The trade deadline definitely signals who is and is not going for the postseason, and who is playing for the future. There are some teams in the middle of the pack who need to make more dramatic moves in order to establish themselves, while the top teams seek to bolster depht for a long playoff run All in all, most of the positioning is set by the time the deadline rolls around, and there shouldn’t be much change for the rest of the season.
This March, however, it seems more evident that the middle of the pack teams got much stronger (Colorado, Chicago, Florida and even Buffalo have gone on great runs since the deadline), while some of the perennial powerhouses appear to have gone stale.
The San Jose Sharks gave up young skater Jamie McGlinn (who has certainly helped Colorado in his time playing at the Pepsi Center) for depth, though haven’t played inspired hockey since the deadline. They were able to defeat the Red Wings on Saturday, though that may not be the best metric for judging whether or not a team is playing well right now.
Since the deadline, the Red Wings have only 3 wins in 11 games. Their only notable move was the acquisition of Kyle Quincey, which makes one wonder if the team could have used some fresher legs down the stretch. Pavel Datsyuk’s return from injury will certainly help, because right now, Detroit is foundering.
Last year’s Cup finalists, the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins have combined to go 7-11-1 since the deadline, having taken different strategies. The Canucks made a bold move, swapping top prospect Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian, and acquiring Sami Pahlsson to take Hodgson’s now vacant spot. The Bruins, on the other hand only added a bit of veteran depth at little expense, acquiring Greg Zanon and Brian Rolston.
All of these teams are where they are at for a reason, and we must certainly recognize that season is a marathon, and lulls are to be expected. Still, with the playoffs coming, it appears now more than ever that the premier teams in the league may be vulnerable.