The NHL Trade Deadline is just two weeks away. Preds GM David Poile has said repeatedly that the Preds will look to be active before the Deadline. However, the Preds need to find a match in order to make a deal. In that spirit, NashvillePredators.com looks at what teams will likely be sellers at this year’s Deadline. Currently three teams – Carolina, Columbus, and Edmonton – appear strongly entrenched in the “seller” category.
An addition 14 teams appear strongly entrenched in the playoff mix, regardless of record over the next two weeks, including Boston, Florida, New Jersey, NY Rangers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the East and Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, Phoenix, San Jose, St. Louis, and Vancouver in the West.
That leaves 13 teams in potential limbo over the next two weeks. A strong showing and they can enter the playoff push and potentially become “buyers” -- or at the least hold pat -- at the Deadline. A downturn and they can fall out of the playoff race and potentially become “sellers” at the Deadline.
Here’s the team-by-team breakdown for those 13 “bubble” teams, including upcoming schedule between now and the February 27 Trade Deadline (games on Feb. 27 are not included since they take place after the Deadline expires) and current position with regard to their conference’s playoff seed. Teams listed alphabetically; all records and schedules as of Noon on Feb. 14
Anaheim (-10pts, 27gms left) Next 2 Weeks: @MIN, @PIT, @NJ, @FLA, @TBL, @CAR, CHI Anaheim has been one of the League’s hottest teams over the last month, but the Ducks still find themselves 10 points out of the playoffs. The Ducks have pulled off huge runs the last few seasons, so the precedence is there for them, but they need to make up ground during these next 2 weeks to realistically remain in the conversation on Deadline Day. Currently they need to make up more than 5 points on at least 5 teams to make the playoffs; that is a lot to ask over the final third of the season. And they have the 7th toughest strength of schedule from Deadline Day through the end of the season. These next six games – all on the road – will either springboard them back into the conversation or eliminate them from contention.
Buffalo (-8pts, 27gms left) Next 2 Weeks: NJ, @PHI, MTL, PIT, NYI, BOS, @NYR The Sabres need to make up ground during these next 2 weeks to remain in the playoff conversation come Trade Deadline Day. They are only 1 point out of 11th place and only 4 points out of 10th place, but need to make up 7 points on #9 seeded Washington & 8 points on #8 seed Toronto. Buffalo has the 11th toughest strength of schedule from Deadline Day through the end of the season and will play 13 of its final 20 games on the road, so this next stretch (5-of-7 at home) appears crucial for them to make their big move.
Calgary (-3pts, 26gms left) Next 2 Weeks: TOR, @DAL, @LA, EDM, PHX, PHI As long as they don’t lose ground, the Flames will be in the thick of the race at the Deadline. Calgary has the 3rd easiest remaining schedule from Deadline Day through the end of the season and it is heavily weighted with home games (12 of final 20 at home); the Flames are 15-8-2 on home ice this season.
Colorado (-3pts, 25gms left) Next 2 Weeks: @VAN, @EDM, @WPG, LA, @CBJ, @DET As long as they don’t lose any ground, the Avs will be in the thick of the race at the Deadline, however they’re on the road for five of their six games before Deadline Day. Their schedule after the Deadline is the ninth easiest in the League and is more balanced (10 home and 9 road), but they can’t afford to slip behind any additional teams: #11 seed Dallas is only 1 point behind them and #12 seed Minnesota just 2 points behind them.
Dallas (-4pts, 27gms left) Next 2 Weeks: @DET, CGY, @PHX, NSH, @MTL, @CHI, MIN, VAN The Stars will be one of the busiest teams in the league over the next 2 weeks with eight games, including two back-to-back sets. With two games at hand against #8 seed Phoenix, this is the time for Dallas to make its charge. And the Stars do play three other Western Conference "bubble teams" during this stretch -- home games against Calgary and Minnesota along with a road game at Phoenix. Wins over those teams in a similar position can help them differentiate themselves from the pack; losses in those games, though, can kill off their playoff aspirations. As long as they don’t lose any ground, they will be in the thick of the playoff race at the Deadline, but after Deadline Day the Stars play the 5th toughest remaining schedule, so they cannot afford to drop any ground over the next two weeks.
Minnesota (-5pts, 27gms left) Next 2 Weeks: ANA, WPG, @STL, BOS, @FLA, @DAL, SJ After an eye-opening start to the season, the Wild have been in a slide for the last few months and now find themselves five points out of the playoff race and needing to pass at least four teams to secure a spot in the post-season. After the Deadline they close the season with 12-of-20 at home, but it comes against the League’s 10th toughest remaining schedule. If they lose ground between now and the Deadline they likely would become “sellers” instead of “buyers.”
Montreal (-7pts, 25gms left) Next 2 Weeks: BOS, @BUF, NJ, DAL, @WSH, @FLA The Canadiens are only in the #11 seed in the Eastern Conference, but can’t afford to lose any additional ground between now and Deadline Day, sitting 7 points behind #8 seed Toronto and 6 points behind #9 seed Washington. After the Deadline, Montreal has the League’s 6th easiest remaining strength schedule, but they close with 11-of-19 games on the road.
New York Islanders (-8pts, 27gms left) Next 2 Weeks: @WPG, @STL, CAR, OTT, @BUF, NYR, @OTT The Islanders need to make up ground between now and the Deadline. Like Buffalo and Tampa Bay, they are just 1 point out of 11th place and 4 points out of 10th place, but eight points is a lot to make up on the playoff cut line. After the Deadline, the Islanders play 12-of-20 on the road with the 6th toughest strength of schedule. If they can’t make up ground over the next 2 weeks, looks for them to be sellers at the Deadline.
Ottawa (+3pts, 24gms left) Next 2 Weeks: @TBL, @FLA, @NYI, WSH, BOS, NYI The Senators are currently in the playoffs, but have played two more games than the teams directly behind them, #8 seed Toronto and #9 seed Washington and one more game than #10 seed Winnipeg. As long as the Sens maintain their current position, they will be firmly entrenched in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. Four of their six games over the next two weeks come against Eastern Conference teams on the playoff bubble, so they can help their own cause with a good run; however an extended losing streak and they may join the ranks of the “sellers” at the end of the month. Their schedule after the Deadline is very neutral: 9 home games and 9 road game and a strength of schedule right smack in the middle of the league.
Tampa Bay (-8pts, 27gms left) Next 2 Weeks: OTT, SJ, WSH, ANA, @WPG, @PIT, @NJ Tampa Bay has been one of the hottest teams in the league since the All-Star Break, but the Lightning still find themselves in a similar position to the Islanders and Sabres – not out of the conversation, but need to make up ground over the next 2 weeks to really enter the heart of the race. After the Deadline the Lightning play the League’s ninth easiest remaining strength of schedule and have a heavy home slate (12-of-20 at home); the team has been really good on home ice and somewhat suspect away from home, so the schedule makers did set them up for a good finish, but they probably need to chip away at the eight point deficit over these next 2 weeks put themselves in a position to take advantage of that schedule.
Toronto (+1pt, 26gms left) Next 2 Weeks: @CGY, @EDM, @VAN, NJ, SJ, WSH As long as the Leafs maintain their current positioning they will be smack dab in the middle of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. The three-game Western Canada road trip will be a good measuring stick for the Leafs; if they return from there still in a playoff seed, the outlook will further improve. An “Oh-for-” heading into the Deadline may chance the team’s direction at the end of the month, but barring that, they should be in the playoff race on Deadline Day.
Washington (-1pt, 26gms left) Next 2 Weeks: @FLA, @TBL, @CAR, @OTT, MTL, @TOR The Capitals have an interesting road stretch over the next 2 weeks with 5-of-6 games away from home – and the lone home contest against fellow Conference bubble team Montreal. Just 1 point out of the playoffs, the Caps appear to be firmly entrenched in the playoff race, but they have struggled on the road this season (9-15-3 away from home) and poor showing over the next 2 weeks could drop them out of the mix. After Deadline Day they do play 11 of their final 20 at home against a middle of the league strength of schedule. And reportedly star defenseman Mike Green could be back in the not-so-distant future, so if they survive the next 2 weeks in a similar position as they started, the outlook becomes a lot clearer after the Deadline.
Winnipeg (-4pts, 25gms left) Next 2 Weeks: NYI, @MIN, BOS, COL, PHI, TBL, STL The Jets need to at least maintain their current positioning over the next 2 weeks. They are only four points out of the playoffs, but they can’t afford to drop behind any additional teams in the race. With a heavy home slate between now and the Deadline (6-of-7 at home), they will have the opportunities to apply pressure to #9 seed Washington (3 points ahead of them), #8 seed Toronto, and even #7 seed Ottawa (6 points ahead of them, but Jets have two games at hand). Unless they totally collapse at home here in the next 2 weeks, Winnipeg will likely be in the thick of the Eastern Conference race on Deadline Day. And with games against Western Conference bubble teams Minnesota and Colorado, the Jets can provide a helping hand to the Preds before the Deadline.