How 5 big-name NHL commerce deadline pickups are performing for brand spanking new groups

How time flies.

While all our attention is on the closing playoff race in the West and figuring out the Round 1 playoff matchups in the East, just one month ago we were obsessing over trade rumors and who were the big winners and losers of deadline day.

Ultimately, playoff results are going to dictate which teams actually came away big winners with the decisions that were made, but we’re at least starting to get an idea of ​​what impact these deals will have.

Trade deadline was a busy day, so rather than revisit all the day’s moves (we’ll do an off-season look back at everything), we decided to instead focus on the biggest names moved at the deadline, and what the early returns are for these players.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Minnesota Wild

In 11 starts between the All-Star break and the trade deadline, Cam Talbot allowed 33 goals –an average of three per game. It was enough to make GM Bill Guerin think that he needed to add another proven veteran to the mix. Kaapo Kahkonen, Talbot’s 1B at the time, also wasn’t raising his game and has no playoff experience.

So, the Wild went out and picked up the biggest-name goalie available: Marc-Andre Fleury.

His usage since the trade deadline hasn’t been what we might have expected. Fleury and Talbot have split duties: Talbot has actually started eight games to Fleury’s seven since the day after the deadline.

Fleury and Talbot stats since March 22.

Fleury remains the probable Game 1 starter for the Wild, and someone they’ll lean on more often than not come playoffs. But with two starters playing so well, the Wild can now feel confident they have more depth at the position than before.

The best news that’s come up about Fleury is about the future. Before this season, Fleury opened the conversation to possible retirement – ​​and for a 37-year-old who’s accomplished everything and started the year on a bottom-feeding team, it kinda made sense. But speaking this week, Fleury had a different tone.

“I would like to play at least another season,” Fleury said Tuesday. “I decided that recently. I still enjoy playing. I still have fun, my body is still holding up, most of the time. But yes, another season and we’ll see after.”

Fleury will be a UFA this summer, while Talbot remains under contract for another season with the Wild at a $3.66-million cap hit. The Wild have about only $8.1 million in projected off-season cap space with RFAs Jacob Middleton (another deadline pickup) and Kevin Fiala to sign.

Mark Giordano, Toronto Maple Leafs

In 15 games with his new club, Giordano has been a fantastic fit and given the Leafs plenty of combination options when fully healthy. Justin Bourne explored some of Toronto’s options on how to align the blue line. Whether or not it’s a coincidence that Timothy Liljegren has really stepped his game in the past month playing alongside Giordano, there’s no denying that pair has been a nice surprise.

And, in a pinch, the Leafs still could put Giordano with TJ Brodie, a familiar duo from their time in Calgary.

Giordano has two goals and 10 points in 15 games with the Leafs, including an OT winner against Ottawa and getting the primary assist on “the oldest goal” scored in the league this season. Giordano, in fact, is tied with Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting with a team-leading five primary assists at 5-on-5 since being acquired.

Giordano’s underlying numbers at 5-on-5 have been fantastic too. When he’s on the ice, the Leafs have outshot their opponents 118-86, have heavily out-chanced the opposition in the high-danger areas (both Toronto defensemen bests), and that’s with most of his starts coming on the defensive side. His on-ice goals share him is also strong (60 per cent) and he actually could be better with a little more luck. Toronto’s goalies have just an .884 save percentage with Giordano on the ice at 5-on-5 – he’s the only Leafs blueliner under .900 in that span.

Mark Giordano stats at 5-on-5 in 15 games with the Maple Leafs.

Claude Giroux, Florida Panthers

The biggest forward name on the rental market had a one-track mind to wind up in Florida and was a real luxury add – instead of a true need – for the East’s top team.

Most of Giroux’s time with the Panthers has been spent with Aleksander Barkov as his centre, and the two have tilted the ice in a huge way: Florida has earned nearly 70 per cent of all shots and 74 per cent of all the goals when the duo you have been out there. You’re going to see different line combinations in the final few games now that Florida has pulled away with the Atlantic Division lead, but we’d bet Giroux and Barkov will land back alongside one another by Game 1.

Giroux has 15 assists and 17 points in 14 games since joining the Panthers and far outpacing what he was doing in Philadelphia. Chalk that up to a much better situation. But what Giroux has let the Panthers try on the power play has been a lot of fun, too.

Since acquiring Giroux (and, notably, with Aaron Ekblad on the sidelines with an injury), Florida hasn’t been shy to run out a five-forward power play, and we should note they’ve scored 23.7 per cent of the time on the PP since March 21 (eighth-best in the league). Giroux and Barkov have been working the point in this setup, with Anthony Duclair, Jonathan Huberdeau and Sam Reinhart in the forward positions.

Hampus Lindholm, Boston Bruins

Lindholm right away became a key cog in the Bruins’ defense, pairing up with Charlie McAvoy on the top unit and averaging over 21 minutes a game, playing all situations. Boston outshot the competition 83-55 and outscored them 8-5 with Lindholm on the ice at 5-on-5. He was as advertised, adding a smart and physical element that is going to be key for the Bruins come playoff time, especially if they have to line up against a team as deep and skilled as the Carolina Hurricanes.

With his on-ice play, Lindholm put to rest any debate around whether or not the Bruins, nearing some sort of re-tool as the core ages out, should have traded another first-round pick (plus two seconds) to buy in to this run.

But … just seven games into his tenure with the team, Lindholm was injured and hasn’t played since April 5. In fact, the Bruins have been getting through without either Lindholm or David Pastrnak; Boston is 3-3-0 with both of them out of the lineup.

The good news for the Bruins is that it sounds as if both will be back before the playoffs.

Rickard Rakell, Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins needed scoring help on the wing and targeted Rakell from Anaheim, who was having his best scoring-pace season in four years at the time he was acquired.

The results in Pittsburgh have been mixed. Sure, Rakell has 10 points in 14 games, but his goal pace slowed, scoring just three times. And he’s actually gotten a point in only four of those 14 games, all of them multi-point efforts.

Rakell has so far spent most of his 5-on-5 minutes with Evgeni Malkin, but the two didn’t really seem to mesh all that well. When Rakell and Malkin shared the ice at 5-on-5, Pittsburgh was outscored 8-3 and outshot 43-38. Both of them had far better numbers apart.

Lately, with Malkin out of the lineup, Rakell has moved next to Sidney Crosby, and that combination has worked far better – in over 54 minutes together at 5-on-5, Crosby and Rakell have outscored the competition 8-0 and outshot them 41-28. It’s just worked. The more these two play together, the more those goals should start coming again for Rakell.

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