weather icon Clear

NHL trade deadline sets up tight Western Conference race

Updated March 2, 2019 - 4:37 pm

The NHL’s trade deadline made something clear: The race to the top of the Western Conference should be intense.

The fight for the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl appears to be wide open after each contender added to its team. Unlike the Eastern Conference, where the Tampa Bay Lightning are heavy favorites, there are six teams in the West with a 10 percent chance or greater to go to the Stanley Cup Final, according to Hockey-Reference.com.

That should make the last month-plus of the season interesting as teams jockey for playoff position.

“You have to grab your confidence where you can,” Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “You don’t want any team in your conference to feel like they got your number, so every time you can win it’s a positive.”

The Jets are one point ahead of the Nashville Predators in the Central Division after adding a second-line center in Kevin Hayes and depth players Matt Hendricks and Bogdan Kiselevich. The Predators responded by acquiring wingers Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund, who should help improve their last-ranked power play (12.5 percent).

“We work on it constantly, on the ice or on video,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said after a 5-1 loss to the Golden Knights on Feb. 16. “It’s just not working.”

The Pacific Division has a clearer pecking order, as the Calgary Flames are five points ahead of the second-place San Jose Sharks and the Sharks have a nine-point lead on the third-place Knights entering Saturday’s games. That doesn’t mean either team below the Flames has given up, though, as the Sharks brought in winger Gusev Nyquist and the Knights traded for “the top player available at the deadline,” according to general manager George McPhee, in winger Mark Stone.

The Knights have won three straight since acquiring Stone and have a 10.1 percent chance of repeating as Western Conference champions, according to Hockey-Reference.

“I look at standings all the time,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “I don’t pay a lot of attention to them, but I look at them all the time. Gotta win. The bottom line is, we control our own destiny. We have to win hockey games.”

Winning gets more difficult this time of the season with teams battling for seeding and playoff spots. The Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars also made trades at the deadline as they fight for the conference’s two wild-card spots.

“For a lot of teams, their playoffs have already started, so we’re going to have to make sure we’re matching that intensity,” Knights defenseman Colin Miller said. “I expect teams are probably going to want to be playing their best hockey, meshing their team and getting things shored up for the playoffs.”

iPad stats

The NHL began providing coaches with a new iPad app after the All-Star break that provides 60 real-time statistics during games. That’s in addition to the league’s iBench app, which allows coaches and players the ability to review video on the bench.

“Some guys like it, some guys don’t,” Gallant said. “A lot of guys like to see some of the iPad stuff, especially special teams situations.”

Lightning stay quiet

The Lightning were one Stanley Cup contender that didn’t make a move at the deadline. That’s a defensible position when you have a league-leading 102 points and plus-80 goal differential entering Saturday’s games.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Golden Knights Videos
Fleury and Marchessault Play Heads Up - Video
Golden Knights Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault play heads up VGK edition.
Aliens Invade City National Arena for Competition
Aliens attended the City National Arena for a competition to see who was best dressed. The prize was out of this world. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights rally to beat Kings in OT, 3-2
The Golden Knights were down 2-0 halfway through the third period, but two quick goals helped get the team back on track to beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime.
Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland Shares Advice with Rookies - Video
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland has some advice for rookies: “Stick with what got you there.” The veteran NHL player also recalls his first goal as a pro.
Golden Knights Continue Preseason Success with Win Over Avalanche - Video
The Golden Knights prospects are continuing to prove they are worthy of a starting position, this time with a shutout 5-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant Praises Prospects - Video
A day after the Golden Knights 6-2 preseason victory over the Arizona Coyotes, head coach Gerard Gallant discussed how impressed he is with the prospects, including defensemen Nicolas Hague and Dylan Coghlan.
Golden Knights On First Preseason Win - Video
The Golden Knights talk about their first preseason win including Max Pacioretty's hat trick and putting Malcolm Subban as the goaltender for tonight's game.
Golden Knights Zamboni Lessons 101 - Video
The Golden Knights preseason tips off on Sunday, Sept. 15 and you know what that mean, it's time to roll out the zamboni! Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a zamboni operator for the Golden Knights? Golden Edge host Cassie Soto finds out!
Allegiant Unveils Golden Knights Plane - Video
Allegiant air officially unveils its new Golden Knights airbus that will take to the skies soon.
Golden Knights Rookie Camp: 3 Takeaways - Video
Vegas Golden Knights rookies took to the ice on Friday morning for practice at City National Arena. While the rookies mainly participated in drills, it was good to see the prospects get ice time. Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz discuss their three takeaways from the practice.
Golden Knights Host Charity Golf Classic - Video
The Golden Knights held its 2019 Charity Golf Classic on Wednesday at TPC Summerlin. Before teeing off, Golden Knights players Ryan Reaves, Jonathan Marchassault and Alex Tuch said who they thought were the worst and best golfers on their team.
Ryan Reaves performs wedding ceremony
Reverand Reavo makes his debut for one time only at the Chapel of Flowers for a get married by Ryan Reaves contest.
Vegas Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz on the Golden Edge Podcast
Review-Journal reporters Ben Gotz and David Schoen talk with Golden Knights president Kerry Bubolz about his experiences with LeBron James, the team's new initiatives, a possible MLS expansion team and more.
George McPhee Conference Call on Nikita Gusev trade - VIDEO
Golden Knights President of Operations George McPhee answers questions on a conference call about the teams most recent trade of Nikita Gusev to the New Jersey Devils.
Vegas Golden Knight's Deryk Engelland Happy to Re-Sign - Video
Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland is happy to stay in Las Vegas after signing a one-year deal with the team.
Golden Aces hold Tryouts For 2019-2020 Season - Video
The Golden Aces hold tryouts for the 2019-2020 season for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knight's owner Bill Foley's House for sale in The Ridges - Real Estate Millions
Vegas Golden Knights, Fleury Make Day for Critically Ill Teenager in ESPN “My Wish” - Video
A 13-year-old Las Vegas boy who has faced Hodgkin’s lymphoma is treated to a special day by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights in a new ESPN “My Wish” Series feature debuting Wednesday, July 17, on SportsCenter. In the feature, Doron Coldwell spends a day with the team and even gets an opportunity to replace his favorite player, three-time Stanley Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury, in the net.
Golden Knights Sell "Battle Worn Armor" To Season Ticket Holders - Video
The Golden Knights sell their "battle worn" apparel throughout both of the teams seasons including pucks, sticks, helmets and skates.
Summerlin 4th of July Parade - VIDEO
On July 4th Summerlin will be hosting the 25th annual Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade, an event that has grown massively over the years
Golden Knights McPhee talks on the first day of NHL free agency - VIDEO
Golden Knights incoming president of operations George McPhee addresses the media as free agency starts.
Golden Knights Trade Colin Miller as Development Camp ends - VIDEO
George McPhee speaks to the media following the end of the Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Knights Development Camp Day 4 - VIDEO
Nic Hague stands out at day 4 of Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Knights Hold First Scrimmage of Development Camp - Video
The first of three scrimmages was held at the 2019 Golden Knights Development Camp. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers Adam Hill and David Schoen discuss what stood out to them.
Golden Knights George McPhee Discusses Erik Haula Trade - Video
A day after it was announced that Erik Haula had been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, incoming President of Hockey Operations George McPhee spoke to the media discussing the move.
Golden Knights Trade Erik Haula - Video
The Golden Knights have traded Erik Haula to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for prospect Nicolas Roy. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writer Adam Hill discuss the trade.
Golden Knights Coaches Looking for Veterans to Step Up in Development Camp - Video
Day two of the 2019 Golden Knights Development Camp is in the books. Director of Player Development Wil Nichol says his staff is looking for the veterans of the camp to step up and be leaders to the younger guys, while at the same time doing their best to impress the coaching staff.
Golden Knights Draft Player with Strong Hockey Bloodlines - Video
The Golden Knights drafted Mason Primeau in the 5th round of the 2019 NHL Draft. Primeau is no stranger to professional hockey, both his dad (Wayne Primeau) and his uncle (Keith Primeau) played in the NHL.
Golden Knights Kelly McCrimmon Talks Development Camp - VIDEO
Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon talks about what he expects from everyone at development camp on their first day.
Golden Knights Dylan Coghlan On Veteran Experience - VIDEO
Golden Knights defenseman Dylan Coghlan talks about his veteran experience playing in Chicago and development camp.