Fifteen trades (based on players who have played in the NHL), 26 players and 12 picks. That's the final tally from the Ash Wednesday trade-deadline day. With the salary cap and the value of developing young players (who are cheaper, which is better for the cap), trade-deadline day isn't the television show that it used to be. But it's still a great day for a hockey fan. All-day discussion, rumors, anticipation, roster analysis and imagining various players in various uniforms is good, clean fun.
From a points perspective, Thomas Vanek has the most (38) of players dealt on deadline day. Vanek was a good signing by Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings in the summer. Vanek outperformed his two years with the Minnesota Wild for only $2.6 million and was the Wings' second-leading scorer. I'm surprised a third-round pick was the best the Wings could do. Vanek is a good player and will definitely have an impact for the Florida Panthers. Also, if you take away his playoff season with the Wild, Vanek had 20 playoff goals in his first 53 playoff games.
The Panthers are 22nd in scoring and they need Vanek to pot some goals down the stretch and make his linemates better. The Panthers are outside the playoff line and must finish strong. Jonathan Huberdeau has been outstanding in his return and the healthy Cats are too good not to make the postseason. It will be fun to watch their desperation down the stretch. Next game is at Philadelphia on Thursday.
Kevin Shattenkirk wasn't traded on deadline day, but it was close enough. The Capitals were so bold because a) They wanted to block Shattenkirk from going to the New York Rangers or Pittsburgh Penguins, especially Pittsburgh. Shattenkirk would have provided power-play insurance for the Penguins if Kris Letang were to get injured and make Pittsburgh even more offensively lethal, and b) The Capitals are probably not going to be as good next season. T.J. Oshie, Karl Alzner and Justin Williams are unrestricted free agents while Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Philipp Grubauer (three shutouts in 17 games) are restricted free agents. (I'm hearing Vegas will likely pluck Grubauer in the expansion draft and Pheonix Copley will back up Holtby next season.)
So, the Capitals were already looking at this year with a sense of finality before the season. The expiring contracts, the fact Alex Ovechkin (averaging a career-low 3.66 shots a game) is in his 30s and not having been to a conference finals in the Ovechkin era means the Caps are letting it fly this year, as they should. They didn't need Shattenkirk, but he gives the Capitals depth and keeps him away from other Eastern Conference teams. Shattenkirk won an NCAA championship for Boston University at the Verizon Center in D.C. in 2009. The Capitals are hoping that Natty can rub off on their organization.
So, who can win it all? About this time every year, I make a list of teams I feel can win the Stanley Cup using my secret formula. The winner will come from one of these teams, listed in the order I think is most likely based on right now. Injury and/or where teams enter the postseason could change the order, but probably not much. Good luck to you and your team. I can't wait for the playoffs.
1. Washington Capitals: Do they have the leadership and attitude for the slog?
3. Pittsburgh Penguins: Average road record is a bit of a concern.
4. Minnesota Wild: I wanted to put them third. Their game travels well.
5. New York Rangers: I would have overpaid for Shattenkirk now. They are dangerous.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets: They are this low just because they haven't done it yet.
8. San Jose Sharks: A little issue scoring goals but they can prevent them. Gamers.