The NHL trade deadline is still a day away, but there’s already been a flurry of activity across the league.
Almost every team in the playoff hunt in the East has loaded up in the arms race. The Bruins padded their depth with a pair of former Capitals and Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit.
Toronto acquired Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari, Jake McCabe, Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson, adding scoring depth, toughness and blueline insurance to a squad that’s desperate to get over their 1st round hump.
Tampa added Tanner Jeannot to their long list of savvy deadline forward pickups, albeit for a very steep price.
Both New York teams made headlines with their moves. First it was the Islanders getting and extending Bo Horvat. Then the Rangers stole the spotlight by trading for Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane. Not to be outdone by their rivals, New Jersey landed a big fish in Timo Meier.
Carolina made a pair of under the radar moves by snagging Jesse Puljujarvi and Shayne Gostisbehere. Not as sexy as the big names landing in their division but could fit very well in their lineup.
The most surprising addition in the East is Jakob Chychrun going to Ottawa. The Sens weren’t one of the biggest names in the Chychrun sweepstakes, but landed him at a relative discount to bolster their Wild Card chase. The Coyotes had previously demanded the moon for the blueliner, but settled for a first and two future seconds.
Six of the eight current playoff teams in the East have an equal or better record than the top seed out west.
Needless to say, an already very strong Eastern Conference just got a lot stronger. Among the Wild Card field are Buffalo and Florida, who have both played the Bruins tough this season.
The losses of Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno for the foreseeable future will be a blow to the lineup, even with the new acquisitions.
Then, of course, there is the President’s Trophy hex to contend with. No winner has gone on to win the Stanley Cup since 2013, when Chicago beat the Bruins. In fact, each of the last four teams to win the President’s Trophy were eliminated with four straight losses.
While Boston still remains the odds-on favorite to make the Stanley Cup Final, getting there will be no easy feat.