NHL Trade Deadline Analysis: Central 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.
Editor’s note: Since I’ve been busy with other stuff, our very own Ben Chopping has the Central Division analysis.
Needs: Defensive depth and a top line left winger
Final Analysis: The Blackhawks, once again, have a strong enough team to go all the way in the post-season. However, they could do with a bit more depth on the blue-line, and possibly pull off another Oduya move to help in that area. Andrew Shaw is currently playing very well on the left of the Toews line, but surely that can’t last forever.
A true top-line forward would immensely boost the team. There have been murmurs that the reigning champions are looking into a deal for ex-Hawk Andrew Ladd. His wages are quite hefty, but they do want to be-rid of Bryan Bickell’s $4m. Maybe if a deal included a prospect like Ryan Hartman and possibly a pick then Ladd could return to Chicago, even if it is on a “loaner”.
Needs: Two-way center and a goal scoring winger
Final Analysis: Colorado are still in the fight for the playoffs and, given the huge amount of youth flowing through the team, they could probably shift some picks to boost their team – along with impending UFA Alex Tanguay and his $3.5 million contract. It’s also been seen that they have plenty of depth in goal, and that Berra and Pickard could man the crease. But would the Avs really be willing to part ways with Varlamov – despite his $5.9 million cap hit?
One team that happens to have a goal scoring winger and a two-way center, ready to hit this summer’s free agency, is the New York Islanders. Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen are UFA’s at the end of the season, as it stands. However, these are two of NYI’s better forwards so it might take some top picks or prospects to pull them in.
Needs: Goal scoring forward
Final Analysis: The Stars will be pushing for a strong cup run this season, but won’t see the need to ship off their top prospects for the sake of one season. However, until their youngsters can start to score at a similar level to Spezza, Benn, Seguin and Sharp, they’ll need someone to fill in, in the short term.
If the Stars were to make a move before the close, they could use any of their impending UFA defensemen – Goligoski, Demers or Jordie Benn – as trade bait. St. Louis’ two-way center David Backes is always around the scoring. He’s running out of contract, and unlikely to renew, but he would only really benefit Dallas’ scoring lines if Spezza was able to play on either wing.
Buy/Sell: Buy and sell
Final Analysis: Now that Mike Yeo has been shown the door – and John Torchetti has been brought in as interim head coach – the Wild will have to quickly evaluate how much belief they have in making the post-season. Prior to the Nashville trade, Minnesota were heavily linked to Ryan Johansen, and are still linked to Tampa-talent Jonathan Drouin.
Two things are very clear: Minnesota need to switch up their forward lines and; they have a lot of top young defensemen. Dumba, Scandella, Brodin and Spurgeon have all been mentioned as potential trade-aways if the Wild were to move for a forward.
Needs: Top-6 Forward
Final Analysis: The Preds greatly improved their primary need in the Johansen trade – whilst giving up fairly little, dept wise – however, they still need another top forward to bring up their scoring.
Nashville have a ton of cap space remaining and are willing to spend big in the final weeks of the window – such as when they flushed their 2015 1st round pick to Toronto last season. But, could a move for the biggest potential UFA be on the cards for Nashville? The Tennessee team could make a big move for Steven Stamkos. He’s all but snubbed a recent low-ball offer, and surely TBL won’t let a player of his calibre leave for nothing.
St. Louis Blues
Final Analysis: Whilst having a tiny amount of wiggle room between them and the ceiling, the Blues have a very good, well-rounded team. But if they were to improve their team, maybe a playmaking forward for their top lines would be the way to go.
There’s plenty of interest in Kevin Shattenkirk and David Backes to pull in a decent deal for St. Louis. A player like Parenteau or Eriksson would be a good move, and they’re said to be a front runner in the chase for Tampa-want-away Jonathan Drouin.
Needs: Prospects and goaltending
Final Analysis: Getting Dustin Byfuglien back on board was huge for the Jets but their captain, Andrew Ladd, is yet to follow suit – and he has a lot of fans. With Winnipeg being quite a way from the playoff spots they should look to bring through more top young players and re-build even further.
There’s another twist to the Jets. With Hellebyuck’s immense play so far, it’s come into question if Pavelec will be able to stay as their first choice keeper, and if he’d be willing to play in tandem – or as back up to – the rookie sensation. The Flames have two back-up quality keepers in Hiller and Ramo, and both are running out of contract. There could be a deal here for Winnipeg to: free up some cap, get a solid back-up to Hellebyuck and maybe pick up a prospect – to add to their already impressive pool.
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