The Atlantic is the most exciting division in hockey right now, and not necessarily for the product on the ice. Often thought of as the weakest in the league this season due to the low point totals, three teams made deals today to strengthen their squads, while another continued their sell off of expiring assets. The Maple Leafs acquired Brian Boyle from Tampa Bay, Ottawa brought in Alex Burrows from Vancouver, and Montreal swapped defenseman to get Jordie Benn into the fold.
With just five points separating first and fourth place in the division, the last 20 games are sure to be full of fireworks. With Boston the only squad of the four yet to make an acquisition, time will tell if they feel the pressure of the other three and move to improve their team in the coming hours. We’re now less 46 hours away from the deadline, and things are heating up in the Atlantic.
- The Maple Leafs received some further good news today when they had Tyler Bozak and Mitch Marner back as full participants at practice. Both players are expected to suit up tomorrow against the San Jose Sharks alongside the newly acquired Boyle. To make room for Marner coming back off injured reserve, defenseman Connor Carrick has replaced him there according to Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun. If Boyle makes it in time, the team will have to send down another player—likely Frederik Gauthier—before the game.
- Craig Custance of ESPN reported earlier that phones have been ringing in Buffalo after their terrible weekend. Whether anything gets done is still yet to be decided, but Custance assures fretting Sabres fans that at least no Evander Kane conversations were taking place.
- Custance also says that though Radim Vrbata looks like a great fit for the Bruins, “as many as ten teams” are in on the Arizona winger, making it a tough call to project where he’ll end up. After the deals today, perhaps Boston is a little more pressured to acquire a scoring winger like Vrbata.
- The Florida Panthers shouldn’t be ruled out of the playoff picture either, as they’re only three points back of the Maple Leafs for the final wildcard spot. Executive Dale Tallon had a Q&A with NHL.com today, admitting that he is a buyer this year (as is his hope every year). Tallon recently told the media that he wanted to address his powerplay if they were to do something, a unit that has fallen to 25th in the league at just 16%.