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Central Intelligence: Deadline Day Ramifications

Wild, Blackhawks, Predators among those who added in run-up to Wednesday deadline

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- With the NHL's Trade Deadline now in the rear view mirror, the stretch run for teams in the Central Division now officially begins. 

Even quiet deadlines, like Wednesday's certainly was, can shed some light on what teams are thinking with a little more than a month remaining in the regular season. 

Minnesota, leading the division and the Western Conference, made perhaps the boldest move, trading a number of future draft choices, including a first-rounder in 2017, to the Arizona Coyotes for forwards Martin Hanzal and Ryan White, both set to be free agents on July 1.

Chicago and Nashville chose a different path with smaller moves in an effort to shore up areas without breaking the bank.

Others, specifically Dallas and Colorado, chose to sell off assets, a sure sign that they are already looking ahead toward next season and beyond. 

Here is a quick look at what each team in the Central did in the run-up to Wednesday's deadline and what it could mean over the final few weeks of the season:

Minnesota Wild

The acquisition of Hanzal and White, along with Los Angeles' addition of goaltender Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay, will likely go down as the two biggest moves at the deadline, and each was done three days prior. 

The Wild now has perhaps the deepest group of centers in the West -- and maybe the League -- and White has made a big impact early on with goals in each of his first two games with his new club. 

Minnesota has a number of high-end prospects that should be knocking on the door in the next few years, including Joel Eriksson Ek, Alex Tuch, Luke Kunin, Jordan Greenway and Kirill Kaprizov, among others, making it more palatable for general manager Chuck Fletcher to deal away some picks.

With several members of its young core also locked in and only so many spots on the roster, it's possible the Wild could recoup some of those picks down the line. 

Adding Hanzal and White is a signal to his dressing room that Fletcher believes his group has a chance to do something special. Now they have even more pieces to help make a deep postseason run.

Chicago Blackhawks

Pressed against the salary cap, there was only so much finagling GM Stan Bowman could do for the Blackhawks.

Last season, Bowman made a bold move by acquiring a former Blackhawk in forward Andrew Ladd for the stretch run. Although the move isn't likely to be as splashy this time around, Bowman went to the well of former Blackhawks once again, dealing for defenseman Johnny Oduya, who won two Stanley Cups earlier in his career with Chicago.

Chicago also traded a third-round pick in this year's draft to Detroit (the rare Blackhawks-Red Wings trade) for forward Tomas Jurco. It's the kind of low-risk, high-reward deal Bowman is known for, similar to last year when he traded for Richard Panik, who is now skating next to Jonathan Toews on the Hawks' top line.

Jurco, still just 24 and badly in need of a fresh start, certainly has the potential to work out in much the same way.

Nashville Predators

The Predators began their deadline-day dealings in early February when they dealt a fourth-round pick to New Jersey, reuniting with depth forward Vernon Fiddler.

They remained quiet until moments before the deadline, when they dealt with the Devils yet again, this time moving a sixth-rounder for forward P.A. Parenteau.

Together, Fiddler and Parenteau make $2.5 million. Both will contribute down the stretch in bottom-six roles as Nashville makes a final push at nailing down the No. 3 spot in the Central Division behind Minnesota and Chicago and ahead of St. Louis.

St. Louis Blues

While the Blues are very much in the playoff mix -- clinging to the final wild card berth in the West -- general manager Doug Armstrong was put in a tough spot regarding defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

On one hand, Shattenkirk, one of the best power-play point men in the NHL, is a major contributor for the Blues both 5-on-5 and on special teams. 

On the other, Shattenkirk will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and it appeared more and more unlikely that he was going to re-sign with St. Louis. 

So Armstrong made the prudent move, getting something for Shattenkirk before the deadline, acquiring a package of draft picks from the Washington Capitals that includes a first-round pick in the 2017 draft and a pair of conditional picks. 

It was the only move of note that the Blues made, but it shouldn't be a sign that St. Louis is waving the white flag on its postseason hopes.

The good news for the Blues is that their defensive core, perhaps more than any area on their team, seems capable of filling the hole left behind by Shattenkirk.

Between captain Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester and the up-and-coming Colton Parayko, the Blues are still big and rugged on the back end. There's talent there that should help soften the blow of losing Shattenkirk, and keep St. Louis in the postseason mix until the end.

Winnipeg Jets

Perhaps predictably, Winnipeg had a quiet trade deadline. The Jets are a team in transition, with a ton of young talent either fresh on the scene or knocking on the door. 

Its best NHL players -- Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien, Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little and Jacob Trouba, among others -- are all under contract through at least next season.

So while a march to the postseason appears to be an uphill climb right now, Winnipeg wasn't exactly full of tradable assets to begin with, at least ones GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was eager to part with.

One of the few veterans that likely didn't fit into the club's future plans, forward Drew Stafford, was flipped to Boston for a late-round pick, a move that saves the Jets some dollars and gives Cheveldayoff an extra late-round lottery ticket in the 2017 draft.

Perhaps the only move he would have liked to have made was to find a taker for goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. But beyond Bishop, a market for goaltenders never materialized. In addition, Pavelec sustained a lower-body injury in February that has kept him sidelined for several weeks with no return date yet announced.

Dallas Stars

The defending Central Division champs have had a tough season. A number of injuries to critical pieces at different points during the year made it difficult for the Stars to really build any momentum.

Dallas also has question marks in goal, both now and in the future, that won't get cleared up until this summer, at the earliest.

For now, GM Jim Nill did what he could to clear out guys that didn't figure into the team's future plans, including Oduya and fellow defenseman Jordie Benn.

The strength of Dallas' farm system is on its blue line, where the Stars have a number of young players they want to get a look at over the final weeks. Dallas also has a log jam of defensemen at the NHL level that it needs to get more clarity on ahead of June's expansion draft. Dealing away Oduya, a free agent this summer, and Benn, who has one year remaining on his deal, allows Nill to see what he has.

Dallas also moved on from forward Patrick Eaves, perhaps the biggest bargain on the rental market. In the midst of a career-best offensive season, and making just $1 million, the Stars were able to get a conditional second-round pick from the Anaheim Ducks, a pick that could become a first rounder if the Ducks push into the Western Conference Finals. 

Nill also got a late pick for Lauri Korpikoski, who signed a one-year deal only days before the start of the season.

This obviously isn't the situation the Stars wanted to be in this year, but Nill made the most of his deadline day by helping restock the cupboard for the future.

Colorado Avalanche

Well out of the playoff race, the only question surrounding the Avalanche was how big of a makeover GM Joe Sakic would take on. 

In addition to pending free agents Jarome Iginla, John Mitchell, Rene Bourque, Andreas Martinsen and Fedor Tyutin, Colorado was rumored to be willing to talk about franchise cornerstones Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog.

But Sakic chose to play it safe, shipping out Iginla in a trade to Los Angeles that netted him a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018, and Martinsen, a gritty fourth-liner that was dealt to Montreal for Sven Andrighetto, a younger, more offensive-minded winger with more team control.

With Duchene and Landeskog still in Denver, the Avalanche will be one of the NHL's teams to watch come June before the expansion and entry drafts. 

Will Sakic blow things up and start over? Or will he look to rebuild on the fly, adding what promises to be a high draft pick to his core of Duchene, Landeskog, Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson and young forward Mikko Rantanen?

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