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NHL Trade Deadline review: Eastern conference teams bolstered

The NHL trade deadline passed on Friday and several teams have made major moves in attempt to boost their Stanley Cup chances, playoff hopes or future aspirations by acquiring draft picks for their highest prized assets.

Eastern heavyweights load up

Six of the NHL's top eight teams in the standings are from the Eastern Conference, and in preparation for a heavyweight battle between one another in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, each has been busy in the trade market. 

Despite being on pace to have the best regular season of all-time, the NHL leading Boston Bruins, who are +180 to win the Eastern Conference, have made significant depth additions in the form of Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit Red Wings plus Garnet Hathaway and Dimitri Orlov from Washington Capitals. 

In response, the teams just below them have gone about acquiring some of the NHL's biggest names in blockbuster deals. 

This includes the New York Rangers, +650 for the Eastern Conference title, getting three-time Stanley Cup Champion Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs added former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O'Reilly, Tampa Bay Lightning brought in Tanner Jeannot and New Jersey Devils bagged 30-goal-scorer Timo Meier. 

Slightly less high profile, but still important, is the Carolina Hurricanes' acquisition of Jesse Puljujarvi who was drafted fourth overall in the 2016 draft by the Edmonton Oilers and will help boost their offence.

Leafs going all out 

Of all aforementioned teams, the fourth-placed Leafs have been particularly busy as they seek to win a first playoff series since 2004 and end their record 55-year Stanley Cup drought. 

In addition to the acquisition of O'Reilly, Leafs' General Manager Kyle Dubas has also invested in their bottom six with forwards Noel Acciari and Sam Lafferty and shook up their defence by bringing in Luke Schenn, Jake McCabe and Erik Gustafsson.

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NHL: Trade deadline update – Leafs adding depth for playoffs

Playoff contenders add to improve chances 

After more than a year of speculation about his future, defenceman Jakob Chychrun was finally traded away from Arizona Coyotes to Ottawa Senators, who are vying for a place in the Stanley Cup playoffs following five years out and they are +425 to make it. 

If the Senators are to get there, they will need to catch Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders who currently hold the Eastern Conference's Wild Card spots and have also made additions. 

The Islanders, +150 to reach the playoffs, got to work early in the trade window by acquiring top line centre Bo Horvat and followed that up by getting a casualty of the Leafs' moves in depth forward Pierre Engvall. 

Aiming to meet their -320 odds of making the playoffs for a record 17th time, the Penguins have brought back centre Nick Bonino who won the Stanley Cup with the franchise in 2016 and added depth to defence with Dmitry Kulikov from the Anaheim Ducks.

Kings move Quick 

The biggest name to move in the Western Conference was that of Los Angeles Kings' two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie Jonathan Quick who with Logan Thompson on long-term injured reserve is now a Vegas Golden Knight by way of the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

By first trading 37-year-old Quick to the Blue Jackets, the Los Angeles Kings received defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo who with a .913 save percentage will help sure up their netminding after Quick (.876) struggled for much of the season. 

The Golden Knights also secured the services of forward Ivan Barbashev from St. Louis, who after also letting O'Reilly, Acciari and Tarasenko leave will have room to re-shape their underperforming roster in the off-season.

Champions seek to repeat 

The Colorado Avalanche made several crucial depth additions ahead of last season's trade deadline and the moves paid massive dividends as they won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 21 years. 

This season, they have brought back defenceman Jack Johnson who left for Chicago after winning the Cup, and also made a shrewd pick-up in centreman Lars Eller who won a championship with Washington Capitals in 2018.

Oilers size up 

The Avalanche, who are +220 to win the Western Conference, beat Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final last season and they too have been active in order to try to go on another deep run. 

6'4" stay-at-home defenceman Mattias Ekholmm and 6'6" two-way centre Nick Bjugstad not only add size to the Oilers roster but will also help them defensively in the playoffs which has been an Achilles heel all season long. 

Elsewhere in the West, the Central Division leaders Dallas Stars have added to their offence in Evgenii Dadonov and Max Domi and Minnesota Wild have made three notable additions in forwards Gustav Nyquist and Marcus Johansson, plus offensive defenceman John Klingberg.

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