There’s nothing like NHL trade deadline week. General managers talk on two phones at once, hockey insiders attempt to leak any scoops they can get their hands on and we fans get to enjoy watching the deals come to fruition. This season, the deadline has been busier than ever with over 25 (and counting!) trades being made in the 14 days prior to March 2.
With such a flurry of activity, it can be difficult to keep up. A summary of what has been happening and is happening around the NHL:
Approximately 60 games into the NHL season, it’s impossible to discuss the deadline without the context of the standings. The top six teams in the league all reside in the Eastern Conference, and this tight race between competitors at the top has led to feverish February buying. The Boston Bruins made their move a few days ago, trading for top defenseman Dmitry Orlov and New England-native Garnet Hathaway from the Washington Capitals. Orlov makes a talented blue line even deeper, and Boston is positioned as a clear Stanley Cup favorite. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning — nearly penned in as a repeat first-round matchup — traded blows throughout the past fortnight. The Leafs, clearly swinging for the fences this year, added Conn Smythe-winning center Ryan O’Reilly from the Blues as well as veteran defenseman Jake McCabe from the Blackhawks and other depth pieces. Tampa, in response, traded the moon and the stars for Nashville’s young and gritty forward Tanner Jeannot, giving up nearly an entire draft class worth of picks. Time will tell whether or not these moves will get the Leafs out of the first round for the first time since 2004.
Meanwhile, in the Metro Division, the Hudson River rivals New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils added the biggest fish on the market. The Rangers tangoed with St. Louis and bought All-Star winger Vladimir Tarasenko, while the Devils acquired arguably the most valuable player available — Swiss power forward Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks. The Rangers also ended the Patrick Kane saga on Tuesday after Chicago’s three-time Stanley Cup champion made it clear New York was his only preferred destination.
Elsewhere, rumors run rampant. The Sharks have been looking to deal with Erik Karlsson and his hefty contract, but he’s likely to stay put. Vancouver and Pittsburgh have been deep in talks about a forward with term on his contract — possibly Brock Boeser? What are the Carolina Hurricanes up to? Sitting atop the Metro, they were believed to be in on Meier but must have some Plan B in place. Perhaps 20-goal-a-season James van Riemsdyk of the Flyers? And maybe the most important question of all: Is the defending champion Colorado Avalanche still this year’s favorite despite a you-can-hear-a-pin-drop deadline?
This time of year is the best. Enjoy all of the action this week — on and off the ice!