Your weekly shot of hockey to go with your afternoon coffee
We’ve past the Trade Deadline. I’ll give some winners and losers. But first, let’s look at the Heat Check:
Hottest Team: Anaheim Ducks (76 Pts, #2 Pacific, 9-0-1 in Last 10 Games)
Eight wins in a row, points in ten-straight games, and the Ducks have gone 19-5-1 since 2016 began. Anaheim added depth by acquiring 24-year-old Brandon Pirri from Florida and Jamie McGinn from Buffalo. Pirri hasn’t had the best season so far but considering he scored 22 goals in 49 games last season, he could be the addition the Ducks needed to get their underperforming offense going. In addition, Anaheim only sent a sixth-rounder to Florida for Pirri-talk about buying low. The Ducks are the hottest team, and may have also been the biggest winner in-terms of the buy-side.
Runner Up: Tampa Bay Lightning (78 Pts) – Tampa Bay did not make any moves at the deadline, but their 8-2 stretch has put themselves tied for 1st in the Atlantic Division with the Panthers. Florida made some interesting moves but has been floundering as of late. The ultimate winner between the active and inactive Sunshine State teams will probably be determined in the playoffs, not by who finishes on top in the regular season.
Coldest Team: Calgary Flames (56 Pts, #6 Pacific, 2-7-1 in Last 10 Games)
Calgary has had a disappointing follow up to a playoff appearance last season. Having watched them against the Flyers last night (after a fire sale), this was apparent. It boils down to goalie Jonas Hiller “anchoring” the 2nd-worst defense in the league while the offense is 10th in the NHL. They acquired Nicklas Backstrom and a draft pick from the Wild while grabbing a conditional 2nd-rounder and prospects for D Kris Russell from the Stars–it becomes a first rounder if the Stars make the Western Conference Finals. That trade benefits both teams as Calgary will go back the drawing board.
Runner Up: Carolina Hurricanes (66 Pts) – Trading Eric Staal was the clear indicator that they’re calling it this season. Some people are criticizing Carolina for not holding out enough/grabbing a 1st rounder for him, but Staal could return after his rent-a-player contract expires. But I have a different take, the Hurricanes may be the biggest winner on the sell-side. They now have a ton of picks in terms of the first three rounds in 2016 and 2017. If they can bring Staal back, they’ll be just fine.
Chicago Blackhawks: Adding Andrew Laad, Dale Weise, and Thomas Fleischmann adds depth to one of the best rosters in the NHL.
Colorado Avalanche: Youth, so much youth. May not make it out of the first round of the playoffs this year, but Colorado adding Mikkel Boedker just
New York Rangers (short-term): As mentioned before, the Rangers loaded up adding Eric Staal and last year’s deadline addition, Keith Yandle, has been paying off immensely. However…
New York Rangers (long-term): …both Staal and Yandle are UFAs this summer and the Rangers are without a 1st-rounder for the foreseeable future. It’s Stanley Cup for bust for the Rangers.
Sellers that didn’t move upcoming UFAs: The Canucks and Maple Leafs are the primary suspects here. While the Leafs did trade away some assets, the end of the season will be a long slide for Toronto.
What to Watch For This Week:
The Rangers run through a gauntlet this week, visiting the Penguins and Caps on Thursday and Friday before returning home Sunday afternoon to host the Islanders. Aside from the Caps, the three other teams will be battling for the coveted 2nd seed in the Met. It’ll also be a good introduction for Staal to the Ranger fanbase. On the other coast, the Kings host the Ducks Saturday afternoon in a pivotal Pacific Division matchup. The Ducks seem to be getting it together and it’ll be interesting to see how they fare against their cross-town rival.
THE FLYERS had a great week against their Western Conference opponents winning all three of their games at home. Now halfway through their homestand, the Flyers host the Oilers on Thursday, the Blue Jackets on Saturday, and the Lightning on Monday night. The team has emerged as the 9th place club in the East after the deadline and with 20 games left, every point matters. Michal Neuvirth seems to be coming into his own and the return of Claude Giroux and Sean Coturier seems to have recharged the Flyers. It was extremely smart of Ron Hextall to not make a deal at the deadline. No big name were really out there and Hextall has stated time and time again that the Flyers are in it for the long haul. Hexy’s done a great job drafting and stocking up the farm, it would have been a shame to see him send off young talent for an outside shot at the Cup. The Flyers play the Penguins three times in their final 20 games, the end of the season will be quite a ride for Flyers fans.
Who do you think were the winners and losers of the Trade Deadline? Let me know in the comments