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 unquestioned 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.
We started Monday with the Central Division and continued with the Northwest, Pacific and Atlantic Divisions. Up next is the Northeast Division.
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Record: 33-17-2, 68 points (2nd in East)
Goals for: 3.36 (1st in NHL)
Goals against: 2.23 (4th)
Power play: 18.6 percent (T-10th)
Penalty kill: 85.4 percent (7th)
Key injuries: RW Nathan Horton (indefinitely)
Acquisition space: $8.547 million
Skinny: When the Bruins are at full strength and properly motivated, they are the best team in the League and Detroit might be the only team that could beat them in a seven-game series. Unfortunately for coach Claude Julien, his Bruins are not at full strength and they have been MIA some nights lately.
It might just be a defending champion biding time during the “dog days” but it might also be a good reason for GM Peter Chiarelli to make a move and shake up the dressing room a bit. The only regulars who didn’t win the Cup last year are Benoit Pouliot and Joe Corvo, so Chiarelli could add a fresh face or two just with the hope that some of their hunger rubs off on their new teammates.
As for actual on-ice needs, the Bruins are loaded but another defenseman wouldn’t hurt, and an upgrade over Pouliot might also be an option. They will also need to replace Horton if his latest concussion keeps him out for an extended period.
Chiarelli moved some assets to acquire Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly last season (especially in the Kaberle deal), but he’s got a surplus of forward prospects that could be helpful when trying to make a deal.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Record: 28-21-6, 62 points (7th)
Goals for: 3.06 (6th)
Goals against: 2.87 (T-22nd)
Power play: 19.9 percent (5th)
Penalty kill: 76.7 percent (29th)
Key injuries: NONE
Acquisition space: $4.437 million
Skinny: There are only two NHL teams that haven’t made the playoffs since the work stoppage in 2004-05, and the Maple Leafs are one of them. GM Brian Burke is not one to shy away from wheeling and dealing, and he’s finally in a position to be a legitimate buyer at the trade deadline.
Center - TOR
GOALS: 18 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 39
SOG: 109 | +/-: 7
SOG: 109 | +/-: 7
Burke might try to make a big score, and guys like Nazem Kadri and Joe Colborne could be part of the package to grab a big-time forward. He might also try to keep his potential impact guys and make a lesser move for a bottom-six forward. He might be unpredictable, but expect Burke to be active.
Record: 27-22-7, 61 points (8th)
Goals for: 2.82 (8th)
Goals against: 3.07 (28th)
Power play: 17.5 percent (16th)
Penalty kill: 81.2 percent (20th)
Key injuries: C Peter Regin (out for season)
Acquisition space: $37.971 million
Skinny: Few could have predicted the rebuilding Senators would find themselves in fourth place in the Eastern Conference after 50 games, but a seven-game losing streak has Ottawa on the brink of a collapse. The dilemma for GM Bryan Murray is can he rescue a postseason appearance by making a move or two while also not giving away some of the young assets he has collected in the past couple of seasons?
Kyle Turris has proven to be a nice addition, and that was a gutsy move to part with defense prospect David Rundblad. It is possible Murray doesn’t do anything -- but if he does, one more forward could be what the Senators need to avoid a disappointing early end to what has been a surprising season.
Unless Murray surprises everyone with a move similar to the Turris deal, don’t expect any of the team’s top prospects to be on the move.
Record: 22-24-9, 53 points (11th)
Goals for: 2.58 (T-17th)
Goals against: 2.58 (T-11th)
Power play: 12.8 percent (30th)
Penalty kill: 89.5 percent (1st)
Key injuries: D Andrei Markov (indefinitely), RW Brian Gionta (indefinitely)
Acquisition space: $9.503
Skinny: The Canadiens are in an unfamiliar position as a team on the outside of the playoff picture. GM Pierre Gauthier is probably going to be fielding a lot of calls on some of his pending UFAs.
Defense - MTL
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 8
SOG: 33 | +/-: -8
SOG: 33 | +/-: -8
Montreal has a nice collection of young defensemen right now and a couple of intriguing guys in the pipeline, so don’t be surprised if Gauthier is looking for help up front (or draft picks to select said help).
Record: 23-24-6, 52 points (13th)
Goals for: 2.42 (T-23th)
Goals against: 2.85 (T-20th)
Power play: 16.8 percent (19th)
Penalty kill: 81.8 percent (17th)
Key injuries: C Jochen Hecht (out for season)
Acquisition space: $2.963 million
Skinny: Well, this isn’t what anyone in Buffalo expected after new owner Terry Pegula ushered in a new era with high-profile additions this past offseason. The Sabres and GM Darcy Regier now have to figure out what went wrong and plan for next season.
Center - BUF
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 15
SOG: 51 | +/-: 2
SOG: 51 | +/-: 2
Size and grit will probably be of high import for Regier in the offseason, but salary flexibility and maybe someone who can help up front are likely what he could be looking for in the coming weeks.