NHL Post Trade Deadline contenders
By: Harrison D
This past Monday’s trade-deadline made it apparent that it’s that time of the year again where teams are gearing up for a playoff push. Clubs have made moves that increase their chances of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup this summer. But who are looking to be the major contenders for this year’s playoffs? Here are my picks (in no particular order) for the NHL’s top squads post-trade deadline.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay’s roster is majorly talented and there is no question about it. The back-to-back champions look to defend their title once more with veterans such as Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Nikita Kucherov. The Lightning had a few minor trades. They traded depth player Mathieu Joseph and a 4th rounder for another depth player in Nick Paul from the Ottawa Senators. They also went for Riley Nash from the Coyotes for future considerations. However, their biggest trade was for Chicago Blackhawks Brandon Hagel and a few 4th rounders. The forward brought a hefty price though, the Lightning had to trade two first rounders and a few depth chart players. This trade may be trouble down the road, but the Lightning are looking to win now and keep the dynasty going. Right now, Tampa fans should be happy for this huge pickup making their team even more dangerous. Don’t be too surprised to see this franchise make a deep run once again.
Calgary has been an interesting team this year in the struggling Pacific Division. After missing the playoffs last year, it seems that they are back in their form from a few years ago. They have been a major surprise, but a good one for Flames fans. The team has had an under the radar but high-powered offense. Household names such as Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau have been consistent bright spots for the club. An earlier edition of Tyler Toffoli has also elevated the team to contending status. The Flames trade deadline was very successful with a few moves to up their chances. The Flames first traded a 2nd, 3rd, and 7th round pick to Seattle for Calle Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok has had better years but has proved before that he can be a top forward on an NHL team. The club then traded for Ryan Carpenter from the Blackhawks for a 5th rounder. These two additions added major depth to the team’s 2nd and 3rd lines. The Flames are looking scary in the Western Conference and could possibly make a trip to the Final.
The Panthers have been one of my favorites to watch this year and have a formidable roster. As of now, they have the second highest number of points in the league and lead the Eastern Conference. Florida’s offense has been lights-out and lead the league in goals for by a hefty margin. Superstars such as Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Aaron Ekblad have made their top lines hard to play against. The Panthers have been in playoff contention the past few years but could never make it far. This year, they’re gearing up for a deep run and potential title possibly getting out of Tampa’s shadow for once. The Panthers had one of the best trade deadlines in my opinion. First, they traded for Ben Chiarot from Montreal. This is a solid pick up and could benefit them potentially. Then, they landed the big fish. They got the top man off the board in Claude Giroux from Philly. They traded Owen Tippett and a 1st and 3rd rounder for him which isn’t too bad of a price. Regardless, Giroux is a game changer for the Panthers and adds to their already lethal attack core. It seems there may be a Florida team lifting the cup, and it isn’t Tampa Bay. The Panthers are true contenders this year, and maybe Giroux can help lead them to his and their first cup.
It’s evident that the Avs have been the best team this season. They’ve been an elite team for the past few years. Their roster is absolutely loaded with star power in Nathan Mackinnon, Gabe Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, and many others. You could say that they’ve been consistently good in the regular season, but they haven’t gotten it done in the playoffs. Regardless, they have remained one of the top squads and had a solid trade deadline. One great move by Colorado was trading for Josh Manson from the Ducks. Manson adds defensive depth which is great for the playoffs. Two other notable moves were trading for Artturi Lehkonen and Andrew Cogliano adding major depth to their forward group. The Avs are still shaping up to be the team to beat in the playoffs, but can they get it done? Who knows, maybe we will see a rematch of the 96’ Cup Final against Florida.
My final team on the list are another team from the Eastern Conference. The Canes are very similar to the Avalanche, talented roster that hasn’t gotten it done yet. The team had a somewhat quiet trade deadline, and only traded for Max Domi in a three-way trade. Even so, Domi can help the likes of Aho, Svechnikov, Stall, and Andersen to name a few. The Canes approach is different, but they still look to be a major contender for the Cup. Hopefully, it works out in their favor.