Beware as NHL trade deadline nears


Monday marks the NHL trade deadline, and bettors need to be aware, especially this season. With protocols to follow that include quarantining for a period of time, teams will approach the deadline a little differently from how they would under normal circumstances. The first evidence of this happened just a few days ago when the New Jersey Devils announced that forward Kyle Palmieri would sit out for precautionary reasons. Palmieri’s agent later confirmed that a trade seems imminent now that contract talks have hit a wall. 


This was a gut punch for Devils bettors, as the odds immediately shifted in favor of their opponents. After all, Palmieri is one of the most consistent scorers in the game, and taking him out of the lineup reduces New Jersey’s chances of winning a given game. The Devils are one of many teams that should be considered sellers. Here are some other teams that could also feed those looking to contend for the Stanley Cup.


Anaheim Ducks — Of the three California teams, the Ducks seem the most likely to sell. Forward Rickard Rakell has been rumored as likely to be dealt, but a recent injury has complicated things. Defenseman Josh Manson could be on the move, and that would leave a big hole on defense. Ryan Getzlaf has shown no inclination that he wants to finish his career anywhere else, but stranger things have happened. The Los Angeles Kings seem to like their group, and the San Jose Sharks are surprisingly fighting for a playoff spot, so they will likely stand pat.


Columbus Blue Jackets — Several points out of a playoff spot in the Central, the Blue Jackets have many pieces who could be on the way out. Defenseman David Savard’s name keeps getting tossed around, and he would be a nice piece for a contender. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen has made blockbuster moves at the deadline in the past, but that was in an effort to win the Stanley Cup. This time he would be unloading high-end players.  


Calgary Flames — A pair of home losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs topped off what has been an awful run under new coach Darryl Sutter. The Flames were 11-11-2 under Geoff Ward. Sutter was brought in to shake things up and he has. The team is 5-10-1 since his hiring and has lost seven of its last nine games. Word is that the Flames won’t unload any of their big guns until the offseason at the earliest. However, I wouldn’t rule it out. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, among others, look like they’re on their way out of Calgary sooner rather than later.


Buffalo Sabres — They’ve already dealt one of their big offseason acquisitions, Eric Staal, and now all eyes are on Taylor Hall and rookie GM Kevyn Adams. Hall signed for only one year, so the chances of him being dealt seem likely given that things clearly haven’t worked out the way the Sabres (and Hall) would’ve liked. The names of defenseman Colin Miller and goaltender Linus Ullmark have been thrown around as well. Several teams are looking for help in goal, and Ullmark, 27, has been a bright spot. He has a .921 save percentage in 16 games this season.


Nashville Predators — This team would have been at the top of the list a few weeks ago, but the Predators have gone 9-2 in their last 11 games and now hold a playoff spot. Goaltender Juuse Saros gives Nashville a chance, but general manager David Poile is delusional if he hasn’t realized his roster needs a makeover to stay competitive. Mattias Ekholm is a likely target for a team looking to bolster its top-4 defense, but with the Predators’ recent success in the face of injuries to important players, Poile might be apprehensive to deal such a talent. A lot depends on how things play out over the next few days.


Arizona Coyotes — Much like the Predators, the Coyotes were rumored to be ready to tear it down just a few weeks ago, but they’ve picked up points in eight of their last 10 games and hold a playoff spot because the St. Louis Blues have gone 2-7-1 in their last 10. The Coyotes likely will do the sensible thing and hold on to their young talent. Conor Garland has a bright future, and it was shocking to hear his name mentioned as a player who might be dealt. It could happen, but it’s more likely that a player like Alex Goligoski is sent to a team looking to bolster its blue line.


It will be an interesting weekend for hockey bettors. Some teams are likely to scratch players, even if those players aren’t dealt before the deadline. Any general manager in the league would sacrifice a win or two to protect a valuable asset, especially if the playoffs are out of reach. The risk of a player contracting the virus, or even being held up in COVID-19 protocol with a false positive, could nullify a potential trade. Bettors should be cognizant of this and pay more attention to team reports this weekend. The deadline always features surprises, and this season will be no different.


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