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As Deadline Day approaches: Central Division

by Corey Masisak /
Where does each team stand as the trade deadline approaches? Let's take a look around the League, one division at a time, and try to decipher which direction the teams might be leaning as the 3 p.m. deadline on Feb. 28 approaches. Next up is the Central Division, which features one of the favorites to win the title, one team trying to defend it and three teams with budget and long-term implications that could affect what they do this month.

DETROIT RED WINGS (31-14-6, 68 points)

The Red Wings are missing a bunch of key players, and getting everyone back to good health would make their lineup look a lot more formidable. Detroit GM Ken Holland also won't have a lot of cap space to work if everyone comes back.

Holland tried to add Evgeni Nabokov but that didn't work out. He could still be in the market for goaltending depth, but beyond that there aren't a lot of needs for a healthy Red Wings team, which would rival Vancouver in terms of talent and depth. Verdict: STANDING PAT

NASHVILLE PREDATORS (27-18-7, 61 points)

The Predators have also had their fair share of injuries, and they probably can't count on top center Matthew Lombardi returning. Steve Sullivan and Marek Svatos should be back soon, and they will help the offense. Still, more guys who can score goals would not be unwelcome for this team.

There are plenty of prospects and picks at GM David Poile's disposal -- the question will be how much, if any, salary can he add in a deal. He'll be looking to do something. Verdict: BUYERS

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (27-21-4, 58 points)

The Blackhawks, barring a serious injury, aren't going to have much more than about $1 million in space to play with this month. Chicago also doesn't have a definitive need. Corey Crawford has solidified the situation in goal, and there is elite talent (combined with youth and/or depth concerns) at forward and on defense.

Maybe there is a way for GM Stan Bowman to be creative and upgrade a spot by dealing one of his roster players for a guy who makes similar money. Verdict: STANDING PAT

ST. LOUIS BLUES (23-20-7, 53 points)

The Blues have slumped towards the bottom of the West, but have played the fewest games in the conference and sit six points back of eighth place with three games in hand. They are going to have to get hot this month to convince management of their credentials as a playoff contender.

St. Louis is another franchise that could use a trip to the playoffs to help re-establish its place in the market, but the Blues are also a young team and GM Doug Armstrong isn't likely to sacrifice any of the team's key young assets just to reach the back end of the top eight. If the Blues remain stuck behind the pack, pending UFA Eric Brewer could provide some help on defense to a contender. Verdict: SELLERS

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (24-22-5, 53 points)

The Blue Jackets have collected a young core of high draft picks, but the next step (i.e. being a consistent postseason contender) hasn't materialized. TSN's Darren Dreger reporterd goalie Steve Mason and forward Jakub Voracek could be available in a trade.

That's not a young team trying to sell veterans -- that's a team looking to tinker with its foundation. Defenseman Jan Hejda is a more traditional pending UFA who could be moved if the Blue Jackets do decide to remodel. Verdict: SELLERS
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