With training camps set to begin on July 13 as part of Phase 3 of the NHL Return to Play Plan, NHL.com is taking a closer look at key storylines for each of the 24 teams in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
The qualifiers will start Aug. 1 with the top four teams in each conference, based on points percentage, playing a three-game round-robin, and the No. 5-12 seeds playing in eight best-of-5 series. The winners of those series will advance to the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the four teams from the round-robin.
Today, we look at 12 players (listed alphabetically) from the Western Conference who were traded before the Feb. 24 NHL Trade Deadline and had limited time with their new team before the season was paused on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Dylan DeMelo, D, Winnipeg Jets — He averaged 19:55 of ice time in 49 games with the Ottawa Senators, but after being traded to the Jets on Feb. 18, that number went up to 21:14 in 10 games before the season was paused. DeMelo built good chemistry with Josh Morrissey on the top pair, and that’s likely to continue during the qualifier series against the Calgary Flames.
DeMelo’s defensive reliability also should allow Morrissey to contribute more offensively. Morrissey’s 31 points (five goals, 26 assists) in 65 games matched his personal NHL best from last season.
Cody Eakin, F, Winnipeg Jets — He scored five points (one goal, four assists) after being acquired in a trade from the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 21. With forward Bryan Little‘s availability against the Flames unknown because of a head injury, Eakin could be the center on the second line between Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine.
Tyler Ennis, F, Edmonton Oilers — He scored 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) in 70 games this season with the Senators and Oilers, his most in a season since he scored 46 points in 2014-15 with the Buffalo Sabres. That includes four points (two goals, two assists) in nine games after the Oilers acquired him in a trade Feb. 24. Ennis played left wing on Connor McDavid‘s line and on Leon Draisaitl‘s line, and his speed and skill could allow him to be a solid secondary scoring option against the Chicago Blackhawks in their qualifier series.
Mike Green, D, Edmonton Oilers — He sprained a knee ligament in his second game with the Oilers after being acquired in a trade from the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 24, but he is expected to be on the ice when training camp starts. Green scored 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 48 games this season. The 34-year-old might not be the big point producer he was early in his NHL career with the Washington Capitals, but he can be useful on the power play and as a veteran leader for a young group of defensemen.
Erik Gustafsson, D, Calgary Flames — He was acquired in a trade from the Blackhawks on Feb. 24, the same day they acquired defenseman Derek Forbort in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings. Gustafsson had three assists and averaged 18:01 of ice time in seven games, and Forbort had seven shots on goal and averaged 17:44 of ice time in seven games. At the time of the trades, the Flames were missing defensemen Mark Giordano (hamstring) and Travis Hamonic (upper body). They’re expected to be healthy at the start of training camp, giving the Flames an impressive group of defensemen to choose from for the series against the Jets, along with TJ Brodie, Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin, Michael Stone and Oliver Kylington.
Robin Lehner, G, Vegas Golden Knights — The Golden Knights didn’t appear to have a need for a goalie, but adding Lehner to Marc-Andre Fleury gives Vegas arguably the strongest goaltending among the 24 returning teams. Lehner had a .918 save percentage in 33 games with the Blackhawks, who allowed an NHL-high 35.4 shots on goal per game through Feb. 24, the day Chicago traded Lehner to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who then sent him to Vegas. In three starts with the Golden Knights, Lehner went 3-0-0 with a .940 save percentage. Vegas will play in the round-robin with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.
Alec Martinez, D, Vegas Golden Knights — The Golden Knights did have a need for a playoff-tested defenseman, and they filled it Feb. 19 by acquiring Martinez, who won the Stanley Cup twice with the Kings (2012, 2014). He scored eight points (two goals, six assists) in 10 games with Vegas, matching his point total in 41 games with Los Angeles. He also found chemistry with defense partner Shea Theodore and helped Vegas go 8-2-0 after the trade. Coach Peter DeBoer likely will rely heavily on a top four on defense of Martinez, Theodore, Brayden McNabb and Nate Schmidt during the round-robin, with Nick Holden, Zach Whitecloud, Deryk Engelland and Jon Merrill battling for the final two spots in the lineup.
Vladislav Namestnikov, F, Colorado Avalanche — Namestnikov’s biggest impact for the Avalanche could be on the penalty kill, where his four shorthanded goals tied for the NHL lead. In nine games with Namestnikov in the lineup, Colorado killed 25 of 27 opposing power plays (92.6 percent), after killing 79.8 percent in 61 games prior to the Feb. 24 trade with the Senators. Namestnikov also is a versatile player at even strength, able to play center or left wing. He scored 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) in 65 games with the New York Rangers, Senators and Avalanche this season, including six points (four goals, two assists) in nine games with Colorado.
Marco Scandella, D, St. Louis Blues — The Blues acquired Scandella in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens to be an experienced replacement for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who was lost for the season because of a cardiac episode during a game Feb. 11. In 11 games after the Feb. 18 trade, the Blues went 9-2-0 and allowed 1.91 goals per game.
Scandella also allowed defense partner Colton Parayko to rediscover the offensive side of his game. Parayko averaged 0.82 points in 11 games with Scandella as his partner after averaging 0.36 points in his first 53 games.
Tyler Toffoli, F, Vancouver Canucks — The Canucks felt a need to upgrade their offense, especially at right wing, and Toffoli delivered after being acquired from the Kings on Feb. 17 with 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 10 games. With Toffoli in the lineup, the Canucks averaged 3.60 goals per game, including nine (two by Toffoli), tying for the most in an NHL game this season, in a 9-3 win against the Boston Bruins on Feb. 22. Toffoli could start the qualifier series against the Minnesota Wild on Vancouver’s top line, along with center Elias Pettersson and left wing J.T. Miller.