Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Starting around this time in the season, there are a lot of scenarios people like to play out. We're about a month and a half away from the trade deadline, and fans are already outlining what their favorite team needs to get over the hump; to go from good to great and steel themselves for what is hopefully a long playoff run.
But unless things change in a hurry, there isn't going to be much out there. And, if your team is looking to improve at the deadline, that's probably a good thing.
It came out Sunday that the Dallas Stars told Brad Richards(notes)he wouldn't be traded this year. Can't say that's at all surprising, since the Stars are, y'know, leading their division. They're not going to offload a point-a-game player and former Conn Smythe winner to help anyone, no matter what it ends up costing them in the offseason.
The NHL is nothing if not sickeningly close once again this year. In the East, there are seven points separating ninth from third, and the West has just 10 points separating the 14th-place team from home ice.
Because of that, no one will believe they're out of it for at least another few weeks. But even when the realities of mid-February standings do start to crystallize, it's unlikely that the still-competing teams will be able to make a deal to really add some star power to their lineup.
The high number of teams that believe they're competing will only create a feeding frenzy for the handful of difference-makers that are likely to be available from the truly bad teams who aren't going through dramatic rebuilds. So unless your favorite team is one that positioned itself so poorly prior to the season that it's in win-or-blow-it-up mode, then your GM would be a fool to trade the raft of picks and prospects that a guy like, let's say, Jarome Iginla(notes) would command.
And really, it might be better that way.
When's the last time a team made a major acquisition at, or even near the deadline, and actually did anything of note in the playoffs?
I'm not even talking making the Stanley Cup Finals, either. Of the four teams to make their conference finals last season, the only noteworthy pickups were Ville Leino(notes) for the Flyers -- an unwanted castoff from the Red Wings system -- and Nick Boynton(notes) for the Blackhawks, nabbed for future considerations.
If you wanna stretch the definition of "near the deadline," you can throw in Niclas Wallin(notes) to the Sharks as well, but that was like a month beforehand.
Of course, if you're a fan of a team who's out of it, you should be hoping someone, anyone is willing to trade something for your half-decent players. In tight markets like last year (eight teams were within five points of a playoff spot on deadline day), guys who just aren't good earn ridiculous returns.
Case in point: offloading Raffi Torres(notes) netted Columbus a second-round pick and Nathan Paetsch(notes). Repeat: That was for Raffi Torres, who had 31 points in 60 games at the time. He went on to pick up five helpers in 14 games for Buffalo, which got unsurprisingly bounced out of the first round, because he is Raffi Torres.
It's no real secret that trade deadlines are certainly a seller's market. But in the NHL, paying boutique prices for bargain basement players is becoming the norm. And it's actually becoming rarer.
If your team still has designs on a deep postseason run, that's exactly how you want it.
Boston Bruins: Steve Kampfer(notes), who's been playing his ass off for the Bruins in a call-up role lately, had his nose broken on this play. That would be Zdeno Chara's(notes) stick that hit him. (And no, I don't know why the NESN feed is in Russian or whatever.)