Photo: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images
With the 2022 NHL trade deadline less than five weeks away and the first domino dropping when the Montreal Canadiens traded right-wing Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames on Monday, NoVa Caps gives an overview of the status of each team entering March 21.
* Montreal Canadiens – The Canadiens are currently 14 points out … of 15th place in the Eastern Conference. Newly acquired right-wing Tyler Pitlick, center Cedric Paquette, defenseman Ben Chiarot, and defenseman Brett Kulak are among those who could be on new teams come March 22 as all can become unrestricted free agents after this season.
* Philadelphia Flyers – The Flyers have a worse record and goal-differential than the Buffalo Sabres… yikes. Captain Claude Giroux, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, and goaltender Martin Jones can all become unrestricted free agents at season’s end and could be moved before.
* Buffalo Sabres – The Sabres do not have any big names up for sale but after center Jack Eichel and right-wing Sam Reinhart were traded since last season, a big “for sale” sign is up in Buffalo.
* New Jersey Devils – Left-wings Andreas Jonsson and Tomas Tatar, and defenseman P.K. Subban are all on expiring contracts. The Devils are 19 points out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
* Arizona Coyotes – The Coyotes are currently eight points behind the Seattle Kraken for 15th in the Western Conference. While right-wing Phil Kessel and center Travis Boyd can become unrestricted free agents on July 17, all eyes are on 23-year-old defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
* Seattle Kraken – The Kraken have come nowhere close to the success of the Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural season and are expected to sell defenseman Mark Giordano. Right-wings Calle Jarnkrok and Colin Blackwell could also be among those on their way out.
* Chicago Blackhawks – Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is the big name on the block but defenseman Calvin de Haan (July 17) in addition to center Jonathan Toews and right-wing Patrick Kane (both next season) are also nearing the end of their deals. They are currently 12 points out of the final wild-card.
* San Jose Sharks – The Sharks were hanging around in the race for a while but have fallen six points out. One of the biggest stories of the trade deadline is what will happen with center Tomas Hertl, who can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
* New York Islanders – The Islanders are 16 points out of the second wild-card but have played the fewest games in the NHL (44) and they lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Semifinal series against the defending Stanley Cup Champions by a score of 1-0 just eight months ago. Right-wing Cal Clutterbuck, left-wing Zach Parise, and veteran defensemen Zdeno Chara in addition to Andy Greene can all become unrestricted free agents in July while goaltender Semyon Varlamov is just two years out from unrestricted free agency.
* Columbus Blue Jackets – The Blue Jackets have been better than expected this season as they are tied for ninth in the East in points percentage (.510) but are still 10 points out. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo’s name has been on the rumor mill for a while center Max Domi may also soon be out the door.
In The Middle (Could Do Either)
* Winnipeg Jets – The Jets have been a disappointment this season as they are three points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild-card spot. If they decide to sell, centers Paul Stastny and Andrew Copp are where they will most likely start.
* Vancouver Canucks – The Canucks have put up a fight since head coach Bruce Boudreau came into town but they are still three points out. Teams are calling about right-wings J.T. Miller (unrestricted free agent after next season) and Brock Boeser (restricted free agent after this season) in addition to left-wing Connor Garland.
* Detroit Red Wings – The Red Wings have improved this season but are still six points behind the Bruins (who have three games in hand) for the final wild-card spot and have a -29 goal differential. Right-wing Vladislav Namestnikov, defenseman Nick Leddy, and goaltender Thomas Greiss are among those who are unsigned for next season.
* Dallas Stars – The Stars are currently one point out of the final wild-card spot but have a slightly higher point percentage (.574) than the Kings. Goaltender Braden Holtby, right-wing Joe Pavelski, right-wing Alexander Radulov, left-wing Michael Raffl, and defenseman John Klingberg (who requested a trade) are all on expiring deals. They give up the 13th-most goals in the NHL (3.00 per game) and have the 12th-worst penalty-killing unit (77.8%).
* Anaheim Ducks – The Ducks have been one of the NHL’s top surprises this season but teams behind them have higher point percentages. Defenseman Hampus Lindholm, center Rickard Rakell, and captain Ryan Getzlaf are all among the notable Ducks’ unrestricted free agents this season. They could use more help on offense where they rank 19th with an average of 2.86 goals-per-game.
* Los Angeles Kings – The Kings are just four points behind the Golden Knights for second in the Pacific Division and rank eighth in the Western Conference in points percentage (.573). They could use help on offense as they entered Friday 21st in goals-per-game (2.83) and 29th on the power-play (15.8%). The Kings are also 29th with a 74.2% penalty-killing rate. Right-wing Dustin Brown, left-wing Andreas Athanasiou, and defenseman Olli Maatta could all hit the open market come July.
* Boston Bruins – The Bruins are sitting pretty comfortably in the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot but are tied for 20th in the league with an average of 2.83 goals-per-game despite ranking seventh with a 24.8% power-play efficiency. With David Krejci gone, they need a center if they want any chance to take down their opponent come spring. Centers Patrice Bergeron and Curtis Lazar are the biggest UFAs this offseason who are currently in Boston.
* Washington Capitals – The Capitals have a pretty good cushion ahead of Boston for the first wild-card spot and are just two points behind the New York Rangers for third in the Metropolitan Division and five behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for first. Besides the need for a veteran goaltender, the Capitals could use another right-winger who can play on the power play (which ranks 28th with a 16.1% efficiency this season) even though it has improved lately (eighth with a 28% efficiency since January 27), especially with Anthony Mantha (shoulder injury) and T.J. Oshie (lower-body) out for who knows how long.
* St. Louis Blues – While the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild have grabbed the headlines in the Central this season, the Blues have had a solid campaign as they are right there with the Wild for second in the division. The Blues do not have any real weaknesses as they rank top-10 in offense, defense power play, and penalty kill. Even though Villie Husso has had a fantastic season in goal, he has yet to play a Stanley Cup Playoff game while Jordan Binnington has an .898 save percentage and a 3.35 goals-against average in 24 games.
* Calgary Flames – The NHL’s hottest team, having won eight straight games, already checked the major need off of their to-do list. They are among the league leaders in goals, goals-against, power-play, penalty-kill, and save percentage. However, with the Golden Knights and the two best scorers in the NHL in their division, they could use all the help they can get.
* Vegas Golden Knights – With Eichel back, the Golden Knights are looking pretty solid even though they placed captain Mark Stone on long-term injured reserve. Could they pursue a goalie since Robin Lehner has a .907 save percentage and a 2.86 goals-against average in 34 games this season? The Golden Knights may need help on the blueline. Is 15th in goals-against (2.94 per game) and 18th on the penalty kill (79.3%) really going to cut it?
* Nashville Predators – The Predators have a cushion for the first wild-card spot in the West and are just two points behind the Blues for third in the Central. They rank 14th in goals (3.04 per game), which may not be good enough to have a shot at taking down Colorado or Minnesota.
* Minnesota Wild – The big hole for the Wild comes at center. As they currently sit sixth in the NHL with a .700 points percentage, they should definitely look to add down the middle. The Wild also rank 17th in goals-against (2.91 per game) and 16th on the penalty kill (79.7%).
* Colorado Avalanche – With a league-best .771 points percentage, this is a Cup or bust year for Colorado. The biggest question mark for them comes in goal as Darcy Kuemper has turned it on lately but struggled for much of the season. They have also been linked to Giroux. The Avalanche are currently tied for 13th in goals-against (2.79 per game) and 21st on the penalty kill (77.2%), so defense could be an area Colorado could look to improve.
* New York Rangers – The Rangers are battling it with with three other teams for first in the Metropolitan Division and arguably have the best starting goaltender of the three. Their average of 2.96 goals-per-game is currently the NHL average so they could look to improve up front.
* Pittsburgh Penguins – Like the Capitals, the Penguins are trying to make one of their last Cup runs before a rebuild looms. Goaltender Tristan Jarry has been among the league’s best goalies this season while they also rank fourth in goals-against (2.57 per game) and tied for ninth in goals (3.29). They might need another goaltender as back-up Casey DeSmith has a .897 save percentage and a 3.11 goals-against average in 12 games, especially after Jarry posted an .888 save percentage and a 3.18 goals-against average in their six-game first-round exit last season.
* Carolina Hurricanes – The Hurricanes will likely win the Metropolitan Division and have arguably the deepest blueline in the NHL. They are also tied for sixth in goals-per-game (3.45) and among the league leaders in both special teams categories. Goaltender Frederik Andersen could be in the Vezina conversation by season’s end with a .928 save percentage and 2.07 goals-against average (both third in NHL).
* Toronto Maple Leafs – The Maple Leafs have had a strong season and will likely be a team to watch on the trade front as they look to snap their 18-year second-round drought. They are in the top-six of all major categories but could use a reinforcement behind Jack Campbell in goal as he has played in 35 of Toronto’s 51 games this season and back-up Petr Mrazek has an .899 save percentage and a 2.95 goals-against average. Though, Joseph Woll has made a case to take on that role as he has gone 3-1-0 with a .911 save percentage, a 2.76 goals-against average, and one shutout.
* Tampa Bay Lightning – The defending back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions rank eighth in the NHL in goals-per-game (3.41), where they could improve, and 10th in goals-against per game (2.76). Their biggest need is probably in net as no goaltender has a save percentage above .903 behind Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has played in 38 out of 49 games this season. After two long Stanley Cup Playoff runs, going after a stronger back-up would be ideal for Tampa Bay.
* Florida Panthers – The Eastern Conference’s top gun is the only team in the NHL averaging above four goals per game this season (4.06) but they are just above the league average in goals-against (2.88) and below in penalty-kill (79.3%). They will likely want to bulk up on the backend and have been linked to Chiarot.
By Harrison Brown
B-Mac has said the Caps are “all in” in final years of Ovi/Backy deals. We’ll see if he means it.
Unless the Caps are willing to move one of the bigger contracts, there’s no point in doing anything. They have more than enough young talent at forward, moving any of them is selling off their future. They could improve the D, but they won’t get rid of the one guy they should. And I’d like to see a new goalie coach before they make a move there.
B-Mac said the team is “all in” during final years of Ovi/Backy.
I know BMac is on record, but man oh man, I hope he doesn’t mortgage the future by trading our young guys for old vets. it had better be a really good upgrade for going all in. By that, I mean at least making it to the conference finals. Caps haven’t even sniffed at the conference finals since winning the Cup. And I fear another first round exit is coming too.
Alex is on vacation
Alex who? Ovechkin? Yes, he has the week off with the rest of the team. Before his time off he had a pair of goals in a game earlier this week.
Getzlaf to Washington.
Pavelski or Giroux