NHL Trade Deadline: Which Teams Have the Most Difficult Decisions to Make?

JohnCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2012

NHL Trade Deadline: Which Teams Have the Most Difficult Decisions to Make?

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    The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 27.  There were not many trades the past few weeks, but over the weekend, the deals began. 

    Thus far, no blockbuster deals have been made, but there are plenty of teams looking for help finding ways to score goals as well as on defense and in net. Plenty of big names could be on the move before next Monday.

    Some teams and general managers are still deciding if they are buyers or sellers, but need to come to a decision soon to get the best deal possible to improve their franchise. 

Edmonton Oilers

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    The Oilers have missed the playoffs each year since losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in a seven-game Stanley Cup Final series in 2006.  Sitting in 14th place and 15 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, Edmonton looks as if it will again miss out on the postseason. 

    The Oilers look to have a bright future as they are not short on promising young forwards. 

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 18, Taylor Hall, 20, and Jordan Eberle, 21, are the future faces of the franchise.  Also, Sam Gagner, 22, is a restricted free agent at season’s end but looks to be an important piece of the club’s future.

    Like their forwards, Edmonton’s defense is young but is not very deep.  General manager Steve Tambellini has to decide if he will look to shore up his defense for next season and beyond. 

    The biggest trade assets Tambellini has are Ales Hemsky, Nikolai Khabibulin and Ryan Smyth. 

    Hemsky has been mentioned as being involved in a trade more than any other player in the Oilers organization, but he is inconsistent at times and may re-sign in Edmonton like Smyth will probably do.  Devan Dubnyk looks to be the goalie of the future, which makes Khabibulin expendable, especially with a number of teams looking for help in net.  

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero is in an interesting position.  

    It is very uncertain whether Sidney Crosby will return before the playoffs, if even at all this season.  He has started skating with his teammates again, but is still suffering from concussion-like symptoms. 

    If Shero does not expect Crosby to return this season, he could look to add a rental player.  The Penguins may look for either a scoring or physical top-six forward.

    Even without Crosby, the Penguins are playing well.  They are 6-3-1 in their past 10 games, and Jordan Staal recently returned to the lineup.  The Penguins are currently a comfortable eight points above the ninth-place Washington Capitals, good for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Nashville Predators

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    Many have wondered if Nashville will keep or trade defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.  Weber will be a restricted free agent this summer while Suter will be unrestricted. 

    The Predators traded Blake Geoffrion, a native of Nashville and grandson of Canadiens legend “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, to Montreal for veteran defenseman Hal Gill last Friday. 

    There are two ways to look at the Gill trade. 

    Is general manager David Poile bringing in Gill because he plans to deal Weber and/or Suter before the deadline?  Or is Poile sending a message to his best two defensemen that the organization is serious about contending for the Stanley Cup this year and for years to come?  The latter is more likely because Gill is 36 and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

    Still, if Poile is presented with a good offer for Weber or more likely Suter before Feb. 27, he would be hard pressed not to make the trade because he would run the risk of losing the player and getting nothing in return.  

Anaheim Ducks

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    After struggling early on this season, Anaheim is 6-1-3 in their last 10 and currently seven points out of the playoffs.

    The Ducks has a number of players who are sure to garner interest from the top teams in the league, including Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne, who is 41 and is more likely than the others to be shopped. 

    The major question surrounding Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry is will teams be willing to give up what the Ducks would look for in a trade for their top players?

    Anaheim could get more in return for Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry than it would from Selanne, but because of his age and expiring contract, Selanne would be considered a rental player. 

    General manager Bob Murray must decide whether he needs to rebuild the franchise with prospects or if this team can be turned around with the core already in place. 

Chicago Blackhawks

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    After their recent nine-game losing streak, Chicago dropped to sixth place in the Western Conference. 

    While there is no need to panic in the Windy City as the Blackhawks should still make the playoffs, they do need help in net and on defense. 

    Ray Emery and Corey Crawford have not been a strong point for the team this season, but the defense playing in front of them has not made their job much easier.  With a number of goalies expected to be available, general manager Stan Bowman may make a move to improve his team’s goaltending. 

    The bigger problem in Chicago is with its defense.  Complicating matters further for Bowman, there are not many game-changing blueliners available and there are a number of teams looking for help on defense, making the price of a trade higher.    

    Chicago still has eight key games against Central Division rivals Detroit, St. Louis and Nashville, all of whom are ahead of the Blackhawks in the standings.  For the Blackhawks to keep pace in the playoff outlook, they need to make a minor shake-up to improve their defense.     

Winnipeg Jets

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    Winnipeg is only three points behind the Florida Panthers in the weak Southeast Division. 

    Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason have been steady in net for the Jets, and Dustin Byfuglien has lead a balanced defense.  The Jets' problem is their lack of scoring.  They are ranked 24th in goals per game in their first season north of the border.  Their power play has also been ineffective and is tied for seventh worst in the NHL. 

    Does general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff leave the team intact that is not much different from the one that moved from Atlanta?  Does he trade a young prospect or two in exchange for a forward that could help the team make the playoffs this year?  Or does he look to the future of the team?

    Cheveldayoff will have to decide in the next week.