NHL expansion draft frenzy: Ryan Ellis, Jared McCann, Barclay Goodrow among players swapped before trade freeze

By | July 17, 2021

The NHL’s trade freeze went into effect at 3 p.m. ET Saturday. From 10 a.m. ET Sunday through 1 p.m. ET Thursday, July 22, the only team allowed to do anything is the league’s newest franchise, the Kraken. Seattle can negotiate with pending unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents who will be left exposed in the expansion draft. The list of protected players will be released Sunday morning.

Before the clock struck and everything was frozen in time Saturday, NHL teams were a little busy. A number of moves were made, with some not being revealed until after 3 p.m. (As long as they were in the queue as time wound down, they were good to go.) A number of big-name players were shipped to new addresses.

Here’s a rundown of the deals, why they were done, what they mean for the future and who won the swaps.

Canucks acquire Jason Dickinson (F) from Stars for 2021 third-round pick

Dickinson was expected to be left unprotected in the expansion draft when the Stars submitted their list by the 5 p.m. ET deadline Saturday. The Kraken would have surely snagged the forward, who notched seven goals and eight assists in 51 games and had the fourth-best Corsi For percentage (56.23) at 5v5 on the Stars last season, per Natural Stat Trick. It’s a good move for the Canucks as they add a strong defensive forward who can play all three forward positions.

“He’s a versatile player. He plays center or on the wing. He kills penalties. He gives us speed,” Vancouver general manager Jim Benning told Postmedia’s Patrick Johnston. “He’ll help us. He just gives (coach) Travis (Green) more options. I think he can play in that third line matchup role. But he’s got enough speed, if Travis wants to play (Elias Pettersson), (Bo) Horvat and (J.T.) Miller [at] center, he can also play him on the wing.”

Dickinson will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights come July 28, but he only made $1.5 million last year and shouldn’t come at a high price. Per Johnston, Benning has said the Canucks have already talked to Dickinson’s agent and expect to reach an agreement.

Winner: Canucks

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Sharks acquire Adin Hill (G), 2022 seventh-round pick from Coyotes for Josef Korenar (G), 2022 second-round pick

Each team can protect just one goaltender, and an exposed goalie has to meet the requirement of being under contract for 2021-22. San Jose’s acquisition of Hill certainly means that Martin Jones will be left for the taking.

Hill is coming off a season where he went 9-9-1 with a .913 save percentage and a 2.38 Goals Saved Above Average.

“Adin is an extremely competitive and athletic goaltender and he has played a significant amount of professional hockey games despite being only 25 years old,” said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson. “We have been impressed with the trajectory of his play, particularly his ability to make saves in high-danger scoring opportunities. We look forward to having him in San Jose and being part of our goaltending unit.”

Winner: Sharks

Maple Leafs get Jared McCann (F) from Penguins for Filip Hallander (F), 2023 seventh-round pick

The Leafs and Penguins surely do like to make deals. Hallander was shipped to the Leafs last summer in the Kaspari Kapanen deal. Now he’s back in black and yellow as McCann heads north. (Side note: Kapanen was also originally acquired by the Leafs from the Pens, so, yeah, they do like to make swaps.)

McCann is a middle-six forward who can play wing or center. He recorded 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 43 games last season. Pittsburgh was surely set to leave him exposed for the Kraken, so the deal gets the club something while also giving Toronto a backup plan if it loses Alexander Kerfoot (as expected) on Wednesday. 

Though just 25, McCann has baggage — he’s on to his fourth team since being drafted by Vancouver 24th overall in 2014 — and streakiness, but he can collect points on the power play (10, including seven goals, in 2021).

Winner: Maple Leafs

Rangers acquire Barclay Goodrow (F) from Lightning for 2022 seventh-round pick

The Lightning’s cap bubble was going to burst, and the first casualty has been marked. Goodrow, who was acquired by Tampa Bay at the 2020 trade deadline from the Sharks and then won two Stanley Cups, will bring a wealth of locker room value as a player who knows the ins and outs of winning, having accomplished it in back-to-back seasons.

He’s also a solid bottom-six forward who likes to turn things up every shift and especially in the postseason. He had 20 points in 55 games during the 2021 regular season and added six points (four in the Final) in 18 postseason games. The one catch to all of this: the Rangers now have to sign him. Goodrow is an unrestricted free agent and may not come cheap:

Winner: Even. The Lightning relieved some cap pressure and the Rangers got a quality forward — but only if they sign him between now and July 28.

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Rangers acquire Nick DeSimone (D), 2022 fourth-round pick from Golden Knights for Brett Howden (F)

The Rangers probably would have left Howden unprotected in the expansion draft, so instead of losing him for nothing, they got a fourth-round pick in return. DeSimone is not expected to sign with New York. 

Vegas gets a bottom-six guy who has shown an ability to get points (23 in 2018-19 and 19 in 2019-20) but who struggled in the shortened 2021 season (seven points in 42 games). The left-shot centerman saw his faceoff percentage drop a smidge to 46.64, but he was first among players who took at least 100 faceoffs on the team and was used more in the defensive zone on draws.

Winner: Brett Howden, who gets a much-needed change of scenery

Coyotes get Andrew Ladd (F), 2021 second-round pick, 2022 conditional second-round pick, 2023 conditional third-round pick from Islanders

You’re probably wondering what the Islanders got here (can we even call it a trade?). In the end, they got cap relief. Basically, GM Lou Lamoriello paid off the Coyotes with draft picks to take Ladd’s contract and his $5.5 million cap hit for the next two years. The 35-year-old winger did not play in the NHL in 2021 (he played in one AHL game) and in only four games in 2019-20. He spent the majority of that season in the minors.

Winner: Islanders, because you know Lou has something cooking.

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Flyers acquire Ryan Ellis (D) from Predators for Philippe Myers (D), Nolan Patrick (F); Predators acquire Cody Glass (F) from Golden Knights for Patrick

Probably the biggest swap of the day was the one that sent longtime Nashville defenseman Ellis to Philadelphia for two youngsters who have bright futures in Myers and Patrick.

A veteran of 562 games, Ellis is a solid blue-liner who should help the league’s worst defense (201 goals allowed, .880 save percentage in 2021). He has battled injuries, including losing time in 2019-20 after taking an elbow to the head from Corey Perry at the Winter Classic. In the last two seasons, he has played in just 84 of the Predators’ 125 games. He collected 38 points in 49 games two seasons ago and 18 points in 35 games in 2021.

“Ryan is an excellent all-around defenseman. In our opinion, he is one of the best passers in the game on the blue line. He’s great in transition. He can play the power play. He’s got a heavy shot and he’s a very good penalty killer,” Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said on a conference call with reporters. “He’s been part of the leadership group in Nashville for a while. He’s a competitive, team-oriented type of player.”

The move comes as the Predators were looking “for a change to our core,” according to GM David Poile. They traded Viktor Arvidsson to the Kings on July 1; in this trade, they get back two key guys — well, one key guy as they flipped Patrick to the Golden Knights for Glass. 

The rundown on Myers, Patrick and Glass:

Myers has shown flashes of being an everyday defenseman with skill but has not been consistent. He is just 24 and has something the Predators’ blue line doesn’t have much of: height. At 6-5, he’s the tallest Nashville defenseman under contract for 2021-22.

Patrick, who was drafted second overall by the Flyers in 2017, has not shown much of what was expected of him. He had 30 points in 73 games as a rookie and then notched 31 in 72 games in 2018-19. He missed the entire 2019-20 season because of a migraine disorder before returning in 2021 and playing in 52 games, producing nine points. Heading to Vegas could be a good move for him as he won’t have the aura of being a top draft pick there.

A change of scenery probably will do Glass good, too. He had trouble cracking the Golden Knights roster after being picked sixth overall in the same draft as Patrick. He’s a two-way center and is just 22 with a ton of potential. 

Winner: Flyers. Ryan Ellis is a stud.