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How Did The NHL Trade Deadline Affect Each Team’s Odds? A Full Post-Deadline Primer

Aaron Gray

by Aaron Gray in NHL Hockey

Feb 26, 2019 · 4:10 PM PST

wayne simmonds philadelphia flyers away jersey orange
Wayne Simmonds was one of three acquisitions for the Nashville Predators. Photo by Pens from My Lens (Wikimedia Commons).
  • Big names like Stone, Duchene, Granlund, and Hayes all found new homes either on or in the days leading to the trade deadline
  • See how trade deadline acquisitions changed each team’s average odds at online sportsbooks
  • Find out which teams stayed pat, and which teams bet big

It’s February 26th, which means that the dust has settled and each NHL team is locked into the roster that they’ll ice until their season ends. This year’s trade deadline was one of the more exciting deadlines in recent history, with a plethora of genuine star power switching teams in dramatic (and often surprising) fashion.

While it might be a little trite to say at this point, NHL teams (even middling ones) can never resist their temptation to mortgage their future for a shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup, despite the fact there’s still only one cup.

However, just as the old aphorism goes, fortune often favors the bold. For a more detailed breakdown of the aftermath of the trade deadline and hows oddsmakers across online sportsbooks factored it into their projections, read on.

2019 Stanley Cup Odds

Team Odds to Win the 2019 Stanley Cup
Tampa Bay Lightning +225
Calgary Flames +700
Toronto Maple Leafs +700
San Jose Sharks +700
Winnipeg Jets +800

The Bonafide Contenders

The teams discussed all have a real shot of making some noise this spring. They’re contenders, not pretenders. If you want to see every trade (we aren’t going to get in the nuances of minor-league swaps and contract clearing moves) check it out here.

Curious about the deadline affected the odds for the sellers, and not just the contenders? Check out our Stanley Cup Odds Tracker.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Jan Rutta, 7th round pick Slater Koekkoek, 2019 5th round pick

Sometimes, the best move a team can make at the deadline is the no-move move. When you’re the Tampa Bay Lightning and you’re leading the league in literally every single important quantifiable metric (goals for, goals against, goal differential, powerplay, penalty kill), you have 11 regulation losses, and you cruise into the deadline on a 9 game winning streak, the right decision is not to tinker with anything. There’s still a quarter of the season left to be played, and they have a 15 point lead on first place in the NHL.

Kucherov is about to be the third winger in NHL history to have an 80 assist season on his way to likely both Hart and Art Ross Trophies; Victor Hedman will get a Norris nod; Vasilevskiy is a strong Vezina candidate. I could write several articles on the gravity of Tampa Bay’s flat out dominance of the rest of the league this season. There’s an overwhelming amount of reasons to be bullish on Tampa, because they’re that good.

Tampa’s only move was in the middle of January, acquiring depth defenseman Jan Rutta from the Blackhawks in exchange for a depth defenseman they’d soured on, Slater Koekkoek. Its fairly well documented at this point that having competent depth defenseman is a necessary condition to going deep in the playoffs, and the Lightning covered their bases in this regard.

At average odds of +250, the Tampa Bay Lightning are certainly no bargain in the futures market. That notwithstanding, can you see them losing a playoff series? I can’t. At this point, major injuries to several key players are the only thing that stands in the way of Tampa’s first cup since 2004.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +250

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +350

Calgary Flames

Oscar Fantenberg Conditional 2020 4th round pick

Just like Tampa Bay, Calgary’s only move at the deadline was acquiring depth defenseman Oscar Fantenberg from the LA Kings. Unlike Tampa Bay, Calgary was very much in on nearly every big name that was traded at the deadline, and they came up short. They were in on Ferland (Carolina retained him for their own playoff push), Simmonds (went to Nashville for a steep price), and Mikael Granlund (Poile stole him, too.)

Treliving also balked at Ottawa’s Mark Stone ask, as he was unwilling to part with either Oliver Kylington or Dillon Dube. There was allegedly a deal in place for the Wild’s Jason Zucker, but that was never consummated for whatever reason. Calgary is still a great team, but they definitely got left holding the bag at the deadline. As such, their odds remain relatively unchanged.

major question mark surrounding the Flames, which wasn’t addressed at the deadline, is the quality of their netminding. Of course, everyone knows how disastrous the last big deadline goalie move was (Ryan Miller to St. Louis in 2014), so perhaps a vote of confidence in the Rittich-Smith tandem was the right move. However, can that tandem be consistent enough to win four playoff series? I’m not sold.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +860

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +850

San Jose Sharks

Gustav Nyquist 2019 2nd round pick, 2020 conditional 3rd round pick

The Sharks, who boast both the league’s tightest dressing room and the highest team facial hair to points ratio in the league, look like they’ve got a legitimate shot at going far in a tough, but wide-open west. Nyquist, a dependable scorer who spent his career in the Red Wings’ top-six, is a good bet to fit seamlessly into the Sharks’ top nine. The Swede already has 49 points, and he’s on pace to have the best season of his career. Of course, the Sharks’ biggest acquisition for their cup run was a late summer blockbuster for fellow Swede Erik Karlsson, a move that’s paid off massive dividends for the Sharks this season.

Much like the Flames, the Sharks opted not to acquire another goaltender despite Martin Jones’ struggles this season. Things have been a bit of a mess in net for the Sharks this season, and their team save percentage currently sits at 30th in the NHL at .892. However, Martin Jones has a body of work that suggests he make saves when it counts, and Doug Wilson and the Sharks are fully invested in the North Vancouver native bouncing back in the past season.

The Sharks have a deep, well-rounded team that’s particularly dominant on home ice. They’re likely going to have to go through both Vegas and Calgary to even reach the conference finals, where they’ll likely be facing off against one of either the Predators or the Jets. It’s going to be a tough road for the Sharks to obtain a Stanley Cup berth, but their deep, experienced roster is well-positioned to be playing hockey in June.

The Sharks, much like the Flames, didn’t see their odds move very much. It’s almost as if bookmakers price in a Doug Wilson’s yearly trade deadline acquisition early in the season.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +980

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +940

Winnipeg Jets

Kevin Hayes Brendan Lemieux, 2019 1st round pick, 2022 conditional 4th round pick
Nic Petan Par Lindholm
Nathan Beaulieu 2019 6th round pick

Minus a few relatively insignificant depth moves, the Jets big deadline was essentially a carbon copy of their big move in February of 2018: the acquisition of Paul Stastny. Fast forward to 2019, and instead of trading for Paul Stastny to solidify their second line and push Brian Little into the 3C spot, they procured Kevin Hayes from the Rangers to do the same.

Hayes is slotted to play with Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, giving the Jets a frightening top-six. Plus, the Jets were already the biggest (and heaviest) team in the entire league, and they just added a 6’5, 225 lb. pound center. The Jets’ odds actually got a bit longer, but that’s likely because they weren’t the only Western Conference powerhouse to load up at the deadline.

Much like their Western Conference foes in the Sharks, the Jets are built to grind the opposition down over the course of a deep playoff run. Kevin Cheveldayoff clearly believes his group has what it takes to swing for the fences this year, paying a huge cost to acquire what he believed to be the missing Jets’ missing piece. There’s a lot to like about the Jets, but there’s also a lot to like about the Sharks and Predators. Bet with caution.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +920

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +750

Toronto Maple Leafs

Jake Muzzin Carl Grundstrom, Sean Durzi, 2019 first-round pick
Nic Petan Par Lindholm

The Leafs badly needed a right-handed defenseman, and they got one in the weeks leading up to the deadline. There’s no question that Jake Muzzin makes their group stronger, and that he filled a major need.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but can you really picture the Leafs beating the Lightning in the second round of the playoffs if they manage to dispatch the extremely deep and experienced Bruins? I really can’t envision it. The Leafs have one of the league’s most potent and dynamic offenses, but over the first three-quarters of the season, they’ve shown some chinks in their armor. Andersen has been brilliant, but even with the acquisition of Muzzin, question marks still swirl around the overall quality of their defense.

Kyle Dubas knows that with the plethora of young talent (plus Tavares), the Leafs cup window is going to open for quite some time. The Leafs might win a round, but I wouldn’t bet on this year being the year they break their 50-year drought.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +1100

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +770

The Outside Contenders

These teams made big splashes at the deadline, but they aren’t regarded as top 5 contenders by oddsmakers. Of course, we wouldn’t put too much stock in these classifications. The Washington Capitals weren’t in the top 5 contenders at the deadline or to close out the season, and they won the Cup in dominant fashion.

These teams won’t grab as many headlines in the lead up to the postseason, but it doesn’t mean they’re unworthy of serious consideration.

Boston Bruins

Charlie Coyle Ryan Donato, 2019 conditional 5th-round draft pick
Marcus Johansson 2019  2nd round pick, 2020 fourth-round pick

The Bruins got exactly what they were after at the deadline. They got a long term option for a 2/3 C in Charlie Coyle to make up for the precipitous drop in David Backes play (2016 was an absolutely nightmarish free agency class), and they got reliable scoring on the wing in the form of Marcus Johansson. They gave up Ryan Donato, who wasn’t going to the big minutes he needed to flourish any time soon in Boston.

The impending Bruins-Leafs first-round matchup is going to be a coin flip. The Leafs are definitely improved from last year when the Bruins trounced them in seven games, but so are the Bruins. Personally, I find it very hard to bet against Patrice Bergeron’s ability to rise to any occasion.

Their first round series is going to be decided on the margins, and it’s hard to make a meaningful prediction in February. However, much like the Leafs, I wouldn’t bet on the Bruins beating the Lightning even if they make it out of the first round. The Bruins’ deadlines acquisitions shorted their odds dramatically. Before nabbing Coyle and Johansson, bookmakers likely didn’t imagine they had a formidable enough offense to trounce their blue and white Atlantic division foe.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +1200

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +1800

Nashville Predators

Brian Boyle 2019 2nd round pick
Wayne Simmonds Ryan Hartman, 2020 conditional 4th round pick
Mikael Granlund Kevin Fiala

Full disclosure: I bet on Nashville to win the cup at +700. I’m still pretty pleased with those odds, and I’m probably going to push my chips in even more now that the Predators’ average odds are hovering around +1200. Again, I like the Sharks and Jets in the West as well, but if you forced me to pick the team I thought had the best chance in the West, I’d say Nashville.

The Predators took the stacked Penguins to game 6 in 2016 without de facto no. 1 center Ryan Johansen, and would definitely have stomped the Jets last season were not for Pekka Rinne’s meltdown in the second round.

Their defense is the envy of all 30 other NHL teams, and they added Brian Boyle, Wayne Simmonds, and Mikael Granlund to an already impressive crop of forwards. This is what being in it to win it looks like, and Nashville is incredibly valuable at average odds of +1200. Look for much shorter odds in the not so distance future. If you’re as bullish on Nashville as I am, act fast.

Sidenote: David Poile is a wizard. Mikael Granlund for Kevin Fiala is highway robbery, and Paul Fenton continues to make a series of head-scratching moves over in Minnesota.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +1200

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +1200

Vegas Golden Knights

Mark Stone, Tobias Lindberg Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg, 2020 2nd round pick

The Golden Knights landed the biggest fish of the trade deadline in Mark Stone, and immediately inked him to an 8-year extension with a 9.5 million AAV. In order to make this deal happen, they had to give up their #1 prospect in Erik Brannstrom, who’s been called a left-handed version of Erik Karlsson. Its a steep, steep price for the Knights to pay in their second year of existence, but players of Mark Stone’s caliber aren’t often made available. George Mcphee admitted to as much:

George McPhee clearly made this move with the future in mind, as they weren’t going to give up such an integral part of their future with an extension for Stone in place. It’s worth noting that Vegas once had they stocked a pipeline, and the last two playoff runs have really depleted it; of course it’s easy to argue against the logic of a young franchise selling off futures, but McPhee certainly wasn’t hired to be gun shy.

Despite what Vegas had to give up, the already highly rated Stone is a player that every general manager in the league would love to have on their team, and in my opinion, he remains underrated. He’s going to thrive in Vegas, and I sincerely hope his elite defensive play is one day recognized with a well-deserved Selke Trophy.

All that being said, I wouldn’t bet on Vegas to repeat last season’s magic, even with Stone. The acquisition of Stone barely moved the needle for Vegas’ odds. The West looks a lot different than it did heading into the 2018 postseason, and not in a way that bodes well for the Golden Knights.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +1600

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +1700

Washington Capitals

Carl Hagelin 2019 3rd round pick
Nick Jensen, 2019 5th round pick Madison Bowey, 2020 2nd round pick

In a case of either devastatingly hilarious or poignant irony (depending on your perspective, of course) the Capitals’ chief rival in the Pittsburgh Penguins are paying Carl Hagelin to play for the Washington Capitals. Yes, the Penguins retained 16% of Hagelin’s salary when they shipped him to Los Angeles early this season, and then the Kings dished him back to the Capitals this season, meaning Pittsburgh is still on the hook for $250,000 of Hagelin’s salary. The speedy Hagelin is always useful in the playoffs, and he’s a nice depth pickup for the Capitals.

The Capitals also picked up undervalued top-4 RHD Nick Jensen from the Red Wings and inked him to a four-year extension. Defensive depth is never a bad thing in the postseason.

Neither of these moves was the flashiest, but it’s important to remember that Washington is heading into the playoffs with the exact same roster they won with last year (with the sole exception of Jay Beagle). Todd Reirden should be lauded for these sharp moves (even if oddsmakers barely cared), and Washington is worth tossing a few bucks on at +2000. It’s hard to count out Washington’s winning pedigree.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +2000

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +1900

Columbus Blue Jackets

Matt Duchene, Julius Bergman Vitaly Abramov, Jonathan Davidsson, 2019 OR 2020 1st round pick, conditional 1st round pick
Ryan Dzingel Anthony Duclair, 2020 2nd round pick, 2019 7th round pick
Adam McQuaid 2019 4th round pick, 2019 7th round pick
Keith Kinkaid 5th round pick

The Columbus Blue Jackets, for lack of a better term, really sent it at the deadline. They acquired Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to supplement their top 6, as well as depth defenseman Adam McQuaid and backup goaltender Keith Kinkaid. Of course, the Blue Jackets also hung on to both Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, both impending unrestricted free agents who’ve had their intentions to leave Columbus in the summer expressly clear.

In my eyes, Jarmo Kekäläinen deserves credit for his audacity; Columbus has never won a playoff series, and he wants to do right by the Blue Jackets faithful. Skeptics abound about the wisdom of sacrificing so much of the future for one playoff run when the East is filled with strong teams, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that Columbus didn’t give up any of their A prospects in any deal. Additionally, they’re well equipped in net to offset the loss of Bobrovsky in the offseason. Furthermore, Columbus was one bad bounce away from going up 3-0 on the Capitals in the first round last year. For the Jackets, if not now, when?

Oddsmakers don’t love the Blue Jackets’ chances to do some damage in the east this season, and they’re a relative long shot at average odds of +2000. I’d suspect that their odds get shorter in a hurry over the next few weeks, and I’d say they’ve got a really great shot at leapfrogging both the Capitals and the Islanders to win their division. Something to keep in mind is with the acquisition of Matt Duchene and the decision to keep Panarin, the Blue Jackets now have two legitimate game-breaking talents. The kind of talent that can turn playoff series. Columbus is a great value bet. They’ve got potential.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +2000

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +2300

Pittsburgh Penguins

Nick Bjugstad, Jared McCann Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, 2019 2nd round pick, 2019 4th round pick
Erik Gudbranson Tanner Pearson

The Penguins have had a tough season, marred by both inconsistency and injury. Crosby has been remarkable, but he hasn’t had much help. Matt Murray has really struggled this season, and he’s been unable to find any semblance of consistency. The outdoor game against Flyers is a microcosm of the Penguins’ season; up 3-1 in the third in a massively important game with playoff implications against their #1 rival, and Murray allows a series of soft goals, culminating in a 4-3 overtime loss.

I can’t imagine the acquisition of Erik Gudbranson, one of the worst players in the league, is going turn things around for the Penguins. Rutherford’s move a few weeks before the deadline in acquiring McCann and Bjugstad hasn’t done much to reverse the Penguins’ fortunes thus far, either. There’s just no denying Pittsburgh doesn’t look right. Don’t bet on them turning it around this season.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +2300

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +1700

Dallas Stars

Mats Zuccarello 2019 Conditional 2nd, 2019 Conditional 3rd
Ben Lovejoy Connor Carrick, 2019 3rd round pick

Well, this is a tough pill to swallow for the Dallas Stars. The Stars’ major acquisition, Mats Zuccarello, broke his arm blocking a shot in the third period of his first game with the Stars. He recorded a goal and an assist in his first game before sustaining an injury that’s estimated to keep him on the sidelines for a minimum of four weeks.

Even with Zuccarello, the Stars were already a long shot to make any noise in the playoffs. The move reeked of desperation from a manager trying to appease an irate owner. Stick a fork in the Stars, because they’re likely going to be wiped out in the first round by whichever Western Conference powerhouse they find themselves up against.

Post Deadline Average Odds: +3500

Pre Deadline Average Odds: +3200

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