points. It is becoming clearer that the teams below the Caps are becoming long shots at best when it comes to making the postseason. You would think more of those teams would be willing to sell, but no.
In the league standings, the Devils remain in the upper echelon. I have to repeat that those two wins over San Jose were real big ones. San Jose is holding onto the Pacific Division lead and so they are no jokes. The Devils beat them twice and the Sharks got one little point from the games. That’s big. By the way, the President’s Trophy race is essentially between Winnipeg and Colorado. That second and third for 2020 will be low, but as Abrams pointed out, at least he has something in those rounds now.
If the unit of Landeskog-MacKinnon-Ratanen is the best line in this EHM season, then a great argument can be made for Hall-Hughes-Palmieri to be a close second. Hall is now only behind McKinnon for the league lead in points. Rookie sensation Hughes is tied with Laine and Draisaitl with a very nice 69 points. Palmieri just cracked the top-ten, nestled in between Brock Nelson (really!) and Ovechkin. It’s a wonderful sight. By the way, Hischier remains in the top 50. Others getting hot pushed him down to 45th with 25 goals and 27 assists in 59 games.
The last five games saw Vatanen put up five assists. It was good enough to move him back to first place among all defensemen in scoring with 44 points. Subban is tied with Hedman with 37 points for 12th. However, with Kessel taking his spot on the power play, Subban’s production may go down a bit. We could see Will Butcher - who is still on the second PP unit - get on the scoresheet a little more. That is a bit unlikely at this point of the season, but it is possible.
Jack Hughes is a top-ten scorer in the entire NHL, so it is no surprise that he is heads and shoulders above every other rookie in terms of production. He has a full 25-point lead over Kakko. The Calder is all but his at this point. What is interesting is that more Devils are cropping up on the latter parts of the list. Boqvist may have had a rough time in San Jose as a center, but he is now 22nd in rookie scoring with 17 points. Ty Smith is up to ten assists and that put him tied for 39th. Bastian has now surpassed McLeod in points as he picked up his eighth one to move up to 44th.
While only eleven in-game days have been played since Part 6, it was enough for Hall to overtake Rantanen for the league’s best average rating per game. Which is astounding as Rantanen still has an absolutely ridiculous 8.3 average. Hall’s form in his last five games was 8-10-10-8-9. That is utterly fantastic hockey and it is enough to make him the best player in the NHL at this moment in time. Palmieri has also been great over those five games. His average improved to 7.83, which moved him up with Bobrovsky, Lundqvist, and Radulov for a tie in 26th. Gusev was a 7 and a 9 in his first two games back, so his average rating got a small bump up to 7.8. That keeps him in 35th among the top 50 skaters. To give you perspective, 50th on this list has an average of 7.7. It will take a lot for a fourth Devil to get back on the list. And if it will be any Devil, then it would likely be Vatanen since he has an average of 7.63 right now.
Speaking of the Devils, here is their roster by points:
As expected, the first line is crushing it in terms of points. What is surprising is that the goal-scoring is more spread out. Hall has 26 goals and both Hughes and Palmieri should break 25 in the near future. Hischier and Coleman have met that mark. Simmonds put up two goals in the last five games to give him a shot at that level. Zajac could still do it, although it will be tough from the fourth line. Kessel had 16 with Arizona, so he has 17 total for his season - he could certainly do too. And if Gusev gets hot in the next month or so, he could make a charge for it. Still, you have plenty of production coming from multiple forwards.
Since Forbort and Kessel have been great since coming to the Devils, they are technically ahead of everyone else. With one and three games played by them, respectively, I would not count on that to continue. It has been just five games played since the last post, but Subban, Simmonds, and Hischier slipped a little; Coleman and Butcher improved a little; and Hughes improved by 0.05. For themost part, most of the roster is above an average of seven. The ones lagging are mostly playing limited minutes. Wood has been steady in his last five games, but the fourth-line left winger is still capable of just that. Zajac has had some rough times as a fourth-line center - and that will not get him out of that spot anytime soon. Greene is the team captain; if he was not, Forbort (or Holden before him) would have had his spot on the third pairing. Boqvist could be doing better but he is still so young. Should he develop, few will miss Bratt. At least that seems to be what Abrams is betting on.
Here are the Devils’ goalies at a glance. The save percentages remain low but their average ratings are decent:
As a “fun” fact, the only rookie goalies that has played at least ten games who have a better save percentage than either Blackwood or Oettinger are Merzlikins and Samsonov. Merzlikins has a 90.5% in 19 games and Samsonov has a flat 90% in 29 games. This game of EHM does not appear to be kind to the young goalies in this league. Given that the 25th best save percentage in the NHL is a 91.2% (Holtby, Jones) and the end of the top 50 has a 89.9% (Dell), it is little wonder that goalies having better seasons than Blackwood or Oettinger are hard to acquire.
Lastly, here is the full month at a glance:
The road trip will continue for the first two days and then a statement-making March will continue on. Games against St. Louis, Our Hated Rivals, Pittsburgh (twice), Calgary, Minnesota (they have something to play for) and Tampa Bay will be tough. There will traps in the form of Toronto, Florida, Carolina (twice), and Philly. There is a real chance the Devils in this EHM game can clinch a playoff spot and another strong month of results should do it. Let’s go, (EHM) Devils.
I apologize that Abrams went off the board since he could not make the suggested deals happen. The AI in this game does not seem to value draft picks as much as they should. Or recognize that when a team offers you seven assets for one star player and your team has only a snowball’s chance in Hades to make the postseason, you should at least consider the deal. Or make other deals when the popular ones get constantly rejected ones on deadline day. Or not make king’s ransoms the price for a goalie with a save percentage in the nineties. Abrams thinks he improved the team. The team is 3-0-0 since the deadline. But what say you? Did he do a good job or should he have done less or something entirely different?
There is not going to be much in the way of interactivity as the trade deadline has passed. Call ups will be made on an as needed basis. Given that the defensive pool is a bit thinner now and goaltending is an issue, Abrams is scouting NHL free agents outside of the NHL to see if he can snag one or two after their deals end in the coming months.
As a last point of contention, here are the lines and special teams set ups after the Los Angeles game.
With Smith out, only Bastian is set as a scratch with Wood coming in for the Anaheim game on March 1. But do you like these lines? Or do you want to see some other set-ups?
Please let me (and Abrams) know what you think of the team and how they are doing and how Abrams did at the deadline in the comments. Thank you for reading.