The trade deadline has come and gone and now it’s back to the grind. Rick Nash is still a Blue Jacket, Steve Ott is still a Stars, and there’s a new Pacific leader for the first time in months, and that first place position is within reach for every team except the Ducks. In this week’s Around The Pacific, in addition to our usual analysis, we’ll also include the moves the teams have made (or didn’t make) as they prepare for the stretch run to the end of the season.
Since Last Week: 3-0 since last week, winners of five straight, and 9-0-1 in their last ten. The Coyotes continue to look absolutely unstoppable, and they’ve been rewarded with first place in the Pacific Division thanks to the Sharks free fall.
Deadline Moves: The Coyotes made a move prior to the deadline, acquiring Antoine Vermette from the Blue Jackets in exchange for goaltender Curtis McElhinney and draft picks, a solid pick up that adds essential depth to the team. Vermette is considered a perfect fit in Dave Tippet’s system, a multifaceted player who can play different roles on the ice, as well as adding some offensive punch that the Coyotes need. They stayed quiet for the rest of the deadline.
Looking Ahead: The Coyotes begin a three game home stand tomorrow night versus the Vancouver Canucks. The Coyotes obviously felt that they didn’t need to make any other major moves and why should they? This team has been spectacular lately, carried by the play of Mike Smith and the stick of Radim Vrbata. They have the division lead, now they need to keep it.
Since Last Week: 1-3 since last week, the Sharks are in serious trouble. They’ve lost the division lead, and are just one game from being in third place with the Stars right on their tails. Is it more than a slump at this point? It’s tough to tell, but the Sharks need to get things turned around or they are going to end up being a team fighting amongst the pack.
Deadline Moves: The Sharks picked up some depth in Dominic Moore on February 16th, prior to the deadline, in exchange for a second round pick. With an hour left before the deadline, the Sharks made a move to get more offensive depth by acquiring Daniel Winnick and TJ Galardi and a 7th round draft pick from the Avalanche in exchange for Jamie McGinn and prospects Mike Connelly and Michael Sgarbossa. The Sharks fell out of the Nash race, so adding some more bodies up front was a major focus of San Jose management, especially after the rotten stretch of games they’ve had.
Looking Ahead: The Sharks are finally done with their brutal road trip where they only managed a 2-6-1 record and return home for a match up against the Flyers tomorrow night. It’s time for the Sharks to get together and bust the slump if they want to get out of the pack.
Since Last Week: The Stars have bounced back in a big way, winning all four of their games since last week, and putting themselves in sole possession of eighth place and just three points out of third place. An enormous win against the Canucks yesterday showed that the Stars can compete against the best and are capable of making things very interesting down the stretch.
Deadline Moves: The Stars kicked off the trade deadline madness when they sent Nicklas Grossman to the Flyers for a couple draft picks on February 16th. Throughout trade deadline day as well as the weeks leading up to it, Steve Ott‘s name was thrown around often, and up to 10 teams were considered to be interested in acquiring him, but the deadline came and gone and no team met the Stars steep asking price.
Looking Ahead: The Stars look to continue their winning streak against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. The team remains the same, and with Jamie Benn and Brenden Morrow expected to return soon, Joe Nieuwendyk believes this is the team to make the playoffs. Are they a contender for the Cup? Probably not, but they are still dangerous, and they want playoff hockey to return to Dallas for the first time in years.
Since Last Week: The Kings are still struggling, going 1-1-1 over the last week, and looking completely unimpressive during the process. They needed some help with scoring, and they did something about it.
Deadline Moves: The first major trade took place between the Blue Jackets and the Kings earlier in the week. Columbus sent forward Jeff Carter to the Jackets in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round pick. That blockbuster was enough for the Kings, who decided to not make any other moves at the deadline.
Looking Ahead: The Kings are in action tonight against the Nashville Predators. Carter didn’t get any points in his first game as a King, but it’s early, and it still remains to be to seen if the reunion of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards will cure the goal problems for the Kings.
Since Last Week: The Ducks suffered a rare regulation loss but have been 2-1 over the last week, as they continue to pick up wins and make an improbable run at the playoffs. Their run has been truly incredible but it remains to be seen if it’s enough to secure a playoff spot in the ultra competitive Western Conference.
Deadline Moves: The Ducks were quiet throughout the trade deadline, only making a couple of moves that involved minor league players. Ducks management obviously believes in this team as it is and wants to stick with them as they try and make this run.
Looking Ahead: The Ducks are in action tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. Will the decision to keep the Ducks together pay off? It’s a steep hill to climb and the climb starts tonight.
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Topics: Anaheim Ducks, Antoine Vermette, Bobby Ryan, Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars, Dominic Moore, Dustin Brown, Jamie Benn, Jeff Carter, Joe Thornton, Kari Lehtonen, Logan Couture, Los Angeles Kings, Loui Eriksson, Lubomir Visnovsky, Mike Richards, Mike Smith, Nicklas Grossman, Patrick Marleau, Phoenix Coyotes, Radim Vrbata, Ray Whitney, Rick Nash, Ryan Getzlaf, San Jose Sharks, Sheldon Souray, Steve Ott, Teemu Selanne, Trade Deadline