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NHL trade deadline: Flames, Coyotes swap Ritchie brothers in rare deal

In an amusing deal, Calgary and Arizona swapped Ritchie brothers at the NHL trade deadline.

In the NHL's first brother-for-brother trade, the Calgary Flames acquired Nick Ritchie and Connor Mackey from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Brett Ritchie and Troy Stecher at Friday's trade deadline.

Stecher is the best player in this deal and gives the Flames some much-needed depth on the blue line. The 28-year-old has recorded seven assists in 61 games this season. Stecher will certainly benefit from a change of scenery as the moribund Coyotes controlled just 41 percent of the expected goals at 5-on-5 when he was on the ice, and he’ll likely slot into the Flames’ third pair.

Nick Ritchie — the younger of the two brothers — has posted nine goals and 21 points in 58 games this season. He was acquired by the Coyotes from the Maple Leafs at last year’s deadline, but he simply hasn’t been impactful, even when given meaningful minutes in the NHL. Ritchie will likely slot onto the fourth line and it’ll be curious to see how the Flames space out his minutes — his underlying numbers have been terrible and he’s one of the slowest skaters in the league.

Brett Ritchie recorded six goals and eight points in 34 games for the Flames. The 29-year-old has posted decent underlying numbers — Calgary controlled just over 50 percent of the expected goals at 5-on-5 when Ritchie was on the ice, in admittedly sheltered minutes. Arizona has taken on a ton of dead cap space and it receives a functional NHL player who will perhaps get one more chance at showing why he needs more minutes. He’s not as poor defensively as his brother Nick, but he also has none of the secondary scoring punch.

Nick Ritchie was traded in a deal that also included his brother. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Nick Ritchie was traded in a deal that also included his brother. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Mackey posted two goals and three points in 10 games in 2022-23. He hasn’t played since Jan. 26 and struggled to gain meaningful minutes in the NHL. Now playing on a Coyotes team that is just waiting for the draft lottery to play out, Mackey will get a chance to show why he can be a capable, consistent defender in the NHL, and not merely part of Arizona’s tank job.