We were going to put this up yesterday, but Peter Forsberg apparently had other ideas. Less than two weeks until deadline day (Feb. 28), we take a gander at some key buyers and sellers during this trading season…
Buyers 1. Boston Bruins
Cap space: $2.5 million
Needs: Offensive-minded defenseman, Depth center
Some people are expecting big things out of the Bruins before the deadline. A lot of that speculation kicked up a notch when Marc Savard was shut down for the remainder of the season. But will GM Peter Chiarelli go after a top-line center? Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are solid, but that may not be enough down the middle to get the B’s deep into the playoffs and possibly the finals.
Chiarelli is expected to target a defenseman first, though – preferably one that can contribute offensively. Tomas Kaberle has been linked to them for as long as he’s been mentioned in trade rumors, while the Boston Globe recently noted that Zach Bogosian could be on their radar. The Globe also mentioned that Chiarelli may be willing to unload Toronto’s first-rounder.
The cap space above factors in Savard going on LTIR; so between that freed up cap room and the endless speculation surrounding Boston, look for Chiarelli to make some noise and enhance their chances of winning the division and going deep.
2. San Jose Sharks
Cap space: $817,000
Needs: Top-four defenseman, Depth forward
If you go back through the years, Doug Wilson has been one of the more active general managers in the trading season. The last two years have gone by without a significant deal; will he swing one this time around?
For him to make a move of any significance would require moving salary the other way in a deal. Devin Setoguchi’s name has been mentioned all year as he struggles to get back to the level of play from his 2008/09 season; his contract runs up at the end of the year. Another name tossed around has been Ryane Clowe, but I just don’t see them moving a heart-and-soul guy like him.
This team needs a defenseman badly to give Dan Boyle some relief. Joni Pitkanen and/or Chris Phillips may be of interest to Wilson. Also, the Western Conference has been quite active thus far. If they continue their recent hot streak, will Wilson keep things intact or go for it?
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
Cap space: $4.6 million
Needs: Top-six forward, Depth
Three weeks ago the Penguins wouldn’t have been on this list. But Evgeni Malkin’s season-ending injury and the announcement that Sidney Crosby won’t be back until March (at the earliest) will surely have GM Ray Shero working the phones between now and the deadline. Shero, like Wilson, is usually active at this time of the year.
The problem is, what is out there that will appeal to the Pens? Not much, frankly. If a center is on the wish list, it’s slim pickings when it comes to rentals. There are a couple wingers to be had for the right price – Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner – but they aren’t rentals. One name that could intrigue Shero is Milan Hejduk; if Colorado continues their free-fall, they could look to move the 35-year-old goal-scorer.
Although there isn’t much on the market that would fit in with Pittsburgh, you can expect Shero to be listening and watching very closely to what’s available so he can bring in offensive help.
4. Montreal Canadiens
Cap space: $3.4 million
Needs: Winger, Defenseman
Now that they have separated themselves from the playoff bubble, the Habs have their sights set on catching Boston. GM Pierre Gauthier and his staff seem to be up to something already, and may need to add another winger if they wish to go on another long postseason run.
A lot of it could depend on what Gauthier does with the enigmatic Andrei Kostitsyn, who has been mentioned in the last week or so as a possible trade chip. If they deal him, Gauthier could be in the market for a top-six winger. Obviously another need will be on defense. They added James Wisniewski last month, but he doesn’t replace Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges.
Either way, this team needs to get some physicality and/or size. Their big guns lack size and won’t get in the dirty areas on a regular basis. Would Gauthier unload the necessary picks or prospect to bring in a guy like Penner? He is the type of big-bodied forward they need in front of the net to score goals.
5. Los Angeles Kings
Cap space: $3.7 million
Needs: Center/Forward, Depth defenseman
GM Dean Lombardi may be the hardest to get a feel for in the league. The red-hot Kings could use some help to solidify their playoff chances. Heck, if they keep this up, they could easily win the crazy Pacific Division. But would Lombardi be willing to pull the trigger on a big deal?
Adding depth is the direction I see Lombardi heading (like last year). There really isn’t that marquee player that the Kings’ GM could go after to put this team over the top… unless, obviously, Brad Richards becomes available (chances: slim-to-none). Los Angeles Times writer Helene Elliott tweeted on Sunday that some team scouts were watching the Panthers closely, who have a slew of tradable expiring contracts (see below).
The next couple weeks will be critical for the Kings. If they continue their surge, they will definitely be a team to keep an eye on with about $4 million of cap space – which immediately makes them a player for any rental available (unlike other contenders without cap room). Either way, I do see this team getting into the playoffs.
Others to watch: Washington, NY Rangers, Vancouver
1. Ottawa Senators
Trade bait: Chris Phillips, Alex Kovalev, Jarkko Ruutu, Chris Kelly
With Mike Fisher out of town, it appears the Sens are looking dump some expiring contracts and begin a rebuild. GM Bryan Murray has a few chips to deal, including defenseman Chris Phillips, who should be a hot commodity considering there are few veteran defensemen on the market with a lot of playoff experience. Kovalev, Kelly and Ruutu could also garner interest. You’ll probably hear Jason Spezza’s name in rumors, but I wouldn’t take those seriously.
2. Florida Panthers
Trade bait: Tomas Vokoun, Cory Stillman, Stephen Weiss, Bryan McCabe, Marty Reasoner, Radek Dvorak, Chris Higgins
I understand that the Panthers are seven points out of a playoff spot with not too many teams to leapfrog. But if they cannot make up any ground before Feb. 28, look for other teams to come to GM Dale Tallon, who will have a few pending UFA’s to dangle to desperate teams. Guys like McCabe, Stillman, Reasoner, Dvorak and possibly Weiss (not a rental) could attract buyers. The biggest name is Vokoun, obviously, but there doesn’t seem to be a market for goaltenders.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
Trade bait: Tomas Kaberle, J.S. Giguere, Clarke MacArthur, Fredrik Sjostrom
Kris Versteeg is a Flyer… Francois Beauchemin is a Duck… who’s next to exit stage left in Toronto? The Kaberle rumors won’t go away and many expect him to be dealt. Judging by the price for some recent acquisitions, GM Brian Burke may be able to get something pretty good in return for the puck-moving D-man. Sjostrom could attract a team needing a depth forward. Giguere could head to a team needing an additional goalie. MacArthur will likely only get dealt if Burke gets wowed.
4. Edmonton Oilers
Trade bait: Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Jim Vandermeer
Currently, the Oilers are on pace for 58.5 points, which is even lower than last year’s total of 62. However, GM Steve Tambellini could take the same approach and not sell off big parts; Denis Grebeshkov was the most notable player he dealt in a ‘selling’ move. This year you may see Vandermeer get traded to a contender needing experience and/or depth. As for Hemsky and Penner, it remains to be seen. I don’t see Tambellini moving them unless he gets exactly what he wants.
5. New York Islanders
Trade bait: P.A. Parenteau, Radek Martinek
The Islanders are in line for a top-five pick, but don’t have many expiring contracts to deal; UFA’s Parenteau and Martinek may be the only ones that GM Garth Snow parts with. Parenteau can add depth to anyone’s offensive unit, while Martinek could be a Plan B or C for any team that misses out on Kaberle and/or Phillips.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.