With the NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching, and TV executives praying for anything of substance to fill air time, we take a look at the 32 teams and what they’re likely to do come deadline day.
Sell – They’ve accrued plenty of up and coming young talent, but are in need of several more pieces to return to their former perennial contender status. They got the ball rolling dealing Josh Manson to Colorado, and have more trade targets on the roster (Lindholm, Rakel), so expect new GM Pat Verbeek to put his stamp on his new squad quickly. Does he consider something as drastic as a John Gibson deal? We shall see.
Sell – They’re definitely gonna make a move…but enough about the arena situation. They’ve got several guys rumoured to be on the move (Kessel, Chyckrun) and with only a handful of players under contract next season, somebody needs to fill in the spots. Their recent run of success may be tantamount to an audition tape, so expect them to make several deals.
Buy – Never one to shy away from deadline moves, the Bruins are a decent team who’ll likely add at the deadline. The Rival Leafs are in striking distance, though a first round match up isn’t looking favourable regardless, but you know they Bruins believe they have a ‘playoff’ type team every year, and with the future of captain Patrice Bergeron uncertain, they B’s will likely look to make some kind of addition while this group is together.
Sell – The Jack Eichel saga’s behind them, they’ve seen several of their young players take a step this season and would be well advised to do everything they can to add picks and prospects to continue to fill out the core, as I’m sure this’ll be the rebuild that sticks…
Buy – Brad Treliving made an early splash adding Tyler Toffoli to help bolster the Flames offence, then followed that up by acquiring Calle Janrkrok. If we’re being honest here, the move to garner the most headlines would be bringing back former captain Mark Giordano. It’s a Darryl Sutter type move, and I for one want to see that press conference.
Buy – The Canes are a talented team, poised to make a long playoff run. They’re likely to add some depth, but perhaps their wisest investment would be in the sports psychology department to ensure Freddie Andersen doesn’t relapse & have a case of the Leafs.
Sell – The Blackhawks are nearing a critical juncture and the end of an era: Duncan Keith is gone, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have one year left on their matching deal, and the most celebrated players of this generation may be moving on. Marc-Andre Fleury is the consensus best goalie available, assuming he decides to be. New GM Kyle Davidson has said this rebuild will take time, and it starts now.
Buy – Nathan MacKinnon is on the best value deal in the league, surrounded by a star studded cast with a GM who knows what it takes to win. The Avs have already started loading up, acquiring Josh Manson from Anaheim, and will no doubt continue adding to their group, as it’s Stanley Cup or bust…and don’t dare suggest any different to Nate…
Columbus Blue Jackets
Sell – The Blue Jackets are having a better season than many of us anticipated, but would still be wise to try and garner as many picks and prospects as possible at the deadline to continue their rebuild. Several teams could use a goalie and they have one available, though one would expect it goes beyond that.
Buy – With their top defenceman Miro Heiskanen currently week to week with mono, and clinging to a playoff spot, a John Klingberg or Joe Pavelski deal seem less and less likely by the day. Jim Nill may need to do something in net now that Anton Khudobin is out for the season, but the question is how far does he think this group can legitimately go?
Detroit Red Wings
Sell – Much to the delight of one of our hosts (and a certain bearded editor) the Yzer-plan is paying dividends in the motor city. The Red Wings rebuild is moving along nicely and with two Calder candidates, (one of whom was a rather contentious draft pick) the future looks bright. The Wings would be wisest to move out their pending veteran UFA’s and keep accruing young assets, as Stevie Y can seem to do little wrong with them.
Buy – The Oilers having to win 6-4 every night harkens back to an era when they were hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. Nowadays…The Oilers are aware of the painfully obvious issues plaguing them, and GM Ken Holland risks wasting another year of the prime of two of the best players in the league, alienating them and the fanbase along the way. You’re on the clock…
Buy – The Panthers are an entertaining, highly skilled team who are looking to make their first playoff run since a 1996 Cup Final appearance whom only Joe Thornton is old enough to remember. They have all the makings of a serious contender, adding a bit of depth or another quality defenceman (I mean, Ben Chiarot is technically a blue liner…) could help put them over the top.
Los Angeles Kings
Buy – The Kings have moved up the Pacific far sooner than many expected this season, and so the question must be asked: does Rob Blake feel it’s best to make an old fashioned hockey trade to help bolster this young group moving forward, or continue to keep rebuilding with the assets he has?
Buy (Bye?) – The Wild seemed ready to make some noise in the central, but have faded quickly of late, and face the massive cap consequence of buying out Suter & Parise next year, so what does Bill Guerin do? They’ll likely buy at the deadline, but how much of that decision is it just caving to the pressure of knowing they have to sell this off season?
Sell – The Habs having basically put a (bilingual) ‘For Sale’ sign out front, and should be moving out older veteran players who can bring back some kind of value. They’ve already started with Tyler Toffoli (Calgary) and Ben Chiarot (Florida) so is Jeff Petry far behind? They’ve got several solid young pieces in place, so fortify that with more picks and prospects and commit to the rebuild.
Buy – David Poile is never shy to make a big more, and he has a huge decision looming with star Filip Forsberg a pending free agent. The Preds are in a playoff spot, and getting great goaltending from Jusse Saros, so you would think he’ll add and try to reward the group, but at what cost?
New Jersey Devils
Sell – The Devils are one Hughes away from collecting the set, and seem to be in a state of flux. They have some good young pieces, and several contracts they’d like to get off the books. Mackenzie Blackwood and his .894 save % hasn’t been the answer they’d hoped. They have a lot of needs so getting whatever assets they can would be the prudent decision. PK Subban’s situation is another question mark, and is Pavel Zacha in need of a change of scenery?
New York Islanders
Sell – Perhaps no team has performed less than expectations (You’re welcome Flyers fans) and Lou is an enigma at best, so who knows what decisions he’ll make. Fact is something isn’t right and a shake-up’s in order. They have a few players that could fetch a decent return, and they don’t want to see that nice new building vacant, so you have to think there’s a plan in place.
New York Rangers
Buy – The rebuild (Lottery luck) has been progressing nicely in the Big Apple and their star goaltender is having an MVP season, so adding a bit of depth to help a potential playoff push would reward the group, but now’s not the time to go all in. They future is bright, so stay the course, but don’t be afraid to get some help.
Sell – That run of unparalleled success can start any minute now… (Targets: Nick Paul, Chris Tierney, Josh Brown)
Sell – The writing seems all but on the wall that their captain and long-time Flyer Claude Giroux’s tenure in the City of Brotherly Love is coming to an end (after the bittersweet celebration of his 1000th game). The Ristaloinen extension came as a surprise to many who can read even the most basic advance stats, and Carter Hart has been better but not taken his game to the next level just yet. It’s time to shift to the next generation so moving out veterans for future assets is likely in the cards.
Buy – Like their predecessors, I’d imagine Brian Burke and Ron Hextall understand that as long as Malkin and Crosby are there, you go for it every year. And this may well be their last chance. With the future of Malkin & stalwart blue liner Kris Letang up in the air, the Pens as we’ve come to know them may be drastically different next season, so why not go out on a high note? Phil Kessel reunion – you owe us.
San Jose Sharks
Sell – The Sharks are in perhaps the most purgatory of situations of any team. They have some young talent, counter balanced by an ageing defence core on long term deals that’ll only get worse with time. They have several assets to deal, but how does the rebuild work with the older guys still on the bench? And who would take those contracts off their hands? They took of of they biggest targets out of the pool resigning Tomas Hertel to an 8 year extension, so how they move forward is still anyone’s guess.
Sell – Ron Francis’s debut was far less underwhelming than one would imagine a team associated with Jerry Bruckheimer to be. With the Kraken dead in the water, it’s time to see if he can make up for that lackluster entry draft, and add some solid picks/prospects. He started by dealing Calle Jarnkrok to the Flames (is Mark Giordano far behind…?) and I’d imagine he’s going fishing for more.
St. Louis Blues
Buy – The Blues have navigated the Vlad Tarasenko demands, and now a goalie controversy. So what’s left? In all likelihood they’d have to go through the Avalanche to make a run, so bolstering their offence could be a focus. They have a playoff pedigree, but the meat grinder that is the Central will be no easy task.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Buy – Two time defending champs. An All-Star laden lineup. Poised for another run. There’s not much the Lightning need, but you can be assured they’ll gas up those jet skis, and tinker just enough to help them compete for another title.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Buy – Honestly, at this point I half expect them to bring Cujo back…
Sell – Jim Rutherford has made some big front office moves, and is never one to shy away from a deal. The Canucks are still technically in the playoff hunt but realistically they should consider moving out players of value and freeing up cap space, which has already been the message from the GM. Their schedule after the break is among the toughest part of their season so it complicates the tantalising prospect of still being in the hunt, but why just sneak in to be fodder for the Avalanche? I know the owner wants the playoff gates, but do the smart thing, rebuild.
Vegas Golden Knights
Buy – The rash of high profile injuries and the aftermath of the Jack Eichel deal have left the Knights with a headache reminiscent of, well, many mornings in Vegas. The Knights are desperately clinging to a playoff spot, are without Mark Stone for the foreseeable future, and reeling at the absolute worst time. Missing the playoffs is not an option, but with their lets say limited cap space, making a big move is likely in that same category. They’re never shy about going after players they want so, odds are they roll the dice.
Buy – Father Time seems to be catching up with the Caps. They’re comfortably in a playoff spot, but are lagging behind their division counterparts and will certainly be an underdog going into the post season. Their goaltending is a question mark, as is forward depth, but they’ll likely add some depth, if only to keep up appearances.
Sell – The Jets have had a tumultuous season: between head coach Paul Maurice leaving, and performing under expectations, it’s been a rough go in the Manitoba capital. This core has been together for a while, so perhaps a reset is in order. They have players who could net a decent return. Question is, how far do they want to go?