This year's playoffs are ripe with peril. The Eastern Conference is shaping up to be a battle royale among the very best teams in the NHL. The Western Conference tilts that are lined up will have an "anyone can win it" feel to them with the records being so close among the contenders. That type of competition put a special kind of pressure on this year's trade deadline.

The beauty of the NHL trade deadline is it provides a life preserver for contending teams to find a player or players who can help put them over the top in the race for the Stanley Cup. Everyone is looking for some kind of help, a little something to give them an edge against their foes-to-be.

More than a few teams sought out and handled their business to best ensure their shot at the Cup. The Bruins, Rangers, Maple Leafs, and Hurricanes all added big-name players—some bigger than others—to boost their odds. Eastern Conference teams were particularly pointed about doing that, and for good reason. Although Western Conference teams were more modest, teams like the Oilers and Kings did their best to meet specific needs.

But then there are a few teams who didn't do that. Whether it's because they have a lot of confidence in their rosters or the trade market wasn't particularly friendly to them, needs were not met and questions will follow them through the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

We picked out five such teams who couldn't get moves across the finish line on deadline day. Most of them did make some moves, just not the ones that helped them the most. Is your team one of them, or did we miss out on one? Hit us up in the comments and let us know about it.


Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't turn out too well when I put together our winners and losers of deadline day/week/month, so it's understandable that they're sitting here ignominiously having not done what's best to contend.

It's fair to question whether they're actually contenders or not given that they're in the Eastern Conference and would more than likely be a wild-card team destined to face either the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, or New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs.

All that aside, the Penguins' biggest issues headed into the deadline were for them to figure out if they're going for it and to go full bore into that decision with their moves. General manager Ron Hextall decided they were in it to win it and had to find the best ways to make the team deeper at forward and on defense.

The main problem they had, however, was the salary cap. They needed to waive Kasperi Kapanen, Brock McGinn and Mark Friedman in order to make any moves in the first place and lost Kapanen to the Blues on waivers. Even though that freed up $3.2 million against the cap for this season and next, it took away some of their depth up front.

While McGinn and Friedman cleared waivers, they sent McGinn and a 2024 third-round pick to Anaheim to land defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. They added middle-six forward Mikael Granlund and bottom-sixer and former Penguin Nick Bonino but traded Teddy Blueger to Vegas. While Granlund has more offensive upside, the younger Blueger and Bonino are kind of a wash.

Granlund's offense runs hot and cool year-to-year, and his advanced stats the past couple seasons were far from impressive in Nashville. If you felt the Penguins were a depth forward and veteran defenseman away from going deep in the playoffs, then you're feeling pretty good about these moves. Everyone else, however, is rightfully skeptical of how it will play out because the same questions about depth persist.