It's the best time of year!
In the last 48 hours, three Western Conference teams have made some noise on the trade front. Anaheim acquired Francois Beauchemin and Chicago picked up Michael Frolik on Wednesday, followed by Nashville obtaining Mike Fisher yesterday.
All three clubs are locked in a crowded playoff picture in the West, which features a five-point separation between seeds 3 through 10. Even though we are still two-plus weeks away from the trade deadline on Feb. 28, how will the rest of the West respond to this recent flurry?
- Los Angeles Kings
If there was a loser in the Fisher-to-Nashville trade, you could say it was Los Angeles. Here’s a team that is looking for a second-line center in the worst way, and one of the best on the market has been dealt elsewhere. GM Dean Lombardi reportedly had an offer on the table for Fisher's services. He isn’t going to pull the trigger on an outrageous or risky trade, but a guy like Jason Arnott may be on his radar as the deadline approaches. Even if Lombardi stands pat, I still like the Kings’ chances of making the playoffs.
- San Jose Sharks
GM Doug Wilson has rolled the dice a few times since the lockout, so another big deal out of the Bay Area wouldn’t be surprising. I can’t see Ben Eager and Kyle Wellwood being their biggest in-season acquisitions. Devin Setoguchi has been in trade rumors all year, but I don’t think they are just going to give him away. I’m sure Wilson would like to get a defenseman in return. Speaking of D-men… Tomas Kaberle and Dan Boyle would look good on the same power play unit, wouldn’t they?
- Dallas Stars
Any trade talk surrounding the Stars has been focused on Brad Richards. Unless the team tanks between now and Feb. 28, Richards is not going anywhere. They made a deal after the New Year, bringing in veteran Jamie Langenbrunner from New Jersey. Does GM Joe Nieuwendyk have anything else up his sleeve? Perhaps a defenseman with some offensive upside? After such a great start, this team has to make the playoffs.
- Calgary Flames
In a matter of three weeks, the Flames have gone from sellers to buyers. The likes of Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr are safe under Acting GM Jay Feaster, so all of those lingering rumors can be squashed. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot Feaster can do since they are running up against the salary cap. But would he even want to make a change to a team that is gathering steam like it’s going out of style? My guess would be nyet.
- Phoenix Coyotes
Phoenix is certainly in play for the Pacific Division, just one point shy of the Stars and Sharks heading into Friday. Will GM Don Maloney be able to acquire a few bodies at the deadline like he did last year? Remember, he picked up Wojtek Wolski and Lee Stempniak for the stretch run. I wouldn’t expect anything more than that this time around.
- Minnesota Wild
What they do at the deadline depends on what kind of success they have leading up to Feb. 28. If they are sitting on the bubble (like they are now), I think GM Chuck Fletcher would only make an addition for the right price. If they happen to fall off a bit, you may see a few rentals (Andrew Brunette for example) go on the block. I don’t see Fletcher doing much before the deadline, like some others have this week.
It seems like a lot of teams are making their moves ahead of the curve this trading season. A big domino was the trio of deals that went down this week with Anaheim, Chicago and Nashville.
Will other teams in the West make deals to keep pace? Should Dallas make a move to help stop the bleeding? Will Wilson go forward with another big deal in San Jose? Can Lombardi give a talented Kings club a boost?
Time will tell.
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