With the NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching, playoff-bound teams need to decide whether they will go into the playoffs with their existing roster or if they will try to add one or two pieces to help them make a long run. Teams that are out of the playoffs are looking to get the most they can for players on expiring contracts or even major deals to unload some contracts. Then there are the teams in the middle, who might decide to both buy and sell.
There are some teams who have been out of the playoff picture for quite some time and teams in the Western Conference that have recently climbed back into the playoff picture. While most fans love to see the big blockbuster player deals, all it could take is a minor deal to put a contending team over the top. Buyers will be looking for that difference maker that will put them over the top.
Here are my predictions the destination of players who have been rumored to be traded and match them up with the teams who I think will be the buyers.
The surprise team of the West are contending for top spot in the Pacific with a rookie goalie. They may want to trade for a proven goalie, as Mike Smith continues to falter. If they also land a solid top 6 forward, it could make them an even more dangerous team in the playoffs.
Possible Options:James Reimer (FLA), Cam Ward (CHI), Matt Zuccarello (NYR), Kevin Hayes (NYR)
Long Shot:Mark Stone (OTT), Jimmy Howard (DET)
GM Stan Bowman has done a great job of trading already this season, especially since they face such a tight cap situation. The acquisition of Dylan Strome has helped the Blackhawks claw their way back into the Western Conference playoff picture. Still, Bowman likely has his eyes set on trying to dump some salary.
Possible Options:Kasperi Kapanen (TOR)
Long Shot:Artemi Panarin (CHI)
After a quick start, the Avs have recently been in a free-fall. GM Joe Sakic may need to find some secondary scoring help in order to help keep their playoff hopes alive. They could be both buyers and sellers.
Possible Options: Kevin Hayes (NYR), Gustav Nyquist (DET), Andrei Burakovsky (WSH)
Long Shot:Eric Staal (MIN), Charlie Coyle (MIN)
It seems like CEO Jim Lites lit the horses behind since his crass comments about Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. The Stars have been winning and will likely be shopping for some secondary scoring to help the stable.
Possible Options:Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Artemi Panarin (LAK)
Long Shot:Matt Duchene (OTT), Micheal Ferland (CAR)
The Wild are a bubble team in both making the playoffs and whether they will be buyers or sellers. Earlier this season, word was Charlie Coyle was on the trade block, with new GM Paul Fenton looking to make some changes to the roster. Other teams are also salivating at the possibility of upcoming UFA Eric Staal possibly becoming available.
Possible Options: Kevin Hayes (NYR), Matt Zuccarello (NYR)
Long Shot:Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA)
David Poile always seems to have something up his sleeve when it comes to pulling off a surprise trade. The Preds are built to win now and it may take one more move to accomplish that. Team to watch to make first big move.
Possible Options:Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Jakob Silfverberg (ANA)
Long Shot:Mark Stone (OTT), Matt Zuccarello (NYR)
The Sharks already made their big move when they acquired Erik Karlsson at the beginning of the season. Now it may just be a matter of adding some character and depth to their lineup for a possible long playoff run.
Possible Options: Alex Chiasson (EDM), Carl Hagelin (LAK), Drew Stafford (NJD)
Long Shot:Charlie Coyle (MIN)
It wasn’t long ago that the Blues were last place in the Central, but they have since turned things around and are right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Despite this, it is not likely that GM Doug Armstrong will make a big splash.
Possible Options: Marcus Johansson (NJD), Jakob Silverberg (ANA)
Long Shot:Ryan Dzingel (OTT)
After a slow start, the Golden Knights were quickly back in to their first year expansion form, but have recently tailed off again. After reaching the finals last season, GM George McPhee will likely be looking to hit a homerun with a big deadline acquisition.
Possible Options:Mark Stone (OTT), Matt Duchene (OTT)
Long Shot:Jeff Carter (LAK), Ryan Getzlaf (ANA), Duncan Keith (CHI)
After their surprising acquisition at the deadline last year, the biggest question being thrown around is “Who is the next Paul Stastny?” After being thwarted a couple of times, Chevy pulled a rabbit out of his hat by trading with a Central rival. This season their needs appears to be up the middle. What does Chevy do for an encore?
Possible Options:Kevin Hayes (NYR), Mark Stone (OTT)
Long Shot: Eric Staal (MIN), Marcus Johansson (NJD)
The Bruins are in a similar position as the Preds are in the West. With the veterans they have in their lineup, they are in a win-now mode. If they want to get past the Lightning and Capitals, they will likely need make some key additions.
Possible Options: Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Derick Brassard (FLA)
Long Shot:Mark Stone (OTT), Wayne Simmonds (PHI)
One of the surprise teams of the East, the Sabres find themselves in an unusual position of not being a Trade Deadline seller. However, I don’t expect GM Jason Boterill to be very active unless it is for a player with term.
Possible Options:Jesse Puljujarvi (EDM),
Long Shot:Kasperi Kapanen (TOR)
Next to Ottawa, the Blue Jackets are the team to watch to see whether they will trade or keep both upcoming UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.
Possible Options:Matt Duchene (OTT), Vlad Namestnikov (NYR)
Longshot:Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA), Artemi Anisimov (CHI), Duncan Keith (CHI)
One of the biggest surprises in the East this season, the Habs have quickly turned things around thanks to some healthy bodies, trades that have panned out, and the play from their rookie forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Possible Options:Niklas Kronwall (DET), Nikita Zadorov (COL), Patrik Nemeth (COL)
Long Shot:Cam Fowler (ANA), Derick Brassard (FLA)
New York Islanders
The biggest surprise in the NHL this season, Head Coach Barry Trotz has done the unthinkable after the Isles lost their franchise player. They have a few players who will become UFAs at the end of the season, but that may not stop GM Lou Lamareillo from adding a few key pieces to try and continue their surprise run into the playoffs. Is there another David Volek moment in the cards?
Possible Options:Matt Duchene (OTT), Gustav Nyquist (DET)
Long Shot: Sergei Bobrovsky (CLB), Micheal Ferland (CAR)
You never know what Jim Rutherford has up his sleeve as he is not scared of making a big move. Sid and Geno are not getting any younger and like he did in the beginning of the season, Rutherford may want to kick-start the Pens again as they are fighting for a playoff spot.
Possible Options:Eric Staal (PIT), Gustav Nyquist (DET), Alex Martinez (LAK)
Long Shot: Ryan Dzingel (OTT), Jeff Skinner (BUF), Micheal Ferland (CAR)
The Lightning have been the runaway team during the regular season. However, as we all know, that goes out the window as soon as the playoffs start. Pressure is on for this team to go all the way after some disappointing results in the last couple of playoff runs. Likely looking for some help on the back end.
Possible Options:Adam McQuaid (NYR), Alex Martinez (LAK)
Long Shot:Cody Ceci (OTT), Justin Faulk (CAR)
The Leafs already made a big splash when they acquired highly coveted defenceman Jake Muzzin from the LA Kings. They could still add a forward or a depth defenceman, as they were originally looking for a RHD.
Possible Options: Jakob Silfverberg (ANA), Ben Lovejoy (NJD)
Long Shot: Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Micheal Ferland (CAR)
Just like last season, I don’t expect the Caps to make a big splash at the trade deadline. They may make a few minor moves to shore up their depth.
Possible Options: Troy Brouwer (FLA), Patrick Maroon (STL)
Long Shot:Alex Chiasson (EDM), Marcus Johansson (NJD)