This is the last weekend before the 2022 NHL trade deadline, so there is expected to be a flurry of movement over the next few days. Florida has been one of the busiest teams, as the Panthers are looking to avenge last year’s early postseason exit. They dealt a first-round and fourth-round pick to Montreal for veteran defenseman Ben Chiarot, and they traded Frank Vatrano to the New York Rangers earlier in the day. The expansion Seattle Kraken will be missing out on the playoffs, so they dealt Calle Jarnkrok to Pacific Division leaders Calgary for three draft picks, and the Colorado Avalanche have acquired more veterans as they continue to lead NHL futures picks as the Stanley Cup favorite at SugarHouse Sportsbook. That will make for an interesting weekend of games with the deadline looming in the background.
New Jersey Devils at Edmonton Oilers
Saturday, March 19, 2022, at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN+
The Edmonton Oilers continue to flounder despite having two of the best players in the NHL. Edmonton has made the playoffs proper just twice since losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006, wasting away incredible seasons from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid won the Hart Trophy in 2017 and 2021 and Draisaitl won the award in 2020, and both players are MVP candidates once again this season. McDavid leads the league with 85 points, while Draisaitl is in third place with 83 points.
As always, the issue is everyone else on Edmonton. The next leading scorer on the Oilers is Zach Hyman with 38 points, and the defense continues to struggle too. That has made the mandate clear for opposing teams. If you can stop McDavid and Draisaitl, you can stop the Oilers.
New Jersey has the fifth-worst defense in the NHL, allowing 220 goals through 61 games. The Devils are going to miss out on the playoffs, so all they can do is play spoiler going forward. They did beat the Oilers 6-5 in overtime on New Year’s Eve, and we could see a lot of goals once more, making the over one of the best NHL betting picks of the weekend.
Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks
Saturday, March 19, 2022, at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Calgary is now the odds-on favorite to win the Pacific Division at SugarHouse Sportsbook. The Flames have 81 points in 60 games, and the second-place Los Angeles Kings have just 74 points in 62 games. No other team is within 10 points of Calgary, so this division is the Flames to lose at this point.
Meanwhile, Vancouver is one of four teams in the middle of the pack of the Pacific Division. Only five points separate third-place Edmonton from sixth-place Anaheim, so there is still a lot that can happen over the last quarter of the season.
The Flames have been able to stay remarkably healthy. They have had 11 players take the ice in all 60 games, and Calgary has four players that will finish the season with 30 or more goals. Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane already have lit the lamp 30 times for the Flames, while leading point man Johnny Gaudreau has 27 goals and Matthew Tkachuk has 28 goals.
That gives them an edge over the offensively challenged Canucks, as only three players have more than 40 points for this team. J.T Miller has been the best offensive weapon with 24 goals and 49 assists, but no one else has more than 50 points.
New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
Sunday, March 20, 2022, at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+
This is a brutal weekend for the New York Rangers. After taking on the New York Islanders on Thursday night, they head south to face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night and then take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh less than 20 hours after the conclusion of that game.
That will test Vezina Trophy favorite Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin has been brilliant for much of this season, and he leads the league with a .938 save percentage. He is 29-7-3, but he has struggled in his last two games, allowing eight goals in his last 80 minutes of ice time.