NHL Wise To Flip Conferences In Playoff Hub Cities
Reviewing ESPN.com’s trade season preview in your NHL rumor mill.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance recently previewed the NHL trade season for the Eastern and Western Conferences. First, here’s the Eastern Conference highlights (order is based on the standings as of Jan. 5, 2017)
Promising Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Anton Forsberg could be targeted by clubs seeking a good young netminder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Curtis McElhinney claimed off waivers yesterday by the Leafs, Forsberg’s not going anywhere.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ability to trade goalie Marc-Andre Fleury depends upon Matt Murray’s health.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since Murray was sidelined, Fleury’s played very well. That could boost his trade value after Murray returns.
The New York Rangers could use another defenseman. If they’re to pursue St. Louis Blues rearguard Kevin Shattenkirk via free agency this summer, they could be reluctant to move assets to chase a blueliner now.
The Montreal Canadiens could use a left-handed defenseman and another center.
The Washington Capitals could use another top-four defenseman.
The Philadelphia Flyers could use another winger. Rival clubs could keep an eye on Flyers’ goalies Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth.
Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion is in search of a forward. The Sens are a budget team and short on draft picks.
The Boston Bruins could use a top-four defenseman. If that’s not possible, they could seek a scoring winger.
Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk could be attractive to contending teams. The Leafs are in need of a veteran defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Leafs in playoff contention, I doubt they’ll move van Riemsdyk before the trade deadline. I can see them shopping him this summer for a top-four blueliner.
The Tampa Bay Lightning need a right-handed offensive defenseman. They have depth in forwards to pull this off. Custance wonders if Jonathan Drouin could become trade bait.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only a year ago, Drouin caused a scene by refusing to play for the Lightning’s farm team. He eventually relented and went on to become a reliable part of the Lightning roster. Still, he could be a tempting trade chip, but are the Lightning willing to part with him? Tough call for Bolts management.
The Florida Panthers could use additional scoring.
The Carolina Hurricanes have the depth in salary-cap space, draft picks and defensemen to land a good young center. Problem is, there aren’t many available right now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Colorado’s Matt Duchene could be ideal, but the asking price could be Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin or Jaccob Slavin.
The New Jersey Devils could shop pending UFAs P.A. Parenteau and Kyle Quincey by the trade deadline.
The Detroit Red Wings could be sellers, shopping pending UFA such as Thomas Vanek, Steve Ott, Drew Miller and Brendan Smith. They need help on defense.
Custance believes the New York Islanders should aggressively shop for a cornerstone piece to ensure captain John Tavares’ future with the club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless GM Garth Snow is willing to offer up Travis Hamonic to Colorado for Gabriel Landeskog or Matt Duchene right now, he’ll have to wait until this summer to find that cornerstone player.
The Buffalo Sabres could try to pick up assets by moving out expiring contracts, such as defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.
And now, the Western Conference:
The Chicago Blackhawks could use a depth forward. They’ve been linked to Colorado’s Jarome Iginla but salary-cap space is tight.
The Minnesota Wild could also shop for depth at forward, perhaps a good young center if there’s one available.
Given the San Jose Sharks’ depth, there’s little reason for them to make any moves right now.
The Anaheim Ducks are loaded on defense and in need of a scoring winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cam Fowler will remain the defenseman most likely to be traded by the Ducks. Then again, they could pull a swerve and deal away Hampus Lindholm or Sami Vatanen. Only GM Bob Murray knows for sure and he could wait until the summer to make that move.
The Edmonton Oilers have cap space and draft picks to make moves if they wish. They could add rentals at the deadline (trade speculation links them to Iginla). If there’s a hockey trade to be made, Custance suggests they could try to trade center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Actually, I think Jordan Eberle could be a more likely trade candidate to be dealt for a defenseman. He’s dropped to the third line, while Nugent-Hopkins has settled in well as their second-line center.
UFA defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has an uncertain future with the St. Louis Blues. They need a center and Arizona’s Martin Hanzal could be a good fit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as the oft-injured Hanzal stays healthy, he could be a good fit for the Blues.
The Calgary Flames could use a veteran winger.
In order to preserve their draft picks, the Los Angeles Kings could have a quiet trade deadline.
If sidelined defenseman P.K. Subban returns soon from injury, the Nashville Predators could focus on adding secondary scoring. If Subban’s out long term, they could shift to bolstering the defense.
Vancouver Canucks winger Alex Burrows should fetch a third-round pick. The $6 million salary of goaltender Ryan Miller could be difficult to move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks GM Jim Benning’s policy is not to ask players carrying no-movement/no-trade clauses to waive them. If Burrows or Miller get dealt, it’ll have to be because they asked to be traded.
Perhaps the Winnipeg Jets will add a veteran goalie to take some pressure off Connor Hellebuyck.
Goaltending is an area to watch for the Dallas Stars.
The Arizona Coyotes are expected to be sellers, with pending UFAs Martin Hanzal and Michael Stone the most notable to be moved.
The Colorado Avalanche are open for business, fielding interest in forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. Pending UFA Jarome Iginla is also expected to be moved, though he calls the shots with his no-movement clause.
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