The NHL trade deadline is rapidly approaching. Rumors have been swirling for weeks as to which teams will look to make that blockbuster deal, which teams will look to add a piece that would keep them in the playoff race, or which teams have been rumored ready to open their doors and prepare a fire sale.
Unlike the NFL trade deadline, which is usually lackluster at best, the NHL trade deadline is usually filled with a plethora of roster activity, and more often than not, there’s at least one or two blockbuster moves made.
There’s no telling who will definitively be a ‘buyer’ or ‘seller,’ but with the NHL season hitting the final stretch (around thirty games to play), one could make an educated assumption on which teams will be looking to make that one difference maker of a move, and which teams are ready to clean house.
Toronto Maple Leafs- Toronto could use another blue liner as they try to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Toronto sits relatively comfortably, as they are 9 points in front of the final wild card spot. Still, they now find themselves behind a red hot Bruins team, and with the the race so tight in the East this year, a solid defenseman could put any possible worries to rest.
New York Islanders- The Islanders will want to be buyers here for a few reasons. The most obvious reason being they are tied for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The second, and more inconspicuous reason would be making a selling point to potential free agent superstar John Tavares that the Isles do indeed plan to be competitive in the upcoming years. The Islanders could use some help on the blue line, and while they could use another goaltender, there are few, and far between available. It would be surprising to see a quiet Islander deadline considering what’s potentially at stake for not only this season, but for years to come.
San Jose Sharks- San Jose is currently holding a playoff spot by two points. They could use help at forward, and defenseman. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see them add either, or even both if they can find a way to make it happen. They likely make forward they higher priority, as a void will need to be filled in regards to Sharks staple, Joe Thornton. Again, considering how tight the West Conference playoff race is, it would be relatively surprising if the San Jose front office didn’t look to make at least one move at the deadline.
Nashville Predators- With Nashville currently on Winnipeg’s heels for 1st place in the Central, the Preds could easily make a move to look to catch/surpass the Jets, and possibly even conference leading, Vegas. Looking at Nashville’s roster, they need more offensive production; Mike Fisher putting his retirement on hold probably won’t cut it. Nashville could look to make a move for a true top six forward, but sources say they have been looking for quite sometime now, and have been unable to even come close on any possible acquisitions.
New Jersey Devils- The Devils are currently holding the third place playoff spot in the Metropolitan division. They are currently three points ahead of the final wild card spot, and could use some insurance in numerous areas of the ice. Obviously with goaltender Corey Schneider dealing with injury, Jersey has been forced to use a sort of ‘revolving door’ of goaltenders that include youngster, Ken Appleby (pronounced apple-bee), and recently acquired Eddie Lack (who was playing in the AHL prior). The Devils have also been miserable on the blue line this year, but with them already acquiring Sami Vatanen earlier this season, it’s unlikely Shero makes another in-season move for a defenseman. So that leaves forward, and while guys have rotated in taking turns stepping up it a notch when needed, the Devils could absolutely use another scorer. Reports surfaced that the team was interested in Islanders’ Brock Nelson, but with both division rivals in a tight playoff race, it seems very unlikely.
Ottawa Senators- It has been reported countless times this season that the Senators are looking to clean house, and begin a rebuild. It didn’t help the situation when star defenseman Eric Karlsson claimed he wanted to be one of the highest paid players in the league when he officially becomes a free agent. So in addition to putting themselves in a position for a rebuild, Ottawa fans now have to be concerned as to if they’ll deal their top blue liner who was expected to be in the teams’ plans for years down the line.
New York Rangers- The Rangers have made it no secret that they look to ‘clean house’ as the upcoming deadline approaches. To put further emphasis on the plan, reports now say the team has reached out to Rick Nash to find out which teams he would waive his ‘no trade’ clause for. New York has made it very clear they plan to build for the future, and despite still being very much alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, they have prematurely waived the white flag.
Buffalo Sabres- Deja Vu? Doesn’t it feel like the Sabres are on this list every year? Now, obviously when your rebuilding you’re going to get a few years like this, but Buffalo has been for a long time. Whenever it looks like they are starting to put the right pieces together, it just doesn’t form into a decent product on the ice. The Sabres have made it clear they would like to trade F Evander Kane, who would be a great deal of help to numerous contenders, but Buffalo’s asking price is supposedly an arm, and a leg, which is why GMs have strayed away from bargaining for the star winger.
Arizona Coyotes- With the Coyotes sitting in dead last, it’s obvious Arizona will try to move whatever assets they do have at the deadline to build for the future. Ekman-Larsson is a defenseman multiple teams covet, and Arizona would have every right to ask for a hefty return.
Montreal Canadiens- With Montreal in complete disarray, multiple reports of Montreal dealing some of their key veterans at the deadline have surfaced in the month of January. Max Pacioretty is certainly a guy they will almost certainly move prior to February 26th, but their current asking price has stalled potential negotiations at the moment. Montreal did recently make a public statement saying they are not interested in trading Tomas Plekanec, however no such statement was made in regards to winger Alex Galchenyuk. Hang on to your hats, habs’ fans, it very well could be a bumpy ride.