NHL Trade Speculation: Each Team's Biggest Need at the Trade Deadline

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IJanuary 23, 2012

NHL Trade Speculation: Each Team's Biggest Need at the Trade Deadline

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    The trigger to begin the NHL's trading frenzy is always the All-Star Game, and this week begins the build-up to that event. There are teams in the mix for playoff positioning all over the NHL losing star players by the game, and there are plenty of holes that need to be addressed as the deadline approaches.

    Some teams will be buyers, some will be sellers and others are stuck in between. As we sprint into All-Star weekend, here are the biggest needs of every team in the NHL.

Anaheim Ducks

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    Biggest Need: Consistency

    The recent three-year extension given to defenseman Francois Beauchemin at least presents the appearance that Anaheim management is treating this season as a glitch on the radar.

    There is certainly enough talent in the room to win some games in Anaheim, but what specifically they'll add is hard to determine considering Beauchemin was a popular name on the trade market (despite his limited no-trade clause).

Boston Bruins

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    Biggest Need: Health

    What should the defending champions add to almost the same roster, one that's close to the top of the NHL already and is one of the best defensive groups in the game?

    Truthfully, there isn't a lot that Boston needs to add at the deadline unless an injury hits. They're getting scoring from all four lines and have two elite netminders.

Buffalo Sabres

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    Biggest Need: A shake-up

    It appears that the Sabres might be one of the league's sellers at the deadline, as one of the most expensive rosters in the game continues to underwhelm.

    It's doubtful that the Sabres will be able to (or would consider) moving Ryan Miller, but other names like Derek Roy and Paul Gaustad could be on their way out of town. Buffalo needs cap relief and would love to dump disappointing Ville Leino, but they'll likely have to move other veterans to start restocking the roster for next year.

Calgary Flames

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    Biggest Need: Top-line center

    For as long as Jarome Iginla has been in Calgary, they have needed to find someone to skate at center next to the future Hall of Famer. It's hard to see them landing a big-time center at the deadline, but a move to add depth scoring and perhaps another body to their blue line could be in the cards for the Flames.

Carolina Hurricanes

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    Biggest Need: Big-spending trade partners

    The Canes appear to be the team for buyers to have on speed dial this year, and have some very attractive pieces to sell. Between Tuomo Ruutu and Tim Gleason, there could be a bidding war between teams like Detroit, Pittsburgh and Chicago to add a piece to a Cup contender.

    This isn't "the year" for Canes fans, but if their management plays their cards right, pieces acquired for some of their veterans could help get them back into the mix soon.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    Biggest Need: Top-four defenseman

    Chicago is one of the top scoring teams in the NHL, and they're in the hunt for the top seed in the Western Conference. But they need help on their blue line if they expect to be around longer than a round or two in April.

    Nick Leddy has been a nice, young defenseman this year, but the lack of development from Niklas Hjalmarsson into more than a shot-blocking specialist leaves a hole where Brian Campbell was effectively sucking up 22-23 minutes per night last year.

    The Hawks will be shopping for a defenseman who can kill penalties and play over 20 minutes per game.

Colorado Avalanche

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    Biggest Need: Someone to sign a new contract

    A look at the upcoming summer for the front office in Denver is scary. With most of the youngest roster in the NHL needing a new contract, the Avs will be hoping for some health and a few agents to call them back before the Draft at the end of June.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Biggest Need: All of the above

    They spent big on James Wisniewski and Jeff Carter before this season, and have seen the product on the ice stay in or around the bottom of the Western Conference. They need depth scoring, Carter to stay healthy, a legitimate goalie and a couple defensemen.

Dallas Stars

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    Biggest Need: Depth scoring

    The Stars have had as many injury issues as anyone this year, and they'll need their key players to stay healthy down the stretch to get into the playoffs. It's hard to see them making a deep run into a deep Western Conference field, and they need to get a new deal done with Jamie Benn.

    But adding some depth to make a run at the postseason could be an option with new ownership ready to take over.

Detroit Red Wings

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    Biggest Need: A backup goalie

    They've been speculated to have interest in depth scoring like Tuomo Ruutu and Ales Hemsky, but their real need is someone to give Jimmy Howard a day off without costing the Wings a game.

    The Central Division is up for grabs, but the Wings will need Howard to be fresh when the money's on the table in April, May and June. Ty Conklin is just not getting it done.

Edmonton Oilers

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    Biggest Need: Health

    Whether it's Jordan Eberle's knee or Taylor Hall's melon, the Oilers might look to move a veteran free agent-to-be like Hemsky, but their young core is being built, not dismantled.

Florida Panthers

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    Biggest Need: Scoring depth

    With Ed Jovanovski now out for an extended period of time with a broken hand, they might look to add depth on their blue line, but the Panthers have struggled to get scoring from more than one line all year.

    They hope Mikael Samuelsson can add a scoring punch on a secondary line (if he can stay healthy), but the Panthers need to add a veteran to their front lines.

Los Angeles Kings

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    Biggest Need: Depth scoring

    The Los Angeles Kings will certainly be looking to add someone that can effectively put the puck in the net. With the talent on their roster, it's hard to imagine they're near the bottom of the league in scoring.

Minnesota Wild

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    Biggest Need: Scoring

    The Wild made a couple deals with the Sharks to add scoring and everyone thought they had hurt their defense. And yet here they are, among the better defensive teams in the league and ahead of only the Kings in scoring.

    Minnesota needs to add depth scoring and get more from their stars.

Montreal Canadiens

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    Biggest Need: All of the above

    They can't score, their blue line is banged up and they're still paying Scott Gomez. The Habs are seven points out of a playoff spot and are already on their second coach.

    Will they sell at the deadline and admit defeat, possibly committing employment suicide as a front office, or will they try to find the right deal to add scoring?

Nashville Predators

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    Biggest Need: A decision from Ryan Suter and Shea Weber

    The Preds are looking up at three teams in the Central now, but their defensive core is still as good as any in the league. But with free agency possible for their top two defensemen this summer, it would be nice if the organization knew where they stood if a deal to improve their offense could happen with one of them if that player wasn't coming back.

New Jersey Devils

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    Biggest Need: A decision from Zach Parise

    The domino that will set the next few years of their organization in motion is the pending free agency of their captain. If Parise is going to stay, they can look to the future and build around him. If he's going to bounce, they could look to improve the team by moving him now.

New York Islanders

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    Biggest Need: Pretty much everything

    The Islanders' biggest need is for the new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement to include an amnesty clause similar to what the NBA had so they can get the albatross that is Rick DiPietro off their books and start over with a shot at competing in front of a goalie that can actually dress for games every year.

    But if they're looking to make a deal at the deadline, anyone that can play would help. There are some good young pieces on the roster, but there isn't much depth.

New York Rangers

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    Biggest Need: Injury replacement

    We'll wait to say what the Rangers "need" until we know if there are long-term implications to the Rangers' blue line in the wake of the ugly hit on Ryan McDonagh on Saturday against Boston.

Ottawa Senators

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    Biggest Need: Backup goalie

    Just as is the case with Detroit, Ottawa has been riding Craig Anderson all year and has significant cause for concern any time Alex Auld is in the game.

    While they might look to address depth scoring or bolster their blue line, backing up Anderson should be their primary concern.

Philadelphia Flyers

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    Biggest Need: Cap flexibility

    With Chris Pronger out, they're on the prowl for help on the blue line. With injuries all over their front lines, including James van Riemsdyk and now Danny Briere, they could use some depth scoring up front as well.

    But GM Paul Holmgren has them as close to the cap as possible, and they're probably going to need to move at least equal salary to improve their roster.

Phoenix Coyotes

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    Biggest Need: An owner

    Phoenix is within three points of a playoff spot right now, but the reality in the desert is that even a postseason series isn't going to keep the Coyotes in Arizona. They're still owned by the league and have more people wanting to buy them outside of the Phoenix/Glendale area than they do wanting to keep them there.

    With veteran Ray Whitney and Shane Doan approaching free agency and relocation probable, the Coyotes should probably sell soon.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Biggest Need: Health

    While Evgeni Malkin plays as well as anyone in the game and they (finally) got Kris Letang back, the Pens really need to have Jordan Staal and the best player on the planet, Sidney Crosby, in uniform if they're going to make a run.

    They might look for a band-aid forward via trade, but they really need their best players to get healthy and stay on the ice.

San Jose Sharks

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    Biggest Need: Depth scoring

    They moved Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi this summer, and part of the package they brought back was Martin Havlat. Havlat hasn't been on the ice enough to compensate for the lost offense from those deals, and the Sharks will need to add a guy or two up front to keep up with the scoring in Chicago, Vancouver and Detroit.

St. Louis Blues

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    Biggest Need: Health

    The Blues are in the mix for the best record in the Western Conference, but a lot of players on their roster have had injuries mess with them in recent seasons. They're young, talented and deep enough that there isn't a lot they need to add unless an injury hits.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Biggest Need: A competent goaltender

    They have the league's leading scorer and some decent defensemen, but they don't have a goaltender that should be in the NHL. They're looking around for a starter (keep an eye on Jonathan Bernier in LA), and GM Steve Yzerman will undoubtedly be aggressive to fix the team's biggest need.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Biggest Need: Depth scoring

    They have two of the top scorers in the game, but they need to add depth up front. Brian Burke might look to mortgage some of his blue-line depth to take advantage of a hot market for defensemen in an effort to land a bottom-six forward that can finish.

Vancouver Canucks

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    Biggest Need: Kesler and Booth to produce

    Jannik Hansen and Cody Hodgson have 13 goals. Ryan Kesler has 13 goals. There hasn't been much wrong with the Canucks lately, but if they need something to happen before the trade deadline it's that Kesler and David Booth (when/if healthy) have to produce like top-six All-Star forwards.

    They have the top-scoring blue line in the Western Conference and two goalies playing well, but need all of their wheels turning full speed.

Washington Capitals

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    Biggest Need: Secondary scoring

    Who would have thought that the Caps would sit eighth in the Eastern Conference in scoring approaching the All-Star Game, and would be looking up at half of the conference in the standing as well?

    They need their superstars to show up and play well, but they also need to add to their bottom-six scoring as well. There might be a move to help their blue line, but adding a forward or two is more likely.

Winnipeg Jets

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    Biggest Need: Trade partners

    The Jets are two points out of a playoff spot, but are undoubtedly looking to the future. If they can find someone to give them a good package of young players for free agents-to-be like Johnny Oduya, they'll certainly have to consider making moves to expedite their ability to compete in the Eastern Conference in their new home.