NHL Trade Deadline Betting Opportunities
by Trevor Whenham - 2/24/2014
The NHL trade deadline comes up on Wednesday, March 5 at 3 p.m. EST this year. This is a relatively unique year because there was a trade moratorium during the Olympic break. That means that the lead-in to the event will be more condensed and harried than usual — and it’s always chaotic. The NHL trade deadline is by far the busiest of any of the sport, and it can have significant impacts for bettors leading up to the big day. Here’s a look at five potential storylines to follow as the deadline nears:
Flames, Sabres could go nuclear: Both of these teams are stuck at the bottom of the standings — Buffalo is last in the league, and Calgary is second last in the West. Both teams are short on prospects, and they are looking at a long and painful rebuilding process as they work to reload the cupboards. Neither team has a whole lot of experienced talent around — they wouldn’t be this bad if they did. There is a lot of pressure in both markets to commit fully to the rebuild and work to make sure that they aren’t in this position forever — much like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Colorado and St. Louis have lately. Buffalo is reportedly aggressively shopping around goalie Ryan Miller, by far their best player. Calgary has several veterans that could be desirable to teams looking to fill gaps for a playoff stretch as well. There is a decent chance that one or both teams will be very aggressive at this deadline, looking to acquire draft picks or promising young prospects. If a team does make a big splash then it will obviously be a disruptive force, and they are already short of talent as it is. Even if they don’t, though, the looming threat of changes will be a big distraction for the teams until the deadline.
Hope is lost on the Island: The Islanders came into the season with such promise. They took the Penguins to the limit in the playoffs last year, and they had a promising young core to build around. This year, though, has been a disaster. They paid an expensive price for Thomas Vanek from the Sabres, but he has not performed particularly well and doesn’t seem like he is willing to sign an extension with the team. Defenseman Andy MacDonald won’t commit to an extension, either. And now John Tavares, one of the best young players in the league, was hurt at the Olympics where he was playing for Canada and will miss the rest of the year. It was already a lost season, but now they have nothing to play for and could be very aggressive in trying to make some moves. GM Garth Snow has done a terrible job and has to be on shaky ground, too, so he could be desperate to prove himself and save his job.
Adding the final pieces in Pittsburgh: Last year the Penguins were active at the deadline, but it didn’t go well for them. They added Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray and Jussi Jokinen. On paper it was a nice set of deals, but the chemistry never worked, and they weren’t better after the deal — especially because Sidney Crosby was injured right after the deadline and didn’t return until the playoffs. This year the team is playing better all around than last year and will again be looking to go all the way in the playoffs. They have a strong core but will again be looking to add some pieces to take them over the top. They will be more cautious than last year, but they could be active — and could be a market maker because so many players on marginal teams would love the opportunity to play in Pittsburgh.
Will the big deal finally materialize in Edmonton?: This has been a nightmare of a season in Edmonton. They finally hoped that this would be the year when the young talent turned the corner, but everything that could go wrong has. Management has promised that big moves were coming, but so far the tweaks have been relatively minor. They badly need defensive strength, and they have some forwards that could be made available. Sam Gagner is the name most often mentioned, but Jordan Eberle could be in play if the price was high enough, and even the ancient Ryan Smyth could be attractive to a team looking for a veteran spark. My hunch is that they won’t be a big player, but the fan pressure is intense in Edmonton right now, so the team could be looking to appease their supporters.
Will scoring head to L.A.?: The Kings have exceptional goaltending and strong defense. Their 128 goals against are only three fewer than league-best Boston, and they have played two fewer games than the Bruins. What holds them back from being an elite contender, though, is their inability to score consistently. Only Buffalo, New Jersey and Calgary have scored fewer goals, and those are all lousy teams. The Kings need to score if they want another Stanley Cup win, and they could be active in their pursuit of it. They could make things interesting because they have defensive depth when so many teams are looking for help on the back-end.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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