Viable Trade Options- Part Four- Pacific Division

By: Nick Lanciani

The Trade Deadline is fast approaching, is your team ready for this year’s fire sale? I take a look at some reasonable ideas for deals, as well as the overall consideration of buying or selling for each team in the league in this month long series. Buyer beware, all sales are final on March 2nd, 2015.

Current Pacific Division Standings

  1. ANA 83 pts. (38-17-7) 62 GP
  2. VAN 73 pts. (35-23-3) 61 GP
  3. LA 70 pts. (29-19-12) 60 GP
  4. CGY 70 pts. (33-24-4) 61 GP
  5. SJ 68 pts. (30-24-8) 62 GP
  6. ARI 47 pts. (20-35-7) 62 GP
  7. EDM 46 pts. (18-34-10) 62 GP

UnknownAnaheim Ducks (1st in the Pacific Division, 62 GP 38-17-7 record, 83 points)

What could the- 2nd place in the Western Conference- Anaheim Ducks possibly want or do at the trade deadline on March 2nd? The tremendous acquisition of Ryan Kesler in the offseason has flourished in impact with the Ducks. It’s a fresh breath of life in Kesler’s career as he is on pace to better his performance of the last few seasons.

Only Matt Beleskey, Sami Vatanen, and Frederik Andersen are on the injured reserve currently. Beleskey would have been the Ducks most viable asset to move should they have made an offer or seen an offer than would enhance their roster.

There seems to be no sense in worrying about the injured Vatanen as the rest of the defense is solid and Andersen’s injury, while it sets the Ducks back a bit in goal, is certainly not a challenge for John Gibson and Jason Labarbera to handle.

So the only thing that the Ducks really had to do to make their team better was Thursday’s placement of Ilya Bryzgalov on unconditional waivers for the mutual termination of his contract. As long as the Ducks stay healthy and focused, they’ve got great chances of seeing a second or third round (or maybe longer) playoff run.

Unknown-1Vancouver Canucks (2nd in the Pacific Division, 61 GP 35-23-3 record, 73 points)

The Vancouver Canucks have been a pleasant surprise in the Western Conference standings this season. With that said, their place near the top of the Pacific Division podium has come with a bit of a price.

With Ryan Miller out four to six weeks the Canucks are likely to face a bit of shakiness in goal with Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom defending the twine. But Miller isn’t the only injured player on Vancouver’s roster currently.

Brad Richardson, Kevin Bieksa, Frank Corrado, Alexander Edler, and Christopher Tanev are all on the injured reserve with Ryan Miller. The Canucks have faced crushing blow after crushing blow to their defensive aspect of their lineup and would likely seek to acquire a depth defenseman out of fear of more injuries heading into the long run.

Otherwise, in terms of forwards Vancouver could look to move Chris Higgins, Zack Kassian, and Shawn Matthias. Kassian and Matthias are obvious skaters to send elsewhere as Kassian has struggled to live up to anything since being brought in for Cody Hodgson (but then again, Hodgson is practically a fourth liner in Buffalo, so maybe the Canucks won that trade).

Kassian brings some size to any lineup and would be suitable for a fresh start in an organization looking to turn things around, such as the Ottawa Senators or the Toronto Maple Leafs. If Vancouver dealt with Ottawa they could try to get Patrick Wiercioch or Jared Cowen in return, but in either case a package offer would have to make the deal worthwhile for Ottawa, given Kassian’s track record. By no means am I saying that Wiercioch or Cowen are tremendously better, but they are worth more than Kassian alone.

Likewise, if the Canucks struck a deal with Toronto a suitable package offer including Tyler Bozak could favor Vancouver’s chances of getting a deal done. Then again, at this point Toronto might make just about any deal, so why not? The Canucks could use a guy like Higgins as the right kind of a player to sweeten a package deal without damaging their roster too much.

Meanwhile, Vancouver is continuously on the search to find a home for goalies it seems these days. Eddie Lack could be moved at the deadline, although where I am not sure. A Lack for Anders Lindback deal with Buffalo would help solidify the Sabres backup goaltending and wouldn’t be that much of a hassle for the Canucks to send Lindback to Utica if they insist on going with Ryan Miller (once he’s back from injury) and Jacob Markstrom as it appears they do.

In any case, Vancouver must carefully construct without subtracting too much of a good thing. Unlike the past couple of seasons, the Canucks actually have a ray of hope on paper, heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

UnknownLos Angeles Kings (3rd in the Pacific Division, 60 GP 29-19-12 record, 70 points)

Let’s face it, the Los Angeles Kings will find a way like they have since 2012. They’ll find a way to get into the playoffs, they’ll find a way to come out as big winners at the deadline, and they’ll find a way to break the hearts of San Jose Sharks fans- again.

One of the more interesting storylines for the Kings that has settled down a bit heading into the deadline is that of Mike Richards. He’s currently in Manchester (AHL) and wasn’t claimed when he was on waivers, so it’ll be intriguing to see if he ends up traded or not.

But what might be even more perplexing is that one of the variables for the Kings is the future of Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll. Stoll is a pending free agent and unless Los Angeles tumbles down a mountain over the weekend before Monday, then he’s probably not going anywhere. Unless the Kings get an offer they can’t refuse- a younger player, with less of a cap hit, for a longer period of time under contract, potential, and points to prove currently.

Hypothetically, it’d be impossible for the Kings to trade defending Conn Smythe trophy winner, Justin Williams, but it could happen. If a team like the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, or the Winnipeg Jets were offering Los Angeles an offer they can’t refuse, consider him as good as gone (albeit still producing Game 7 miracles wherever he goes). If not, then Williams’s job is safe and secure in LA.

The bottom line is, go back and reread the first paragraph of this little tidbit about the Kings until it sets in and ignore the rest.

Calgary Flames LogoCalgary Flames (4th in the Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference Wild Card, 61 GP 33-24-4 record, 70 points)

The Calgary Flames have been a pleasure to watch this season and it seems like their patient process is has turned into progress and results. Johnny Gaudreau has emerged as one for the rest of the league to keep an eye on while the rest of the team is built on youthful forwards and strength on defense.

Jonas Hiller has provided some much needed stability in net for the Flames and as it turns out Karri Ramo isn’t too bad of a backup either (at least based on his larceny of a save the other day against the New York Rangers).

But for Calgary one thing is certain approaching the deadline, it’s time for life without Curtis Glencross as the organization looks to maintain a grip on the 2nd wild card in the Western Conference. Moving Glencross with the right trading partner could be beneficial to the Flames and help them regain control of third in the Pacific Division, giving them just enough of a leg up on the Los Angeles Kings.

The Flames have been one of the only teams to corral the Kings this season. Whether that translates into the playoffs is yet to be seen, as both teams have got to make the playoffs first. Trading Glencross with a valuable team such as the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, or the Winnipeg Jets would bring in a tremendous return for Calgary.

And perhaps there isn’t a plan for Sven Baertschi in Calgary’s rebuild anymore, so maybe the Flames could dangle him over the competition as a chance to take on a young player who could use a fresh start in different scenery. A combination of Glencross and Baertschi in a package deal with Buffalo for Chris Stewart and some other asset could be all the Flames need in the long run for a decent playoff run to build off of in the coming seasons.

Regardless, I’m glad to see at least one team in Alberta is heading in the right direction.

Unknown-3San Jose Sharks (5th in the Pacific Division, 62 GP 30-24-8 record, 68 points)

The San Jose Sharks have been turning things around from some low parts of the season, however, things have to improve in order to actually get better. Los Angeles is starting to heat up as they always tend to do at this point in the year and that annoys Sharks fans deeply. It’s not that the Sharks haven’t been able to maintain in years past during the regular season, but it is that the floor falls out from underneath them when it comes time for the playoffs.

Given the ultimate disappointment of last year (Los Angeles came back from being down three games to none in the series to eliminate San Jose in seven games- sorry to remind you Sharks fans) it’s no surprise to see that this year’s roster has a bit of a different look to it.

San Jose has done a respectable job of building from within and quietly adding versatile pieces to their roster, but it’s time for more than just a minor deal at the deadline to supplement the Sharks in the long run.

The Sharks are a young team and I get that, but some of their young “talent” isn’t working out and could be moved. Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Desjardins have largely been underperforming for the Sharks when they need it the most. A fresh opportunity for Kennedy and Desjardins would likely benefit both San Jose and the club they trade with.

I won’t discredit the value of Kennedy or Desjardins as both players would be vital depth forwards for playoff bound or playoff seeking candidates, such as the New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, or the Vancouver Canucks. James Sheppard could become an expendable asset for San Jose is they are offered something worthwhile, if they decide to move either just Kennedy or Desjardins.

On defense, San Jose could move Scott Hannan given the substantial interest in older defenseman for teams looking to make a push for the playoffs or a deep playoff run, yet that would leave the Sharks with their next oldest defenseman, Brent Burns, becoming their oldest- at only 29 years old. Then again, the Sharks could try to move Hannan for a depth defenseman older than thirty but younger than thirty-six.

The bottom line is that maybe San Jose doesn’t have to move Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton after all (or at least, not yet).

Arizona_Coyotes.svgArizona Coyotes (6th in the Pacific Division, 62 GP 20-35-7 record, 47 points)

The Arizona Coyotes have nothing-attractive going for them. Plain and simple they’re playing ugly hockey given where they are in the standings. They haven’t hit Edmonton Oilers hockey- oh wait, they’re only a point ahead of them.

The Coyotes will undoubtedly be sellers at Monday’s trade deadline with the rest of the league chomping at their bits over Antoine Vermette, Zybnek Michalek, and Keith Yandle. Arizona has the right parts and pieces to control the asking price and drive up competition among teams aiming at landing the solid third liner, Vermette, and or shut down defenseman Yandle or Michalek.

If Vermette and Chris Stewart are the hottest commodities available on the trade market this year, then that doesn’t reflect too well by any means. However, Vermette could at least be promising as rental player for any playoff looming organization.

Vermette has drawn interest from the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, and Colorado Avalanche. The least likely of those teams to land Vermette in the short run between now and the end of this year is Colorado. However, if the pending unrestricted free agent decides to test the waters of free agency, then by all means, throw the Avalanche back into consideration on July 1st.

Boston, New York, and Detroit have assets to offer in return, with perhaps all three teams also taking an interest in a package deal that includes either Michalek or Yandle. However, Montreal could steal the deal of the day for the second year in a row at the deadline if they landed Vermette in a move similar to their acquisition of Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders last year.

If the Coyotes are at all to be like the Toronto Maple Leafs, then they would not be open to sending any player to a Western Conference team, perhaps ruling out Anaheim’s hopes.

As for Michalek and Yandle, had Los Angeles not acquired Andrej Sekera on Wednesday the Kings would have been more inclined to be on the hunt for a Coyotes defenseman. With that, many teams in the Eastern Conference, especially, are looking to bring in talented blueliners. Boston, Montreal, New York, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Washington, Florida, Ottawa, and the New York Islanders could all be looking for fresh defenders.

But in reality, aside from moving Vermette, Michalek, and Yandle, Arizona should look to dump a player like David Moss, Martin Erat, or Lauri Korpikoski for a younger forward that could bring a little rejuvenation to the roster.

And perhaps the Coyotes could be on the charge for a backup goaltender, with the likes of Eddie Lack potentially being shopped around by the Vancouver Canucks. In any case, Arizona has a long road ahead both on the ice and off the ice still.

200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svgEdmonton Oilers (7th in the Pacific Division, 62 GP 18-34-10 record, 46 points)

It is clear that nothing is working in Edmonton. It is also clear that something needs to be done. Jeff Petry, Derek Roy, and Viktor Fasth are all options to trade at the deadline for the Oilers.

Petry could be moved to a team like Detroit, Tampa Bay, Montreal, or Pittsburgh with the target of a prospect and a draft pick in return for the Oilers. Roy could fit in with a team like the Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, or (would it be crazy to think) the Chicago Blackhawks. And Fasth could be a quick short term fix for the New York Rangers behind Cam Talbot while Henrik Lundqvist is out with an injury.

But as for the rest of Edmonton’s roster…

Boyd Gordon, Jordan Eberle, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Hamilton, Matt Hendricks, Benoit Pouliot, and Nail Yakupov are all forwards that could be relocated. Edmonton needs to rid themselves of the God awful Matt Hendricks.

One would think that Edmonton would recognize a bad player if the saw one, but they have Hendricks in their lineup. Gordon and Pouliot were failed attempts at bringing in the wrong kind of experience and veteran leadership in the locker room (just because Pouliot had a great playoff run last year with the New York Rangers doesn’t actually mean he’s good). And Eberle, Gazdic, and Yakupov are all young players that if Edmonton had to, they could move in a package for some tried and tested hockey ability.

Overall, the Edmonton Oilers are a mess that is beyond me. Frankly, I’m not sure what they need to do, other than burn everything to the ground and start over. The front office has messed up as many times as their players do on a nightly basis, and coaching is just left in the middle of it.

Good luck Edmonton.

Trades Since the Beginning of 2015

By: Nick Lanciani

With four trades made on Thursday at the hour of this writing, it can get confusing as to who is where now and what was included in each deal. So with that in mind, and a little free time, I gladly compiled a list of trades made since January 1st to recap the trading action as we approach the Trade Deadline on Monday.

January 2nd

The Pittsburgh Penguins sent F Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 1st round pick to the Edmonton Oilers for F David Perron.

January 14th

The Arizona Coyotes traded G Devan Dubnyk to the Minnesota Wild for a 2015 3rd round pick.

January 27th

The St. Louis Blues sent F Maxim Lapierre to the Pittsburgh Penguins for F Marcel Goc.

January 29th

The Chicago Blackhawks swapped D Adam Clendening with the Vancouver Canucks for D Gustav Forsling.

February 6th

The firesale began for Toronto as the Maple Leafs dealt F Carter Ashton and F David Broll to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 2016 conditional pick.

February 9th

G Evgeni Nabokov was traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the San Jose Sharks for “future considerations”- or realistically for the opportunity to retire as a member of the Sharks.

February 11th

Things picked up in Buffalo as the Sabres swapped D Tyler Myers, F Drew Stafford, F Joel Armia, F Brendan Lemieux, and a 2015 1st round pick with the Winnipeg Jets for F Evander Kane, D Zach Bogosian, and unsigned G Jason Kasdorf in a move that was beneficial for both hockey teams.

Hours later, the Sabres sent G Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for G Anders Lindback and a 2016 conditional 3rd round pick.

February 15th

The Toronto Maple Leafs continued selling as they sent D Cody Franson and F Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predators for F Olli Jokinen, F Brendan Leipsic, and a 2015 1st round pick.

February 24th

The Montreal Canadiens swapped F Jiri Sekac with the Anaheim Ducks for F Devante Smith-Pelly in a one-for-one, even, hockey deal.

The Minnesota Wild sent a 2016 3rd round pick to the Florida Panthers in exchange for F Sean Bergenheim and a 2016 7th round pick.

February 25th

The Winnipeg Jets were active once again and traded a 2016 3rd round pick and a conditional 2015 6th round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for F Jiri Tlusty.

The Toronto Maple Leafs further cleared store shelves by sending F Daniel Winnik to the Pittsburgh Penguins for F Zach Sill, a 2016 2nd round pick, and a 2015 4th round pick.

The Hurricanes then sent D Andrej Sekera to the Los Angeles Kings for D Rolan McKeown and a conditional 1st round pick.

February 26th

The day started out with a largely irrelevant deal in the eyes of hockey fans, with the Columbus Blue Jackets sending F Adam Cracknell to the St. Louis Blues for future considerations.

Then the Toronto Maple Leafs continued doing what they had been doing the entire month and shipped F T.J. Brennan to the Chicago Blackhawks for F Spencer Abbott.

But then the Florida Panthers shocked the hockey world by sending a 2015 2nd round pick and a 2016 3rd round pick to the New Jersey Devils for F Jaromir Jagr.

As if things weren’t already weird enough, Columbus then sent F Nathan Horton to Toronto for F David Clarkson.

February 27th

Flyers GM Ron Hextall made sure to get the okay from D Kimmo Timonen before Philadelphia traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2015 2nd round pick and a 2016 conditional 4th round pick, after Timonen was to return to play from a blood clot.

February 28th

The Washington Capitals sent D Jack Hillen and a 2015 4th round draft pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for D Tim Gleason.

The Anaheim Ducks sent F Dany Heatley and a 2015 3rd round pick to the Florida Panthers in exchange for F Tomas Fleischmann.

The Chicago Blackhawks acquired F Antoine Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes for D Klas Dahlbeck and a 2015 1st round draft pick.

March 1st

The Calgary Flames traded F Curtis Glencross to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2015 2nd round pick and a 2015 3rd round pick.

The Arizona Coyotes sent D Keith Yandle, D Chris Summers, and a 2015 4th round pick to the New York Rangers for F Anthony Duclair, D John Moore, a 2015 2nd round pick, and a 2016 1st round pick. Arizona retains 50% of Yandle’s salary as well (he is a pending unrestricted free agent).

In their second move of the day the New York Rangers acquired F Carl Klingberg from the Winnipeg Jets and sent F Lee Stempniak in return to complete the one-for-one swap.

The New York Rangers made a third move on Sunday, sending a 2016 4th round pick to the San Jose Sharks for F James Shepherd. San Jose retained $100,000 of Shepherd’s salary in the deal.

The Detroit Red Wings acquired F Erik Cole and a 2015 conditional 3rd round pick from the Dallas Stars in exchange for D Mattias Backman, F Mattias Janmark, and a 2015 2nd round pick.

Viable Trade Options- Part Three- Metropolitan Division

By: Nick Lanciani

The Trade Deadline is fast approaching, is your team ready for this year’s fire sale? I take a look at some reasonable ideas for deals, as well as the overall consideration of buying or selling for each team in the league in this month long series. Buyer beware, all sales are final on March 2nd, 2015.

Current Metropolitan Division Standings

  1. NYI 79 pts. (39-19-1) 59 GP
  2. NYR 74 pts. (34-16-6) 56 GP
  3. WSH 74 pts. (32-17-10) 59 GP
  4. PIT 73 pts. (32-17-9) 58 GP
  5. PHI 59 pts. (24-23-11) 58 GP
  6. CBJ 55 pts. (26-27-3) 56 GP
  7. NJ 53 pts. (22-26-9) 57 GP
  8. CAR 47 pts. (20-29-7) 56 GP

New York Islanders LogoNew York Islanders (1st in the Metropolitan Division, 59 GP 39-19-1 record, 79 points)

The New York Islanders need not worry about adding assets at this year’s trade deadline. While they do need to maintain their focus and avoid peaking too early, the Islanders appear as thought they are serious playoff contenders.

Their early acquisitions of defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy have really paid off. Coupled with Jaroslav Halak’s stellar goaltending- the New York Islanders have been nothing short of fantastic this season in the Eastern Conference. It appears as though for once the Islanders have just the right combination of youth and experience in their entire roster.

So with all of that in mind- there’s really nothing that New York needs in the long run. Sure the Islanders could pick up a depth forward or defenseman. The Islanders could move Lubomir Visnovsky or Matt Donovan to pick up that missing piece that might get them completely over the hump that is the first round of the playoffs (in recent memory for the Islanders).

Again, however, the Islanders might as well be perfectly content if they don’t do anything at the deadline. After all, it’d be better for them to get the experience and fail than get no experience at all. Regardless, they are going to be a fun team to watch heading into the playoff run.

New York Rangers LogoNew York Rangers (2nd in the Metropolitan Division, 56 GP 34-16-6 record, 74 points)

The New York Rangers are shaping up to be a delightful team to watch heading into the playoff run. Provided a healthy Henrik Lundqvist is able to work his way back in the lineup- although, in all honesty, a little time off for Lundqvist might be the most dangerous wild card for the rest of the league.

Think about it. In a typical season, Lundqvist tends to play in upwards of 65 to 70 games before the playoffs begin. Both in 2012 and in 2014 the Rangers ran out of gas in deep playoff runs (including the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals). Regardless of how you feel the Rangers ran out of gas, a goalie that has played nearly 100 games at the end of the day probably doesn’t help your chances- no matter how elite the goalie is.

All I’m saying is, if the Rangers can keep up with momentum and Lundqvist gets right back in it, then New York becomes that much more of a serious contender. Aside from the fact that the Rangers have figured out a balance of youth and experience in their lineup and that Rick Nash is having a stellar season.

Both J.T. Miller and John Moore are really the only assets the Rangers could possibly move. Miller could be in play in the player from the Arizona Coyotes that every team is trying to land, Antoine Vermette. But it wouldn’t be an easy one-for-one swap between the Rangers and the Coyotes. New York would have to offer a draft pick or something to make the deal a little more worthwhile for Arizona.

New York has also been in the hunt at acquiring Carolina Hurricane’s defenseman, Andrej Sekera. Moore is one of New York’s expendable defensemen that they could use as part of a deal to land Sekera. In any case, any deal has to be just right for both sides engaged in negotiations.

If the Rangers can’t address all of their needs, then the least they should do is focus on their defensemen. They are a fast skating team with skilled forwards. Adding a depth defenseman or adding a player of Sekera’s caliber would complete New York’s lineup and become a force to be reckoned with.

Washington Capitals LogoWashington Capitals (3rd in the Metropolitan Division, 59 GP 32-17-10 record, 74 points)

The Washington Capitals are in a commanding spot having jumped from the first wild card position in the Eastern Conference to the last divisional spot currently in playoff position. While Washington has been keeping in contention this season, they’ve been doing so oddly quiet. The Capitals are keeping pace with their dominant division rivals and are comfortably in the option of buying and selling constructively.

Braden Holtby is having a great season as the Capitals starting goaltender, certainly providing a spark of hope for the victory each night that he takes to the net. Alex Ovechkin an the rest of the Capitals offense continues to produce and it turns out signing Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik is working out well for Washington (for now- Orpik’s contract is still a horrible claim to infamy from a general manager’s perspective).

Speaking of defense, however, it appears as though something is about to drop in Washington, as Mike Green appears to be the biggest asset the Capitals are looking to move at the trade deadline. The 29-year-old defenseman is exactly what any playoff lurking team with room for Green on their roster in the future is looking for. Conversely, any retooling team would gladly take him as well. But it’s going to take the right package for Washington to rid themselves of Mike Green without any regrets.

In terms of interchangeable parts that the Capitals are looking to use to improve, Joel Ward, Aaron Volpatti and Jay Beagle are striking options to move with the intent of picking up a much needed right wing scorer.

Alas, all of them are pending unrestricted forwards and Green would likely see the best return in the form of a winger, unless Washington is able to pull off a miracle package deal with Ward, Volapatti, and/or Beagle.

In terms of moving Mike Green, the Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, and Detroit Red Wings are appealing options. Although if you’re going to mention two California teams, you might as well mention the Los Angeles Kings as dark horses that could add to their defensive strength with a Green acquisition.

Regardless, Washington has to keep gaining momentum at this part of the season in order to head into the playoffs at full strength and no mercy. Enough is enough from a talented organization that has only been able to get so far in the playoffs before faltering- it’s a deep playoff run or bust for the Washington Capitals given their current lineup and their quest for constant improvement.

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoPittsburgh Penguins (4th in the Metropolitan Division, 1st Eastern Conference Wild Card, 58 GP 32-17-9 record 73 points)

No surprise here, the Pittsburgh Penguins talented roster has kept them afloat after their offseason front office transition (this being their first year with new GM Jim Rutherford and new head coach, Mike Johnston).

Only Pascal Dupuis and Olli Maatta are on the inured reserve for the Penguins, who are a young team that is sprinkled with talent and experience. Marc-Andre Fleury looks to be reliable this season, but only time will tell if he can maintain throughout the playoffs. None of the offseason maneuvers have upset Pittsburgh’s defense and the Penguins have been able to build their roster throughout the season pretty well so far.

With that said, the Penguins have got plenty of free agents coming up at the end of the season in an already tight salary cap situation. Pittsburgh could try to lessen this problem at the deadline by moving pending restricted free agents Robert Bortuzzo and Brian Dumoulin. The two defensemen could be a decent package for either Edmonton Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry or Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera.

Bortuzzo appears to be the more attractive defenseman the Penguins could offer and would fit any team looking to retool and rid themselves of a potential rental player defenseman, which makes teams like Edmonton, Carolina, New Jersey, or Buffalo viable trading partners, as Pittsburgh could look for Petry, Sekera, Marek Zidlicky, Bryce Salvador, or Tyson Stratchan in return. Dumoulin might take a little convincing for any team to acquire.

Needless to say, if the Penguins don’t make a move, they’re still readily prepared for a playoff run based on how the roster is currently shaped. They might not be the talk of the town right now, but they can skate with some of the better teams in the Western Conference, which certainly makes Pittsburgh one of the favorites as Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Finals representatives (at least on paper).

Philadelphia Flyers LogoPhiladelphia Flyers (5th in the Metropolitan Division, 58 GP 24-23-11 record, 59 points)

While the Philadelphia Flyers continue to cause frustration among their fan base, this season certainly has been better than the last few years. For once, it doesn’t appear as though the Flyers are having as much of a goaltender struggle that they usually have.

Instead, this year, the focus tends to be more on a lack of offense and a ho-hum defense. The best asset Philadelphia has to offer at the trade table on deadline day are their versatile defensemen. That’s right, I just went from calling their defensemen “ho-hum” to “versatile”.

That’s because the system doesn’t appear to be working very well for Michael Del Zotto and Carlo Colaiacovo in Philadelphia, however they are quality top four defensemen that are valuable to a team looking for a deep run. Pending the status of Kimmo Timonen, certainly the Flyers could feel offers out on the blood clot recovering defenseman. If not, then Del Zotto and Colaiacovo remain their main focus.

Del Zotto appears to be the more attractive defender, with the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vancouver Canucks being a good fit as teams that are in solidified standings. Boston and Buffalo seem to be the only other teams that come to mind as organizations that are unsure of what the future holds, but could benefit from the services of Del Zotto as well.

Colaiacovo on the other hand, would be a great addition for any of the above-mentioned teams. He would likely do better with a Western Conference organization, given that Colaiacovo has spent time in St. Louis and Detroit (prior to realignment). In that case, would even St. Louis be willing to pass up on him, if Anaheim is close to acquiring his skillsets, or would there be a welcome back parade through the streets of St. Louis leading to the Scottrade Center.

In any case, the Flyers have some developing to do and retooling in free agency with their forwards (it might be next to impossible to move Vincent Lecavalier’s contract at the deadline, or ever, for that matter). But the overall outlook of the organization is getting better as they are finding a direction to head in.

Columbus Blue Jackets LogoColumbus Blue Jackets (6th in the Metropolitan Division, 56 GP 26-27-3 record, 55 points)

Sadly, one of the biggest surprises of last season, the Columbus Blue Jackets, have been unable to keep their Cinderella story momentum going this season with the injury bug plaguing most of their chances. It seems that when one player is ready to return to the Blue Jackets lineup, another player goes down (or a player returns to the injured reserve, because that has happened too).

Right now Boone Jenner, Jeremy Morin, Ryan Murray, and Sergei Bobrovsky are on the injured reserve for Columbus. Nick Foligno is having a career year, despite all of the negative detractors from the Blue Jackets this season.

But come March 2nd, the Columbus Blue Jackets should be looking to move Mark Letestu, Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, and Curtis McElhinney. Letestu, Atkinson, and Calvert are all attractive to playoff looming organizations- so the ones you’ve already heard about thousands of times by now, Boston, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Anaheim, and even St. Louis or Chicago.

McElhinney on the other hand, is not a solid backup goaltender and cannot hold the team over when Bobrovsky is out of the lineup.

If Columbus gets the chance to pull a move similar to how Buffalo brought in Anders Lindback for Jhonas Enroth, then nothing will be costly for the team that is not likely to make this year’s playoffs. Columbus could benefit from a rental backup goaltender that might bring some stability to the organization in the short term in effort to allow the front office to get things together and go after a solid backup in free agency.

With that in mind, maybe its worth exploring Eddie Lack’s availability. If injuries aren’t a problem next season and the Blue Jackets aren’t able to get going, then things are going to get worse before they get better from the looks of things.

New Jersey Devils LogoNew Jersey Devils (7th in the Metropolitan Division, 57 GP 22-26-9 record, 53 points)

The New Jersey Devils might be the new nursing home of the NHL (previously held by the Florida Panthers). With that in mind, the Devils should come as no surprise as one of those teams that needs to sell at all costs if they want to improve in any aspect.

Jaromir Jagr, the ageless wonder, is a pending unrestricted free agent that could be a top bargaining piece as a rental player for any team looking to make the playoffs. The Devils need look no further than their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders as viable options to swap Jagr with. The Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, and practically any other team should come as no surprise to be in on the Jagr sweepstakes as well.

But aside from Jagr, the Devils have a plethora of pending UFA forwards in Martin Havlat, Michael Ryder, Jordin Tootoo, Steve Bernier, and Scott Gomez. While some are nowhere near what they used to be, namely Tootoo, Bernier, and Gomez, others may be more attractive.

Havlat and Ryder are attractive options for teams looking for roleplaying forwards that can also bring a decent forechecking game and two-way aspect in their play on a second or third line. I get it, Ryder has really faltered at this stage of his career, but he still has a good wrist shot and a fresh change of scenery, combined with a little stability would be good for him.

New Jersey defensemen, Marek Zidlicky and Bryce Salvador could also be moved at the deadline. Zidlicky is a right-handed defenseman that could fill the hole in Anaheim or Detroit, given that neither the Ducks nor the Red Wings were able to land Tyler Myers last week. Zidlicky wouldn’t cost that much and is a pending UFA. Then again, Zidlicky might be what a team like the Boston Bruins are looking for, in terms of experience and stability for the short term.

Salvador is also a rental player defenseman that could fit in with practically any team on the outside looking in, such as Florida, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, or Minnesota, but then again, he could also work well on a team on the cusp on the playoffs or well on their way to a deep run. Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington, Montreal, and St. Louis all seem to be decent fits for Salvador’s play and cost.

In any case, it comes down to sell the players, or sell the team for New Jersey, because the ownership is clearly not expressing a commitment to winning in the team’s current state.

Carolina Hurricanes LogoCarolina Hurricanes (8th in the Metropolitan Division, 56 GP 20-29-7 record, 47 points)

Plain and simple, the Carolina Hurricanes have been bad. Defensemen are in demand at this year’s trade deadline, and Carolina has a couple to offer in Andrej Sekera and Tim Gleason. The Hurricanes could also move forwards Jiri Tlusty or Jay McClement at the deadline.

The obvious landing positions for the hot commodities- Sekera and Gleason- would likely be teams looking to make a successful playoff run, such as the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, and even the Pittsburgh Penguins, if it means they can get their hands on a package deal that would include either Tlusty or McClement.

Taking a look at Carolina’s roster, one can easily see that moving one of the Staal brothers really might not make sense after all. Nor would moving a player like Alexander Semin be a smart idea. The Hurricanes made an investment in Semin and they might as well get as much as they can out of him. Looking down the line, Patrick Dwyer is another forward over thirty that could certainly use a change of scenery for the better (not just for his own career, but Carolina’s future as well).

So if the Hurricanes are unable to move at least Tlusty, McClement, or Dwyer by the deadline, then all is not lost on the front end of their roster. Some definite retooling is in order for Carolina come July 1st. One of the things that the Hurricanes must explore is a better balance between youth and experience. Right now, they have an abundance of youth, but they have a stale group of experienced players that have spent too long in Carolina.

On the point, the Canes are looking to move Sekera and Gleason, but it would also do them service to look for a potential suitor for John-Michael Liles. It would be worthwhile for Carolina to move Liles for a player of equal status or experience, or perhaps a few years younger to help balance their blueliners.

The future in goal for Carolina is moving past Cam Ward, but Anton Khudobin is no long-term solution. Sure, Khudobin is projected to be a decent (backup) goalie, but the Canes must avoid too much of a similar situation as Buffalo was having with Jhonas Enrtoh and Michal Neuvirth. Who’s the starter? Who’s the backup? And why aren’t either of them clear cut starters or backups? At least Buffalo now has more hope in making Neuvirth their starter and Anders Lindback their backup, by definition.

For Carolina, though, neither Ward nor Khudobin are fitting any definition in goal. A trade involving Ward must be coming, albeit likely in the offseason. But if the Staal’s are hanging around, then certainly Ward’s got to go in the midst of a little roster shake up. Perhaps the Hurricanes have gotten too comfortable with the way things are, but that only makes actions need to happen more.

The outlook for Carolina is tough to envision, since not much direction has been or is being set presently for the organization.

Viable Trade Options- Part Two- Central Division

By: Nick Lanciani

The Trade Deadline is fast approaching, is your team ready for this year’s fire sale? I take a look at some reasonable ideas for deals, as well as the overall consideration of buying or selling for each team in the league in this month long series. Buyer beware, all sales are final on March 2nd, 2015.

Current Central Division Standings

  1. NSH 78 pts. (36-12-6) 54 GP
  2. STL 74 pts. (35-15-4) 54 GP
  3. CHI 69 pts. (33-18-3) 54 GP
  4. WPG 66 pts. (28-18-10) 56 GP
  5. MIN 59 pts. (26-20-7) 53 GP
  6. DAL 58 pts. (25-21-8) 54 GP
  7. COL 55 pts. (22-21-11) 54 GP

Unknown Nashville Predators (1st in the Central Division, 54 GP 36-12-6 record, 78 points)

The Nashville Predators are having themselves a remarkable season with a healthy goaltender, Pekka Rinne, in their lineup and everyone else playing their position fluidly. Filip Forsberg has been a tremendous surprise as a rookie with 18-30-48 totals in 54 games played. What might be more impressive is that their young defense has been able to step up to the task on most nights.

The Predators are holding up on the injury front, with only Ryan Ellis currently on the injured reserve, and lead the Central Division standings. While last season proved to be a bit shaky, their consistency this year should come as no surprise given their elite goaltending in Rinne and their head coach, Peter Laviolette’s, brilliance.

Nashville, surprisingly, has yet to see a long playoff run, though. This year is no exception to their hunger for more and they could be active in trying to acquire that one last key piece or two in order to perfect their roster and bolster up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Then again, the age-old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” could work well for the Predators when it comes to deadline day.

However, going into the stretch run of the season, it might be smart for the Nashville to pick up a depth defenseman or two, as well as a possible depth forward. Especially with the moves their division rival, Winnipeg Jets, have made acquiring Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford- both of which will likely be regular components to their lineup, but in both cases, the Jets added to their plethora of options. That is just about the only thing advisable to the Nashville Predators organization heading into the trade deadline and I’m sure they are already well aware.

Unknown-1 St. Louis Blues (2nd in the Central Division, 54 GP 35-15-4 record, 74 points)

Despite some recent struggles, the St. Louis Blues are rolling along this season. Brian Elliott and Jake Allen have held up strong in goal, Vladimir Tarasenko emerged as one of the league’s most prolific scorers, and their defense has been solidifying their presence on the ice on a nightly basis.

Much like the Nashville Predators, though, the St. Louis Blues could use some depth. We are reaching the point in the season where any injury could make or break your chances of a deep run in the playoffs. With only Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Porter on the injured reserve, the Blues have found a way to remain healthy at this point in the season.

There really are no holes in their roster that contains an excellent mixture of youth and experience, so there’s nothing that immediately needs filling or getting rid of. Sure, Saint Louis could go with this roster moving forward, but I think their best bet would be to try to add without subtracting in order to avoid yet another early playoff exit.

As it is right now, the Blues would be playing the Chicago Blackhawks and I’m pretty certain history would show that Saint Louis wouldn’t fare too well against Chicago. That is why the Blues must focus on depth skaters to combat injury and give them options heading into the playoffs.

Unknown-2 Chicago Blackhawks (3rd in the Central Division, 54 GP 33-18-3 record, 69 points)

The Chicago Blackhawks, in recent years, are annual contenders for the Cup. Their legitimacy is what keeps the rest of the Western Conference teams trembling and stockpiling as much bang for their buck on their rosters.

Currently the Blackhawks are just trucking along in 3rd place in Central Division standings. With a roster that includes superstars, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and (when it really counts) Corey Crawford, how could Chicago A) have any more room for talent and B) be able to keep them all with the uncertainty of next year’s salary cap figure?

Regardless, nothing is plaguing the Blackhawks in the current state of the league. So it comes as no surprise that I don’t expect Chicago to be wheeling and dealing at the deadline. Could they bring in a depth skater or two? Certainly. I think most successful teams looking to make a deep playoff run operate on a basis of trying to get a depth rental player if they can- in order to have a dependable player to fall back on if an injury were to occur.

To summarize, it’s a keep on keeping on mentality in Chicago at this point of the year. As long as they have home ice in the playoffs, it doesn’t really matter where they end up in the standings, although I’m sure they’d prefer to be at the top anyway.

Unknown-3 Winnipeg Jets (4th in the Central Division, 56 GP 28-18-10 record, 66 points 1st Wild Card in the Western Conference)

The Winnipeg Jets have made the biggest splash in both the terms of being a delightful surprise this season, as well as on the trade market so far with the acquisition of Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, and Branden Lemieux from the Buffalo Sabres.

The Jets are currently the first wild card representative from the Western Conference and are situated in a tight battle for the Central Division. With the Buffalo deal, Winnipeg stockpiled on talent and could even still make further moves come March 2nd.

There are no guarantees, but then again, there also doesn’t seem to be that much needed within Winnipeg’s roster (at least on paper). Michael Hutchinson has played some stellar goaltending and the league’s smallest market has certainly been heard all season as one of the loudest voices talking serious about playoff hockey hopes, chances, and a potential run for the Cup.

But cool your jets before you get too far ahead of yourself. While the entire Central Division may be the NHL’s strongest division in the league, only a couple of teams from the division may even advance far enough into the playoffs.

Based on recent playoff experience and success alone, the Jets have a mountain to climb to overcome the playoff dominant Chicago Blackhawks and the annual playoff contending St. Louis Blues, in their division alone. If either team stays quiet on the trade front, then I’d expect Winnipeg to make at least one more move to get them over the hump- and trust me, they’re already getting plenty of calls.

 Unknown-4Minnesota Wild (5th in the Central Division, 53 GP 26-20-7 record, 59 points)

The Minnesota Wild are one of those teams you just got to feel bad for this season. Despite their recent growth in depth and playoff experience, the injury bug continues to plague the Wild organization.

No one is certain what the future in goal holds for Minnesota. How much older can Niklas Backstrom get and still be considered their starting goaltender? Has Devan Dubnyk finally found a stable place to play? And then there’s always Darcy Kuemper and whatever the future brings for his goalie career.

While the Wild might not be able to pull off a deal at the deadline, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them shopping around Backstrom, given his age and the uncertainty of how he’ll hold up, injury wise (one can’t forget his recent injury struggles).

But the problem for Minnesota may not reside in their goaltending. Perhaps their roster could get younger, at least among the forwards. A player like Stephane Veilleux might be expendable enough to bring in something fresh. The Wild have a young, largely unexperienced defensive core and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to take away from it. I tend not to think that Minnesota is in dire need of anything really (much like the rest of the Central Division), however if they could acquire some healthy players, that would be a good thing.

The strength of the Central Division is so strong currently, that if your roster even has one or two players on the injured reserve, you could be in for a dismal season. Minnesota has four players on the injured reserve, meaning that hope is likely gone for this season (by no means, technically, is their season a complete lost cause), but their future may be brighter. I’d expect the Wild to continue doing what they’ve been doing recently- building from free agency.

Unknown-5 Dallas Stars (6th in the Central Division, 54 GP 25-21-8 record, 58 points)

Fans of the Dallas Stars are riding a rollercoaster of emotion for the last couple of seasons. After finally getting back to the playoffs last season for the first time since the Detroit Red Wings knocked the Stars out of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Dallas finds themselves on the outside looking in.

While none of the Central Division teams are mathematically out of contention for a playoff run, the jury remains on recess in the spiritual and realistic manners. Dallas only has two players on the injured reserve currently (Patrik Nemeth and Valeri Nichushkin) and they just acquired some much needed backup goaltending in their trade with Buffalo this week for Jhonas Enroth- finally ridding themselves of the overhyped Anders Lindback.

Yet with stars on the Stars, such as Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Alex Goligoski, and Kari Lehtonen, how is it possible for Dallas to be situated 6th in the division? The answer may reside in their forwards, who surprisingly can provide enough of a spark some nights, but other nights lack consistency.

A player like Vernon Fiddler may be very attractive to a team looking to make a playoff run and would probably fit well with a team like the Washington Capitals or the Pittsburgh Penguins with the way he currently is playing, especially as a valuable second or third liner (something that at least the Penguins could use). Come to think of it, perhaps the Boston Bruins could find a way to fit in a guy like Vernon Fiddler into their roster. Either way, if Dallas is forced to sell at all on the deadline, the phone lines should remain open on Fiddler.

Another forward worth dangling on the fishing line for a potential trade is Erik Cole. The veteran has found a way to find the net again with the Stars and at the very least would bring in a veteran presence to any playoff inexperienced team looking for some locker room stability in the long run.

Last but not least- well, maybe least- Shawn Horcoff is 36 and definitely has got to be on the move from the Stars. The center has proven to be inconsistent and an injury waiting to happen in recent years. If the Stars seek to improve, they’d at least move Horcoff and either Fiddler or Cole for a younger player to compliment the likes of Spezza, Patrick Eaves, and Ales Hemsky in their currently over thirty-years-old lineup.

If the magic works out and the Stars start to go on a tear with their veterans leading the charge up in the Central Division standings, then go ahead and prove me wrong and don’t trade anyone. But if inconsistencies continue to plague the organization, then it might make sense to move on in the right way.

Colorado Avalanche Logo Colorado Avalanche (7th in the Central Division, 54 GP 22-21-11 record, 55 points)

The Colorado Avalanche have taken a page from the book of the Boston Red Sox apparently, as they have gone from one of the worst teams in their division to first in the Central Division last year- back to their current status of last in the division so far this season. Their rise and fall in divisional standings has been one of the most perplexing situations this season.

While injury has troubled last season’s Vezina Trophy finalist, Semyon Varlamov, in goal, surely an offense with the likes of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Jarome Iginla (a thirty goal scorer last season with the Boston Bruins) would’ve be able to compensate for the carousel of goalies earlier in the year and the young defensemen.

Yet, here they are with six players on the injured reserve (Patrick Bordeleau, Jamie McGinn, Borna Rendulic, Jesse Winchester, Erik Johnson, and Ryan Wilson) at the bottom of the Central Division. Johnson’s absence certainly would send shockwaves through the Avalanche’s defensive unit, as it would to any team that loses their number one defenseman for any extended period of time.

Given that Daniel Briere clearly isn’t working out in Colorado, wouldn’t it make sense to try to move him by the deadline in (if not a desperate attempt to save the season) an attempt to bring in some talent youth that could build on whatever success is left in this season for next season? With the Colorado’s plethora of prospects coming up in the rankings, would it be crazy to think that they could work out a deal with Toronto for Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, Daniel Winnik (a former Av), or Cody Franson?

Any one of those players would be an attractive option for the Avalanche organization, as well as an attractive destination for Toronto to send some or all of those players. Colorado meets several aspects of the Maple Leaf’s trading partner’s checklist. The Avalanche are a non factor this year, they’re in the Western Conference, and if the Avalanche turn things around at all, while the Maple Leafs continue to fall- the odds are that Toronto would end up with a higher draft pick than the Avalanche.

Among Cody McLeod, John Mitchell, Maxime Talbot, Alex Tanguay, and Jesse Winchester, the Avalanche should only commit to two or three of them. Given that Winchester is currently on the IR, a trade involving an injured player won’t happen. With Talbot having mild success in Colorado, he’s one to keep. Tanguay, on the right line, fits the Avalanche style of play (especially since they are the team that drafted him, after all).

But what kind of offers could the Avalanche get in return for the 30 year old Mitchell, who plays center, but could also probably play wing for a playoff contending team? This has to be something that Colorado is at least willing to listen to. And as great as McLeod has been for the Avalanche as an enforcer, perhaps it’s time for someone younger to step into his role and carry the team’s energetic side.

Jan Hejda, Brad Stuart, or Nate Guenin could be valuable older defensemen for any contending team in search of a depth defenseman or someone to get them to the Cup Finals. But the consequences of trading any of their veteran defenseman could be dire, unless Colorado is able to acquire a veteran defenseman or guarantee a veteran defenseman in free agency.

While the Avalanche aren’t quite in the same position as say the Minnesota Wild when it comes to young inexperienced defensemen, Colorado should continue to tread the waters carefully as Johnson and Wilson get back from injury and the rest of the defensemen develop.

Ultimately, Colorado is faced with the choice to buy or sell. Right now, it looks like they’ll be doing some clearance rack shopping, and used merchandise sales.

Viable Trade Options- Part One- Atlantic Division

By: Nick Lanciani

The Trade Deadline is fast approaching, is your team ready for this year’s fire sale? I take a look at some reasonable ideas for deals, as well as the overall consideration of buying or selling for each team in the league in this month long series. Buyer beware, all sales are final on March 2nd, 2015.

Current Atlantic Division Standings

  1. TB 71 pts. (33-16-5)
  2. MTL 69 pts. (33-15-3)
  3. DET 69 pts. (30-12-9)
  4. BOS 63 pts. (28-17-7)
  5. FLA 56 pts. (23-17-10)
  6. TOR 50 pts. (23-27-4)
  7. OTT 49 pts. (20-22-9)
  8. BUF 35 pts. (16-34-3)

Unknown-1 Tampa Bay Lighting (1st in the Atlantic Division, 54 GP 33-16-5 record, 71   points) Not buying or selling.

Have you heard about the Tampa Bay Lighting recently? No? That’s okay, neither   have I- with the exception of some of the highlights from Steven Stamkos on any  given night. The Lightning are cruising along a successful season currently as the first place team in the Eastern Conference. Tampa’s putting up points consistently this season in one of the most inconsistent divisions (if not conference) in the league, yet they haven’t taken the talk of the town by storm.

Despite their young goaltending in Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevsky, the Lightning seem ready for a playoff run. I question their goaltending based on their youth alone. Bishop is a solid starter that can at least be good on any given night with shut down defense in front of him and blazing offense producing goals (two things Tampa Bay has nailed this year). Some might consider Vasilevsky too young to be a backup.

After being swept by the Montreal Canadiens in last year’s playoffs, this Lightning roster gained valuable playoff experience that can only help them approaching this time of the season. However, the Lightning are currently short a regular lineup defenseman, or two, due to injury.

Their best option this year at the trade deadline is to go out and acquire a veteran defenseman with rental player status. Their best asset in doing so would be to trade Brett Connolly for a defenseman. If we’re talking matching age for age, the other plausible option would be to trade Brenden Morrow for an older defenseman. Otherwise, a straight up defenseman for defenseman swap could hamper the integrity of the Lightning’s current roster.

Unknown Montreal Canadiens (2nd in the Atlantic Division, 51 GP 33-15-3 record, 69 points) Buying on sale.

The Montreal Canadiens are having themselves a decent run so far, currently  seated in the last divisional spot in the Atlantic Division for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They haven’t had any major bumps in the road in the injury department or in the any player severely lacking in performing their job.

With that said, the Canadiens look to improve upon their Eastern Conference Finals run in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yet the Habs don’t exactly have any players they’re looking to trade and they certainly don’t have that much that they are in dire need of acquiring. Their forwards are young for the most part, and their goalies are young as well- aside from being untouchable given that Carey Price is their starter and how Dustin Tokarski has lived up to his role as the Habs backup.

So what could Montreal do to better their team? For starters, there is always the age old saying “defense wins championships”. For a twenty-four-time Stanley Cup winning franchise that hasn’t seen hockey’s holy grail since 1993, one would think that the Canadiens would be pressing for some type of complete roster. Only three of Montreal’s defensemen are under the age of 32.

Mike Weaver and Andrei Markov are both 36 years old, Tom Gilbert is 32, and Sergei Gonchar is 40 years old. Only P.K. Subban (25), Alexei Emelin (28), and Nathan Beaulieu (22) are under the age of 32. The Habs could certainly use Weaver as trade bait for a younger rental defenseman that could help ease time on ice duties, relieving Markov and Gonchar on the blueline.

The Canadiens are also interested in the hunt that everyone seems to be in right now- the quest for landing Antoine Vermette. While the versatile center- that can also play wing- would fit in with the roster, the asking price might be a bit much for the Habs to cough up. Could it be possible that Montreal moves Manny Malhotra and another forward and/or a draft pick for Vermette, certainly, but Vermette seems a bit out of reach for the Canadiens, given their status and outlook heading into the playoff run.

Another highly touted player currently being shopped around is Jaromir Jagr, though it seems next to impossible to envision Jagr in bleu, blanc, and rouge. But it wouldn’t be the first time the Canadiens pulled off a surprising steal at the deadline, given how they acquired current Minnesota Wild forward, Thomas Vanek, last year from the New York Islanders. The New Jersey Devils would probably do better rebuilding with someone like Manny Malhotra, who is a bit younger than Jagr and has a few more years left in him (although the ageless wonder that is Jaromir Jagr does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon).

One thing is for sure; Michael Ryder probably isn’t going back for a third stint in Montreal.

Unknown-1 Detroit Red Wings (3rd in the Atlantic Division, 51 GP 30-12-9 record, 69 points) Buying on sale.

There’s not that much to worry about this season for the Detroit Red Wings. Their scorers are scoring, their checkers are checking, and their goaltenders are goaltending- which has pretty much been the Red Wings system for eternity it seems. Like the Lightning, the Red Wings are quietly producing.

None of this should come as a surprise really, with guys like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, Niklas Kronwall, and Jimmy Howard on the team. Thus none of it should come as a surprise to say that the Detroit Red Wings don’t really need anything.

The lack of a right handed shot on defense hasn’t shot the Red Wings in the foot this year, unlike preseason speculations feared. Could the Red Wings try to land a right-handed defenseman in a deadline deal? Yeah sure, but then again, anyone could if they wanted.

Despite their early playoff exit at the hands of the Boston Bruins last year, the Red Wings don’t need that much to stockpile for a playoff run this year. They’ve got plenty of playoff experience in the depth of their lineup and they’re on top of things (for the most part) right now. I’m not suggesting that Detroit should take the rest of the season lightly (and the playoffs, for that matter). I am merely stating that from a management perspective, they’ve got the team they want to go with for a successful outlook in terms of a playoff run.

Unknown Boston Bruins (4th in the Atlantic Division, currently 2nd Eastern Conference Wild Card, 52 GP 28-17-7 record, 63 points) Buying and selling.

Despite the recent turnaround, there is no doubt that the Boston Bruins so far this year have been a disappointment compared to recent years. After a dismal December, the Bruins found themselves on the brink of a drastic identity change. Now after the month of January, the Bruins, while still not perfect, are trending in the right direction, especially considering that they are in playoff contention.

Patrice Bergeron has been Boston’s most consistent player, as usual, and Tuukka Rask has kept them in games. During the opening months it appeared as though the Bruins were shooting themselves in the foot. They aren’t as much of a Jekyll and Hyde team currently, although some aspects are still lacking. It would be in Boston’s best interest to patch some holes in their roster- they still need a winger and could probably use a defenseman. Especially after some of the small holes in their game pestered them and ultimately plagued them in last year’s playoffs leading to their demise to their archrivals, the Montreal Canadiens.

Everyone wants Antoine Vermette. He could be the solid addition the Bruins are looking for in the short term, but they’d need a little more of a guarantee in the long term. However, could a rental player be enough to suffice for this season with Ryan Spooner and Seth Griffith about a year away from making the roster on a nightly basis? And what would it take to get Vermette?

Certainly if the Bruins wanted to work on a deal for Vermette and Keith Yandle, they’re going to have to offer the Arizona Coyotes something worthwhile. This is where Chris Kelly may be expendable for Vermette and Yandle if the Bruins throw in someone like Matt Bartkowski and a draft pick. As always, though, there’s the salary cap to consider.

In terms of other potential forwards the Bruins could chase after, there’s the whole Chris Stewart or Zack Kassian dilemma. Any deal for Kassian would make the Bruins worse (that’s all you need to know about my position on Kassian). Even if Boston offered the Vancouver Canucks Matt Bartkowski and something else that might sweeten the deal. The Buffalo Sabres have all the advantages in the world given their situation and trying to move the potentially useful Stewart.

They could be demanding and not budge from a high asking price, meaning that the Bruins would have to part with a piece from their core, which isn’t an ideal situation for Boston (yes, even if it were a one for one Milan Lucic for Chris Stewart trade. Take a look people, Lucic is a better player). Besides, Buffalo wouldn’t want someone they hate anyway, right?

But along the lines of Buffalo, I can only wonder how much a guy like Cody Hodgson runs for. Hodgson doesn’t solve the first or second line (depending on the night) right wing that the Bruins need, but he does carry some value as a third or fourth liner- which also an area the Bruins could use some retouching.

While it’s a stretch, Cody Franson would look like a good replacement for the months departed Johnny Boychuk, however Franson would be a next to impossible piece to land, especially if the Toronto Maple Leafs insist they only move him to a Western Conference team. But if the Bruins are looking for an extra, young, defenseman (and believe me, they are) Edmonton Oilers defenseman, Jeff Petry, might solve that problem.

Then again, general manager, Peter Chiarelli, might see adding another veteran blueliner as an easier option for the short term. Someone like Andrej Sekera or Marek Zidlicky. Sekera wouldn’t take much to pry from the Carolina Hurricanes and Zidlicky would probably require even less from the New Jersey Devils, who will no doubt be forced to sell like there’s no tomorrow, considering the dividends the race to the bottom will pay out in this year’s Entry Draft (Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel).

Given Chiarelli’s track record, the Bruins could very well go out and try to strike a deal with the Ottawa Senators for Marc Methot. Methot is a versatile defenseman that could bring an edge to Boston’s blueline without tampering with it too much.

Whatever the Bruins end up doing, they’re well aware they need to do it now (or by/on March 2nd).

Unknown-2 Florida Panthers (5th in the Atlantic Division, 50 GP 23-17-10 record, 56 points) Selling used parts.

The Florida Panthers are average. Now there’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d write this year (or ever). Last year’s deadline deal brought stability in net in the form of Roberto Luongo. Their youth is starting to come around and general manager, Dale Tallon, has made moves that have begun to payoff on defense.

Yet there is still a major overtone hampering the Panthers from getting any better. A friend once told me that a player only goes to Florida when they know their career is pretty much over. While the Panthers have done a decent job riding themselves of many 35+ club players, Florida has some moveable parts in that demographic.

In order for their youth movement on the blue line to improve, Brian Campbell has got to be swapped for a mid-aged defenseman that brings in the right amount of youth and experience- Cody Franson, perhaps? Again, the problem lies with mid-aged defenseman being a hot commodity and the Panthers being a less than ideal trading partner.

In terms of forwards, Brad Boyes, Sean Bergenheim, Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky, and Derek MacKenzie are all available options for working out a decent trade. If the Panthers could pull off a move by trading any one of these players for a younger player or two, they could continue to build their roster from within (youth) and bring in young players from outside of the organization (experience, be it elsewhere or in the playoffs). No matter what, Florida has to keep chasing after the right combination of a youthful, energetic, and experienced roster if they want to crack the code to the playoffs.

If anything, for once they don’t have to worry about goaltending heading into the deadline, draft, free agency, off-season, and well pretty much for the next couple of seasons.

Unknown-3 Toronto Maple Leafs (6th in the Atlantic Division, 54 GP 23-27-4 record, 50 points) Sell, sell, sell.

The Toronto Maple Leafs need to commit once and for all to something. That something is the process of a rebuild. I’m not saying they dump their entire roster around the league, but moving players like Phil Kessel, Nazem Kadri, Daniel Winnik, Dion Phaneuf, Cody Franson, and James Reimer just might be part of the answer in the long run. Especially if it means that the Maple Leafs would have a chance at landing the next Connor McDavid, presuming that they don’t obtain the 1st overall pick in this year’s draft, but rather the 2016 draft.

Life without Phil Kessel in a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform seems to be getting all the more real as every minute passes. As the rumors swirl around Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson, Phil Kessel’s name is bound to be tossed around in serious consideration as well.

I’m not saying that we’d be looking at a monster deal involving Kessel, Phaneuf, and Franson heading to the same team, but then again, I’d find it hard to imagine that it wouldn’t make sense if the right conditions were in place. If Toronto feels like dishing the trio to the same place and out of harm in the process of their rebuild, then the Edmonton Oilers must look like a golden opportunity for a seemingly farfetched deal.

The likes of Kessel, Phaneuf, and Franson being swapped for Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, and Jeff Petry might be exactly what Toronto is looking for, but just out of reach. Likewise, a trio deal to Dallas wouldn’t be able to attract the right return either. Or would it? Perhaps a trade with the Stars wouldn’t give the Maple Leafs immediate replacements for Kessel, Phaneuf, or Franson, but rather a defenseman, a forward, and a 2015 first or second round draft pick.

The options for the Maple Leafs run dry in trying to get Mike Richards from the Los Angeles Kings, considering how Richards is slumping and bringing in the another David Clarkson wouldn’t be optimal for Toronto at this time. While Phaneuf, or Franson alone, might be enough of an asset for the Kings to consider, they’d surely pass on any package that offered either defenseman and Phil Kessel.

What’s likely to happen for Toronto is three separate deals where they can disperse the talents of the players among Western Conference teams (after all, Toronto desires a deal with any Western Conference team).

Nazem Kadri and Daniel Winnik, on the other hand, would be the typical deadline trades to be made for any team looking to improve for a playoff run. Winnik isn’t as valuable in the long run as Kadri might be, but he might be the perfect fit for a playoff contender’s third line.

And one last thing, good luck trading James Reimer, Toronto. Unless they’re thinking a one for one swap with Vancouver for Eddie Lack seems like a good idea, although the Canucks seem intent on making Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom their go to netminders.

Unknown-2 Ottawa Senators (7th in the Atlantic Division, 51 GP 20-22-9 record, 49 points) Selling used, buying new.

As much as the Ottawa Senators could be sellers at this trade deadline, it is my belief that they won’t be selling out and cashing out on this season entirely. There isn’t that much hope for making the playoffs this season for the Sens who last made the playoffs in 2013. However, the pieces are in place for success with their roster, all they need is a little time.

That’s where taking advantage of the most they can get out of this season comes into play. Ottawa probably isn’t going to attract the best deal at the deadline this year, but they’ll more than likely be active in the offseason trying to figure out who’s worth signing and who isn’t.

It is plausible to see the Senators move Erik Condra, Colin Greening, Chris Phillips, or Marc Methot by March 2nd. Condra is one of those players that could be attractive to a team looking to make a run at the playoffs and needs to add some depth in forwards. The same goes for Greening. Both Condra and Greening have spent their time well in Canada’s capital, yet moving them could make room for a prospect or the right young player brought in a deal.

Marc Methot is an attractive option for any team that needs a defenseman. At 29 years old, he fits the mid-aged defenseman status with the right combination of experience in the league and hint of youth left. Chris Phillips, on the other hand, is 36 years old and would likely become a sixth or seventh defenseman on a team looking to make a deep run in the playoffs. But then again, that might just be what he wants and exactly what the team looking to get him needs.

The Dallas Stars are exactly the kind of team that could prosper from either Methot or Phillips (or both). Given their interest in Cody Franson and Dion Phaneuf, however, the possibilities of working a deal with Ottawa might be hampered. Then again, the Sens and Stars are trading buddies, having completed the Jason Spezza deal this offseason. Maybe it’s time both GM’s get on the phone with one another again.

Regardless, things aren’t as dire in Ottawa as other Canadian markets (Edmonton and Toronto, namely). An effective run to the end of the season that builds on learning and gaining experience should put the Senators on track for a possible playoff run next season or a 4th or 5th place finish in the Atlantic Division next year.

Unknown-3 Buffalo Sabres (8th in the Atlantic Division, 53 GP 15-34-3 record, 33 points) Selling unwanted parts.

The Buffalo Sabres are without a doubt likely to land Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Pairing either player with any of their players in the fountain of youth is sure to make them a legitimate contender within one to three years as not only a productive team, but a destination for veterans looking to bring the right amount of experience to a youthful team longing for success.

The Sabres have been in serious talks recently with the Anaheim Ducks concerning a move that would involve Tyler Myers. Trading Myers while knowing the future outlook is a risky move. Myers is still one of Buffalo’s youngest defenseman and is one of their largest (1st in height, tied for 2nd in weight- 6’8”, 219 lbs).

If the Sabres are to move a defenseman, trading Andre Benoit, Mike Weber, or Tyson Stratchan would be better options. Benoit is by far, their worst defenseman. Weber could be a key asset for a playoff looming team and the right price for the Sabres to get something valuable in return. Stratchan, likewise, could bring back something of use for the Sabres- a draft pick if anything.

Chris Stewart is nowhere near the player that he “used to be” if that term can even loosely be used. However, he is drawing significantly enough interest for the Sabres to bargain effectively in both terms of trying to bring something in return and providing security for the future (a second round draft pick, for example).

While the Boston Bruins seem like a prime suitor for Stewart in that they have a plethora of forwards that they could swap and a second round draft pick from October’s Johnny Boychuk trade with the New York Islanders, the Buffalo Sabres could use that knowledge as enough of a factor to drive up Stewart’s selling price.

Among forwards that the Sabres could move, Matt Ellis, Torrey Mitchell, Cody Hodgson, and Drew Stafford seem like reasonable assets to offer to other teams. Ellis and Mitchell are getting in the way of potential roster developments. Likewise, Hodgson is slumping too much to hold onto for the future.

If the Sabres and Stafford think it would be a good idea to reunite former teammates Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville with Drew Stafford in Minnesota, then by all means, there is enough to pick and choose from the Wild organization.

Had Cody McCormmick not been on the injured reserve, then by all means, the Sabres might have been able to do something with him. Although, perhaps the fourth liner could stick around another year or two solidifying four lines in Buffalo.

The only other debate is between Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth in goal, with Matt Hackett and the long list of developing goaltenders in mind for the Sabres. Neuvirth could be worth dealing for the right goalie. Then again, he could be exactly what the Tampa Bay Lightning need for added security in net heading into this year’s playoffs.

The Sabres best bet at improving in goaltending is through free agency and the entry draft, despite the time required to develop the next best starter that they could go with. Finding a solid backup goalie in free agency shouldn’t be a hard thing to do for a team that has a bright future just on the verge of the horizon, despite what many say about the currently at the bottom of the standings organization. At the very least, Buffalo is not Edmonton, where surely the light of day isn’t showing for the next million years.

Buffalo has a tough road ahead, but fortunately it can be navigated properly with the development of either McDavid or Eichel in this year’s draft, coupled with young stars like Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Gregorenko, and Nikita Zadorov.