Puck Daddy Countdown: The rich get richer

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The <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/3153/" data-ylk="slk:Rick Nash">Rick Nash</a> acquisition has made an excellent Bruins team more dangerous. (Getty Images)
The Rick Nash acquisition has made an excellent Bruins team more dangerous. (Getty Images)

6. The Little Guys

So so sorry to any fringe-competitive teams trying to make additions at the deadline. Columbus added a host of new bodies, New Jersey made the Grabner swap, the Kings have pushed in with a new defender and winger. A bunch of other teams made smaller depth additions.

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And it doesn’t matter. These teams will in all likelihood be swept aside with terrifying ease when they run up against the handful of truly elite teams.

This includes Vegas, whose deadline strategy strikes me as pathologically worrisome. The picks they gave up to get Tomas Tatar (not great!) are spread out over the next few years, and maybe they feel like Tatar will be better for them in the next handful of years than whoever they end up getting, like, 25th overall. I get that argument since he’s a known quantity and that prospect very much wouldn’t be.

However, doesn’t it seem possible, even probable, that they really helped Pittsburgh acquire Derick Brassard by misunderstanding the CBA? The team press release said they were eating 40 percent of Brassard’s salary this year, when in fact that obligation comes both this year and next.

Now, they maybe don’t have to care about the money or the help because they currently have $30 million in cap space next season without a lot of guys they absolutely need to re-sign (William Karlsson, Tomas Nosek, Colin Miller, and Shea Theodore are their only RFAs of note, and of that group only Karlsson is likely due a huge pay raise).

And, as George McPhee says, they wouldn’t have to play Brassard in the playoffs until they made the Cup Final. (Also worth noting: It seems unlikely either they or the Penguins actually get that far.)

Just seems like an odd approach for a club that has, what, 15 actual prospects? Hey, maybe they’ll trade James Neal’s rights for a fourth-round pick or something.

5. Trade deadline coverage

Man, I am not a smart person.

I once again watched both of the big trade deadline shows and I was once again appalled with how much filler they had in their too-big, too-long shows. They would, of course, argue that these shows are neither too big nor too long, given that dummies like me watch them from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every single year, but nonetheless!

The news that “broke” on these shows often broke on Twitter first, so why do we watch this stuff? This is especially concerning for me, mentally, when we go in knowing we will also be tortured with “comedy” segments and “rap” songs for at least the first five hours.

I feel like I swore off watching this stuff last year. Maybe I got conned by the possibility of all of Erik Karlsson, Ryan McDonagh, and Max Pacioretty getting traded. Hey, that’s on me.

If you’re like me, please understand you are allowed to forgive yourself for this brutal miscalculation. It’s hard to do sometimes, but it’s important for good mental health.

4. Pierre Dorion, for now

Imagine you have to go up there after the deadline and, despite all the rumors, pretend like you think you have a legit shot to keep Erik Karlsson and won’t trade him at the draft.

I know Karlsson came out yesterday, after the deadline, and said he would absolutely be open to returning to the Sens next season but even the hockey fans who were literally born yesterday (and therefore have no object permanence) know there’s a zero-point-zero percent chance he’s in a Sens uniform next season.

But you gotta pretend, I guess.

3. Trading for prospects

A lot of times when teams trade for prospects, no matter their quality, I feel like I have suffered a serious head injury. Observers will rush to the fore to say, “Ah sure, this guy has like 12 AHL points this year, but he’s actually good despite being 24.”

That really only happened, weirdly, with Tyler Motte, who’s 22 but averages less than half a point a game in the American League.

Overall, this was a deeply unimpressive list of prospects who got swapped, which is only odd because of how many really good NHLers — not even just rentals — got moved in the days leading up to the deadline.

Very few guys even come close to looking like a big, impactful player. Maybe Filip Gustavsson?

2. Teams with guys to move at the draft

Okay so speaking of Dorion and the Senators, it’s important to consider that he didn’t trade any of Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, or JG Pageau, despite rumors on all those guys being “Out There” for everyone to consider. Also not traded, to little surprise: Bobby Ryan.

Likewise, Marc Bergevin didn’t move Max Pacioretty or Alex Galchenyuk despite everyone kinda thinking he would.

But hey, would you be surprised to see at least 50 percent of those guys moved in the lead-up to the draft? I wouldn’t. Getting the details hammered out mid-season isn’t easy with the cap in effect, but more teams with interest in any of those guys will have the option to kick the tires and see what kinds of packages they can put together for those players.

So if you’ve got this kind of contract on your hands, your window to trade those guys isn’t closed. If anything, it’ll open even wider. Plus, with what New York got for Nash, McDonagh, and Miller, maybe the prices will improve.

1. The Big Boys

Step aside, dweebos and nerdlingers: The teams that were already bullying everyone they played are, for the most part, now better than they were before. And they were already elite.

It is truly, truly wild that the teams that were already some of the best in the league also made the biggest effort to add the best players at the deadline. Nash to Boston, McDonagh to Tampa, Brassard to Pittsburgh, Stastny to Winnipeg, Plekanec to Toronto. (And you can argue Nashville didn’t add much in only getting Ryan Hartman, but with Eeli Tolvanen coming in soon, their offense is due for a big upgrade.)

This sets up a real Clash of the Titans scenario; the odds that a weak team like last year’s Ottawa club can beat the two elite teams they’re likely to face on the way to a Conference Final is pretty low. Plus we’re increasingly dialed in for wild matchups in every division.

The Metro will feature one of Caps/Flyers, Pens/Flyers, or Pens/Caps in the first round (sign me up!), and the Atlantic should be Bruins/Leafs. In the Central, I’ll happily take one of Nashville or Winnipeg playing one of Minnesota and Dallas. And we’re all but guaranteed a Battle of California in the first round of the Pacific.

Then the second round? Ahhh, man, let’s just skip right to that now. I’ve been thinking about the playoffs this year and now I don’t care about the rest of the regular season any more.

(Not ranked this week: The Bruins over the next couple of weeks.

The good news for Boston, I guess, is that they’re effectively locked in to either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in their division and they’re also really good anyway. The bad news is that Patrice Bergeron being out for two or three weeks, at least, really cramps their style when it comes to pushing Tampa or even Toronto to move up. They have games in hand on both — three on Tampa and five on Toronto — but being without the guy who’s really made you “go” this whole time is a worry.

To be fair, missing 13 games of Brad Marchand this year doesn’t seem to have dinged them too much, but losing Bergeron probably hurts a bit more considering they’re bumping Riley Nash to the first line in his place. Riley Nash is having a nice little season for himself, but c’mon now.

I’m really interested to see where all this goes from here, because I’m a big Bruins Believer, but if he’s out longer than two or three weeks, we’re into April and that’s a big worry.)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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