This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.
As expected, there wasn't a lot of action before Wednesday's trade deadline. The biggest pieces were already relocated, and the major moves will likely happen as teams take stock of their assets leading into the expansion and entry drafts in June.
It's a 10-game Thursday, and the breakdowns include some brief analysis of the approaches teams took leading into the trade deadline.
Rangers (PP: 17, PK: 16) at Bruins (PP: 13, PK: 1), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Henrik Lundqvist (28-16-2, 2.67, .911), Tuukka Rask (30-14-4, 2.27, .913)
Key Injuries:Jesper Fast (shoulder), Dan Girardi (ankle), Michael Grabner (hip), Kevin Klein (back), Chris Kreider (lower body), Mika Zibanejad (hand)
Boston has gone 7-1 since Claude Julien was canned, and Rask boasts a .927 save percentage and 1.99 GAA during the stretch. The Bruins were relatively quiet at the deadline with the acquisition of Drew Stafford the only shakeup. The 31-year-old veteran has just 13 points – four goals – through 40 games this season, so expectations should be kept in check. Stafford's a plodding winger at this stage of his career.
New York lost two consecutive home games to Columbus and Washington to finish February with a 9-2-1 record. The Rangers are currently dealing with a slew of injuries, and their biggest trade splash was bringing in Brendan Smith. His 3.4 relative Corsi For percentage at five-on-five is impressive, and while the 28-year-old defeseman might never live up to the hype of his prospect days, Smith is serviceable and should prove to be an underrated addition.
Wild (PP: 3, PK: 8) at Blue Jackets (PP: 6, PK: 10), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Devan Dubnyk (34-11-3, 2.05, .932), Sergei Bobrovsky (32-13-4, 2.18, .926)
Key Injuries:Matt Calvert (oblique), David Clarkson (back), William Karlsson (illness), Lukas Sedlak (lower body), Victor Bartley (triceps),Zach Parise (illness), Jason Pominville (illness), Ryan Suter (undisclosed)
When these two teams met on New Year's Eve, Minnesota sported a 12-game winning streak, and Columbus a 14-game run. The Blue Jackets took that contest, so the Wild will be hungry to avenge the loss. Since, Columbus has gone 12-11-2, whereas Minnesota owns an impressive 18-5-2 record. The Blue Jackets have fallen back to where we expected them to be, and through 25 games in 2017, Columbus has allowed a league-high 12.63 scoring chances per 60 minutes at five-on-five. To put it in perspective, Minnesota has allowed just 9.28 (seventh lowest).
On the trade front, Columbus acquired depth pieces in Kyle Quincey and Lauri Korpikoski. Quincey is capable of treading water in a third-pairing role. Korpikoski, however, has been a horrible possession player with a career relative Corsi For percentage of -6.4. Minnesota was quiet Wednesday after acquiring Martin Hanzal on Sunday, and the pivot collected two helpers last time out.
P.K. Subban's return to the Bell Centre comes at a perfect time for the Hab castoff. Montreal went 5-7-1 without a regulation win in February and averaged a league-low 1.62 goals per game. Nashville, on the other hand, averaged 3.69 goals per game and went 8-4-1 last month and are now six points clear of St. Louis for third in the Central Division. Additionally, the Predators have surrendered the fewest high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes (8.4) at five-on-five in the league.
Making matters worse, after raising eyebrows – plus some pitchforks and torches – with the Subban-Shea Weber deal this summer, Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin's deadline moves were again questionable. With the NHL faster than ever and contending teams boasting skill throughout their lineups, the Habs added Dwight King, Steve Ott, Jordie Benn, Andreas Martinsen and Brandon Davidson. The jury will return with the verdict this spring. Turning to Nashville, Parenteau should slide into a middle-line role once healthy and provides offensive upside and capable possession abilities. For a sixth-round selection, this checks out as an excellent grab by the Predators.
Coyotes (PP: 27, PK: 25) at Sabres (PP: 4, PK: 29), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Mike Smith (16-18-6, 2.97, .913), Robin Lehner (17-18-7, 2.63, .922)
Key Injuries:Alex Burmistrov (undisclosed), Brad Richardson (leg), Johan Larsson (wrist)
Don't sleep on Arizona's acquisition of Teemu Pulkkinen. He's a gifted scorer with 157 points through 166 AHL contests, but for whatever reason, he hasn't been handed a legitimate NHL opportunity. The 25-year-old winger will receive a long look down the stretch. Buffalo kept the hand it was dealt this season, and despite losing four consecutive games, the Sabres aren't completely out of the playoff picture. With Lehner looking the part of a No. 1 goalie and an emerging forward corps, as soon as Buffalo improves its blue line, the playoffs will be in reach.
Panthers (PP: 25, PK: 3) at Flyers (PP: 8, PK: 14), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Roberto Luongo (17-15-6, 2.70, .914), Michal Neuvirth (10-9-1, 2.90, .887)
Key Injuries:Sean Couturier (illness), Travis Konecny (lower body), Brandon Manning (suspension), Michael Raffl (lower body)
Thomas Vanek is a scorer, and after an underwhelming two-year run in Minnesota, he currently ranks third in the league in points per 60 minutes at five-on-five (2.8) among all skaters with 500 minutes. Exactly how and where he fits with Florida will be interesting to see, but the veteran should continue to mark the scoresheet. It was a solid grab for Florida. Philadelphia went 4-6-1 in February to significantly hurt its playoff chances, and the Flyers made a lateral move at the deadline. Valtteri Filppula helps down the middle, and the departure of Mark Streit opens room some young blue liners. However, head coach Dave Hakstol isn't exactly a defense whisper, according to Shayne Gostisbehere, anyway.
Devils (PP: 18, PK: 17) at Capitals (PP: 5, PK: 6), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Cory Schneider (19-18-10, 2.67, .913), Braden Holtby (32-8-5, 1.95, .929)
Key Injuries:Jacob Josefson (lower body), Andre Burakovsky (hand), Brooks Orpik (lower body), T.J. Oshie (upper body)
Kevin Shattenkirk started 73.3 percent of his five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone in his debut with the Caps, which should become the norm for the veteran. While he'll likely take a minute hit and may need time to develop chemistry with the Washington power play, his numbers shouldn't take much of a hit in his new digs. Washington became the Stanley Cup favorites with his addition. New Jersey moved veterans P.A. Parenteau and Kyle Quincey at the deadline, but neither player's departure will have a significant impact. Although, perhaps New Jersey could go from bad to worse.
Avalanche (PP: 29, PK: 24) at Senators (PP: 22, PK: 11), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Calvin Pickard (10-19-2, 2.88, .909), Craig Anderson (16-8-1, 2.31, .929)
Key Injuries:Semyon Varlamov (groin), Nikita Zadorov (ankle), Mark Borowiecki (shoulder), Chris Neil (finger), Bobby Ryan (finger)
With Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog still in tow, the Avalanche were quiet Wednesday. They added Sven Andrighetto from Montreal and received a conditional fourth-round selection from Los Angeles for Jarome Iginla. Colorado projects to continue being the doormat of the NHL and chasing down the draft lottery's best odds. Ottawa beefed up with Alex Burrows and Viktor Stalberg, but re-upping with Burrows for two more years is a head-scratcher. Don't sleep on the Senators, though. The Atlantic Division is wide open.
Islanders (PP: 26, PK: 21) at Stars (PP: 19, PK: 30), 8:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Thomas Greiss (20-12-3, 2.49, .919), Kari Lehtonen (14-19-6, 2.94, .900)
Key Injuries:Mattias Janmark (knee), Casey Cizikas (upper body), Cal Clutterbuck (lower body), Travis Hamonic (knee), Andrew Ladd (back), Shane Prince (upper body), Alan Quine (upper body)
Dallas made most of its move ahead of Wednesday, whereas New York hasn't made a deal since last year's deadline. With the postseason all but out of reach, the Stars opened minutes on the blue line for Stephen Johns, Esa Lindell, Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak. They have tough calls to make ahead of the expansion draft. The Islanders are still in the playoff hunt, but will need to right the ship on the road. New York is just 9-14-4 with an average of 2.48 goals per game and just 8.99 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes away from the Barclays Center.
Maple Leafs (PP: 1, PK: 9) at Kings (PP: 24, PK: 5), 10:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Frederik Andersen (24-14-12, 2.75, .915), Jonathan Quick (1-0-1, 3.00, .916)
Key Injuries:Matt Greene (undisclosed), Jordan Nolan (leg), Connor Carrick
After adding playoff-tested veterans Brian Boyle and Eric Fehr, the Maple Leafs have some decisions to make up front. Josh Leivo's recent emergence (nine points over his past eight games), and Connor Brown's serviceable play all season (1.63 points per 60 miutes) will force some tough lineup calls down the stretch. The Kings sure are stubborn, but after selling the farm annually for half a decade, Jarome Iginla was about the only asset affordable. Should Los Angeles sneak into the playoffs, the Kings are a nightmarish matchup … or are they?
Canucks (PP: 28, PK: 26) at Sharks (PP: 20, PK: 13), 10:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Ryan Miller (16-18-4, 2.66, .915), Martin Jones (30-15-6, 2.28, .915)
Key Injuries:Dylan DeMelo (wrist), Joonas Donskoi (upper body), Jannik Hansen (not injury related), Derek Dorsett (neck), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Jacob Markstrom (lower body), Anton Rodin (knee), Jack Skille (groin), Chris Tanev (illness), Nikita Tryamkin (illness)
With Vancouver all but eliminated from the playoffs, it was surprising to see the Canucks deal just Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen. However, if you take a quick scan of the roster, there aren't many other attractive assets. Adding Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlen to the prospect pool may prove fruitful sooner than later, though. San Jose just needed to stay out of its own way Wednesday. Acquiring Hansen is a nice depth move, but with Timo Meier and Mirco Mueller currently in the AHL, they already have skilled replacements at their disposal, if needed. Additionally, with a stranglehold on the Pacific Division, the Sharks have the luxury of looking ahead to the dance.
Nick Schmaltz, F, CHI: With Artem Anisimov injured early in Wednesday's game, Schmaltz slotted in between Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. The rookie collected two more helpers to give him three goals, 12 points and a plus-13 rating through his past nine games. Schmaltz has also found the scoresheet in eight of those nine contests. He had been clicking on Jonathan Toews' flank before substituting for Anisimov, and the biggest takeaway is that Schmaltz has clearly established himself as a key offensive cog for the top-heavy Blackhawks. The freshman could have a significant fantasy impact down the stretch.