Final Thoughts on the NHL Trade Deadline: Western Conference

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Final Thoughts on the NHL Trade Deadline: Western Conference

With the trade deadline so close, about one day away, teams are gearing up for what is seeming to be a big day.

With many pending pieces of trade bait available, you can expect some big fish to bite. Most of the teams will be making moves, with a predicted number of moves being more than twenty!

 

Anaheim Ducks

Cap space: $726,000

No trade clauses: J.S. Giguere, Todd Marchant, Teemu Selanne, Ryan Whitney (starting July 1, 2011)

Players on the block: Scott Niedermeyer, Chris Pronger, Brendan Morrison, Jonas Hiller

Need: Top six forward

Analysis: Niedermeyer and Pronger are the two highest paid players on the team, and two of the team’s oldest defensemen. They are not bad, by any means. In fact, Pronger is most likely playing just as well as ever. 

However, Niedermeyer is a UFA at the end of the season, and with the arrival of Ryan Whitney, the Ducks have an extra defenseman. Look for Niedermeyer to be the odd man out, perhaps being moved to his former team in New Jersey.

Jonas Hiller, although many may be surprised, could be moved as well. He has shown that he is a capable starting goalie in the NHL, but he is stuck in the depth chart behind J.S Giguere. 

Giggy could seem like the odd man out with his $6 million tag, but with a no trade clause, and being the franchise goaltender, do not expect him to be going anywhere.  Hiller’s movement is unlikely, but it is a possibility.

 

Calgary Flames

Cap space: $1.144 million

No trade clauses: Adrian Aucoin, Jarome Iginla, Miika Kiprusoff, Robyn Regehr

Players on the block: None

Need: None

Analysis: The Flames are clearly buyers at the deadline, being at the top of the Northwest division. If anything, they will be throwing some prospects in exchange for perhaps that third or fourth liner who can help push them over the top, similar to Brad May with the Ducks, or Brad Stuart with the Red Wings. 

However, the Flames are stocked and have been working phenomenally well together.  Look for GM Darryl Sutter to go fairly quietly through the deadline, perhaps not even making a single move.

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Cap space: $496,000

No trade clause: Brian Campbell (he is able to provide a list of eight teams that he will accept a trade to)

Players on the block: Nikolai Khabibulin

Need: Third/fourth line forward

Analysis: The Hawks are flying for the first time in years. They are fourth place in the Western Conference, working their way (hopelessly) to catch the Red Wings for tops in the Central Division. 

Their defense has been extremely effective, with players like Seabrook, Barker, Keith, Campbell, and more, while their forwards have been good, led by their young players in Kane, Toews, Versteeg, and more.

Their team is extremely young, however, and they may run into a problem come playoff time where they need the leadership of an experienced veteran.

The team has also supposedly been looking to move Nikolai Khabibulin since last offseason, but they are having trouble finding a team who will give them what they want in return.

Look for GM Dale Tallon to make a move where he gives up one of his third or fourth line forwards such as Adam Burish, Colin Fraser, or Troy Brouwer for a strong fourth line veteran. 

There have also been rumors flying around prospect Jack Skille, and the possibility of the Hawks moving him. The Hawks will not be part of any blockbuster deals, but look for them to make some moves.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Cap space: $5.416 million

No trade clause: Mike Commodore, Fredrik Modin

Players on the block: Michael Peca, Alex Picard, Mike York, Pascal Leclaire, Wade Dubielewicz

Needs: Depth, both offense and defense

Analysis: While talking to Scott Howson, he did not sound so emphatic about the team being buyers.  He told me in an interview that he did not want to jeopardize the team's future by trying to win now.  Therefore, it sounds like he will make very few moves, and wherever it takes the Blue Jackets, that's where they will go.

The loss of Derick Brassard midway through the season for the duration of 2008-09 has taken its toll on the team. GM Scott Howson has to decide whether the team is going to be a buyer or a seller. 

Sitting in sixth place, but just two points out of ninth, the team is sitting on the fence.  Columbus fans are starving for a playoff run, and management needs to bring in the right players.

The Jackets also should move a goalie. They have three, although one is injured, but they have capable backups in the wings. Dubie was picked up from waivers earlier this year, but do not be surprised if he is moved.

Look for some young prospects to be moved, hopefully in exchange for some depth players on both offense and defense. This team does not have the potential to win the Stanley Cup this season, but they need this playoff berth. They owe it to their fan base for being so supportive for eight years.

 

Colorado Avalanche

Cap space: $3.503 million

No trade clause: Adam Foote, Scott Hannan, Milan Hejduk, John-Michael Liles, Ryan Smyth

Players on the block: Anyone

Needs: Anything

Analysis: Don’t let the standings fool you. They may be in last place, but the Avalanche are only five games out of the playoffs. 

They’re most likely not going to make the playoffs, but they are not a terrible team.  However, they do have way too much talent on their team to be golfing in April.

Colorado has a good core of young players with Wolski, Stastny, Svatos, Hannan, and more. However, they are missing a key to any great team, a goalie. 

Andrew Raycroft and Peter Budaj are fine goalies, but neither of them are going to carry a team. The Avalanche are not going to be acquiring a dominant starting goalie at the deadline, as they won’t be able to fit Khabibulin under the cap.

But perhaps during free agency they can pick someone like Nicklas Backstrom up.

No one specifically is expected to be traded, but anyone, really, is trade bait. The Avalanche need to make some moves, but they also have to decide whether they are buyers or sellers.

 

Dallas Stars

Cap space: $1.208

No trade clause: Jere Lehtinen, Mike Modano, Brendan Morrow, Brad Richards, Darryl Sydor, Marty Turco, Sergei Zubov

Players on the block: Steve Ott, Mark Parrish

Needs: Cure for the injury bug

Analysis: Dallas is hanging in there, but just barely. After losing numerous key players due to injury, including Richards, Morrow, and Zubov, they are still in the playoff race. 

They should not make many moves, as they will be fine next year when their best two players are healthy.

Unfortunately, you can’t truly use the injury bug as an excuse in today’s NHL, as every team has it to some extent. So the Stars need to perhaps obtain an energy player that can pump the team up night in and night out.

Look for perhaps a fourth line player to be moved, or even a late draft pick in order to get another experienced veteran on the roster.

 

Detroit Red Wings

Cap space: $260,000

No trade clause: Daniel Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk, Kris Draper, Marian Hossa, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart

Players on the block: None

Needs: None

Analysis: The Red Wings are one of the first teams since the lockout to look like themselves the year after winning the Stanley Cup.

Challenging for first place in the league and in the Western Conference, the Wings look just as strong as they were last season, even with Tomas Holmstrom injured and Chris Osgood having the worst save percentage in the league.

It is a slight possibility that Osgood may be moved, but the Wings are not going to be able to get any other goalie capable of carrying their team.

Detroit is so talented, though, that they do not even need a dominant goalie, they simply need someone who can get the job done, which Ty Conklin has seemed to do for them. 

No moves needed for the Wings, but look for GM Ken Holland to make another minor trade like the one he made for Brad Stuart last season, to aid his team in their second consecutive run to the Cup.

 

Edmonton Oilers

Cap space: $2.107 million

No trade clause: Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky

Players on the block: Fernando Pisani, Steve Staios, Dwayne Roloson

Needs: Depth on offense, top six defense

Analysis: The Oilers are like most every other Western Conference team, teetering on the edge of the playoff race. 

As of today, they are in. But they are just one point away from being out. 

Pisani is one player they could move, as he has never seemed to recover from his injury, and never took the performance he had in the 2006 playoffs to the regular season.

Staios’ performance has been less than stellar thus far, and the Oilers are striving for defense with a minus-six rating. 

GM Jeff Tambellini needs to look at the big picture, and see that his Oilers need a bit of a facelift. Not so much a full out facelift, but maybe some botox to re-strengthen the core that is there. Really bad metaphor.

 

Los Angeles Kings

Cap space: $12.551 million

No trade clause: Michael Handzus

Players on the block: Sean O’Donnell, Jeff Zatkoff, Erik Ersberg

Needs: Top six forward

Analysis: Playing better than most expected, the Kings are chock full of young, talented defenders, and have a surplus of great, young goaltenders in their farm system. 

They do not need much, other than some time. In another year or two, these young guys will turn into experienced NHLers with raw talent turning into full blown skill that will translate into wins.

In the meantime, though, they could move one of their extra goalies to a team in need such as the Flyers or Avalanche in exchange for some young forward prospects, or even a current top-six forward for their team. 

Do not look for many people currently on the team to be traded, though, as Dean Lombardi loves the talent he has.

 

Minnesota Wild

Cap space: $2.463 million

No trade clause: None

Players on the block: Marian Gaborik, Owen Nolan, Nicklas Backstrom, Eric Belanger, Marek Zidlicky

Needs: Top-six defense

Analysis: With superstar and glass-groin holder Marian Gaborik becoming a free agent this summer, and him having no intentions to re-sign with the Wild, look for him to be traded as a rental player to a team out of the playoffs hoping to acquire some firepower for next season. 

Do not expect to get much in return, Wild fans, as he is so injury prone, many teams will be afraid to take the chance on him.

Backstrom, however, is extremely healthy, and with no intentions of re-signing this summer, either, perhaps they will move him in order to give young goalie Josh Harding more experience. 

Look for Backstrom to go to a team in need of a bona fide starting goalie, such as the Flyers, Avalanche, Oilers, or others in exchange for some young prospects.

 

Nashville Predators

Cap space: $11.184 million

No trade clause: Jason Arnott, JP Dumont, Martin Erat, David Legwand

Players on the block: Greg DeVries, Radek Bonk, Steve Sullivan, Dan Ellis

Needs: Second line forward, third line forward, depth on defense

Analysis: With the rumor being upon us that the Predators have been sold, but the financial setting of the team still uncertain, look for GM David Poile to be forced to make some moves to get rid of some cap space. 

DeVries is making $2.5 million, and has not helped the team out too much on defense. 

On the other side of the puck, Radek Bonk has not helped, and although Sullivan has been effective, his salary and lack of no trade clause has the management licking their chops about prospective draft picks. 

Dan Ellis, now being delegated to the backup role on most nights, could be moved as well.

 

Phoenix Coyotes

Cap space: $11.256 million

No trade clause: Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris (given list to team of which teams he will accept a trade to)

Players on the block: Derek Morris, Ken Klee, Steve Reinprecht, Mikael Tellqvist, David Hale

Needs: Prospects and draft picks

Analysis: Hopefully for GM Don Maloney, the list Derek Morris gave him included whatever team Maloney was thinking. 

Morris is on his way, almost no doubt, but hopefully they will be able to get a decent return for him. 

With the team still in financial trouble, and even more now with the economy still on the way down, someone needs to be moved in order to bring the Coyotes closer to the cap floor.

Older guys such as Steve Reinprecht, who has a hefty $2 million dollars next to his name, need to be moved to other organizations in need, in exchange for young players, prospects, and draft picks to be used in the next two seasons.

 

San Jose Sharks

Cap space: $585,000

No trade clause: Dan Boyle, Mike Grier, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Evgeni Nabokov

Players on the block: Jeremy Roenick

Needs: None

Analysis:  Roenick is not really on the block, I just wanted to talk about him. He is making over $1 million, while not performing offensively the way he used to be able to. 

That would be enough to make almost any general manager trade a player. 

However, Roenick is the heart and soul of any team that he is a part of. He keeps spirits up in the locker room, and makes guys smile when things are not going well.  That, to me, is worth much more than a million dollars.

The Sharks are one of the, if not the best team in the league this season. Fighting with the Bruins and Red Wings for the top spot in the NHL, they have no holes, and their goaltending has been phenomenal. No moves needed for the Sharks, they are set for their run to the Cup.

 

Vancouver Canucks

Cap space: $2.731 million

No trade clause: Roberto Luongo, Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo, Willie Mitchell

Players on the block: Taylor Pyatt, Rob Davison

Needs: Top six defense, third and fourth line forwards

Analysis: Doing better than many expected, the Canucks are on their way to the playoffs. However, expect them to make a few moves on trade deadline day in order to strengthen the core of their team. 

Players they most likely want to move, such as Sami Salo or Willie Mitchell have no trade clauses (which seems to be the case with many players that teams desire to move).

Having recently claimed defenseman Ossi Vaananen off of waivers from the Flyers, look for a defenseman to be moved in order to make room for the Finn. 

Also, look for a forward or two to be moved, perhaps even a draft pick to give them the extra depth that they need for their own run to the playoffs.

 

No trade clause information taken from NHLSCAP.com. Cap space and salary numbers taken from nhlnumbers.com.

Thanks to Columbus GM Scott Howson, Mike Wagner, Ken Armer and Chris Hoeler for their input on this article.

Alan Bass is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report and the Community Leader for the NHL and Philadelphia Flyers’ section; a writer for Prohockeynews.com and Insidehockey.com, he is also the co-host of NHL 2Day, a weekly radio show on Youcastr.com.

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