With 10 days left before the trade deadline, here is a look at what the Eastern Conference teams will or should do over the next week and a half.
Cap room: $2.8 million
Skinny: Last February, the Bruins acquired Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley prior to the deadline; both played supporting roles in the team’s Cup run. GM Peter Chiarelli doesn’t seem to have the same incentive to make those kinds of deals, as the general feeling in Beantown is that the B’s can repeat with the roster currently assembled. Nathan Horton’s concussion has thrown a wrench into things and may make Chiarelli ponder a trade for another secondary scorer. Don’t look for them to acquire anything but a rental – if they make a move.
The perfect addition would be… Ray Whitney
At this point, it seems unlikely that the Coyotes will trade Whitney. If he becomes available, though, the Bruins would be an excellent fit for the veteran winger. The B’s have not replaced Mark Recchi’s experience; Whitney would help in that area, as he could just have one playoff run left in him.
Cap room: $9.5 million
Skinny: The Panthers are remarkably in contention for their first playoff berth since 2000. At this point, it seems the Southeast Division is theirs to lose. But they have to go get it and not rely on Washington to continue to stub their toe. GM Dale Tallon is not afraid to pull the trigger, and I’m sure he’d like to add to a young defense corps. The sheer volume of forwards currently on the roster probably means go that direction.
The perfect addition would be… Hal Gill
Florida’s penalty kill is ranked in the bottom-third of the league; if they want to hold onto their division lead and possibly win a round, that unit will need to improve. Gill is considered to be one of the top rental players available. He’s big and is solid around the net. He could act as the glue to a Panthers defense that has enough ability offensively.
New Jersey Devils
Cap room: $2.4 million
Skinny: This is a Devils team that has (a) already acquired Alexei Ponikarovsky and Kurtis Foster and (b) has a handful of injured players on the mend that could result in an overflowing roster. So it will be interesting to see the approach by GM Lou Lamoriello, who usually picks his spots when it comes to deadline dealing. At the same time, they are in a battle for first-round home-ice with Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Ottawa.
The perfect addition would be… Samuel Pahlsson
The Blue Jackets are in full seller mode and Pahlsson is one of a few players that are destined to be dealt before the Feb. 27 deadline. The Devils could use some help in faceoffs (ranked 29th in the NHL); Pahlsson, winning 51 percent of his draws, could provide that. Pahlsson has a fair amount of playoff experience and could fit in on the Devils’ fourth line.
New York Rangers
Cap room: $1.5 million
Skinny: The Rangers have surprised everyone by leading the Eastern Conference by a considerable margin here in late February. They don’t need to make any additions to finish the season tops in the conference; any trade they pull off would be with the postseason in mind. As it stands now, the Rangers can beat anybody in the East in a seven-game series. However, GM Glen Sather can make the Blueshirts the clear-cut favorites by landing a big name like Rick Nash or boosting the team’s overall depth.
The perfect addition would be… Ryan Malone
The one negative here is Malone’s contract ($4.5 million cap hit through 2015). Sather was rumored to be interested in the likes of Shane Doan and Ryan Smyth before they were taken off the market. Malone only has 10 goals in 43 games, but being placed on a line with, say, Brad Richards could ignite him. If Tampa Bay is willing to take a bad contract in return (Wojtek Wolski?), would Sather want Malone’s net presence for the playoff run? The Rangers may be better off doing something minimal or nothing at all.
Cap room: $12.9 million
Skinny: Back in December, GM Bryan Murray acquired Kyle Turris from Phoenix. That could be the biggest trade the Senators make this season, as they don’t want to drift away from their current plan and part with a prospect for a rental player. It is believed that the Sens would like to add another forward, but it isn’t a necessity. Ottawa could easily make the playoffs without making a trade.
The perfect addition would be… Brad Boyes
Last year at this time, Boyes was dealt to Buffalo for a second-round pick. Since then his stock has dropped. Would it be worth for the Sens to give up a middle-round draft pick for Boyes? Why not? He may have three goals in 44 games, but another change of scenery and an increased role on a playoff contender could do him some good.
Cap room: $0
Skinny: With Chris Pronger out for the rest of the season, all eyes were on GM Paul Holmgren to make a move to bolster the defense. Along with opposing GMs, Holmgren saw the defense market dwindle a bit with valuable players re-signing with their respective teams in the last month. However, Holmgren acquired Nicklas Grossman on Thursday for two draft picks. I don’t think the Flyers are done, and don’t count out Holmgren from making a big deal with the Flyers looking somewhat stale since mid-season.
The perfect addition would be… Paul Gaustad
Gaustad seems like he would be a perfect fit in Philadelphia. He’s a rental player and can add depth and experience to a beat up Flyers lineup. Style wise, he’d be a shrewd addition. The 30-year-old can win faceoffs, kill penalties and chip in offensively. Gaustad will be sought after, but he’s someone Holmgren should go after.
Cap room: $0.6 million
Skinny: GM Ray Shero is always looking for ways to improve his team, but the Penguins don’t seem to need anything via trade before next Monday’s deadline. The offense is clicking, the defense is deep and the goalie situation is fine. Plus there is not much cap space. The one question mark, of course, is Sidney Crosby. The Pens plan on Crosby returning to the lineup prior to season’s end, which would be as good of a deadline pickup as anyone.
The perfect addition would be… Sidney Crosby
Thanks to the dominance of Evgeni Malkin, the Pens have gotten by without Crosby. Still, adding the best player in the world to one of the NHL’s hottest teams over the last month would be huge. With Crosby in the lineup, Pittsburgh would be considered one of the favorites to get through the East in the playoffs – regardless of where they finish in the standings after Game 82.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Cap room: $1.2 million
Skinny: Another intriguing team at this year’s deadline is Toronto. GM Brian Burke could do a lot or nothing at all. Rick Nash is interested in the Leafs, but do they have the package to pull off such a trade? Additionally, defenseman Luke Schenn has been dangled as trade bait this season, and pending UFA Mikhail Grabovski isn’t an untouchable. Burke’s Leafs are in position to end their playoff drought, and you can bet the mastermind GM will do what he can to give his team the best chance possible.
The perfect addition would be… Antoine Vermette
Columbus GM Scott Howson is looking to get out from under a bevy of hefty contracts, including Vermette’s ($3.75 million through 2015). Toronto could be a good place for Vermette, who can slide in on the third line, kill penalties and provide some offense. The versatile Vermette is two years removed from a 65-point season with the Blue Jackets, and could act as a good safety plan if they trade Grabovski.
Cap room: $0
Skinny: Despite being three points out of a playoff spot and four points back of Florida for the division lead, GM George McPhee is expected to be active. Ideally, with Nicklas Backstrom out of the lineup indefinitely, McPhee would like to get a center. At the same time, if McPhee is looking to make a shake-up trade, he’s got some parts – Alexander Semin, Jeff Schultz, etc. – he can trade to get what the team needs to climb back into the top eight; with the current cap situation they’ll have to part with some roster players.
The perfect addition would be… Derek Roy
Considering Roy is not a rental, this would be a smart addition by McPhee if he can get rid of some salary and make room. Roy is a No. 1 center in Buffalo, but with a healthy Backstrom, would be a second-line pivot with the Capitals. Roy hasn’t had a great season with the Sabres (who has?), but could turn around his game playing with some of the Caps’ talent.
Pending UFA’s: Brad Boyes, Paul Gaustad, Jochen Hecht (IR)
Other parts to sell: Derek Roy, Drew Stafford
Skinny: Earlier this month the Sabres won three straight and showed some positive signs. Three consecutive losses later, Buffalo is now a seller. GM Darcy Regier will surely field a lot of calls, specifically on Gaustad. Boyes could be a flier worth taking for a team looking for depth up front, but he has been a liability for some time now. Roy, under contract through 2013, could be Buffalo’s most attractive asset. And then there’s Ryan Miller, who has been involved in crazy rumors all year. Regier will be active, but it’s hard to gauge just how active he’ll be.
Pending UFA’s: Tuomo Ruutu (IR), Jaroslav Spacek, Bryan Allen
Other parts to sell: None
Skinny: GM Jim Rutherford has seen his two biggest trade assets – Tim Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu – come off the market. Gleason was signed to an extension after the All-Star break, while Ruutu’s current injury will keep him out of the lineup beyond the deadline. Rutherford may not be too busy after all, but he’ll certainly receive calls about Spacek and Allen from defenseman-seeking contenders.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Pending UFA’s: Pavel Kubina, Brett Clark, Dwayne Roloson, Adam Hall, Ryan Shannon, Matt Gilroy, Bruno Gervais
Other parts to sell: Ryan Malone
Skinny: GM Steve Yzerman made his intentions clear on Thursday by dealing Dominic Moore to San Jose and announcing that Kubina will not play until he is traded. The Bolts are 3-3-2 since a five-game win streak, and a playoff berth seems unlikely. Kubina and Clark are defensemen that will draw interest from teams looking for blue-line help. So could Malone, if a team is desperate enough for a forward that they’d be willing to take on his bad contract. Yzerman doesn’t have many parts to sell, but Tampa Bay is a seller.
Caught in the middle
Cap room: $1.0 million
Pending UFA’s: Hal Gill, Travis Moen, Andrei Kostitsyn, Chris Campoli, Mathieu Darche
Skinny: Montreal sits in 13th place in the East, eight points back of a playoff spot. However, they still feel they can make a late run. Gill and Moen will likely be dealt, but I don’t think they’ll truly go into selling mode unless they fall apart between now and the deadline.
New York Islanders
Cap room: $13.9 million
Pending UFA’s: Evgeni Nabokov, Al Montoya, P.A. Parenteau, Brian Rolston, Mark Eaton, Steve Staios, Skinny: Jay Pandolfo, Milan Jurcina, Mike Mottau, Dylan Reese, Tim Wallace
GM Garth Snow will get calls on Nabokov, Parenteau and others, but the hope is to re-sign those guys and build for next year. Look for the Islanders to stand pat and see if they can make things interesting down the stretch.
Cap room: $12.0 million
Pending UFA’s: Johnny Oduya, Jim Slater, Kyle Wellwood, Chris Mason, Randy Jones, Tanner Glass, Tim Stapleton, Mark Flood
Skinny: Jets management has a plan, so they won’t get away from it. If they get on a run in the next week, maybe they’ll try to find a bargain. If they fall into a slump, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could look to unload expiring contracts.
All cap numbers courtesy of CapGeek.com
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