Most improved team after 2023 NHL Trade Deadline debated
The NHL landscape has been radically altered in the past five weeks thanks to a flurry of trades, many involving big names like forwards Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko and Timo Meier.
With the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline having passed Friday at 3 p.m. ET, rosters are set, for the most part, for the remainder of the season.
After the flurry of trades big and small since the New York Islanders opened the floodgates by acquiring forward Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 30, many teams believe they’ve made themselves significantly better.
But which team improved itself the most? We asked a panel of NHL.com staffers for their opinions, which are presented in alphabetical order by team.
It’s almost unfair. Or maybe it really is unfair. The Bruins, the best team in the NHL all season and the fastest in League history to reach 100 points (101 in 61 games), got significantly better before the deadline with the acquisitions of defenseman Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway from the Washington Capitals on Feb. 23, and forward Tyler Bertuzzi from the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. Orlov had three goals in 43 games this season with the Capitals; he already has three in four games with the Bruins. Boston is 4-0-0 with Orlov and has won nine straight. Of course, it’s not all great around the Bruins. Forward Taylor Hall had to go on long-term injured reserve and forward Nick Foligno on injured reserve, each with a lower-body injury. But that’s what makes the additions of Hathaway and Bertuzzi so important and smart. They’ll fill those spots vacated by Hall and Foligno, and Boston will not feel much of a difference. When healthy, the Bruins will have 14 forwards who could play in their top 12 without a problem. They have eight defensemen who could play in their top six. Oh, and they have the goalie, Linus Ullmark, who is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as the best in the NHL. The Bruins were already deep; with Orlov, Hathaway and Bertuzzi, they’re fully loaded. — Dan Rosen, senior writer
Oh, sure. You can add flashy new toys — players with Stanley Cup championships and individual awards on their resumes — but you risk upsetting your chemistry. Sometimes less is more. The Hurricanes seemed to need a big-name scorer after forward Max Pacioretty was unable to come back from an Achilles tendon injury, and all they did was add forward Jesse Puljujarvi from the Edmonton Oilers and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere from the Arizona Coyotes. Each trade was a value play — low risk, lots of upside — but neither player is likely to be a difference maker. That’s OK in this case. It might turn out to be best. The Hurricanes (39-12-8) entered Friday second in the NHL standings, on pace for the best regular season in their history. They ranked second defensively (2.58 goals against per game), and they were ninth offensively (3.34 goals per game) even though they didn’t have an individual in the top 50 in scoring. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist
The cry regarding the Oilers for a few seasons was to get stronger on defense, and they did that by acquiring Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. It’s not about his scoring (19 points; five goals, 14 assists in 58 games this season entering Friday). It’s about adding a defensive defenseman, something that the Oilers have needed. They also added depth at forward in acquiring Nick Bjugstad from the Coyotes on Thursday. Besides bringing some potential secondary scoring, Bjugstad’s a good two-way player who can contribute to team defense. Are these moves flashy? No. A team that has forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl doesn’t need flash. It needed defense to counter the offense that has been there. Mission accomplished. — Tracey Myers, staff writer
Taking a different angle on this, I think the Predators did best for themselves by trading away players to stock up on pieces for the future. In one trade alone with the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Tanner Jeannot, Nashville acquired 24-year-old defenseman Cal Foote (the No. 14 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft), a conditional first-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft, a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft and third- fourth-, and fifth-round picks in the 2023 NHL Draft. The Predators also traded forward Nino Niederreiter to the Winnipeg Jets for a second-round pick in the 2024 draft and forward Mikael Granlund to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a second-round pick in the 2023 draft. A Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Western Conference was within reach for the Predators before these moves, but they needed to retool, and these draft picks give incoming general manager Barry Trotz additional assets to work with and a head start when he takes over for the retiring David Poile on July 1. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer
New Jersey Devils
The worst kept secret in the weeks leading up to the deadline was the possibility of the Devils working on a deal to get the skilled power forward they coveted in Meier from the San Jose Sharks. It happened Sunday, five days before deadline day, and the acquisition makes New Jersey a stronger, deeper team down the stretch when it becomes harder to generate offense in front of the net. Meier is physical and a proven goal-scorer. The Devils also acquired forward Curtis Lazar in a trade with the Canucks on Friday. Lazar, who can play wing or center, is a serviceable middle-six forward capable of blocking shots and winning key face-offs. New Jersey did what they needed to do, adding key pieces without breaking up its core. — Mike G. Morreale, staff writer
Video: The guys on the state of the Devils after deadline
New York Rangers
Consider these eye-popping numbers: 712 goals. 1,074 assists. 1,786 points. Oh, and let’s not forget four Stanley Cup rings. That’s what the Rangers have in the newly acquired dynamic duo of Tarasenko (from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 9) and Kane (from the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday). It could be argued that either of those players could be the biggest difference maker among those who changed addresses in the past several weeks. Getting both? Which team can boast that it did better than that? This team is stacked at every position. Tarasenko and Kane join top-end offensive talent in forwards Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin. Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller are the backbone at defenseman. Goalie Igor Shesterkin is one of the best in the business. Don’t forget about the under-the-radar addition Feb. 19 of Ottawa Senators bottom-six forward Tyler Motte, who knows the system from his time with the Rangers last season. Add it all up, and this team is ready to make a deep playoff run. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer
I’m going with a bold pick, but I’m not just thinking about this season. I’m thinking about both now and the seasons to come. Ottawa is going places. This is an up-and-coming team with a bright, bright future, a team that might even end up reaching playoffs this season. The Senators believed they were ready, that they were playing well enough and had earned a splash from general manager Pierre Dorion. He delivered, acquiring defenseman Jakob Chychrun from the Coyotes on Wednesday. Chychrun can be a big part of the playoff push the Senators are making as well as those they’ll make in the near future, given that he has two more seasons on his contract. At 24, he can share the workload with top defenseman Thomas Chabot. This is a huge addition for the already impressive core of the Senators, who would benefit greatly from getting playoff experience this season without needing to make a deal for a rental. This checks all the boxes for me, for now and for later. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
Toronto Maple Leafs
Sure, the Rangers and Devils made the big splashes in the Eastern Conference with the acquisitions of Kane and Meier, but the Maple Leafs added the grit, as well as postseason experience and success, they have been lacking. Toronto should be a tougher out after adding Ryan O’Reilly — who in 2019 won both the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP — and fellow forward Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 17, defenseman Jack McCabe and forward Sam Lafferty from the Blackhawks on Monday, and defensemen Luke Schenn from the Canucks on Tuesday. We all know the Maple Leafs have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs six seasons in a row and haven’t won a postseason series since 2004, and we won’t know until the playoffs start if what they did will be enough for them to advance in a likely first-round matchup against the Lightning. But they’re a much better team than they were two weeks ago. — Bill Price, Editor-in-Chief
Hab posts video showing frustration with punishment for Bruin – CTV News Montreal
Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman took to social media Friday to vent his frustration with a decision by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
“So I’ve gotten a two-game suspension for cross-checking a guy in the back of the helmet. A full-blown intentional cross-check to the face? One game. Hmm,” a bloody-chinned Hoffman says in a video shared online.
Hoffman is referring to the one-game suspension given to Boston Bruins winger A.J. Greer, who cross-checked Hoffman in the face during the first period of the Bruins-Canadiens game Thursday night.
The incident occurred after the players slashed each other’s sticks leading up to a faceoff.
Greer was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct. Hoffman was able to complete the game sporting a bloodied face and a mask covering the injured area.
In addition to the suspension, Greer will forfeit US$4,121.62 in salary.
The Canadiens lost the game 4-2.
With files from The Canadian Press.
Senators' playoff push takes huge hit with Chychrun lower-body injury – CBC Sports
Senators defenceman Jakob Chychrun will be sidelined multiple weeks due to a lower-body injury, head coach D.J. Smith told TSN 1200 in Ottawa on Saturday.
Smith also announced forward Ridly Greig will miss the remainder of the regular season due to a sternum injury.
Both players were injured during the Senators’ 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Chychrun did not participate in practice Friday, and Smith told reporters that the defenceman “tugged something there a little bit, we’ll see how he reacts to treatment here.”
The Senators (35-32-5) have 10 games remaining in the regular season, which ends April 13 at Buffalo. Ottawa is five points out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference entering play Saturday.
Chychrun, who turns 25 on Friday, has recorded five points in 12 games with the Senators since being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes on March 1. He had seven goals and 28 points in 36 contests this season with the Coyotes.
Chychrun has 62 goals and 175 points in 385 career outings with Arizona and Ottawa since being selected by the Coyotes with the 16th overall pick of the 2016 NHL draft.
Greig, 20, has six points in 16 games this season, his first in the NHL. He was drafted by the Senators with the 28th overall pick in 2020.
Canadiens Forward Mike Hoffman Calls Out Department Of Safety
Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman is not a happy camper.
The 33-year-old forward took to Instagram to discuss the recent one-game suspension of Boston Bruins forward A.J. Greer.
Hoffman, freshly decorated with a gnarly battle scar after the ridiculous cross-check by Greer during Thursday night’s matchup between the Canadiens and the Bruins, expressed his concern with the lack of consistency from the NHL’s Department Of Player Safety.
“I’ve gotten a two-game suspension for cross-checking a guy in the back of the helmet,” said a wound-muffled Hoffman. “A full-blown, intentional cross-check to the face? One game. Hmmm.”
TALK YOUR SHIT MIKE 🗣️🗣️🗣️ pic.twitter.com/cPaXmjUQrY
— Habs Fan TV (@habsfantv_) March 24, 2023
Hoffman’s message was clear: the standard has dropped in recent years, especially if we compare the decision made on Friday to the decision made in 2016 when Hoffman was suspended for two games after his cross-check rode up Logan Couture’s back and hit him in the helmet.
That’s not to say Hoffman did not deserve a suspension. If anything, the ruling at the time was a step toward erring on the side of caution when brain injuries were in play, putting an onus on player safety in a spot that oftentimes forgets about the well-being of its employees.
Greer’s cross-check, on the other hand, was about as blatant as it gets, leaving a trail of blood behind the Canadiens forward as he quickly exited the ice.
There was some tomfoolery prior to the faceoff, perhaps even a little kerfuffle, but there’s no justifying a blatant cross-check which resulted in an injury.
By handing down a one-game suspension, the Department of Player Safety deemed Greer’s attack three times less severe than accidentally spitting on an opponent, which carries a three-game suspension in the NHL.
Hoffman returned to the game in the third period sporting a full birdcage, and though he did not miss significant time, he clearly did not appreciate the lack of safety provided by the NHL’s Department Of Misnomers.
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