PHT Morning Skate: Eight questions every GM should ask themselves on deadline day

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–Sportsnet’s Sean McIndoe wrote an interesting piece about the questions every general manager asks themselves on deadline day. He lists eight of them and they have to do with valuing loyalty, chemistry and leadership. Also, is losing a player for nothing really a big deal? “A team that decides to hold onto a pending UFA isn’t really losing him for nothing at all. They’re getting six more weeks of regular-season work from him, and hopefully a long playoff run after that. That’s not nothing, and in the right situation it could be far more valuable than a third-round pick or middling prospect.” (Sportsnet)

–One of the best moves made during last year’s deadline was Pittsburgh getting Justin Schultz from Edmonton. Not only did the Penguins go on to win the Stanley Cup, but they also got a motivated Schultz, who has nine goals and 39 points in 58 games this season.  “It was time for a change and I got a great opportunity to come here. Great teammates. They welcomed me. Obviously we had tons of success last year. I got my confidence back and I’m having fun playing again, which is good.” (NHL.com)

–With the trade deadline still a few hours away, USA Today’s Kevin Allen points out that most of the big dominoes have fallen. Kevin Shattenkirk, Ben Bishop, Patrick Eaves, Martin Hanzal and Brian Boyle have already found new homes,but which remaining players can provide value for a new team? Radim Vrbata and Thomas Vanek are right up there. (USA Today)

–Caps forward Marcus Johansson had a night to remember, as he scored a pair of goals and an assist in Shattenkirk’s Capitals debut. You can watch the highlights from that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–On Monday, the Blues parted ways with Shattenkirk, but did they get enough in return? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon says it all depends on how Zach Sanford develops. Gordon says: “Sanford must become an impact player to justify this trade. After all, Arizona got first- and second-round picks, plus a conditional pick, from Minnesota for third-line center Martin Hanzal.” Sanford might become a useful player, but an impact player? That might be stretching it. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

–The Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL right now, but we all know about their inability to make a long playoff run. Even though things look good for them heading into the final stretch of the season, this might just be one their last cracks at a Stanley Cup. With Shattenkirk, T.J. Oshie and Karl Alzner all headed towards unrestricted free agency, it’ll be tough to keep this group together. (The Hockey News)

–In case you’re sick of the whole deadline angle, here’s a fun non-trade deadline related item. San Jose Sharks teammates Micheal Haley and Kevin Labanc try to read lips while wearing headphones. This made for some pretty hilarious answers:

PHT Morning Skate: Ovechkin will be rocking incredible custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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–With only a few weeks remaining in the regular season, we’re starting to get a better idea of who will be in and out of the playoffs. With that being said, The Hockey News put together a list of five players that could benefit from playing on another team. Devils goalie Cory Schneider is at the top of the list. Schneider’s been solid since joining New Jersey, but the team hasn’t had much success. (The Hockey News)

Erik Karlsson has always been known as an offensive defenseman, but this year, he’s made several defensive improvements to his game. The changes have made him so effective that his head coach, Guy Boucher, believes he should be in the running for a Hart Trophy. (Canadian Press)

–The Washington Capitals will be hosting a Russian Heritage Night tonight. During the pre-game warmup, Alex Ovechkin will be rocking these custom skates honoring his home land and his American home. He’ll be auctioning off the skates too. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

–The New York Islanders trailed the Rangers 2-1 heading into the third period, but thanks to goals by Nikolay Kulemin and Andrew Ladd, they were able to come out on top. You can watch the highlights from last night’s “Battle of New York” by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Vegas GM George McPhee chatted with Sportsnet’s Gene Principe about being able to build a team from scratch. McPhee called the experience “fantastic” and “really neat”. He also discussed his vision for the team and how he’s approaching the expansion draft. (Sportsnet)

–The Detroit Red Wings have been a model franchise for quite some time, but they’ve on the verge of going through some pretty big changes. First, Joe Louis Arena will be closing its doors and secondly, their long playoff streak will be coming to an end this season. Sports Illustrated takes a deeper look at the old barn and the third-longest playoff streak in pro sports. (Sports Illustrated)

–Many people feel like the Calder Trophy race will come down to Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, but Bob McKenzie says there’s more than two worthy candidates because Zach Werenski has been equally good this season. But who is McKenzie leaning toward?

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.