Tag Archives: Joel Armia

2017 NHL Expansion Draft: Protected Lists

30 of the NHL’s 31 teams submitted their protected lists on Saturday by 5 p.m. ET. The protected lists were made public at 10:30 a.m. ET (originally scheduled for 10 a.m.) on Sunday. Additionally, the available lists of players to choose from were released.

The Vegas Golden Knights will now spend the next few days constructing their roster, with the full reveal set for Wednesday night during the NHL Awards Ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

To recap, here’s all of the protected players:

Anaheim Ducks

Forwards: Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Antoine Vermette

Defensemen: Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm

Goaltender: John Gibson

Arizona Coyotes

Forwards: Nick Cousins, Anthony Duclair, Jordan Martinook, Tobias Rieder

Defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn

Goaltender: Chad Johnson

Boston Bruins

Forwards: David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller

Goaltender: Tuukka Rask

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Evander Kane, Johan Larsson, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo

Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen

Goaltender: Robin Lehner

Calgary Flames

Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferlund, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Lazar, Sean Monahan

Defensemen: T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton

Goaltender: Mike Smith

Carolina Hurricanes

Forwards: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Elias Lindholm, Brock McGinn, Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen

Defensemen: Trevor Carrick, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy

Goaltender: Scott Darling

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Ryan Hartman, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews

Defensemen: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook

Goaltender: Corey Crawford

Colorado Avalanche

Forwards: Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto

Defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov

Goaltender: Semyon Varlamov

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards: Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, Alexander Wennberg

Defensemen: Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard

Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky

Dallas Stars

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Antoine Roussel, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza

Defensemen: Stephen Johns, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell

Goaltender: Ben Bishop

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg

Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Nick Jensen

Goaltender: Jimmy Howard

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Defensemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera

Goaltender: Cam Talbot

Florida Panthers

Forwards: Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck

Defensemen: Aaron Ekblad, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Keith Yandle

Goaltender: James Reimer

Los Angeles Kings

Forwards: Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli

Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin

Goaltender: Jonathan Quick

Minnesota Wild

Forwards: Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker

Defensemen: Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter

Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards: Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw

Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber

Goaltender: Carey Price

Nashville Predators

Forwards: Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen

Defensemen: Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, P.K. Subban

Goaltender: Pekka Rinne

New Jersey Devils

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, John Moore, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson

Goaltender: Cory Schneider

New York Islanders

Forwards: Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, John Tavares

Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock

Goaltender: Thomas Greiss

New York Rangers

Forwards: Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Nick Holden, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal

Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist

Ottawa Senators

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris

Defensemen: Cody Ceci, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf

Goaltender: Craig Anderson

Philadelphia Flyers

Forwards: Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Claude Giroux, Scott Laughton, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek

Defensemen: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning

Goaltender: Anthony Stolarz

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin

Defensemen: Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz

Goaltender: Matt Murray

San Jose Sharks

Forwards: Ryan Carpenter, Logan Couture, Jannik Hansen, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney

Defensemen: Justin Braun, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Goaltender: Martin Jones

St. Louis Blues

Forwards: Patrik Berglund, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko

Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo

Goaltender: Jake Allen

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos

Defensemen: Braydon Coburn, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman

Goaltender: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards: Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, Matt Martin, James van Riemsdyk

Defensemen: Connor Carrick, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly

Goaltender: Frederik Andersen

Vancouver Canucks

Forwards: Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter

Defensemen: Alexander Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Christopher Tanev

Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom

Washington Capitals

Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson

Defensemen: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov

Goaltender: Braden Holtby

Winnipeg Jets

Forwards: Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler

Defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba

Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck

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.

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 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.