Where NHL Contenders Stand Before Trade Deadline

The final major window for NHL teams to finalize their roster is closing near the Monday trade deadline.

Each of the four makeshift divisions of this season has a similar dynamic, with three teams comfortably at the top and then a packet of clubs aspiring for the fourth and final postseason spot. Only six teams have seven or more points from a playoff spot. This year’s deadline figures to be competitive, but activity is also likely to suffer from logistic concerns.

Due to health protocols, players being traded on the US-Canada border will have to quarantine for seven days upon arrival of their new team.

Even players traded between two US-based teams, such as ex-Ranger Brendan Lemieux, were traded to Los Angeles, likely to have to quarantine along the length based on a number of factors. The deadline expires about a month before the end of the 56-game regular season, so teams are making deals with the playoffs in mind.

Top teams may seek the final run for the Stanley Cup run, while clubs must decide to sell below or try for the vault in the postseason.

In addition, the salary cap was flat this season and will not go into the next season. Some teams set their maximum budgets below the cap, giving financial flexibility at a premium.

There are also teams aligning their rosters to minimize the impact of the upcoming expansion draft, in which they will be able to protect 11 players and their entry-level players from being selected by the Seattle Cracks.

The Islanders will be without their captain Anders Lee for the rest of the season, and they lost a solid contributor to defenseman Devon Toes in the off season. The silver lining is that Lee’s long-term injured reserve list allows him to take undone pay.

A top-six forward to replace Lee and the Islanders’ upcoming offense and power play was shown to be an obvious choice. The Islanders on Wednesday acquired wing Kyle Palmieri and veteran center Travis Zajac from the Devils in exchange for a first-round pick in 2021, a conditional fourth-rounder in 2022 and a pair of minor-leagues.

The Devils retain 50 percent of Palmeri and Zajac’s salaries, which expire after this season, so the Islanders can take another step forward before Monday’s deadline.

“I’m excited to have him be a part of our organization right now,” said Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello. Lamorillo drafted Zajac in the first round in 2004 during his tenure with the Devils. “I know what they bring on ice. I also know who they are as people, how well they will fit in the locker room here. Chemistry is very important to me. “

The Capitals and Penguins are against salary cap. Washington could use the most depth at center, where a pair of injuries exposed the team early in the season, and in goal, where its two primary netminders combined only 61 games of NHL experience entering this month .

Pittsburgh is peaking at the right time, and its recent play has not shown many shortcomings. In previous years, the Penguins were bold on the trade deadline, but they are under new management, first-year general manager Ron Hextall, who was traditionally more conservative with the Flyers than his predecessor, Jim Rutherford, in the past Were. The Penguins also do not have a first, third or fourth round pick in the 2021 draft, but if center Evgeny Malkin remains in the position of being injured for a long time until the playoffs, there may be some salary cap flexibility.

Devils and Buffalo likely to be sellers, with Sabers predecessor Taylor Hall, the most valuable player of 2018, from recent games, According to several reports. Even after Palmieri was traded, the Devils have three experienced defensemen heading to unrestricted free agency this season with two more next year.

The Maple Leafs have been the most formidable team in the division for most of the year and are loaded to grit in the off-season with bargain-priced veterans such as Wayne Simmond, Joe Thornton and Zac Bogosian. They are tight against the cap, as are the Edmonton Oilers, who would love to find a way to pursue supporting cast around Conor McDavid and Leon Dracisital. McDavid ranks first in scoring Leaguide, and Dreistel is second.

The second-placed jet should have about $ 3.5 million in flexibility, which can be used to get a solid piece if creative. General manager Kevin Chevalayoff has failed to pursue big trades by acquiring Paul Stasti in 2018, Kevin Hayes in 2019 and Pierre-Luke Dubois in this season.

The Jets have some flexibility next season, should they opt for a non-rental chase. The Jets will likely focus on their blue line, and the most iconic two-way defenseman will be Mattius Ekholm of Nashville. But the Predators closed their march to a six-game win and set a high price.

Within the division, Vancouver defenseman Alex Adler is a veteran on an expelled deal who can waive his no-movement clause to join a contender, though his $ 6 million cap hit may be a little disrespectful. Calgary center Sam Bennett asked for the trade before the Flames’ coaching change. Calgary winger Johnny Gaudru, a powerful scorer who is largely a cunning player, may not have been a perfect fit for Darryl Sutter’s playing style. Sutter, who rarely discussed personally positive or negative, satirized to demand more from Gadru last month on the occasion of Gaudru’s 500th career game.

The Lightning have turned into a fantastic title defense, even with wing Nikita Kucharov, their top forward, not all season. Carolina Central had the top team in March, giving Martin Necas’ breakout performance 17 points from 14 games and goalscorer Alex Nedeljkovic, who went 6-1-1 with 1.85 goals against average. Florida gave the combination of winger Jonathan Huberde and Alexander Barkov for another successful month, one of the best seasons in franchise history.

While Tampa is against the salary cap, Carolina and Florida in particular have flexibility. Most of Carolina’s defensemen will likely come out in the expansion draft, so it is possible the Hurricanes will deal with a deadline to deal with a situation where they lose one of their regulars in the off-season. They would instead seek further, as their goalscoring position froze between Nedeljkovic and the now-healthy Petr Majek, who returned to the lineup this week for the first time since 30 January.

Florida has the highest cap of any team at a playoff spot, but also has significant holes in its lineup. Aaron Ekblad, the Panthers’ top defenseman, will create a critical void by June with a broken leg. Nashville can shape the timeframe as a full day, as it can chart its course based on whether the March-March growth continues. If the Predators choose to sell and reconfigure, they can put talented players like Ekolo ahead, Mikel Granlund and defenseman Ryan Ellis further into the game.

Opposing coaches and players, such as the Kings Todd McLennan and Drew Doughty, publicly acknowledged that playoffs berths were locked in Colorado, Vegas and Minnesota. St. Louis, Arizona and San Jose were left in a three-way scuffle for the final playoff.

The top goalscorer of the march in Colorado, right-wing Mikoko Ranten, was the top goalkeeper, Philippe Grubauer, who won a league-best 12 games with 1.56 goals.

Vegas, which has been aggressive in its short history, has a deep but already expensive roster. While Colorado has few options, it has a surplus of talent at almost every position, with the possible exception of a backup goaltender, given that Pavel Frankos has been injured all season.

Minnesota is in dire need of help on the power play that ranks in the league’s bottom five. Despite the emergence of Joel Erikson-Ek, the Wild lack a true No. 1 center, and a smooth passer could open up opportunities for wing drivers such as wing Kirill Kaprizov and defenseman Jared Spurgeon. A creative, playmaking centerman would probably top Minnesota’s wish list, but the market for centers is expected to be thin.

Anaheim is the most likely seller, though its position is complicated by injuries, with forward Rickard Raquel and defenseman Hampus Lindholm out.

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