The Chicago Blackhawks have bolstered their roster in the hopes of winning the Stanley Cup this year by acquiring forwards Andrew Ladd, Thomas Fleischman, Dale Weise and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. The LA Kings got some familiar defensive depth in Rob Scuderi in a trade with Chicago that included Ehrhoff. The St. Louis Blues received some goalie depth in former Isles Anders Nilsson. Montreal and Toronto have already been selling off players and they’re not done yet. So why haven’t the Islanders gotten into the mix? Let’s take a look at the percentage standings. If the playoffs were to start today, these would be the first round matchups, with their expected point pace in front of them:
Dallas: 108 Avs: 89
Unless the Avs want to completely ruin the Las Vegas odds or Draft King’s, bet on the Stars to make it to the next round.
Kings: 104 Predators: 94
See Dallas and Avs
Chicago: 105 St. Louis: 103
This is going to be a long series, but with these moves by Chicago and with the injuries that the Blues have sustained and limited cap maneuvering, the edge now belongs to the Hawks.
Ducks: 101 Sharks: 96
Would not shock me If we saw some moves made by both teams before the trade deadline. The next team below the Sharks are the Canucks and they may be out of the race sooner rather than later and if the Kings continue to win, then this eventual matchup could take a while as we have yet another battle of California.
So for the Hawks, it looks like their first two opponents will be the St. Louis Blues and the Dallas Stars. Before those trades were made, there was no certainty of getting past the first round.
As for the Islanders, I’ve said this in the last post, look for either the Rangers or Penguins to be the matchup in the first round and I expect the Isles to win the series with/without home ice advantage. It’s been written that Pittsburgh is looking to add defensive depth as well as a replacement for Ben Lovejoy who is sidelined indefinitely. As I stated, the Pens don’t have enough defense to beat the Isles in a 7 game series. The Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal continue to be linked in the rumor mill. It would take a move like that to compete with the Isles. The Isles know what they have and yes, everyone’s expectations should be higher this year. For now, the Hawks needed to make those bigger moves just to get through the first round, no less a Cup run. The Isles need to make a move for the sake of depth. Perhaps in searching for depth, there may be a bargain out there come Monday to be more than that. Let’s find out.