While it’s far, far too early to evaluate trades made prior to the March 1st deadline, particularly for those who have yet to play for their new teams, we here jump the gun and take a look how players who have moved into or around the West are initially fitting into their new digs and might impact the stretch run and playoffs. We also examine how several “replacement” players are faring with newly increased or changed roles due to opportunities created by trades.
(Stats are as of end of Saturday, March 4 games)
Stone, in recent campaigns somewhat of multi-category stalwart was experiencing a disappointing first 45 games with Arizona while rounding into form after ACL and MCL surgery last April. As one might expect, going from a last place squad to the Flames, who are currently leading the wild card race in the West, has paid a few quick statistical dividends for the now second pairing-mate of T.J. Brodie (5 G, 22 A). In a limited six-game sample size, his Calgary +3 plus/minus rating is an improvement over his -5 with Arizona. He’s dished two assists with Calgary as opposed to just eight with Arizona over the balance of the season. This trend may continue with Calgary maintaining the edge this campaign over Arizona in goals-per-game (2.63 to 2.36) and goals-against-per-game (2.74 to 3.23).
Paired primarily with Alex Goligoski (4 G, 23 A) as a Coyote, who has scored at close to the same rate as Brodie, Stone’s departure presents good opportunities for recently-recalled new pairing partner Anthony DeAngelo. DeAngelo is now also seeing regular work with Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the power play which should help his development, but neither this nor his even-strength opportunities have yet to yield overly favorable results since the Stone trade (4 games, 0 points, -3 plus/minus).
Early returns on the move north from the desert have also been good for Hanzal, as thus far he’s manning the Wild’s third line with Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula/Tyler Graovac. With so much more scoring skill in Minnesota, Hanzal may benefit from increased scoring and playmaking opportunities although he won’t be relied upon to shoulder the burden as much as in Arizona, and his minutes per game will likely dip (he’s averaging roughly 16:40 per game in his three tilts with the Wild as opposed to 18:29 over the entire campaign). With the Wild he’s totaled two assists and no goals, and luckily for fantasy owners he is seeing time on their power play with season-long successes Eric Staal and Coyle. In the stretch run, Hanzal benefits from Minnesota’s huge improvement over Arizona in goals-per-game (2.36 to 3.32) and goals-against-per-game (3.23 to 2.35), which is sure to raise this season’s -16 plus/minus rating.
Christian Dvorak seems the heir apparent to take Hanzal’s spot with the Coyotes lining up with Max Domi and Radim Vrbata, and has been eased into that role thus far with Peter Holland taking some of those minutes. Dvorak has done well since Hanzal’s departure (1G, 1A, in 3 games) seeing a good amount of ice time instead with Shane Doan, including working with him and Domi on the power play unit.
While it may be fleeting, Ryan White has experienced an early scoring flurry with two Wild goals and one assist in three games. While he will be counted on predominantly to complement the squad’s grit in tandem with Chris Stewart, the higher scoring Minnesota environment may help White continue his recent scoring splurge (4G, 3A, in 10 games) in addition to adding to his impressive peripheral stats (70 PIM, 143 hits) in a bottom-six role.
With the Ducks, the continually-versatile Eaves has lined up with a variety of folks including Ryan Getzlaf and promising rookie Ondrej Kase, for a time with Corey Perry and Rickard Rakell, and even potted a goal in his second game in SoCal against the Leafs. As with Hanzal, Eaves hasn’t yet seen the ice time the Stars gave him (about a minute less than his 16:37 per-game season average) and probably won’t as he transitions to more of a depth role than the top-line component he was this campaign with Dallas. This should help his ability to stay healthy through the stretch run and playoffs, but his scoring will likely dip without Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
Speaking of the top Dallas line, we once again are left to speculate who might line up regularly with the Stars’ top two assets, Benn and Seguin (especially now that Antoine Roussel is injured), or if they might be broken up. Thus far Jason Spezza (2 G, 3 A in five games since the trade) has been the biggest beneficiary, and Jiri Hudler and Patrick Sharp have picked up power play minutes with the big two, but with Dallas all but out of the playoff race anything could happen including an infusion of prospects.
The blueline power play point bonanza expected after Shattenkirk’s departure has yet to materialize for these two, but it’s ridiculously early. In fact both have been on cold steaks pre- and post-trade with Parayako, now assuming Shattenkirk’s former pairing with Carl Gunnarsson, held pointless in his last five games and Pietrangelo with just one goal and one assist in his last seven contests. Parayko’s ice time on the man advantage crept a bit over his average (from 1:44 to 2:16) in Friday’s second Blues game since the trade, and Pietrangelo is averaging over a minute more power play time than his season average in that two-game span (from 2:14 to 3:25). Pietrangelo’s total ice time has also increased, as he’s averaged 27:33 per game since the trade compared with his overall 2016-17 average of 24:56 per-game.
Iginla was brought in from Colorado to help increase scoring punch on the Kings’ top line, particularly to provide help for Anze Kopitar. While Kopitar has scored power play goals in each of Iginla’s first two games in LA, neither has involved the recent Avalanche acquisition. With no points, a -2 plus/minus, and four PIM after his first two Kings games Iginla has yet to look all that comfortable on Los Angeles ice, but with Kopitar and Marian Gaborik as linemates and slotting in on a power play unit with Gaborik and Tyler Toffoli things should improve over his Colorado days (61 games, 8 G, 10 A). Here’s hoping his shots per-game average will climb as well, as his current 2016-17 mark of 1.94 is well below even last year’s late career 2.21 average. His per-game minutes with the Kings have been close to his 14:45 season average, which is a bit low for a top-line forward.
Bishop’s Los Angeles debut did not go well, particularly during the game’s first 33 minutes as he yielded four goals yet recovered to skunk the Canucks the rest of the way, ultimately losing 4-3 and stopping just 17 of 21 shots. A tough way to break in, especially behind the vaunted Kings defense and with Los Angeles firing 44 shots during a spirited comeback. While not a major financial commitment as his contract expires at the end of the campaign, the Kings have to hope this is not an omen for the goalie they swapped Peter Budaj and more for to spell Jonathan Quick and provide injury insurance during their stretch run. Bishop has had a mediocre year by his standards (16-13-4, 2.58 GAA, .910 SV%) including a battle with a late December lower body injury that forced him to miss several weeks.
Nikolay Goldobin – W (Vancouver) – product of Jannik Hansen trade
As we wait for Hansen to clear his visa problems and debut for San Jose the man for whom he was traded, the promising and speedy Goldobin had a largely successful first game with Vancouver. In spite of just 5:51 of ice time the 21 year-old scored his first NHL goal this campaign, a game winner, and the second goal of his 12-game career against the Kings. With the Russian rookie’s increased scoring (15 goals and 26 assists in 46 games) with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate this season and improved play away from the puck, the Canucks may have nabbed a valuable piece for the future who could enjoy increased opportunities to prove himself with the deadline exits of wingers Hansen and Alex Burrows. His first Canuck action saw him lining up in a bottom-six role with Brendan Gaunce and Brandon Sutter.
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