Brandon, Brock & Shane’s Post-Deadline Overview
With another NHL trade deadline come & gone, we take a look around the league to give you a breakdown on where things stand. Brock & Brandon give a breakdown on where all 32 teams stand after the deadline and Shane shares his top 5 winners & losers from deadline day. We have also included Brock, Brandon & Shane’s individual league rankings to show you how we arrived at our final composite power rankings. Enjoy!
- Eastern Conference overviews by Brandon Wamsley
- Western Conference overviews by Brock Hartley
NHL Power Rankings
1. BOSTON BRUINS (103 pts)
There is a clear #1 in the league this season and it’s the Boston Bruins. It was that way last week, and the league’s best team just got a whole lot better. Not too much really needed to be done in Boston in the first place, after all they just became the fastest team in NHL History to reach 100 points. That is really all that needs to be said, but we should also mention that David Pastrnak would be having a Hart/Richard caliber season if only Conor McDavid didn’t exist. Linus Ullmark is another name we can’t leave out as he is most likely leading the Vezina race, and while we are talking trophies we all know Bergeron will be there for a Selke. So the Star power is plentiful in Boston and they play with one of the league’s top defensive units. This is clearly the year for Boston – Cup or Bust.
2. CAROLINA HURRICANES (90 pts)
The Hurricanes lost out on the Timo sweepstakes, and with Max Pacioretty sadly out for the season, the Hurricanes are left in nearly the exact same spot they were last season – save Jesse Puljujarvi and Shayne Gostisbehere. Sure those guys fit nicely, but Carolina lacked scoring talent and star power last year and it left them coming up just short. Their peers all got significantly better this season, and even better again last week. Carolina leads the league in xGF% and probably will still be leading heading into the playoffs. They also will not be favored outside of their 1st round matchup with a wild card. Sadly, I just can’t see this Carolina team as a real contender given the competition.
3. NEW JERSEY DEVILS (88 pts)
In case there were still any doubts, the New Jersey Devils are for real. The Devils are currently 2nd in the NHL at a 55.8 xGF%. A core of young super stars and veteran stars like Jack Hughes, Nico Heischer, Jesper Bratt, and a resurgent Dougie Hamilton are responsible for a lot of that, now you can add Timo Meier to that list. That immediately takes a great team that was already vastly over-performing expectations and makes them a legitimate cup contender. Everyone knows about the offense, what people may be surprised by is that the Devils play very sound defensively behind the leadership of another perennial future Selke contender in Nico Heischer, and currently rank 6th in the NHL in xGA. If anything is lacking in New Jersey, it might be the goaltending. While Vitek Vanecek’s outlying numbers imply a good season, he ranks 35th in the NHL with only 2.3 GSAx and has certainly not been what the Devils were hoping for when they acquired him in the offseason. A bright spot however could be upstart Akira Schmid, who the Devils may want to consider making their starter come April.
4. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (84 pts)
Auston Mathews is having a down year by his standards but it hasn’t hurt the play in Toronto as much as one may expect. Uplifted by a John Tavares we haven’t seen in years, Mitch Marner, and a career year for William Nylander, the Leafs have been comfortably locked into the #2 spot of the Atlantic Division all season. Great performances thus far out of both goaltending additions in Ilya Samsonov and Matt Murray have a lot to do with that, when they’re healthy anyways. Then the Leafs shocked the hockey world at the deadline with the move to acquire Ryan O’Reilly. That’s not all they did either. Kyle Dubas just made a statement, he expects to go far beyond the first round this season. Now, if only they weren’t destined for another matchup with Tampa…
5. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (79 pts)
The Lightning have held on surprisingly well this season, in a year many thought Tampa would begin to fade. Brayden Point can take a lot of credit for that as he’s on pace to crush his previous 41 goal season high. Nikita Kucherov will surpass 100 points again and Steven Stamkos can still score. We all know that Vasilevskiy will be one of the best goaltenders in the world come playoff time. So it makes sense that Tampa Bay believes they can still win now, and want to make moves to help reach that goal. But we also aren’t so sure that Tanner Jeannot is the answer to that. Tampa Bay loves cheap, checking, third liners. They always have, and they have also gotten performances out of those 3rd lines that won 2 Stanley Cups. So they shouldn’t be outright doubted yet, much like Bill Belichick in the NFL, I won’t question it until I see it go wrong. That being said this will be Tampa’s biggest project yet, much like Belichick’s attempt this season to play with no offensive coordinator.
6. NEW YORK RANGERS (79 pts)
Well, if it wasn’t made clear from their early season struggles, the Rangers still expect to win the Stanley Cup THIS season. They have been surging and playing better hockey with each game. If they can spark Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko like they expect to (and somewhat already have with Tarasenko), the Rangers have a real chance to do just that. If they can recreate the Panarin/Kane connection from the duo’s Chicago days, and that’s a big if, it adds to a team that’s already getting plenty of scoring from Mika Zibanejad and Norris contender Adam Fox. Igor Shesterkin has struggled a bit with motivation at times this season, but he’s still saved 12.5 goals above expected. We don’t expect motivation to be an issue for anyone in New York come playoff time. So, the Rangers should actually be the single most interesting team to watch the remainder of the season. New York is performing an experiment of sorts with the new lines, and if it works as well as they plan, they will be much higher on this list at the beginning of the playoffs. If not, Igor will have his work cut out for him to say the least.
7. VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (82 pts)
Vegas has done a splendid job facing adversity this season. They have been dealt injury after injury, but they are holding firm atop the standings. They’ve had to deal with players missing time from the very start of the season when Robin Lehner went down. Logan Thompson did an excellent job stepping up in Lehner’s absence, he has really embraced the #1 role. He would wind up getting injured as well, however. The other two goalies that would fill the role – Adin Hill and Laurent Brossoit – are also banged up right now, leaving Vegas’ goaltending situation in limbo. Captain Mark Stone is also on IR at the moment. The Golden Knights are currently atop the Western Conference, so they are in good shape to make the postseason. Hopefully the team can get healthier before the postseason begins, as Vegas began this season with lofty expectations.
8. DALLAS STARS (81 pts)
The Stars have certainly exceeded expectations this season. After a Round 1 exit last year, and the departure of John Klingberg on the blue line, Dallas was expected to have to battle for a postseason spot this year. Enter Jason Robertson. Now in his 3rd season as a full-time NHL’er, Robertson has established himself as a superstar already in his young career. He sits at 9th in the league in points and is a threat to climb those rankings every time he steps on the ice. Dallas sits atop the Central Division, and 1 point behind Vegas for the lead in the West. Given the lack of strength in the Western Conference this season, Dallas has a great opportunity to return to the Stanley Cup Finals.
9. COLORADO AVALANCHE (74 pts)
Colorado’s campaign to defend their status as Stanley Cup champion got off to a slow start. It could have been the hangover effect, or it could have been the slew of injuries they have had to deal with. No matter the case, things appear to be back on track in Denver. Their underlying metrics aren’t what you would expect, but they are 5 points ahead on the next closest team for the final wild card berth. With players getting healthy, and after going 7-3 in February, the Avs are heating up at the right time and will look to run through a weak Western Conference in the postseason en route to a chance to defend their title.
10. EDMONTON OILERS (78 pts)
It’s been business as usual for Edmonton this season. They are currently pretty comfortable in the standings and should be on their way to another postseason appearance, McDavid is putting on magic shows each game, and their behemoth powerplay unit is humming along at an incredible 32% clip. So, like I said, it’s been business as usual… but that’s exactly what should concern Oilers fans. Things have been this way in Edmonton for years now, but they consistently fail to produce results in the postseason. Some saw last season as a breakthrough when Edmonton reached the conference finals. But was it? The Kings pushed them to Game 7 in Round 1. They managed to eliminate a very good Calgary team in 5 games – but there wasn’t a lick of defense to be found in that series. Then, of course, they proceeded to get swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Avalanche in the Western Conference Final. A lack of depth scoring & defense has been the fatal flaw of this team for years now. The front office tried to address part of this by bringing in Matthias Ekholm, but Ekholm is on the wrong side of 30 and is on the decline. Ekholm is a solid defender and will bolster the blue line, but it may be a “too little, too late” situation. If the Oilers are going to get to the Stanley Cup Finals, then McDavid & Draisaitl better have their lifting belts ready, because they’ll have to put the team’s bottom six on their backs. But hey, if any duo could do it, it would be those guys.
11. LOS ANGELES KINGS (82 pts)
This Kings team is interesting. I was pretty high on them last year, though they ultimately fell to the Oilers in Round 1. They look to be making another postseason appearance this season – and with a little more firepower. The acquisition of Kevin Fiala has worked out wonderfully for this team, evident by the fact that he leads the team in points. An area of concern for the Kings this season has been goaltending, but it appears that issue has been rectified. Los Angeles tried both Jonathan Quick & Cal Petersen in net – neither worked out. That cleared the way for Phoenix Copley to take the starting job. Although he started slow, the team found themselves winning with him in net. The issue with Copley is that he is a career backup, and although the team is winning, his numbers are not stellar. That prompted the Kings’ front office to acquire Joonas Korpisalo from Columbus. Korpisalo is a great netminder and he was often the reason that Columbus wouldn’t get blown out, as he is 6th in GSAA/60 among goalies with at least 20 games played. The Kings don’t have much elite-level talent, such as a McDavid or a Matthews, but they are a solid team in all 3 zones, which makes them a difficult team to play against. They should be a tough out come playoff time.
12. WINNIPEG JETS (75 pts)
The Jets started the season off strong, but have begun to fall off in recent weeks, going 5-9-2 in their past 16 games. They hold the final wild card spot in the West, ahead of Nashville by 6 points – the Preds have 3 games in hand, however. Connor Hellebuyck has been stellar in his duties once again this season and is relied upon heavily. Winnipeg’s offense will need to come alive down the stretch if they wish to be playing Spring hockey.
13. SEATTLE KRAKEN (78 pts)
It’s crazy how much of a difference goaltending can make. The Kraken put up some good advanced numbers for a time last season, but were near the bottom of the league due to poor goaltending – and when I say “poor” I mean worst in the league. Grubauer has been better this year, mainly because he couldn’t have been any worse than last season. But the biggest difference maker in goal has shockingly been Martin Jones, whose best years, it had appeared, were firmly behind him. As it turns out, that’s not the case. Seattle wants to play low-event hockey, and they make it work. The team is primed to make their first playoff appearance in franchise history, so long as they don’t collapse down the stretch.
14. NEW YORK ISLANDERS (72 pts)
The Islanders have been fighting for a wild card spot all season. Just when it looked like New York may be falling behind, they struck fast for once and made the early blockbuster deal of the deadline to acquire Bo Horvat, and he hasn’t stopped scoring goals in New York. They play in front of Ilya Sorokin, who is probably the best goaltender on the planet at the moment. That all being said, it’s hard to see anything but a 1st round exit for the Islanders, if they even secure a berth, due to the fierce competition in the East.
15. MINNESOTA WILD (78 pts)
The departure of Kevin Fiala is stinging a little bit in Minnesota. The defense is sturdy, as everyone expected, but the offense is drying up. The Wild sit 25th in Goals For and 29th in Shooting %. Kirill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson-Ek, & Mats Zauccarello are doing their part. Matt Boldy’s production isn’t as high as expected after his solid rookie season, but he should end the year a 20-goal scorer. But those are the only players to break the 30-point mark for Minnesota. The Wild sit at 2nd in the Central, and we should see them in the postseason. The question is how long they can last if the offense doesn’t start clicking. Minnesota’s fans are hungry for a series victory, with the last one coming in 2015.
16. BUFFALO SABRES (68 pts)
The rebuild is in full swing in Buffalo and it is led by a now verified superstar in Tage Thompson. Tage has racked up 42 goals already this season, good for 3rd in the NHL, and 2nd amongst normal humans. I’ve already used that disclaimer for Pasta, but we really should judge McDavid by different metrics at this point right? Getting to play with Thompson and on the very lethal power-play has led to a career year for Alex Tuch, who before a recent injury racked up 62 points in 57 games. In case you might be wondering, Jack Eichel this season only has 48 points in 50 games. While I’m not prepared to say Tuch is the better player, Peyton Krebs has provided a nice 3rd line presence as well, toss in that 1st round pick, and I’d say we have a clear winner in that trade so far. Dylan Cozens has been another glowing bright spot in Buffalo, adding 54 points, 24 of which have been goals. Owen Power, has been very good as well and will be a Calder finalist. He won’t win, but expectations were probably just too high from some coming into the year for Power. The Sabres are surely still happy with what they have seen. While Buffalo is making a late playoff push, even if they fall short this year, the future is brighter in Buffalo than it has been in a very long time.
17. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (71 pts)
When Ron Hextall signed Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang this offseason, he said that he did so because he believed the Penguins could still “win now”. So when the Penguins clearly needed help at the deadline, and it was reported Mike Sullivan and others were petitioning for the likes of Jakob Chychrun, Bo Horvat and others, Hextall made the team worse. I won’t go entirely into the trade deadline, as we will have a breakdown of that underneath these rankings. However, it still must be said that it’s hilarious that not only did the team not improve, Hextall took on Mikael Granland’s contract to add a $5m cap hit to an already bad cap situation. His beloved ongoing goalie project in Tristan Jarry has been bad the few times he’s been on the ice this season and it appears that Pens fans get to enjoy this carousel every year now, even when he’s being outperformed by Casey DeSmith (2.4 GSAx vs 2.2 GSAx), who actually plays, and costs half as much. Sadly, it looks like the last few years of the greatest player of a generation and possibly all-time, alongside another generational talent and the best 1-2 punch in NHL History for a decade will be spent battling for wild card spots and losing in Round 1’s.
P.S – This article is petitioning to fire Ron Hextall.
18. OTTAWA SENATORS (68 pts)
The Senators are a budding young team led by Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle. At the beginning of the season, the Senators were paired with the Devils in the teams to watch take the next step this season. The Senators have done just that, they’ve just been overshadowed because New Jersey took 3 steps forward instead of 1. So they didn’t immediately become Cup contenders, but they did get a whole lot better, while staying young with Jakob Chychrun, who will add scoring and excitement to the back end all while bringing a physical presence. I expect the Sens to fall just short of the playoffs this season, but the future does continue to look bright in Ottawa.
19. FLORIDA PANTHERS (68 pts)
Here we have the year’s most disappointing team. From Presidents Trophy winners, to outside looking in at the playoff picture. The Florida Panthers are pretty far outside that picture too. The Panthers made possibly the most noise this offseason, acquiring Matthew Tkachuk – and Tkachuck is having an outstanding year in Florida, he’s carried the Panthers thus far. Just to put Tkachuk’s season in perspective, he sits with 81 points on the year, Florida’s next highest scorer is Carter Verhaeghe at 55 points. So it hasn’t been Tkachuck’s fault, it’s been in spite of him. The deal weakened the team defensively and they just haven’t been able to keep up in the East. If you’d like to see a microcosm of the Panthers season, watch Spencer Knight’s last warm up video.
20. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (68 pts)
It appears that the playoff hopes in Washington are all but dead. With an aging core, Capitals fans had to know this day was quickly approaching. There is a bright spot in Washington though, as Brian MacLellan is putting on a masterclass of how to rebuild while not giving up completely. He has brilliantly been able to move older players with contracts, or upcoming contracts the current Capitals would simply be better without or could not offer. Coming into the season, the rival Penguins and Capitals were paired in many conversations, as they appeared to be in a very similar situation. They both had aging superstars that could still play, but a tough salary cap situation. While the Penguins have the better shot at the playoffs this season, Capitals fans should consider how their GM treated this season vs Pittsburgh’s… a massive win.
21. CALGARY FLAMES (69 pts)
It’s been a disappointing season for Calgary so far, but they aren’t dead yet. They sit at the #10 seed in the West, two spots outside of the final playoff berth. They have some ground to make up, and it won’t be easy, but I believe it’s possible that we could see the Flames playing postseason hockey. So, what’s the reason for the step backwards this year? Some will say a combination of losing Tkachuck & Gaudreau, while the acquisition of Huberdeau isn’t bearing the amount of fruit they thought it would. However, I believe the bigger culprit to be goaltending, which has long been a strength of this team. Despite the lack of production from Huberdeau, the Flames still own very good advanced possession numbers. Meanwhile, the combination of Markstrom & Vladar in goal has the Flames sitting in the bottom 5 in SV%. Markstrom is a very capable goalie when he’s on his game. He will need to find that form again soon before the Flames playoff hopes are extinguished.
22. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (69 pts)
The Predators are quietly stalking a playoff spot. They sit at #9 in the West. The Preds were still sellers at the deadline, however, dealing Mikael Granlund, Tanner Jeannot and newly acquired free agent signing Nino Niederreiter. They will really have to step on the gas if they want to be playing hockey in April. This will be easier said than done, however, considering the injuries that this team is currently trying to battle their way through.
23. DETROIT RED WINGS (65 pts)
Steve Yzerman planned on getting his rebuild going faster than anyone else in a similar situation with some aggressive moves this offseason. Things started off with excitement in Detroit, but by the time we reached the deadline Detroit just hasn’t gotten quite where they wanted to be this season. The Red Wings haven’t been bad, as they are just outside the current playoff picture. Although, at the beginning of the season, Detroit was grouped amongst division foes Ottawa, and Buffalo in the rebuilding race and were favored to be ahead in that race. They were even being compared to the Devils as to who would have the better 22/23 campaign. So by that metric, the Red Wings are in last place. They have fallen behind the other rebuilds even within their own division, which is not what anyone was hoping for in Hockeytown. On the flip side, the Red Wings were able to sign Dylan Larkin, after trade rumors spread and the rebuild looked as though it may be in peril. Bringing back Larkin on the deal they did was critical for the Red Wings. After a slow start, Mo Seider has seemed to get things back on track and I’m sure we will see great progression from him in the future. So not all is lost in Detroit, it’s just not the year that many had hoped for in Detroit.
24. ST. LOUIS BLUES (59 pts)
The rebuild is on in St. Louis. In a flurry of deadline moves, the Blues traded Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari, & Vladimir Tarasenko, meaning most of the core pieces of that Stanley Cup winning team are now gone. If you’re a Blues fan, you might want to hope for some losses down the stretch to boost your chances at landing the #1 pick.
25. VANCOUVER CANUCKS (57 pts)
I’m not sure what’s going on in Vancouver’s front office. Jim Rutherford & Patrik Allvin don’t seem to have a clear message, or to be heading in a clear direction. It appeared that the Canucks were going to be big time sellers at the deadline when they traded team captain Bo Horvat to the Islanders. Yet the deadline has come & gone and names like Boeser & Miller are still on the roster. The bad decisions began, in my opinion, when the Canucks chose to give Miller a long-term contract over Horvat. So, I guess we will need some time to see whether the Canucks are going to go full-rebuild or just retool on the fly. In any case, this team is near the bottom of the standings and will certainly be hoping to land the #1 pick to keep the hometown phenom, Connor Bedard, at home.
26. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (59 pts)
We all knew the Flyers would be bad this season. Many of us sat eagerly awaiting the seemingly inevitable implosion from newly hired head coach John Tortorella. The implosion never came, though. Tortorella should actually be commended for getting most of a young team lacking in talent to buy into his style of hockey. While they are still not good, the Flyers have been a bit of a pain to play against for many opponents this season. They aren’t in the absolute bottom of the league either, as many forecasted. If anyone seems to like the new system it’s Travis Konecny, who before injury, already amassed a career high 27 goals and 54 points. Not bad when playing on the 4th lowest scoring team in hockey. The future is still full of unknowns in Philadelphia. On the bright side, Carter Hart has looked to regain his form and is playing much better, currently saving 12.1 Goals above expected. On the other side, nobody in Philly has given any sort of indication of a plan to move forward. It appears like it will be quite a few years before any significant winning begins for the Flyers.
27. MONTREAL CANADIENS (56 pts)
The Canadiens haven’t been great this season. We all kind of knew that would be the case coming in though, right? It’s too early to tell yet on Slafkovsky, but Cole Caulfield looked good before his injury with a career high 26 goals in 46 games. With how he looked on the ice, we can expect that career high to be shattered in the future when he plays more games, and particularly when he gets a better supporting cast around him. The thing is, maybe Canadiens fans should be happy he’s out for now. If you’re going to suck in the NHL, you want to really suck. This year magnifies that fact more than we’ve seen in a long time with Conor Bedard looming. So losing the leading goal scorer on your team may “help” the Canadiens lose more games, leading to better odds that they get Caulfield more help than he could’ve ever imagined.
28. ARIZONA COYOTES (52 pts)
The Coyotes went 5-5 in February, arguably providing us with evidence that teams don’t “tank”. If there were ever a team that should be tanking, it would be the ‘Yotes. They are still loaded with draft picks and have some young talent both on their current roster and in the organization’s pipelines. Arizona will still have a shot at the #1 pick, and personally speaking I wouldn’t mind seeing them land it. The idea of a Connor Bedard & Logan Cooley combo is exciting. Toss in the fact that the team will have a new arena in a few years and all of a sudden things are looking bright in the desert. Especially after all these years of darkness.
29. SAN JOSE SHARKS (50 pts)
Things are ugly in San Jose and there’s a possibility they could get uglier. The Sharks had two bright spots on this team – Timo Meier & Erik Karlsson, who is having a rejuvenating season. Meier was traded at the deadline, as many expected. Karlsson, however, remains on the roster. This is a confusing move given the season Karlsson is having. This seemed to be the perfect opportunity to shed the books of Karlsson’s albatross of a contract. Karlsson himself seems frustrated by the front office’s decision to retain him as well, as he has stated multiple times that he wants to compete for a Stanley Cup. He is now stuck in a rebuild on a team that will have much more difficulty moving his contract next year. The one bright spot for the Sharks organization is that they should be among the teams with the best odds to win the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.
30. ANAHEIM DUCKS (50 pts)
Things are abysmal in Anaheim. Despite having some young talent on the roster, the Ducks find themselves getting blown out of the water on a consistent basis. They have the worst goal differential by far at -96. The 2nd worst team sits at -71. I have to think things will get better there in time, as some of the younger guys develop, but landing a top 3 pick in this year’s draft class would really help the cause.
31. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (46 pts)
We remember saying at the start of the season that the Blue Jackets despite adding Johnny Gaudreau had a weird offseason. Some draft picks looked brilliant while others puzzled all analysts. The other acquisitions outside of Gaudreau didn’t seem primed to mesh well at all. This season has proven pretty much exactly that. While “Johnny Hockey” has been really good this year, his most valiant efforts could not lift this Blue Jackets team out of the basement. A look at Gaudreau’s scoring numbers provide a really glaring piece of evidence as to why. He has only 15 goals, coming off of 40 last season. While struggling to score, he has still managed 40 assists. A deeper look shows his play-driving numbers have been outstanding as well. So, what this exemplifies is that the problem has not been Gaudreau. He’s making plays, his supporting cast just isn’t finishing as well as they did in Calgary. Worse yet, nobody at all has been able to return the favor and set him up to score. We should single out one player though – rookie Kent Johnson has done his part. With 29 points while playing on a team where points are hard to come by, Johnson has been the only real positive outside of Gaudreau this season. But hey, if there was ever a year to be in last place, it’s this year. With 46 points, and a 3-point gap between themselves and Chicago, the Jackets are right on track for the best odds to add a lot more scoring to that lineup.
32. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (49 pts)
It’s the end of an era in Chicago, as Patrick Kane was dealt to the New York Rangers. With that being done, Chicago will now hope that a new era can begin next season – the “Connor Bedard Era”. The Blackhawks are next to last in the league standings and have one of the worst rosters I have ever seen. However, with the draft lottery the Blackhawks will only have an 18.5% chance of landing the #1 pick if they finish dead last. But odds are they end up with a high pick in a very deep draft class that has a few consolation prizes for the teams that don’t land Bedard. All eyes are on the future in Chicago.
Shane’s Top 5 Trade Deadline Winners & Losers
Trade Deadline Winners
1. NEW YORK RANGERS
If there was ever a time to go for it, that time is now. Chris Drury had the utmost green light to hit the trade deadline with no safeties on…….and he CRUSHED it. Not only did the Rangers keep a 1st round pick in the next 3 years, they kept Kaapo Kakko, Filip Chytil, and Alexis Lafreière who could still develop into top six players but are each earning under $1 million while slugging it out on the bottom six. Patrick Kane finally gets shipped to the Big Apple and the connection with Artemi Panarin is about to be rekindled. The two made one of the best pairings in hockey during their Chicago Blackhawks tenure. Niko Mikkola is also a nice addition to add defensive depth and toughness in the Vladimir Tarasenko trade, another one of Panarin’s buddies whom he lauded the Rangers staff to go out and get this skilled Russian teammate.
2. BOSTON BRUINS
Let’s not forget that the Boston Bruins will be without a 1st round pick for the next two years, and a 2nd round pick for the next three years. Let’s also look at the massive bolstering that Don did to this already stacked roster. To shore up defense and the bottom six, the Bruins sent out Craig Smith with some picks for Dimitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway. Orlov was there for the Capitals’ Stanley Cup win and brings solid skill and experience while Hathaway solidifies a strong bottom six with size and grit. Taylor Hall went to the LTIR with a lower body injury, so Don went out and nabbed Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit, who adds more grit and skill that should be enough to cover for Hall during his absence.
3. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
If Kyle Dubas goes down, he’s going down SWINGING FOR THE FENCES. Keeping a 1st round pick in ‘23 and ‘24, the Leafs acquired Ryan O’Reilly who is a bonafide stud who should feel at home in his home country. They shored up the defense with Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson, while adding some forward depth in Sam Lafferty.
4. ARIZONA COYOTES
Jakob Chychrun has finally been dealt to Ottawa for a projected top 5 pick in ‘23 and two 2nd rounders in ‘24 and ‘26. The ‘24 could become a top 10 if the Senators make the Eastern Conference Finals. That’s two 1st round picks, one 2nd, and four 3rd round picks in ‘23. That’s some great work by Bill Armstrong but he’s not done yet, oh no. One 1st round pick, four 2nd round picks, and three 3rd round picks in ‘24. OHHH MYYY NIPPLES ARE ERECT! It is steamy down in Arizona. “But wait, there’s more” – in ‘25 the Coyotes will have one 1st round pick, four 2nd round picks (AGAIN), and two 3rd round picks. All while keeping both goaltenders in Connor Ingram and Karel Vejmelka. I need a cigarette. I’m done, that was amazing to type, and I hope the Coyote fans feel the same way.
5. EDMONTON OILERS
The defense that the Oilers desperately needed comes in the form of Matthias Ekholm who can hopefully shore up the 2nd defensive pairing. Ekholm will hopefully give the Oiler faithful the confidence they have needed in their defense that Tyson Barrie couldn’t produce. Hopefully he can rekindle some magic in the defenseman factory of Nashville. Jesse Pulijujärvi was shipped out after a downward trend since being drafted in the 1st round by the Oilers in ‘16. He was replaced by consistent, solid bottom six hog Nick Bjugstad, who brings grit and experience to help mold this team for the playoffs physically.
Trade Deadline Losers
1. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
What are we doing here? The only thing that makes sense to me that the Penguins did was put Kasperi Kapanen on waivers and acquire Nick Bonino. Kapanen does not hit, or do anything, unless he has the puck so a bottom six role at his price was ludicrous. It’s unfortunate they couldn’t trade for a pick. Even wilder to me is that Hextall traded for inconsistent Mikael Granlund, whose cap hit is at $5 million. He has been wildly inconsistent and could just be a more expensive version of Kapanen. Bonino helped the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups as he shored up the infamous “HBK” line with Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin in ‘16 and ‘17. But getting Bonino made sense like 2-3 years ago, and just seems too little, too late now. To really send this garbage truck around the block, long time bust Dimitry Kulikov joins the Penguins. I just don’t understand where this team thinks it wants to go but this “help” around Crosby, Letang, and Malkin is not good.
2. LOS ANGELES KINGS
They got rid of longtime legend Jonathan Quick for Joonas Korpisalo and some extra change for each side. I guess you get “solid” Vladislav Gavrikov as part of that extra change but was it really worth it to jettison a key locker room figure in Quick and a 1st round pick to go with him to Columbus? I highly doubt the Kings make a deep playoff push with this deadline action in a goalie and goon swap as Zach MacEwen heads to LA with Brendan Lemieux heading to Philly.
3. VANCOUVER CANUCKS
The Vancouver Crossups are split on different levels about JT Miller and they need to settle this over the offseason. I don’t know if it’s a locker room thing but with Rick Tocchet at the helm, you have to give this guy quality players who can be tough. There’s about $4.8 million in cap space and to not go out and bring in veteran guys to help Tocchet makes me wonder what they are thinking. Luke Schenn going east from the team is nice, but you bring in Filip Hronek from Detroit who isn’t tough and sacrifices defense for offense. He is only 25 so maybe he can find that next gear and truly blossom into the top pairing over Tyler Myers.
4. SAN JOSE SHARKS
So, you ship Timo out in a 9-player trade involving 3 teams, finally, and get back what? A 1st round pick is always nice and reasonable for Timo and Shakir Mukhamadullin COULD develop into a top defenseman in the NHL, while he is an all-star in the KHL currently. Mike Grier called it a retool, albeit a small tactical one, and in his first season I can’t be too judgmental of the former NHL’er who has set his club up steadily in 2-3 years.
5. DETROIT RED WINGS
Steve Yzerman went full tank mode and shipped Tyler Bertuzzi to the Boston Bruins and Filip Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks. Jakub Vrana was shipped out after a promising start last year before injury scorched him. So, the good news is that the Red wings have five 1st round picks in the next 3 years, and three 2nd picks in ‘23. I still don’t get why he couldn’t swindle and maybe oddball the team this year, or why he moved Bertuzzi after a better second half to the season.