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Hawks Get Edge in Trading Shuffle

Posted by Webster Washington on 3/3/2016 3:41:04 AM

The NHL trade deadline passed on Monday with little blockbuster action, much to the chagrin of hungry fans and media. Washington, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Detroit were virtually silent during the last week. The Capitals and Lightning had good reason to stand pat – they're doing fine, thank you. But the Blues and Red Wings were more conspicuous in their idleness, and you have to wonder about those teams' urgency with the post season around the bend. Nevertheless, there were some winners in the trade shuffle, both for this season and further into the future. Here they are:

Help For This Season

The Chicago Blackhawks fully intend to defend. The holders of the Stanley Cup went to work with Winnipeg, Montreal and others to fit seven players with new Blackhawk sweaters. The latest deals came Thursday and Friday, when the 'Hawks picked up forwards Andrew Ladd and Matt Fraser, along with defenseman Jay Harrison from the Jets. Then they hooked up with the Canadiens to get wingers Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise. Locked in a fierce Central Division race with Dallas and St. Louis, the Blackhawks should benefit nicely from the depth.

While the Blues did little more than pick up a reserve goalkeeper, the Dallas Stars weren't idle at all. They put all of their emphasis into the defensive talents of Calgary's Kris Russell, and they gave away the house in doing so. But Russell should find his way into the rotation right away. Already an exciting offensive force, the Stars should look better at the blue line now, too.

Another Western Conference contender, the Anaheim Ducks, made pretty good work of their time by adding wingers Brandon Pirri and Jamie McGinn. McGinn should make the third line, while Pirri adds some depth. The Ducks are aiming to keep the pressure on the Kings in that Pacific Division race.

The Los Angeles Kings weren't on hold, either, adding two players who should contribute instantly. They got a quality winger, Kris Versteeg, from Carolina to bolster their offense and picked up D Rob Scuderi from Chicago. Versteeg should offer a scoring boost the Kings sorely need.

Back east, the Florida Panthers essentially created a line, adding Jiri Hudler from Calgary and Teddy Purcell from Edmonton. This helps their depth up front and makes them more potent in their quest to keep the Atlantic Division lead.

The New York Rangers boosted their scoring potential when they added Carolina's Eric Staal, and the Boston Bruins showed seriousness about the playoffs, picking up D John-Michael Liles from Carolina and F Lee Stempniak from New Jersey.

Help For the Future

Then there were teams who essentially tossed in the towel in terms of the immediate future, in order to improve their lot in the coming seasons.

The Winnipeg Jets made out well in their trades with Chicago, getting a first-round draft pick, a third rounder and forward Marko Dano.

The Toronto Maple Leafs' month was a busy one. The troubled Leafs, frustrated this season from failing to land Steven Stamkos, went ahead and made trades for a ton of futures. When the dust settled, they ended up with six high picks and ten new players.

The Carolina Hurricanes also signaled their emphasis on the future. In the Staal trade, they got two second round picks and a player. Then they got two more picks and a player in the Lyles deal. By the way, Staal may return and sign in the summer.

The Calgary Flames got Jyrki Jokipaakka, a good young defenseman, and F Brett Pollock from Dallas in the Russell trade, along with a conditional second round pick, which could go to first round if Russell plays.

Looking Good

As if the Blackhawks weren't a fierce force as it is, they look even tougher now, and I'd give them the nod as the post-trade team to beat. But I'm not sure I like their value in the futures odds as much as I do the Ducks, who are already hot and now more imposing in the West. I also like the Panthers more than I did a week ago, and their price is still good. As far as single games goes, keep an eye on the Bruins. They apparently see themselves as a factor in post season and should make a drive to that end.

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