There is speculation-a-plenty around the league lately, as is the usual case in the days approaching the trade deadline.
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With this at the fore-front of most discussions in NHL circles, I figured I'd put together a general compilation of what I figure each team will be doing between now and the deadline.
I figure I'll do this in segments, starting with the top-heavy South East division.
Washington Capitals - Buyers
Currently sitting at 2nd place in the East, there is minimal urgency between now and the deadline for the Caps to make a move.
Arguably, they may need to take a look at either some goaltending depth or at the very least an upgrade on the blue line as they currently sit 15th overall in goals against per game. However, the fear is minimal because they sit in the top 5 for goals for with one of the most feared young shooters in recent memories being set up by one of the best young play makers in the game being fed passes from one of the best young offensive defenseman in the league (p.s. that's Ovechkin from Backstrom and Green), putting up points at a lightning fast pace of late.
If you noticed a trend of 'young' there, good for you, you're paying attention! Washington looks to be headed nowhere but up with the pool of youth they've built in the last half decade or so.
If they were to make a trade, they would most likely lean towards giving up a pick for some defensive depth, however, if they were to find a deal to bring them a high-end blueliner or goaltender, don't think for a second they will hesitate to give up their blue-chipper Karl Alzner to get it done.
Florida Panthers - Buyers
The Panthers find themselves in a position that the word envious definitely does not apply to. Not only are they in a playoff race, for what could be the eight and final spot along with teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they also have a potential disaster of a situation evolving in Jay Boumeester.
They currently sit around the middle of the pack in both goals for and goals against. So realistically, they may be looking at enhancing the depth at all aspects of their team.
The one somewhat bright spot for this team is the goaltending they have. Both have Above average save percentages and both have been stars at different points during the year. They have of course, lacked consistency, but at the same time, so has this entire team.
The team has a fair amount of depth in good forward prospects, so don't be surprised if they attempt to offer up one or more of them to bolster their forward situation.
I also think, pertaining to Boumeester, that unless this team has a terrible stretch from now until the deadline, he will remain a Panther until the end of the season, when his contractual rights will be shipped relatively cheap at the draft.
All in all, I think that they will be definite buyers at the deadline looking for a depth defenseman, some grit on the forward ranks, and also a depth forward to play on the 2nd or 3rd line and can bring some character to the dressing room.
Carolina Hurricanes - Buyers
Carolina looks to be a bubble team more by luck and a weak conference than it is by being a good team.
The have the 5th worst goals for per game in the league and are stuck in the bottom half of the league in goals against per game, generally, a combination that sets you up to finish in the bottom part of the league.
That being said, there are moves this team will clearly look at making, that in my opinion will be very tough for them to match what other teams will give up, in order to add some scoring depth and grit up front. They will also look to add a stay-at-home defenseman to help anchor their unstable goals against.
Cam Ward's save percentage, is by no means bad by NHL standards, but for this team to take a legitimate run he will have to step up his game.
All in all, the Canes will likely look to add before subtract and will likely have to either ante-up their first rounder in the upcoming draft or one of their blue-chip prospects down the middle to get it done.
Tampa Bay Lightning - Sellers
The Lightning have been supposedly entertaining the idea regarding the potential deal to send Lecavalier packing. To me, makes little sense, unless of course they were to get a large package of young players and high-draft picks and step-in roster players that will help this team immediately contend next year.
There is a sense of urgency for some young teams in what some call 'non-traditional' hockey markets to get things done and make the playoffs within the next couple years or else the NHL map of cities will be changing sooner rather than later. The Lightning are one of these teams, and if they could get a larger-than-life return for Lecavalier they may have to pull the trigger for the sake of saving the franchise.
Many expected the Lightning to at the very least contend for a playoff spot this year, if not a division title, however, the team simply hasn't clicked together, and inevitably, changes will need to occur.
Ryan Malone, Mark Recchi, Gary Roberts and Vaclav Prospal's days could all be numbered in a Tampa jersey, in addition to Lecavalier. A combination of the four prior are likely to be moved to add depth down the right wing, and also bolster a relatively weak depth in defensive prospects, in particular, ones with offensive upside.
Olaf Kolzig is also an asset the team may move to someone with a precarious goaltending situation like the Detroit Red Wings.
When its all said in done, I think the team will steer clear of the blockbusters, and stick more to trades to help the team contend in the next year or so that will help along side a one-two center combination of Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos.
Atlanta Thrashers - Sellers
In one word, the Thrasher's front office has one thought in their mind approaching the deadline; sell!
They have been below average in most aspects of the game for the duration of the season thus far, and when you look at their roster, that comes as little surprise.
The Thrashers possess some good prospect depth on their blue line and down the middle. They also have one of the better goaltending prospects in Ondrej Pavelec.
They will most likely look ahead to years to come and try to add draft picks to work with at the upcoming draft. They may also try to add a couple of wingers to their prospect pool.
They have a few character players they could part with in order to do this, and also could perhaps, consider parting with Kari Lehtonen if the price was right.
One has to believe that Mathieu Schneider's days in a Thrasher's jersey are numbered and if you add Nicklaus Havelid, Todd White, Marty Reasoner and Vyacheslav Kozlov to those of the players who may be on the way out, the Thrashers have a genuine opportunity this year to get better for the very near future.
With the south east division out of the way, I will be picking my next division in the very near future to put in my two-cents about. If you have a suggestion as to who you'd like to discuss with me or prefer to read about next, leave it along with your comments about the blog below.
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