One Year Later: The Trade Deadline

Photo: AP

By Thomas Harrington

One year ago today was the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. The Anaheim Ducks made three trades: they traded Austin Strand to the Buffalo Sabres for Chase Priskie, Dmitry Kulikov to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Brock McGinn and a 2024 third round draft pick, and John Klingberg to the Minnesota Wild for Andrej Sustr, Nikita Nesterenko, and a 2025 fourth round draft pick. The Ducks retained salary on both of Klingberg and Kulikov’s contracts.

Strand had spent most of the year in the AHL with the Gulls, but did get in a couple of games with the Ducks. The Gulls were struggling last year, and Pat Verbeek decided change was needed. Priskie had spent the entire year in the AHL with Rochester and saw no NHL action. With San Diego, Priskie played in 16 games and scored seven goals and 13 points. With Rochester, Strand played in nine games and recorded one assist. Neither player re-signed with their new team. Priskie has spent the year in Hershey in the AHL, while Strand has split time between Chicago and Rockford. This trade ended up not having a big impact on either team.

The Ducks had acquired Kulikov essentially for free, so getting anything for him at the deadline was going to be a nice bonus. With Anaheim, Kulikov didn’t have a great season, and was overmatched most nights. Overall, he appeared in 61 games and scored three goals and 15 points. McGinn had signed a four year deal with the Penguins on July 28, 2021. His first season saw him score 12 goals and 22 points in 64 games. Before the trade, he had scored 10 goals and 16 points in 60 games.

With Anaheim, McGinn played in 15 games to end the season and scored two goals and three points. This season, he’s missed time with an injury and been scratched as well, while primarily playing on the fourth line. Overall, he’s played in 24 games this season and has scored a goal and three points. With Pittsburgh, Kulikov played in six games and had one assist. While McGinn isn’t a great player, getting him and a third round pick for Kulikov was pretty good given that Anaheim gave up nothing to get him. McGinn is signed through the 2024-2025 season.

The biggest trade of the day was Anaheim sending Klingberg to Minnesota. Klingberg was supposed to be the prize free agent acquisition of the summer, and it was expected he would sign a long term, lucrative deal with someone. However, that deal never materialized. Instead, he signed a one-year deal with the Ducks at the end of July. The Ducks weren’t expected to be a good team, but the hope was he was going to come in, put up some strong offensive numbers, and then be dealt at the deadline to a contending team for a package of top picks and prospects. Instead, Klingberg struggled with Anaheim and rarely looked comfortable on the ice. In 50 games, he scored eight goals and 24 points. For a player known for his powerplay abilities, he recorded only one goal and six points on the man advantage. As a result, the Ducks received an underwhelming return when compared to what was hoped for over the summer.

Sustr had signed a one-year deal with Minnesota but spent the entire season playing in the AHL for the Iowa Wild. With Iowa, he played in 39 games and scored two goals and 12 points. The Wild had drafted Nesterenko in the sixth round of the 2019 NHL Draft, 172nd overall. After being drafted, he spent a year in the BCHL playing for the Chilliwack Chiefs and then three years in the NCAA playing for Boston College. With Boston, his offensive numbers improved every year, and he finished his final year with them by scoring 13 goals and 34 points in 36 games. Despite those numbers, the expectation was that he was not going to sign with Minnesota, meaning he was an easy asset for the Wild to part with.

The Wild wanted to improve their defense heading into the playoffs. Based on his play in Anaheim, Klingberg was not going to be a huge addition. However, given how little they had to give up for him, it was a worthwhile gamble. With the Wild, Klingberg played in 17 games and scored two goals and nine points. In the playoffs, he played in four games and scored a goal and four points, but Minnesota lost in the first round to Dallas in six games. He left for Toronto as a free agent.

Sustr stayed in the AHL after the trade and played in 12 games for the Gulls, scoring a goal and two points. When the season was over, he signed overseas in the DEL. After finishing his season at Boston College, Nesterenko signed his entry-level deal with the Ducks. He made his NHL debut soon after and played in nine games to finish off the season, scoring one goal. He’s spent all of this season playing for San Diego and has scored 12 goals and 27 points in 50 games. The Gulls have struggled this season but he’s been one of their better offensive players. The Ducks ended up trading the 2025 fourth round pick from Minnesota to Buffalo for defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin.

At the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, the Ducks traded away three huge parts of the team and got a decent to good return on them: Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, and Josh Manson. Last year, the Ducks didn’t have as much value to offer and were not able to get as many assets. Klingberg was supposed to bring back a similar return as the players had the previous year, but as the season went on for him, it became clear that was not going to happen. Between Klingberg and Kulikov, the Ducks were able to bring in a couple of picks, a couple of depth players, and an intriguing prospect. I wouldn’t consider the 2023 Trade Deadline a major win for the Ducks, but given what they had to work with, it wasn’t a major loss either. If Nesterenko or the third round pick from Pittsburgh ever become NHL regulars in Anaheim, then this will end up being a good day for the Ducks.

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March 3rd, 2024


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