With just under 20 games left in the 2017-18 National Hockey League standings, the Winnipeg Jets are comfortably in a playoff spot, the Calgary Flames are battling for a spot and the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks are already getting focused on next year.
This has been a phenomenal season for the Jets, without question their best in the history of the franchise in the NHL (including the old Winnipeg Jets before they moved to Arizona). The Jets are at 83 points, and only four points back of the Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights for first in the West.
At the deadline, the Jets acquired Paul Stastny for college prospect Erik Foley, a first round draft pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional fourth round draft pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. What the Stastny deal does for the Jets is that it gives them even more depth at center. Stastny, now joins Mark Scheifele and Bryan Little at the center position in Winnipeg.
During his time this season for the Blues, Stastny had 12 goals and 28 assists for 40 points. It was actually a surprise by many to see Stastny be traded to Winnipeg, because the Blues are still in playoff contention.
Where there is a drawback to Stastny’s game is he is too one dimensional. Much like Joe Thornton, Stastny rarely shoots the puck, making him extremely predictable when on the ice. In the last three seasons, Stastny has only had 353 shots on goal. Brent Burns had 320 shots on goal last season alone.
In Calgary, the Flames have decided to take a chance on Chris Stewart to be on the number one line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. The player who has seen the most ice time with Monahan and Gaudreau has been Micheal Ferland, who has been out for over a week with an undisclosed injury. For now it is Chris Stewart’s chance, who the Flames acquired off of waivers from the Minnesota Wild. This season, Stewart only has nine goals and four assists for 13 points, but did have 64 points with the Colorado Avalanche in 2010.
The Flames also picked up Nick Shore from the Ottawa Senators for a seventh round draft pick. This is the second time this season that Shore was traded as he was first dealt on Valentine’s Day in the Dion Phaneuf/Marian Gaborik blockbuster involving the Senators and Los Angeles Kings. Shore had four goals and 12 assists for 16 points.
The Oilers meanwhile shipped out Mark Letestu (who was traded to Nashville and then Columbus) and Patrick Maroon, who went to New Jersey. The player the Oilers received back in the trades that has the most impact is Pontus Aberg, who they acquired from Nashville. Aberg only had two goals and six assists for eight points in 2017-18, after only having two points in 15 games last year. The Oilers are high on Aberg, and with the Predators depth at the moment, it made the 24 year-old Swede expendable.
Like the Oilers, the Canucks will spend the rest of their season evaluating talent on their current roster. It should come as no surprise that they traded the veteran Thomas Vanek to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Canucks fans must be a little disappointed that they only got Tyler Motte and Jussi Jokinen in return. The Canucks become the fourth team Jokinen has played for this year as he has played 14 games each for the Oilers and Blue Jackets and 18 games for the Kings. In 42 games, Jokinen only has one goal and six assists for seven points. Motte only had five points in 31 games with the Blue Jackets.
In an interesting statistic, Thomas Vanek had more points this season with the Canucks than Stastny had with the Blues. However very few are praising the Blue Jackets for acquiring the 34 year-old left winger from Austria who is now with his eighth different team since 2014.
The Canucks also acquired Brendan Leipsic from the Vegas Golden Knights for defenseman Philip Holm. This is a peculiar deal for Vegas because they are giving up on Leipsic, who played 44 games for them this year. Leipsic only had 13 points, but to ship a player off to Vancouver for a player with only one NHL game this season is a little odd. However the last thing I will do is second guess Golden Knights general manager George McPhee, because every move he has made this season has simply been golden.