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After the trade deadline, which teams look like Stanley Cup challengers?

Hot and not

HornqvistPatric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins
Hornqvist led the way in a 6-0 rout of the Arizona Coyotes, netting a hat trick and adding an assist to give him eight points in his past six games.


HillerJonas Hiller, Calgary Flames
Hiller allowed all five goals in a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the fourth time in his past five starts that he's allowed at least four goals.


Which team do you believe in most after the trade deadline?

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: Which team do you truly believe in after the trade deadline? I'm sure we won't all agree on this one. Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman once again made the time around the trade deadline his play time, adding four pieces that definitely make his club the one to beat. The real question is, which team do you think is next in line as a contender? I think it's a three-way tie between the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars. The Stars and Ducks both had a productive deadline day, Dallas picking up top-four blueliner Kris Russell and Anaheim adding wingers Brandon Pirri and Jamie McGinn. I love how Ducks GM Bob Murray patiently waited until the very end to make his moves when prices weren't too high. But I'm also here to defend Kings GM Dean Lombardi, whom I think some people are targeting after a deadline period that saw him make only two soft deals in adding Kris Versteeg and Rob Scuderi. I think people forget that Lombardi got ahead of the curve back in January, picking up Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn in a deal that so far has worked out very well. And I commend Lombardi for showing restraint over the past week. A year ago he dealt away a first-round pick for Andrej Sekera, then the Kings missed the playoffs, Sekera left in free agency, and now they don't have a first-round pick this June. It was the right play to be careful this time around, especially with the January trade already in the books. What say you, guys?


Craig Custance@CraigCustance: I'm impressed with the restraint that general managers showed at the deadline. There was no reason for a guy like Brian MacLellan to do anything crazy for the Washington Capitals, and he deserves credit for believing in his team. Same with Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. In terms of those who helped themselves out, I like what Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers did. He basically created a new line in adding Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell to the fold, and depth has been my concern about the Panthers since day one. He did it without moving his first-round pick or any top prospects. Florida has moved from a team I wasn't sure could get out of the first round to one I'll be watching closely. The biggest challenge for coach Gerard Gallant will be convincing his young players that it's not enough to just make the playoffs. Florida will have to match the hunger and drive of veteran teams on a mission, but these deals will help that cause.


Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: Craig, one of the teams Florida could play in the first round is the Detroit Red Wings, who made no moves at the deadline. It wasn't that GM Ken Holland swung and missed. He wasn't in the batter's box. After years of being the guy who sent assets out the door every year, his team is in transition. Stars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are nearing the twilight of their primes, and he has a group of young players who have to show they can accept the torch, just as Datsyuk and Zetterberg took the torch from Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and the Russian Five many years ago. Fans may not like the static approach to the deadline, but the Wings beat Dallas in overtime Monday for their third straight win and have a shot at the Atlantic Division crown. All without making a splash at the deadline. Now, can they make a dent in the playoffs against teams that did load up? That's the interesting question.


Joe McDonald@ESPNJoeyMac: Without a doubt, the Blackhawks improved their team. I can only imagine what other organizations now feel about their chances to beat the defending Stanley Cup champions once the puck drops for the playoffs. Now, you have to give credit to Tallon. I agree with Craig on this one, and the additions to Florida's roster adds depth and talent to an already impressive lineup. As far as the need to convince the younger players that there's more to a team's success than only making the playoffs, the fact that Tallon gave veteran Shawn Thornton a one-year contract extension last week is a perfect indication that the team understands it needs a player like Thornton to help develop those younger guys. It was believed Thornton would retire after this season, but having a two-time Stanley Cup champion around a young team will help.


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