The Western Conference landscape after the trade deadline

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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

  • Ranking the West trade deadline moves:
    1. Vegas – got Stone and inked him, he essentially replaces Neal’s good year two seasons ago
    2. Nashville – got Granlund and Simmons to compete against Winnipeg
    3. San Jose – got Nyquist for even more fire power
    4. Winnipeg – got Hayes as a 2nd line centre to fill Stastny’s old spot
    5. Dallas – got Lovejoy to improve their D. Would be higher but Zuc on IR now.
    6-14. With 0-1 moves, Calgary, St. Louis, Colorado, Edmonton, Chicago, Vancouver, Arizona, Anaheim, Los Angeles didn’t really do anything to make them better or worse.
    15. Minnesota – downgraded with the Granlund and Coyle trades that make you wonder if they’re serious about making a playoff push or more worried about next season.

  • GoOilersGuy

    Not making any trades at the deadline made sense. Why would we trade proven NHL players for late round draft picks? I like what Gretzky is saying and doing. He gets in front of the media, he keeps us informed and he does what he says. He’s not giving away assets if it does not make the team better. Pretty good fundamental if you ask me. If a deal to make the team better had come up then he would have pulled the trigger. Good for Keith……I really hope he continues to make good decisions. He very well could be our next GM and that would be fine by me.

    • Axe

      I agree with u that Gretzky did ok in his time so far. I wouldn’t go as far as saying good or great for a couple of reasons : stolarz might walk away as a UFA at end of season if they don’t get him the playtime required by his contract to keep him an RFA and while I like gagner for Spooner a lot there is no major long term cap clearance done by KG. Also I am uncomfortable with him being the next GM because he was China’s right hand man (so he is involved in making this mess to an extent) and he is too close to the OBC for my comfort… If they give him the job I feel like he is gonna be obligated to them.. My two cents

  • Axe

    Feels like the oilers are stuck in no man’s land and its a confusing time as an oiler fan.. Do we cheer for the team to win so they can end season on a positive note and not be the joke of the NHL? Or do we secretly cheer when they lose knowing that it can bring us a high quality draft pick who can help this team sooner rather than later.. Confusing times…one thing I know for sure I hope the sharks can beat out the flames for that top spot in the Pacific forcing cgy to a first round match up against Vegas and hopefully a first round exit…

    • Ratt McNuge

      Never cheer for the team to lose. Losing just begets more losing. There is a culture of losing built in to the Oilers right now, and that has to change. Besides, high draft picks haven’t helped us before anyway.

  • bcoil

    As oiler management they should not have made many moves because the new GM is going to come in and appraise the talent he has for the type of team he wants to build and that for sure wont be the one that we have today . Maybe some of the existing pieces will work better in a new system AND with a new coach and coaching philosophy some of these players who don’s fit in chip and chase Hitch system may work well in a quicker pressure system .So it is better to sit tight for now

  • Odanada

    Keith played it safe and it’s about time after that Chia chit show he
    I really think decisions concerning the roster need to be addressed by the new hire, not the group that assembled it.
    There was talk last night about how tight knit this group is – and that’s good to hear. But I’d like to see that talk backed up on the ice when people take liberties with McDavid. Too many games I’ve see Connor roughed up and the response was nil – the LA game comes to mind. Real soldiers have one another’s backs at all times.

      • Todd the electron rod

        You have to put a little oiler spin on the situation.
        It’s a strong vote of confidence in the group and we’re only a couple players away. Or something.

    • Oiler Al

      If they stood still to make t he play offs? Not with this roster! They stood still because the organization is in turmoil and dysfunctional beyond compare.
      Uncle Hitch sitting on the cracker barrel, spewing rhetorical lines of wisdom wont be enough to make the play offs.
      The problem with trhe team its , so far down the barrel its their oen echos they are listening to.

      • Gravis82

        I know. This is a huge problem. But you cannot deny that why they stood pat. That is exactly what he said. That they have a good group and he thinks they could win some games.

        They did not make any trades because they think they have a chance.

        This was a real thing that was said, I can’t make this stuff up

    • Lowe enuf

      Huh? They stood still because they are a fragile team with a lousy P.K. that can’t get out of there own way. Lack of talent is difficult to hide. These players play scared because they can’t score and don’t want to put opponents on the power play.

  • ---schadenfreude—

    “Ultimately, the West looks much the same today as it did before the deadline. ”

    The one constant of the West year after year is that the Oilers will be at the bottom.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. The management is the anchor that will hold this franchise back forever.

    • Peter Chairelli

      Here’s a reenactment of that phone call:
      K Gretz: Hello, I heard Lanine is available
      K Chev: Where did you hear that?
      KG: Roenick was on TV saying so..
      K Chev: *click*
      KG: Hello….,Kevin…*leans over to OBC*…. I think he hung up

      • tkfisher

        AND then i’m guessing Kevin and summit crew call back. When it goes to voicemail they blurt out a package of jesse puljujärvi, kailer yamamoto, evan bouchard and the Oilers 1st in 2019. The old boys sit back, converse over a glass of crisp red wine and take the next 4 weeks off waiting for a call back (satisfied with their effort).

  • camdog

    Oilers need to see what this group is capable of with a potential healthy top 6 on defence. Hopefully Oscar’s fingers didn’t get smashed. Petrovic and Benning are auditioning for number 6 next season. There has been 2 coaches this season, both are hesitant to give Benning minutes. He can have the best fancy stats on the team, but if 2 veteran coaches won’t give him minutes it’s because he’s no good. Same pattern with Benning as with Davidson.

    This isn’t about making playoffs, this is about building this team from within. The need the veterans they have to try and help the kids. Oilers can’t keep trading veterans and over playing kids that don’t know how to play the game.

    Number 1 priority in net is seeing if Koskinen can handle the load and be a number 1. The 10 game minimum for Stolarz isn’t the number 1 priority in net right now.

    • tkfisher

      Sorry but the seeing about Koskinen ship has sailed. THEY are already committed to him regardless of how he plays. See if he can handle it, and then see about signing should have happened (not sign, and then see if he can). Hope for the best on that front.

  • VK63

    Pittsburg picking up Gudbranson is mind boggling. Not as mind boggling as the Nucks giving him a 3 year extension but then again, Benning got out from under that.

    This league has some suspect decision making protocols and places some obscene value in “glue guy” especially where glue guys play is roughly analogous to glue factory levels of worth (arguably). Puzzling stuff…

  • Abagofpucks

    One more bright spot i want to bring up is how Josh Currie is playing more minutes than atleast 3 or 4 regulars every game.
    I wonder if he can find a roll on this team, from what i have seen so far he could fit in next year.