The Oilers stood completely still at the trade deadline. Their priority is long-term, making it hard to be a buyer, but they’re still close enough to a playoff spot that selling was also difficult. Where do the Oilers now stand in the post-deadline Western Conference Zombie Walk?
1. Calgary Flames
39-16-7 (85 points) / Goals For: 225 (3rd of 31) / Goals Against: 180 (10th of 31)
The Flames came into the deadline hanging on to top spot in the Western Conference with the San Jose Sharks hot on their tail. There were rumours Calgary was going to pull the trigger on a big deal, potentially for Mark Stone, but they ended up having a quiet day. All they did was add some depth, acquiring Oscar Fantenberg from the Los Angeles Kings.
2. San Jose Sharks
37-18-8 (82 points) / Goals For: 228 (2nd of 31) / Goals Against: 197 (21st of 31)
There’s a big battle at the top of the Pacific Division between the Flames and Sharks because nobody wants to play the Vegas Golden Knights (who I’ll touch on in a minute) in the first round of the playoffs. The Sharks, who have been rolling as of late, added more firepower to their potent offence, acquiring rental winger Gustav Nyquist from the Red Wings.
3. Nashville Predators
37-23-5 (79 points) / Goals For: 196 (10th of 31) / Goals Against: 171 (6th of 31)
The Predators and Winnipeg Jets, much like the Flames and Sharks, are in a tight battle for top spot in the Central Division, and the suddenly-hot St. Louis Blues have also pulled themselves into the mix. Nashville badly needed some scoring help, and they found it in the form of Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund. Simmonds is a rental who provides some crash and bang. Grandlund was a shocking trade out of nowhere, as the Predators sent their division rival a promising young player in Kevin Fiala to acquire some high-end veteran skill for their top-six.
4. Winnipeg Jets
37-21-4 (78 points) / Goals For: 210 (8th of 31) / Goals Against: 185 (14th of 31)
Like last year, the Jets acquired a second-line centre to add depth to their lineup. In 2018, they added Paul Stastny, who was incredibly good down the stretch and into the playoffs, and this year they acquired Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers. Hayes is having a career season and his addition to the lineup bumps Bryan Little down to the third line, giving Winnipeg admirable depth down the middle.
5. St. Louis Blues
33-23-6 (72 points) / Goals For: 182 (20th of 31) / Goals Against: 172 (7th of 31)
The Blues have been the wildest story of the Western Conference. They got off to a horrendous start but an 11-game winning streak in February pulled them not only into a playoff spot but into a battle for top spot in the Central Division. A month ago, we assumed the Blues would be a seller with assets like Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn, and Colton Parayko to dangle, but instead, they mostly stood pat. The only deal they made was adding depth defender Michael Del Zotto, who could give them a boost on the power play.
6. Vegas Golden Knights
32-26-5 (69 points) / Goals For: 185 (15th of 31) / Goals Against: 181 (12th of 31)
The Golden Knights made the biggest splash at the trade deadline this year. They sent top prospect Erik Brannstrom, depth forward Oscar Lindberg, and a draft pick to the Golden Knights for Mark Stone, the best rental player on the market. Stone then inked an eight-year extension with the Golden Knights, making this more than just a rental. Vegas hasn’t had the same potent attack as they did last year, so Stone will be a welcomed addition to their forward group. They’re well behind of Calgary and San Jose in the Pacific Division Champion race, but neither of those two aforementioned teams will want to face the Golden Knights in the first round.
7. Dallas Stars
31-26-5 (67 points) / Goals For: 157 (29th of 31) / Goals Against: 162 (3rd of 31)
Here’s where things start to get messy. The Stars are clinging on to one of the wild card seeds with a handful of teams within striking distance. They made two moves prior to the deadline, adding forward Mats Zuccarello from the Rangers and defenceman Ben Lovejoy from the Devils. Zuccarello was a badly-needed acquisition for a team that isn’t scoring much, but, unfortunately, he got injured in his first game with the Stars.
8. Minnesota Wild
30-27-6 (66 points) / Goals For: 173 (26th of 31) / Goals Against: 184 (13th of 31)
The Wild, who are right in the thick of the Zombie Walk, were mostly sellers at the deadline. That said, as they dealt away veterans Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle, they acquired younger players like Kevin Fiala and Ryan Donato who can help the team now and in the future. Minnesota obviously isn’t better with Fiala and Donato than they were with Granlund and Coyle, but it likely won’t result in the team plummeting down the standings.
9. Colorado Avalanche
27-24-12 (66 points) / Goals For: 209 (9th of 31) / Goals Against: 200 (22nd of 31)
The Avs have gone into a tailspin. In their first 32 games, they went 17-9-6, then in their next 31 games, they’ve gone 10-15-6. Still, thanks to the terrible West, they’re still right in the mix for a playoff spot. The only move they made was acquiring Derick Brassard, who’s having the worst season of his career, from the Panthers.
10. Arizona Coyotes
29-28-5 (63 points) / Goals For: 164 (28th of 31) / Goals Against: 177 (9th of 31)
In the opposite vein of the Avs, some solid play in the second part of the season has helped push Arizona into the thick of the playoff race. Still, they ultimately opted not to buy at the deadline. Their only move was a one-for-one swap sending Jordan Weal to the Canadiens for Michael Chaput. Both Weal and Chaput have had poor seasons, so this is nothing more than a change of scenery type thing.
11. Vancouver Canucks
27-28-8 (62 points) / Goals For: 176 (25th of 31) / Goals Against: 195 (18th of 31)
The Canucks made a couple of moves yesterday, neither of which were buying or selling. The minor deal was swapping prospects with the Sharks, as Jonathan Dahlen was sent to San Jose for Linus Karlsson. The more interesting deal was sending much-maligned defenceman Erik Gudbranson to Pittsburgh for Tanner Pearson. Gudbranson has struggled in Vancouver while Pearson is having the worst season of his career. It’s yet another change of scenery deal.
12. Chicago Blackhawks
26-28-9 (61 points) / Goals For: 211 (7th of 31) / Goals Against: 236 (31st of 31)
The Blackhawks have been hot the past few weeks, resurrecting themselves from the basement on the power of MVP-calibre play from Patrick Kane and excellent play from reclamation project Dylan Strome. Like everyone else in this category, though, they did nothing at the deadline other than some minor moves. Their big splash came earlier in the season when they got Strome and when they somehow managed to get an asset for Brandon Manning.
13. Edmonton Oilers
26-29-7 (59 points) / Goals For: 173 (26th of 31) / Goals Against: 205 (24th of 31)
The Oilers, as we know, stood pat at the deadline. They opted not to sell soon-to-be free agents like Alex Chiasson and Alex Petrovic, and they also decided it wasn’t worth it to sell futures to make a push for the playoffs.
14. Anaheim Ducks
24-30-9 (57 points) / Goals For: 139 (31st of 31) / Goals Against: 195 (18th of 31)
The Ducks were in an interesting position coming into the deadline as general manager Bob Murray replaced their head coach behind the bench. With a close-up view of the team, Murray decided to sell where he could, sending Brandon Montour to Buffalo for a prospect and a first-round pick.
15. Los Angeles Kings
23-32-7 (53 points) / Goals For: 148 (30th of 31) / Goals Against: 194 (16th of 31)
The Kings came into the deadline as really the only sure-fire seller as the basement team in the West. Oddly enough, they didn’t do much. Their big sell came weeks before the deadline, as Jake Muzzin was sent to the Leafs. But Tyler Toffoli and Alec Martinez remained on the team as the Kings only made minor deals at the deadline.
What does it all mean?
There was an arms race at the top of the Western Conference as Winnipeg, Nashville, Vegas, and San Jose all loaded up for playoff runs. Of all the teams in the Zombie Walk for the final couple of playoff spots, Dallas was the only team who really made any major additions. The Wild, who occupy the final playoff spot, took a hit on their current team to improve in the future, and other teams in the mix like Colorado, Arizona, Vancouver, and Chicago, much like the Oilers, stood pat with either lateral or minor deals.
While it’s a little disappointing the Oilers decided to do nothing, they aren’t dissimilar from the other teams in their cohort in the West. I would have liked to see the team try to recoup some draft picks for Chiasson and Petrovic and it would have been nice to see the team shed some long-term salary, but having so many teams in similar positions made that difficult.
Ultimately, the West looks much the same today as it did before the deadline. The good teams, save for Calgary, got better and the ones at the bottom fighting for the last spot largely stood pat.