Our NHL expert, Chris Peters, picks out five players who could help their new teams make a splash in the postseason.
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Now that the NHL trade deadline has passed, teams and rosters are mostly set, save for whatever injuries crop up between now and then. The players that moved at the deadline – except for those that have had to go through a quarantine period in Canada after arriving from a U.S. team – are now settling in with their new teams. Some are already making an impact.
As we head into the home stretch of this truncated season, here is a look at the players that appear to have the best chance to make a significant impact on teams headed for the postseason.
Anthony Mantha | Washington Capitals
After being dealt from the Detroit Red Wings in one of the most shocking deals of NHL trade deadline day, Mantha has slid right into the Capitals lineup and made an impact.
He scored goals in each of his first two games with the club and has provided the secondary scoring presence Washington is going to need as they progress towards the playoffs.
Mantha had to be the offensive focal point, or one of them at least, for Detroit. He doesn’t necessarily have to be that in Washington, as he’ll be behind Alex Ovechkin on the depth chart. Having both Ovechkin and Mantha, however, provides more matchup problems for other teams.
Washington gave up a ton to get Mantha, including two roster players and two draft picks, but they’ve improved their roster by getting a big scorer like him.
Taylor Hall | Boston Bruins
The opportunity to just be another player was something Taylor Hall wanted after years of being a primary player for his three previous teams.
It really didn’t work out for him in Buffalo and he used his no-movement clause to make sure he ended up with the Bruins specifically. Now playing behind Brad Marchand as more of a second-line player, Hall has a little more freedom to loosen up and not put as much pressure on himself to perform.
Despite a shaky first game against his most recent team, Hall scored a goal in his second game to help build a little more confidence in his new surroundings.
Meanwhile, the Bruins are getting a former MVP to help make their second line more potent, giving No. 2 center David Krejci an elite winger, which Hall still can be if he can get things moving in a more positive direction.
Kyle Palmieri | New York Islanders
Acquired days before the deadline activity picked up, Palmieri joined the Islanders from the New Jersey Devils with long-time teammate Travis Zajac.
Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello needed to bring in some veteran talent and found it in some familiar players that he had brought to New Jersey during his time there.
Zajac and Palmieri both have a lot of playoff experience and have gone on deep runs with other teams. Palmieri, meanwhile, may help replace some of the goal-scoring lost when Anders Lee went down with a season-ending injury.
He also has a lot of versatility, which allows the Islanders to move him around their lineup with ease. It’s the kind of support the roster needed, and the Isles are in better shape for a deeper run in the postseason.
Mattias Janmark | Vegas Golden Knights
Sometimes the best deals a GM can make are the little ones. Adding a player like Janmark from Chicago at a reasonable price was a solid move for Vegas.
Janmark went on a deep postseason run with the Dallas Stars last year and plays the game at a high speed. He also slots neatly down the Vegas lineup, bolstering a third line that also includes Alex Tuch.
The Golden Knights were already tough to play against, but increasing depth even by one player like Janmark presents more challenges for the opposition because he has some good defensive value, too.
Janmark could also benefit from the move, getting better linemates even though he managed a respectable 19 points in 41 games with Chicago, which was mostly in line with his career norms. Playing alongside a sniper like Tuch could help Janmark pick up some more points, especially assists.
With him on an expiring contract, there’s plenty of incentive for him to keep producing, which in turn helps the Golden Knights in this rental situation.
Nick Foligno | Toronto Maple Leafs
One of the more fascinating adds at the deadline was Toronto bringing in Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno, who remains out for the time being as he clears quarantine protocols before he can start skating with the Leafs.
Raised for a portion of his childhood in Ontario, Foligno gets a chance to make a run at the Stanley Cup not far from home. There are a lot of veterans on the Leafs roster now chasing the Stanley Cup. Maybe that’s the kind of desperation Toronto needs right now to enhance their competitiveness in the postseason.
From a more practical standpoint, however, Foligno’s scoring had been down this season as Columbus struggled mightily. The 33-year-old brings versatility to Toronto’s lineup and will allow them to not have to lean on less-experienced depth players down their lineup.
Foligno also brings a bit of grit and makes Toronto a little heavier, easing some concerns that they don’t have enough of that element to compete in the postseason.
Foligno has not often played with a lineup this talented and has been able to produce over the course of his career with less. As he moves into more of a depth role, he might find some more favorable matchups, might get more chances on the power play and have a chance to produce.
If nothing else, Toronto gets a well-liked veteran who won’t disrupt what they have going and can provide help in many other ways, even if it’s not always going to be on the score sheet.
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