March 4, 2023 – The NHL is in a strange place. While the salary cap has been a success, the structure of seasons now seem to be 60 game seasons with a long 22 game wind down until the playoffs start.
While mathematically there are still chances for some teams like the Ottawa Sens, who sit 5 points out of the last Wild card spot in the East.
In the West it’s pretty much a done race. While Ottawa fans are raving about the deal they got in picking up critically needed D man Jake Chychrun, the simply reality is that it most likely cost them their season by waiting so long. Sometimes it makes more sense to pay more. In this case the cost of dumping a Dman was pretty pointless for the team which could’ve buried him or fit him into the Chychrun deal.
By having the young D man earlier in the season, even a month earlier, the team most likely would be in the playoffs based on rosters as of today.
While nothing is ever guaranteed you always have to play the odds. Ottawa simply saved a penny and lost a pound.
Calgary is a hot mess which will most likely cost GM Treliving his job. Sometimes you have to suck it up. When the team blew the Gaudreau situation they actually made it worse by signing a long term contract with an a older twosome of forwards in Nazim Kadri, and mostly what will turn out to be one of the worst signings in years, locking in for over $10.5M yearly for Jonathan Huberdeau who has simply failed to earn his contract this year.
Signing older players long term simply isn’t NHL 2023 smart. It’s not cap smart unless you’re getting a really good deal, but for over a 5 year term or maxing out? Nope.
Edmonton should’ve grabbed Erik Karlsson whose elite play with their stud forward squad might have propelled them for a real run for Lord Stanley’s cup. In what was the worst trade of the deadline they gave up a proven point getting PP d man under a reasonable contract, plus a blue chip power forward rookie, plus draft picks, for a 32 year old defenseman signed long term at 6.25M yearly. Not sure what GM Holland was thinking, but someone should’ve said no to him, or at least warned him against this sort of brutal trade. Let’s call this Duncan Keith 2.0, but way worse.
As for the Habs. Well they still didn’t improve their situation. They really didn’t move many aging chips. Of course to rookie GM Kent Hughes credit, he didn’t make any black pit deals like Edmonton did, or panic like Calgary did in the off season. But there were deals out there, and the team still hasn’t picked up a strong francophone player, or even a middle of the road one.
The Leafs and GM Dubas really surprised this writer. I was never a big fan of Dubas work, but the stops were pulled out. He actually made deals that made sense and got players that really were needed and can move the team ahead. Ryan O’Reilly is a great fit and I can see him giving the team a bit of a Gio signing next year. I also don’t think Dubas will allow Matthews to distract the team next season regarding his contract. O’Reilly may just be some insurance down the middle. Luke Schenn coming home also was a nice pick up. The Leafs have depth and grit which is huge when you need it most.
Vancouver was also surprising. They didn’t just dump salary, but picked up some young blood and the Hronek trade was awesome. The team needed help, and he gives them that pointing toward a retool rather than rebuild. The team has options which is always a good thing, and still has their own 1st round picks for the next 3 seasons.
Side post. Carolina really has a great grip in the cap age. They don’t overpay for short term rentals, and fit pieces into their structure. The team has been slammed as Deadline losers, but their moves were way better than blowing out your asset base like Edmonton and Tampa Bay did.