Pavel DatsyukStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesIf overtime reforms succeed, we may see fewer games go to the shootout in the future.
There was a time when the NHL’s general managers met before the trade deadline. It was great for media because it gave them access to every GM to try and pry info on potential trades. It was not so great for GMs actually trying to improve the game.

And so now, with the deadline passed, the general managers will get ready to meet starting March 16 in Boca Raton, Florida.

It’s the expanded March meeting to which every GM in the shorter fall meeting refers when you ask whether or not there was progress made on a league issue. The answer, about 90 percent of the time, is this: We’ll talk about it in the March meeting. Unless it’s the dry scrape -- but that’s another story.

One of those issues that got the March answer in November was 3-on-3 overtime. General managers were intrigued by the early results in the AHL, where overtime starts 4-on-4 until the first whistle following three minutes of play before overtime concludes with 3-on-3.

They just wanted more time to see how it has played out in the AHL. The data is quite conclusive.

Through March 3, just 5.6 percent of the AHL’s games have been decided in the shootout. That’s down from 15.6 percent last season when the AHL mirrored the NHL’s rules, according to data provided by the AHL’s Jason Chaimovitch.

The number of games decided in overtime this season is at 18.6 percent, compared to 8.5 percent last season. More goals (29) have been scored in the final minute of overtime than any other minute in overtime. Just 11 goals have been scored in the first minute of 4-on-4. If cutting down on shootouts is the goal, mission accomplished in the AHL.

Now, armed with more data, it’s expected to be debated again in Florida.

“I think there are some members of the NHL family who would like to see fewer shootouts. We’re not hearing that from fans. Fans like the way the game is,” said Gary Bettman when I asked him about it earlier this week. “That’s something we’re going to discuss. I’m not sure anybody is ready to make a change.”

It’s a discussion the NHLPA will watch closely.
Tomas Tatar and Kevin HayesDave Reginek/Getty ImagesAn epic Red Wings-Rangers battle Wednesday could be a preview of Eastern Conference final.
This may be the most wide-open Stanley Cup chase in the Eastern Conference the NHL has seen in years. Even with a number of Eastern teams making big deals at the trade deadline, nobody created separation.

It’s going to come down to health and matchups and, most likely, a lot of luck. It makes the Eastern Conference Stanley Cup race hard to project, but after analyzing the Western Conference on Wednesday, here’s a look at the East race and awards favorites now that the trade deadline has passed:

The Stanley Cup favorites

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

They’ve almost become the forgotten team in the Eastern Conference because nobody cares how they perform during the regular season. This is all just a warm-up act for the playoffs, but it’s shaping up to be a good one for the Penguins.

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KingsDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesThe Los Angeles Kings may not be in playoff position, but they're still Stanley Cup favorites.
The impact made at the trade deadline usually has little relation to how a team performs in the standings in the weeks following. It’s the dirty secret of the trade deadline -- you can win all the accolades, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be winning games afterward. Just look at the St. Louis Blues following the Ryan Miller deal last season.

But the deadline gives us closure. The teams we see on the ice now likely are how they will look in some form when the playoffs begin. So with that in mind, we’ll spend the next two days on this blog resetting the races in each conference, beginning with the Western.

The Stanley Cup favorites:

1. Los Angeles Kings

As this is being typed, they’re not in a playoff position -- but I’d still take them over every single team in the top eight.

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Don MaloneyChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesCoyotes GM Don Maloney jump-started his team's rebuild process with shrewd moves at the deadline.
After the dust settled, the buzzer had finished buzzing and those final trades that trickle in after the deadline finally dried up, Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney admitted it was good to be done with the process. The trade deadline is a stressful time for a club; it’s intense.

It was a ton of work, and now the next couple of months for the Coyotes -- well, they could be miserable.

“I think you’re being kind," Maloney said jokingly.

It’s not going to be easy winning games without Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle. Things weren’t going particularly well when they were around, after all.

But during the course of the weekend and through Monday’s deadline day, no team did more to improve its outlook than the Coyotes. It was dramatic, and the rebuild in Arizona was absolutely fast-tracked.

“You always hope so, No. 1,” Maloney said Monday evening. “It may depend on how this draft goes and where we end up drafting. Obviously, if we draft very high in the top couple slots, that’s when you can really jump-start this reset.”

Even if they don’t, the Coyotes loaded up on picks and prospects to join an organization that already has good young players coming, and a franchise defenseman in Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Add Connor McDavid to Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Maxim Letunov, Brendan Perlini and Henrik Samuelsson, and this won’t be a five-year process. It may not be a two-year process. In all, the Coyotes added Letunov, Duclair, John Moore, a 2015 first-round pick, 2016 first-round pick, 2015 second-round pick and already had an extra third-rounder from the Devan Dubnyk trade with the Wild.

The deadline is usually about the contending teams loading up to win a Stanley Cup. That’s usually the focus. But the Coyotes won the deadline. It might not have even been all that close.

Here’s how the rest of the teams rank in their performance during the last few weeks of the trade season, and for those who missed any of my trade grades, click here.

2. Philadelphia Flyers.

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The deal

Ducks get: James Wisniewski, Red Wings' 2015 third-round pick

Blue Jackets get: William Karlsson, Rene Bourque and the Ducks' 2015 second-round pick

Anaheim Ducks: A-

Considering the massive prices being paid for defensemen at the deadline, the Ducks get a dynamic offensive defenseman in Wisniewski without paying a premium.

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The deal

Blues get: Zbynek Michalek, conditional 2015 third-round pick

Coyotes get: Maxim Letunov

St. Louis Blues: B

With the addition of Michalek, the Blues may have the deepest defense in the NHL if everybody is healthy. That’s the big if. Michalek is recovering from a concussion and, according to an NHL source, he’s closing in on returning. But that came with a caveat, which is, you never know with a concussion.

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The deal

Bruins get: Brett Connolly

Lightning get: Bruins' 2015 second-round pick, Bruins' 2016 second-round pick

Boston Bruins: B

I love the thought process here for the Bruins. Rather than using draft picks for a rental player, they get a guy in Brett Connolly who still has upside, and can be a part of the long-term plan. The strategy is impeccable. The young player they picked is debatable.

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The deal

Lightning get: Braydon Coburn

Flyers get: Radko Gudas, Lightning's 2015 first-round pick, 2015 third-round pick

Tampa Bay Lightning: B-

Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman can pull this trade off because he has done a fantastic job stockpiling draft picks and prospects. The Lightning have the organizational depth to go big. Still, this is a serious price to pay for Coburn.

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Top remaining trade targets 

March, 2, 2015
Mar 2
Maple LeafsLeon Halip/Getty ImagesHow many of these players will remain Maple Leafs after Monday's deadline?
In the middle of Sunday’s action, when picks were flying back and forth and everyone was still trying to figure out exactly what the price was for Keith Yandle, an Eastern Conference executive stopped to assess the situation.

“I think some of the prices that have been paid, for the players who have been acquired, are insane,” he said.

Maybe it was frustration talking, but it wasn’t exactly inaccurate.

The price of doing business is high. While you were sleeping, the Lightning sent a package that included a first- and third-round pick to the Flyers for Braydon Coburn. The Lightning could do it because GM Steve Yzerman has built up a wealth of good young players and extra draft picks with smart management.

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Erik ColeIcon Sportswire/AP ImagesForward Erik Cole, who has 15 even-strength goals, should bolster Detroit's offense.

The deal

Detroit Red Wings get: Erik Cole, 2015 third-round pick

Dallas Stars get: Mattias Backman, Mattas Janmark and a 2015 second-round pick

Detroit Red Wings: B

The Red Wings are averaging 2.9 goals per game, which is No. 7 in the NHL. But they’re a little reliant on a power play that is No. 1 in the league, and that’s a hard way to win in the playoffs where power plays can dry up quickly. At even strength, the Red Wings average just 2.07 goals per 60 minutes, a total that is No. 23 in the league.

Cole will help.

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The deal

New York Rangers get: Keith Yandle, defenseman Chris Summers and 2016 fourth-round pick

Arizona Coyotes get: Anthony Duclair, John Moore and 2016 first-round pick and 2015 second-round pick

New York Rangers: B

Give the Rangers credit on multiple fronts. The Eastern Conference is wide open and they got an impact defenseman who can be a game-changer. There are few defensemen in the league who teams have to game plan for, and always know where they are on the ice at all moments. Yandle, like P.K. Subban and Erik Karlsson, is one of those players. This deal is fantastic in the now.The Rangers have a better chance of winning a championship now than before this trade.

The other consideration is this: If you ever were going to trade Anthony Duclair, now is the time. He was a guy whom the Rangers bought low on in the third round of the draft and sold high on after he had an incredible World Junior Championship for Team Canada.

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The deal

Capitals get: Curtis Glencross

Flames get: Capitals' second-round pick in 2015, Capitals' third-round pick in 2015

Washington Capitals: B-

Washington was interested in both Glencross and Erik Cole, and opted to go with the veteran Flames forward in their attempt to give the group more depth. According to an NHL source, they didn’t have any conversations with the Sabres about Chris Stewart, another available winger.

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Trade Grade: Vermette to the Blackhawks 

February, 28, 2015
Feb 28

The deal

Blackhawks get: Antoine Vermette

Coyotes get: Klas Dahlbeck, Blackhawks' first-round pick in 2015

Chicago Blackhawks: B

GM Stan Bowman took full advantage of the additional cap space created by Patrick Kane's injury in adding Kimmo Timonen and Antoine Vermette, with Vermette the best rental forward on the market. He’s the kind of veteran Joel Quenneville will absolutely love.

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Trade Grade: Timonen to Blackhawks 

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27

The deal

Blackhawks get: Kimmo Timonen

Flyers get: Blackhawks' second-round pick in 2015, conditional fourth-round pick in 2016. If the Blackhawks win two rounds in the playoffs and Timonen plays in 50 percent of the games, the pick becomes a third-rounder in 2016. If Chicago wins three rounds and he plays in 50 percent of the games, it becomes a second-rounder in 2016.

Chicago Blackhawks: B

This is high risk, high reward for Chicago. It has the potential to pay off in a big way, in that they’re getting a veteran defenseman who was a legitimate, top-pairing defenseman the past season -- at 38 years old.

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Next steps for Buffalo Sabres 

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
Nikita ZadorovAP Photo/Chris SzagolaThe Buffalo Sabres will be a fascinating team to watch this summer.
Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray is in full sell mode right now. While he hasn’t ruled out another deal like the Evander Kane trade, he set the odds at 80 percent that he'll sell his rentals compared to 20 percent that he'll make a pure hockey trade before the deadline.

“I don’t foresee a hockey trade, but then again, I didn’t foresee the Winnipeg trade until we did it,” Murray said when we chatted this week.

The interesting question for the Sabres is -- what happens next? At some point the selling ends and the building begins in earnest.

When the dust settles, the Sabres will be loaded with draft picks.

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