The shortened and more compact 2021 NHL season has made mid-March the halfway point.
As of this writing, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights were leading their divisions. The Buffalo Sabres (16 points) sit at the bottom of the league.
Connor McDavid (53 points), Auston Matthews (21 goals), Marc-Andre Fleury (.936 save percentage) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (18 wins) lead the league in their respective categories.
But as teams and players get more acclimated to COVID-19 protocols and intra-division play, what will happen in the second half? USA TODAY Sports’ NHL experts make some predictions on a variety of topics.
Winners and losers:What stood out in first half of NHL season
Biggest name to be traded
Sabres center Eric Staal: In the final year of his deal and with 10 points in 28 games, the 36-year-old could be a perfect center for a contending team that is looking for depth down the middle and playoff experience. – Jimmy Hascup
Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm: Nashville may choose to move him for assets to help them in the upcoming expansion draft. He’ll be attractive because he is signed through next season as a reasonable $3.75 million cap hit. The Predators could get a nice return for him. – Mike Brehm
Sabres winger Taylor Hall: This marriage is not working for either side. The 2017-18 NHL MVP and former No. 1 overall pick has just two goals in 28 games but it seems impossible for the 29-year-old to have fallen…