Marvel’s What If…? has been great so far showing us all possible scenarios we have been imaging all these years; and thanks to it, the MCU just made Bucky Barnes’  Winter Solider story even darker than it was already.
In the alternate timeline where they feature that nearly all the Avengers were murdered before they could ever assemble,  Marvel’s What If…? Episode 3 features a line from Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) that implies the Winter Solider’s involvement ( though it is not directly featured in the episode).

Of course Bucky wasn’t the assassin who killed Earth’s Mightiest Heroes himself, it does seem likely that a past murder by one of the Hydra’s brainwashed assassin created the domino effect which led to the collective demise.

In the episode 3 of the series, The Watcher reveals an alternate MCU that’s much darker than the one which usually see. It takes place during “Fury’s Big Week” (when Phase 1’s Iron Man 2, Thor & The Incredible Hulk take place), and the Avengers start dropping one by one being killed by a mysterious unknown assassin.
But Fury does put the pieces together and face a dark and vengeful Hank Pym wearing his own Yellowjacket suit.
It turned out that Pym’s daughter Hope van Dyne became SHIELD agent in this universe but was killed on a mission. As a revenge, Pym decided to kill Fury’s potential candidates for the Avengers Initiative as well as those who might be recruited along the way.

Bucky in What If

But there is a critical line from Fury reveals that Hope’s death happened on a mission in Odessa, Ukraine which is a huge Easter egg. In 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Widow told Cap that she was shot by the Winter Soldier on a past mission in Odessa, as Barnes had been tasked with killing an engineer she was protecting.
Seemingly that this alternate universe had Hope replacing Black Widow which ultimately led to her death at the hands of the Hydra’s Winter Soldier.Which makes the Winter Soldier’s legacy so much darker by making him the primary catalyst.

Winter Soldier MCU Phase 2 Villains.jpg?q=50&fit=crop&w=737&h=368&dpr=1

If Winter Soldier had not killed Hope, the Avengers could have still survived to assemble later on the new timeline rather than putting the world at a risk with their absence.
Even though Hank Pym was arrested, the world was still left defenseless without heroes and that’s exactly what Asgard’s new King Loki and his armies took advantage of the same situation immediately.
This led to Fury searching for new heroes to keep the Avengers idea alive and it looks that though the Winter Soldier himself played a secret role in the deaths of so many heroes during this alternate retelling of the MCU’s Phase 1.

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