Dynasty Hockey League

Eastern Conference Trade Deadline Primer

Although I generally try to avoid writing anything that calls for an opinion in the conference my team competes, I feel that since most of my heavy lifting is done for this trade deadline, I can share a few thoughts on where I believe others may be heading. Like always, my opinions and $2 will get a large double/double at Tim Horton’s so please take everything with that in mind.

Boston – the Bruins sit 4th at the moment but have the potential to move up a few slots or down a few slots like any team in the conference as there are only 12 points separating 2nd to 8th and only 5 points separating 4th to 8th. There is going to be a tremendous amount of jockeying for spots during the remaining season and a smart add to address a team weakness could be the deciding factor. No one can doubt Boston’s firepower but can they score enough goals to compensate what is likely the second weakest goaltending on the playoff contenders? We know the GM is shopping for an improvement but it’s a thin market.

Buffalo – the 2nd seeded Sabres are the only team that has a realistic shot at catching Tampa Bay this season but even that will take an epic collapse in Tampa Bay. Although more balanced than most teams, the Sabres would be wise to look at adding a top-6 centre of left winger to their mix as Stastny is best suited for a third line role at this stage of his career. Given that Buffalo are going to lose two very good UFAs this season while having to afford a large raise to Matthews, this may be the time to make an all-in push.

Carolina – the Canes are tied for 6th with Florida but both have a game in hand on the 4th and 5th seeds but unlike Florida, I don’t see Carolina as a true threat in the East. The Canes have more holes to fill than the Kardashians getting spit roasted. The team is definitely back in playoff contention but the apex is still to come once greater overall depth is attained. Off-season increases to MacKinnon, Toffoli and Seguin will have the GM scrabbling for cheap options to round the future roster. Time and maturity of some prospects will make Carolina more of a threat in the near future.

Florida – as mentioned above, Florida is tied with Carolina for 6th at this time, but due to the depth of talent on the roster likely have better odds in the playoffs. The Panthers GM managed to turn a surplus centre into a top line left winger with some additional term to provide more balance to the team. Oddly enough, I think this trade actually helped both teams fill respective needs so perhaps the post-season we see if the trade actually provides a true winner. Florida is a contender but the off-season will bring new challenges as they will lose 4 key players to free agency. Still, as an expansion team that has yet to miss the post-season, I tip my hat.

Montreal – a recent 8-2 run has elevated the Habs to 5th in the conference, but this likely means another downwards streak is on the horizon. Knowing this team is streaky, the GM has made a few early moves including moving out their top-line centre for a younger right wing star who will lose a season of ratings due to injuries but comes with an additional 4 seasons of control. Fortunately, a previous team used Hyman as a centre and the experiment to move him into a second line role seems to be working. This team appeared to be playing a soft game so the additions of Gudas and Marcus Foligno should help make them more challenging to play against. This team could run again but could also flame out in the first round.

Ottawa – for most observers, seeing Ottawa tied for 10th in the conference is no surprise. Most believed that this roster needed an overhaul at the end of last season but the GM tried to keep the band together for one last gig. Although not impossible, being 12 points out with 30 games left is damn near close to being the time to bring out Roseanne to sing. Even though recent moves seem to contradict embracing a rebuild, it is expected that Jamie Benn, Giroux, Pacioretty, Letang, Spurgeon and perhaps even Khodobin will finish this season in different uniforms. This team over achieved for a long time and congrats on those past achievements.

New Jersey – the Jersey Boys presently sit 3rd in the conference thanks to their offensive depth. However, they are fooling themselves if they believe this defense and goaltending will carry them far in the post-season. Although the weaknesses are as apparent as a Hair Club for Men product, the resolution is something that has plagued this team for several seasons. Until greater balance is found, the first round will always see the Jersey Boys singing “Hey Hey Goodbye” to their championship hopes. For the record, this is the worst goaltending duo of any potential playoff team in either conference.

NY Islanders – the tumble to 14th in the conference is what most expected as the GM took over a team in dire needs of a scorched earth rebuild. Although a painful process to endure, the team is already starting to see some strong development in future pieces and presently hold 3 1st round picks in the next draft. Personally I see few pieces on the roster that can merit a return of further 1sts, however, I expect to see this team selling anything and everything of value until the kids are ready to come up. Good luck but the seeds are planted.

NY Rangers – this should be a lesson for us all – never bid under the influence during free agency. It took the Rags a few months to undo the good UFA signings that a rebuilding team doesn’t need and have finally started their descent to the basement and greater lottery percentages. The 13th slot that the Rangers hold is likely their best in the foreseeable future as they look to add youthful talent throughout the organization.

Philadelphia – it might be too easy to point out how appropriate that the 12th seeded Flyers have a prospect named Pu; however, I firmly believe that the perpetual rebuild in Philadelphia is about to come to an end. It’s not due to the high-end skill of the vast amount of prospects they have possess, but more so because a few other teams are going to be a lot worse. Don’t get me wrong, there are some nice pieces to build around in the future and having a bank roll that is closing in on $150M means the GM has the power to pick the moment to add significantly to this roster.

Pittsburgh – this will be brief. The rebuild is in full swing and it will be at least 5 seasons before the Penguins are a playoff contender. Good luck Justin as I think you have the basement rented for a while.

Tampa Bay – we knew Tampa Bay was going to improve and most expected them to be on the cusp of the playoffs. No one saw them leading the conference from wire-to-wire and having the depth and cap space to continue doing so for the next 3-4 seasons. Everything this team has touched has turned into gold this season and they really don’t need to do much but watch this group mature and add a long-term solution in net while capitalizing on their abundance of youth of defense to address other weaknesses as they arise. I don’t like betting on a team that hasn’t been in post-season for years but this line-up is the SIM darling and I’m not going against that – yet.

Toronto – with all the talent this team possesses, they should not be holding 8th in the conference. Finding the elusive mix that the SIM likes has been an issue for Toronto for the past 3-4 seasons as they had the talent to be a dynasty but those days are drawing to an end as even now the GM in shopping Marner knowing tough cap decisions are on the horizon again this off-season. Having said that, my gut still tells me that if they face Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs, Toronto is moving on. This iteration of the Maple Leafs is extremely dangerous and likely will have the best chance of any 8th seed of walking through the post-season right to a championship.

Winnipeg – for a team as devoid of talent while be a 9th seed, it is something the rest of the conference should take note of as Winnipeg will get better. With a future core lead by Nick Suzuki and Matthew Tkachuk, the Jets need strong development years from Oettinger, Norris, Dube, Bokk, Rossi, Mitchell and Samberg while being able to add a few more young pieces in the next few drafts. It would be wise to move as many of Marleau, Maroon, Kempny, Holden, Gardiner and Hainsey as possible and take the cash or low-odd lottery tickets to assist in building for the future.

Worsington – I fully expected the Caps to be a team which would hold high odds for the Byfield lottery but given that they currently are tied with Ottawa as the 10th seed, they are a long-shot on the Byfield board. Another challenge is that the Caps really have no piece they need to move at the trade deadline other than perhaps Joey Chestnut Phil Kessel. This team did well is dismantling an aging roster and taking a re-tooling path. Still, a few additional high skill pieces to build around never hurt anyone.

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