The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and while plenty of teams made some significant moves to improve their rosters, the Central Division only featured two teams that realistically improved their chances at a deep playoff run.
Those teams would be the Chicago Blackhawks, who acquired Tomas Jurco and Johnny Oduya in separate deals, and the Minnesota Wild, who acquired Martin Hanzal in a blockbuster trade. Outside of those clubs, most other teams were sellers, stockpiling prospects and draft picks as they look toward the future.
With that in mind, here is our rundown of how each team fared in the days leading up to the deadline, and what fans can expect from each club for the rest of this season and beyond.
The Blackhawks were definitely buyers at the deadline, adding some forward depth with their acquisition of Jurco and shoring up their defense by bringing back Oduya in a swap with the Dallas Stars.
In terms of the price paid, a third round pick for Jurco is a very fair price, as he was a first round draft pick and looks like he could benefit from a change of scenery after falling out of favor in Detroit.
As for Oduya, a conditional fourth round pick (which could become a third if the Blackhawks advance far enough in the playoffs) and Mark McNeill may sound steep, but fourth round picks are essentially lottery tickets, and McNeill clearly wasn’t working his way into the rotation in Chicago.
Oduya will likely get a shot at second-pairing minutes when Niklas Hjalmarsson returns to the lineup, and Jurco is going to get some opportunities to earn a spot on the third line as the Blackhawks look to shore up their bottom six forward group.
The Avalanche were rumored to be considering moves involving Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, but they only ended up making some minor moves before the deadline, including sending Jarome Iginla to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional draft pick.
For the Avalanche, the trade deadline wasn’t really a good opportunity to begin the type of teardown that this team is going to need to become competitive again. They have plenty of young pieces, but they can’t seem to get everything rolling in the same direction, and parlaying pieces like Duchene and Tyson Barrie into multiple long-term assets could be a tactic used by Joe Sakic when the NHL Draft rolls around this summer.
The Stars went into full-on sell mode as the deadline approached, sending Jordie Benn to Montreal, Patrick Eaves to Anaheim, Lauri Korpikoski to Columbus, and Johnny Oduya to Chicago.
They got a huge bounty of prospects and picks in those deals, receiving fourth round picks from Montreal and Chicago (the Chicago pick could become a third rounder in 2018), a second round pick from the Ducks that could become a first rounder, and a prospect in Greg Patern from the Canadiens.
The Stars have plenty of needs to fill throughout their lineup, but with cornerstone pieces like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn in place, they have to be hoping that they can shore up their defense, grab a strong goaltender, and make a run at a Central Division title within the next few years.
Minnesota is one of the best teams in the NHL, and they added one of the biggest pieces available on the market when they acquired Martin Hanzal in a blockbuster trade with the Arizona Coyotes.
While Hanzal is unquestionably a top-six forward talent, there are questions about whether he can play anywhere but center, and the price to acquire the rental was steep, as Minnesota gave up a first round pick, a second round pick, and another conditional pick in the swap.
If Hanzal can transition to wing, then the trade will almost certainly be worth it for a loaded Wild squad. If he struggles, then the price tag to acquire him could be a lot steeper than it initially appeared.
The Predators, in third place in the Central currently, stayed pretty quiet at the deadline, with a depth move to acquire PA Parenteau from the New Jersey Devils marking their only transaction.
The Predators have a pretty strong defense and have a goaltender who is capable of getting hot in Pekka Rinne, but it’s unclear whether they have what it takes to overcome Chicago and Minnesota in the Central Division playoff race. Parenteau is a good addition, but he doesn’t move the meter a whole lot.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues certainly fit into the seller category this season, as they sent Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2017 first round pick, a conditional second round pick in 2019, and a pair of prospects.
The deal likely speaks more to the Blues’ lack of confidence in re-signing Shattenkirk than it does about their hopes for the 2017 playoffs, but it certainly doesn’t appear that this team is really in go-for-it mode at the moment. Mike Yeo does have them playing better hockey since he took over, but at best they’re the fourth-best team in the division at the moment, and hopes for a Stanley Cup run seem pretty dead.
It was a pretty quiet deadline for the Jets, who made one minor moves as they shipped veteran forward Drew Stafford to the Boston Bruins for a conditional sixth round draft pick.
As of right now, the Jets are in a position where they have to make a choice this offseason. Do they go full-on rebuild and try to put strong pieces around Patrik Laine and Jacob Trouba, or do they throw caution to the wind and go on a free agent spree to try to turn their fortunes around as a franchise?
At any rate, the Jets’ window doesn’t seem to be open at the moment, and the decision to trade Stafford doesn’t really give us a hint about which direction the team intends to go in the future.