So with the upcoming NHL trade deadline looming, there are a number of teams with holes to fill and questions to answer. This is by no means a professional hockey writer talking, just some of my personal view and opinions based on the rumors that I have seen.
The Jets have some really good young talent on their team. Their main concerns are goal-tending and the Dustin Byfuglien/Evander Kane saga. Their are certainly teams interested in both of these players, but my feelings say that the asking price for both is way too high. Can the Jets make the playoffs with the tending duo of Pavelec and Montoya? Considering Pavs is a workhorse and love to play, he faces the same thing all tenders face when they face too many shots and play too many games and that's fatigue. And this far in his career, he has shown he can be a starter with his flashes of brilliance, but a clear cut number one he is not.
The Capitals are headlined by their superstar captain. And though Alex Ovechkin leads the league in goals and recently hit the 800 point mark, 1 man does not a team make. It seems that when A.O. is on his game the Caps seem to hit the win column more often than not. The Caps also have questions in net. There are teams rumoured to be in the mix for one of the 3 goalies they have on the roster, but the main thing they need to accomplish is getting rid of Erat. Erat never seems to want to play for a losing team, and he has lately been an under preformer in my opinion and the "I dont want to play for this team" attitude he brings is not a good one for a dressing room that already has enough questions in it.
The Canucks have a lot of questions regarding their team. Kesler, Luongo, Booth, both Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Edler, Bieksa, and the list could go on. It has been no secret as of late that Gilles has been taking offers for every member of his team, and my personal thoughts is that Mike Gilles is up to something. Since the Olympic break, Luongo has yet to see a minute of ice time and Lack is starting the Heritage Classic at BC Place. Luongo is obviously frustrated, is he frustrated enough to ask for a trade? Does he play the way Tortorella wants him to play? Is he fed up with Tortorella's coaching? Lets just say deadline day and the off-season could be very interesting in British Columbia this year
There is always some kind of rumor that someone is coming from or going to Toronto. I don't see any major deals out of T.O. this year, but I could be wrong as well. It's no secret that Reimer is unhappy about his lack of playing time, but he is also very much a team player. Kadri may be the one that does move, but by no means will he be moving. Gardiner is also on some teams radar, but again will he move? Also, can the Leafs keep up with the push and make the playoffs for a second year in a row?
I am not to sure what the Lightning are up to. There seems to be some animosity between Marty St.Louis and Steve Yzerman mainly over the Olympic selection and as well there should be. Marty has been a consistent player and one of the leagues best all season and to be snubbed for the initial Olympic team is definitely something he took personally as the GM of team Canada is his own clubs GM as well. Should he want out of Tampa? Is it best for the team if he stays? Only Marty knows that for certain. Look for Tampa to bolster their team by adding some depth at center with Filppula and Stamkos still shut down for the time being.
The Blues have already made a major move to improve their team. The addition of Ryan Miller gives them the elite class goaltender that they have needed since Cujo left. Miller has struggled in Buffalo this year but it was not all his fault, you can blame it a little on the team in front of him. Look for him to benefit from a way better and much more defensive team. Add Steve Ott for some veteran leadership in place of Chris Stewart and the Blues look like a strong contender.
The Sharks have been consistently one of the better teams in the the NHL over the last few seasons . The one knock on them is playoff success. They had some early season drama with the between the legs goal by Tomas Hertl agaisnt the Rangers, but they dealt with it and went on their way to winning some more games. Big questions for them are this; Can we make it deep into the playoffs? Can we ride out the season on Niemi and Stalock? Are we deep enough to find a way to win if one of our star players go down? Only time will tell.
The Pens have 2 of the best players globally on their team.When Sid is not on his game, Geno is and vise-verse as well. The main concern with them is goal-tending. Zatkoff has done an admirable job behind Fleury (who has struggled at times this season), but is he enough to keep the Pens in the playoff hunt and in the knockouts when Fleury faulters as he always seems to do. Vokoun is on his way back from the IR but has yet to see any game action this year so questions galore. The Pens are rumored to be one of the teams Kesler might wave his NTC to be a part of, but I feel they will be after a top 4 d-man with the injury to Paul Martin and the health concerns with Kris Letang.
The Yotes are a strange story and they have been for a while now. With the team going bankrupt and the sale almost done numerous times and the possible moving of them, I am surprised they even managed to play a full game over those years. Now they have a full time arena, an ownership, and a team to play. Yandle is a player that everyone wants, but as always, the Yotes want too much for him. Stable goal-tending has kept them in games this year and yet here they are again, on the outside looking in. They will do something this year at the deal deadline, but nothing to significant.
Everyone's favorite team to hate. Wether it be the goalies, or the lack of production from top players, there is always something about the Flyers to talk about. Mason has put in quality tending since his acquisition from Columbus, not great, but quality and his numbers other than the win/loss are the proof. 2.55 GAA isnt great, but a .916 save % and 3 shutouts this year aren't bad at all. If they feel they are still in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs, look for them to add some D depth and maybe a top 6 winger to push them over the hump.
The Sens made some news when they acquired Bobby Ryan out of Anaheim. They were then in the news again when the USA left Ryan off the Olympic team. Spezza is quietly having a good year even though his +\- is a huge -24. Defense is an issue with this team, though they have a stable d-man crew led by Phillips, he is right now the most talked about topic in Ottawa. Are they going to resign him or trade him as he is a UFA at seasons end, and with a single goal, 18 assists, and a -8 rating in a contact year, it's not looking good for him to stay in Ottawa.
New York Rangers:
The Rangers are no stranger to rumors. Is Callahan going to be traded? Are they going to re-sign the captain? Are they going to attain Marty St.Louis from Tampa and for whom? They have already dealt Del Zotto and locked up Girardi and have one of the leagues best goalies in Lundqvist. They have Richards and Nash. They seem a solid balanced team.
New York Islanders:
Garth Snow has made the headlines as of late. Rumors around Vanek are flying, Andy MacDonald is trade bait. My personal feeling is that Garth Snow needs to be the one that gets ousted and traded. Just my opinion tho and everyone has a differing one. Vanek will be out of NYI by seasons end, that is the only for sure thing besided Tavares being injured and them not making the playoffs again.
Brodeur has raised some eyebrows here. He has waived his NTC and there are some teams that would love to have his services. He has played his entire 21 years with the Devils and it will be a sad sad day when and if he does go. Brodeur isnt the only story here though, Jagr may be on the move again as well and possibly to a contender if they price is right.
The biggest story out of Nashville this year has been Pekka Rinne. Its not his fault he got a serious infection on a surgically repaired hip.Though the possibility of playoffs is tantalizing them, I don't see them making it to the dance this year. Carter Hutton has done a very admirable job in place of Rinne, they traded for Dubnyk out of Edmonton and acquired Del Zotto out of NYR. Rinne will be playing in a Preds uniform again this year but it is going to be too little too late for them. Trotz has done an admirable job with the crew he has, but hasn't gotten a Preds style team game out of them this year.
Brierre is the only name on the radar right now, but that is not to say something else wont happen either. There has been rumors of Subban, Markov, and other key players. But it is all a horse race too, anyone without a NTC can be moved. Not saying that anyone will be moved. Begevin has done a great job with this franchise since taking over. Price has been a stud this year and look for him to keep on playing well after a shutout game to win the gold over Sweeden. He is the franchise here and unless there is a team desperate enough and has the right price, Price is staying in Montreal for a long time to come.
Look for the Wild to target a goaltender at deadline day. Keumper has been great when he has had to be, and with Harding's health concerns and aging veteran Backstom a goalie is needed. They have a great core set with Suter, Parise, Grandlund, and Neiderietter. Harding is the goalie of the future if he can keep his MS at bay.
This is a team that needs to figure out how to score. Bringing in a star sniper type player seems to be what the team needs, but they have already Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar. Scoring will come to this team soon enough. Look for a couple minor additions.
The Panthers are a team that has assets that teams covet. Huberdeau, Bjugstad, Barkov are just a few. Thomas has been steady this year in goal, but injuries have hampered him this year as well. Thomas could be a decent rental to someone in need of a goalie this year, he does have a cup and would provide some veteran leadership to a team riding a young tender into the playoffs.
Full of young superstar players and no goal-tending is the issue with this team. It is time for the Oilers to part ways with some of the young players they have stockpiled. Yakupov and Hall seem to be the names most tossed around, but Eberle is the one that most teams are after. If the Oil trade one of these young stars, look for a goaltender to go with him and a top goalie coming back with some defensive help.
Injuries have taken their toll on the Wings this year. Zetterburg, Datsyuk, Howard, and Franzen are the notables bitten by the bug this year. The thought this year was the big bad Wings who were annually tops of the Western Conference were going to roll through the weaker Eastern Conference, but no, they are figthing to even make the dance and it will break a streak of 21 or 22 straight years if they miss. Alfie was a big add this year after the retirement of Lidstrom. With Zetts out for the next while, look for a depth forward to come to Mo-town.
Robidas is out with a broken leg. Fiddler and Cole may be on the move. This team could be shaken up at deadline day. The Benn brothers have been the stars of this team this year. Changes are on the way for Dallas.
Gaborik and Horton coming back into the lineup are the best thing that could have happened for the stretch run. There is nothing better than not giving up anything to get star quality players slid into your line-up. Ryan Johansen is a young center that many teams would love to have. Bobrovsky seems to have found his game and a home with the Blue Jackets. Last years Vezina trophy winner hasnt had a stellar season, but he has kept the Jackets in games and just 3 points back of the 3rd in the Metro division. If available for trade, Cam Atkinson would be a great under the radar pickup for any team in the league.
They started the year with a bang under former goalie and current head coach Patrick Roy. Their number one goaltender was then arrested. Rumors of trades have run rampant through this team. Among the rumors of players on the way out are Stastny, Parenteau, and O'Reilly. Still one of the feel good stories for the NHL this year.
The Stanley cup champs picked up where they left off last year, winning games. Antii Ranta is a feel good story for this team this year after Corey Crawford, and Nikoli Khabibulin both sustained injuries this year. Picking up LaBarbera was an insurance policy. With Crawford healthy the team is on a roll again. Not expecting to many changes with this team at deadline, but with Hossa having what is called and upper body injury, maybe a depth forward would come to the Hawks. Look for Saad to eat up some minutes while Hossa is down.
Once known as the cardiac Canes, Carolina has not been the same team since veterans like Brinds and O'Neil have since left the franchise. Eric Staal is a franchise player and with the addition of his brother out of Pittsburgh, 3 of the 4 Staal brothers now play with this franchise. Cam Ward has had some setbacks with his career and I would dub him no more than a solid backup tender now. Jeff Skinner, Alex Semin, and Justin Faulk seem to be core players for this team along with the Staal brothers.What the Canes need is a bonafide #1 starter, and in order to attain this piece of the puzzle they need to give up a core player.
Now it is no secret that the Flames are in a tail spin. Ramo was brought in from the KHL to replace Kipprusoff, Iginla is not with the team anymore, Burke was brought in to help Jay Feaster rebuild this team. Since game 1, Ramo has not lived up to expectations, no one has been able to replace the heart and soul Iginla had, and Feaster has been fired. Surprises out of Calgary this year have been Sean Monahan, Kris Russel, and Reto Berra. Look for the Flames to be sellers this year.
What can we say about the Sabres this year other than 'DISASTROUS!!!' It has been a long and dismal season for Buffalo this year. They are in full out fire-sale mode when it comes to dealdline day this year. Already unloading Miller to the Blues with Ott; Tallinder, Erhoff, even new acquisitions Halak and Stewart are all on the market for dealing. The most notable of the roster players is Moulson (acquired via tade for Vanek out of NYI) is highly sought after buy a few teams, Ottawa and LA being the ones favored to land him. Nothing in Sabre land will be the same after deadline day as well as at seasons end.
Rumored to be looking for a d-man, but the B's are well on the way to another playoff appearance. The team has been playing well all season with some bumps here and there. Iggy signed as a free agent in July and has added a lot of depth to the B's. With a good young core and prospects down in Providence, the Bruins are in good shape. This is a far out idea, but what if Thomas was traded back to the B's, wouldn't that be interesting?
The Big question here is which of the 3 goalies is on the way out at deadline, or do they wait to see if Hiller tests the market come July. With that being said, I would trade Hiller and get something for him before he walks and you get nothing. There in no shortage of teams that would love to acquire Hiller, but with him being an impending UFA they will not want to give up much for him unless they can sign him. So maybe a sign and trade. Now this is just my own speculation and by no means do I say this will happen, but this is what I could see happening. Hiller and Fowler/Lindholm/Vatanen to Edmonton for Bachman/Bryzgalov, Hall/Eberle/Yakupov, and a prospect/pick. Like I said it is just what I could see happeneing. But with Fasth on the IR, I don't see Hiller being moved at all.
I am not by any means a hockey expert and this is just my personal takes on each team before deadline day. I love the game and I play the game as well, I do expect to see people who clash and disagree with what I have wrote and I take no exception to it at all. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and with that everyone has a different one from mine. Just asking that you keep the derogatory and vulgar to yourselves as the world doesn't need to see you fight with someone on someone else's blogs.
Cheers for now