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Bubble teams in Northwest could make deadline splash

Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 10:30 AM / 2012 Trade Deadline

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Bubble teams in Northwest could make deadline splash
The Canucks have little wiggle room under the cap and may be content to stand pat, but the three teams below them battling for Stanley Cup Playoff positioning could be looking to deal between now and Feb. 27.
The trade deadline is fast approaching, and teams around the NHL are trying to decide whether to buy or sell, and what needs can or should be addressed. Increased parity in recent seasons has limited the number of teams willing to sell until the final days before the NHL Trade Deadline, but there have still been plenty of deals and big names on the move.

This is going to be a division-by-division look around the NHL and the different needs, both in the short- and long-term, each club might be looking to remedy between now and Feb. 27.

A quick note: the salary cap information comes from the web’s authority on the subject, www.capgeek.com. Acquisition space is different than a team’s salary cap space -- it is how much salary a team can add on that day and be in compliance from then until the end of the season. The number changes daily, but each team’s figure for this exercise will be what it was on Feb. 4 unless that team makes a major move.

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We started Monday with the Central Division and will continue with a different division each day. Up next is the Northwest Division.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Record: 32-15-5, 69 points (second in the West)

Goals for: 3.14 (third in the NHL)
Goals against: 2.40 (seventh)
Power play: 22.3 percent (first)
Penalty kill: 85.6 percent (sixth)

Key injuries: None
Acquisition space: $775,405

Skinny: The Canucks look a lot like the team that got within one victory of claiming the Stanley Cup, although Cody Hodgson has started to fulfill some of his vast potential. If there is a need for the Canucks, it is probably someone to help Ryan Kesler on the second line that would be an upgrade on David Booth or Mason Raymond.

A big issue for GM Mike Gillis is the lack of wiggle room with the salary cap. If Gillis wanted to move for an impact forward, he has an obvious chip to play -- backup goaltender Cory Schneider. For instance, a package including Schneider and Raymond (pending UFA) would allow Gillis to add a little more than $4 million in salary.

There’s also the argument that Schneider needs to stay to be an insurance policy for Roberto Luongo. Vancouver is probably the least likely of the top contenders to make a big move because of the cap situation.
 
MINNESOTA WILD

Record: 25-19-8, 58 points (eighth)

Goals for: 2.23 (29th)
Goals against: 2.44 (eighth)
Power play: 14.6 percent (24th)
Penalty kill: 82.7 percent (14th)

Key injuries: LW Pierre-Marc Bouchard (indefinitely), LW Guillaume Latendresse (indefinitely)
Acquisition space: $23.807 million

Skinny: The Wild have the assets (cap space and quality prospects) to make some alterations if GM Chuck Fletcher is of the mind to do so. One “need” is resolving the situation with defenseman Marek Zidlicky. Moving him would free up even more cap room if the budget is a concern, but the Wild’s biggest need might be an offensive-minded defenseman -- someone just like Zidlicky.

Prized prospects Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle aren’t likely to be on the move, but there is a solid group behind them. Fletcher is another GM who could have a goaltender to offer as well -- backup Josh Harding is a UFA and Matt Hackett has been strong in limited NHL exposure.

Any way that Fletcher can help to spice up the offense would help the Wild in their playoff push. Having Bouchard and Latendresse out with concussions is not helping matters, but expect Minnesota to be in the mix for somebody.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Record: 26-25-3, 55 points (12th)

Goals for: 2.37 (24th)
Goals against: 2.78 (16th)
Power play: 18.9 percent (10th)
Penalty kill: 81.8 percent (T-18th)

Key injuries: LW Matt Duchene (indefinitely)
Acquisition space: $43.055 million

Ryan O'Reilly
Center - COL
GOALS: 14 | ASST: 24 | PTS: 38
SOG: 111 | +/-: -3
Skinny: The Avalanche need to score some more goals. Duchene would be a big help, but his knee injury is going to keep him out longer than originally expected. Otherwise, Colorado is another team that could do well to add another forward and another depth defenseman.

One issue might be that Colorado is trying to build a consistent contender with young talent, and the Avalanche have been up and down in recent seasons. It might not be the best idea for GM Greg Sherman to pursue a short-term solution unless the cost is low.

If there is a veteran available to play on the third line or on the third defense pairing that can be had for a mid-round pick or lower-tier prospect, that might be the right price for Sherman to try and give his team a little boost in the race for a playoff spot while not altering the plans for the future.

Don't expect the Avalanche to add a lot of future salary, either -- Colorado has 16 guys on the current roster who are free agents next season, including potentially pricey RFAs Duchene, Erik Johnson and Ryan O'Reilly.

CALGARY FLAMES

Record: 24-22-7, 55 points (11th)

Goals for: 2.35 (27th)
Goals against: 2.65 (13th)
Power play: 17.9 percent (13th)
Penalty kill: 83.5 percent (ninth)

Key injuries: LW Curtis Glencross (March), RW Lee Stempniak (mid-March), RW David Moss (indefinitely)
Acquisition space: $3.585 million

Lee Stempniak
Right Wing - CGY
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 24
SOG: 108 | +/-: -1
Skinny: The Flames are close enough to the eighth spot in the West to harbor visions of making a run at the postseason. That is only part of the tale in Calgary though, as GM Jay Feaster has the tough task of trying to retool a roster with some overvalued contracts that are limiting his space below the salary ceiling.

Injuries up front are also making a mess of things. Calgary needs offense, and having Glencross, Stempniak and Moss would help. If Feaster decided to sell, Stempniak and Moss are pending UFAs.

Should Feaster entertain offers from contenders, Olli Jokinen could be an interesting target. Ditto for defenseman Scott Hannan. Feaster could sit tight and hope Glencross’ return plus the addition of Michael Cammalleri gives his club a chance, and worry about more serious renovations in the offseason.

EDMONTON OILERS

Record: 21-27-5, 47 points (14th)

Goals for: 2.60 (15th)
Goals against: 2.91 (23rd)
Power play: 22.0 percent (third)
Penalty kill: 83.0 percent (T-12th)

Key injuries: None
Acquisition space: $12.081 million

Ales Hemsky
Right Wing - EDM
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 22
SOG: 67 | +/-: -11
Skinny: The Oilers are one of the few teams in the League clearly in "seller" territory. This has been an exciting season as the kids have started to grow up, and GM Steve Tambellini won’t have a lot of veteran assets to ship off in the coming weeks.

Edmonton does have a couple of interesting trade targets. Ales Hemsky has struggled this year, but will still draw interest as a rental. Same goes for defenseman Andy Sutton. Consummate veteran Ryan Smyth shot down a report that he was willing to waive his no-trade clause, and may look to re-sign with the Oilers to continue mentoring the team’s phenoms up front.

Tambellini would likely be looking for help on the back end, whether that is a defense prospect or a draft pick to use on a future rearguard. He could also move one of his secondary young forwards if a young defenseman was the return.
Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie