The NHL trade deadline is always a fun time for NHL fans. If our team is in the thick of the playoff picture, we hope it makes huge trades and pushes all our collective chips into the center of the table with hopes of playing for the Stanley Cup.

But is this the right approach?  Do we want to mortgage the future in hopes of acquiring the top player from the TSN trade bait board? Does it even work?

Against my better judgement, I went back and reviewed the last five trade deadlines of the Stanley Cup Finalists in hopes of clarifying if going “all in” is the right approach to the trade deadline.

2016 trade deadline acquisitions

Stanley Cup champion

The only notable move the Pittsburgh Penguins completed around the trade deadline was the acquisition of Justin Schultz from the Edmonton Oilers for a third-round pick.

At the time, the move was not thought to be very significant, and Pittsburgh did not give up much to get him. Schultz drew into 15 of the 24 playoff games for the Penguins and averaged just 13 minutes of ice time in those games, the lowest time on ice across all Penguins defensemen.

While Schultz did not play a significant role in the Penguins 2016 playoff run, he played four more seasons with the Penguins and contributed significantly to their 2017 Stanley Cup Championship.

Stanley Cup runner-up

The San Jose Sharks did not make any significant moves at the trade deadline in 2016. The team swapped back-up goalies with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Alex Stalock for James Reimer).

In a separate trade with the Leafs, the Sharks acquired Roman Polak and Nick Spaling for a pair of second-round draft picks. Polak played in all 24 of the Sharks’ playoff games but did not register a point. One of those draft picks turned into Maxime Comtois, who is having himself a pretty good season currently.