Stanley Cup Futures Move After a Torrid Week of Trading

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Stanley Cup Futures Move After a Torrid Week of Trading
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The most interesting storylines this NHL trade season have been in the Eastern Conference, no doubt about that.

The trade deadline is 3 p.m. EST today, and the teams that lead the conference – the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers – have for the most part been making major moves to upgrade their lineups in a trade deadline week unlike any we’ve seen.

The trades have altered the NHL betting odds and we'll look at that here.

 

Eastern Conference On Top for Now

Six of the top seven teams in the BetMGM odds for the Stanley Cup are Eastern Conference teams. 

The Bruins, tops at 5.75, are followed by the Colorado Avalanche at 7.5, then the Hurricanes at 8.0, the Leafs at 10.0, the Rangers at 12.0, then the Devils and Lightning at 13.0.

The Bruins last week had been 6.0, the Rangers 15.0. Boston, with a gaudy 48-8-5 record, are 3.6 to win the Eastern Conference, down from 4.0, followed by the Hurricanes at 5.0, and the Leafs 6.0. The Rangers went from 8.5 last week to 7.5 this week.

 

How the Maple Leafs Are After the Trade Deadline

It’s been a week of torrid activity. The team to watch today is Carolina – other than a mid-level move, bringing in under-achieving F Jesse Puljujarvi in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers, they’ve been whisper quiet as the other teams have loaded up. Carolina has eight of their nine drafts picks in the first three rounds over the next three draft years available. 

They were in on F Timo Meier, who was traded to the Devils. They need a scoring forward, and James van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers (just nine goals in 41 games this year, but 24 goals last year, and 297 goals over a long career) might be a fit.

Last night, the Leafs put on a playoff-like clinic in responsible team defence during the third period of that 2-1 win over a desperate Calgary Flames team. It has been awhile since we’ve seen a Leafs team with this level of defensive muscle and commitment there, capable of shutting down other team’s top lines. It also helped last night that they got a great game in net from Joseph Woll, which brings up some interesting scenarios at the goaltending position, with Matt Murray about to re-join the lineup.

Leafs' coach Sheldon Keefe praised trade pickups Noel Acciari and Sam Lafferty for their level of competition last night, taking big hits along the boards in their end to advance the puck. He mentioned F Ryan O’Reilly as well. The Leafs have been transformed in the past two weeks from a team of perimeter super skill to one that can win a playoff series or two. 

Not to diminish the play of the core players – Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander. Matthews’ goal-scoring is down, but everyone has commended his all-round game. 

Matthews leads the forwards in blocked shots – 71. Marner had a big goal game last night, a solid bounce-back effort after the 5-2 drubbing they suffered at the hands of the Oilers the night before. Tavares is on pace for 80 points, selflessly moving to left wing to accommodate O’Reilly at centre on that second line. Nylander is having a career year (12th in league scoring, 33 goals, 40 assists, 73 points in 62 games), and last year had three goals and four assists in a tough, tight physical playoff loss to the Lightning last season.

Taking out the Bruins, though, even if they do get beyond the Lightning in that first round? Sorry, we don’t see it.

The Leafs, after picking up O’Reilly and Acciari from St. Louis, D Jake McCabe and Lafferty from Chicago, D Erik Gustafsson from Washington, might still tinker, with a first round draft pick from the Gustafsson trade, and F Alex Kerfoot, a UFA this summer on a $3 million contract, maybe D Justin Holl, available – the Bruins have about as perfect a playoff lineup as we’ve ever seen.

After picking up F Tyler Bertuzzi yesterday in a trade with Detroit, with draft picks going the other way, the Bruins added to their forward depth, with Taylor Hall going to the long-term injury ranks with a lower-body injury.

The cap relief with that move allowed them to trade for Bertuzzi – a player having an injury-ridden down year (four goals, and 10 assists in 29 games, lower body and hand injuries), one year off a 30 goal, 32 assist in 68 games season), and his playmaking ability will be a big bonus for the Bruins. They’ve already brought in D Dmitry Orlov and F Garnet Hathaway from Washington. Current cap space is $2,860,833. Do they still add, with the Hall injury?

 

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Mark Keast

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