NHL Betting: Handicapping Teams Better Off after Trade Deadline
by Trevor Whenham - 3/3/2015
The NBA trade deadline this year was one of the best in the history of that league - busy, impactful, and thrilling. The NHL usually leads the way with their trade deadline, but this year's edition was the opposite of the NBA in too many ways. There were quite a few deals, but many teams focused more on filling smaller gaps and adding depth than on making a blockbuster deal. There wasn't a superstar-caliber player moved. Heck, there wasn't even a player that the most loyal of hometown fans could argue was close to a star. Sure, there were some nice players, and some guys with real potential, but the foundations of the league certainly weren't shaken.
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That's not to say, of course, that there aren't teams that are better now than they were last week. That's what is of interest to bettors, because that is what could create value down the stretch. Here are four teams that stand out as being better now than they were a week ago:
Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks have mostly been a disappointment this year, and they were hit hard by the injury of Patrick Kane recently, so they needed to have a good deadline to remain competitive and give them a strong chance for success in the playoffs. They did - though they paid handsomely for the privilege. The team made what now looks like a real mistake just before the season when they traded defenseman Nick Leddy to the Islanders. They needed some cap relief, but he has really blossomed this year. They were able to fill a defensive void by taking a risk on wily veteran Kimmo Timonen. He has not played yet this year because of blood clots, but he has been cleared to play, and if he can find his form he can be a huge asset for the team. They also were able to bring in Antoine Vermette from the Coyotes. He's a big talent who can replace some of what Kane offered. They gave up a lot for both players, but they kept their top-level prospects, and they are much better on the ice now than they were.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets are very hungry to make the playoffs for the first time since their return to that city. They are in a tough fight, but they were in a good position, and now they are in an even better one. They did a great job earlier of trading away disgruntled Evander Kane and still managing to improve quite significantly. At the deadline they added Jiri Tlusty. He is a decent offensive player who adds some nice depth, and he will be very comfortable with coach Paul Maurice after having played for him in two different cities already. They also added veteran Lee Stempniak - it wouldn't be a trade deadline if he didn't get moved. He's another offensive depth guy who could be useful getting to the playoffs - and once they get there. This team faced a tough balance - get better now without sacrificing your future. They did well.
Detroit Red Wings: Detroit wins for one thing alone - after flirting with the acquisition of Dion Phaneuf they came to their senses and didn't make a move that they would regret for years to come. Not making that deal is the best move any team made at the deadline. Seriously. Beyond that, though, they did a fine job of addressing some needs that they had without paying too much. Marek Zidlicky is a defenseman not really any worse than Phaneuf, and he brings a whole lot less baggage. He has played in the Cup, too, so he brings experience to a team that already has plenty. Nice addition. Johan Franzen has been hit with a concussion and could be limited for a while. The team added another veteran - Erik Cole - from Dallas to fill that gap. He's a nice, solid player who may not have quite the upside of Franzen, but he's reliable and will be a nice addition. This team is going to be tough in the playoffs - like they always are - and they have helped themselves.
Montreal Canadiens: I really like this team this year. With Carey Price in net it's not hard to. They did a very good job of adding a couple of pieces to get better without panicking or changing too much. They added Devante Smith-Pelly from Anaheim, and he adds toughness and size up front. They had to give up Jiri Sekac, but I've never been enough of a fan to be worried about that. Then they added Jeff Petry form the Oilers to shore up their defense, and they got him for a steal - only two picks and no players or prospects. He's not a superstar by any means, but he's a solid player, and he should play great just because he's so happy to be out of Edmonton. They added Torrey Mitchell, too, but that doesn't do much for me. Still, strong day.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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