NHL Trade Rumors: 5 Teams to Watch on Deadline Day
With so many teams in contention for the playoffs this season, today’s trade deadline is expected to have a bevy of rumors and action.
There are fewer sellers than in past years, which makes for intrigue regarding teams’ willingness to overpay in order to bolster their rosters.
In fact, outside of the Columbus Blue Jackets, there are no clear sellers at this year’s deadline.
Teams such as the Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs are sitting on the edge of the playoffs and must decide if they want to improve or simply maintain the current group of players. On the other hand, the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals are also worth paying attention to because they are underachieving teams with Stanley Cup aspirations.
Here is why those are five teams to watch on deadline day.
Columbus Blue Jackets
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With Rick Nash being the biggest trade chip remaining on the market, the Columbus Blue Jackets hold the key to deadline day. If they move Nash, teams who lose out on him may quickly turn elsewhere to try and shore up their team before the deadline. In turn, this would result in a flurry of action before 3:00 p.m. ET.
However, if Columbus holds onto him, the rest of the NHL may also remain quiet.
With eight straight 20-goal seasons, Nash is such a dynamic and team-changing player that other teams are simply waiting to see where he goes.
Depending on what conference or division he moves to (if he moves at all), teams may need to adjust accordingly. On the other hand, if he maintains the status quo by staying with the last-place Blue Jackets, no team would need to reevaluate their place.
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With 70 points, the Dallas Stars currently occupy eighth place in the Western Conference standings. However, they are only three points behind the Pacific Division-leading Phoenix Coyotes.
They are not in a clear position to buy, nor should they be inclined to sell off pieces for future returns.
However, one name that has been linked to the trade market is Steve Ott. In 57 games this season, Ott has put up 10 goals and 20 assists while continuing to be a pesky, tough nuisance for opponents.
If the Stars package Ott with a draft pick and/or prospects, they may be able to grab a top-six forward, vaulting themselves into clear playoff contention.
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Much like the Stars, the Maple Leafs are a team on the bubble of the playoffs. Unfortunately, after losing their last four though, they currently sit three points outside of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference.
To some, this would suggest that the Leafs would be looking to sell more than buy. However, indications are that if they make a move, their focus is on acquiring talent.
Most prominently, they are one of two teams remaining in the Rick Nash sweepstakes. Beyond that, if they want to make a playoff push, they have a need in net.
Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer are both near the bottom of the league in save percentage and GAA, so a trade for playoff-tested netminder Evgeni Nabokov could be a possibility.
San Jose Sharks
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After going 2-6-1 on their most recent nine-game road trip, the San Jose Sharks are in need of a wake-up call. Doug Wilson, a general manager who has never been gun shy at the trade deadline, is likely going to provide it.
Outside of Toronto, the Sharks are the only team left in pursuit of Rick Nash.
San Jose would love to grab him, but the cost may be too steep.
As a result, they may turn elsewhere to find a remedy. The Sharks do not need a major move as much as they simply need a trade that wakes everyone up.
With 71 points, the team is in seventh place in the conference standings, but only three points away from being outside the playoff picture. With the talent on this team, not making it past the regular season would be inexcusable.
To avoid this, look for the team in teal to make at least one move that shakes up their roster.
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Similar to the Sharks, the Washington Capitals are a skilled team that is underachieving at this point in the season. For the Capitals, though, they are in even more dire straits, as they currently sit on the outside of the playoff picture with 67 points.
The question is what kind of move do they make?
After placing star center Nicklas Backstrom on the long-term injured reserved today, Washington has the need and cap space available for another forward.
Derek Roy of the Buffalo Sabres is rumored to be available, and the 28-year-old center could be exactly what the Capitals need. The trade would result in the Caps acquiring a solid replacement for Backstrom, while requiring a large enough return to the Sabres that it affects the current roster.
With 35 points this season, Roy could provide the push that helps Washington make a final run before the playoffs.