2024 PWHL Trade Deadline Recap: Ottawa, Boston, and Montreal Make Moves
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2024 PWHL Trade Deadline Recap: Ottawa, Boston, and Montreal Make Moves

2024 PWHL Trade Deadline Recap: Ottawa, Boston, and Montreal Make Moves by Zoë Hayden

The PWHL trade deadline was scheduled for 4:00 PM Eastern US time on Monday, March 18, with the roster freeze scheduled for today (March 19) at noon. No transactions were announced until after the deadline had passed, though in the hours leading up to it, media members began hearing that transactions were in the pipeline.

Ottawa acquires Tereza Vanišová (F) from Montreal for Amanda Boulier (D)

GMs Mike Hirshfeld and Danièle Sauvageau connected to bring a huge offensive piece to Ottawa in Vanišová. In return, Montreal gets a veteran defender in Amanda Boulier.

For Montreal's part, this makes sense especially if they expect Dominika Lasková to remain unavailable in the playoffs. Boulier is on a one-year deal and brings a veteran presence, some physicality, and a truly underrated shot from the back end. She's exactly the sort of blueliner to target if you're looking for defensive balance down the stretch and I think she could find herself in an elevated role in Montreal. Montreal is on their longest losing streak of the year and struggling with injuries while every single point counts. Boulier instantly upgrades their blueline depth at a critical moment in their season.

Vanišová spent a large part of the season playing on a line with Marie-Philip Poulin and Maureen Murphy, though Kori Cheverie has broken them up of late to try to get more favorable matchups in her top six, and of course they have been now playing without Poulin due to injury. Vanišová has a nose for the net as well as playmaking ability down low. She brings a finishing ability that Ottawa has had trouble finding at times throughout the season, though not for lack of trying. She can also thread passes into soft areas and will be a weapon on any line. Vanišová is on a two-year deal, so this trade is as much about Ottawa's push for this year's playoffs as their future roster.

Ottawa acquires Shiann Darkangelo (F) from Boston for Lexie Adzija (F) and rights to Caitrin Lonergan (F)

Caitrin Lonergan did not play in the PWHL this season but has left the door open to return to hockey next season. Lonergan is a native New Englander who played her college hockey with Boston College and Clarkson, and last played pro with the PHF's Connecticut Whale. She has already posted about being excited to be acquired by Boston. It seems like Mike Hirshfeld and Boston GM Danielle Marmer took this trade opportunity to get Lonergan back into her preferred market.

But the main part of this trade is the swap of forwards Shiann Darkangelo and Lexie Adzija, both on one-year contracts. Adzija went on a goal-scoring tear to start the PWHL season, and while she has been quieter lately, her skill set remains a threat. Her game has so much to do with her size: she drives the net, screens goalies, gets deflections, and can be punishing to play against along the boards. She may not always be in the top six, but she can slot into any line when her skills are needed, and she's a great power play option for net-front presence. Boston's style of play benefits from a player like her who knows exactly how to insert herself to get dirty goals.

In swapping Adzija for Darkangelo, Ottawa is looking for someone with more pure shooting ability. Darkangelo can enter the zone with speed and get pucks on net, and it's hard to underrate that considering Ottawa's current position in the playoff picture, and their inability thus far to pick up extra points in overtime. She is also an experienced pro with two Isobel Cup championships under her belt and a long career already in both the CWHL and PHF, plus two gold medals with Team USA at the U18 and senior level. Darkangelo has been in a third- and fourth- line role with Boston so far this season, and may not necessarily see bigger minutes, but she will probably find that the role expected of her is a bit different and she'll have more opportunities to shoot the puck and forecheck in the offensive zone.

Grading the Trades (at first glance, anyway)

  • Boston – GM Danielle Marmer did well to acquire Adzija and move Darkangelo, who was perhaps not suited to her current role. She also acquires the rights to a player with great offensive abilities in Lonergan who could join the team next season. I only see a gain for Boston here – not that Darkangelo isn't a good player, but that Adzija seems like a natural fit for Boston's strategy while Darkangelo wasn't producing in her role with them. Grade: A
  • Montreal – Montreal had a desire to shore up their blueline. GM Danièle Sauvageau was very smart to make a move for a player like Boulier, but does give up offensive skill in Vanišová that is difficult to replace in the top six. That said, as a one-for-one, I think Montreal gets what they need. They have lots of players who can score goals and create offense when needed, but fewer players who can really control play from the back-end and play physical defense. Their offensive troubles of late have been problems more with possession than anything else, and upgrading the defense helps with that first pass and managing the neutral zone. I think Boulier's contributions will be important this late in the season – she immediately takes some pressure off of Erin Ambrose as a blueliner who can make smart decisions at both ends of the ice. It may look on paper like they gave up a lot to get a bottom-pairing D, but Boulier is more than that and Vanišová isn't the be-all end-all of Montreal's offense. Grade: B+
  • Ottawa – Based on these trades, it looks like Ottawa is seeking offense, but offense hasn't quite been their problem this season. Defensive lapses and issues with consistency have put them in their current tenuous position. But GM Mike Hirshfeld saw an opportunity to take their offense to the next level and he definitely succeeded. In acquiring Vanišová and Darkangelo, he gives coach Carla MacLeod two players who can threaten with their shots from dangerous areas of the ice and make game-changing plays. I don't necessarily like them losing Boulier, though. Their blueline already relies very heavily on Aneta Tejralová, Ashton Bell, and especially Savannah Harmon. Over-using them down the stretch could backfire. The pieces they got are excellent adds, but what they gave up in Boulier could be concerning when considering ice time for their defense in a potential playoff run. I'm not saying that players like Zoe Boyd or even Emma Buckles can't carry some of those minutes – more that they haven't been given as much responsibility so far, and I have a concern that Ottawa might lean too hard on big minutes from Harmon. Ottawa will need to ensure that their offensive upgrade doesn't come at the expense of their blueline. Grade: B

Of course, first impressions of a trade really don't tell the whole story. We'll have to wait and see how the remaining games of the regular season shake out. Boston and Ottawa will be fighting over that #4 playoff spot until the bitter end, and each of these teams will have an opportunity to grab some points in the standings ahead of the international break.

(Photo: Michael Riley/PWHL)