NHL Trade Deadline Analysis: Pacific 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. In this final part, we’ll take a look at the Pacific Division.
Needs: Depth forward
Final Analysis: The Anaheim Ducks have been unbelievably the best team coming into the second half of the season. They are now second place in the Pacific Division, and are a resounding 8-1-1 in their last ten games. One would definitely think that after the Western Conference Final elimination by the Chicago Blackhawks, they’re planning on going all in this year. Only thing is they need more scoring. Maybe acquiring another forward into their line-up would be nice to bolster up that offense even further.
Needs: Defensive depth
Final Analysis: With Arizona losing the battle for a playoff spot, they might as well gear up for next season. While they have loads of talent at forward position, it’s definitely time for an upgrade on defense. Mikkel Boedker is a name that’s been thrown into the mix of possible trades for the Coyotes. Maybe shop him and a prospect or pick for a good defenseman?
Needs: Defense and goaltending
Final Analysis: Calgary has struggled mightily this season. They’re the second worst team in the Pacific Division, and there’s no question that they need help defensively, and may need some help in net as well as Jonas Hiller has not been getting it done this season. According to a report on Bleacher Report, Kris Russell, Jiri Hudler, Joe Colborne, Josh Jooris, Jonas Hiller, and David Jones are rumored to be in the trade mix for the Flames ahead of the deadline.
Needs: Defense and goaltending
Final Analysis: The Oilers — no surprise — are bottom dwellers for yet another year. Fortunately for them, there is hope. they have 2015 first round pick Connor McDavid back in the line-up. They have a pretty darn good coaching staff in Todd McLellan and company. But then again, you have to wonder if there really is hope for this organization since recent poor performance have forced McLellan to sound the alarm on the team, indicating “big changes” are coming to the Edmonton Oilers line-up. In fact, GM Peter Chiarelli certainly has not dismissed the idea of some big moves to come if not by trade deadline, then by the offseason. Let’s just say this. Anyone who isn’t named Taylor Hall or Connor McDavid is up for grabs.
Los Angeles Kings
Needs: Top-6 Forward
Final Analysis: Earlier this year, we all said that the L.A. Kings — with the way other Pacific teams had been then — were going to run away with the division because they were absolutely on fire. Well, lately, they’ve cooled down a bit, and it’s enabled teams like Anaheim and San Jose — especially Anaheim — to climb back within reach to take over the division. Now, this team is obviously a playoff contender. Cup contender? Maybe so as well, but GM Dean Lombardi could be on the phone to acquire one more piece before they attempt that Cup run again. According to multiple sources, the Kings are one of the teams gaining interest on forward Andrew Ladd of the Winnipeg Jets. Also, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Kings are looking to acquire a defenseman.
San Jose Sharks
Needs: Forward, defensive depth, and back-up goalie
Final Analysis: After the crap show that was last season, Doug Wilson made some pretty key acquisitions in the offseason that have gotten the Sharks to where they are now, and at least so far, that’s a pretty good sign. Joel Ward’s been a pretty good signing. Paul Martin has been… good enough being paired with Brent Burns. The most impressive acquisition through trade I would say so far in terms of guys within the NHL has been Martin Jones. While he’s had his moments, he’s kept the Sharks in games when he’s been called upon. The most impressive signing overall has to be Joonas Donskoi. He’s got hockey sense, the work ethic, and hell, he’s even got the mitts!
That said, that doesn’t mean the Sharks don’t still need to improve. Two days ago, Wilson pulled an early morning trade to acquire Nick Spaling — who recorded his first goal and point as a Shark last night against Colorado — and Roman Polak. That also meant that Raffi Torres’ time as a Shark was done, despite still being with the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL on a loan. The move itself did address a bit of the offensive and defensive depth issues. With Tommy Wingels out with an injury still, Dainius Zubrus has taken his place while Spaling replaced Mike Brown last night, which could possibly mean that Brown will be seeing less and less time in a teal sweater for the rest of the season.
However, the feeling so far within the organization is that there are a select few forwards on the roster and in the system still who could be moved if not by the deadline then in the summer. The aforementioned Tommy Wingels feels like one of them. Matt Nieto, who has also struggled to produce points the past two seasons with the Sharks, could also be one of them, along with Ben Smith down in the Barracuda. Longtime forward Patrick Marleau had also been in the rumor mill earlier in the year. Either way, the Sharks need to upgrade their depth at forward as well as on the blue line.
Since Alex Stalock has continued not to perform up to par, spanning from last season, he could be on his way out as well sooner than later as the Sharks scour the trade market for a back-up goalie. Now, here’s the interesting thing. With the playoffs just months away, do the Sharks try to acquire a back-up goalie like they possibly will be in the next few days up until the end of Monday, or do they just stick with what they have in the development system and call up either Aaron Dell or Troy Grosenick for the playoffs? Only time will time, I guess.
Needs: Depth forwards and defense
Final Analysis: This Vancouver team… I honestly don’t even know what the hell they’re doing, to be quite honest, and I don’t think anyone else knows either. Whatever the case is, it’s looking like it’s going to be a fire sale just like what Lou Lamoriello is doing with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and according to a report from The Score that’s exactly what Jim Benning has essentially announced. Hunter Shinkaruk, a promising first-rounder from the 2013 Draft, was dealt to the Calgary Flames for Markus Granlund, a player who split time between the NHL and AHL. Other players up next will be a combination of the following: Linden Vey, Matt Bartkowski, Ronalds Kenins, Adam Cracknell, Chris Higgins, Brandon Prust, Yannick Weber, Radim Vrbata, and Dan Hamhuis. Six of those players are set to become UFAs after this season, according to General Fanager. This is going to be a long rebuild process for Vancouver.
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