The races are tight and several teams are looking for the exact same thing.
Welcome to the lead-up to the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline, where unpredictability rules as the majority of general managers still aren't sure how they will approach things, or even what their approach should be, with only 12 days left before the deadline at 3 p.m. ET on April 3.
NHL.com is here to offer you a trade deadline primer, a look at all 30 teams and what they potentially could do before the final buzzer sounds on this year's trading season.
Here is a peak into the 15 teams in the Western Conference, in alphabetical order:
No GM has been busier in the past few weeks than Bob Murray, but he was doling out big-money contracts to his own players to make sure he doesn't have to dangle them at the deadline. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry signed long-term deals and Murray insists he will not have to trade Bobby Ryan to meet his budget. The Ducks now may be considered the favorite in the Western Conference with their recent win against the Chicago Blackhawks, but it's unclear what Murray will want to do at the deadline since his team is pretty well-stocked right now.
GM Jay Feaster could have two of the most sought-after players available in captain Jarome Iginla and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, but it's not yet clear if Iginla is willing to waive his no-movement clause or if Bouwmeester will be available. If Calgary continues down its current path to another long summer, odds are Iginla would consider leaving and Bouwmeester will be made available. The entire League will be watching Feaster's every move, and if they get wind Iginla is available, expect a blockbuster.
Like the Ducks, the Blackhawks are pretty well-stocked and have some younger players that GM Stan Bowman has complete confidence in. However, Bowman is hoping to add some depth where he can find it. It could be a bottom-six forward or it could be a No. 6 defenseman, even though Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival have done just fine in splitting that role. Bowman likely wants to guard against injuries heading into the playoffs.
Talk about a team that is hard to pin down -- the Avalanche typically are very quiet, and right now they're at the bottom of the Western Conference. They can't trade Ryan O'Reilly until next year's deadline, so that could be a hot topic at that point. But for now, the Avalanche are lying in the weeds and aren't getting many mentions in potential trade rumors, even for their own guys.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen likes what he is seeing from his club, but he's not going to do anything to affect the future just to bring in someone who could potentially help Columbus get to the playoffs now. They're in the race with the players they have and maybe Kekalainen tries to add a depth piece, but don't expect it to be a rental player. If the Blue Jackets falter in the next dozen days, perhaps defenseman Jack Johnson becomes available. But it's also possible that Kekalainen stands pat and continues to evaluate his team. He's only been on the job since Feb. 13.
GM Joe Nieuwendyk is in a precarious position. On one hand, his team is not out of the race and getting into the playoffs would be a big deal for the organization. However, Nieuwendyk also has to determine if it's worth hanging on to players like Brenden Morrow, Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy the way he did Brad Richards a few years ago. Richards stayed in Dallas because the Stars thought they could get into the playoffs. They didn't make it and Richards left, leaving Dallas with nothing in return. Nieuwendyk likely would not want to allow the same thing to happen.
If the Red Wings want their streak of 21 consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Playoffs to reach 22, GM Ken Holland might have to do some work before the deadline. Detroit could use a big, physical defenseman in the worst way. Nobody thought they'd be able to replace Nicklas Lidstrom when he retired, but the Wings also haven't found anyone to replace Brad Stuart. Finding that player at the deadline could be essential to Detroit keeping its impressive streak alive.
The dilemma facing Oilers GM Steve Tambellini isn't much of a dilemma at all. Instead of playing out the string and hoping to win the draft lottery again, the Oilers are in the playoff chase. Tambellini told NHL.com he would add, even a rental player, to bolster his roster. Perhaps he looks to add a top-four defenseman, but those players will come at a price the Oilers may not be willing to pay (draft picks, prospects). If he can add without subtracting from the goal of building a consistent winner, he will. If not, Edmonton could stand pat.
Here's another team that has been linked to the rumors of Iginla leaving Calgary. Certainly adding a player like Iginla would help the Kings in the goal-scoring department -- imagine a second line of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Iginla. That would help in the Kings' efforts to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. However, perhaps GM Dean Lombardi should also look at his defense, because Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene remain out and nobody knows if they'll play this season.
It took them a while, but the Wild have developed chemistry and are playing like a team that is trying to firm up a playoff spot. GM Chuck Fletcher likely won't hesitate to add a depth player or two, but he's not going to do it at the expense of taking a young player that's earned his ice time out of the lineup. As much as Fletcher has built the Wild to be a playoff team this season, he's looking down the road and trying to build them into a consistent contender. Taking ice time away from a thriving young player is not in his plans.
GM David Poile wants to be a buyer, and said as much Wednesday during an interview on the NHL Network. He's thinking about offense because the Predators are fairly goal-strapped; entering their game Thursday, they were 29th in the NHL in scoring at 2.27 goals per game. However, Nashville just scored 12 goals over a four-game road trip and still went 0-4-0, so maybe offense isn't the problem right now. If the Predators don't turn it around quickly, it's hard to imagine Poile will be a buyer at the deadline.
It's always interesting to monitor the Coyotes because while their budget may be limited, GM Don Maloney usually finds a way to get the most out of it. He traded for Antoine Vermette near the deadline last season, who's still a key player in coach Dave Tippett's lineup. Maloney will be in contact with most teams as they likely will be asking about defenseman Keith Yandle. But if the Coyotes stay in the race, it's hard to imagine Maloney will part with such an important player, especially one who is signed for three more seasons after this one.
It might be time for GM Doug Wilson to start thinking about an overhaul. He probably won't be dealing away Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau, and it's fair to assume players like Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski are untouchable. However, Dan Boyle, Ryane Clowe and Douglas Murray all could be on the move if Wilson wants to shake things up. Clowe and Murray have contracts that expire at the end of the season, and could help teams that need a depth forward and a stay-at-home defenseman, respectively. Boyle could net a bigger return since his deal runs through 2013-14.
The Blues have a surplus of goaltending, but GM Doug Armstrong is hesitant to trade any of it away and it's unlikely he'd get much of a return right now for Brian Elliott, who has struggled all season. Perhaps the goaltending situation is better addressed in the offseason. As for needs, the Blues are like most teams in that they could use some extra depth on the blue line. But they have to be careful because both Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk are due for new contracts after the season, so adding money going forward could be difficult.
The Canucks still haven't resolved their situation at center behind Henrik Sedin, and of course Roberto Luongo is still in Vancouver. It seems incredibly unlikely that Luongo would be dealt at this point because he's been far more useful this season than anyone could have imagined. The Canucks, though, have a need at center, especially if they want to put themselves in a better position for a playoff run. Ryan Kesler still is out with a foot injury and the Canucks have had a revolving door behind Sedin.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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