By LARRY LAGE AP Hockey Writer
The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins loaded up for a potential Stanley Cup run, making bold moves to add talented players in the days leading up to the NHL trade deadline.
Coincidentally, the contenders face off Saturday afternoon in Boston.
The Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers were not as aggressive, seemingly stuck in rebuilds that have relegated them to being sellers this time of year.
Some of the franchises that appeared to win — and lose — over the last month as NHL teams completed 65 deals with a flurry early and a trickle closer to the deadline on Friday afternoon:
New York Rangers: The franchise’s quest to hoist the Cup for the first time since 1994 got a boost with the additions of three-time champion Patrick Kane and four-time All-Star Vladimir Tarasenko. New York has a secure spot in the postseason as the Metropolitan Division’s third-place team, with a comfortable cushion over Pittsburgh and the Islanders, but its chance to advance just got better with a new pair of goal-scorers.
Boston Bruins: The 2011 Stanley Cup champions have an NHL-high 101 points and clearly are not content. Boston acquired defensemen Dmitry Orlov, who helped Washington win it all five years ago; forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who scored 30 goals for Detroit last season, and depth-enhancing forward Garnet Hathaway.
Ottawa Senators: Determined to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017, the Senators added one of the top players available. Defenseman Jakob Chychrun had 28 points in 36 games this season for the Arizona Coyotes and may produce even more with better players and and a motivated team.
Toronto Maple Leafs: After losing six straight opening postseason series, general manager Kyle Dubas seemed to improve the franchise’s chance to advance. Toronto traded for St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly to add scoring depth up front behind Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
New Jersey Devils: Most players added before the deadline are eligible for unrestricted free agency, but 26-year-old winger Timo Meier is not one of them. If the on-the-rise Devils like what they see, they will have an edge over the potential competition to retain the restricted free agent. Meier has developed into a point-per-game player.
New York Islanders: Beating buyers to the punch, the team may have essentially sealed a wild card in the stacked Eastern Conference playoffs by acquiring 30-goal-scorer Bo Horvat from Vancouver more than four weeks before the deadline. Shortly after the deal, the Islanders signed him to an eight-year contract worth $68 million.
Detroit Red Wings: After general manager Steve Yzerman recently confirmed his hunch that the Red Wings still aren’t ready to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016, he dealt two key players he didn’t view as part of the team’s long-term plans. Yzerman did acquire a pair of first-round picks in exchange for Bertuzzi and Filip Hronek, but it will take years for those selections to possibly pan out.
Philadelphia Flyers: The team knows it might lose James van Riemsdyk for nothing in free agency this summer, and still could not move him for desperately needed help. The Flyers will not make the playoffs for a third straight year, their longest drought in three decades and the latest misstep is not a good sign.
Vancouver Canucks: A franchise that will miss the playoffs for the third straight year and seventh time in eight years should not be giving up talent like Horvat or a first-round pick, especially for a player such as Hronek. The 25-year-old defenseman is having the best year of his career and has a year left on his contract, but the price paid for him seems steep.
Chicago Blackhawks: Despite having an attractive asset in Kane, the Blackhawks had no leverage because of his no-movement clause. The best Chicago could do was a conditional 2023 second-round draft pick and a fourth-rounder in 2025 from the Rangers, whose conditional pick turns into a first-round selection if the they return to the conference finals.
Buffalo Sabres: Seeking to end an NHL-record 11-season playoff drought, the team was in on talks to trade for Chychrun. The asking price, though, was too high for a franchise that can’t afford to deal assets in the draft in the latest phase of its rebuild.
AP Hockey Writers Stephen Whyno and John Wawrow contributed.
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