1. New York Islanders: 79 Points (39-19-7) 62 GP
Trades In: None
Trades Out: None
The Islanders were one of two teams to not make a move at the deadline in the Metropolitan Division. Head coach Barry Trotz addressed the team and said that everyone on the team has earned the right to stay with the team, but I am not sure that is the smartest move for a team sitting atop the division trying to make a deep run. The issue they ran into is similar to the Penguins, they had limited picks to trade with their first, the Flames second, and their fifth-seventh round picks. The one piece they do have is Josh Ho-Sang who has fallen out of favor with the organization.
Seems New York Islanders' fans have a bit of salt in their tea over John Tavares, as seen in new 'Dear John' letter to their former captain. https://t.co/iMOV7OWZmI— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) February 27, 2019
The problem is that behind them in the standings are the Caps who upgraded, the Blue Jackets who upgraded, and the Canes who are the hottest team in the league since January 1. When you combine this with the fact that the Islanders have now lost three of their last four games, their inactivity could cost them multiple places in the standings. The Isles are the team that has overperformed the most this year with a 102.9 PDO, which means they are not likely to make it back to this position next season.
2. Washington Capitals: 79 Points (36-21-7) 64 GP
Trades In: Carl Hagelin, Nick Jensen
Trades Out: Madison Bowey, second-Round pick, 2019 third-round pick, Conditional 2020 sixth-round pick
The Caps wanted to find this year’s Michal Kempny and they believe they found that in Nick Jensen. Not only did they trade for the rest of this season, they also signed him to a four-year $2.5 million AAV contract. They believe in the 28-year-old defenseman who has played 191 total games with 43 total points. This year he has two goals and 13 assists in 60 games with the Detroit Red Wings. Jensen has currently slotted into the third pairing with Brooks Orpik, but he gives the Caps flexibility on the blue line moving forward.
Hagelin is a great addition for the Caps, and they are quite familiar with the forward who has been known as the “Cap Killer.” Hagelin only cost a third-round pick and will provide secondary scoring which the Caps have historically struggled with in the playoffs. His speed and skill means he can be put on any of the top three lines for the Caps and contribute and gives them the depth and flexibility that a team needs to make a deep run into May or June.
3. Carolina Hurricanes: 74 Points (34-23-6) 63 GP
Trades in: Micheal Ferland, Jordan Staal (in a manner of speaking)
Trades out: None
The Hurricanes made their big move early by trading Victor Rask for Nino Niederreiter in January. Niederreiter has come in and recorded 16 points in 15 games giving the Canes exactly what they needed in a top-six forward. Now the Canes also get Jordan Staal back who is one of the top defensive forwards in the league. With Niederreiter and Ferland, who they held onto despite interest from elsewhere, the Canes didn’t need to make a trade to tweak the lineup for the last 20 games of the season.
The trades that the Canes do need to make are larger deals like trading a defenseman for a top six forward. This isn’t a surprise to anyone, but these deals aren’t common around the deadline. Teams at the deadline generally only want to sell players for futures or make small tweaks and additions. These trades also rarely happen between two teams that are both contenders. The Canes are looking to make a rather large trade for an immediate asset, something that requires more time and strategy.
In regards to the photo circulating Twitter showing the cones on Carter-Finley today:— Bridget Condon (@BridgetABC11) February 26, 2019
"We are close," said Dundon. "I am very optimistic but it's not done, but I think we feel pretty strongly that it's going to happen in this town." Plan for 2020-2021 season #ABC11 @ABC11_WTVD pic.twitter.com/piraxtAiXj
This will likely come after the season or at the draft when teams are ready to make larger organizational shifting trades. After the season also makes more sense for these trades because Don Waddell will know exactly where he is with the three RFA’s and five UFA’s on the roster. He will know the strategy and needs on a longer-term basis. So, don’t worry that the Canes didn’t pull a crazy blockbuster at the deadline, the trade is still to come.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins: 74 Points (33-22-8) 63 GP
Trades in: Chris Wideman, Erik Gudbranson
Trades Out: Jean-Sebastien Dea, Tanner Pearson
The Penguins seemed to be content to hold steady at the deadline until Saturday’s Stadium Series game. On one play the Penguins entire top defensive pairing was injured, with Brian Dumoulin getting hurt on a hit from Wayne Simmonds, and Kris Letang suffering an upper body injury after being pulled down to the ice. Combined with Olli Maatta’s shoulder injury, Jim Rutherford decided to make moves to bring in more defense. However, the moves he made inspired little confidence, and were remarkably familiar for Carolina Hurricanes fans to see. The Penguins also lost forward Bryan Rust and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel on Tuesday to “long-term injuries” which makes the Pens defensive situation even more dire.
Coach Sullivan on injuries to Ruhwedel and Rust: "They are going to be evaluated tomorrow when we go back. Obviously Rusty is out with a lower-body injury. Chad Ruhwedel is out with an upper-body injury."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 27, 2019
Gudbranson struggled in his three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. He has a -7.3% relative Corsi and only eight points this season. He is signed trough the 2020-2021 season with a $4 million cap hit. This means that the Pens now have $7.25 million per year tied up between Gudbranson and Jack Johnson for the next two full seasons. They currently have $81.9 million tied up in 16 contracts next season. With only contracts under $1 million coming off the books, the Penguins are going to have to make significant moves to get under the cap next season.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets: 73 Points (35-24-3) 62 GP
Trades in: Adam McQuaid, Keith Kinkaid, Ryan Dzingel, Matt Duchene
Trades out: Every pick….All of them…they’re all gone
The Blue Jackets have gone all in and now only have seven picks in the next two drafts, with two of those picks having conditions on them. To acquire Matt Duchene the Blue Jackets sent this year’s first round draft pick, and if he re-signs they also receive next year’s first-round pick. The Blue Jackets also declined to trade both Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky which means they are all in on this season. If they do not at least make the Eastern Conference Finals the season has to be looked at as a bust. They received zero assets for their expiring contracts and traded their near future for assets that are all expiring after this season.
The bad news for Columbus is that they are on the outside looking in after losing 5-2 to the Penguins on Tuesday. With so many new acquisitions it may take a couple of games to get their lines and team chemistry ironed out moving forward. The problem is, with so many teams bunched up, losing a couple of games in a row could put them out of it. Out of their last 20 games four come against the Hurricanes, Canadiens, or Penguins who they are directly competing with for the wild card. Also, nine of these games come against current playoff teams.
6. Philadelphia Flyers: 67 Points (30-26-7) 63 GP
Trades in: Ryan Hartman, Conditional 2019 Fourth round pick.
Trades Out: Wayne Simmonds
GM Chuck Fletcher said that he wanted a first-round pick and a prospect for Simmonds. Throughout the day it was reported that the asking price was too high. However, no one expected the actual return to be so low. They received a fourth-round pick, which becomes a third-round pick if the Predators win a single playoff round, and a 24-year old bottom six forward. It’s confusing how the Flyers didn’t get a second-round pick out of it or any kind of prospect. The high asking price likely priced them out of getting a larger trade in the beginning and then had to sell at 3pm for whatever they could get.
Hartman’s best season came in 2015-2016 with the Blackhawks where he had 19 goals and 12 assists but has yet to get back to that level of production. Last season he had 11 goals between his time in Chicago and Nashville, and this year he currently has 10. Hartman does play with an edge which is valued highly by the Philly market, and is an RFA at the end of the season. So, the Flyers did find a tough forward that can be part of the team long-term.
7. New York Rangers: 63 Points (27-26-9) 62 GP
Trades In: 2019 fourth-round pick (CBJ), 2019 seventh-round pick (CBJ), 2019 first-round pick (WPG) lottery protected, conditional 2022 fourth round pick (WPG), conditional 2019 second-round pick (DAL), conditional 2020 second-round pick (DAL), Brendan Lemieux, Julius Bergman
Trades Out: Adam McQuaid, Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello
This is what an optimal rebuild looks like. The Rangers understood that this core couldn’t win and sold while they had the assets and that’s how they accumulated seven additional picks in the next draft including one first rounder and multiple seconds. If Zuccarello re-signs, a third-round pick becomes a first round pick, if Dallas makes it to the conference finals this year’s second also becomes a first round pick. They can also get another first round pick from the Lightning if they win the Cup this year, so all said and done they could have four first-round picks this year and still have two next year.
On top of this they also acquired Brendan Lemieux from the Winnipeg Jets. Lemieux is 22-years-old and plays with an edge on the wing. He has played 44 games in his first full time NHL season this year with nine goals and two assists. He is a player that can fill out a bottom six and make the team much harder to play against. While this may not seem like a huge return, he is only 22 and can immediately plug in. With more experience he will only continue to grow as a player.
8. New Jersey Devils: 58 Points (25-30-8) 63 GP
Trades In: 2019 second-round pick (BOS), 2020 fourth-round pick (BOS), 2022 fifth-round pick (CBJ), 2019 third-round pick (DAL), 2019 second-round pick (NSH), Connor Carrick
Trades Out: Marcus Johansson, Keith Kinkaid, Ben Lovejoy, Brian Boyle
The New Jersey Devils did their best to make lemonade out of lemons. They were able to acquire five draft picks, three of which are in the third-round or earlier, and a young defenseman for a mound of upcoming free agents. They now have 10 picks in this draft with six picks coming in the first three rounds. They only have an additional fourth next year, so more picks could be acquired at this year’s draft.
This is a real set of players that the New Jersey Devils are trotting out tonight pic.twitter.com/TQB2H2yKa6— CJ Turtoro (@CJTDevil) February 27, 2019
The Devils are going all in on youth and now have eight players on their entry level contracts playing in the NHL. They now just have five players over the age of 27 on the NHL roster. They are going to be able to use the final 20 games to rotate prospects through the system to be able to evaluate their prospects and sort out their organizational depth chart. Currently they only have $48 million in cap hit on the books next year, meaning they will be one of the leading candidates to take on all of Jim Rutherford’s bad contracts.