Its Play Off Hockey

With the NHL Trade Deadline now two weeks in the rearview, it is time to take a look at some of the deals, err, players that have made an impact. The funny thing is that there are still 3 1/2 weeks to go in the regular season. Then, there are the playoff still.

This provides a micro, smaller picture of what impacts have occurred and what may take place as April moves along. Now, it’s time to take a look at some of those players.

Claude Giroux – Forward – Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers netted the crown piece of the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. As they battle the Colorado Avalanche and even Carolina Hurricanes for the Presidents’ Trophy, the question will be asked. Was the price to acquire Giroux worth it?

Through seven games, Giroux has seven assists. He is the playmaker that Florida felt it needed come playoff time. The forward has become less and less of a goal scorer as the season has gone on. Giroux tallied just once since March 1st. That does not expect to change too much going forward.

He has won the face-off battle in five of his seven games. Giroux takes face-offs in all zones. Defensively, he has been responsible. Offensively, the forward has generated his fair share of scoring chances. Giroux even racked up three or more shots in four of his first five games with the Panthers.

Obviously, the real impact from Claude Giroux comes during playoff time. He was brought in for leadership but also to help boost Florida’s power-play and ability to win critical face-offs. Again, it has been so far and so good for this acquisition. With questions about goaltending, Florida needs to be better defensively once the playoffs begin. Giroux helps there.

Ben Chiarot – Defenseman – Florida Panthers

This is where the debate begins to crank upward a notch or two. Ben Chiarot was brought in to buoy the defense. Last year, that was a major issue when the Tampa Bay Lightning gouged the Panthers repeatedly. That six-game series with Tampa was exciting but again featured the problems with team defense and goaltending.

Ben Chiarot was a vital cog in Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. While Chiarot is never going to light things up offensively, his ability to play in tighter conditions carried much value heading into the trade deadline. Florida thought enough of Chiarot to trade a 2023 first-round pick, a prospect, and a 2022 fourth-round choice.

The goofy thing with Chiarot so far is his playing time and opportunities have led to, you guessed it, more offense. Before the move, the former Montreal defenseman had nine points in nine games. He has four points in seven contests with Florida. The luxury the Panthers have is that they can meter Chiarot’s utilization. That means he does not have to play 23-25 minutes every single night.

Now, Chiarot does not have to be gassed or worse during the playoffs. Florida’s depth can rattle the cages as its balance helps shield most of their deficiencies. Again, the defenseman will make his biggest impact come May.

Marc-Andre Fleury – Goaltender – Minnesota Wild

No early NHL Trades analysis would be complete without looking at what Bill Guerin and the Minnesota Wild pulled off. Guerin acquired Marc-Andre Fleury to buoy the Wild and Cam Talbot for their playoff push. The result may be the biggest impact so far of the NHL Trade Deadline.

Naturally, Fleury has looked great in green so far for Minnesota. He has started three games and has won three times. This is while giving up just four goals on 96 shots (.958 save percentage). Minnesota is 7-0-1 since the deadline and has won four of the five games which have gone beyond regulation.

After all, that is something that could happen more often in these playoffs. With the team so close together in terms of talent, overtime could be a great equalizer. Since giving up six goals at home to Nashville on March 13th, Minnesota has given up three or more goals just once. Fleury has had an impact on stabilizing the talent in front of him.

Minnesota knows it needs goaltending to get out of a divisional playoff with Colorado in it. Will Fleury be enough? So far, it could be.

– NHL Rumors Feed

NHL Hockey Playoffs
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