The NHL’s trade deadline is fast approaching. By 3:00 PM EST on February 29, many players will have changed homes and many teams will look very different. Some teams will build for the future, while others try to make one last push to win it all now. Here’s a look at some possibilities in the Western Conference between now and the deadline.
The Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks will look to add to their depth, as they will continue to push the envelope at the top of the pack. More than depth though, they may be on the hunt for a left winger to go with the NHL’s leading scorer, right wing Patrick Kane, and center Jonathan Toews. Artemi Panarin has performed admirably, but he creates a real mismatch on the second line. One potential target could be Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd or Keith Yandle of the New York Rangers.
The Los Angeles Kings, another top-team in the West, also look like buyers, as they feel they are in need of a defense-man. They were expected to make a play for the Jets’ Dustin Byfuglien, but he signed a new deal with Winnipeg and appears to be off the market. The Calgary Flames’ Kris Russell is going to be a free agent after the season, so he’s a target for LA.
Like the Kings, the Edmonton Oilers waited to gauge their team, but now after the All-Star break, a brutal road trip has almost definitely put them out of the playoffs and into the sellers’ market. Winger Teddy Purcell and defense-man Justin Schultz would be the most likely trade candidates.
The Minnesota Wild recently lost eight games in a row (and 13 of 14), fired head coach Mike Yeo, and look destined to miss the playoffs. They could be sellers, with several veterans who could be attractive to teams making a playoff push. Those vets include winger Thomas Vanek and center Mikko Koivu.
The Dallas Stars are actually an interesting case, because they’re already at the top of their division and virtually assured a playoff spot. So it’s possible they sell from strength to build for the future without sacrificing the present, and they have players who will be free agents after the season that they could deal. They could also be buyers and improve their defense for the stretch run. In the end, though, they likely do neither and continue with their current winning ways.
The Anaheim Ducks are an interesting case as well, as they weren’t sure even as recently as the All-Star break where they stood. They’ve had a good run in the last couple weeks though, and could look to add a forward, trade goalie Frederik Andersen, or add defensive depth, to solidify a playoff run.
The Vancouver Canucks are probably sellers as they begin to fall out of the playoff race due to injuries. The problem is, because of injuries, they really only have two major commodities that a contender would want, and they’re both likely difficult to trade. Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis are both veterans who will be unrestricted free agents, but Vrbata has a limited no-trade clause, and Hamhuis has full veto power.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part 2: the Eastern Conference
Statistics provided by ESPN.com
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