If you’re Connor Bedard, you’re probably taking a closer look at the NHL standings these days.
What are you hoping for? Could it be stepping into a line with Johnny Gaudreau and being set up for instant success? Filling the void left by Patrick Kane? Joining a bunch of other young and exciting players in Anaheim? Becoming anything and everything the Coyotes could use in Arizona? Jump-starting a franchise like the San Jose Sharks, who were successful not that long ago?
With the trade deadline now past, we’ve assembled our writers again, although in a smaller group this time, to discuss who is in the best position to finish last in the NHL and potentially land Bedard, along with some other questions. Our roundtable includes Corey Masisak (who wrote the Sharks portion), Mark Lazerus (who wrote the Coyotes portion), Aaron Portzline (who wrote the Blue Jackets portion), Scott Powers (who wrote the Blackhawks portion) and Eric Stephens (who wrote the Ducks portion).
How was the team impacted at the trade deadline?
Blackhawks: The Blackhawks sold and sold and sold at the deadline. Patrick Kane was the headliner, but the Blackhawks also moved Max Domi, Sam Lafferty, Jake McCabe and Jack Johnson. The names are notable enough, but let’s break them down by the numbers. Domi and Kane were 1-2 in points and had been together on the top line and first power-play unit for a majority of the season. Kane, Johnson and McCabe were 2-3-4 in average ice time. Lafferty was second among forwards in penalty-kill ice time and led the Blackhawks with four short-handed goals. Only if Jonathan Toews had been traded would there have been more of a significant change to the Blackhawks’ roster. As much as all the moves were expected, it was still eye-opening to see the Blackhawks’ lineup after the deadline.
Blue Jackets: It was a quietly devastating trade deadline for the Blue Jackets lineup, but one that thoroughly made sense and was expected. They lost their best healthy defenseman, Vladislav Gavrikov, and their best goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo, in a trade with Los Angeles. They also traded veteran winger Gustav Nyquist to Minnesota, but Nyquist (shoulder), out since late January, is likely out until the very end of the regular season or perhaps the playoffs. Further, the Blue Jackets lost fourth-line center and top penalty killer Sean Kuraly to an injury in practice the day before the trade deadline. It’s been one of those seasons in Columbus.
Coyotes: The Coyotes finally ended the Jakob Chychrun saga, settling for one first-round pick and two second-rounders from Ottawa — not quite the two firsts and a prospect Bill Armstrong had been holding out for. Arizona had been holding Chychrun out for “trade-related reasons” for four weeks before the trade deadline, so they’ve been without their No. 1 defenseman for a while. And they’ve gone a respectable 6-4-4 without him. They also dealt away center Nick Bjugstad and defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere and Troy Stecher.
Ducks: To be honest, the effect could be negligible. Ordinarily, John Klingberg and Dmitry Kulikov being dealt from their blue line could be seen as a major subtraction that could chart a clearer course toward losing but Klingberg and Kulikov were part of why Anaheim’s defense has often been wretched and the team’s season never getting out of the starting gate. Also, general manager Pat Verbeek didn’t (or couldn’t?) sell off every remaining valuable piece. But they’re working in depth players Brock McGinn and waiver pickup Scott Harrington, and neither should make a big difference in them suddenly winning games. They don’t have enough to go on a long winning streak but talents like Troy Terry, Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish along with a refreshed John Gibson can still steal games here and there.