Some firsts, 100s, broken fingers and pointing fingers– who should be concerned about their job security behind the bench? Plus Cap’n and Pete are back.
New York Rangers
32-36-14, 78 points, 7th in the Metropolitan Division
Missed the postseason for the second straight year
Additions: F Phil Di Giuseppe, F Michael Haley (signed to a PTO), F Greg McKegg, F Danny O’Regan, F Artemi Panarin, D Adam Fox (acquired from CAR), D Jacob Trouba (acquired from WPG, then re-signed)
Subtractions: D Julius Bergman (SHL), D Chris Bigras (signed with PHI), D John Gilmour (signed with BUF), D Neal Pionk (traded to WPG), D Rob O’Gara (signed with San Antonio, AHL), G Dustin Tokarski (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL)
Still Unsigned: F Connor Brickley, F Brendan Lemieux, D Fredrik Claesson, D Tony DeAngelo, G Brandon Halverson, G Chris Nell
Re-signed: F Pavel Buchnevich, F Vinni Lettieri
Offseason Analysis: New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton thought he won the lottery when he landed the 2nd overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and selected Kaapo Kakko, but he actually won the lottery twice this offseason.
Gorton signed the biggest prize in free agency to the biggest contract among unrestricted free agents and nabbed Artemi Panarin for the next seven years at $11.643 million per season.
Panarin and Kakko are lightly to be centered on the same first line by the legendary DJ, Mika Zibanejad.
Head coach, David Quinn, has no shortage of options when it comes to testing out the new faces in The Big Apple, as Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox were box acquired by the club in addition to Panarin’s signing.
Trouba’s restricted free agency rights were acquired from the Winnipeg Jets and shortly thereafter re-signed in exchange for Neal Pionk and a 2019 1st round pick that originally belonged to Winnipeg and was previously acquired by New York in the Kevin Hayes transaction at the trade deadline.
The 25-year-old defender brings his skillset in its prime to stabilize the blue line for a team that is retooling on the fly and looking to shortened the lifespan on its rebuild. Trouba now carries an $8.000 million cap hit through 2025-26 with a no-movement clause set to kick in after this season and a modified no-trade clause for the final two years of the deal.
Fox, the 21-year-old protege from Harvard University, was originally sent to the Carolina Hurricanes by the Calgary Flames in the Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland for Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin trade.
After declining to sign with the Canes, Carolina sent Fox to the Rangers for a 2019 2nd round pick and a conditional 2020 3rd round pick that may become a 2020 2nd round pick if he plays in 30 or more games this season.
What’s more, Gorton was still active in the trade market, making a minor move with the Buffalo Sabres, shipping Jimmy Vesey off to Buffalo for a 2021 3rd round pick.
Only Brendan Lemieux and Tony DeAngelo are still unsigned-RFAs with about $1.000 million in cap space available before New York makes any other transactions– with or without another team involved– to save a little more money.
The Rangers have eight contracts expiring at the end of this season, including backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev’s current deal which runs a $792,500 cap hit.
With 37-year-old Henrik Lundqvist expected to retire in two-years time when his seven-year extension carrying an $8.500 million cap hit that he signed in December 2013 expires, Gorton may have to get creative to assure Georgiev of the starting role– and a starter’s salary– in the meantime for one more season of overlap with Lundqvist.
It’s not feasible for New York to keep Lundqvist past due as Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin could almost run the crease by themselves as things are today.
By season’s end, if the Rangers aren’t in a wild card spot, they will have at least significantly improved from their standing in 2018-19 and reduced their minus-45 goal differential from last season with a new-found defense.
At the very least, New York is improving and adapting to the game, while their counterpart on Long Island may be getting worse.
Offseason Grade: A
Things are tight with the salary cap for Gorton and Co., but the good news is Chris Kreider and Vladislav Namestnikov are both pending-UFAs at the end of the season. If the Rangers keep one (Kreider) over the other or let both of them go– via a trade or free agency– some much needed cap room will open up for the younger players that are projected to be or currently part of New York’s core.
Also, signing the biggest name in free agency, while fleecing another team in need of cap relief from one of their top-two defenders for next to nothing generally gets a GM high marks for an offseason’s worth of moves. The rebuild is right on track and on schedule.
Nick and Colby recap the headlines from the last month as well as take a look at all of the New York market teams and try to figure out if any of them are actually any good as Season Six of the podcast begins.
David Pastrnak had a five-point night (three goals, two assists) as he led the Boston Bruins to a, 6-3, victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday at TD Garden.
Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (21-10-4 record, 2.33 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 38 games played), made 20 saves on 23 shots faced for an .870 SV% in the winning effort, while New York’s Henrik Lundqvist (18-21-10, 3.05 GAA, .907 SV% in 50 GP) stopped 26 out of 32 shots faced for an .813 SV% in the loss.
The B’s improved to 47-21-9 (103 points) on the season and remain in command of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, while the Rangers fell to 29-34-17 (71 points) and stuck in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division.
Marcus Johansson (lung contusion) returned to the second line right wing after missing the last ten games and Torey Krug (concussion) returned to action alongside Brandon Carlo on the second defensive pair after missing the last six games.
Cassidy also provided an update on John Moore (upper body) and indicated the defender would be out “week-to-week”, joining Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) on the longer prognosis for a return to the lineup.
With Johansson and Krug back in the lineup, Karson Kuhlman was the only healthy scratch (and later reassigned to Providence (AHL) during the second intermission).
The Rangers had slight miscalculation with the number of skaters allowed on the ice at one time while their goaltender was still in the crease.
As a result, Pavel Buchnevich served New York’s bench minor for too many on the ice at 2:29 of the first period.
Boston went on the power play for the first time Wednesday evening and the first time with Krug back in the lineup on the power play unit.
It only took the B’s 19 seconds on the ensuing power play to convert on the scoreboard.
Marchand received a give-and-go from Bergeron and threw the puck over to Pastrnak (34) for the one-timer from one knee and Pastrnak’s first goal of the evening at 2:48 of the first period.
Boston led, 1-0, thanks to Pastrnak’s power play goal, with the assists credited to Marchand (61) and Bergeron (45).
Late in the opening frame, Zdeno Chara sent the puck over the glass and was automatically charged with a delay of game minor infraction at 14:51.
Boston’s penalty killing unit almost killed off Chara’s minor, but was bitten late in New York’s first power play of the night as Mika Zibanejad (29) tied the game, 1-1.
Ryan Strome (14) and Buchnevich (16) tallied the assists on Zibanejad’s first goal of the night at 16:29.
After one period of play, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, while Boston led in shots on goal (13-10) and blocked shots (5-4).
New York led in takeaways (3-1), giveaways (4-3), hits (12-8) and face-off win percentage (74-26) heading into the dressing room for the first intermission.
Both teams were 1/1 on the power play entering the second period.
Jimmy Vesey tripped Pastrnak to kick things off in the middle frame at 1:46 of the second period. The Bruins did not convert on the resulting power play.
Almost midway through the second period, after Cassidy adjusted his lines, David Krejci worked a backhand pass over to Pastrnak (35) for the one-timer in the low slot and the B’s took the lead once again, 2-1, at 9:15.
Krejci (47) and Krug (43) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s second goal of the night as Pastrnak tied his career-high in goals.
With an assist on the goal, Krug amassed his 284th career point (all with Boston), which is the most by an American-born player in Bruins franchise history.
Moments later, Pastrnak hooked Kevin Shattenkirk at 13:12 and McAvoy followed suit hooking Shattenkirk almost a minute after Pastrnak was released from the penalty box at 15:58.
The Rangers did not capitalize on either power play opportunity.
Late in the period, Lias Andersson delivered a back-check to Bergeron along the boards in the corner of the B’s attacking zone where Bergeron’s career nearly came to an end on Oct. 27, 2007 thanks to then Philadelphia Flyers defender, Randy Jones, delivering a hit from behind that left Bergeron with a broken nose and a major concussion.
History aside, Andersson left his feet as he backed into Bergeron’s face with an elbow and Bergeron did not take exception to the incident.
The Bruins veteran and alternate captain immediately began to rough up Andersson as the two tangled to the ice, leaving Andersson with two roughing penalties and Bergeron with one minor for roughing– yielding a power play for Boston at 18:29.
Though the skater advantage would carryover into third period, Boston did not score on the resulting power play while Andersson was in the box.
After 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 22-16, in shots on goal.
Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (8-5), while the Rangers maintained the lead in takeaways (5-4), giveaways (9-6), hits (19-16) and face-off win% (57-43).
Each club was 1/3 on the power play entering the third period.
DeBrusk (24) made it a two-goal game for the Bruins at 3:19 of the third period with his one-timer goal on a no-look pass from Pastrnak through the low slot while Lundqvist was behind the play.
Pastrnak (40) and Krejci (48) tabbed the assists on DeBrusk’s goal.
Almost two minutes later, Strome (16) answered back in a hurry.
While Boston’s defense was outnumbered in the slot, Strome banked a shot off of Halak’s pad and through the five-hole to make it a one-goal game once again.
Midway through the final frame of regulation, Strome was penalized for holding at 12:38.
Less than a minute into the power play, Pastrnak (36) completed his 4th career regular season hat trick (and 3rd this season) as he blasted a shot past Lundqvist on the short side over his blocker.
Krug (44) and Marchand (62) had the assists as hats fell upon the ice at TD Garden at 12:52.
With his third goal of the game, Pastrnak established a new career-high in goals with 36 goals in 61 games played this season (he had 35 goals in 82 games last season).
Moments later, New York was called for too many men for the second time of the night at 15:03.
While on the two-skater advantage, Bergeron (32) redirected a shot from Pastrnak past Lundqvist to give the Bruins a three-goal lead at 16:23.
Pastrnak (41) and Marchand (63) collected the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal and the Bruins led, 5-2, as Pastrnak picked up his 5th point of the night.
The 22-year-old winger joined Barry Pederson (3x), Jason Allison (2x) and Bobby Orr (2x) as the only Bruins players with multiple five-point games in their careers (regular season or playoffs) before the age of 23.
McAvoy (7) followed Bergeron’s goal with one of his own on a twine-seeking missile at 17:12 to give Boston a four-goal lead, 6-2.
Chara (9) and Coyle (21) had the assists on McAvoy’s power play goal as the Bruins notched three goals on four shots in the span of their two-skater advantage.
About a minute later, Andersson found himself tangled up again with a Bruins veteran– this time, David Backes— as the two players each received roughing minors.
Backes earned an additional roughing penalty that was served by Johansson at 18:10 as the Rangers went on the power play for the last time on Wednesday.
While on the skater advantage, New York generated a rebound off Halak and Zibanejad (30) buried the puck in the net with Halak in desperation to cut the lead to a deficit of three goals at 19:56.
Vladislav Namestnikov (18) and Tony DeAngelo (25) notched the assists as the Rangers trailed, 6-3.
At the final horn, Boston had beaten New York, 6-3, and finished the night leading in shots on goal (32-23) and hits (27-24).
The Rangers finished Wednesday night’s action leading in giveaways (12-10) and face-off win% (52-48), while both teams had nine blocked shots apiece.
New York went 2/4 on the power play and the Bruins went 4/6 on the skater advantage.
The Bruins host the Florida Panthers on Saturday before traveling to Detroit on Sunday to close out the month of March.
Boston finishes the season swinging through Columbus on April 2nd, making a stop in Minnesota on April 4th and wrapping up the regular season on April 6th at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The New York Rangers took home the, 4-3, shootout victory on Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden after allowing three unanswered goals in the second period.
New York mounted a comeback in the third period to tie the game, 3-3, then after an entertaining, high-action, three-on-three overtime period was not enough, the Rangers put it away in seven rounds of a shootout.
Alexandar Georgiev (7-9-0 record, 3.24 goals against average, .897 save percentage in 18 games played) made 27 saves on 30 shots faced for a .900 SV% in the shootout win as the Rangers improved to 9-1-0 in their last 10 regular season battles with Boston.
Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (13-9-4, 2.50 GAA, .918 SV% in 28 GP) recorded 36 saves on 39 shots against for a .923 SV% in the shootout loss and fell to 18-8-1 in his career against the Rangers.
Boston fell to 19-2-1 when leading after two periods this season and is now 2-0-1 so far in February.
The B’s fell to 29-17-8 (66 points) on the season, but improved to 3rd place in the Atlantic Division standings, while the Rangers improved to 23-22-8 (54 points), but remain in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines– reinserting Danton Heinen on the fourth line in place of David Backes, but later jumbling every forward line except for the Sean Kuraly–Noel Acciari–Chris Wagner trio.
Given it was the second night of back-to-back games, Halak got the start in goal over Tuukka Rask, who picked up the, 3-1, win against the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
Bergeron tripped up Rangers forward, Mika Zibanejad at 1:11 of the first period and handed New York their first power play opportunity of the night early in the action.
The Rangers did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage and followed up with a penalty of their own– Marc Staal for cross-checking Kuraly– at 13:39.
Boston did not succeed in their first skater advantage opportunity of the night.
Moments later, Zibanejad (22) let go of a snipe-shot from the point that had eyes and beat Halak to give New York the lead, 1-0.
Mats Zuccarello (21) recorded the only assist on Zibanejad’s goal at 17:45.
Vesey was dealt a cross-checking minor against Wagner, while Kuraly received a roughing minor against Nieves. Both penalties were handed out with 51 seconds remaining until the first intermission and would yield 4-on-4 action into the second period.
After one period of play, the Rangers led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 12-9.
Boston maintained the advantage in blocked shots (5-4) and takeaways (6-3), while New York led in giveaways (5-4), hits (15-10) and face-off win percentage (55-46).
Both clubs were 0/1 on the power play entering the 2nd period.
Cassidy restructured his lines almost midway through the middle frame and it provided instant results.
On a face-off in the offensive zone, Marchand worked the puck back to Matt Grzelcyk for the shot towards the goal that was tipped by Heinen (7) for his first goal in his first game back since being a healthy scratch for the last few games.
Grzelcyk (13) and Marchand (41) tallied the assists on Heinen’s goal at 10:37 of the second period and the game was tied, 1-1.
Just 72 seconds later, Pastrnak (31) redirected a pass from Krejci behind Georgiev to give the Bruins their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 11:49 of the middle frame.
Krejci (31) and Miller (5) were tabbed with the primary and secondary assists, respectively.
Less than 30 seconds later, Bergeron took his second trip to the penalty box– this time for slashing Zuccarello– at 12:12.
Shortly after New York’s power play expired, Tony DeAngelo was guilty of tripping Bergeron at 14:22, resulting in a power play for Boston.
Less than a minute into the skater advantage, Bergeron (19) tipped a shot from Torey Krug past the right leg of the Rangers goaltender as Georgiev attempted to make a butterfly save.
Krug (31) and Marchand (42) had the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal at 15:11 of the second period and the B’s led, 3-1.
Late in the period, Brandon Carlo and Zuccarello got tangled up with each other and received matching roughing minors at 16:34.
Entering the dressing room after 40 minutes of action, Boston led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, but trailed New York, 22-20, in shots on goal. The Bruins did, however, lead in second period shots on goal alone– with a slight advantage– 11-10.
The Bruins led in blocked shots (7-6), while the Rangers led in just about everything else, including takeaways (10-9), giveaways (12-6) and hits (30-16) entering the final frame of regulation.
Both teams went 50-50 in face-off win% after two periods and the Rangers were 0/3 on the power play entering the third period. Boston was 1/2 on the skater advantage.
Kevin Hayes (12) made it a one-goal game at 9:24 of the third period.
Pavel Buchnevich received a pass up the middle and threw a shot on goal that Vesey chased down the rebound for in order to send the puck to Hayes for the goal.
Vesey (14) and Buchnevich (8) had the assists and the Rangers trailed, 3-2.
Charlie McAvoy took a horrendous boarding penalty at 12:05 of the third period. It was horrendous, because it ultimately proved costly.
Filip Chytil (10) pocketed a rebound that Halak failed to control after Buchnevich fired the initial shot.
Buchnevich (9) and DeAngelo (10) had the assists on Chytil’s power play goal for New York at 12:42 and the Rangers tied the game, 3-3.
Through 60 minutes of regulation, both teams were still tied, 3-3, on the scoreboard, despite the Rangers leading in shots on goal (33-29), blocked shots (10-9), giveaways (20-11) and hits (41-25).
Boston, in the meantime, escaped regulation with the lead in takeaways (13-11) and face-off win% (53-47).
The Rangers finished the night 1/4 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/2 as no penalties were called in the five-minute, three-on-three overtime period.
Cassidy started Pastrnak, Krejci and Krug in overtime for the Bruins as both teams got off to a frantic pace, leading to chance after chance and save after save.
Eventually, both teams attempted their fair share of trick shots and odd banks off of pads, sticks and whatever they could find to try to will the puck into the twine.
But, Georgiev and Halak stood tall, leading to a shootout after five minutes of overtime was not enough.
As an aside, the Rangers had six shots on goal in overtime, compared to Boston’s one shot on net (officially).
New York finished the night leading in shots on goal (39-30), blocked shots (12-10), giveaways (21-11) and hits (42-26), while the Bruins led in face-off win% (55-45).
In the shootout, David Quinn elected to have his home team Rangers shoot first on Halak, but Zuccarello was denied by the outer post.
Cassidy sent out Cehlarik as his first shooter, but Georgiev made the save.
Kevin Shattenkirk was denied by Halak, as Pastrnak failed to muster a shot off his stick in the second round of the shootout.
Zibanejad deked and roofed the puck to give New York the, 1-0, advantage in the third round of the shootout, but was matched by Marchand’s nifty dangle-turned-five hole squib-shot to even it, 1-1, after three rounds.
Hayes was turned aside by Halak and McAvoy had the puck poke checked away by the Rangers netminder in the fourth round.
Chytil rang the post and DeBrusk’s shot was saved by Georgiev in the fifth round.
Vesey nailed the crossbar and Heinen was stopped in the sixth round.
Finally, DeAngelo mustered enough stick work on the puck to get Halak to commit to a sprawling position, as DeAngelo then elevated the puck for what became the game-winning shootout goal in the seventh round after Krejci fired his shot wide.
New York improved to 6-2 in shootouts on the season, while Boston fell to 1-2 past overtime this season.
The Rangers had won, 4-3, officially on the scoreboard after the shootout and stole the extra point past regulation.
Call it Adam McQuaid‘s revenge or whatever, but Wednesday night’s game was the 54th game of the regular season for Boston.
The Bruins venture back home for a three-game homestand at TD Garden starting Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET with a matchup against the Los Angeles Kings.
Boston will honor Bergeron prior to puck drop for participating in his 1,000th career regular season NHL game on Tuesday.
Sunday afternoon, the B’s take on the Colorado Avalanche, then wrap things up at home with a tilt against the Chicago Blackhawks next Tuesday.
Cassidy’s crew swings through the three teams in California, the Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues on a roadtrip from Feb. 15th through the 23rd.
Auston Matthews signed an extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs. What does this mean for the Leafs? Alex Stalock, Jordan Martinook and Pheonix Copley all signed extensions with their clubs, as Tuukka Rask became the winningest goaltender in Boston Bruins history, Alex Ovechkin became the highest scoring Russian-born NHL player and Paul Maurice reached 1,500 games behind the bench as a head coach.
The DTFR Duo also reviewed all 31 NHL teams as buyers and/or sellers at the 2019 trade deadline.
Zibanejad became the second player in Rangers history to score the game-winning goal in three consecutive games, joining Rod Gilbert as the only players to do so in franchise history (Gilbert did so in 1966).
Meanwhile, Lundqvist (15-12-7 record, 3.01 goals against average, .908 save percentage in 35 games played this season) turned aside 27 out of 29 shots faced for a .931 SV% in the win and surpassed Terry Sawchuk for 5th in the NHL’s all-time wins list by a goaltender with his 446th career victory.
Tuukka Rask (14-8-3, 2.43 GAA, .919 SV% in 26 GP) made six saves on seven shots against (.857 SV%) before exiting the game with a concussion after a wicked collision with New York forward, Filip Chytil, as Chytil crashed the net on his game-tying goal in the first period.
Charlie McAvoy bumped into the Rangers forward, sending him into Rask with a “Bobby Orr effect” manner as Chytil tried to hurdle out of the way and instead crashed into Rask’s head with the full-force of his body, knocking off Rask’s mask and leaving the Boston netminder stunned until he was helped off the ice.
Jaroslav Halak (13-9-2, 2.47 GAA, .919 SV% in 26 GP) replaced Rask at 18:32 of the first period and made 11 saves on 13 shots faced for an .846 SV% in the loss for the Bruins.
Boston is now 27-17-5 (59 points) this season and still 3rd in the Atlantic Division, while the Rangers improved to 21-20-7 (49 points) on the season– good enough to remain in 6th place in the Metropolitan Division, but tied in points with the Carolina Hurricanes for 5th (Carolina has one game in-hand).
Bruce Cassidy inserted Noel Acciari back into the lineup, centering the third line with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner as his wings, while also re-inserting Matt Grzelcyk on the third defensive pairing and sitting John Moore.
Heinen (6) put the Bruins up, 1-0, at 17:28 in the first period.
For the second consecutive game at home, Boston blew a 1-0 lead as Chytil (9) scored at 18:32 and Zibanejad (16) tallied his first goal of the night at 5:22 of the second period.
Trailing, 2-1, into the third period, Brad Marchand (19) one-timed a redirection past Lundqvist to tie the game, 2-2, but the Rangers fought back and went ahead by a goal almost midway through the final frame of regulation for the final nail on the coffin on an otherwise disastrous night for the B’s with Rask diagnosed with a concussion.
Zibanejad (17) tallied his second goal of the game while the Rangers were on the power play at 9:05 of the third period on a shot that wobbled past Halak as the Bruins goaltender was being screened by his own defender and a New York forward.
Adam McQuaid was welcomed back to Boston for his first visit as a Ranger with a tribute video in the first period after McQuaid was traded to New York this fall after playing for the Bruins from 2009-18– winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.
He also was the third man in on a fight with Wagner in the third period, though the official penalties read as two minutes for roughing for Wagner and two, two-minute roughing minors for McQuaid, yielding a Boston power play.
The Rangers finished the night with the, 3-2, win, despite being outshot by the Bruins, 29-20.
The B’s also led in giveaways (14-12) and face-off win percentage (64-36), while New York led in blocked shots (12-3) and hits (24-20). The Rangers went 1/3 on the night on the power play and Boston went 0/5 with the extra skater advantage.
With the loss, the Bruins are now 17-5-3 when scoring first this season as they enter their bye week and All-Star break. David Pastrnak is the only representative from Boston traveling to participate in the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend festivities in San Jose.
Boston returns to action on January 29th with a home game against the Winnipeg Jets before closing out the month January hosting the Philadelphia Flyers on the 31st.
1. Washington Capitals– 31-17-5 (67 points, 53 GP)
After spending a couple of months figuring themselves out and weathering the storm that’s been Braden Holtby‘s second-to-last career worst season (his 2.76 goals against average and .915 save percentage in 39 games played are better and the same as his 2013-14 2.85 GAA and .915 SV% in 48 games played respectively).
It’s a bit of an off year for Washington, but even an off year for the Capitals is still a pretty good season, considering they’re currently first in a division that is more active than a lava lamp in terms of rising and falling.
Washington has a plus-11 goal differential through 53 games played despite the loss of Marcus Johansson in a trade with the New Jersey Devils this offseason and an injured Andre Burakovsky seeing limited time so far. That doesn’t even mention the loss of depth for the Capitals last July either– remember Justin Williams (signed with Carolina) and Karl Alzner (signed with Montreal)?
Luckily for the Capitals they only have about $412,000 in cap space as I write, so their trade deadline plans are pretty much already determined for them.
If they’re able to dump a guy like Brooks Orpik— and his $5.500 million cap hit that runs through next season– that would provide the organization with some much needed relief.
Potential assets to trade: F Jay Beagle, D Brooks Orpik
2. Pittsburgh Penguins– 30-22-3 (63 points, 55 GP)
After bouncing around the Metropolitan Division standings, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins are currently four points behind first place in the division.
Much like his rival in Washington, Matthew Murray is having a season to forget. Injuries and the death of his father have taken a toll on the two-time Cup winning goaltender, limiting Murray to just 34 games thus far with a 2.97 GAA and .903 SV% (again, both career worsts– though he is in just his second full season since his 13 GP in 2015-16).
Despite their plus-three goal differential and gifted scorer (turned 2018 All-Star snub), Phil Kessel (24-41–65 totals in 55 games), the Penguins have been porous on defense. Pittsburgh’s best defenseman, Kris Letang, is a minus-15 through 52 games played.
Since November, Pittsburgh has been trying to move defenseman, Ian Cole– though head coach, Mike Sullivan, has been forced to play him (thereby keeping him on the Penguins roster) due to injuries affecting Schultz and friends.
Antti Niemi didn’t pan out and bring stable backup goaltending to the Steel City (he’s since departed via waivers to Florida, then Montreal). Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith have been left to pick up the tab with some impressive performances at times.
Midseason acquisitions F Riley Sheahan, as well as Oleksiak, have not been enough to fill holes left by Nick Bonino (the forward signed with Nashville in July) and Trevor Daley (left via free agency, landed in Detroit) respectively.
But with roughly $425,000 in cap space to work with currently, the Penguins can’t afford to make much noise on February 26th– but they should definitely snag a defenseman and rental backup goaltender.
Potential assets to acquire: F Sam Reinhart (BUF), D Cody Franson (CHI), D Mike Green (DET), F Mark Letestu (EDM), F Patrick Maroon (EDM), F Michael Grabner (NYR), D Nick Holden (NYR), F Derick Brassard (OTT), F Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT), G Aaron Dell (SJ), D Erik Gudbranson (VAN), F Thomas Vanek (VAN), D Jason Garrison (VGK), G Michael Hutchinson (WPG)
3. New Jersey Devils– 27-17-8 (62 points, 52 GP)
New Jersey has almost $8.000 million to work with currently as things approach the trade deadline at the end of the month.
The Devils are one of the biggest surprises this season east of the Mississippi River.
First overall pick in the 2017 draft, Nico Hischier, has been quietly setting the tone with forwards, Miles Wood, Jesper Bratt and Pavel Zacha in the resurgence of youth. Travis Zajac is back in his dominant, physical, ways and the Sami Vatanen–Adam Henrique trade has worked out quite well for both teams.
Will Butcher is quite the offensive threat on the blue line and John Moore is firing on all cylinders. Despite Marcus Johansson’s concussion, New Jersey hasn’t faced much adversity in overcoming injuries this year.
There’s a lot of cap room to work with, but not a whole lot that this team can really give up to bring in the best guys on the trade market, like Evander Kane, unless the Devils are comfortable parting ways with prospects and draft picks (spoiler alert, they might be).
New Jersey really should be in the hunt for Kane, Rick Nash, Max Pacioretty, David Perron and other great offensive assets– either as the front-runner or the stealthy dark-horse that’ll make one or two big moves to carry them to glory.
The Devils have the time and space to add a veteran forward or defenseman that might eat some salary, but put them lightyears beyond their Metropolitan counterparts.
It’s a buyers market.
Potential assets to acquire: F Evander Kane (BUF), D Tyson Barrie (COL), D Mike Green (DET), F Patrick Maroon (EDM), F Alex Galchenyuk (MTL), F Max Pacioretty (MTL), F Michael Grabner (NYR), D Ryan McDonagh (NYR), F Rick Nash (NYR), F Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT), F Tyler Bozak (TOR), G Aaron Dell (SJ), F Thomas Vanek (VAN), F James Neal (VGK), F David Perron (VGK), G Michael Hutchinson (WPG)
4. Philadelphia Flyers– 25-19-9 (59 points, 53 GP)
Aside from the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights, the Philadelphia Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the league right now.
Goaltender, Brian Elliott, has found his top-notch form once again while Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux are rolling along. With almost $3.000 million to spend at the deadline, the Flyers could make some improvements to their team.
Trading away Brayden Schenn was costly for Philadelphia this offseason, but thankfully Jakub Voracek and the rest of the roster decided to pick up some of the points left behind by Schenn’s departure.
Adding Jori Lehtera, on the other hand, was a big mistake– both in production value and in cap management.
The Flyers could really solidify their offense with one or two moves and probably should anchor their defense with at least a depth blue liner or two coming down the stretch. Someone like David Perron, Patrick Maroon or Nic Petan could flourish in the Philly system. Meanwhile, a defenseman like Cody Franson would help put them over the edge if someone’s injured.
Potential assets to acquire: D Cody Franson (CHI), D Jack Johnson (CBJ), F Mark Letestu (EDM), F Patrick Maroon (EDM), D Nick Holden (NYR), F David Perron (VGK), F Nic Petan (WPG)
5. Columbus Blue Jackets– 27-22-4 (58 points, 53 GP)
After getting a fast start out of the gate the Columbus Blue Jackets have really cooled off. It’s not that they’re a bad team, but rather, they’re just average.
Sergei Bobrovsky can’t stop the puck and play every other position too. Otherwise, the Blue Jackets would probably be first in the division. But good news, Columbus, you’ve got some cap space to work with at the end of the month.
As I write, the Blue Jackets have about $5.000 million to work with in cap room.
That’s good enough to bring in just about any player without considering what the future impact on the team his cap hit might have (unless Jarmo Kekalainen brings in a clear-cut rental player that won’t be re-signed in July). The point is this, Columbus has enough room to mess around with something valuable at the deadline, but they’re going to have to re-sign a plethora of core/future core pieces of the franchise this offseason.
The Blue Jackets aren’t doomed– they know their future plans more than anyone else.
But what could they bring in to make this team better? Someone. Is there anyone they could snag now and really shake things up as a contender moving forward? Short answer, yes.
For all of the return of Rick Nash to Columbus talk, well, that’s not ideal. Kekalainen should consider someone like Ryan McDonagh from the New York Rangers before taking back a guy like Nash– who will only break the franchise’s heart again in July when he goes back to the Rangers *bold prediction alert*.
Potential assets to trade: D Andre Benoit, D Jack Johnson
Potential assets to acquire: F Evander Kane (BUF), F Sam Reinhart (BUF)F Blake Comeau (COL), D Mike Green (DET), F Max Pacioretty (MTL), F Michael Grabner (NYR), D Ryan McDonagh (NYR), F Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT), F Mike Hoffman (OTT), F Thomas Vanek (VAN)
6. New York Islanders– 26-22-6 (58 points, 54 GP)
The biggest question heading into the 2018 trade deadline for the New York Islanders is the same one that’s been asked since Steven Stamkos signed his extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning– will John Tavares re-sign with the Islanders?
New York has expressed that they are not looking to trade Tavares should things go detrimentally south between now and February 26th, but if things do…
The Islanders have almost $1.500 million in cap space to play around with before the deadline. They also have 13 pending free agents at season’s end, meaning there’s plenty of options the franchise could pursue.
Should Tavares get a raise and a long-term deal? Absolutely.
The Islanders could pack it up and go home on this season given their injuries, lack of defense and well, let’s just say, things aren’t going so great for the team that ranks 31st (out of 31 NHL teams) in average attendance this season.
Potential assets to acquire: F Sam Reinhart (BUF), D Tyson Barrie (COL), D Mike Green (DET), F Mark Letestu (EDM), F Patrick Maroon (EDM), F Alex Galchenyuk (MTL), F Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT), F Zack Smith (OTT), F Tyler Bozak (TOR), G Aaron Dell (SJ), F Thomas Vanek (VAN), D Erik Gudbranson (VAN), F David Perron (VGK)
7. Carolina Hurricanes– 24-21-9 (57 points, 54 GP)
New Carolina Hurricanes owner, Tom Dundon, might call an audible heading into this year’s trade deadline and decide to spend money on the roster. With almost $15.500 million in cap space, the Hurricanes are in the best possible position to land not just one or two of the big names floating around the rumor mill, but rather three or four quality pieces.
The trouble is, who would they get rid of, since their prospects and youth are worth keeping for further development and overall organizational growth?
Lee Stempniak might make his annual trip around the league, but other than that, who are the Hurricanes actually going to offer up from their forwards? If anything, Carolina would move a guy like Noah Hanifin given the contract extensions (and pay raises) that kick in next season for Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin.
Potential assets to trade: G Scott Darling, D Noah Hanifin, F Lee Stempniak, F Derek Ryan, draft picks
Potential assets to acquire: F Evander Kane (BUF), G Robin Lehner (BUF), D Cody Franson (CHI), D Tyson Barrie (COL), D Jack Johnson (CBJ), D Mike Green (DET), G Petr Mrazek (DET), F Max Pacioretty (MTL), F Tomas Plekanec (MTL), F David Desharnais (NYR), F Michael Grabner (NYR), D Ryan McDonagh (NYR), F Rick Nash (NYR), G Aaron Dell (SJ), F Thomas Vanek (VAN), F James Neal (VGK), F David Perron (VGK)
8. New York Rangers– 25-24-5 (55 points, 54 GP)
Look, the New York Rangers are still (technically speaking) in contention– but they absolutely shouldn’t waste another year of Henrik Lundqvist‘s career in the National Hockey League without a Stanley Cup.
The team they have right now? Yeah, they aren’t winning.
They’ve aged out. The core’s been decimated by the Vegas expansion draft and some offseason moves (namely trading Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to Arizona after losing Oscar Lindberg to Vegas in June).
Not every player is washed up.
Some will find better homes and rejuvenate their careers before potentially signing with the Rangers in free agency and going back “home” *ahem, Rick Nash*.
Others will simply be a superb rental/long term participant in a franchise, like Michael Grabner.
Basically I’m saying that all the guys New York’s been rumored to trade should get traded and the team can pull off a quick turnaround with their up-and-coming youth, plus whatever they get in return for Nash, Grabner and Co.
And with only about $1.400 million in cap space, the Rangers could have some fun blowing things up (partially).
Build around Mika Zibanejad and friends. Do it, New York. Do it now.
Potential assets to acquire: D Tyson Barrie (COL), D Jack Johnson (CBJ), F Alex Galchenyuk (MTL), F Mike Hoffman (OTT), F Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT), F Zack Smith (OTT), G Aaron Dell (SJ), F James Neal (VGK), F David Perron (VGK)