NHL Trade Deadline: Who Is Likely To Make Moves? (West)
As the NHL trade deadline is a little more than a month away, speculation abounds with what teams will make which moves to either make a long playoff run or clear the decks for the off season. Not one to shy away from giving an opinion, it’s time I weigh in with my thoughts…
VAN: Slumping recently, the Canucks still lead the Western Conference and have few holes to fill. Still, GM Mike Gillis may look to turn his expiring salaries into a return on the trade market. Salo is injured, may not play this season and has that NTC. Bieksa is a UFA at season’s end, as is Ehrhoff, and represent the largest cap hits. But will Gillis mess with a chemistry that seems to be working to tweak his lineup? Bieksa and Ehrhoff represent the most attractive trade bait on VAN’s roster and are sure to garner interest.
DET: Maintaining despite injuries to Osgood, Howard, Stuart, Cleary, Datsyuk and Holmstrom, the Red Wings will have to wait to see who they can get back in the lineup before being able to assess what they need. Most likely, the Wings will make a calculated move to improve without making too big a splash. It will be interesting to see if they can keep Nabokov through waivers, or if that may force another move for Ken Holland. UPDATE Nabokov claimed by NYI. Nabokov says he will not report, DET says they will not be looking for any other goaltending help.
DAL: The Stars may have already made their move, acquiring Jamie Langenbrunner. The only other major decision will be whether to ship Brad Richards out, reaping benefits before he potentially leaves via free agency, or keep him to make a run at a Cup. One thing the Stars can afford is to take on salary, having a lot of cap space left over, provided the banks allow it.
NSH: The Preds will look to add scoring. They have relied on Rinne and Lindback to keep the goals out, but have no real scoring. With tons of cap space, they can afford to add salary from a struggling team in return for picks or prospects.
PHX: Having shipped out Wolski in return for Rozsival, the Coyotes have a fairly solid team already led by a veteran defence and Ilya Bryzgalov in net. UFA Scottie Upshall could attract interest, and the ‘yotes do have cap space available if they wish to add some offensive punch.
ANA: The Ducks are pretty much set, expecting to get Getzlaf back next month. It would seem unlikely that Anaheim would want to move anyone, including a likely-to-retire Selanne, preferring to make a Cup run with what they have.
CHI: The Cup defenders are hard to the cap now, even after shipping out so many players off last year’s roster, and have little in the way of UFAs to unload. I am sure an upgrade in net would be entertained. Crawford is still a rookie and unproven, while Turco has not provided solid enough netminding. If Chicago is thinking of anyone like a Giguere, Kiprusoff or similar, a good chunk of salary will have to be shipped out… Sharp? Campbell? Keith?
COL: The Avs are another team potentially looking for a goalie. Anderson and Budaj have been average, and Colorado will need better if they are going to face Vancouver or Detroit, With Fleischmann out now also, secondary scoring will also be a need. The Avs may turn into a seller quickly if they fall out of the race, with Anderson, Budaj, Hejduk and Foote all being UFAs at season end.
MIN: The Wild seem to be scoring by committee and would probably like to add some more goals up front to nudge into the second season. With Backstrom and Theodore coming back, might they dangle a UFA like Theodore, or a Kobasew, Brunette or Madden to an eastern team? If they do, they’ll have to make sure the numbers work. Dealing any of the affordable younger guys away would seem a step back for this team which is close to capped out.
SJS: A disappointing team this season, the Sharks have been subject of many rumors. Many have involved acquiring veteran defencemen while sending out underperformers like Setoguchi. Most trade partners seem to want Clowe instead, and maybe that’s what is holding up a deal. If Doug Wilson makes moves (other than acquiring Eager and picking Wellwood off waivers) it will likely be to shore up the defence with a playoff veteran, but will it cost them a decent young forward?
STL: The Blues have suffered a spate of injuries to their forwards, and have twice tried to use the waiver wire to help themselves, only to have other teams claim the players from them. Johnson, Jackman and Boyes have not been their usual productive selves either. Still very close to a playoff spot, the Blues may be forced into a big deal to try to spark a winning streak that gets them where they want to be. Brewer is a UFA at season end, might he be on the move in return for some scoring.
LAK: Kings are a good young team but have been sliding after a strong start to the season. The emergence of Brayden Schenn at the WJHC has everyone calling about the kid, but LA may not know what they need to get them back into the playoff picture. The addition of Sturm has not helped. Is it secondary scoring? Is it that Bernier has not been as good as hoped? Do they go for a veteran goalie and a veteran defenceman? The trouble for LA will be deciding if they are good enough to win this year, or if they should sit tight, hold on to the abundance of good prospects they have, and make a more serious challenge in a couple seasons.
CBJ: The Blue Jackets suffer from not enough scoring (128 goals through 48 games) and have not enough goaltending (149 goals allowed in 48 games). Still, they sit in a jumble of teams that are all within 5 points of 8th place in the west. They have found some cap relief by demoting Mike Commodore to the minors, with the promise of trading him. Unfortunate for GM Scott Howson though, teams are most likely to be calling about Umberger, Brassard, Vermette and Voracek.
CGY: The Flames have turned their season somewhat. They have been hot lately, now just 5 points back of 8th. That really does not help GM Jay Feaster to clean up Darryl Sutter’s mess though. Tough decisions in Calgary, as they have little cap space left this season to acquire anyone to make a playoff push. Worse, they already have 94.6% of the cap committed for next year to only 17 players. Feaster claims he has no plans to move any of the core, including Iginla and Kiprusoff. But with 11 players having NTC/NMC, and the bulk of his roster over 30, it’s going to take some fancy dancin’ to turn the Flambes around.
EDM: Tons of cap space, a bunch of young players, and the prospect of selecting in the top 2 at the draft. The only thing GM Steve Tambellini would like is someone to take Sheldon Souray off his hands, but it seems there’s no takers. Penner, Cogliano, Hemsky will all get interest, but Tambellini is not in any position to be forced into a deal he doesn’t like.