The NHL trade deadline has passed, which signals the push for the Stanley Cup playoffs. I’ll examine three contending teams in the wake of the trade deadline and provide my opinion on how to bet them down the stretch.
The Penguins came out of the trade deadline with a much deeper forward group, perhaps the greatest depth of any team up front. The Penguins added veteran Patrick Marleau from the San Jose Sharks along with Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues from the Buffalo Sabres. That was after they had acquired Jason Zucker from the Minnesota Wild. Sheary played well with the Penguins in his previous stint on a line with Sidney Crosby. This team has four strong, potent lines. Pittsburgh doesn’t even have Jake Guentzel back from injury yet, and he is another top-six forward. The Penguins reverted to a more defensive-minded, Under team when battling cluster injuries earlier in the season, but lately they have moved toward their explosive, high-scoring ways and could now trend even more in that direction. Pittsburgh also has two strong power-play units. Look to bet Pittsburgh Over the total on a game-by-game basis.
New York Islanders
The Islanders have steady goaltending and have been solid defensively since Barry Trotz took over as coach before last season. Once again, the Islanders have been a lower-scoring team relying on defense, as evidenced by their 33-24 Under record this season, excluding pushes. The concern is whether they have enough offense to match the depth of potent teams like Pittsburgh and Washington. The Islanders addressed those concerns by obtaining Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the deadline from the Ottawa Senators. Pageau is having a career year with 40 points, including 24 goals, and he’ll add some offensive punch beyond the Islanders’ top six forwards. This could be a sneaky Over team if totals remain at 5.5 on a game-by-game basis.
The Oilers have put themselves in position to get back to the playoffs and maybe even win the tightly contested Pacific Division. General manager Ken Holland rewarded his team’s effort by adding veteran defenseman Mike Green and two solid depth forwards in Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis at the deadline. Green has plenty of playoff experience, and even though he’s toward the end of his career, his experience should enhance a very young squad. Athanasiou had a disappointing season with Detroit, but a change of scenery and going to a playoff contender should spark his game. Ennis gives the Oilers a little more offensive creativity and production among their bottom six forwards. The defense should get healthier and stronger with the addition of Green and the returns of Kris Russell and Oscar Klefbom when they return from injury. I have a buy sign on Edmonton and will look for spots to bet on them down the stretch.