NHL Trade Deadline Analysis: Metropolitan Division
It’s that time of the year again, when the playoff race starts and every playoff contender and hopeful fight for a spot in the 2016 postseason. It’s also nearing that time when every team tries to look for pieces to deal and get better either for the playoffs or for the future. That said, for the next four weeks, I’ll be analyzing every team’s surpluses and needs per division leading up to the trade deadline on February 29th.
Oh yes, and I’m doing the teams in alphabetical order. This week, we’ll take a look at the Metropolitan Division.
Needs: Forward prospects
Final analysis: The last time the Hurricanes qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals in ’09. As of now, they need much more consistency from a forward group that has been dry for the most part. Their youthful defense has been solid, but they need help. Captain Eric Staal is a guy who’s been talked about being potential trade bait. Maybe also pitch in a few impending UFAs.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Final analysis: Even after making a blockbuster deal with the Nashville Predators, giving up Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones to have more support on the blue line, you get the feeling that general manager Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t done. The Blue Jackets are in the bottom-3 of the League standings, but overall they really are the worst team in the League aside from the usual suspects (Leafs and Oilers, of course). Kekalainen had said earlier this year that anyone can be traded, and obviously the Johansen deal was an example of that. Unfortunately, they don’t have many other big chips to deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did a little more roster cleaning for more picks and prospects as they are definitely in need of replenishing their picks and prospect pool.
New Jersey Devils
Needs: Forwards and defense
Final analysis: The Devils are the mix this year, but expect them to be sellers looking for more stability on the blue line as well as offensive support.
New York Islanders
Needs: Top-6 forward
Final analysis: The Isles find themselves in the playoff mix yet again. They could be looking to bolster up their offense in the top-6 category. Other than that, they’re good. One player to look out for is Kyle Okposo, who’s almost always a threat to opposing teams. A pending UFA this summer, the Isles so far look like they’re going to let the 27-year-old walk.
New York Rangers
Buy/Sell: Buy and sell
Needs: Prospects and picks
Final analysis: With their window closing, the Rangers may want to look at giving up some of their UFAs for their future. Currently, the big question mark is on defenseman Keith Yandle, who was traded to Broadway in a deal that sent forward prospect Anthony Duclair to Arizona. Will fans see Yandle in a Rangers jersey for long before the deadline approaches?
Needs: Top-six forward and top-four defenseman
Final analysis: For a group that’s struggled in recent years, the Flyers will have to be sellers on the deadline. Get a top-six forward, a winger, and a top-four defenseman to help stabilize the back end. In the meantime, they’re also going to want to replenish their picks.
Needs: Forward depth and defense
Final analysis: The Penguins are currently cap strapped with almost no room to make any moves to improve unless it’s something good, but they do need help at forward to help with a forward group that’s been injury-prone this season. Another defenseman would be nice too.
Needs: Forward depth and veteran defense.
Final analysis: The Caps have been in cruise control for quite some time this season, and are showing no signs of stopping. It seems that they really have won the TJ Oshie trade big time, and other acquisitions like Stanley Cup Champion and forward L.A. King Justin Williams are paying huge dividends. They could maybe look to bolster up the forward depth a little more, and have a little more veteran presence on the blue line.
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