One Player Each NHL Team Should Pursue in Trade Once Lockout Ends
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NHL rosters are always changing.
No team can ever be stagnant, but when the NHL is coming off a lockout that knocks off nearly half the season from the schedule and millions of dollars from the salary cap, the idea is to add talent and minimize the amount of money paid for that talent.
Teams may still want superstars, but they also have to find the players that provide the best return on their investment.
Here's a look at potential trades each team could pursue once the lockout ends. In most cases, we have tried to have Eastern Conference teams trade with Western Conference opponents and vice versa.
All salary figures are from CapGeek.com.
The Ducks fell out of the playoffs last year and they may need a significant rebuilding job.
They will have just under $56 million in salary commitments next year and they may trade unhappy Bobby Ryan. If the salary cap is $60 million and they get rid of Ryan ($5.1 million in salary), they may want to acquire center David Krejci from the Boston Bruins.
Krejci is a top playmaker whom the high-paying Bruins may not be able to retain given the salary cap changes.
The Boston Bruins are going to have to cut salary. They may be in the market for bargain players who have potential but don't cost a lot.
Some of their high-priced players may have to go.
They may need to go after a Western Conference player because Eastern Conference foes may hesitate to trade with them.
Marcus Kruger of the Chicago Blackhawks could be a target for the Bruins. Kruger, 22, scored 26 points last year, but he has the potential to become a more legitimate scorer.
The Buffalo Sabres have made it a point to add grit and toughness to their lineup during the offseason. Head coach Lindy Ruff does not like how his team got pushed around last year.
While they have made moves in that direction, they are not a finished product.
Tough-minded Nick Foligno might be a player whom the Sabres could pursue.
Foligno was a long-time Ottawa Senator who the Columbus Blue Jackets traded for in the offseason. However, he might mean a lot more to the Sabres than the Blue Jackets and they could be enticed to trade him for a suitable package.
The Calgary Flames need to get younger and start the rebuilding process.
A player like Washington's Marcus Johansson might help them do just that. Johansson is scheduled to earn $900,000 and he is coming off a 32-point season with the Caps.
The Carolina Hurricanes have made a lot of changes in the offseason, but they are not a finished product.
While they added Jordan Staal from the Pittsburgh Penguins so he can play with brother Eric Staal, they may want to bring in Craig Smith from the Nashville Predators.
Smith scored 36 points last year and will be paid $900,000 in 2012-13.
Matt Read is an up-and-coming player for the Philadelphia Flyers.
However, the Flyers are a team that is going to need defensemen and the Blackhawks may be in a position to trade a defenseman like Nick Leddy.
As a result, they can attempt to trade for Matt Read, who scored 47 points and is scheduled to earn $800,000 this season.
The Colorado Avalanche are a youthful team on the rise. However, they could use some intelligent, veteran help.
Rich Peverley was traded to the Boston Bruins midway through the 2010-11 season and was part of the Stanley Cup-winning team. He could be a steadying influence on the Avalanche. He is scheduled to earn $1.4 million in 2012-13.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets are in rebuilding mode and they need to get much better on defense.
They may be wise to go after Mark Fayne of the New Jersey Devils. Fayne, 25, is a dependable defenseman who is scheduled to earn $1.3 million this season. He scored 17 points last season.
With improvement from Fayne this year, he might be a solid fit for the Blue Jackets.
The Stars added a couple of 40-year-old free agents in Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney during free agency.
They need to get younger. Perhaps a trade for Tom Pyatt of the Tampa Bay Lightning would help the Stars get better...and younger. Pyatt, 25, scored 12 goals last year and he is scheduled to earn $600,000 in 2012-13.
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are a team that may be in transition. There is still plenty of talent on hand but they lost defenseman Nick Lidstrom to retirement. There is almost certainly no replacing Lidstrom in the general scheme of things for the Red Wings.
They may want to add players like defenseman Andrew McDonald of the New York Islanders. McDonald, 26, is scheduled to earn $550,000 in 2012-13.
The Edmonton Oilers are an up-and-coming team who may have the stars to become a solid contender for years to come.
However, they could use some steadying players like Washington's Jeff Schultz. The 26-year-old defenseman was plus-50 in the 2009-10 season, and he could be an asset to the Oilers. Schultz is scheduled to earn $2.75 million in 2012-13.
The Florida Panthers were a surprise team as they made the playoffs and finished first in the Southeast Division. That's going to be a difficult task to repeat.
They may need more goal scoring and might want to approach the Los Angeles Kings about acquiring Simon Gagne. He may have been injured (head) and missed the majority of the season, but he could be a solid pickup for any team that acquires him.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings may want to add to their depth by trading for Jiri Tlusty of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Tlusty scored 36 points last year and he is scheduled to earn $1.6 million this season.
The Minnesota Wild were certainly the stars of the offseason, signing Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to huge free-agent contracts.
The Wild still need help in all areas, including defense. They may want to take a look at Andrej Sekera of the Buffalo Sabres when the lockout comes to an end. Sekera scored 29 points in 2010-11 and 13 points last year.
First-year Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin has a lot of work to do to get the Canadiens back to playoff status.
He might want to take a look at Nashville's Colin Wilson, who scored 35 points last season. Wilson is scheduled to earn $2 million in 2012-13.
The Nashville Predators took it on the chin when they lost Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild during free agency.
The Predators could use some help on defense, and they should look to the Pittsburgh Penguins to see if they can make a deal for Matt Niskanen, who is scheduled to make $2.3 million this season.
Niskanen had 21 points last year and had a plus-minus ratio of plus-nine.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils made a surprising run during the playoffs, getting all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
During the offseason, Zach Parise signed a free-agent deal with the Minnesota Wild. This is a move that will hurt badly and the Devils need some offense.
Veteran forward Chris Higgins of the Vancouver Canucks might be a solid target for the Devils. Higgins is scheduled to earn $1.9 million this season. Higgins scored 43 points for the Canucks last season.
New York Islanders
The Islanders face one of the most difficult situations in the NHL as they are forced to compete with powerhouse teams like the Rangers, Penguins, Flyers and Devils just to make the playoffs.
They could use help all over, including the forward position. Veteran Michal Handzus of the San Jose Sharks had a disappointing 24-point season last year and could be available at an inexpensive price.
New York Rangers
The Rangers find themselves in the position of likely Stanley Cup favorites when the lockout ends.
They have a fairly complete roster that should allow them to make a long run in the playoffs. However, they could possibly want to add defensive depth. Perhaps they could take a look at Colorado's Shane O'Brien.
He is scheduled to earn $2 million this season. He had 20 points last year and 105 penalty minutes.
The Senators brought in Marc Methot from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the offseason, but they could still use some additional help on the blue line.
They might want to think about Kris Russell from the St. Louis Blues, who is scheduled to earn $1.3 million in 2012-13. Russell was plus-13 for the Blues last season.
The Philadelphia Flyers will likely have serious defensive problems this year as a result of many injuries, including the concussion-related problems that have sidelined Chris Pronger.
They may want to pursue Matt Greene of the Los Angeles Kings. Greene is scheduled to earn $2.95 million in 2012-13. He scored 15 points and had 58 penalty minutes last year.
The Coyotes could use some size and strength up front. Travis Moen of the Montreal Canadiens is not a big-time scorer, but he is 6'2" and 215 pounds.
The price is right for Moen. He will earn $1.85 million in 2012-13.
The Penguins appear to have a full roster when it comes to scoring.
However, they may need to add a defenseman or two at some point. They could be interested in Anaheim's Toni Lydman, who is familiar with Eastern Conference hockey because of a five-year run with the Buffalo Sabres prior to his tenure with the Ducks.
Lydman is scheduled to earn $3 million this season.
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues made a superb run all the way up to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last year.
The key to their rise was defense and goaltending. They may want to add a forward. Tampa Bay's Nate Thompson is scheduled to earn $900,000 this season. Thompson is not a high scorer, but he plays hard and does not lack toughness and grit.
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks may have one or two years left to contend in the Western Conference before Doug Wilson tries to rebuild the team.
He may want to improve their goaltending once the lockout ends. Antti Niemi has a Stanley Cup to his credit, but he is not the most consistent goaltender. Buffalo backup goalie Jhonas Enroth may help the Sharks in the net.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning have tried to improve their defense by acquiring Matt Carle and Sami Salo in the offseason.
They may want to do more. They should take a look at Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the Sharks, who is scheduled to earn $3.1 million this season.
Vlasic had 23 points and was plus-11 last year for San Jose.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs have needed to improve their goaltending for a long time. They have been rumored to be interested in Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks for months.
Once the lockout is over, they need to make this deal happen, even though Luongo will cost them $5.3 million in salary in 2012-13.
Kyle Wellwood of the Winnipeg Jets is a gritty forward who scored 18 goals and 47 points last year. He could help provide depth to the Vancouver Canucks if they want to add a forward.
Wellwood is scheduled to earn $1.6 million and that would be the right price for the Canucks.
New head coach Adam Oates was one of the most creative and clever offensive players throughout his Hall of Fame playing career.
When the lockout ends, he will probably want to add an offensive player or two. He could do a lot worse than Lauri Korpikoski of the Phoenix Coyotes, who scored 17 goals last year and is scheduled to earn $1.8 million in 2012-13.
The Jets are going to try to establish themselves in their second city in Winnipeg.
They might have a better chance of doing just that if they can pick up a player like Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland. Bolland is scheduled to earn $3.375 million this year. He scored 19 goals for the Blackhawks last season.