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As Deadline Day approaches: Northeast 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 Northeast Division, which features a pair of teams that could be looking for defensemen and a pair of teams in Ontario that might be willing to deal guys at that position.

BOSTON BRUINS (29-15-7, 65 points)

The Bruins don't have a lot of salary cap space, but Marc Savard's concussion could give Boston more room to work with thanks to some LTIR relief. Whether or not GM Peter Chiarelli would use that room to replace Savard remains to be seen. Boston has a deep group of forwards, even without Savard, and a couple of prospects in Jordan Caron and Zach Hamill that could be called upon to offset the loss.

Boston is one of the best defensive teams in the league, but some of that has to do with coach Claude Julien's system. The Bruins might have the best 1-2 punch in the League in goal with Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask, but another defenseman might not be a bad idea. The addition of a guy capable of logging top-four minutes could make Boston -- already a pretty good team -- a scary one once the postseason begins. Verdict: BUYERS

MONTREAL CANADIENS (28-18-5, 61 points)

The Canadiens are among the best teams in the League at preventing goals but one of the worst at scoring them. Neither of those facts should be surprising. GM Pierre Gauthier could add another forward to help boost the team's offensive production, but that might not be the biggest need.

Defensmen Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges are out for the season with knee injuries. James Wisniewski was added in December, but one more veteran defenseman could be a big boost and help Montreal maintain its position in the top eight of the Eastern Conference. Verdict: BUYERS

BUFFALO SABRES (23-21-5, 51 points)

There might not be a tougher team to forecast in the NHL right now than the Sabres. Buffalo is six points behind Atlanta, but the Sabres have four games in hand on the Thrashers and two on ninth-place Carolina. The Sabres are 7-3 in their last 10 games and another good week or two could make their postseason aspirations look much better than a month ago.

The other part of the Buffalo puzzle is the ownershup situation. Will there be a change in power in time to impact the trade deadline? Even if the team is officially sold in that time, will it have any impact on the decisions? If Buffalo becomes a buyer, the Sabres could use help anywhere but goalie. If the Sabres decided to sell, Tim Connolly could be attractive in what is shaping up as a weak center market. Verdict: Too close to call (OK, the guess is SELLERS)

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (20-25-5, 45 points)

Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs are always in the middle of something around this time of year. Don't expect this trade deadline to be any different. In the past Burke hasn't always been interested in traditional returns for veteran players (i.e. draft picks), so it will be interesting to see if he still wants roster players or is willing to collect future help instead.

There are likely to be some players on Toronto's roster that interest other teams. Whether or not Tomas Kaberle and J.S. Giguere are on the list of available players remains to be seen. Expect Burke to be looking for skilled forwards in any deal. If there is going to be a "hockey trade" this month, Burke is likely to be invovled. Verdict: SELLERS (and maybe BUYERS, if that makes sense)

OTTAWA SENATORS (17-26-8, 42 points)

The question may not be if the Senators are going to be willing to trade veteran players but how many. GM Bryan Murray has an expensive roster that has underperformed this season, and he might be ready to do some remodeling. Defensemen Chris Phillips and Filip Kuba could draw some interest, though it is unlikely anyone would be willing to take on Sergei Gonchar's contract with three years left on it.

Up front there could be several options available. For a team with the cap flexibility to handle Mike Fisher's contract (which has two more years on it), he could be one of the best players available at the position this month. Murray told's Pierre LeBrun that he doesn't have many players who are untouchable (captain Daniel Alfredsson, young defenseman Erik Karlson and No. 1 center Jason Spezza and his no-movement clause made the list). Could be a very interesting month in the capitol city. Verdict: SELLERS
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