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 trade deadline, but there still have 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, in the short- and long-term, each club might be looking to remedy between now and Feb. 27.
A quick note: Salary cap information comes from the web's authority on the subject, 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 with the salary cap 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 Feb. 4 unless that team makes a major move.
We'll start in the Western Conference with the Central Division and continue with a different division each day.
DETROIT RED WINGS
35-16-1, 71 points (first in the Western Conference)
3.10 (fifth in the NHL)
17.8 percent (T-14th)
80.9 percent (T-23rd)
G Jimmy Howard
(due back late February)
The Red Wings have been dominant at even strength and boast one of the deepest, most talented rosters in the League. What should scare other teams is Detroit GM Ken Holland also has plenty of salary-cap room with which to work and one of the best collections of prospects to deal from if draft picks aren't enough to make a transaction happen.
Detroit might be first in the West, but the Red Wings could use a depth defenseman and one more top-nine forward. Both preferably would be able to help the penalty kill. Also, don't rule out Holland searching for an upgrade in goal behind Howard. The Wings could use a better insurance policy than Ty Conklin
, and it could give Howard an extra day or two off while still allowing Detroit to end up with the No. 1 seed.
Sellers looking for forward prospects will enjoy negotiating with Holland. He hasn't been a GM known for making a lot of moves at the deadline, but he's got plenty of ammunition to do so this month.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
30-13-7, 66 points (fourth)
13.3 percent (T-27th)
81.8 percent (T-17th)
LW Andy McDonald
(indefinitely), LW Alexander Steen
Goalie - STL
GAA: - | Sv%: -
The Blues' success has been surprising after their slow start, but the franchise was hoarding talent and pundits have been waiting for them to break through (though maybe not to this extent so quickly). This is a pretty complete roster as well, and the Blues could sit tight and wait for their injured forwards to come back.
Should GM Doug Armstrong be in the market to make a move, it could be a veteran presence on the blue line. After Barrett Jackman and Carlo Colaiacovo
, St. Louis is pretty young (and relatively untested in the postseason) on the back end.
Armstrong also could look for a veteran forward to help the penalty kill, but Steen could help in that department. The Blues have two high-profile prospects (Vladimir Tarasenko
and Jaden Schwartz
) who aren't likely to be moved, but Armstrong does have two young goalies (Ben Bishop
and Jake Allen
) who could be of interest -- especially since Jaroslav Halak
and Brian Elliott
are under contract through 2013-14.
31-17-4, 66 points (fifth)
21.8 percent (second)
82.4 percent (15th)
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 24 | PTS: 30
SOG: 92 | +/-: 10
For years the Predators have been good enough to make the playoffs, but the offense has left them wanting. Nashville is scoring more goals this season, and coach Barry Trotz
currently is trying to juggle 14 healthy forwards. Still, one more top-nine skater up front might not be a bad idea.
The big question for the Predators is defenseman Ryan Suter
, who is a pending unrestricted free agent. If GM David Poile decides to trade Suter, he'll obviously need to find a defenseman (or two) to try and replace the All-Star.
Even if Suter stays, the Predators likely will dress at least two of Ryan Ellis
, Roman Josi
and Jonathan Blum in the playoffs, and Poile could opt to add some veteran cover.
29-17-7, 65 points (sixth)
18.2 percent (12th)
78.3 percent (27th)
RW Andrew Brunette
(TBD), LW Daniel Carcillo
(out for season)
The Blackhawks already have added center Brendan Morrison
, and if he proves a solid fit then GM Stan Bowman probably is set up front. That's good, because he's got work to do elsewhere. Bowman has defended his goaltenders, but neither Corey Crawford
nor Ray Emery
has performed to expectations.
The most obvious need is on defense. Chicago has four players that coach Joel Quenneville
relies on heavily, and Bowman is after one more to alleviate some of the pressure on Duncan Keith
and Co. Obviously any defenseman added would have to help the penalty kill and keep the puck out of the net.
Bowman might not have the top-end prospects that his rival GM, Ken Holland, has, but the Blackhawks' system is very deep and Bowman has plenty of players to package together if he wants to make a big move.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
14-32-6, 34 points (15th)
14.5 percent (T-24th)
75.4 percent (T-29th)
D Radek Martinek
(out for season), LW Kristian Huselius
(due back late February)
Left Wing - CBJ
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 2 | +/-: -2
Obviously the Blue Jackets are one of the definite sellers this month, but what remains to be seen is how much of the current roster GM Scott Howson wants to pare. Martinek and Huselius are pending UFAs, and it is possible another team could take a flier on Huselius even if he isn't ready to play before the deadline.
Center Jeff Carter
reportedly is available, but his contract (he has 10 years left after this season) could make it tough to move him. Forward Vinny Prospal
is a UFA and has had a nice season. Pretty much any asset aside from captain Rick Nash
, rookies Ryan Johansen
and John Moore
and the team's first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft could be available if Howson decides to blow it up and start over, but he probably won't look to make wholesale changes.
The Blue Jackets could use an infusion of young talent at every position, but Howson especially needs to find a solution, in the short- and long-term, in goal.