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The stretch drive is on after wave of NHL Trade Deadline activity

Stanley Cup outright odds (As of Feb. 27)

Tampa Bay Lightning: 3.60
Calgary Flames: 9.50
Toronto Maple Leafs: 9.50
Winnipeg Jets: 9.50
San Jose Sharks: 10.00
Nashville Predators: 11.00

For weeks leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline, there had been talk about the Winnipeg Jets perhaps making a move to acquire another forward, most likely a centre.

On Monday, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made a splash by acquiring Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers. The move came with a price, as Winnipeg sent a first-round pick this year, forward Brendan Lemieux and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2022 to New York.

While they remain among the favourites to win the Stanley Cup this year, the Jets were in need of a shake-up heading into the stretch drive. Not only did they solidify a player that can be utilized as a second-line centre, but the Jets also added depth on the blue line and up front in hopes of gearing up for another potentially long playoff run.

They have, however, been grounded for some time now.

The Jets remain second in the Central Division with a 37-22-4 record and 78 points as of Friday. They’re a point back of Nashville, but with three games in hand. Both Nashville and Winnipeg have stalled here (The Predators are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games while the Jets are 3-6-1) and that has allowed the St. Louis Blues to furiously crawl back into the division race – now only five points back of the Predators and, like Winnipeg, with three games in hand.

After making it to the Western Conference Final a year ago, expectations on the Jets have increased accordingly. Their odds to win the Stanley Cup this year are 9.50 as of Friday, and bettors continue to back them in the outright market.

About 19.3 per cent of money is on the Jets to win it all this year – the highest portion of money wagered on any team in the league. Not surprising given the markets, coupled with the success Winnipeg had last season and the expectations upon them in the 2018-19 campaign.

Still, it seemed the Jets needed to make a move. They had been tied to Mark Stone trade speculation as a possible destination for the 26-year-old winger. In the end, they couldn’t land Stone but they pick up a solid centre in Hayes.

Will their recent moves provide the kick the Jets need to get on a roll during the stretch drive? That remains to be seen.

Vegas Golden Knights

Stanley Cup outright odds: 18.00

Seahawks and Cowboys

After making it to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago as a first-year expansion team, the Golden Knights made another huge splash at this year’s trade deadline with aspirations of consecutive playoff appearances in mind.

Mark Stone, arguably the biggest name on the board prior to Monday’s deadline, was acquired by the Golden Knights and was then signed to a massive eight-year deal worth $9.5 million per year.

He didn’t score in his Vegas debut, but in the midst of a career season, Stone gives the Golden Knights a scoring winger they could certainly use.

Vegas is 15th in the league in goals-for per game, and general manager George McPhee had to pay a price to improve that area of his club going into the playoffs – and heading into the future beyond this season.

The Golden Knights nearly overcame the odds to win the Stanley Cup a year ago. They ultimately ended three wins shy of what would’ve been a historic – not to mention astounding – feat in a year that started with their championship odds set at 100.00 before they had even played a game.

Their current Stanley Cup outright odds are 18.00. They sit third in the Pacific Division – which has essentially become a two-horse race between Calgary and San Jose – and are just 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.

The Colorado Avalanche currently sit outside the playoff picture in the West, but they are only five points back of Vegas.

While the Golden Knights made headlines at the trade deadline, their place in the playoffs isn’t necessarily a sure thing right now.

Colts and Texans

Nashville Predators

Stanley Cup outright odds: 11.00

Predators general manager David Poile did it again.

Leading the Central Division, the Predators acquired Wayne Simmonds from Philadelphia and Mikael Granlund from Minnesota.

Those moves should bolster their Top 9 group of forwards as they push toward another playoff berth. Nashville is two years removed from a Stanley Cup Final appearance and has odds of 11.00 to win it this year.

A portion of bettors certainly seem to think there is value in that possibility. About 4.41 per cent of money is on the Predators to win the Stanley Cup in 2019.

When it comes to money wagered on the Stanley Cup market, the seventh highest portion is on Nashville.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Stanley Cup outright odds: 20.00

Chargers and Ravens

The Columbus Blue Jackets have pushed all their chips into the pile. They are all in.

How they occupy their time in Vancouver during the NHL Draft is another question because after making some huge moves leading up to the trade deadline, the Blue Jackets currently have only two selections in the draft – and none in the first round.

The Blue Jackets were busy before Monday, acquiring Matt Duchene from Ottawa. They followed that by trading for Ryan Dzingel – again from Ottawa – and Adam McQuaid from New York.

They now have six pending unrestricted free agents, including Duchene and Artemi Panarin, who was at the centre of trade speculation for weeks given his contract status. Ditto for goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner who has been, to put it diplomatically, up and down this year at the age of 30.

The Blue Jackets have odds of 20.00 to win the Stanley Cup. You can understand general manager Jarmo Kekalainen’s desire to go for it this year. Columbus has made the playoffs just four times since joining the league in 2000-01, and never gone beyond the first round.

The talent should be in place for them to not only make it into the playoffs but perhaps do some damage – if they can stay healthy and get solid goaltending. Is that too much to ask?

Look at the standings, and the Blue Jackets are third in the Metropolitan Division – but one point away from being on the outside of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

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