For part 1 covering the West, click here.
Many teams in the Eastern conference are jostling for playoff position, while others start thinking about next year and rebuilding their rosters. One thing is guaranteed: some of these teams will look very different when the February 29 deadline rolls around. This is a look at which teams could be buyers and sellers in the East.
The Detroit Red Wings are in the midst of the playoff race, currently sitting third in the Atlantic division and fifth overall in the East. They would like to add some offensive help, and have a number of forwards that they are looking into. Goalie Jimmy Howard could be a piece going the other way in a deal, as Petr Mrazek has been excellent and Howard’s contract is probably too steep for a backup goaltender.
The Metropolitan division-leading Washington Capitals could be buyers, looking for defensive help. One possible target is Fedor Tyutin of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who would give the Caps excellent depth. They may choose to stand pat, however – especially with the return of Brooks Orpik from injury. Orpik had an assist in almost 17 minutes of play in Tuesday’s win over the LA Kings (his first action in over three months); if Orpik can show that he’s back to full speed, the Capitals may not spring for an additional defender.
The Buffalo Sabres are the definition of sellers at the trade deadline: they are in 15th place out of 16 Eastern conference teams, meaning they need to start to re-build. The Sabres have a number of players who will be free agents after the season that could be attractive to playoff contenders.
The Sabres may look to move Jamie McGinn, who could definitely bring a good return, and then try to re-sign him in the offseason. The Sabres could also move goalie Chad Johnson, center David Legwand, and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who are all free agents after this year, or defenders Mike Weber and Cody Franson, who have another year left on their contracts.
The Boston Bruins are in the fourth position in the East, but might actually be sellers. The Bruins could be looking to deal pending free agent Loui Eriksson if a contract extension can’t be worked out. Eriksson would certainly draw interest from many teams, and could net a very nice draft pick in return, along with a nice prospect on defense. This could help the Bruins plan for the future while remaining in contention.
The Ottawa Senators have already made a big splash, getting Dion Phaneuf from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a nine player deal. It remains to be seen if the Senators are done, or are really looking to make a move this year. One possibility is the addition of the Bruins’ Eriksson, who is a close friend of Senators captain Erik Karlsson.
The New York Rangers are a tough team to figure out. They’re in playoff position, currently third in the conference, but have a number of injury questions, including superstar LW Rick Nash (bone bruise), and team captain Ryan McDonagh (concussion). The Rangers could definitely add some help up front, and may look to move pending free agent Keith Yandle. As previously mentioned, the Chicago Blackhawks are a potential trade partner for Yandle.
The New Jersey Devils remain in the playoff race, currently in the seventh spot. They could look to add help up front by moving defenseman David Schlemko. They could also be sellers, and Devils leading scorer Lee Stempniak could be a desirable piece to a contender. It’ll be interesting to see which direction, if any, the Devils go at the deadline.
Click here for yesterday’s Part 1: the Western Conference
Statistics provided by ESPN.com
Images thanks to: SportsNet, the Washington Post, USA Today, Boston.com, bruinsdaily.com, and gothamsn.com