It’s difficult decoding how things will go leading up to the NHL’s trade deadline this Monday.
Not that there won’t be any significant moves. We’ve seen in the past few days that teams like the Vancouver Canucks (Tyler Toffoli) and New York Islanders (Andy Greene) are prepared to make moves to orchestrate a push in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
What’s not clear is the trade that moves the needle. The eye-popping move, if you will. Last season, it was Mark Stone’s arrival to Vegas. The year before, Erik Karlsson’s name was thrown around in rumors. Evander Kane and Paul Stastny were dealt to the Sharks and Jets, respectively, and those moves proved effective.
What about in 2020? There doesn’t seem to be a superstar shakeup in the league right now. The top name appears to be Chris Kreider, and there’s still the chance the New York Rangers keep him long-term.
Teams like the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning are hoping that to be the case with Blake Coleman. Tampa Bay, which has won a franchise-record 11 straight games, acquired the 20-goal scorer from New Jersey on Sunday.
The Colorado Avalanche, out of nowhere, are a team that could make a play for someone like Kreider. Mikko Rantanen will be out several weeks with an upper-body injury and they’ve already lost Nazem Kadri and Philipp Grubauer to injury as well. If there’s enough cap space to accrue and long-term IR money to be had, there might be something there for Colorado.
Meanwhile, the weird season for the Vegas Golden Knights continues. Three straight wins, all against playoff teams and two from the Eastern Conference, has catapulted Vegas to a tie for first place in the Pacific Division as of Monday. Vegas continues to be in the market for a puck-moving defenseman and the Knights were looking to close a deal with the Kings Tuesday to bring Alec Martinez to Vegas.
After the Minnesota Wild’s shocking decision to fire coach Bruce Boudreau, there may be plenty of names available like defenseman Matt Dumba. Then you look at the other playoff contenders: Are the St. Louis Blues in need of a move at defense after Jay Bouwmeester’s cardiac episode last week? The champs are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games and have not looked the part, as the Dallas Stars inch closer to first place in the Central Division and the West.
The Boston Bruins always seem to be in the market for a playmaker (see Marcus Johansson last year) and could do so to match Tampa’s willingness to go all-in. Don’t be surprised to see Boston appear in a lot of rumors leading up to Monday.
The Capitals were busy, acquiring Brenden Dillon from San Jose Tuesday to shore up their blueline.
I also don’t think the Devils are done making moves because, well, they need all the draft picks they can possibly get.
This year’s trade deadline might not have the sexy names being moved (barring a ridiculous twist of fate), but there’s going to be a lot of activity between now and Monday as teams try to acquire enough depth to make a push.
Penguins at Maple Leafs: Speaking of top trade acquisitions, the Penguins getting Jason Zucker might rival Chandler Stephenson to Vegas as the move of the year. Pittsburgh should be favored big against a Leafs team struggling for their playoff lives. PENGUINS PUCK LINE
Blues at Stars: Heavyweight fight in the Central on Friday, with the Blues slipping as mentioned earlier. Dallas is starting to round into complete form, rolling four lines and getting quality goaltending. For at least one more game, the Blues should not be trusted here. STARS PUCK LINE
Panthers at Golden Knights: What’s to come of Thursday when Vegas hosts red-hot Tampa, I don’t know. But I feel confident saying the Golden Knights will come out of this homestand with at least eight points, and two should come against a slumping Florida team. GOLDEN KNIGHTS PUCK LINE
Last week: 1-2