NHL Trade Deadline: One Area Each Team Would Like to Improve at Deadline
The NHL trade deadline is an interesting time of year. Players change cities, general managers wheel and deal, and there is tons of chaos.
However, each team enters the deadline looking to improve in one area or another, because no one team is perfect.
Here is one area that each team would like to improve at the trade deadline. In the case the team listed is unlikely to make a trade, another scenario will be suggested.
Area of Improvement: Secondary Scoring
The Anaheim Ducks may trade away some big names at the deadline, as Bob Murray has explained that only Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu are untouchable.
The Ducks' top line is a formidable group, but as you move down the depth chart, there aren't many impressive threats.
The Ducks will try to improve their secondary scoring in an attempt to make a run back towards the playoff races. If the Ducks truly dangle one of their top forwards, chances are they can get a pretty good return.
Area of Improvement: N/A
The defending cup champions really have no holes that need plugging up. Given their current roster, the Bruins would have a good chance of making a deep playoff run.
Area of Improvement: Scoring
The Buffalo Sabres rank 13th in the league for power-play efficiency. For a team that hopes to make a deep run in a stacked Eastern Conference, this number is a little lower than they would like.
Now that the Sabres are dangling Derek Roy, and Anaheim appears interested; could Bobby Ryan add the scoring punch that would improve the Sabres?
Thomas Vanek left the Sabres' last game with an upper-body injury, so they could need all the help they can get.
Area of Improvement: Rebuild the Franchise
The Calgary Flames need to rebuild their franchise. The Flames could hold a fire sale at the deadline in order to strengthen their prospect pool and young talent.
Their best player, Jarome Iginla, could always be dealt for a solid package of roster players and prospects.
The Flames will also need to find an heir apparent for Miikka Kiprusoff. He isn't getting any younger and the Flames don't want to be in a situation where they aren't ready when the day finally comes.
Area of Improvement: Shed Salary
The Carolina Hurricanes will be one of the top sellers at the trade deadline. They will be looking to deal players who are set to become free agents this summer.
The Hurricanes feel that the season is over and are looking to rebuild.
By dealing Tuomo Ruutu, Bryan Allen and Tim Gleason, the Hurricanes could get some solid pieces to work with.
Area of Improvement: Penalty Kill
For one of the top teams in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks are terrible when they are shorthanded.
They rank 26th in the league in penalty-kill efficiency. In the playoffs, special teams are so vital to success. If the Blackhawks improve this area, they can only improve their Stanley Cup chances.
A player like Tuomo Ruutu could be a player worth investigating for Blackhawks G.M. Stan Bowman.
Area of Improvement: Scoring
The Avs are 25th overall in goals per game in the NHL. This number is pretty low, and it's an area that they would like to improve upon.
With players like Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog, the future is bright, but the Avs need help now. They may not be major players at the deadline, but this is definitely an area they would like to improve upon.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Area of Improvement: A Starting Goaltender
Steve Mason is clearly not the answer in Columbus. If the Blue Jackets want to become a serious team, they need some stability in net. The Blue Jackets are currently considered the front runner to finish with the worst record.
With their lottery pick, they will likely draft Nail Yakupov. It doesn't matter how much offense the Jackets bring in if they continue to let in a lot of goals every night.
Area of Improvement: Maintain Consistency
General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk did an amazing job riding the storm of uncertainty when the Dallas Stars were looking for an owner. The Stars have had great production from Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson thus far, and the best thing the Stars can do is wait until free agency.
With a new owner in Tom Gaglardi, the Stars would be better off making a splash in free agency than trading pieces away at the deadline.
If the Stars wanted to make a low-risk trade, Ales Hemsky would be a case worth investigating.
Detroit Red Wings
Area of Improvement: Another Top Six Forward
The Detroit Red Wings are one of the top teams in the NHL and Western Conference. That may be the case but the Wings are a team that never stops improving.
If the Wings look to continue this trend, they could look to add another top six scorer.
While fans would probably clamor at the chance to adding a player like Alex Semin, a logical inquiry would probably be a player like Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers.
The Wings could also choose to abstain from deadline dealing and Ken Holland would still have a solid playoff squad at his disposal.
Area of Improvement: Stay Patient
The future of the Oilers lies in the hands of young players like Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.
They got off to a hot start on the back of Nikolai Khabibulin but have since come back down to earth. Like the Dallas Stars, the Edmonton Oilers could be quiet at the deadline but could make some serious noise in the offseason.
Area of Improvement: Stay Healthy
The Florida Panthers are in first place in the Southeast Division. Let me say that again, the Panthers are the current leader in the Southeast Division. Are you surprised? I surely am.
The Panthers made a lot of noise in the offseason when Dale Tallon acquired a lot of his old Blackhawk soldiers.
The Panthers have had huge contributions from Kris Versteeg and Brian Campbell, so the chances of them making a trade are slim. Any area they would look to improve could cost them some valuable pieces.
Los Angeles Kings
Area of Improvement: Shake Things Up
The Kings have the majority of their salary cap invested in key players.
Terry Murray was relieved of his duties as head coach, and it was a move that Dean Lombardi didn't want to make. For a team with a payroll as high as the Kings', scrambling for a playoff spot is unacceptable.
If it weren't for Jonathan Quick, odds are the Kings would be in the bottom of the conference. The Kings have a few players coming off their cap this summer and if Zach Parise becomes a free agent, they would love to sign him.
Area of Improvement: Return to Early-Season Form
The Minnesota Wild were once the top team in the NHL, but in the blink of an eye, they dropped down the charts. The Wild already have a good group of players like Dany Heatley, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu on the roster.
They have a good shot at making the playoffs, but odds are they will make their splash during the free-agency period.
Les Canadiens de Montréal
Area of Improvement: Power Play
The Canadiens have the worst power play in the NHL. This is an area that can only improve, because that it can't get any worse.
If Randy Cunneyworth is going to take the time to improve his French, the least that Pierre Gauthier can do is acquire him some offensive firepower for the power play.
The relationship between coach and general manager appears to be give and take, so adding some offensive power for the man advantage is a very reasonable demand.
Area of Improvement: Make Decision with Ryan Suter and Shea Weber
One defenseman is set to become a UFA and the other will be a RFA. If the Predators intend to only keep one, they should trade the other.
It sounds like a simple plan but who means more to the Predators? I would argue Weber, considering his offensive prowess.
If Jeff Blum can continue to develop his defensive game, it will make it a lot easier for the Predators to deal Suter.
Suter is going to be sought after for teams looking to bulk up their defensive corps, so a good trade for Suter would involve some offense going back to Nashville.
New Jersey Devils
Area of Improvement: Hold Onto Zach Parise and Acquire Starting Goaltender
The future of the Devils franchise is in the hands of Zach Parise. If he were to depart from the Garden State, things would not look good for New Jersey. They should do everything in their power to retain the star forward.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur is showing his age and will likely retire at the season's end.
Johan Hedburg is also a free agent and without any significant goaltending prospects in the system, the Devils will seek to acquire a netminder.
New York Islanders
Area of Improvement: Defense
The New York Islanders could improve a lot on their team, but defense is an area that could use some work. The Islanders ranks 25th overall in goals allowed per game.
Outside of Mark Streit, the Isles don't have many big-name defensemen.
If the Islanders could tighten things up defensively, they could improve their playoff chances for the future.
New York Rangers
Area of Improvement: Power Play and Top Six Scoring Left Wing
The New York Rangers are the best team in the NH,L and the main reason is their defense and all-world goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. This is how the Rangers' top six looks.
The Rangers definitely could improve their second line left wing spot. Brandon Dubinsky doesn't really complement Brad Richards and his playmaking ability.
Targets to fit the needs for the Rangers could include Ray Whitney and Bobby Ryan.
Whitney would probably be a low-risk trade acquisition, considering he is a free agent at the year's end.
Area of Improvement: Add Another Scorer?
I am certain that not many people thought the Senators would rebound as much as they have this season. Last year, the Senators had a bad season that landed them the seventh overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft.
This year, things seem to be clicking for Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson. Are there areas the Senators could improve upon? Yes, but odds are the only move they could make would be to add another scorer.
Could a player like Ales Hemsky fill this role?
Area of Improvement: Defense
Chris Pronger is already sidelined for the rest of the season and possibly the rest of his career with concussion-like symptoms.
Pronger was arguably the Flyers' most important defender, as he brought a lot to their lineup. The Flyers may have a crop of capable defenders, but will they splurge to add a top-pairing minutes eater?
Will they look to add a defenseman who enables them to balance out the defensive aspect of their game?
The Flyers are a team that scores a lot of goals, but they also give up a lot of goals as well. The Flyers could look into acquiring Tim Gleason or Bryan Allen from the Carolina Hurricanes or maybe look at blockbuster deal centered around Ryan Suter.
Either way, the Flyers could look to bulk up their defense.
Area of Improvement: Secure Long-term Home
The odds of the Coyotes making a major trade are slim because their future is up in the air.
A player is going to want some security in knowing where he is going to be long-term. He won't want to set up shop in Phoenix, only to be uprooted for next season.
If the Coyotes were uprooted, it would be a shame, considering how well the team is finally playing.
Area of Improvement: Offense
The Pittsburgh Penguins have had bad luck when it comes to injured players this season. The Penguins, who are already without Sidney Crosby, will be without Jordan Staal, Kris Letang and others for the foreseeable future.
Offensively, Evgeni Malkin cannot carry the team alone. He will need some help, and the Penguins could look to Edmonton for some help.
Ales Hemsky is an upcoming free agent at the end of the year. It appears his time in Edmonton could be coming to an end, as the Oilers are building around their youth corps of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. These tenacious youngsters form a formidable top unit.
Hemsky could be shipped off for a minor prospect and a draft pick. He could bring a veteran presence and some needed scoring to the Penguins. He may be an injury risk, but this is a low-risk proposition for the Penguins.
If the price is right, Ray Shero should pull the trigger. Hemsky's hit will be very diluted by that point, so it is a win-win.
San Jose Sharks
Area of Improvement: Special Teams
The Sharks are in the middle of the league in power-play efficiency. With the importance of the power-play heightened in the playoffs, this in an area the Sharks could improve upon.
Brent Burns was acquired this offseason in an attempt to help run the power play, but things aren't where the fans would like.
If the Sharks can add a power-play ace, things could look up in the second half of the season.
St. Louis Blues
Area of Improvement: Establish a No. 1 Goaltender
The St. Louis Blues have two remarkable goaltenders. However, in the playoffs, teams usually use one goaltender. In order to instill confidence in your goaltender, you need to have a starter and a backup who will only push the starter to be more successful.
The Blues can become a stronger team once they define a No. 1 starter. Who knows, if the Blues establish a No. 1 starter they could even deal the other to a team who needs goaltending.
This, of course, is unlikely, but it is good to keep options open.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Area of Improvement: Acquire a Goaltender
A team that has the league's top goal scorer should not be in the bottom of the conference. If Tampa wants to climb up the ladder back into playoff picture, a trade needs to be made. The bottom line is that Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon are not cutting it in net.
But who should Tampa target? Could they set their sights on a young goaltender like Cory Schneider or Jonathan Bernier?
A realistic low-cost target for the Lightning could be Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild. Harding is 8-4-2 with a 2.15 goals against average. These numbers should be good enough for Steve Yzerman to give him a look.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Area of Improvement: Acquire a Real No. 1 Center
When the Maple Leafs struck out in the Brad Richards sweepstakes, they were forced to settle for the next best thing. So the Leafs decided to sign the ever injury-prone Tim Connolly. Thus far, he has produced only 22 points.
This obviously wasn't the best way to spend money, but the Leafs still have some wiggle room. Rumors have swirled that indicate the Leafs could look to trade for Ryan Getzlaf.
However, has there ever been a big player on the market that Brian Burke didn't show interest in?
Area of Improvement: Test the Market for Cory Schneider
Cory Schneider appears ready to be a full-time NHL starter. Unfortunately, the Canucks already have Roberto Luongo.
There is no shortage of teams that need to acquire a starting goaltender. The Canucks could test the market for Schneider, considering he is an upcoming free agent.
For the right return, the Canucks could be willing to deal Schneider.
Area of Improvement: Swap Semin for Another Scorer?
The Capitals are currently slated to miss the playoffs. The Caps fired their head coach earlier this year and hired Dale Hunter. Things have only slightly turned around, and Alexander Semin is once again a free agent this year.
Going forward, Semin doesn't really fit into Dale Hunter's system, so the chances that the Capitals try to trade Semin are good. Hunter wants his team to play physical and wants every player to do their fair share of grinding.
That doesn't fit Semin's profile, so the Caps may explore their options.
Area of Improvement: Make Playoffs
The Jets are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference. Anything they accomplish this season will please the fans, because they are happy to have their team back.
Making the playoffs is a realistic goal, but they could improve their offense. There are teams like the Capitals, Sabres, Canadiens and Lightning behind them who are gunning for a playoff spot.
The Jets are a team with significant cap space and they could be big players in the offseason.
Tom Urtz Jr. is an NHL featured columnist. For NHL news, updates and alerts about players: