The Ducks did not make any moves, showing newfound confidence in their core and casting aside marginal gains from dealing veterans to make a playoff push. They also did not trade any of their many promising prospects for risky rental players. Anaheim will be at a crossroads this offseason with several key players approaching some form of free agency and even retirement in some cases. They will need prospects, cap space and flexibility then. Those are all assets they could have lost at the deadline with a hasty move.
Dallas Stars: Losers
Although they received solid compensation from Philadelphia for defenseman Nicklas Grossman, the Stars seemed to waffle as to whether they were buyers or sellers. Part of that wavering was circumstance since they dealt with injuries to key players (Brenden Morrow, Jamie Benn) but also ripped off four straight wins. They ultimately did very little, leaving them without a boost in their playoff hopes this season and without much in the way of young talent or picks in return for their veterans either.
Los Angeles Kings: Winners
Although they dealt a more critical piece of their current puzzle (Jack Johnson) than many had expected (Jonathan Bernier), the low-scoring Kings got their big weapon in the form of Columbus’ Jeff Carter. Carter is playing right wing on his buddy Mike Richards’ line and has been held scoreless in his first two games through Monday. He also gives the Kings another formidable center in the event of an injury. A solid two-way player with a quick release on an accurate shot, Carter was the best fit on the market for the Kings. Time will tell if his connections with Richards and other former Flyers are a huge plus or a negative away from the ice. For now, Los Angeles landed the only marquee name that changed addresses in this division.
Phoenix Coyotes: Push
The Coyotes made a modest addition in center Antoine Vermette, a defensively responsible and offensively versatile veteran with plenty of playoff experience. That said, they are winners in a broader sense perhaps because they resisted the urge to blow up a core of possibly outgoing veterans in the midst of a scorching hot February in the desert. Their team was not broken and they did not try to fix it.
San Jose Sharks: Push
The Sharks are sinking quickly and facing the seemingly perennial question if their nucleus makes them a contender of substance or an also-ran with flare. San Jose sought defensive-minded forwards to improve its struggling penalty kill and browsed for both a finisher and a physical presence on defense. They addressed the first need very effectively, getting three bottom-six forwards.
They acquired Dominic Moore from the Tampa Bay Lightning, a versatile forward who wins draws and kills penalties. He was a key contributor to Tampa Bay’s run to the conference finals last year. They also snagged Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi from the Colorado Avalanche, all without having to make a significant dent in their roster or move a top prospect. Winnik and Galiardi are both utility forwards with respectable size and solid defensive games, including playing shorthanded. Galiardi upgrades their team speed while Winnik adds the kind of grit that can make a difference in critical games. The addition of this trio of forwards could free up the Sharks’ scorers to let loose a bit more offensively as well. Still, one has to wonder if the moves were enough to elevate the Sharks to the summit.