Eastern Conference Contenders Not Standing Pat
There have been times when the Boston Bruins have looked like they are impossible to stop.
Boston leads the NHL in both home and road victories and has a 13-point advantage on the rest of the NHL as well as a 17-point cushion to win the Atlantic Division title.
Other contenders in the Eastern Conference aren’t about to just hand the trophy to the Bruins.
There has been movement in the NHL playoff odds with the Bruins at +275 to win the Eastern Conference followed by Carolina (+400), the New York Rangers (+450), Toronto (+500), Tampa Bay (+650) and New Jersey (+750).
Here’s a look at some of the prominent storylines as the trade deadline is quickly approaching.
Meier Heads East
New Jersey passed on the chance to select Timo Meier back in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft when the Devils selected Pavel Zacha with the sixth overall pick.
Zacha is now a key member of the NHL-leading Bruins. However, Meier gets to make his Devils debut soon after he was acquired from the San Jose Sharks.
Meier had 31 goals in 57 games with San Jose and it was his third 30-goal season in his six full NHL seasons.
The Devils gave up multiple draft picks and that includes a first-round pick in this year’s draft. However, they did not have to send young forwards Dawson Mercer or Alexander Holtz the other way.
Rangers Add Star Power
The Rangers aren’t fooling around.
After acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues in one of the first major moves on the trade market, New York finalized the deal to bring three-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Kane to Broadway.
Since the start of the 2018-18 season, Kane is sixth in the NHL with 397 points. One of the players ahead of him is Artemi Panarin and perhaps the two will get to work some magic.
Kane is expected to debut with the Rangers against Ottawa on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers acquired Patrick Kane in a three-team trade with the Blackhawks and Coyotes. He will make his debut with New York against the Senators on Thursday.https://t.co/dNHC02qgxi
— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) March 1, 2023
He should have fresh legs since he sat out Chicago’s last three games due to the ongoing trade speculation.
The Rangers also brought back forward Tyler Motte.
Maple Leafs Staying Busy
With no Stanley Cup titles since 1967 and a series of early postseason exits in recent years, the usually impatient Toronto Maple Leafs fans are more antsy these days.
Toronto’s in a tough spot with three-time defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay and the aforementioned Bruins in the same division so Toronto has to get by both those teams just to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Maple Leafs are all in. Toronto picked up forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from St. Louis, defenseman Erik Gustafsson from Washington, defenseman Jake McCabe and forward Sam Lafferty from Chicago and defenseman Luke Schenn from Vancouver.
The Maple Leafs did trade away young defenseman Rasmus Sandin in the Gustafsson trade. However, a first-round pick did some back in that deal. Forward Pierre Engvall was dealt to the New York Islanders.
Lightning Pay Hefty Price
Tampa Bay’s ability to play a heavy game has paid off in the postseason before and the Lightning decided to add a physical presence with the acquisition of winger Tanner Jeannot from Nashville.
Jeannot scored 24 goals as a rookie. However, he had just five in 56 games with the Predators this season. That didn’t stop Tampa Bay Lightning from moving defenseman Cal Foote and five draft picks, including a first-round selection in 2025, to acquire Jeannot.
Jeannot is third among forwards with 216 hits this season.
With Steven Stamkos recently turning 33 and Victor Hedman 32, the Lightning are willing to part with draft capital in pursuit of another title with this playoff-tested group.
The Tampa Bay Lightning paid a huge price to acquire Tanner Jeannot from the Nashville Predators.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) February 27, 2023
Bruins Add air
With 40-goal scorer David Pastrnak needing to be signed in the offseason, the Bruins can’t be as aggressive at the trade deadline as in recent years when defenseman Hampus Lindholm and winger Taylor Hall were acquired.
Boston did pick up winger Garnet Hathaway and defenseman Dmitry Orlov from the Washington Capitals.
Orlov scored twice in Tuesday’s win over Calgary while Hathaway is sixth among forwards in hits this season.
Orlov was a member of Washington’s Stanley Cup championship team five years ago.
The Boston Bruins are threatening the NHL single-season marks for wins and points. The Las Vegas odds have Boston at +450 to win the Stanley Cup.
Islanders Strike Early
Before the trading got going, the New York Islanders made a major move with the acquisition of 30-goal scorer Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks.
Forward Anthony Beauvillier and Aatu Raty as well as a conditional first-round pick in this year’s draft went the other way.
Horvat has five goals and three assists in 12 games. Beauvillier has put up six goals and five assists with Ratu adding an assist.
The Islanders also brought in Engvall.
#Isles Transaction: The New York Islanders have acquired forward Pierre Engvall from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a third round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 28, 2023
Oilers Make Move on Defense
Edmonton is said to be in the market for another defenseman. In the meantime, longtime Nashville blueliner Matthias Ekholm is now an Oiler in a deal that included defenseman Tyson Barrie.
Ekholm broke in with Nashville during the 2011-12 season and had one three-year stretch when he played in 49 playoff games. That is huge for an Edmonton team that has scored plenty of goals but struggled to succeed in the postseason.
The Minnesota Wild acquired Gustav Nyquist (10 goals in 48 games) as Minnesota looks to take over first place in the Central Division. Minnesota also added forward Marcus Johansson.
Edmonton (+650) is tied for second in the odds to win the Western Conference title according to the sportsbook. With Minnesota (+1000) tied for fifth.
There are still some pretty big names who could be moved including star defensemen Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks and Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes as well as forwards Kevin Hayes of the Philadelphia Flyers and J.T. Miller of the Vancouver Canucks among those mentioned on the rumor mill.
Former Stanley Cup champion goalie Jonathan Quick was dealt to Columbus in exchange for defenseman Vladislov Gavrikov and goalie Joonas Korpisalo as the Los Angeles Kings look to make some noise in the Western Conference playoffs. The Kings will send their first-round pick to Columbus if they make the playoffs. If not, it will turn into a pair of second-round selections.
There are plenty of rumors surrounding Pittsburgh and other than picking up underachieving forward Jesse Puljujarvi from Edmonton, Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina has been pretty quiet.
A team wanting to challenge Boston might want to look at Philadelphia’s James Van Riemsdyk. He has scored 18 career regular-season goals against the Bruins in his career.