Category Archives: NHL Playoffs
The 2017 NHL trade deadline has come and gone. Quite frankly, it was pretty boring this year. No big or surprising names were moved. However, there was certainly enough action to determine winners or losers of the past few days.
Winner: Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning are practically out of playoff contention at this point, but they had a solid trade deadline nonetheless. They acquired a good defensive prospect, Erik Cernak, and a few picks from Los Angeles in exchange for Ben Bishop, a player who was not coming back next year. They also got a second rounder and a good depth player, Byron Froese, in exchange for Brian Boyle.
Steve Yzerman’s biggest pair of moves were preparations for the upcoming expansion draft. First, he dealt Valtteri Filppula and a fourth to Philadelphia for Mark Streit. Filppula has a no-movement clause, therefore Tampa Bay would have been required to protect him for the upcoming expansion draft. That is no longer an issue for them, plus Philadelphia does not have to worry about losing anyone significant up front.
Yzerman then flipped Streit to Pittsburgh for a fourth round pick, which is not a bad return for an aging defender especially with this market.
Although on the surface it may not look like much, Tampa Bay had a great trade deadline day.
Loser: New Jersey Devils
The Devils had a number of assets to sell on Wednesday and the days leading up to it, but they came out with virtually nothing to show for it.
Shero started off earlier than most, trading Vernon Fiddler to Nashville a few weeks prior to the deadline for a fourth round pick. Not a bad deal, but certainly nothing to write home about.
Today, however, was a disaster for New Jersey. They traded Kyle Quincey to Columbus for tough guy Dalton Prout, which is basically a wash. They also only got a sixth rounder for P-A Parenteau.
The Devils were unable to move Mike Cammalleri and Keith Kinkaid amongst others as well.
Winner: Vancouver Canucks
Although he has had some questionable moves in the past, Jim Benning was beyond successful at this year’s trade deadline.
He turned Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen, two aging forwards on close to expiring deals, into elite prospects Jonathan Dahlen and Nikolay Goldobin.
Dahlen, originally a Senators pick, is tearing it up in Sweden currently and put on a great showing at the World Juniors. Currently, he is out producing Filip Forsberg when he was the same age in the same league.
Goldobin was a first round pick a few years back for San Jose and is almost a point-per-game in the AHL this year. He is expected to play an immediate role in Vancouver.
Benning’s past has not been great — but there is no denying that he did fantastic work this week.
Loser: New York Islanders
The Islanders came into the deadline with a lot of chatter, but wound up exiting with nothing. They were the only team not to make a trade this NHL season.
Even if Garth Snow didn’t land Matt Duchene, it was expected that he would add a player to help a bubble team make the playoffs. There were multiple names, like Jordan Eberle, Anthony Duclair, and Tyler Ennis, thrown around but nothing came to fruition.
Garth Snow failed to act this trade deadline and New York’s playoff hopes are looking dim because of it.
Winner: Washington Capitals
Washington went for quality over quantity this trade deadline. They acquired big fish Kevin Shattenkirk from St. Louis prior to the deadline in exchange for Zach Sanford, a first round pick, and a conditional second round pick.
The Capitals understand that their window to win is now. Shattenkirk likely won’t stay with Washington next season, so it is imperative that they go for it all this year.
The move to get Shattenkirk was to bolster their defense, but keeping him away from Pittsburgh and New York may also have been on MacLellan’s mind. The fact that he was able to get Shattenkirk without giving up Vrana or Bowey is an immediate with for Washington.
Loser: Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens were certainly the busiest team this trade deadline, but that does not mean that they made out the best. Marc Bergevin opted to go for size and grit instead of skill.
Montreal wound up bringing in five players: Jordie Benn, Andreas Martinsen, Steve Ott, Dwight King, and Brandon Davidson.
The Davidson trade was good because it for Desharnais off the books. However, other than that it doesn’t look too great. Montreal needed skill and they failed to add that.
On to the playoff march we go.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a mixed bag filled with ebbs and flows and many surprises. It can be tough to predict who will win it all, although Chicago and Los Angeles have made that fairly easy over the past few years. Who will take it all this year? My predictions:
#1 Washington vs WC2 Flyers
Verdict: Capitals in 6
The resilient Flyers will certainly put a beating on the Capitals, and vice versa, but the Capitals are likely to prevail. It’ll be a battle of superstar against superstar in Ovechkin and Giroux. The series will be won or lost on defense, which Washington has the upper hand. Ovechkin and company will have fun tormenting Nick Schultz and Andrew MacDonald for four of the seven (possible) games of the series.
#2 Pittsburgh vs #3 NY Rangers
Verdict: NY Rangers in 7
Just like last year, the Rangers will defeat the Penguins in Round 1. The Penguins are the hottest team heading into the playoffs, but you can’t count out a team with Henrik Lundqvist backstopping them. I feel the Rangers will kick it into overdrive, at least for this series, and squeak out a win.
#1 Florida vs WC1 NY Islanders
Verdict: NY Islanders in 7
This series is a toss-up. Both the Panthers and Islanders, in my mind, are evenly matched. It’ll come down to goaltending and injuries. If Jaroslav Halak can make it back by the end of the series, that’ll be a gamechanger. Still, I think the Isles take this one. Barely.
#2 Tampa Bay vs #3 Detroit
Verdict: Tampa Bay in 6
Another rematch from last year, I give the upperhand to Tampa Bay once again, even without Anton Stralman and Steven Stamkos. The Bolts have better goaltending and better depth in my opinion, plus will be hungry to return to the finals.
#1 Dallas vs WC2 Minnesota
Verdict: Minnesota in 6
The Wild have faced and triumphed over some tough opponents over the past few years and that does not change here. The Wild have a better overall game in my opinion, especially on defense. Devan Dubnyk can steal some games as well. This will be a high flying, goal fest of a series.
#2 St. Louis vs #3 Chicago
Verdict: Chicago in 6
The Blues will continue their playoff woes as they fall to Chicago in six games. The battle tested Blackhawks will try to solidify their dynasty, and it starts by taking down the Blues. Goaltending health will play a big factor in this series.
#1 Anaheim vs WC1 Nashville
Verdict: Ducks in 5
The Ducks battled back from a horrendous start and found their way atop the Pacific Division, but still face a tough Predators opponent. Pekka Rinne hasn’t been stellar this year, so his abilities will factor in largely in this series. The Ducks also have fantastic special teams with both their powerplay and penalty kill being #1 in the league.
#2 Los Angeles vs #3 San Jose
Verdict: Los Angeles in 6
Facing Californian rival San Jose as well as former goalie Martin Jones, the Kings are in for a tough series. That goes for the Sharks as well. This series could go either way, but the edge has to be given to the Kings given the history.
#1 Washington vs #3 NY Rangers
Verdict: Washington in 6
The Capitals cannot be contained, even with Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Their offense and defensive core sate too lethal. The Rangers back end with Boyle, Girardi, and Staal will have a tough time containing them.
#2 Tampa Bay vs WC1 NY Islanders
Verdict: Tampa Bay in 6
The Lightning continue on their quest to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals by edging out the New York Islanders. Ben Bishop returns to form and leads Tampa Bay to the next round.
#3 Chicago vs WC2 Minnesota
Verdict: Chicago in 6
Another year, another Chicago versus Minnesota series. The Blackhawks prevail again. The quad-threat of Toews, Kane, Panarin, and Hossa is too much for the Wild to handle as they lose yet again in disappointing fashion.
#1 Anaheim vs #2 Los Angeles
Verdict: Anaheim in 7
Now, wouldn’t this be an amazing series? The Ducks and Kings meet in the semi-finals and beat each other to a pulp, however the Ducks get the series win.
#1 Washington vs #2 Tampa Bay
Verdict: Washington in 6
Tampa’s bid to return to the finals falls short at the expense of the President’s Trophy winners. The Capitals remain a force to be reckoned with. Steven Stamkos could return by this point, but it’s up in the air. Still, I don’t see him being enough to turn the tide of the series in Tampa’s favor.
#1 Anaheim vs #3 Chicago
Verdict: Anaheim in 7
A rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals, however this time Anaheim takes home the win. The Ducks get an added boost from their superb special teams to win the series. The weak bottom half of Chicago’s defense will have a tough time keeping up with Anaheim’s depth.
STANLEY CUP FINAL
#1 Washington vs #1 Anaheim
Verdict: Anaheim in 6
The Anaheim Ducks are your 2016 Stanley Cup champs!
There is obviously a tremendous amount of pressure on each team as they enter the Stanley Cup playoffs. Some, however, have more than others.
1. Washington Capitals: The Capitals already have a target on their back after winning the Presidents Trophy, but their lack of playoff success over the past few seasons magnifies that. Can Barry Trotz’s team do what Bruce Boudreau’s team never did? There’s no doubt a severe sense of disappointment will be felt throughout the organization if Alex Ovechkin leaves June without raising the Cup over his head.
2. Chicago Blackhawks: The reigning Stanley Cup champions always have pressure weighing down on them as they enter the next year of playoffs. The Blackhawks face another impending cap crunch as well, with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane making 10.5 million each and Artemi Panarin due for a big pay raise. This could be the last run with core players such as Andrew Shaw.
3. St. Louis Blues: The Blues have had their fair share of playoff disappointments over the last four years, which have only included one second round appearance. Captain David Backes is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and GM Doug Armstrong will want to make some big moves with the core if another playoff flop happens.
4. New York Rangers: The Cup window for the Rangers is closing fast as Henrik Lundqvist is already 34 years old. The Rangers also face uncertainty moving forward on defense with Dan Boyle’s and Keith Yandle’s future undecided.
5. Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks had an awful start of the year but turned it around, although the struggle is far from over. The Ducks were one win away from advancing to the finals last year, and Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry haven’t been back since they won it all in 2007.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning: The young, energetic Lightning made it to the finals last year, but haven’t had an easy road back to the top this year. With the drama of Jonathan Drouin and Steven Stamkos becoming a mainstay, there’s no indication if either will be on Tampa Bay’s roster next year. The Lightning, luckily, have an easier route to the conference finals than most, but unluckily have lost captain and superstar Steven Stamkos to a bloodclot. It’ll be an interesting postseason for the Bolts.
7. San Jose Sharks: Much like the Blues, the Sharks have had very little playoff success in the recent past. They made some nice offseason acquisitions this offseason, like Martin Jones and Joel Ward, but it’s still yet to be seen what they’ll do in the playoffs. Time is potentially running out in teal for Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins haven’t seen much playoff success since they went to back-to-back finals in 2008 and 2009, although they look to be back in form this season. Can Sidney Crosby help break the idea that the Penguins are playoff chokers? It remains to be seen.
9. Los Angeles Kings: After missing the playoff last year, the Kings came back with an impressive season. The Kings are not a low seeded team this time around, like they were when they won the Cup (#6 seed and #8 seed). The Kings will be looking to defeat the Blackhawks and become the class of the west once again.
10. New York Islanders: The Islanders and captain John Tavares head into this playoffs looking for their first series win since 1993. Garth Snow hasn’t made any major moves since acquiring Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy in October 2014, in belief that the current roster is good enough. If he’s wrong, the consequences could be severe with new owners stepping in on July 1st.
11. Dallas Stars: Dallas missed the playoffs last season but has survived the hell that is the Central Division so far this year. It remains to be seen if they’ll play Chicago or Minnesota (it’ll be decided tonight) but the high flying Stars won’t have an easy road regardless.
12. Detroit Red Wings: The likes of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Kronwall are getting older. However, they have a good crop of young players such as Mantha, Larkin, Tatar, and Nyquist to take over. The Wings get Tampa Bay in Round 1, a rematch from last year. Seems pretty sure fire to go 7.
13. Nashville Predators: The Predators are a good team, but will have a tough time escaping the West. If they can claw their way to a round or two, or even more, good for them. They’re in almost an underdog role in that conference.
14. Minnesota Wild: The Wild have had a rough year but have been playing well under new coach John Torchetti. They need Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville to step it up big time during the playoffs. Are changes looming? Regardless, I don’t think many are expecting a Cup run out of this Wild club.
15. Florida Panthers: The young Panthers surprised some people by being atop the Atlantic Division this year. They’ll get either the Rangers or the Islanders in the first round. They are a good team who can squeak out a series of two, but I don’t think many will be overly angry if the playoffs end quickly. They’ll be back for sure with Barkov, Ekblad, and company with playoff experience. The Panthers are in a good spot.
16. Philadelphia Flyers: Let’s be honest, midway through January, when the Flyers were behind New Jersey and Carolina in the Metro, did anyone really expect them to be here? I definitely didn’t. The Flyers get Washington in Round 1 and are the heavy underdogs. But as we saw a few weeks back, the Flyers can beat them. That’ll be an interesting series for sure.
This list isn’t meant to put a knock on any team saying that they don’t have any expectations. Everyone does. But, some have more than others. We can expect a fun playoffs like usual filled with exciting endings and thrilling upsets.
Once the matchups are decided, I’ll put out predictions. In the mean time, join The NHL Files’ bracket challenge:
The trade deadline is just two weeks away which means rumors and potential deals will start to heat up. These are some predictions for the 2016 NHL trade deadline. These are pretty much a crapshoot, but here goes nothing.
Andrew Ladd will be shipped out of Winnipeg to the New York Rangers in a surprise deal. Pavel Buchnevich would not be a part of the package heading back to the Jets.
Justin Schultz will get a fresh start in Toronto, traded from Edmonton in exchange for a lower end prospect that would have a tough time cracking the Leafs’ roster in a few years.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will sweep in and acquire Dan Hamhuis from under the noses of Washington and Dallas. Much to the dismay of Penguins fans, it will cost them some nice future assets.
Kris Russell will remain a Calgary Flames player but Jiri Hudler will not. The Devils will get Hudler in an attempt to make a run at a wild card or divisional spot.
Roman Polak will be traded to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a third and sixth round pick.
PA Parenteau and Brad Boyes will also be going out of Toronto, with the Blues and Capitals acquiring them respectively.
The Panthers will wind up taking Teddy Purcell for a lower price than some other options on the market.
Radim Vrbata will be traded to the New York Islanders in exchange for picks.
Eric Staal, Kyle Okposo, and Travis Hamonic will all remain with their current clubs.
Loui Eriksson will be traded to the Nashville Predators.
Jonathan Drouin will be traded to the Ottawa Senators at some point or another before next season.
For the shocking deal of the day, the Sharks and Blues will pull off a blockbuster involving Kevin Shattenkirk and Patrick Marleau. Both players are unrestricted at the end of next season, but more assets would certainly be going to the Blues. Could Mirco Mueller be an option? This is pure speculation.
Ladd -> NYR
Schultz -> TOR
Hamhuis -> PIT
Hudler -> NJD
Polak -> LAK
Parenteau -> STL
Boyes -> WSH
Purcell -> FLA
Vrbata -> NYI
Eriksson -> NSH
Drouin -> OTT
Shattenkirk -> SJS
Marleau -> STL
Next year’s cap situation will play a big factor but we are regardless setting up for a big trade deadline.
It’s no secret that the Islanders are irate over Tom Wilson’s hit on Lubomir Visnovsky in Game 4 of their series with Washington, and that hit will help dictate the pace of how Game 5 goes tonight. Whether the hit was clean or not is a matter of opinion, but either way, Visnovsky has a concussion and his season, and more importantly career, is in jeopardy.
Preview for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Western Conference Round 1