Time to reflect on Trade Deadline Day on this Leap Day 2016.
Most of all though, let’s look at the last week or so and evaluate how teams have set themselves up for the playoffs or the future.
Anaheim – got a couple of useful forwards for low prices. SInce Christmas this team has turned around and they have good odds heading into the playoffs.
Calgary * – the asterisk is because the Flames took a step back this year after a playoff charge last year. However, they moved players for assets and should come out stronger for it. With the quality of the draft this year, their finish and lottery result will be one to watch.
Carolina ** – these asterisks are because when you have missed the playoffs for as long as the Hurricanes I don’t think you can all anything a win. The Staal move had to be made. The return was decent for what his performance has been in recent years. I liked Saarela at the WJC and they got a couple picks. Good return on Liles. The best thing this team can do is plummet in the standings and get a top 3 pick.
Chicago – I really like their moves at forward. I wonder about their D for 4 rounds, but all the other pieces are in place and their top 3 D can eat a lot of minutes. I don’t know that I classify Andrew Ladd as a top line forward, but with the ‘Hawks talent it will be fine. With Weise and Fleischmann they have 2 guys that can play on any line. Many are forgetting the periods of fine scoring play that Fleischmann has had over the years, I think he could be a real sleeper in the playoffs.
Colorado – nice pickup of Boedker and did not really give much up. Gelinas is an underrated pickup and especially for the Avs who don’t have the best D. Matthias has a lot of potential still and it would be great to see him put it together. If their forwards get hot they will be a handful for any team.
Florida – improved at forward and defense for one of the NHL’s hottest teams. I don’t really believe in this team for the Stanley Cup, but they did not give up a ton and this can be a great learning experience for their young players.
Minnesota – minor moves and this team needed more after their bad patch cost their coach his job. Really, looking back, once they prioritized signing Vanek as a free agent you had to question their plan to build a winner.
Montreal – lost year for Montreal. Did not make much progress in defining their team for next year either. So apparently, lean on Carey Price, hope he doesn’t get hurt, lather, rinse, repeat.
St. Louis – did not get anything done, and this for a team that flames out in the playoffs repeatedly. I have no belief in this franchise to do anything impactful.
Middling Moves for Playoff Teams
Arizona – they got value for a player they could not sign. This team is waiting for the slow build and Strome to arrive, as well as their arena situation to get resolved.
Boston – made a few of moves, but not enough to get them to the Cup Finals.
Dallas – on a player basis they overpaid for overrated Kris Russell, but they did add depth and strengthen their Stanley Cup chances. Jim Nill definitely overpaid, especially if they have to give up a 1st rounder, but that means they made the Conference Finals at least and that pick starts to drop into the late 20’s. If they win the Cup, then it is a small price to pay. They are in the window now and many prospects and picks don’t pan out, so I can understand their move since their D-men could still be better.
Detroit – moved out Kindl, saved some salary, probably the best that can be said. This team is really in a bridge of rebuilding on the fly, hoping Datsyuk and Zetterberg can teach the next generation enough before they retire. Larkin leads a strong cast of prospects, but they neither have great playoff hopes nor a blue chip savior coming along.
Los Angeles – Minor moves, the strong get stronger, but will their D be enough to go far in the playoffs?
Nashville – Preds made their move with Jones for Johansen. They have an impressive D, some fine talent at forward, and a great goalie – so this team should be one to be reckoned with.
New York Islanders – minor moves, feels like they needed a little bit more.
New York Rangers – some may say getting Eric Stall is a lot more than ‘Middling’ but unless this move sparks his play I don’t see the Rangers as a real Cup threat. The way this team is built they may not get enough goals and some of their D struggle in the playoffs. Organizationally, they gave up even more picks. Personally I believe that when they made the Rick Nash deal that spelled the end of their sensible team building pattern. They succumbed to their big budget ways of the past and are now stuck in the ‘big move’ mode.
Pittsburgh – Justin Schultz could payoff on D someday, but I don’t see the Pens getting too far in the playoffs this year.
San Jose – small deals for fringe players. They are doing well this year in the standings and have an above average organization. However, they have never shown under Doug Wilson’s watch that they can elevate their team to elite.
Tampa Bay – no big changes for the Lightning. They have the horses to repeat their Final feat of last year and maybe enough to win it all. The Cup run is one story and the other is what happens at forward in June and July – will Stamkos bolt the Bolts and what will come of the Drouin situation?
Vancouver – unable to move Hamhuis, the Canucks did not accomplish much on the trade market after not accomplishing much on the ice this season.
Washington – small tweaks to one of the leagues best teams. They may have felt they did not need to do much and it would be hard to argue.
Buffalo – the Sabres moved the 2 most likely suspects for picks in Weber and McGinn. A lot is left to transpire heading into June and July. If Ennis had not been hurt he might have been in play. The D needs an upgrade, both for overall quality and to not overload Ristolainen. Depending on where they finish the 1st rounder could be in play. Personally, if they win the lottery I would trade back to 2 or 3 or even farther if the return was good young players; if they are in the 2nd or 3rd slot I would stand pat and take a Finn. Puljujarvi is my #1 overall for the draft so that is my goal. A defenseman in the first round is more likely to not be NHL ready so I would only look for that if trading back from #1 to somewhere else in the top 10. Then come July, with RFA’s and UFA’s, plus potentially an Ennis move, there will be a lot to do. Not much good D available in free agency this year, so perhaps the discussions Tim Murray said he had today will bear fruit.
Columbus – no real news since they got Seth Jones. He may be a great addition, but this team needed offense even with Johansen and they sure do now without him.
Edmonton – some minor moves, but saving their big deals for the summer. Their lottery fate will be a huge factor in how they proceed. Many players, especially forwards, will be in play come Draft Day.
New Jersey – moved a few pieces around, got some value. Still building, but this team might run into the ‘never bad enough’ situation where they can never get a true superstar in the fold.
Ottawa – made their move with Phaneuf, which I like. Not really sure how this team is building, but we shall see.
Philadelphia – Flyers had been on a nice run, but this team cannot go far in the playoffs if they even make it. A curious team building program, but to be fair Hextall has not been there very long as GM yet.
Toronto – got players and contracts out in the last year and brought draft picks in. Debuting some of their prospects tonight as we speak. Good development opportunity coming up with the AHL Marlies, one of the minor leagues’ best teams heading into the playoffs.
Winnipeg – I will be kind and lump them in the ‘Others’ basket here. I don’t understand what they are doing and have not since the current owners bought them and moved from Atlanta. The former Sabres they got in the Kane trade have their issues, they committed to Byfuglien who does not bring it every night, and they moved their captain. I know they have prospects coming, but I don’t see the quality development in their system.