The National Hockey League’s trade deadline is just under two weeks away and the races in the North, East, Central, and West are still tight enough that the number of sellers are up in the air, which along with budgetary constraints and lack of cap room may limit the number of deals made before April 12, but the Canadian government’s reduction of the cross-border quarantine from 14 to seven days may help smooth the way for some trades to be made.
The next few days 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.
Andrew Copp (Winnipeg Jets)
The Jets forward has been a mainstay on their checking line for five seasons but is about to eclipse his career-high in points. Copp has 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 36 games this season and last week had six points in four games, including a four-goal performance in a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Calgary Flames Offense
After an initial spike following the firing of Geoff Ward and hiring of Darryl Sutter, the Flames have settled back into a state of mediocrity, losing three of four games to Ottawa and Winnipeg and falling behind in the race for the final playoff spot in the North Division. Calgary is 19th in the NHL with 96 goals scored, but last week only averaged two goals per game in losses to the Sens and Jets.
Adam Fox (New York Rangers)
The Rangers sophomore blueliner has successfully picked up the offensive slack from the departed Anthony DeAngelo, leading the club in defensive scoring with 30 points this season. Last week, Fox posted 11 points (1 goal, 10 assists) in four games, including a career-high five assists in a 8-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers that earned the 23-year-old NHL First Star of the Week honors.
Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers):
The Flyers were relying on their young goalie to help cover up their defensive shortcomings following the retirement of Matt Niskanen, but the 22-year-old has struggled mightily, with a losing record (8-9-3), a 4.04 GAA and .869 save percentage. Hart went 0-2 last week, with a league-worst 6.80 GAA after giving up four goals in a loss to the Devils and five goals on 11 shots to the Rangers.
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Juuse Saros (Nashville Predators)
The Preds are the hottest team in the NHL, winners of eight of the last nine games and have moved into a tie for fourth place in the Central. Saros stopped 80 of the 82 shots in three wins over the Red Wings and Blackhawks last week, with a 0.67 GAA, .976 save percentage and his 12th career shutout, and has a 10-6-0 record, 2.36 GAA, .924 save percentage this season.
Patrik Laine (Columbus Blue Jackets)
The big deal that brought Laine and forward Jack Roslovic to Columbus for center Pierre-Luc Dubois has not paid off for the Blue Jackets to this point. After scoring six times in his first 10 games, Laine has only four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in the last 17 games. Last week, the big Finn was -4 and had only four shots in four games against Carolina and Detroit.
Phil Kessel (Arizona Coyotes)
The two-time Cup winner had his worst scoring year since 2007(14 goals) with the Coyotes last season but has been able to rebound this season in Arizona, leading the club with 14 goals in 35 games. Kessel scored seven points (5 goals, 2 assists) in four games against Colorado and San Jose last week, including a hat trick in a 4-0 victory over the Sharks on March 27.
Mike Hoffman (St. Louis Blues)
The former Senator and Panthers winger was signed by St. Louis to a one-year, $4 million contract to help compensate for the scoring loss of injured forward Vladimir Tarasenko. Hoffman has 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists) in 33 games, but has gone ice-cold for the Blues this month, with just one goal in the last 10 games. After going pointless in losses to Vegas, Minnesota and Anaheim, the veteran forward was a healthy scratch in a 3-2 OT loss to the Ducks on Sunday.
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