THN Trade Deadline preview: Central Division

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As of Wednesday night, there is no division in the league that boasts more teams on the brink of the playoffs Central Division and that could have a major impact on the trade deadline action throughout the division. The Minnesota Wild made a major move in landing Devan Dubnyk in December and made another splash when they landed Sean Bergenheim from the Florida Panthers, so it will be interesting to see if the Winnipeg Jets – currently holding on for dear life to one of the West’s wild-card spots – answers back.

St. Louis, Chicago and Nashville are all probably done aside from minor deals and Colorado and Dallas are right in the middle – they could be buyers and they could be sellers. Don’t be shocked if the Central is the quietest of the four divisions at the deadline. Read more

Extended absence of injured David Krejci could be the bad luck that breaks up the Bruins

Adam Proteau
David Krejci. (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins received some unfortunate news Monday – key veteran David Krejci will miss the next 4-to-6 weeks with a knee injury – and it could be the small catastrophe that triggers major change within the organization.

Krejci suffered a partially-torn medial collateral ligament Feb. 20 against the St. Louis Blues that could keep the 28-year-old sidelined until April – and by that point, the inconsistent Bruins could have been overtaken by one or both of the Florida Panthers or Philadelphia Flyers for the final wild card berth in the Eastern Conference. If the Bruins fail to make the playoffs one year after finishing with the NHL’s best regular-season record, there will be significant alterations to the roster and management team of GM Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli. Read more

If they’re being realistic, Leafs fans should expect a five-year rebuild plan – at the very least

Rob Blake (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

As the Toronto Maple Leafs embark on an extensive, painful, absolutely necessary and long overdue rebuild, there are fans and media who’ve estimated the team will need something in the area of five years before people see a genuine Stanley Cup contender. But for as long as that sounds, it’s actually a conservative estimate. There are exceptions, of course, but to see how long it can take for a legitimate Cup threat to round into that form, look no further than the defending-champion Los Angeles Kings – or perhaps more appropriately, the St. Louis Blues franchise that is still seeking its first championship after 47 seasons.

The Kings didn’t win their first Cup until 2012. By that point, team captain Dustin Brown had been in the organization for seven seasons. Superstar Anze Kopitar had been there for six years. Elite defenseman Drew Doughty was in his fourth year as an NHLer. Brown and Kopitar had been drafted in 2003 and 2005 respectively, and the Kings still failed to make the playoffs for five straight seasons after taking Brown 13th overall in 2003.

The Blues selected Backes – in the second round, 62nd overall – in the same season the Kings selected Brown. Winger T.J. Oshie was selected 24th overall in 2005; Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz were drafted in 2010. Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen were selected in 2008. In those seasons, the Blues missed the post-season five out of six seasons and still have only won one playoff series since 2002.

So, about that five-year window the Leafs are looking at to be a “winner”? It’s more than likely more than a little optimistic. Team president Brendan Shanahan and his management group could speed up the process with some good fortune, augmentative trades and free agent signings, but the reality is, five years is almost certainly going to be the minimum it takes to truly build Toronto’s team or any team into one that has the depth and talent to compete with the NHL’s elite teams. And Kings assistant GM Rob Blake agrees.

“It does take many years,” Blake told The Hockey News Monday. Read more

Blues’ Brian Elliott robs Barkov with amazing desperation save

Josh Elliott
Brian Elliott

Sunday’s contest between the St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers turned out to be a goalie duel, and the kid they call ‘Moose’ ended up winning with a 40-save performance highlighted by a diving glove catch.

Brian Elliott was under siege in the third period as his Blues tried to hold on to a one-goal lead. The Panthers peppered the net, firing 15 shots on net in a span of 4:29 before St. Louis manage to get a shot at the other end.

But Elliott stood tall in the face of all that rubber, and made a potentially game-saving stop on Aleksander Barkov.
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Rumor Roundup: Sabres, Devils and Blues trade buzz

Cody Hodgson Sabres featured

The Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets rocked the hockey world this week with their eight-player blockbuster trade. Having swapped Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian for Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford, don’t expect the two clubs to be idle leading up to the March 2 NHL trade deadline.

Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun notes the Jets were seeking a top-nine forward prior to Kane being sidelined by season-ending shoulder surgery. That need hasn’t changed by replacing Kane with Stafford. He also points out the Jets swapping Bogosian for Myers still leaves them with a glut of defensemen. Wyman expects they’ll try to move one of their depth blueliners for a checking-line forward. Read more

Oshie makes brilliant through the legs, no look pass for goal

Jared Clinton
T.J. Oshie (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

If there’s one thing we learned at the Sochi Olympics, it’s that T.J. Oshie is one of the more creative players in the world today. His shootout magic earned him big praise, and his through the legs, no look pass Thursday night should do the same.

With Oshie’s Blues already up 3-1 on the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis worked a set play to perfection. Oshie was streaking up the ice, collected a three-zone pass off the boards, and shielded the puck around Andrej Suster and Victor Hedman. Oshie then stopped as he was looking like he was about to curl behind the net and made a pass between his own legs with his back to the play, right onto the tape of Blues captain David Backes. Read more

The five biggest blockbuster trades in the past five years

Tyler-Seguin

Forget unbelievable goals, huge hits and incredible saves. There is nothing that gets the hockey world buzzing like a big trade.

Wednesday morning the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres teamed up for one of the biggest trades in recent memory, a blockbuster deal that sent Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and a prospect to Buffalo in exchange for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, two prospects and a draft pick. It was a monster deal that went from a rumor to huge news in the span of hours.

In today’s salary cap world, it’s not the type of trade you see often and that’s why when a mammoth deal goes down it’s nearly enough to shutdown Twitter, if only temporarily. Read more

Another Blues game, another dazzling goal from Vladimir Tarasenko

Adam Proteau
Vladimir Tarasenko (Mark Buckner/NHL)

Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko has provided fans with a slew of highlight reel goals this season and added another one to the collection Sunday with a gorgeous breakaway goal against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Tarasenko, who had 27 goals and 52 points for St. Louis entering Sunday’s action, scored his 28th after teammate Jaden Schwartz sprung him on a breakaway with a brilliant pass:
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