We are back in the kitchen after a week of craziness that would've made even the great Gordon Ramsay look normal.
Hello everyone.. Chef Outsider here! I hope you brought your appetite because this week's Puck Drop Stew is very filling.
The feature ingredient of my recipe this week is... protein. Every good stew has to have protein (sorry vegans but your veggie stew should still include tofu or some sort of protein powder). This is the part of the soup that satisfies you and allows you to get stronger; the part of the soup that is also entirely interchangeable.
Have you heard of beef chili? Of course, we all have. Have you heard of chicken chili? Well, if you haven't, you should slide out from that rock you've been living under because it's delicious. The point I'm making is that you can adjust the entire flavor of your stew for the better, or sometimes worse, by changing just one ingredient and that is the protein. Besides, protein in many cases is meat and there were a lot of players who had to "meat" a new teammate or two this week (sorry, I couldn't resist).
The NHL Trade Deadline this year was a blast and, for some reason, most of the deals came on the final day to make a move. On Monday alone, there were 20 trades involving 32 players and 16 draft picks. There were more players that switched teams on deadline day than there are teams in the NHL (currently there are 31 teams but Seattle will make 32 in '21-'22).
If that's how you feel as well, then you've come to the right place. Sit back and enjoy a hot bowl while you catch up on all the insanity that took place in the beginning of this week.
TOP 3 WINNERS OF THE DEADLINE
#1 Columbus Blue Jackets
I was talking about how Columbus needed to make a move one way or another. Whether it was to sell or buy, with Panarin and Bobrovsky potentially on their way out, they needed to make a decision and boy did they ever. They bought... and bought... and bought! And I love it!!! They cleaned out Ottawa getting forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel which adds over 100 combined points to their team. They also got a better back-up goalie in Keith Kinkaid (worst case scenario: a capable starter for next year). They sure did mortgage their short term future, though. There are conditional aspects to some of these picks but if everything plays out and the conditions are met, Columbus will have spent the following:
2019: 1st, 4th, 7th - 2020: 1st, 2nd - 2021: 2nd
They also shipped out a couple of talented prospects and the biggest concern with all of this is the two big names they brought in (Duchene and Dzingel) are also on expiring contracts so they too could theoretically walk away with Panarin and Bobrovsky leaving the Blue Jackets without four star-players and no return for them moving forward. It's a big risk but for a franchise who is still looking for their first playoff series win, I love the gamble. They made their decision to shoot their shot and they gave it 100% effort by going all in. We will see how it plays out.
#2 Nashville Predators
The former kings of the West are looking up at the Sharks and the Flames. That wasn't sitting well with the franchise who won their first Conference Championship in '17 but didn't finish the deal losing to Pittsburgh in the finals. The window for the Preds is now and they do not have the most talented roster in the West, which would mean they would have to rely on Rinne to be spectacular. Instead of taking that risk, they went out and picked up a ton of depth that gives them scoring threats on every line but also toughens them up. I love the Wayne Simmonds addition. He was an alternate captain in Philly so you know he's a great leader but also has a grit and style to his game that Nashville was lacking. He's physical; he will post up in front on the man-advantage to set screens or bang home a garbage goal. He's a guy who can spark a team if they come out flat in a game. Nashville also acquired Mikael Granlund who can help the powerplay and penalty-kill. For me the biggest move came well before the trade deadline. The Preds picked up Brian Boyle from New Jersey. Is Boyle a big name? Absolutely not. However, he has been to two Stanley Cup Finals and played in 111 NHL playoff games. Oh, did I mentioned he beat chronic myelogenous leukemia? The 6'6" 244lb forward is as tough as they get and his game gets better in big spots. The Predators gave up a 2019 2nd Round pick for the 34 year-old which shows you how much they value his experience, toughness, and ability to win face-offs. They are primed for a deep run in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
#3 Ottawa Senators
This is a team that watched the TB Lightning hit 100 points on the season standings before they even reached 50 points. That is a little embarassing but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. They had three big play-makers who were on expiring contracts and they decided it is time for a full rebuild. All in all, the Senators acquired a couple talented prospects (most notably in my opinion: Anthony Duclair) and 5 high draft picks. In the next three drafts, Ottawa has a total of 15 picks that fall in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounds barring all conditions of the picks are met. They are on the right path but they need to make smart decisions in the draft.
BIGGEST LOSER OF THE DEADLINE
#1 Pittsburgh Penguins
I'm really not sure what Jim Rutherford and the Penguins are doing. They over paid for Bjugstad and McCann. They are nice additions but they gave up talent along with multiple draft picks for an uneven return. They have a need for defensemen because of an injured-plagued blue-line. Their solution was to get Chris Wideman and Erik Gudbranson. Wideman is in the midst of a career bad year (-12 in just 25 games) and if everyone is healthy for Pittsburgh, he will spend most of his time in the AHL. Gudbranson is a head-scratcher as well because, while he is a physical presence (something Pitt lacks on D), he's has a career +/- of -97 and throughout his 8 years in the NHL he averages 23.5 giveaways per season and a -17 takeaway to giveaway ratio. On top of all the negative stats on the incoming players, in the end of January Pittsburgh traded defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to Dallas. Oleksiak, who is a big-bodied blue-liner, is a better player in my opinion than both Wideman and Gudbranson. So it all comes together to leave you asking one question…
BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE DEADLINE
#1 Boston Bruins/SJ Sharks/Vegas Golden Knights
This is a tie between the B's and the Sharks (coincidentally Jon Gallo's Finals prediction) and the Golden Knights. Boston makes the top of this list because of a piece they shipped out. I would've liked to see the Bruins make a bigger splash but I like the additions they made, especially Coyle, but it came at a high price. They gave up on Ryan Donato very early. He's only 22 and while he didn't look good in his time as a Bruin, there was still plenty of time for him to re-write the script. Instead, Boston didn't want to put their time in so they shipped him to Minnesota where he has thrived since arriving. Donato is a shooter (averaged around 6 shots per game in his final year at Harvard). It's entirely possible that Ryan didn't get enough of an opportunity to shoot the puck in Boston. The Wild have given him the big spot and the green light to let the rubber fly and he has rewarded them. This alone puts Boston at the top of the list because if Donato lives up to expectations in Minnesota, the Bruins will end up losing that trade badly and missing a chance to get more for the 22 year-old. It's extremely surprising how quickly they gave up on him.
The Sharks and Golden Knights are tied at the top of this list because they both have great rosters but they each made a move to get a very impactful player that can help them in the playoffs. San Jose picked up Gustav Nyquist from Detroit. Nyquist is only 29 and is good for 40 points a year. He also has playoff experience and has shown the ability to make plays when the lights shines the brightest. He is a very nice role player to add depth to the Sharks already talented line-up. Vegas needed another guy who can put the puck in the net but they exceeded their expectations by getting Mark Stone. Stone has scored at least 20 goals in every season that he's played at least 20 games and he's only a 26 year-old getting better. On top of that, Vegas was able to lock up this talented scorer in the deal by signing him to an 8-year extension. Hats off to the Vegas franchise because that's a win-win move and a BIG surprise for HC Gerard Gallant.
SUMMARY OF THE DEADLINE
This is simple, watch out for the WEST. There a so many talented teams and a number of them, including Winnipeg who went unmentioned until now, got better. That's a scary thought but it also means a brutal road to the Cup for anyone in the Western Conference. Good luck to all of the contenders in the Wild Wild West!!!
It's time to announce this week's Soup De La Semaine!
This is an easy one and it hits close to home. There are a number of versions of a clam chowder but the best in my opinion is a New England Clam Chowder. If you're having NE Clam Chowder, there's a good chance you're staying in Boston. The Bruins have been piping hot. They haven't lost in regulation in 15 games including a perfect 6-0 in February at the Garden. There's nothing better than home-cooking and the Bruins have been feasting in Boston. I don't blame them, you won't lose either if you're having a cup of New England Clam Chowder sitting in Quincy Market.