Final thoughts on the NHL trade deadline and best bets for Saturday, March 4th

March 3, 2023 08:02 PM

Thoughts on the NHL trade deadline and best bets for Saturday, March 4th

NHL trade deadline day rarely lives up to the hype, and Friday was no exception. However, unlike most past trade deadlines, where we saw an average of 40 trades, the weeks leading up to this year’s cut-off were very eventful with 62 trades in total.

Trade boards created by hockey insiders were decimated over the past two weeks, as just about all the big names rumoured to be on the trade block were in fact dealt. The number of trades that took place could shake up the league in a big way between now and the playoffs, but since the rich have gotten richer, the most likely effect is that teams that are fighting to make the playoffs have an even tougher time against the teams that are already in.

Especially in the East.

So, who did the best? In my opinion, it's the Boston Bruins. They might not win the Stanley Cup, but they are undoubtedly the NHL's best team, and it will take a herculean effort to knock them off in the playoffs. Boston has already become the fastest team in NHL history to reach 100 points, and they have now added a top-tier defenseman in Dmitry Orlov and forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who scored 30 goals and 60-plus points just one season ago.

The Rangers have added top-end talent in Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko, and the addition of Timo Meier solidifies the Devils as a contender, but I must hand it to general manager Don Sweeney and the Bruins because they could have easily stood pat while all the teams around them improved but chose to be proactive. Five out of the six teams with the best Stanley Cup odds reside in the East, but the Bruins have ensured that the gap between them remains a wide one.

An honorable mention should go to the Edmonton Oilers because they have addressed a significant weakness by bringing in two players who will improve their defensive game. The Oilers are probably the best offensive team in the NHL, with the best power play, but they need help with penalty killing and defense. Defenseman Mattias Ekholm and, to a lesser extent, Nick Bjugstad are smart acquisitions heading into the playoffs. The Western Conference is wide open this season and the Oilers are set up nicely to make another run at the Stanley Cup.

Saturday’s NHL Odds

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  • Detroit Red Wings (+170) at New York Islanders (-200)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (-160) at Buffalo Sabres (+140)
  • New York Rangers (+145) at Boston Bruins (-165)
  • Colorado Avalanche (-110) at Dallas Stars (-110)
  • Washington Capitals (-140) at San Jose Sharks (+120)
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (+110) at Florida Panthers (-130)
  • Edmonton Oilers (-130) at Winnipeg Jets (+110)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (-220) at Vancouver Canucks (+180)
  • Columbus Blue Jackets (+200) at Ottawa Senators (-240)
  • Nashville Predators (-210) at Chicago Blackhawks (+180)
  • Minnesota Wild (+125) at Calgary Flames (-145)
  • St. Louis Blues (+175) at Los Angeles Kings (-205)

Today’s NHL Schedule

*Indicates that a team is playing the first half of a back-to-back.





















































Best Bets

Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres Over 6.5 (-120)

Tampa Bay and Buffalo both rank among the top-five teams on offense this season. The latter has been mediocre on offense as of late, but a game against the Sabres should act as a remedy. Buffalo was never a good defensive team at any point this season, but they appear to have hit rock bottom, ranking dead last in goals against over their last 10 games, and their best defenseman, Ramus Dahlin, is questionable.

Dahlin is eligible to return to the lineup on Saturday, but head coach Don Granato said that it will depend on how he’s feeling. Granato had said on Wednesday that Dahlin wasn’t a realistic option to play, but then again, the Sabres are in the thick of the playoff race.

Regardless, Dahlin has only been out the last two games, and it’s not like the Sabres’ defensive woes started as a result. They are about as likely to give up four goals (or more) in a given game as they are not to, and against top Eastern Conference teams, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Sabres are even more likely to give up a high number of goals.

Buffalo is 3-9 versus the top teams (Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Rangers, and Devils) from their own conference this season and in eight of those games they allowed at least five goals.

Tampa Bay and Buffalo have combined to score more than eight goals on average over their last nine meetings and the Sabres have gone over the total in approximately 63 percent of games since the start of November. Meanwhile, roughly 60 percent of games involving the Lightning have featured seven goals over the last two months.

The Lightning will be back in action on Sunday against Carolina, too, so there is a decent chance that backup goaltender Brian Elliott between the pipes in Buffalo on Saturday, which would further increase the chances of a high scoring game.

Minnesota Wild (Moneyline) +135

Admittedly, I – like a lot of other handicappers – have had a hard time pricing the Calgary Flames this season. The team’s underlying metrics are strong, to a certain extent, but they don’t win nearly as often as the odds suggest they should.

Calgary’s expected goals percentage (56.4) is among the best in the league over the last 30 days, but when you consider that they own almost 63 percent of the shot attempts, it becomes obvious that this team needs to focus more on quality than quality.

The Flames are typically “in” every game, but they’ve lost an NHL-worst 25 one-goal games this season. The Wild have been in a lot of close games as well, but they’ve managed to go 19-13 in one-goal games and they’re 12-8 on the road this season versus Western Conference opponents.

Minnesota has been on the wrong side of puck luck late, scoring on less than five and a half percent of their even-strength shots over the last two months, which is likely why the odds have moved toward the home team.

The Flames are the superior team, but they’ve gone just 17-16 at home this season (9-9 against Western Conference teams) and the Wild are a good bet at +130 or better.

Record: 62-73, -20.27, -13.4 percent

All bets tracked via third part app Betstamp.


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