The NHL’s 2022 trade deadline has passed and the final month of the regular season is upon us. From now until the schedule ends Apr. 29, playoff-bound clubs will jockey for home-ice advantage for the opening round of the playoffs, especially in the Eastern Conference. In the Western Conference, meanwhile, a handful of teams will battle for the final postseason berths.
Edmonton Oilers superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will try to pull away from the pack in the race for the Art Ross Trophy. Meanwhile, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews leads the chase for the Maurice Richard Trophy, becoming the first player to score 50 goals this season. Those players could become the favorites to win the Hart Memorial Trophy.
Meanwhile, some of the top teams in the league will be considered Stanley Cup favorites. The Colorado Avalanche top the list as they appear certain to win the Presidents’ Trophy for the second straight season. Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers are dominating the Eastern Conference.
While these situations could play out in an unsurprising fashion, anything can happen down the stretch and into the postseason. There could be an upset winner for the Stanley Cup, a club outside the playoff picture could rise up and secure a berth by season’s end, or there could be an unexpected winner of an individual award.
Here are our eight bold predictions for how the remainder of this season shakes out. Feel free to express your views on these topics in the comments section below.
Arizona Coyotes Trade Jakob Chychrun To the Detroit Red Wings
On March 13, we suggested the Arizona Coyotes ship Jakob Chychrun to the Detroit Red Wings as a “win-win” move we’d like to see at the March 21 NHL trade deadline. While that deal didn’t materialize, we predict this trade takes place before the end of June since trades are still allowed between non-playoff clubs.
According to GOPHNX.com’s Craig Morgan, Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong intends to entertain offers for Chychrun during the offseason. The Red Wings possess depth in promising young players and prospects to make a competitive bid for the 23-year-old defenseman. Armstrong could also prefer moving Chychrun to an Eastern Conference club like the Wings.
Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has been patiently rebuilding with promising talent but could use an established NHL player to accelerate the process. Chychrun is young enough and carries an affordable $4.6 million cap hit through 2024-25 to be a key part of the Wings’ future. He would also provide invaluable left-side depth alongside Moritz Seider on Detroit’s top defense pairing.
Chychrun to the Wings feels like a perfect fit. Armstrong is seeking a significant return, but Yzerman might be able to meet it. An offer of Detroit’s 2022 first-round pick, prospect Simon Edvinsson and winger Filip Zadina might get the ball rolling here.
Winnipeg Jets Clinch a Playoff Berth
The Winnipeg Jets find themselves in a tight battle with the Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights for a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. With 76 points as of March 31, they sit six points behind the Predators and three points behind the Stars, who hold those final two playoff spots.
Nevertheless, the Jets could be poised to surge into a playoff berth by season’s end. They’ve won seven of their last 10 games to remain within striking distance of the Predators and Stars in the Central Division. Overtaking one or both could ensure they secure a post-season berth, especially if they can also overtake the Golden Knights in the race for a wild-card spot.
Several of the Jets’ leading scorers have stepped up their performances in recent games. Leading scorer Kyle Connor is enjoying a career-best 82 point performance while center Mark Scheifele and winger Blake Wheeler had 21 and 19 points in March, respectively. Nikolaj Ehlers’ return from a knee injury provided a welcome boost to their offense, while former Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck is still capable of stealing games.
It’s still an uphill battle for the Jets as they jostle with clubs every bit as determined to reach the postseason. Given their recent performance and the strong play of their core leaders, they have what it takes to catch up with their opponents and end a difficult season by clinching one of the last playoff spots in the West.