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Central Division at the Trade Deadline

by Nashville Predators / Nashville Predators


St. Louis Blues:

Overall Record: 40-18-5, 85 Points; 2nd in the Central; 2-3-0 vs. Nashville

Leading Scorer: Vladimir Tarasenko, 61 Points (31g-30a)

Injuries: Kevin Shattenkirk (abdominal surgery, injured reserve), Zbynek Michalek (upper-body, day-to-day)

Trades:

  • Acquired Zbynek Michalek (D) and a 2015 conditional third-round draft pick for Maxim Letunov (F)
  • Acquired Robert Bortuzzo (D) and a 2016 third-round pick for Ian Cole (D)
  • Acquired Olli Jokinen (F) for Joakim Lindstrom (F) and a conditional 2016 sixth-round pick
  • Acquired Adam Cracknell (F) for future considerations (trade on Feb. 26)

Analysis: Sitting second in the Central Division and priming for the playoffs, the St. Louis Blues were in a position - similar to the Nashville Predators - to accentuate portions of an already deep lineup at the deadline. In particular, blueliner Zbynek Michalek will likely slot into the Blues second or third pairing and round out the St. Louis D-corps with three sets of left and right shooting defensemen. The current questions surrounding Michalek involve the 32-year-old’s health, however, with the Czech currently out with an upper-body injury (concussion). Arizona included a conditional draft pick along with Michalek in case the D-man continues to have injury issues. Olli Jokinen is of course a player Preds fans are familiar with, as the forward logged 48 games in a Nashville uniform earlier this season (3g-3a). The veteran will slot into a top-nine role in the Blues current lineup dependant on injuries or needed depth. St. Louis also added physical defenseman Robert Bortuzzo from Pittsburgh in exchange for fellow blueliner Ian Cole. Bortuzzo has six points and 68 penalty minutes this season and is willing to defend his teammates whenever needed.

The Blues added experience and depth with their trio of moves on Monday and will attempt to go toe-to-toe with a probable first-round playoff matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks.


Chicago Blackhawks:

Overall Record: 38-21-5, 81 Points; 3rd in the Central; 3-1-0 vs. Nashville

Leading Scorer: Patrick Kane, 64 Points (27g-37a)

Injuries: Trevor van Riemsdyk (lower-body, injured reserve), Johnny Oduya (upper-body), Patrick Kane (clavicle fracture, out up to 12 weeks)

Trades:

  • Acquired Andrew Desjardins (F) for Ben Smith (F) and a 2017 seventh-round pick
  • Acquired Antoine Vermette (F) for Klas Dahlbeck (D) and a 2015 first-round pick (trade on Feb. 28)
  • Acquired Kimmo Timonen (D) for 2015 second-round pick and a conditional 2016 fourth-round pick (trade on Feb. 27)
  • Acquired Spencer Abbott (F) for T.J. Brennan (D) (trade on Feb. 26)

Analysis: The Blackhawks were forced to be a little more involved at the deadline than they probably intended to be even a few weeks ago. With the NHL’s second-leading scorer, Patrick Kane, suffering an upper-body injury at the end of February, the Hawks were left with an unexpected hole in their lineup. The day before the deadline, Chicago sent a first-round pick and highly-touted defensive prospect Klas Dahlbeck to Arizona in exchange for a top-six forward in Antoine Vermette. The former Coyote is known for playing a strong two-way game and chipping in offensively at times. Vermette takes on a second line center role for Chicago that has been lacking the past few seasons due to the shortcomings of Michal Handzus and Brad Richards. On the backend, another former Pred, Kimmo Timonen will round out the Hawks D-corps. The 39-year-old had not played a game prior to being dealt from the Flyers to the Blackhawks due to blood clots in his lungs, but the blueliner suited up for Chicago on Monday and skated nearly 18 minutes versus Carolina.

While Vermette and Timonen won’t fully replace Kane and Johnny Oduya, they do bring even more skill to a talented lineup, and when Chicago is fully healthy, they’ll once again be Cup contenders.


Winnipeg Jets:

Overall Record: 32-20-12, 76 Points; 4th in Central; 1-3-0 vs. Nashville

Leading Scorer: Andrew Ladd, 52 Points (22g-30a)

Injuries: Grant Clitsome (upper-body, injured reserve), Matt Halischuk (undisclosed injury, injured reserve), Mathieu Perreault (lower-body, injured reserve), Ben Chiarot (broken hand, injured reserve),

Trades:

  • Acquired Lee Stempniak (F) for Carl Klingberg (F)
  • Acquired Jiri Tlusty (F) for 2016 third-round pick and a conditional 2015 sixth-round pick (trade on Feb. 25)

Analysis: On pace to make the playoffs for the first time since moving from Atlanta to Winnipeg, the Jets made two moves near the deadline to go with the blockbuster they pulled off on Feb. 11. After the splash that sent goal-scorer Evander Kane to Buffalo and big blueliner Tyler Myers and forward Drew Stafford to Winnipeg, the current Wild Card team made two deals near the deadline. The Jets have lacked some offensive pop since Mathieu Perreault and Black Wheeler (now healthy) were lost to injury, and Jiri Tlusty’s 13 goals will be a welcome addition for the immediate future and down the stretch. Finally, Winnipeg took a bit of a chance on former 27-goal scorer Lee Stempniak in hopes the veteran can regain some of his former scoring touch.

Content to round out their lineup after their large trade a few weeks prior, the Jets added some scoring touch to their defense-first roster.


Minnesota Wild:

Overall Record: 33-22-7, 73 Points; 5th in Central; 1-1-1 vs. Nashville

Leading Scorer: Zach Parise, 46 Points (25g-21a)

Injuries: Keith Ballard (facial fractures, injured reserve), Matt Cooke (sports hernia, injured reserve), Jason Zucker (broken clavicle, injured reserve), Ryan Carter (upper-body, injured reserve), Jared Spurgeon (upper-body, injured reserve)

Trades:

  • Acquired Jordan Leopold (D) for Justin Falk (D) and a 2015 fifth-round pick
  • Acquired Chris Stewart (F) for a 2017 second-round pick
  • Acquired Jared Knight (F) for Zack Phillips (F)
  • Acquired Sean Bergenheim (F) and a 2016 seventh-round pick for a 2016 third-round pick (trade on Feb. 24)

Analysis: In what was the most heartwarming story of the day, the Minnesota Wild acquired defenseman Jordan Leopold from Columbus in exchange for defenseman Justin Falk and a fifth-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft. It’s the motive behind the trade that stole the show, however, on Deadline Day. Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen tweeted a photo on Monday afternoon of a letter from Leopold’s 11-year-old daughter, Jordyn, asking for her dad to return home to Minnesota.

(See the tweet here)

Kekalainen granted Jordyn’s wish. The GM told BlueJackets.com that the deal was done before he saw the letter, but sending Leopold back to Minnesota was already in his plans, acknowledging the human element of the business. Jordyn’s dad, an NHL defenseman since the 2002-03 season and Hobey Baker Award winner in 2002, has one goal and three assists in 25 games this season split between the Blues and Blue Jackets. Leopold, who is from Golden Valley, MN, returns home to help the Wild in their playoff push. Chris Stewart’s name had floated around in trade rumors for weeks, and the Wild scooped up the forward from Buffalo on Monday, in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. The 6-foot-2 Stewart, often thought of as a power forward, has 11 goals and 25 points in 60 games this season. Stewart, a former member of the Blues and Avalanche, told Sportsnet yesterday that he is looking forward to returning to the Central Division, where he believes the style of play suits his abilities. Minnesota is certainly hoping that’s the case. A few days before the deadline, Minnesota acquired another offensive threat by dealing for veteran forward Sean Bergenheim of the Panthers. The Wild also received Florida’s seventh-round pick in 2016, with Minnesota sending their third-round selection in 2016 back to the Panthers. Bergenheim had eight goals and 18 points in 39 games for the Panthers this season and has gone scoreless in two contests with the Wild thus far. He’s also skated for the Islanders and Lightning during his NHL career.

Currently holding on to the No. 2 Wild Card spot in the Western Conference after going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, Minnesota is hoping that their deadline deals will solidify their spot in the postseason come April.


Colorado Avalanche:

Overall Record: 27-25-11, 63 Points; 6th in Central; 1-2-1 vs. Nashville

Leading Scorer: Jarome Iginla, 42 Points (19g-23a)

Injuries: Patrick Bordeleau (fractured kneecap, injured reserve), Jesse Winchester (concussion, injured reserve), Ryan Wilson (shoulder, injured reserve), Jamie McGinn (back, injured reserve), Borna Rendulic (broken leg, injured reserve), Erik Johnson (knee, injured reserve)

Trades:

  • Acquired forward Jordan Caron (F) and a 2016 sixth-round pick for Max Talbot (F) and Paul Carey (F)
  • Acquired Mat Clark (D) for Michael Sgarbossa (F) and a 2015 conditional seventh-round pick
  • Acquired Freddie Hamilton (F) for Karl Stollery (D)

Analysis: Leaning more toward a “seller” than a “buyer” mentality on Monday, the Avalanche sent forwards Max Talbot and Paul Carey to the Boston Bruins in exchange for forward Jordan Caron and a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. Caron went scoreless in 11 games with the Bruins this season. Talbot, who scored both of Pittsburgh’s goals in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, has 15 points in 63 contests on the campaign. Colorado also made two minor deals on Monday, acquiring Mat Clark from Anaheim in exchange for Michael Sgarbossa and a conditional seventh-rounder in 2015. The Avs also received Freddie Hamilton from San Jose in for Karl Stollery.

After winning the Central Division in 2013-14, Colorado’s standing this season is not what the club expected. While they’re certainly not out of the playoff picture just yet, the Avs moves on deadline day may suggest that they’re thinking of the future.


Dallas Stars:

Overall Record: 27-26-10, 64 Points; 7th in Central; 0-2-1 vs. Nashville

Leading Scorer: Jamie Benn, 60 Points (23g-37a)

Injuries: Rich Peverley (heart issues, injured reserve), Patrick Eaves (concussion, injured reserve), Tyler Seguin (MCL tear, injured reserve), Travis Moen (upper-body, injured reserve), Valeri Nichushkin (groin, injured reserve)

Trades:

  • Acquired Mattias Backman (D), Mattias Janmark (F) and a 2015 second-round pick for Erik Cole (F) and a 2015 conditional third-round pick

Analysis: Dallas General Manager Jim Nill said that his club is looking at elements of a rebuild, and his deal on Trade Deadline eve would certainly reaffirm that stance. The Stars, currently at the bottom of the Central Division, sent veteran forward Erik Cole and a conditional third-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft to Detroit in exchange for prospects Mattias Backman, Mattias Janmark and a second-round pick in this year’s draft. Cole had 18 goals and 15 assists in 57 games this season for Dallas. The 36-year-old has also skated in Carolina, Edmonton and Montreal during his career, winning a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006, alongside Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette. Backman has split this season between Grand Rapids of the AHL and Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League. Janmark has played in Frolunda of the SHL this campaign.

Dallas was hoping for big things this season with the signing of Jason Spezza and the likes of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn already on board, but the Stars haven’t been able to consistently find their footing. Unloading Cole certainly signifies that the Stars are aware that the playoffs may not be in the cards this season.

— by Thomas Willis and Brooks Bratten

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