March 23 — Deadline Duds & Eyes on the West

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SEASON IN DOUBT-Y: Injuries have held Drew Doughty to just 39 games this season, and that might be all that the superstar defenseman can manage for the Los Angeles Kings. Doughty has been sidelined since March 7 with an upper-body injury and may not be available to the Kings for the remainder of the regular season, according to GM Rob Blake. 

FLIP IT AND REVERSE IT: Justin Bieber collaborated with Adidas and drew house to design the Toronto Maple Leafs Next Gen third jersey for Wednesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils. Introduced in 2017 to celebrate the organization’s 100th anniversary, the Maple Leafs’ Next Gen night began as a celebration of the next generation of hockey fans in the Toronto area, while the jersey will be the first in North American professional sports leagues that is reversible. 

SCOUTING THE PROSPECTS: Wednesday will see 40 players across the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Western Hockey League (WHL), and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) participate in the 2022 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kitchener, Ontario. This year will feature 18 of the top 32 names listed in Central Scouting’s midterm ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft, including No. 1 Shane Wright (Kingston, OHL) and No. 3 Matt Savoie (Winnipeg, WHL), showcasing all the best the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) has to offer. 

WOMEN IN HOCKEY: For the first time on Tuesday, NHL Network aired an all-women broadcast of NHL Tonight, the network’s flagship studio show. Co-hosted by Jackie Redmond and Jamie Hersch and joined by 2018 Olympic gold medalist Kendall Coyne Schofield, NHL Tonight is an unscripted show that reacts and analyzes NHL games as they are happening. With the broadcast, the trio hopes to raise awareness for women in hockey. 

Trade Deadline: The Losers

If you checked out yesterday’s newsletter, you saw us spotlight some of the teams that used the week leading up to Monday’s NHL trade deadline to improve their roster by making acute moves to further their short- and/or long-term direction. Or, to keep it simple, you can also call them the winners.

With that in mind, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to piece together what comes next: For a look at the other side of the trade deadline coin, here are “the losers.”

Edmonton Oilers & Toronto Maple Leafs

Mark Giordano was a great addition for the Maple Leafs, but unfortunately, he doesn’t stop pucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

We are going with a two-for-one with a pair of Canadian playoff contenders facing frighteningly similar situations. Although the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs added defensive help (Brett Kulak and Mark Giordano, respectively) and forward depth (Derick Brassard and Colin Blackwell, respectively), they came up empty in the face of a dire need for goaltending support. It’s fair to wonder what the ceiling is for either organization without reliable netminding.

Dallas Stars

John Klingberg didn’t get the trade he was hoping for (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Being caught in the middle ground between playoff contention and looking past this season is to navigate tricky terrain. Still, that doesn’t quite get the Dallas Stars and GM Jim Nill off the hook for doing practically nothing (apologies to Vladislav Namestnikov and Scott Wedgewood). The Stars opted not to bolster a roster firmly in the Wild Card mix in the Western Conference, nor did they move disgruntled pending free agent John Klingberg. Now they are squandering ground to their Western rivals who got better while likely losing Klingberg for nothing, to boot.

Arizona Coyotes

For some reason, Phil Kessel is still a Coyote (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File)

Holding onto Jakob Chychrun so as not to rush into dealing away a 23-year-old top-pairing defenseman was probably a wise move. Less understandable for the Arizona Coyotes is keeping Phil Kessel, a pending unrestricted free agent who doesn’t fit the Yotes’ timeline. Even if the preferred return wasn’t there for GM Bill Armstrong, wouldn’t a later-round pick have been better than nothing?

By the Numbers: 2022 NHL Trade Deadline

Monday at 3:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time marked this season’s deadline for NHL teams to make trades. Many deals were agreed to, while a plethora of players switched teams. As we say goodbye to trade season and wait to say hello to players on new rosters, let’s look at some numbers behind the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.

Just days after playing his 1,000th NHL game, impending free agent Claude Giroux was traded from Philly to Florida (Photo: Jack Smart)

33 – Trades made on deadline day alone. The deals started early in the morning and continued up to the 3:00 PM cutoff, with several trades not officially completed until well after that time. In the week leading up to Monday, 48 transactions took place, bringing the total to 77 on the season. 

54 – Players who switched teams on Monday. This season, 111 players (including the rights to players and unsigned players) have changed organizations with 62 draft picks (many conditional) and plenty of cash/future considerations.

10 – Number of draft picks the Seattle Kraken acquired in the lead-up to the Trade Deadline, the most of any team. The expansion team, which currently sits at the bottom of the Pacific Divison with a record of 19-38-6, was a big seller, trading away six players.

1 – Trade made at the deadline that is still being reviewed (as of writing). The Vegas Golden Knights and Anaheim Ducks made a last-minute deal to send forward Evgenii Dadonov and a second-round pick to Anaheim for John Moore and the rights to Ryan Kesler. However, it is under review by the league due to potential issues regarding Dadonov’s no-trade clause.

Western Conference Watch

Another week has passed, and with the NHL Trade Deadline behind us, the playoff picture is starting to come into focus. A glance at the standings will confirm that the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals continue to occupy the two Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference. Therefore, we decided to turn our attention to the Western Conference and break down where the teams with a shot at the postseason currently stand.

Lock Them In

Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon and company are on pace to win a second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy with a league-leading 95 points. After last season, do they still believe in the curse that has plagued the league’s top team since the 2013-14 season? 

Calgary Flames: A surprise all season long, the Flames have been bringing the heat since October. Blake Coleman could three-peat as Calgary is playing themselves into a position for success. With 84 points, the Flames are the top team in the Pacific Division and the only other team in comfortable control of their playoff destiny.

In the Driver’s Seat

St. Louis Blues: St. Louis made one deadline move, which involved the acquisition of defensemen Nick Leddy and Luke Witkowski. They have surprised many by being a competitive team (unless playing the New Jersey Devils), and in the following weeks, fans will see if that lone move is enough in an aggressive division. 

Minnesota Wild: The Wild have won their last three games and are 6-3-1 in their past 10. They made a big splash on Monday, acquiring Marc-André Fleury to complement Cam Talbot. Minnesota is still on the hunt for the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and on paper, it seems they could make a historic deep run. 

Minnesota acquired Marc-André Fleury from the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nashville Predators: I will include the Predators here because between the Blues, Wild, and Preds, two should finish in the top three in the Central and the other in the first Wild Card spot. Like those two teams, the moves made at the deadline will determine their playoff fate, as Nashville bolstered its defense by acquiring Jeremy Lauzon from the Seattle Kraken. If last night’s 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings is any indication, the Predators are beginning to drive the wrong way. 

LA Kings: Los Angeles might be sixth in the Western Conference, but the Kings are sitting comfortably in second place in the Pacific Division. When it comes to the playoff picture, that’s all that matters, as the top three teams from each division automatically make the postseason. In reality, LA Is 6-3-1 in its last 10 games and is behind only Calgary (19) for most road wins in the Pacific with 18. 

In the Hunt

Edmonton Oilers: Edmonton could’ve been in the group above, but a poor showing last night in Dallas drops them into the fringe. While it’s hard to count out a team that includes Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers neglected to address their goaltending needs at the deadline. As any Stanley Cup-winning team will tell you, a playoff hunt and deep postseason run come down to having a hot goalie. Although the Oilers might be able to sneak into a third-place finish in the Pacific, they just as realistically could fall short of the playoffs altogether. 

Will the offense be enough for Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs? (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Dallas Stars: Dallas is sitting in the final Wild Card spot and is fifth in the Central Division, illustrating how tight the Central is this year. Beyond the top-three teams from the Pacific that are guaranteed a postseason appearance, the rest of the Western Conference participants will likely come from its counterpart. The Stars get a slight advantage here, going 6-4-0 in their last 10 games, with wins in their past two and four games in hand over the Vegas Golden Knights. However, Dallas is the only current playoff-bound team that has given up more goals than scored this season, something to keep an eye on as the club makes its final push. 

Vegas Golden Knights: Sitting outside looking in, the Golden Knights are the Pacific Division’s best chance of a Wild Card berth. Vegas is one point behind the Stars for that final playoff position, but with four fewer games remaining than Dallas, the team will need to stay hot over its final 16 contests. Currently 3-7-0 in its last 10 games, Vegas needs to figure out how to get back to its winning ways. 

Winnipeg Jets: With 25 points separating the Avalanche from the Jets, it would seem that Winnipeg’s chances are non-existent. However, the Jets are only three points out of a Wild Card spot behind division rival Dallas. Although the Stars have two games in hand, Winnipeg has more regulation wins this season, used as the tiebreaker for teams that end the year with the same amount of points.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

Vancouver Canucks: Bruce, there it is! Months ago, people would have laughed in your face if you mentioned the Canucks in a playoff race. Today, Vancouver is only five points from the second Wild Card spot and continues to play .500 hockey. While the Canucks got younger on the blue line, shipping out Travis Hamonic while acquiring Travis Dermott, they lost Tyler Motte, who was ninth on the team with 0.31 points per game played. 

Bruce Boudreau looks to lead the Vancouver Canucks back to the playoffs. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

San Jose Sharks: Although the Sharks are currently below the Anaheim Ducks in the standings, I’m putting them ahead on this list. San Jose is on a two-game win streak and is 4-4-2 in its last 10 games, including a statement win over the Flames last night. The Sharks are nine points out with only 19 games remaining, but the addition of goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen from the Wild could be the spark they need to get over the hump. 

Anaheim Ducks: Are the Ducks still a legitimate playoff contender? Although they are only eight points behind the Stars, they are trending downward, going 2-6-2 in their last 10 games. Anaheim has played more games than any other team in the hunt besides Vegas and will need to be near perfect the rest of the way to have a chance. However, after Pat Verbeek unloaded a ton at the deadline and only received Zach Aston-Reese and (potentially) Evgenii Dadonov in return, the Ducks seem to be looking ahead to next season.

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