Tag Archives: Buffalo Sabres

Colby’s Corner- Bylsma’s Here, Now What?

Colby Kephart is pleased with the hiring of Dan Bylsma as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, but he wants to know what’s next for the Sabres (and tries to answer that question) in this edition of…

Colby’s Corner

By: Colby Kephart

Well it’s official, on Thursday May 28th, The Buffalo Sabres announced Dan Bylsma as their 17th head coach in franchise history. Bylsma had a Stanley Cup, in 2009, under his belt and won the Jack Adams Award in 2011, during his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was fired from the Penguins after 2013-2014 season after they lost in the playoffs to the New York Rangers in the 2nd Round.

Photo Credit: Bill Wippert
Photo Credit: Bill Wippert

However, despite being fired from his last head coaching position, Bylsma brings an impressive coaching record to Buffalo.

In 401 regular season games in Pittsburgh, he had a 252-117-32 record. Bylsma recently served as an assistant coach to the US 2015 IIHF team.

He worked with this year’s expected 2nd overall pick, and soon to be prospect of the Sabres, Jack Eichel, who had a terrific tournament. Bylsma signed a long term five-year deal, as Tim Murray continues to add the pieces to get Buffalo on the right track.

Why is this good for the Sabres?

This is great for the Sabres because this gives them a coach who has dealt with franchise centers, like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Bylsma has worked with Jack Eichel and he will be able to make Eichel a franchise center, a position Buffalo has lacked for years. Bylsma doesn’t just improve the players the Sabres already have, but also attracts the attention of bigger name free agents to strengthen the team.

It’s no secret that the Sabres do not have a Stanley Cup in their history, but they now have a coach who does. Bylsma brings experience to the table that words can’t describe, he knows what it will take to make the Sabres a top level team in the league.

Bylsma coached the Penguins to four 100-point+ seasons and finished no worse than second in their division during that span. After watching the press conference, it looks like Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma will have a good relationship and should agree on moves that the team will make down the road.

So what’s next for the Sabres?

Antti Niemi could be on his way out of San Jose, but would Dan Bylsma be enough to attract him to Buffalo? (Getty Images)
Antti Niemi could be on his way out of San Jose, but would Dan Bylsma be enough to attract him to Buffalo? (Getty Images)

The Sabres need a goalie- a true number one goalie that can handle the playing time and get the team the wins to make the playoffs. There were a few reports of the team trading with Ottawa for Robin Lehner or Craig Anderson that have since quieted down.

If Tim Murray decides to rebuild through free agency, he has to look at goalies like San Jose’s pending UFA, Antti Niemi (who has a Stanley Cup too). There are other big names out there, however, none of them have a ring on their finger.

Buffalo also needs help defensively. They will have a solid top 2 pair in Josh Gorges and Zach Bogosian next season and they also have young prospects, Nikita Zadorov and Rasmus Ristolainen, who both played this season.

The team could have a lot of defensemen leaving with Andre Benoit, Tyson Strachan, and Andrej Meszaros’s contracts ending on July 1st. The Sabres have two top prospects (Mark Pysyk and Jake McCabe) who could possibly be called up and play next season; otherwise they need to sign a top 4 player who can be a shutdown defender.

Offensively, the addition of Evander Kane and Jack Eichel (assuming all goes as planned) the Sabres would be one or two top wingers from having a complete offensive presence. Tyler Ennis played for Team Canada in the IIHF 2015 World Hockey Championship and shined like the star he was this past season. Ennis will likely be one of the wings of the 1st line with Evander Kane on the opposite side- with either Eichel or Zegmus Girgensons as the center.

What will the future bring for Justin Williams this offseason? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
What will the future bring for Justin Williams this offseason? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Sabres need a second line right-winger that can go out and score 10-15 goals and get 15-20 assists. Some potential free agents who could fit this role would be UFA Justin Williams or RFA Tyler Toffoli of the LA Kings.

Another leading candidate would be pending RFA Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Sabres have plenty of salary cap space to land these big targets.

I’m not saying the Sabres will be competing for the Stanley Cup next season, yet I feel like if you give Eichel and even Sam Reinhart 2-3 years of experience in the NHL, they will become good playmakers and could make a deep playoff run.

If Buffalo can add a few more pivotal pieces to the team the Sabres could be looking good for the future. They could even be looking at an Atlantic Division or Eastern Conference title within the next 3-4 seasons under Dan Bylsma’s leadership.

2015 Mock NHL Entry Draft (During the Playoffs, After the Draft Lottery)

By: Nick Lanciani

Based on the 2015 NHL Entry Draft Lottery from April 18th, 2015. There will be more versions of my mock draft as the playoffs continue to pan out and conclude.

200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svg1) Edmonton Oilers – C Connor McDavid, Erie (OHL)

Peter Chiarelli’s reign as GM of the Oilers begins with one of the most hyped turnarounds in hockey. Chiarelli’s leadership, combined with whatever decisions he makes in the offseason and drafting McDavid has talk of the Oilers making the playoffs, if not next season, then in the near future. A lot nearer than before. McDavid’s the best, period.

Buffalo Sabres Logo 2) Buffalo Sabres – C Jack Eichel, Boston University (H-East)

Eichel forgives Sabres GM, Tim Murray, on the stage with a professional handshake and is reunited(?- although they were never separated in the first place) with Evan Rodrigues. It’s possible that both make the roster on the same line.

Arizona_Coyotes.svg3) Arizona Coyotes – D Noah Hanifin, Boston College (H-East)

The plethora of talent youth in the desert continues to grow. Hanifin is the best defenseman in the draft and Coyotes fans are going to love him. Expect the Coyotes to continue to keep adding to their roster throughout the offseason. Keep in mind, however, that Arizona needs a solid starting goaltender at some point.

Unknown-34) Toronto Maple Leafs – C Dylan Strome, Erie (OHL)

Big, strong, great skating abilities- Strome is NHL ready in none other than the biggest market in the NHL. While McDavid and Eichel overshadow him in the leadup to the Draft, Strome finds his niche and competes next season for the Calder.

Carolina Hurricanes Logo5) Carolina Hurricanes – LW Lawson Crouse, Kingston (OHL)

6’4”, 211 pounds, and a physical force on the ice, brings a much needed power forward caliber to the Hurricanes lineup and adds size to their roster.

New Jersey Devils Logo6) New Jersey Devils – RW Mikko Rantanen, TPS (FIN)

He’s a big power forward that will provide some oomph in the Devils otherwise soft lineup. Rantanen’s a decent skater for his age and should be a part of New Jersey’s rebuild, because let’s face it, they have too many older players that didn’t do much for them this season.

Philadelphia Flyers Logo7) Philadelphia Flyers – C Mitchell Marner, London (OHL)

This guy is a really skilled playmaker with 128 assists and 185 points in 127 career OHL games. He’s drawn comparisons to Patrick Kane and Jordan Eberle, with great vision and passing skills. Not a steal of the draft, but a great player to draft.

Columbus Blue Jackets Logo8) Columbus Blue Jackets – D Ivan Provorov, Brandon (WHL)

Extraordinary at the 2015 World Junior Championship for Finland- 6’4”, 209 lbs, effective on the power-play, and difficult to move off the puck. Has hockey sense and hands that supplement his shot.

Unknown-39) San Jose Sharks – D Zachary Werenski, Michigan (BIG10)

The youngest player in NCAA history joins the youth movement in San Jose. He can block shots and adjust on the fly. He’s got some size to work with at 6’2”, 206 lbs. Werenski was named to the All-Big Ten Hockey First Team and the All-Big Ten Freshman Team this season.

Colorado Avalanche Logo10) Colorado Avalanche – C Pavel Zacha, Sarnia (OHL)

He effortlessly transitioned from the Czech Republic to North America. He’s 6’3”, 210 pounds, and can play a two way game. Think of him as this year’s bigger version of Boston’s David Pastrnak, if that suffices your hopes. Could fit well alongside Nathan MacKinnon on a line for the Av’s.

Unknown-211) Florida Panthers – LW Kyle Connor, Youngstown (USHL)

6’1”, 177 pounds, led the USHL in scoring with 80 points. His 34 goals ranked fourth in the USHL, with 9 game-winning goals and 32 points on the power play. Connor’s got quickness and hands that can do things with the puck on his stick.

Unknown-512) Dallas Stars – RW Timo Meier, Halifax (QMJHL)

Scored 44 goals in 61 games for Halifax this season. He can also be a playmaker as he had 46 assists this year too. Oh and he’s 6’1”, 209 lbs. Meier is exactly the player you want to covet if you are the Stars looking for substantial youth to build around.

Unknown13) Los Angeles Kings – C Mathew Barzal, Seattle (WHL)

Offensively minded, Barzal was injured for a lot of WHL action. The Kings luck out on a player that just may be able to make those around him better. He’s a 5’11”, 175-pound right shot forward with vision, playmaking skills, and had 12-45-57 totals in 44 games. Barzal also scored 4 times in 6 WHL playoff games.

Unknown14) Boston Bruins – D Gabriel Carlsson, Linkoping Jr. (SWE-JR)

6’4”, 183-pounds, this left-shot defenseman is big and intelligent for his position. He’s a stay at home defenseman, something the Bruins need in one of their younger defenders. Carlsson uses his size and strength as well as you need him to. He’s not an immediate replacement for the tremendously conditioned, Zdeno Chara, but Boston’s definitely thinking about Carlsson a few years down the road.

Picks 15-30 TBD with the conclusion of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Colby’s Corner- The NHL Entry Draft Lottery Edition

Colby Kephart sounds off on the current NHL Entry Draft Lottery process. We want to know what your thoughts are. How would you format the NHL Draft Lottery system?

2015 NHL Draft Lottery By: Colby Kephart

Structure: This year they changed the lottery system, giving every team a chance to win the 1st overall pick. The team that finishes last this year in regular season standings is guaranteed the 1st or 2nd overall pick. That means there’s some hope for Buffalo. Buffalo has a 20% chance of winning the lottery and getting the 1st overall pick.

Last year Buffalo, the last place team, had a 25% chance to get the 1st pick even though Buffalo lost (the lottery) and ended up with the second pick. This year’s odds were increased for the teams who almost made the playoffs. The team that just missed the playoffs now has a full 1% chance to get the 1st overall pick. The Arizona Coyotes finished 2nd to last this season and have a 13.5% chance of getting the 1st overall pick. The odds are as follows:

  1. Buffalo 20%
  2. Arizona 13.5%
  3. Edmonton 11.5%
  4. Toronto 9.5%
  5. Carolina 8.5%
  6. New Jersey 7.5%
  7. Philadelphia 6.5%
  8. Columbus 6%
  9. San Jose 5%
  10. Colorado 3.5%
  11. Florida 3%
  12. Dallas 2.5%
  13. Los Angeles 2%
  14. Boston 1%

My opinion: As a Buffalo fan, I am already sick of the Draft Lottery. I was upset last year when Buffalo didn’t get the 1st overall pick and now the NHL lowers the last place teams’s odds- this is crap. They would decide to do this when the next franchise changer comes along in Connor McDavid. I’m glad they made it so we can’t fall out of the second overall pick, because then we have a chance for Jack Eichel.

It is horrible when I run a draft simulator 10 times and I see teams like LA and Florida win the 1st overall pick. Both of those teams were eliminated with a few weeks left in the season. Buffalo was eliminated before it even started and you’re telling me LA can add Connor McDavid. COME ON!!!!! Pull yourself together NHL.

They need to go back to when only the bottom 5 teams got a chance for 1st overall pick. How about a team who actually needs help? Yes, when I ran the simulator 10 times Buffalo got the first pick 3 times, but if tomorrow turns out differently and Buffalo doesn’t end up with the 1st overall pick. I will be one pissed off fan.

2015 Mock NHL Entry Draft (Before the End of the Regular Season)

By: Nick Lanciani

Based on League Standings through March 22nd, 2015. There will be at least another mock draft or two during/after the playoffs, so things are likely to change.

Unknown-31) Buffalo Sabres- C Connor McDavid, Erie (OHL)

Obviously if you have the option to take one of the potential greatest players ever, you’d take him, right? McDavid is the best in the draft, bar none. He might also be one of the best to ever play the game, unless he turns into Patrik Stefan (which is unlikely).

Arizona_Coyotes.svg2) Arizona Coyotes- C Jack Eichel, Boston University (H-East)

Obviously if you have the option to take one of the potential greatest players ever, second to the guy that was taken first overall, you’d take him, right? There’s no doubt he might be this generation’s Mike Modano.

200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svg3) Edmonton Oilers- C Dylan Strome, Erie (OHL)

The Oilers continue to get the formula wrong and skip over drafting a defenseman, but at least Strome is better than some of the forwards they currently have.

Unknown-34) Toronto Maple Leafs- D Noah Hanifin, Boston College (H-East)

Toronto lucks out on Edmonton’s oversight and selects the best defenseman in the draft, which is good for them, considering that they really need a defenseman.

Carolina Hurricanes Logo5) Carolina Hurricanes- LW Lawson Crouse, Kingston (OHL)

6’4”, 211 pounds, and a physical force on the ice, brings much needed power forward caliber to the Hurricanes lineup and adds size to their roster.

Columbus Blue Jackets Logo6) Columbus Blue Jackets- D Ivan Provorov, Brandon (WHL)

Might be the only other NHL ready defenseman in the draft, can and will help stabilize Columbus’s blue line, as well as add youth to their roster.

New Jersey Devils Logo7) New Jersey Devils- LW Kyle Connor, Youngstown (USHL)

Quick on the play in tight spots, moves the puck well, and is capable of being a careful piece of the Devils rebuild. New Jersey badly needs youth and they need it now.

Philadelphia Flyers Logo8) Philadelphia Flyers- C Pavel Zacha, Sarnia (OHL)

He effortlessly transitioned from the Czech Republic to North America. He’s 6’3”, 210 pounds, and can play a two way game. Think of him as a larger version of Boston’s David Pastrnak.

Unknown-59) Dallas Stars- RW Mikko Rantanen, TPS (FIN)

Extraordinary at the 2015 World Junior Championship for Finland- 6’4”, 209 lbs, effective on the power-play, and difficult to move off the puck. Has hockey sense and hands that supplement his shot.

Unknown-310) San Jose Sharks- C Mitchell Marner, London (OHL)

This guy is a really skilled playmaker with 128 assists and 185 points in 127 career OHL games. He’s drawn comparisons to Patrick Kane and Jordan Eberle, with great vision and passing skills.

Colorado Avalanche Logo11) Colorado Avalanche- RW Timo Meier, Halifax (QMJHL)

Colorado has a good sense of the Halifax system- with Nathan MacKinnon on the Av’s roster- so they opt for a strong RW/C that bulks up their youth filled roster.

Unknown-212) Florida Panthers- D Zachary Werenski, Michigan (BIG10)

The youngest player in NCAA history joins the youth movement in Florida. He can block shots and adjust on the fly. With Aaron Ekblad as this season’s Calder Trophy favorite, Werenski would be in good company.

Unknown13) Los Angeles Kings- C Jansen Harkins, Prince George (WHL)

Harkins is a two-way player in all three zones of the ice and would balance out LA’s roster. Depending on his faceoff win percentage, there’s a chance he could be compared to Patrice Bergeron.

Unknown-214) Ottawa Senators- D Thomas Chabot, Saint John (QMJHL)

6’1”, 181 lbs. Smart transitional skating defenseman that can handle pressure in getting the puck out of his own zone- he’s a natural fit in Ottawa’s energetic, young, roster.

Unknown15) Boston Bruins- D Brandon Carlo, Tri-City (WHL)

The 6’5”, 196 lb. defenseman brings size and athleticism as a shutdown defenseman. He’s definitely more defensive minded, but that fits with Boston given how Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug are equally offensive producing as defensive as they are.

Calgary Flames Logo16) Calgary Flames- D Oliver Kylington, AIK (SWE-2)

Kylington is a two-way defenseman that’s going to need some time to develop, but that’s just what Calgary has been successful at recently. The Flames need to add capable youth to their blue line as their forwards get more experienced and begin carrying their weight.

Unknown-317) Winnipeg Jets- C Nicholas Merkely, Kelowna (WHL)

Great playmaker that knows how to crash the net with precision and skill. Also has a great hockey IQ that makes up for some lacking physical qualities in his game.

Unknown-418) Minnesota Wild- RW Daniel Sprong, Charlottetown (QMJHL)

Sprong is a nifty playmaker with good hands and great speed, but he’ll need to get stronger to make the transition to the NHL and add grit to his already impressive offensive game.

Washington Capitals Logo19) Washington Capitals- C Travis Konecny, Ottawa (OHL)

His second half of the regular season in the OHL really displayed his skill level. With that said, his size isn’t much of an issue as his compete level and willingness is unmatched- and so is his work ethic.

Unknown-120) Vancouver Canucks- D Jakub Zboril, Saint John (QMJHL)

Zboril plays a willingly physical game despite only being 6’0”, 184 lbs. His shot from the point could come in handy on the power-play. Adds versatility to Vancouver’s defense.

Unknown-121) Detroit Red Wings- D Jacob Larsson, Frolunda Jr. (SWE-JR)

6’2”, 191 lbs. Sweden knows how to make solid defensemen and Detroit knows how to pick solid Swedish defensemen. Larsson reads situations well and controls the puck excellently.

200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svg22) Edmonton Oilers (from PIT)- LW Paul Bittner, Portland (WHL)

At 6’4”, 205 lbs. this LW adds some much needed size on a young Oilers roster. He’s a power forward that’s willing to be the first to rush in on a dump and chase, which would go a long way in Edmonton to finally have someone willing to go in and start a play.

Unknown-323) Buffalo Sabres (from NYI)- C Mathew Barzal, Seattle (WHL)

Offensively minded, Barzal was injured for a lot of WHL action. While his ranking fell far from where he could have been, potentially, the Sabres luck out on a player that just may be able to make those around him better.

Arizona_Coyotes.svg24) Arizona Coyotes (from CHI)- LW Jordan Greenway, USA U18 (USHL)

Tough to move off the puck and along the boards, Greenway is 6’4”, 222 pounds and will need some time to refine his game before being inserted as a force to reckon with in Arizona. Not to worry though, things will time out right in the Coyotes’ rebuild such that a skilled young lineup is on the verge of changing the franchise’s direction.

Unknown-325) Toronto Maple Leafs (from NSH)- LW Evgeny Svechnikov, Cape Breton (QMJHL)

This power forward will bring something to the Maple Leafs that they desperately need- fight. They need a fight in them and they need a fight to win. He might just also be a bit like another Evgeny (but with a different spelling)- Evgeni Malkin.

Unknown-326) Winnipeg Jets (from STL via BUF)- C Nicolas Roy, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

Strong two-way center at 6’4”, 200 pounds and solid on faceoffs, he can get things going on the power-play. The Jets add to their plethora of young, skilled, prospects and don’t need to rush him in the lineup yet.

Philadelphia Flyers Logo27) Philadelphia Flyers (from TB)- LW Jake DeBrusk, Swift Current (WHL)

DeBrusk is always following the puck, whether it’s on the forecheck or forcing turnovers. He can be excellent on the power-play, focused on moving the puck where it needs to go and scoring. Might also bring some physicality to Philly, which is much appreciated by their fans.

Unknown28) Anaheim Ducks- C Colin White, USA U18 (USHL)

Can’t go wrong with one of the best skaters in the draft. The Ducks pick a forward that can move with the puck and carry it defiantly out of his own zone with ease. It also helps that he’s physically difficult to knock off the puck.

Unknown29) Montreal Canadiens- C Filip Chlapik, Charlottetown (QMJHL)

Positioning is one of Chlapik’s best assets, whether it’s with or without the puck, he goes to the right places. Smooth skating, with vision, he’s pretty decent all around as a 6’1”, 194 pound center.

Unknown-130) Tampa Bay Lightning (from NYR)- RW Michael Spacek, Pardubice (CZREP)

Closing out the draft, Tampa Bay picks up a small, but dynamic RW that is exciting to watch. The Czech program is really starting to crank out some great prospects that shouldn’t be overlooked, considering the current success and lucky find that David Pastrnak currently is with the Boston Bruins.

Some Trade Deadline Analysis- Expert Analysis

Colby Kephart takes a moment out of the week to give some analysis on how he thinks a few teams made out on their deadline deals.

Trade Deadline Roundups

By Colby Kephart

Buffalo Sabres LogoBuffalo Sabres

Cleaning house and praying for McDavid are all things the people in Buffalo are doing. Embrace the Tank, the competition to finish last place in the league might be given Buffalo now. Tim Murray said only a few people were off limits, and this was seen when veterans and small name players were traded.

There were a few surprising moves, such as the trade with Montreal, which saw Buffalo giving up Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell for picks and prospect.

Mitchell, when healthy, was having a good season and became a more consistent scorer than Matt Moulson or Brian Gionta.

Flynn was a very small name at the start of season, but he was a hard worker for Buffalo and a very good penalty killer. Both of them are great role players and I could see one if not both players breaking into the Montreal roster.

Buffalo fans saw yet another change in goal- ever since Ryan Miller left Buffalo, goaltending has been up for grabs. We saw both goalies leave, the first move sending Jhonas Enroth for Anders Lindback and a conditional 3rd round pick. This was brilliant move, for the operation tank, Lindback has struggled all year and will guarantee Buffalo a few more losses.

The move I am happy with is sending Michal Neuvirth for Chad Johnson for conditional 3rd round pick. Chad Johnson signed a multiply year deal at the start of this season, meaning he will be back next season to be a backup to either a young goalie in our system or a free agent signing.

The Sabres also saw a loss in experienced players with the moves of Chris Stewart, Drew Stafford, and Tyler Myers.B_HSHvkU0AM_N9V

The first deal was the trade with Winnipeg before the deadline; I have mixed feeling about this move. Buffalo gave up a 1st round pick, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, Drew Stafford, and Tyler Myers for Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian and Jason Kasdorf (prospect goalie). I love the addition of Bogosian, and Kane, but the Sabres gave up a lot for those players.

Kane announced before the trade, he was done for the season due to an injury to his shoulder. That was the best part of the deal, Kane a highly skilled forward, won’t be adding wins the season due to his injury, pushing buffalo closer to McDavid.

The second trade came late in the day of the deadline and sent Chris Stewart to Minnesota for a 2nd round pick. Everyone in Buffalo knew Chris Stewart was going to leave Buffalo, yet the only question was where and for what. I think Buffalo could’ve have gotten a little more from the deal, but it made sense to send another player to Minnesota or “little Buffalo” as I refer to it.

(Tank Photo Credit: Kevin Gee @kgfrombeelo)

Unknown-4Minnesota Wild

Minnesota is trying to hold onto the 1st wildcard, so no surprise they added depth in both forwards and on the blue line. I am very impressed with the management in Minnesota; it was nice to see humility within the NHL. Minnesota is a special case; they have a strong mixture of youth players and have enough experience to keep winning into the playoffs.

Minnesota made 3 deals on deadline day. The first deal was a great story; the deal brought Jordan Leopold home to his family in return for Justin Falk and 5th round pick. Jordan Leopold’s daughter, Jordyn, wrote a letter to Minnesota asking them to trade for the dad, who was in Columbus, but wasn’t playing much. Leopold was a top 6 defender in the past few years, but because of his age he had fallen out of the top 6, so the move to Minnesota could rebirth his career. Even if he becomes a depth defenseman at least he will be home with his kids.

The next pick was the exchange in younger players the deal saw Zack Phillips to Boston for Jarred Knight. In this transaction, both team are hoping that relocation can spark these players and continue developing.

The last deal saw the addition to the forwards with Chris Stewart coming over from Buffalo for a 2nd round pick. Chris Stewart can add a spark to Minnesota. We saw a lot of this in Buffalo, as he is not afraid to drop the gloves. Stewart can also add an explosion of offensive ability with fast skating and being strong with the puck. I think Minnesota will make the playoffs and give a top seed a run in the playoffs.

UnknownNashville Predators

Nashville was one of the biggest surprises of this season, sitting in first place in the whole league. They added James Neal and other pieces and experienced a huge step-up in younger players like Filip Forsberg. However could they have made a huge mistake by not adding at the deadline? Nashville made one trade before deadline day and the deal added depth both offensively and defensively.

After Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis determined no one was off limits and the big names must go, the deal saw Nashville send a 1st round pick, Olli Jokinen and Brendan Leipsic to Toronto for Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli. I love the addition of Cody Franson; he is only 27 years old and still has the ability to be a top 4 defender.

Santorelli is a role player and can play his role well. He is a step up from Leipsic, but I think the Preds could’ve gotten more from the Maple Leafs. I understand giving up their 1st round pick assuming that they will have either the 29th or 30th overall pick in the draft.

The issue Nashville has is a lack of playoff experience. If you look at teams who go far in the playoffs, they add big name players. The New York Rangers added Martin St. Louis and the Los Angeles Kings added Marian Gaborik last year, and even this year the Chicago Blackhawks added Antoine Vermette.

No offense to Mike Santorelli, but he is not enough of an impact player to get 8-12 playoff goals or even getting to the double digits in points. I personally think Nashville will see an exit in either the 1st or the 2nd round because they didn’t add a big name.

Unknown-3Toronto Maple Leafs

Is the rebuild real in Toronto? I honestly don’t know any more after this deadline day. Toronto has struggled over the past few season to make the playoffs (or they see an early exit, like in 2013). That’s not the issue in my eyes.

The issue to me is they never add players to change their current fate. So when GM Dave Nonis said they were going to clean house and trade big players like Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, I saw change and big names on the move. Then they made four trades and only two on deadline day- I was shocked and saw same old Toronto missing a huge chance.

The first deal was possibly the GM move of the year and saw David Clarkson go to Columbus for the injured Nathan Horton. Horton hasn’t played for months and Clarkson was a way overpaid forward, who wasn’t living up to his contract. So Horton gets put on the long term Injured reserve and his contract doesn’t completely count against the salary cap.

The second deal before the deadline was with Nashville. This trade saw Toronto get a 1st round pick, Olli Jokinen, and Brendan Leipsic for Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli. This deal fit what Nonis had told the media and his team about cleaning out the roster and initiating the rebuild.

This deal got them another 1st round pick and two players who will work hard. Jokinen then played a few games and was very unhappy with his new team. So the next deal still made sense to me at the deadline- Jokinen was traded to the Blues for Joakim Lindstrom and a conditional sixth round draft pick. This move was still smart, sending an unhappy veteran player for a young prospect and a pick.

Now Detroit was very interested in Phaneuf and Toronto couldn’t make the deal happen. They were asking a lot for their captain, but in the long run wouldn’t let him go. This was confusing because in a rebuild you have to let some players go that you don’t want to, like what Buffalo did with Ryan Miller.

The final deal made absolutely no sense to me at all. The deal was Korbinian Holzer to Anaheim for Eric Brewer and a 5th round pick. Toronto gave up a 27-year-old defenseman for a 35 year old man with a bigger contract. Holzer had less than 40 games played with this team, never really got a long run, and to just get rid of him is beyond me.

The Maple Leafs essentially gave up a future kid that they could have developed (and used, badly). Toronto did not give up any big pieces like they said they would, they have the same base players and if changes aren’t made they will have the same disappointment at the end of each season.

2015 NHL Trade Deadline Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

I finally got a chance to get around to recapping all of the trades made today at the deadline, so I present to you my hard work. This post will be updated throughout the day. What is known is shown.

The Boston Bruins started the day off with the acquisition of F Brett Connolly (who is a pending restricted free agent) from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a 2015 2nd round pick and a 2016 2nd round pick.

The Tampa Bay Lightning then made a move to get D Braydon Coburn and sent D Radko Gudas, a 2015 1st round pick, and a 2015 3rd round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers.

In the third move of the day, the Montreal Canadiens acquired D Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a 2015 2nd round pick and a 2015 conditional 5th round pick. If Montreal wins in the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, then the pick becomes a 4th round pick. If Montreal advances to the Eastern Conference Finals, then the pick becomes a 3rd round pick.

Montreal then made their second move at the deadline, as the Canadiens sent a 2016 5th round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for F Brian Flynn.

The St. Louis Blues acquired D Zbynek Michalek and a 2015 conditional 3rd round pick from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Maxim Letunov.

Chicago Blackhawks F Ben Smith was traded to the San Jose Sharks for F Andrew Desjardins. San Jose retained 50% of Desjardins’s salary on his current contract (he’s a pending unrestricted free agent).

New Jersey Devils D Marek Zidlicky was sent to the Detroit Red Wings for a 3rd round draft pick. New Jersey retained $1 million of Zidlicky’s salary.

The San Jose Sharks traded F Tyler Kennedy to the New York Islanders for a 2016 conditional 3rd round pick.

San Jose sent F Freddie Hamilton to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for D Karl Stollery.

The Pittsburgh Penguins traded D Robert Bortuzzo and a 2016 7th round pick to the St. Louis Blues for D Ian Cole.

The New York Islanders sent backup goalie G Chad Johnson and a 2016 3rd round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for G Michal Neuvirth.

In their second move of the day, the New York Islanders sent F Cory Conacher to the Vancouver Canucks in a swap for F Dustin Jeffrey.

The Columbus Blue Jackets traded D Jordan Leopold to the Minnesota Wild for D Justin Falk and a 5th round pick.

Toronto Maple Leafs F Olli Jokinen was traded to the St. Louis Blues for F Joakim Lindstrom and a 2016 conditional 6th round pick. The draft pick can become a 4th round pick in 2015 if the Blues reach the Stanley Cup Finals and Jokinen plays a role in it.

Buffalo Sabres F Torrey Mitchell was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for F Jack Nevins and a 2016 7th round pick. Buffalo retains 50% of Mitchell’s salary.

D Ben Lovejoy returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a deal with the Anaheim Ducks that sent D Simon Despres to Anaheim.

The Minnesota Wild kept their friendship going with the Sabres and acquired F Chris Stewart from Buffalo in exchange for a 2017 2nd round pick. The Sabres retained 50% of Stewart’s contract (so $2.1 million if you’re curious).

F Sven Baertschi has been traded from the Calgary Flames to the Vancouver Canucks for a 2015 2nd round pick.

The Columbus Blue Jackets traded D James Wisniewski and a 2015 3rd round pick (DET) to the Anaheim Ducks and got F William Karlsson, F Rene Bourque, and a 2015 2nd round pick in return.

The Arizona Coyotes acquired G David Leggio from the New York Islanders in exchange for D Mark Louis.

The Boston Bruins sent F Jordan Caron and a 2016 6th round pick to the Colorado Avalanche for F Max Talbot and F Paul Carey. The Avalanche will retain half of Talbot’s salary.

Toronto Maple Leafs D Korbinian Holzer was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for D Eric Brewer and a 2016 5th round pick.

Anaheim also acquired F Michael Sgarbossa from the Colorado Avalanche for D Mat Clark.

F Jared Knight of the Boston Bruins was traded to the Minnesota Wild for F Zack Phillips.

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.