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Photo Credit: © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

A post-deadline look at the playoff race in the West

The Canucks pulled the trigger on a couple moves yesterday at the trade deadline, though neither would categorize them as buyers or sellers. They made a minor-league swap with the Sharks involving Jonathan Dahlen and Linus Karlsson and they made a change-of-scenery deal with the Penguins shipping out Erik Gudbranson for Tanner Pearson. Where do the Canucks now stand in the race for the wild card seeds in the Western Conference?

The Race

No. 7 – Dallas Stars (67 points): The Stars are the only team in this group who really dove into buying prior to the deadline. They acquired Mats Zuccarello to give them some scoring help up front and they added Ben Lovejoy to give them more depth on the blueline. Unfortunately for them, Zuccarello got hurt in his first game with the Stars and will be out for up to four weeks.

No. 8 – Minnesota Wild (66 points): The Wild sold off a couple veterans players but managed to get returns that can still keep them alive in the short-term. They dealt Charlie Boyle to Boston and Mikael Granlund to the Wild. Coming back, they got Ryan Donato and Kevin Fiala, two promising young players. The Wild aren’t better than they were a week ago, but these deadline sales won’t result in them plummeting down the standings.

No. 9 – Colorado Avalanche (66 points): The Avs have been in a tailspin over the past few months. They obviously couldn’t rely on one line to provide all their offence all year and luck has finally caught up to them. All Colorado did at the deadline was acquire Derrick Brassard from Florida, a player who’s currently having the worst season of his career.

No. 10 – Arizona Coyotes (63 points): After a poor start to the season, the Coyotes have pulled themselves together and are in the thick of the playoff hunt. Despite having a wealth of injuries to key players, they’ve managed to stick around. Despite being on the cusp, Arizona didn’t do anything major at the deadline, opting instead to make a couple minor moves.

No. 11 – Vancouver Canucks (62 points): The Canucks, of course, made a minor league trade swapping prospects with San Jose, and they dealt Erik Gudbranson to Pittsburgh for Tanner Pearson. Pearson is having a down year, but he scored 20 goals as recently as 2016-17.

No. 12 – Chicago Blackhawks (61 points): The Blackhawks’ big splash came earlier in the season when they acquired Dylan Strome from Arizona as a reclamation project. Strome has been excellent in Chicago and his strong play coupled with MVP-calibre play from Patrick Kane has pulled Chicago out of the basement and into the race.

No. 13 – Edmonton Oilers (59 points): The Oilers pulled off a couple trades a few weeks before the deadline, but didn’t do anything else on deadline day. They probably aren’t good enough to make the playoffs, but they felt it was worthwhile not to sell off any of their rental assets.

No. 14 – Anaheim Ducks (57 points): The Ducks made one key sale, sending Brandon Montour to Buffalo for a prospect and a first-round pick. Anaheim’s best rental player, Jakob Silfverberg, remained with the team through the deadline.

Conclusion

The Canucks currently sit four points behind Minnesota and Colorado for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. When looking at the other teams in this race, Dallas is really the only team that put a serious effort into buying. Colorado made a low-key addition, but it’s hard to imagine Brassard making much of a difference on a team with a major issue of keeping the puck out of the net. Minnesota made downgrades on their current roster with their eyes on the future. Edmonton, Arizona, and Chicago pretty much just stood pat.

Minnesota selling off veterans Granlund and Coyle bodes well for Vancouver’s playoff pursuit, as they’re the best team between the Canucks and the final playoff spot in the West. It also helps that teams behind them like Edmonton and Chicago didn’t make any additions to help push them into a playoff spot.

  • wojohowitz

    I think Minnesota is going to drop like a stone. They have gone into retool mode. A strength of their team (besides Suter and Parise) was at center with Koivu, Granlund and Staal, but now they are asking Staal to carry their team – something he could not do in Carolina. Here`s my own look at winning the conference:

    Nashville; Simmonds & Granlund.

    Winnipeg; Hayes.

    Vegas; Stone.

    Calgary; nada

    San Jose; Nyquist.

    I`

      • Winnipeg and San Jose both got a bit better, and were probably the two best teams in the conference to begin with. Nashville added 2/3 of a solid 2nd line and already had a solid 2nd line, so that is a serious bump for them, and Stone is an elite 1st line winger who immediately makes Vegas significantly better.

        All four of those teams look scary, and Calgary is no slouch without adding anything.

        Both western wildcard teams are going to get destroyed in the first round.

        • El Kabong

          “Both western wildcard teams are going to get destroyed in the first round.”
          Yes, not a lot to gain by making the play-offs only to be beat up and tossed. We still need to be patient and grow our prospects as well as adding to the pipeline. Too bad we let a lot of our assets reduce to near zero before trying to extract value.

        • TheRealPB

          I was most surprised by the Flames’ inactivity. Given how good a set of forwards and D they have, are they really comfortable with an untested Rittich and a fragile Mike Smith as their battery going into the postseason? I know they’re missing a 2nd this year but they have a bunch of other picks they could throw at someone for a decent backup or maybe a prospect or too. Very surprised by this. Also CBJ is insane. Their two best players in their prime are UFAs and they have two picks this year — a 3rd and a 7th and gave up a bunch of good prospects too. It’s now or never for them — I am guessing never.

          • Apparently Calgary was in on Stone, which would have been a crazy get. I think they believe in Rittich – he’s been great for most of the year for them, and they have a solid team otherwise.

          • MattyT

            No sh^t Sherlock. They are top of the Conference with a plus 45 GF for a reason!

            Now sign in as ‘hockeytruther69’ and back yourself up again parroting the same sh&t to boost your self-inflated ego.

          • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

            Vancouvers favorite perceived purely negative reporter Jason Botchford reported that CGY offered a very nice package for Alex Edler including picks.

            (But because Benning doesn’t understand statistical probability and how more picks equals a better statistical chance of one or more of them hitting, he said no ha ha ha)

            Unfortunately, the man who is so drunk in love with Vancouver refused to waive his NTC when approached 3-4 days ago.