March is upon us. Each NHL team has played nearly two-thirds of their regular-season games. With the trade deadline a little over three weeks out, the marketplace is developing. Big names are being floated around the league as the buyers look to add pieces to their roster in hopes of a post-season run. Teams near the bottom of the standings are also looking to recoup assets for their expiring contracts.
Most of this is with the hopes of building for the future. Rolling along with our weekly “stock up, stock down”, the Tampa Bay Lightning are red hot. Winners of seven of their last 10 games, the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions look dangerous as ever. The Dallas Stars have also entered their name into the playoff mix.
You can find all of PTST’s hockey trade deadline analysis right here.
Stock Up: Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay has won two of their last three, and five of their last six. They remain hot on the heels of the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. As calm and collected as any group in hockey, the team fell behind 2-0 early to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. Battling back, Jon Cooper’s group scored five unanswered goals to pick up the victory. Looking destined to go on a deep postseason run once again, five players have already amassed over 30 points. The Lightning are led by the outstanding play of Victor Hedman on the back end, and are allowing just 2.77 goals per game in front of their outstanding netminder in Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Stock Down: Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas has quickly fallen to second in the Western Conference and the final wildcard spot. The group has dropped three of their last four, including losses to the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, and the Arizona Coyotes. Struggling to generate on the offensive end, they have scored just seven goals over their last five matchups. Chandler Stephenson has recorded three points in his previous 10 contests, while Evgenii Dadonov has gone scoreless over that same period. Unable to find any consistency in net, starting goaltender Robin Lehner has enjoyed an up-and-down year between the pipes. The 30-year-old has allowed 11 goals over his previous three starts. Crunched up against the cap, the Knights are unlikely to add any pieces at the deadline as they remain all-in.
Stock Up: Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles has bounced back after an up-and-down stretch to begin 2022. The team has won five of their last seven games to move into second place in the Pacific Division. Led by the outstanding play of their top line, captain Anze Kopitar is leads the group in both assists (35) and total points (50), while remaining one of the best two-way players in the game. Adrian Kempe is also putting together one of the finest years of his six-year NHL tenure. Havening already surpassed his previous career-high in goals, the 25-year-old has racked up 25 tallies through 52 games. Steady on the back end and in goal with Jonathan Quick; the Kings can play spoiler to any group in the postseason.
Stock Down: Washington Capitals
Struggling to gain any momentum during February, the Capitals had just a 5-6 record. They currently cling to the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, and the biggest issue has been in goal. The Caps fail to get any consistency from their two young starters, former first-round pick Ilya Samsonov has racked up a 2.93 goals-against average, and a .901 save percentage across 28 starts. Furthermore, his running mate Vitek Vanecek has amassed a 2.26 goals-against average, and a .902 save percentage. This has led them to be in the market for a veteran netminder after expressing interest in Chicago Blackhawks’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Battling the injury bug all year long in 2021, the team needs to get going before this becomes a lost season for their aging core.
Stock Up: New York Rangers
For the first time since 2015, the Hart Trophy winner may be handed out to a goaltender. Helping the Rangers surpass expectations this season, Igor Shesterkin has been incredible for the group. He is playing in just his third year in the league, after being selected 118th overall in 2014. The 26-year-old is currently fifth in the NHL in wins, seventh in goals-against average and fifth in save percentage. The Krylya Sovetov Moscow product has amassed a .794 quality start percentage while recording a career-high three shutouts. New York sits just six points back of the Carolina Hurricanes for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, despite dropping their last two games. The team is dangerous with goal-scorers up and down their lineup.
Stock Down: Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim is looking to reach the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. One of the league’s surprises through one half of the year, the team has begun to struggle. They have dropped five of their last seven games in regulation to fall three points back of the Golden Knights for the final wildcard spot. Unable to generate behind their young trio of Troy Terry, Sonny Milano and Trevor Zegras, the Ducks are currently 21st in the NHL in goals per game and 23rd in shots on goal. Captain Ryan Getzlaf has amassed just five points in his last ten games, while Sam Steel has just one goal over that period. A team that sets up well for the future with a deep prospect pool, the franchise remains a few years away from truly competing for a spot in the postseason.
Follow Chris Gallagher on Twitter @ChrisGally06
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