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Under Further Review – Instant Analysis – March 24, 2022 – Douglas Smith with Editor Bill Morphy and regular contributor Jordan Moss. Instant Analysis from the NHL trade deadline. The winners and the losers and the posers too! Hello Leafs!

NHL Trade Deadline Post Mortem – Time for an Instant Analysis following the NHL trade deadline. Let’s start with a cross-Canada check-up and see how the seven Canadian teams fared with the pressure ratcheted up.

Vancouver Canucks – As the Canucks new hockey ops department goes about charting a new course, several things need to happen. Every decision must be tied to three key factors – how to get younger, faster and cheaper. You can also probably add bigger.

There’s still a big gap to close if they want to skate with the NHL’s elite. Adding talent to the pipeline while creating cap flexibility is not a simple task as the Canucks are finding out. It may be the fall of 2023 before we really see the impact of the new front office regime.

GM Patrik Allvin shocked everyone by unloading high maintenance anti-vaxxer Travis Hamonic on the Ottawa Senators. Getting the Sens to take on his $3 million dollar cap hit for next year while also extracting a third-round pick was a nifty bit of business. Canuck fans wanted more than a fourth-round pick for pending UFA Tyler Motte but this is what happens when you have a flooded market.

So, we will have to wait until the summer for the major dominoes to fall. One lesson we have learned, it’s not easy dumping players on inefficient contracts.

Calgary Flames – This is a good hockey club and they just got better with a couple of prudent deadline deals. The cost was significant but that’s the price you pay when you feel the contention window is open. The Flames gave up six draft choices in total (including a first, second, third, two fifths and a seventh) to acquire Tyler Toffoli, Calle Jarnkrok and Ryan Carpenter for their playoff run. Anything short of a conference final berth will be disappointing.

Edmonton Oilers – Warning: a playoff berth is anything but certain. The Oilers added veteran defenceman Brett Kulak from Montreal to bolster their D-corps. The cost was a second, fourth and seventh pick plus blueliner William Lagesson. That’s a lot to pay for a player who may barely move the needle. They also added journeyman Derick Brassard for a fourth-round pick. What the Oilers didn’t do is address their goaltending. If Edmonton fails to gain a playoff spot, there will be plenty of second-guessing.

Winnipeg Jets – The Jets are caught in that horrible vacuum. Not quite good enough to make the playoffs and not bad enough to land a high impact talent in the draft. The Jets shipped out UFA Andrew Copp to the New York Rangers which netted them a couple of conditional second-rounders. They also dealt the LTIR contract of centre Bryan Little to Arizona while picking up a couple of useful forwards in former Jet Mason Appleton and winger Zach Sanford. Typically- conservative work by Kevin Chevaldayoff. Further blood-letting could come this summer.

Montreal Canadiens – High marks to the Canadiens new front office for their deadline work. The Canadiens will have 14 picks when they host the NHL draft this summer at the Bell Centre. Finding new postal codes were Toffoli, Kulak, Ben Chiarot and Arturi Lekhonen. The Habs draft haul includes two first-round picks, two seconds, plus a fourth, fifth and three decent prospects including 2020 Avs first round blueliner Justin Barron. The 2022 NHL trade deadline will be remembered as the moment where the Canadiens rebuild began in earnest.

Toronto Maple Leafs – The Leafs are so far out of touch with reality they should be coached by Rod Serling. They live in an alternate universe. After the trade deadline concluded, Leafs GM Harry Potter announced that he feels the Leafs “match up well with the other top contenders in the Eastern Conference.”

Please explain. The Leafs currently rank 16th in the NHL in goals against. Do you think that’s the recipe for winning in the playoffs? The Leafs goaltending is so bad that it’s like a ball-hockey game when the kids declare, “Who’s goin’ in nets?” The Leafs tried to slip Finnish goalie Harri “Scary” Sateri through waivers but he was picked up by Arizona, the second worst team in the standings. The only thing any team will hand the Leafs is an anvil. Why? Because they are viewed as arrogant.

The Leafs failed to address their goaltending at the deadline so all the pressure shifts to Jack Campbell. They gave up more draft capital to acquire 38-year-old Mark Giordano from the Seattle Kraken. Sorry, Giordano is no longer a difference maker. The right side of the Leafs defence remains a train wreck. We still don’t see enough battle-hardened players in the Leafs lineup to win a playoff round.

Ottawa Senators – Can someone please explain what is happening in the Nation’s Capital? Pierre Dorion, AKA Captain Comb-Over, is apparently trying to corner the market on fifth-round draft choices. He couldn’t reach a contract agreement with pending UFA forward Nick Paul but picks up Travis Hamonic from the Canucks and is on the hook for his $3 million dollar ticket for next season? Go figure. Dorion also extended career backup Anton Forsberg at over $3 million per season and now has over $7 million tied up in two pedestrian goaltenders. Dorion’s big mantra continues to be – “we’re going to challenge for a playoff spot next season.” Exactly what season is he referring to? They need to clean house in Ottawa and they can sweep out Pierre Maguire as well. The front office overhaul is working in Vancouver and Montreal, why not Ottawa? Oh, we forgot. Eugene is still the owner.

Deadline Winners – The clear-cut Stanley Cup favourites are the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche. Look at how they do their business. They are playing chess while the rest of the league is playing checkers.

Tampa was heavily criticized for surrendering a pair of first-round draft choices to Chicago for young forward Brandon Hagel. The Lightning were very targeted in their deadline moves. They remade their third line with the acquisitions of Hagel and Nick Paul from Ottawa. Third lines can often be the determining factor in playoff series. This summer, top six forward Ondrej Palat ($5.3 million) will be a free agent and the Lightning won’t have the cap space to retain him. Enter Hagel who will likely move up in the lineup and guess what? He’s under contract for two more years at $1.5 million AAV. Make no mistake. The Lightning know exactly what they are doing.

The Avalanche, meanwhile, bolstered their blueline with hard rock defenceman Josh Manson. Up front, they added depth to their forward group with Nico Sturm and Arturi Lekhonen. Colorado is ready for a deep playoff run. Time to get over the second-round hump and take another step in their ascension.

The Florida Panthers are dead serious about a long playoff run. They added Claude Giroux to a bevy of riches up front and dependable Ben Chiarot and Robert Hagg to the blueline. If Aaron Ekblad is back by playoff time, the Panthers are loaded and ready to make a statement.

After an uninspiring expansion draft, the Seattle Kraken got busy at the trade deadline and walked off with a truckload of draft capital. The Kraken will have 12 picks in the upcoming NHL draft including four second-round picks. They also have bankrolled 13 picks in 2023 including nine picks in the first four rounds. It’s going to take time but this is the painful road you have to take.

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