In what was building up to be one of the more quiet NHL trade deadlines in recent years, we actually saw some pretty significant movement that should have an impact on our plays for certain teams. Now, not all of these are home runs but we can clearly see that teams have addressed certain needs that make predicting game and future outcomes a little easier.
The East Division’s Arms Race & The Over
The Pens, the Isles, the Caps, and the Bruins made the most noise at the deadline this season by acquiring some big named goal scorers. Taylor Hall goes to Boston, Kyle Palmieri to the Islanders, Jeff Carter to the Pens, and Anthony Mantha headlines this list with his move to the Caps.
How does this affect individual game totals in the division? The entire East Division (except Buffalo) ranks between 8th and 18th in Expected Goals For per game. The 4 teams we mentioned earlier already have elite players that can find the back of the net so the addition of these prolific goal scorers gives them scoring depth, something crucial for the over considering how good these teams have been in their own end this year. Here’s what each of them bring to the table:
Jeff Carter – PIT
A change of scenery might be just what Carter needs to recharge his career. He’s put up a modest 19 points in 40 games and should be centering the Pens second line until Gino Malkin returns however, it’s Carter’s 5 on 5 play that’s got us turning our heads. Among forwards, he sits at 58th in the league in Expected Goals For per 20 at even strength, just ahead of new teammate Sidney Crosby.
Kyle Palmieri – NYI
With Anders Lee done for the year, the Isles brought in Palmieri to try to fill that massive goal scoring void. Unfortunately, Lee was New York’s leader across almost every goal scoring and shooting metric but the addition of Palmieri has paid instant dividends. Specifically with the man advantage, Palmieri is among the league leaders in Powerplay Scoring Chances per 20 and he’s fit in quite nicely in the bumper spot on the Islanders 2nd unit.
Taylor Hall – BOS
The hope here is that Hall could bring some much needed scoring stability to the B’s. Boston’s success has relied solely on the performance of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron for far too long. David Krejci finally gets a legitimate playmaking winger and despite his low production this season, Hall ranks 44th among forwards in Slot Pass Completions per 20 and 15th in O-Zone Carry-Ins per 20 which are key metrics in generating offence.
Anthony Mantha – WSH
Easily the biggest shock of trade deadline day, the Caps now have two proven snipers in their top six in Alex Ovechkin and Mantha. We already saw Mantha’s impact a few days ago against the Flyers where he led the team in Shots (6), Slot Shots (3), and Even Strength Shot Attempts (7). His tally came off-the-rush, an area he excels at as he currently ranks 58th among forwards in Scoring Chances Off-The-Rush per 20. As long as Mantha doesn’t shy away from firing the biscuit, we should see the over hit more often with the Caps, especially against weaker teams in the division.
The Leafs’ Future(s)
At this point, there’s no denying that the Leafs are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. It doesn’t seem like any team in the North Division is going to stand in their way so their path to the Conference Finals is essentially a lock and the addition of Nick Foligno solidifies that claim.
Nick Foligno brings a level of compete to the Leafs that can only be matched by Zack Hyman. Foligno sits in the top percentile league-wide in Defensive Zone Loose Puck Recoveries per 20, Defensive Plays per 20, and O-Zone Puck Battle Win Percentage. To sum it up, Foligno plays playoff hockey all year round and this is exactly the type of grit and tenacity the Leafs have been searching for to help them take the next step.
At (8.00 | +700), the Leafs’ ending their 53 year drought doesn’t look like a bad bet right now and it’s also worth mentioning that we’ll be sure to find plenty of Money Line value along the way.
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