Welcome to a series where I will be looking at what each team should be doing this trade deadline. We will be looking at their future, players to buy or sell, and overall possibility of a Cup. Stay tuned for all four divisions, but today we will be breaking down the Metro! If you missed it, you can see the Atlantic Division here.
#1 Carolina Hurricanes:
This division is so much tougher than the Atlantic, that had 5 sellers in it. Usually I would err on the side of caution here, like I did with Toronto. However, the Canes desperately need a playoff appearance. Their fans deserve one, and it’d be a great way to get the market back into it. The problem is, I honestly don’t know what to add. Ideally they could add someone to help their goal scoring. Maybe we see them go after a Mike Hoffman, or Max Pacioretty with one of their MANY young D? It’s a huge price to pay but would help secure at least a wild card spot.
The big need for this team is a goalie, but those are super hard to acquire a solid one, and they just brought in Scott Darling on a big contract. The forwards are solid in terms of possession, and the defence is young and amazing. If this team can get some goaltending, they’ll be a favourite for a WC spot at least. The deadline has many options for the Canes, but selling shouldn’t be one of them.
#2 Columbus Blue Jackets:
The Jackets are just another of 7 teams right in the mix for a Metro playoff spot. They have finally started to falter a little, but are a solid team. They currently have a Hart Sleeper on their team, and a Vezina caliber goalie in net. However, on the back end this team is weak. They have a dynamite first pair, but after that it’s some rough sailing. Jack Johnson and David Savard have struggled heavily, and the 3rd pairing isn’t too strong. The forward depth hasn’t been good this year either. They have 6 forwards that are under 50% in shot shares, including Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner, and Nick Foligno.
This team has a lot of buying to do if they wish to be a real contender. It’s for that reason I would say they shouldn’t buy. I get they have a bit of a win now mentality, but I can’t see where this is the year they go all the way. They are roughly the 3rd best team in the Metro, and 6th best in the East, let alone the West. They have Jack Johnson who has asked for a trade. The Jackets could sell him, and other UFA’s Matt Calvert and Jussi Jokinen.
I’m not convinced this team is bad, and could easily win a round or two, but this doesn’t feel like their year. They don’t need to sell, but there is a lot of holes on this team that need patching if they want to be a cup contender. Buying would be a waste of assets.
#3 New Jersey Devils:
The Devils have shocked everyone this season by being competitive in maybe the toughest division in the NHL. With a huge season from Taylor Hall, and stellar performances by Corey Schnieder it’s not really a surprise. On top of the first overall pick this offseason, they added Marcus Johansson, Sami Vatanen, and Brian Boyle. This team added a bunch of skill and it’s no wonder they are better.
Currently sitting 3rd in the metro, and seemingly slipping each day, many wonder if the Devils are just pretenders. At this point they have roughly a 40-50% chance at playoffs. Which is good considering no one would have expected that in October. This team should still sell. Now this may sound weird, but their upcoming UFA’s are Drew Stafford, Jimmy Hayes, Brian Gibbons, and John Moore. If you can manage to get a team to take 3 of these guys your team is probably better off by addition by subtraction. Hayes, Stafford, and Gibbons are 3 of their worst forwards, and moving them just gives more TOI to skilled players.
This team doesn’t need to sell hard like many thought they may, but a few deals and build for the future never hurts. They certainly shouldn’t be buying.
#4 New York Islanders:
A team currently one point out of a spot, the Islanders are in a funny situation. This team is very mediocre, currently sitting at 24th in shot shares. They also have a lot of holes to fill to be a legit contender. However, the big problem is what is John Tavares going to do? The franchise player is up this offseason, and it doesn’t sound like they will trade him. It sounds like a deal is going to try and get done, but one thing Tavares wants is to win. If you’re the Isles and you sell at this deadline does that send the wrong message?
This teams best option may be to buy some depth D and forwards and just try and make playoffs. Problem is, they have had some brutal goaltending. They need goaltending to be successful, and their depth hasn’t been great either. Their top 6 has carried them this far, but can it take them much farther? If Tavares tells you he’s not resigning with you before the deadline SELL HIM, and any other UFA with him. This team will have to go full rebuild.
I don’t see that happening, but I also don’t see this team even getting to round 2 in the playoffs. They really are in one of the worst possible spots. Maybe adding some cheap depth options is just the way to go for this team.
#5 New York Rangers:
This is going to sound strange, but the Rangers need to sell. This team is the biggest pretender in the league right now. They are being bailed out by the King, like every year. They are dead LAST in 5v5 Corsi, and just not a good team. Larry Brooks of the New York post reported that the Rangers will be blowing this team up, and this is smart. It sounds as if no one is safe, not even the captain. They have 7 UFA’s this year, and some other guys with value. Trade whoever you can for the best possible deal.
This team is not winning a cup anytime soon, and for them that is what it is all about. They are such a massive team they can easily afford to rebuild, and that’s what would be smart to do. This team needs to sell, sell, sell at the deadline.
#6 Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers became the first team ever last season to have a 10 game win streak and still make playoffs. This year they could have a 10 game losing streak and still make playoffs. In an absolute whirlwind season, the Flyers have gone from laughing stock in the Metro, to a WC spot in about 8 weeks. This is the perfect team to sit tight. This isn’t quite their year, this team looks built to win in a year or two from now. However, this is a good roster that could probably see a round of playoff hockey.
They have Filppula as the only big UFA coming up, you may be able to get something for selling him. or you can just keep him as your C, and try and make playoffs. An interesting thought that was brought up on the Hockey PDOCast was, should the Flyers consider trading Wayne Simmonds? He’s due for a contract in a few seasons, and will be over 30 when it kicks in. This has “Lucic deal” written all over it. That deal hasn’t gone well for the Oilers. He’s a solid player who could fetch a big return.
Ultimately, I think the Flyers will keep him, but it’s an interesting option. This is another team that should sit tight, and not waste any future assets. They have a playoff team, but no where close to a contender.
#7 Pittsburgh Penguins:
Ahhhh here we are. Every year it feels like Pittsburgh may be in trouble, and every year they come storming back. They definitely don’t have the best odds at hitting the 3peat, but they should be buying. You just can’t count a team with Crosby and Malkin out. Crosby is currently playing with Dominik Simon. Raise your hand if you knew who that was before this season… No one? Right.
The Pens could really use an upgrade at 3C. Their 4C is currently a guy named Jean-Sebastian Dea. Someone I definitely knew before looking it up… Small sample size, but he has been awful as the 4C, and they could so use an upgrade. If they can find a guy to bump Sheahan down to 4C they may be OK. Maybe they target a Tomas Plekanec? Other than that a team with 2 franchise C’s really doesn’t need much. Some depth on D could be helpful, and Murray to not suck is really their biggest deadline need. Expect these guys to make a splash again.
#8 Washington Capitals
Oh look, the Caps are on route to winning yet another 1st place Metro birth, and a match with the Pens in round 2. Seriously though, what does this team have to lose? They are eventually going to have to do a full rebuild in about 3-4 years anyways, may as well go for it. Who knows, maybe with no pressure they’ll finally make it to an ECF. The T6 is solid, the depth could be added to, and same with the D. Overall, this is a solid team, no where near what they had last season, but still solid. I think some minor B6 guys, and a Dman would make this team look a little better.
The one interesting thing they could look at: John Carlson. Matt Cane has Carlson being paid 8 million next year, and that’s probably a solid overpay. I doubt this would work, but maybe looking to somehow swap Mike Green for John Carlson? They can’t just sell him because he is needed for this playoff run, but they may be losing yet another key player for nothing this offseason.
If I’m the Caps I’m still just going for it, you have to at this point. Can’t be the 1st place team in the Metro and not stack up for a run. Maybe this is the shock year they finally slay their dragon… Or maybe not.
Stay tuned later for the West editions of the Deadline Deals. Let me know what you think here or on Twitter @NHLSensandStuff, and make sure to follow the 4th Line on Twitter as well!