The National Hockey League’s trade deadline is fast approaching as the schedule has passed the halfway point. The races in the North, East, Central, and West are still tight enough that there are only a few certain sellers, which along with budgetary constraints, lack of cap room and cross-border quarantine questions may limit the number of deals made before April 12.
The next few weeks will determine whether teams who consider themselves Stanley Cup contenders will be able to add one final piece to make a playoff run and those who fall out of the race decide to go into sell mode.
Here is a weekly look at players who have been significant difference makers and others who are not meeting expectations.
Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers): The NHL’s leading scorer had a great week, scoring eight points (4 goals, 4 assists) in four games, winning three of four against Calgary and Winnipeg and holds a 10-point lead in the race for the Art Ross Trophy over teammate and sometimes linemate Leon Draisaitl. McDavid has also erased the gap in the race for the Rocket Richard, tying Auston Matthews with 21 goals.
Sean Monahan (Calgary Flames): The Flames top center scored a career-high 82 points two years ago, but his dramatic decline to 48 points last season led to off-season trade rumors and doubts about his place in the Calgary core group. After an initial spike with Darryl Sutter taking over, the Flames split two-game series with the Oilers and Leafs, but Monahan went scoreless in four games and has only 21 points (7 goals, 14 assists) in 32 games this season.
Mika Zibanejad (New York Rangers): The Rangers top center had struggled this season after coming back from a bout of COVID-19, but found his footing last week with eight points in four games, with most of it coming in one period against Philadelphia. Zibanejad tied the NHL record for most points in a period (6) with a hat trick and three helpers in the second period of New York’s 9-0 drubbing of the Flyers.
The Buffalo Sabres: Until they end their losing skid (now at 14 games after losses to Washington, New Jersey and Boston last week), the Sabres are taking permanent residence in this spot. If things couldn’t get any worse, the week ended with the cancellation of their second game with the Bruins after a couple Boston players found their way on the COVID protocol list and there is speculation that the club will be big sellers before April 12.
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Calle Jarnkrok (Nashville Predators): The 29-year-old Swede has been a consistent double-digit scorer for the Preds the last five seasons and that will be the case again this year. Jarnkrok trails only Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi in scoring for Nashville and earned NHL First Star of the week honors last week with six points (3 goals, 3 assists) in four games, including a four-point outing in a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay.
Kevin Lankinen (Chicago Blackhawks): After Robin Lehner was traded at the deadline and Corey Crawford was not brought back, the 25-year-old Finn came out of nowhere to win the Hawks starting job over Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia and has put up great numbers (11-7-2, 2.83 GAA, .915 save %), but Lankinen came back to earth last week, allowing seven goals in losses to Florida and Tampa.
Nathan Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche): The Avs have hit their stride with a 7-1-2 record in the last ten games after struggling with injuries to key players in the first half. Colorado is in hot pursuit of Vegas for the top spot in the West and their “Big Three” were large factors in wins over Anaheim and Minnesota, each scoring seven points in three games against the Ducks and Wild.
Devan Dubnyk (San Jose Sharks): Dubnyk was acquired by the Sharks to share the workload with starter Martin Jones, and in spite of a losing record had put up better numbers that made him a potential trade target for clubs looking for goaltending depth, but San Jose lost four games this week and the former Wild starter allowed 11 goals in losses to Vegas and St. Louis.
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