PWHL Ottawa Active at the Trade Deadline

PWHL Ottawa got right in the thick of things at the PWHL's first trade deadline

PWHL Ottawa Active at the Trade Deadline
Photo by Chris Liverani / Unsplash

In a pair of moves that seemingly came out of nowhere, PWHL Ottawa first acquired forward Tereza Vanišová from Montreal for defender Amanda Boulier. Then, the team traded forward Lexie Adzija and the rights to forward Caitrin Lonergan to Boston for Shiann Darkangelo.

Ottawa has struggled at times to generate offense this season, particularly at 5v5, and so trading for Vanišová makes sense to address a potential weakness. Vanišová was fifth on Montreal in scoring and has been a fixture in the team's top six.

In her write-up of the transactions, the Athletic's Hailey Salvian had this to say from Ottawa's perspective:

Tereza Vanišová is a top-six forward who is fifth on Montreal in points (10 points in 17 games). She will bring a necessary level of offensive production to an Ottawa team that is sitting one point out of a playoff spot. GM Mike Hirshfeld built one of the deepest blue lines in the PWHL and used that depth to add a meaningful piece without weakening his lineup.
Vanišová has played for Ottawa head coach Carla MacLeod for the Czechia women’s national team and will have some familiar faces in the Ottawa locker room in national team teammates Aneta Tejralová and Kateřina Mrázová, which should help ease the transition to a new team with only seven games remaining.

See? It's not just NHL teams that trade for players their coaches know!

Jokes aside, the deal has a clear logic to it: trading a third pairing defender for a top six winger should bolster the offense.

Meanwhile the Adzija-Darkangelo swap is a bit of a head-scratcher. As aforementioned, PWHL Ottawa has had its issues putting the puck in the net, and though her production has slowed in recent weeks, Adzija was still third on the team in goals. Darkangelo, meanwhile, has registered a solitary assist in 17 games.

Ottawa GM Mike Hirshfeld had this to say about Darkangelo:

"She is a veteran player who has been through battles and playoff races," Hirshfeld said. "We wanted to add her experience to our roster. She is going to work hard and bring veteran leadership."

Though I don't find this particular line very convincing, it is worth noting that Darkangelo was the captain of the Toronto Six team that won the PHF championship in 2023. She was also in the top ten in league scoring that season.

As for Caitrin Lonergan, the Connecticut native was drafted 80th overall by Ottawa but never signed with the team. It seems that she will be joining Boston now that she is back with her hometown squad:

If you are an optimist about this deal, you could talk yourself into Darkangelo being due for a rebound in new circumstances. If you are a pessimist, you might wonder why Ottawa would trade a promising young power forward for a player who seems like she might be a lot less effective in the hyper-competitive PWHL.

At the end of the day, Hirshfeld clearly felt that the team needed an upgrade to the forward group: he acquired a scoring winger, and a veteran centre. He dealt from a position of strength (the blueline) and moved a popular young player to do it. It's not totally obvious to me that this makes the team meaningfully better, but there can be no doubt that Ottawa is gunning for that play-off spot. You don't make the trade for Darkangelo if you don't plan on seeing the play-off chase through to the end.

Ottawa's got seven games left to prove their GM right.

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