With the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline less than a month away, teams are looking to bolster rosters to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs or fortify rosters for a deep run in the postseason. Which contender most needs to make a move before the deadline arrives on Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. ET? We asked six NHL.com staffers for their thoughts. Here they are:
Dan Rosen, senior writer
The Colorado Avalanche have a real chance to contend for the Stanley Cup this season, but they could use some help, especially when it comes to defending. A two-way, middle-six forward would go a long way to securing the depth the Avalanche need for a long run. The Avalanche hope to get Joonas Donskoi back from a concussion, but someone like Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators could give them a bump on either the second or third line, and their penalty kill. Another right-handed defenseman would help give coach Jared Bednar options. The Avalanche have Cale Makar and Erik Johnson on the right side. Their top-six defense is solid now, but like most teams, they're an injury away from being in major trouble. Colorado could put its own first-round pick and/or the third-round pick it got from the Toronto Maple Leafs on the table in a trade.
Video: OTT@BUF: Pageau knocks the puck home for PPG
Tracey Myers, staff writer
I'm with Dan on looking at a Central Division team, but I'm focusing on the Dallas Stars. They were a goal away from advancing to the Western Conference Final last season. But that was the problem: finding someone to generate the offense, outside of their top-line forwards Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov was a problem. The Stars are in great shape with Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin in goal and they're strong and deep on defense. They're great at preventing offense. Creating it? Not so much. Getting a depth forward at the deadline would certainly help the Stars, who are averaging 2.57 goals-per game, the fewest of any team currently in a Stanley Cup Playoffs spot, entering play Wednesday. A little more offense could take the Stars a long way.
Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
While I'm tempted to say that the Boston Bruins most need help - the recent photos of Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and David Krejci together is a sharp reminder that Krejci still doesn't have the right wing that he deserves - I think the Pittsburgh Penguins could really use a boost with Jake Guentzel out. They're a team that has succeeded despite long odds and plenty of injuries, and that's something that can help a team all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, they have a general manager who has been known to make a deal or two in Jim Rutherford. Maybe Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker fits the bill, or maybe New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider is more his speed. Maybe it's Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings. Whether it's a rental or a hockey trade, I just know that the Penguins have a spot to fill and a GM willing to fill it.
Video: LAK@VGK: Toffoli extends lead off the draw
Tom Gulitti, staff writer
It was somewhat understandable that New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello didn't want to give up too much and risk altering team chemistry before the trade deadline last season. But it's been clear since the Islanders scored five total goals, two at even strength, in being swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the playoffs last season that they need scoring help. That's continued this season with the Islanders 21st in the NHL in scoring 2.86 goals per game, entering play Wednesday. Since going 16-3-2 in its first 21 games, New York is 13-12-3 and is three points from falling out of a playoff spot. If he can't get Pageau or Toffoli, would Lamoriello think about a reunion with Montreal Canadiens forward Ilya Kovalchuk, an old friend from his New Jersey Devils days? Lamoriello might also need to add a defenseman after losing Adam Pelech for the season with an Achilles tendon injury.
Shawn Roarke, Senior Director of Editorial
The Vegas Golden Knights, in their third season, need to make a trade to make sure they get in the playoffs. That's how high the bar has been set here after a run to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season and a heartbreaking - and historic - first-round loss last season. Vegas has switched coaches, going from Gerard Gallant to Peter DeBoer. The Golden Knights need better goaltending, but that solution will come from within as the struggling Marc-Andre Fleury is their man, but they need a defenseman, specifically one who can play the right side. Vegas has dressed eight different defensemen in a game this season and seven shoot left-handed. Too many are playing their off-side for the offense to work as efficiently as possible. There are two right-shot solutions who may be available: Sami Vatanen (New Jersey Devils) and Jeff Petry (Montreal Canadiens). Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings is another left-shot D, but has shown an ability to play on the right throughout his career. How about this for a home-run try? P.K. Subban of the Devils. He hasn't found his footing in New Jersey but could be a difference maker on a deeper team.
Video: NJD@TOR: Subban hammers one-timer home for PPG
Nick Cotsonika, columnist
The Edmonton Oilers need to maneuver for two main reasons: One, they've made the playoffs once in the past 13 seasons. Two, they have the top two scorers in the NHL -- center Connor McDavid with 76 points (27 goals, 49 assists) and forward Leon Draisaitl with 75 points (27 goals, 48 assists) -- and no one else with more than 33 points. Not only is it important to make the playoffs for the sake of the fans, it's important to make the playoffs for the sake of their superstars. McDavid, 23, and Draisaitl, 24, have played in 13 playoff games each. They need the experience; the Oilers need to make the most of the primes of their careers. They need help; the Oilers need more depth. Though general manager Ken Holland needs to be wary of mortgaging too much of the future when a playoff spot isn't guaranteed, he has an intriguing bargaining chip: the rights to restricted free agent forward Jesse Puljujarvi, the No. 4 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft. Puljujarvi has no future in Edmonton and is playing at home in Finland while waiting for a fresh start in the NHL.