Five NHL teams looking to make moves
With the NHL’s March 2nd trade deadline fast approaching we need to keep an eye on the teams that will be buyers looking to get one last boost to their rosters heading into the stretch drive. Many top end players have moved from bottom dwellers to the contenders during this time period.
Ever since the NHL introduced the “loser point” given to the team that losses the game but still gets a point because the game went to overtime, the NHL standings have looked artificially closer than they really are. It is harder to weed out teams who are actually playoff contenders.
The Winnipeg Jets (30-19-10, 70 points)
The Jets currently sit in the number one wild card spot in the Western Conference and already made steps to fortify their team. GM Kevin Chevaldayoff pulled the trigger on a blockbuster that sent injured star Evander Kane along with Zach Bogosian to Buffalo for Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers. It was a good old fashioned hockey trade designed to help the Jets get into the playoffs this season. It signaled to the rest of the league that the Jets plan on making the making the playoffs this year and may not be done with the trade deadline still over a week away. The Jets have a very tough schedule with 20 of 23 games remaining against playoff contending teams.
Possible needs: First line two-way center, depth defensemen.
Florida Panthers (25-19-12, 62 points)
The Panthers have been rumoured to be interested in Maple Leafs’ sniper Phil Kessel. Florida sits just two points back of the Boston Bruins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Panthers’ GM Dale Tallon was aggressive in the offseason in pursuing veteran talent like Willie Mitchell and Dave Bolland to mix well with this talented young core and newly crowned franchise goalie in Roberto Luongo. It has certainly gone right in most cases through the first two-thirds of the season. This is team could really still need one last boost though if it is going to beat out the Bruins or the fast charging Flyers for that last playoff spot.
Possible needs: Top six forward that can score, veteran depth players.
Dallas Stars (27-22-8, 62 points)
The Stars took a big hit when leading scorer Tyler Seguin went down with a knee injury last week. Seguin is expected to miss four to six weeks which is exactly the time period the Stars need him the most as they quest for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can’t really replace a top flight center like Seguin but you have to think that GM Jim Nill will do something to mitigate the problem. The Stars were dubbed as the breakout favorites for the western conference when this season started but it hasn’t gone exactly as expected. The Stars have had problems keeping the puck out of their own all season and moves to fortify the backend and the third and fourth lines could also be a need.
Possible needs: Top six center, top four defenseman.
Philadelphia Flyers (24-23-10 58 points)
The Flyers are probably a little too far back of the final wild card spot in the East to be a real contender but I threw them in here because you know GM Paul Holmgren won’t take another year without the playoffs lying down. For years the Flyers have not had a reliable true number one goalie but that seems to have changed with Steve Mason solidifying the position. Only problem for the Flyers is that that Mason is currently injured and will be out another 10-15 days. Will the Flyers continue to go with backup Ray Emery or make a move for some goaltending help? Maybe they have a goaltender in the system they can bring up that they trust. They have yet to show any signs of that going forward. It is likely they make a move to help themselves out there. The Flyers have depth problems at defense too that were helped this season with the acquisition and good play of Michael Del Zotto but it hasn’t been enough with veteran Kimmo Timmon out with injury.
Possible needs: Goaltending depth, top defenseman, depth forwards.
San Jose Sharks (29-22-8, 66 points)
The Sharks are at a crossroads again as they have lost seven of nine games now after a 5-1 embarrassment at Nashville on Tuesday night. San Jose is currently in a wild card spot but have games in hand on the charging Minnesota Wild, LA Kings and Colorado Avalanche. The pressure is on this management group of Doug Murray and Todd McClellan to not only make the playoffs, but make a deep run. The Sharks have been very inconsistent this year and are at times a mess in their own end. They have young players on defense and are missing veterans Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart who really beefed up the position the last few years. If this team continues to lose in the upcoming week you just might start to see heads roll with either a change in management or top players moved at the deadline.
Possible needs: Top four defensemen, depth forwards.
Other teams in the hunt: Minnesota Vancouver, Colorado, LA Kings, Boston, Columbus.