The Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally here and NHL fans are ready for two months of exciting and intense hockey.
During the season (and especially at the trade deadline), NHL general managers made trades designed to strengthen their teams for the playoffs and ultimately increase their club's chances of winning the Stanley Cup.
Now that the dust has settled and we know who has qualified for the playoffs, we can examine the five trades made during the regular season that will have the biggest impact on this year's playoffs.
The rankings are based on a combination of how important the deal was to the team that made it and how likely that team is to make a long run in the playoffs.
Feel free to comment on the list and add any players you feel I may have missed, but please indicate why your choice belongs on the list based on our criteria.
Throughout most of the season, the Vancouver Canucks had to deal with the absence of second-line center Ryan Kesler from the lineup. It left the club thin down the middle and without consistent scoring depth.
But around the trade deadline, the Canucks acquired Derek Roy from the Dallas Stars. With Kesler back in the lineup, Vancouver has gone from being shallow at center to having solid depth at the position.
Roy's offensive production was down last season in Buffalo and he didn't quite rebound in Dallas, putting up 22 points in 30 games with the Stars.
With Vancouver, the Ottawa native has three goals and six points in 12 games.
Roy can still contribute to the power play and will log second- or third-line minutes. He also has playoff experience dating back to his time in Buffalo when he logged top line minutes on some highly competitive Buffalo teams.
Jay Bouwmeester was a great pickup for the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline.
The 6'4", 212-pound Edmonton native can do so much to aid the Blues' game. He can play a physical game and contribute offensively as well. In fact, in 14 games with St. Louis this season, Bouwmeester has seven points.
He also contributes to both the power play and the penalty kill, and the importance of special teams is always magnified in the postseason.
The fact that Bouwmeester is a left-handed shot also helps the Blues as both Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, the Blues' top two defensemen, are right-handed shots.
This will be Bouwmeester's first playoff appearance in his 10-season NHL career. He should be hungry and eager to succeed. Expect Bouwmeester to log a good number of minutes and contribute to whatever success the Blues have this spring.
While the trade of former Flames captain Jarome Iginla was not popular in Calgary, it does provide the Pittsburgh Penguins with a player who still provides leadership, grit and scoring touch at the age of 35.
Iginla gives Pittsburgh additional depth on the second and third lines. He was a top-line player on the Flames, but on a more talented team like Pittsburgh he does not need to score points to be effective. Iginla will take the body and even drop the gloves when the situation calls for it.
The future Hall of Famer continued to be productive after joining the Penguins, scoring five goals and 11 points in 12 games.
He adds plenty of playoff experience, having been a big part of the Flames' run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. He has 49 points in 54 career postseason games.
For his productivity, experience, leadership and intangibles, Jarome Iginla earns a spot on this list.
Boston's acquisition of Jaromir Jagr gives them a player with size, scoring ability and playoff experience.
The big Czech winger may be 41, but he still has the ability to make consistent contributions to a team's offense, especially on the power play.
Since coming over in a trade from the Dallas Stars, Jagr has nine points in 11 games. He has also been clutch as both of his goals in a Bruins uniform have been game winners.
In the playoffs when checking is tighter and space is tougher to come by, Jagr's ability to create his own space by using his 6'3", 245-pound frame becomes even more valuable.
Jagr is a leader and has worn the "C" on his jersey in the past. He has also played in 180 career playoff games and won two Stanley Cups during his NHL career.
If the Bruins hope to win another Stanley Cup this year, Jaromir Jagr will likely play a key supporting role.
While the acquisition of Jarome Iginla may have grabbed more headlines, the Penguins' trade for Brenden Morrow should have a bigger short-term impact on their run to the Stanley Cup this season.
At this stage of his career, Morrow is more of a role player than Iginla has been. The former Dallas Stars' captain is a gritty player who adds a physical element that the Penguins need entering the playoffs.
He can also put up points. In 15 games with the Penguins, Morrow scored six goals and 14 points and was a plus-five.
Morrow also registered 37 hits in those 15 games and is a responsible force in his own zone, something Pittsburgh clearly lacked in last year's playoff loss to the Flyers.
Come playoff time, players like Morrow who can score "dirty goals" and wear down opponents physically become more valuable. Morrow should be an important part of the Penguins drive for another Stanley Cup this season.