Welcome to another edition of NHL Insights. The NHL season is inching closer to the trade deadline, where we expect things to be hot and heavy. Action has already happened with the trade of Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames. More changes will likely be coming with the Montreal Canadiens as there are ties to the New York Rangers. With Jack Eichel returning to the lineup for the Vegas Golden Knights there has been a lot of talk of cap circumvention. Is it really though? Plus the Western Conference playoff race is heating up. Time to dive into some NHL Insights for the past week.
NHL Insights: Tyler Toffoli Trade, Jack Eichel’s Return, and Wild West Playoff Race.
Tyler Toffoli Trade
The big news of the previous week was the Montreal Canadiens trading Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames. This is a win-win for both clubs. Normally people say this team won or that team won. In this case, both the Flames and Canadiens are winners. The Flames are getting a goal scorer they desperately needed. Toffoli will add secondary scoring and can play anywhere in the lineup. Not to mention he is a big-time playoff performer who knows Darryl Sutter very well. Sutter knows what Toffoli will bring to the table. Though Toffoli did not want to leave Montreal, the Flames have a nice piece in their lineup for multiple playoff runs plus he is insurance if Matthew Tkachuk or Johnny Gaudreau leave.
On the Montreal side of things, the rebuild is on under Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes as they continue to pile up picks and prospects. This is just the beginning of what is going to sell off at the deadline. Gorton is moving fan favourites as he did in New York but this time without having a letter saying so.
Montreal Canadiens-New York Rangers Connection
As previously mentioned, the Canadiens will continue to be sellers at the deadline. One of the names is Ben Chiarot and he is been tied to the New York Rangers. No surprise here as the Gorton previous ties were to the Rangers and he knows the system well. It makes sense they are discussing a trade. If the Rangers were to make a trade they most likely would get Chiarot and Lehkonen from Montreal. What would come back is interesting potentially defenceman Nils Lundkvist and disgruntled prospect Vitali Kravtsov. In addition, there would be picks involved. Again just speculation. Maybe even Zac Jones is on the move. It would hard to imagine the Rangers to part with a guy like Branden Schneider. This is something to keep an eye on.
Jack Eichel’s Return – Potential Cap Circumvention
The big news last week was the return of Jack Eichel to the Vegas Golden Knights lineup. Prior to the move, the Golden Knights put Mark Stone on long-term injury reserve as a way to help with the cap. Many thought Vegas would lose a player to balance out the money. When that did not happen fans were upset. It brought up memories of what the Tampa Bay Lightning did last year with Nikita Kucherov. While some may complain 11 of the 16 teams that made playoffs last year were over the cap. It is legal under the current CBA. Just because Vegas or Tampa Bay does it better does not make it wrong.
— Full Press Hockey (@FullPressNHL) February 17, 2022
The Wild Wild West Playoff Race
In another article later we here at Full Press Hockey will dive into the Wild Wild West playoff race even further. But the wild card race is heating up as the Pacific Divsion is making things really interesting. So is the Central. The Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings hold the final two wild card spots in the Western Conference. Though the Edmonton Oilers are sitting in third place in the Pacific, that could change in a week’s time. Right behind the Predators and Kings are the Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets, and Dallas Stars. Though Dallas had a bad loss against Arizona on Sunday night. It will be interesting to see what happens.
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